We agree with the comments on our recent blog, that pointing the finger without suggesting a better way is not the most helpful thing we can do. However. We continually point to a better way. All our work for the past 40 years has been an effort to articulate a different, non-materialistic, partnership-not-dominator, path. To that end, here is another highly critical blog. It’s time somebody pointed out the Emperor’s unmentioned absence of attire.
Marching to the Bank
An old song quoted by Bishop James Pike goes,
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching to the bank!
Dum, dum, dum, DUM, dum, hear the shekels clank.”
If you have wondered why the abrahamic religions are able to make so much money so easily, you need only recall three little words :
Guilt Shame Fear
The religions get an awful lot of mileage from those words. Let’s look at each one in turn.
Way back in its earliest days, the Emperor Hadrian ordered his agents to study Christianity. His conclusion was, the religon was “so strict that it leads automatically to hypocrisy”.
Christian religions make no allowance for our poor human foibles and failures. Instead they require that we show up punctually, pay our dues, and get forgiven. Time and again, we have seen politicians and now sports stars busy confessing their “sins” and paying their dues.*
A couple of years ago a very good friend of ours in our little town, well-known as a generous and friendly restaurateur, died of cancer. At the memorial service the minister berated the sheep with the message, “You too will die of cancer if you don’t straighten up your act and attend regularly.” This probably happened because the memorial service was the first time that church had been full since the Civil War.
Such Christian guilt-thinking recently reached a new low when Pat Robertson announced that Haitians deserved their earthquake because their ancestors had made a pact with the devil to get them out from under French rule. (No, we’re not making this stuff up. We couldn’t.)
In the past the Christian church simply sold indulgences. It didn’t matter how you had sinned. Buy an indulgence, and it was a pass through the pearly gates–your own get-out-of-hell-free card. The more you paid for it, the briefer the time you’d spend in purgatory getting purged.
It was interesting to see the memorial service in Haiti where the church deacons passed among the attendees with their collection plates.
So let’s move on to the second biggie.
This is probably akin to the ancient shunning that many religions visited on their parishioners unless they came back to church and confessed their “sin”. Essential parts of the confession were an appropriate contribution and a maximum of groveling, spiced with juicy detail.
We don’t really understand why you have to be ashamed of natural behavior, provided that natural behavior does not harm any one. Can you say “victimless crime” ? Can you say “manipulation” ? Of course natural behavior is usually forbidden by the inhabitants of pulpits. Many such people are too old to enjoy it anyway. Remember St. Augustine? When venereal disease (today’s STD) made him impotent, he raged unremittingly against all sexual activity.
We have a friend who counsels sick and elderly–terminal–patients as part of an in-home and in-hospital service. He is a pagan with Druidic tendencies; he calms the fears of these poor people about where they will go when they “die”. Of course the counselees also receive regular visits from the cucarachas (as Spanish-speaking nations call priests; cockroaches are black and creep around after dark). He often finds his counselees after such a visit literally terrified of what is going to happen to them and trying to figure out whether they should sign away their property to the church rather than to their natural heirs. If they sign it all away, the promise goes, they can at least get a pass to spend some time sitting on a cloud playing a harp rather than being roasted in eternal flame.
Of course eternal flames do not work as a threat to Eskimos. To Polar peoples, hell is a cold place; living somewhere that’s eternally hot doesn’t sound all that bad.
So that’s it, boys and girls. Live a natural life. Have fun. Pay your religious taxes. You’ll be all right. It really is a crock, you know.
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* Yvonne: I think I’ll get addicted to something, go through rehab (making sure it’s an ordeal), and sell my story to the National Enquirer. I could retire.