Regardless of where you are sitting now, reading this mindless drivel, it is tough to deny the possibility of a god getting angry enough to want to wipe us out through either malevolent weather or the commission of another album to Fabolous; we certainly deserve it. Which got me thinking about how easy it would be to expunge what is widely considered to be a state-of-the-art species from the surface of its planet. After all we’ve built, thought, imagined, conjectured … After the quest for fire, the wheel, indoor plumbing, and Windows 95 … After Saul of Tarsus, Pythagoras, Hegel, and Bernard- Henri Levy … After the Lascaux cave drawings, the Renaissance, Andy Warhol, and Dash Snow … After Mozart, W.C. Handy, Prince, and Death Cab For Cutie … After the Bronze Age, metallurgy, manufacturing, and a million pieces of crap from China … After butter, margarine, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and then butter again … After the crusades, the world wars, the gulf wars, and the east coast/west coast rap wars … After vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and Klondike bars … After The Great Train Robbery, Citizen Kane, Star Wars, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash … After the tripalium, the stool, the chair, and the ottoman … After stereo, surround sound, THX, and twenty-two point two … After personal, local, global, and selective means of distribution … After bikes, cars, planes, and sub- orbital spaceships … After Abraham, Mahomet, Jesus, and Oprah … After lobotomy, penicillin, brain surgery, and extreme makeovers (non-home edition) … After Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Zac Efron … After basic, pascal, C++, and iOS … After straight, gay, bi, and polyamorous … After shadow puppets, radio, television, and Disney digital 3-D… After red, blue, green, and yellow … After Paris, London, New York, and Brussels … After dirt roads, paved roads, highways, and skyways … After silver, gold, diamonds, and unobtanium … After Mies van der Rohe, Wright, Herzog, and de Meuron … After mancala, Monopoly, Simon, and Angry Birds … After Howdy Doody, Eight Is Enough, Seinfeld, and Kardashians … After The Gospel of Thomas, The Old Man and The Sea, The Fountainhead, and Harry Potter … After acquaintances, friendships, relationships, and “Likes” … After doing it in the sink, in the missionary position, in the ass, and in a nun’s habit … After rocks, the abacus, HP scientific calculators, and Excel … After Lisa, Macintosh, MacBook, and the iPad … After Letterman, Snyder, O’Brien, and Fallon … After Ma Bell, New York Telephone, AT&T and Skype … After petroleum, corn, electricity, and continuously charged magnetic plates … After bread, tomatoes, high fructose corn syrup, and garlic foam with a side of beet pulp … After the Doric, the Corinthian, the Romanesque, and the steel … After poppies, pot, crack, and World of Warcraft … To think that it could all be erased with one hurling meteor or continued carelessness is at once frightening as well as a balancing reminder of our own frailty.
Indeed, with incandescent space matter out of our control, all we have to manage are the shifts in supervision, or at least to believe that a watchful eye stands guard, somewhere, in case we fail to meet our commitment to reasonably steward our lives and planet through growth and, inevitably, completion.
But I do not believe. Nay, I refuse to believe in any presumed babysitter, handsomely paid by the millennia to make sure that we do not run with scissors. Name it what you will, whether god, fate, destiny, or optimism, this caretaker demands a leap of faith in a process external that I am unwilling to deliver. Not that I stand against the romantic appeal of faith, for I too want to feel the force, I too want to believe in magic, but with so much still undiscovered in the world of the seen, it seems a tad brash to outsource so quickly to the merely inferred. It is in fact a tremendous affront to our evolving natural abilities to unashamedly search for answers in other worlds when this one lays beneath our feet, daily, waiting, fertile. The mere action of reaching for explanations to what we currently cannot understand betrays impatience more than it does a widely presumed human need for something greater than itself. There is no doubt that a void exists between inner and outer, between seen and invisible, between the questions and the answers, but doesn’t it behoove us to search for filler material where we can see it, test it, touch it? We are not so helpless, you and I, as to have to resort to the unseen at every undiscovered corner, are we? Even as every fantasy film baits us to believe in a childish attempt to excuse our natural inclination for delegating responsibility, we must trust ourselves to take in our hands the decisions to make within, without compunction, regret, or doubt.
Faith is implicit belief. Faith is the assumption that one can do without knowledge to accept validity. Faith is complete and utter trust and confidence whose most successful implementation, religion, forms but the tip of the murderous iceberg. Faith is something in which we humans actually do not have much of a choice since, as a matter of observation, only the past and present are fact, and we depend on faith to supply a better tomorrow. But is it reasonable to merely hope for the best? Is there nothing we can do?
Faith is generally understood to be an outwardly directed sentiment; you have faith in something else, faith in god, faith in destiny, faith in your friends or co-workers, et cetera. We talk a lot about having faith in our own abilities, of course, yet most tend to regard themselves as unfit to judge their own worthiness, which is why we often rely on others to assess whether or not we are indeed deserving.
That is a misconstrued calculation.
please, tell me if i’m wrong about this… as soon as there were cave dwellers, there were cave drawings. and as soon as there were cave drawings, there were storytellers. and as soon as there were storytellers, there were myth-makers. and the myths they made spoke of the unknown, of gods looking at us, judging us and deciding we could not be left alone. that is when the myth-makers discovered their power, when they understood that they could influence, guide and have authority over others as they told those amazing stories, especially if they involved aspects supernatural, aspects that could not be satisfyingly explained for they had no documented context and, most importantly, could not be proven wrong by empirical study. the greeks believed their dreams to have been transmitted during the night by the gods telling them what to do. the romans had the demiurge, a very, very tall man, who could actually reach into the heavens, talk to the gods and relay their messages back down to mere mortals. we have pat robertson, granted a diminished source of wisdom but still, all-in-all, a myth-maker in his own right. all of them, not merely content with transmission but requiring obedience without investigation. what once was wonder was turned into indispensable certainty in one or another’s story and the exclusion of the others’, to the detriment of peace. that was the beginning of faith.
could the motivation for such an unreasonable approach be the simple, base, human need for control? i think so. control over ourselves, over our own fears, certainly. but then, still, our lives are just too damn hard, aren’t they? it was too hard then and it is too hard now not to have a safety net. and religion, as it eventually became known, is quick to provide one, which it does elegantly because it is so rich with stories, so rich with characters, so rich with lessons, with morality, with not-so-white lies. religion tries to do what art had done before it, to rationalize what keats romantically called “negative capability,” the wish to find a way for us to live with the unexplainable. art does so much, with so much more humility as it attempts, with mere interpretation of the world, to show us that which cannot be shown, daring us to look beyond form. art shows us, by nature, that there are parts of this world we cannot see, but it does so without vanity because it dares not name that which it cannot know, it dares not draw its face. the very opposite of the religious approach, on the whole.
that is why i will go ahead and keep drawing, playing, choosing colors and camera angles in order to fill the void left by the original confusion and wish you an equally artful week!
as penn jillette once remarked… “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero.” see, atheists do have moral codes, they are just self-defined and applied. and alain de botton has just the list for you disbelievers of unbelievers, a perfect way to start the week, don’t you think?…
i hate to say this because i’m on his side but… take that hitchens!
subtly url’d thegodmovie.com, the god who wasn’t there is a film that aims to discredit 8 billion people and their silly belief systems by trotting out psycho televangelist footage from the 70s scaring us about the end times. listen, i’m on your side but good luck with that.
have you spent quality time in michael jackson’s toy room yet? it’s safe now, go ahead…
sure, the above “truth rundown” put together by the studious and fearless reporters at the st. petersburg times is scary in what it promises to reveal about the church of scientology’s methods. but as i was clicking through the links, to see if i could cure my reactive mind, i encountered a far scarier report, the videos on the scientology website itself… look at this inside the church one for example, it starts all happy and multi-cultural and come on over and shit and gradually goes into scarier and scarier territory as it talks about the auditing process and some kind of machine with VU meters that tests if you’re a fuck-up. which you are. for sure.
something you feel like a nut… like i do now.
i don’t know. tell them i’m in a meeting.
so uh yeah i’m doing this tonight. yeah well little late i know. it’s the first “circus” i’ve been to since ringling bros barnum & bailey circus at msg sometime in the late 80s. i just wonder if this is going to beat seeing blue man on window pane in 92. because that my friend is going to be tough. to. beat. but if it’s as good as patton describes, i should be fine.
is it me or would a campaign like britain’s atheist bus campaign never fly on the streets of our good cities. imagined as a counter-offensive to the jesus said campaign, also taking place on the side of double deckers, atheists, or as i like to call them humanists, are simply after equal opportunity. and seeing from the response, having exceeded their fundraising goals by 2400%, they’re well on their way.
an australian astronomer revealed today that the freakishly bright star which appeared over bethlehem 2,000 years ago pinpointed the date of christ’s birth as june 17th rather than december 25th. but that’s not the most amazing thing about this; that would be that it makes jesus a gemini and not a capricorn as previously thought. oh snap!
it’s probably the hendrick’s talking, but these days it’s easier to be joyful and thankful (ugh) than cynical and jaded. especially with shit like this happening. what can i say? it’s comfortable to be happy and optimistic. blame it on this piece of eye fuckery. or maybe this… we just have so much to look forward to. and then with these people… god, it’s like… why aren’t you happy? i mean, get a grip. so, uhm, happy turkey day, folks. we love you. you’re beautiful and brilliant. i’m going to go cry myself to sleep now. why, you ask? because i am happy. and content. i’m very thankful (and intoxicated) this evening. good night.
you’re going through obama fever withdrawals this week, aren’t you? fear not, young america! i’ve got just the thing to fill the void in your workday that was otherwise reserved for reading ridiculous op-ed pieces by some obscure political commenter who in the end didn’t really matter, because we all were voting for him anyway.