09 September 2010

Rambling Midnight Thoughts on that Wacko Preacher in Florida, Etc.

Exactly how these self-appointed “Christian ministers” get the “call” is unclear. Certainly some, such as the late Rev. Jim Jones, might well have “gotten the call” watching the wooden plates fill up as they were passed hand to hand along the rows of pews of a Sunday morning. Some, like my father, might well have spent years and years reading books about The Good Book and realized they had something to say of value. Certainly I was pleased to hear that Mary the Magdalene was not a “whore,” but rather the daughter of a very rich family who apparently bankrolled Jesus and his band of merry men on their journeys through the New Testament. It was also fairly clear to my father, who was ordained into the Disciples of Christ, a small Protestant sect with subtle but meaningless distinctions of belief separating them from Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists, that The Church preferred men like the Rev. Jones to him on account of Jones’ ability to open wallets and pour out cash. Who called this other "preacher," Terry Jones, is anybody's guess.

But, once having received “The Call,” there is little that can be done to monitor what comes out of the mouths of these people, particularly, apparently, if their last name is "Jones." Nothing much to stop them from flying hundreds of people to a foreign country, stealing their social security and welfare checks, and giving them poison to drink, for that matter. My mother was a moral compass for my father, carefully reading his sermons as she typed them out on Saturday afternoon, so he was a pretty good guy with all this. Misguided into thinking he might do some good and help people. But a pretty good guy.

Be that as it may, my personal experiences as a preacher’s kid, albeit for only a couple of years, gives me a large block of salt with which to evaluate the pronouncements of these “religious” folk who believe they speak for their boss, whatever they choose to call it. Even politicians get called on the carpet every four years or so. But these boys with their shiny shoes and dark suits? Not so much. While these "men of God" do claim Jesus keeps an eye on them (and sparrows in particular, for some odd reason), there's simply no "higher authority" regulating their behavior, as anyone watching the Catholic choir boy scandal should know. (Compared to the Catholic Church, protestant church organization in the US is a real wild wild west.) And, as for Jesus doing annual employment evaluations of these self-appointed characters, I wouldn’t know. Never met the guy, being as how the one thing I’m pretty sure of is, if he existed at all, he’s been dead for millennia. But if anybody else is calling them to task, I’d be surprised. They all have the potential of being loose cannons.

I personally think we should bury all these "religious" books in a very large hole and start over, because these characters, like this tiny little man in Florida with 50 followers who want to burn one of them, have pretty well wrung any real meaning out of the rituals and readings of their Sunday meetings. And go back to nature and listen, really listen to its teachings. Because if there is any spirituality that is going to take us forward through this morass, that is where we'll find it.

That’s the thing. I think that’s what Whatever That Is behind all this tried to tell Moses (according to one of these books, anyway). That Which Is (or, as the eastern folk like to call it, The Tao) pretty clearly instructed ole Moses (and the rest of us for all eternity, I suspect) to not call That Which Is by any name because we’d get busy then and claim we were the ones who really had the 411 on That Which Is and then pretty soon we’d be off to the races, fighting and discriminating and killing each other over which little set of papers we declare holy and The Real Deal. So, what did Moses do? What all these "prophets" do. Sigh. He wrote down what he thought happened and what he wrote became the basis for deciding who were innies and who were outies. Huff and puff.

Now we have this little clown in Florida who reminds me of this old fella named Vance who lived outside of the little town where my father was preacher until my mother put her foot down. One Sunday after church Daddy and I went out to give his wife Communion (which, BTW, was Welch’s Grape Juice and Matzo crackers). Aside from the fact that I was puzzled about why Christians have ritualized cannibalism as a center of their practice, this day was strange for me because this old guy told us at length and in great detail about the murder of Joseph Smith in Carthage jail, and how his granddad led the mob which killed him, as though this were a good thing. Pulling himself up tall, he said, “And if I had to do it again for Jesus, I would be in the front row.”

My poor papa was so horrified, he just put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Never, never ever forget this day.” And then he didn’t say another word all the way home.

So now the Irani folks are stoning this woman because of their little book, and the Taliban are acting out blowing people into hamburger because of their little book. Some people believe you draw a little red dot in the middle of your forehead, and other people believe they should kill you because you do. Then there’s folks who believe they should be able to kill gay people because of their little book. Men in Utah believe they can treat women like cattle because of their little book. People who believe if they have the right kind of beads and the right number of beads and then say the right prayer the same number as the beads, then that's the way to go. People who believe they should have their own country because of their little book. And on and on and on and on…. Oh, for heaven's sake, people, please! Don't you see? If these books you read don't help you live in peace and harmony with others on the planet, what in hell are you doing????

As for this little man in Florida and his merry band of 50 followers "sending a message to Islam," well, fella, look. First of all, I have more than 50 followers. Virtually every blogger on the world-wide web has 50 followers. But you? For one thing, why in Christ's name would anyone live in Florida not live near water? But that evidence of insanity aside, now there are a whole lot of dangerous people who know your name. They know where you live. And they know what you stand for. You've gone and called out some really crazy people who now want you dead. That was really smart. Good job. Please note I did not say Muslim people are crazy. Or dangerous. Because, just like Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, or any other group, there are nutty, dangerous Muslims, and saints among 'em. And a whole lot of middle. Folks who are a mixture of "good" and "evil," and mostly just trying to get through life, just trying to live. But now you've told the whole world you stand for hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and poverty of spirit. Among those even interested, Mr. Jones, in what you have to say, are people who make bombs and blow up things. As my kid brother has observed in other circumstances, this just might well be natural selection in action.


Lou said...

Mugsy...as usual...I agree...I think religion is mostly destructive....

mary lou said...

spot on, mugsy.