I suppose it was a matter of time.
NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been supplying satellite photos of Santa’s Christmas journey allowing delighted children and families to track the yuletide flight path. This year NORAD will include a fighter jet escort, with commentary like the following:
“An intelligence officer asserts that “intel can confirm that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman will not be a threat.” Ground forces then report that all rooftops have been checked to make sure Santa, whose call sign is “Big Red One,” and his reindeer can land safely. Could Santa’s navigation system be attacked by a a computer virus? Another officer in charge of cyber space chimes in that the “anti-Grinch-viral is up and will continue to monitor threats.”
So is there any scrap of the American consciousness left to militarize? Was the message of “peace on earth, good will to all,” just too pacifist and internationalist for us? Are children ever too young for the propaganda of empire?
Religion is a poem about who we are in the cosmos. Religion is not primarily science or ethics. It is a map of our subjective world -the world we live in but not on. The language we use to lay our foundation for living is very important. If we choose to use the symbol “God” we must be very careful that the image for God does not look more like some people than others. If we close our eyes and picture a powerful white male, we have projected that template upon every other experience we will have. Furthermore, when we speak of the tie that binds our subjectivities together, appeals to power yield a very different results from appeals to kinship.
One problem with any picture of the world which views God as a powerful ruler is that it plants the idea that domination is what holds the universe together. If God is a King, or Jesus is a Lord, then power is the tie that binds. From that beginning, it is natural to assume a given hierarchy with civil and religious leaders standing in between the people and the God who is everyone’s ultimate boss.
Contrast that imperial cosmology with the notion that all life is a family. Taoism teaches that the ocean is the ruler of waters because it takes the lowest place. Jesus said he came not to lead but to serve. A gentile who looks at Jewish scriptures in Hebrew is stunned to see the word “kesed” (steadfast love) as a thread weaving the whole narrative together. Only from such humble beginnings can we hope to draw a map for living that does not make it hard to share our world with those who see matters differently.
Feminist theologians invented the word “Kindom” as a replacement for the world “Kingdom” to speak of the tie that binds life together. In addition to removing the male association with the word “king,” kindom also replaces the idea of benevolent domination with that of kinship. Whatever map we draw in our minds, whether we think of it as religious or not, is perhaps the most important art work we will do. Countless unconscious choices will be made based on that forgotten foundation.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him (or her) live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” -CARL SAGAN
I do not agree with those who say that one needs to believe in God in order to be ethical. History is too filled with kindly atheists and cruel theists to find that tenet credible. Still, I do believe that, to be fully human, one needs that reverence to which the symbol “God” should refer, a wonderment, an awe before the universe. It is that wonder at existence itself that gives us a sense that each of us is somehow of infinite worth. For mystics, the symbol God is a multiplier. It takes the small love we understand and makes that love applicable to every human, every animal and every plant. It is quite clear from the quote above that Carl Sagan, while a devout atheist, had the essence of everything a mystic would mean by the symbol, “God.”
If “God” is a symbol of our reverence before mystery then it is surely beyond the definitions of theism or atheism.
Bitterness is a strange poison. It does nothing to my enemy, but is fatal to me. Forgiveness is the only way to remain in control of my own soul. If I cannot let go the burdens of the past, I must carry them today. In the course of time, yesterday’s burdens collectively become unbearable.
The mind is the only ship that can be sunk by yesterday storms.
Vinnie was one of the homeless men who lived on our church porch for several years. Vinnie was the one who always worried about everyone else. He would buy garbage bags to go clean up other people’s camp sites so they could feel good about themselves. He protected the weak and elderly homeless. This Saturday at 1pm we will have a funeral service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Wells Branch Parkway to celebrate the life of a wonderful man. All are welcome.
We all know that, in general, women earn 77 cents to every dollar men earns. While most accept this unfairness as a fact of life, the city of Boston is considering a measure to close that gap. Companies will be asked to take three steps:
1. Companies must open their books to access their own wage data.
2. They will then choose one of three strategies to improve wage equity.
3. Then they will share their wage data anonymously so the city can measure progress.
The entire program is voluntary, so, all in all, it is a tepid response to a gross inequity; but when other cities are doing little if anything to address the issue, at least it is a start.
“There’s a professor…a liberal professor named Noel Ignatiev, and he is actually teaching—and I am not making this up—he is actually teaching and telling white male students to commit suicide to benefit society.” -Rush Limbaugh
It isn’t uncommon for busy news shows to grab a false headline. So when Rush was told mid-show that he was reporting on a fake story from the Onion, I’m sure his listeners were willing to forgive him. The problem is that, over time, he has a clear pattern of reporting questionable stories of white victimhood. What is it that attracts Rush’s audience to that theme?
Ian Reifowitz has an opinion piece in the Daily Kos (see link below) discussing the history of what he calls “race baiting” on the Rush Limbaugh show.
“The days of them not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution. That’s what Obama’s about, gang. He’s angry, he’s gonna cut this country down to size, he’s gonna make it pay for all the multicultural mistakes that it has made, its mistreatment of minorities.” -Rush Limbaugh, on the election of Barack Obama
It is much to the interest of the rich to channel the resentments of the poor against other poor people and not against the people who are really exploiting them. Reifowitz argues that the purpose of such tactics is to divide and conquer America’s poor. He concludes the article with what he thinks is the real fear behind such rhetoric:
“What the right-wing elites really fear is a multiethnic coalition of all Americans built around the notion of the common good, the idea that a society should operate for the benefit of the great majority of people, not the thin sliver at the top.”
I do not want the kind of spiritual peace that is undisturbed by the world’s suffering cry. I do not want the kind of enlightenment that resists my dissolving into a universal allegiance with all of life. I do not want the kind of compassion that stops at my own interest, or even at my nation’s border. I do not want the kind of love that prays, meditates or hopes on behalf of the poor, but does not roll up it’s sleeves to help real people in the real world.
“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
(For non-theists, Gandhi’s pledge to “fear only God” might mean to reverence nothing over one’s highest value.)