Saturday, March 23, 2019

#NotJustTeamHuman, "As we forgive those who trample on our lawns..." Your Sacred Mileage May Vary

"As we forgive those who trample on our lawns..."
Your Sacred Mileage May Vary

Religion provides cover, dissimulation, a way of revealing and concealing things about how you feel and what you think: that its what "the sacred" does. It tells the world that this thing you regard---an idea, a person, a behavior, something about the world---is special, valid, sound, and so important that you too should take it as seriously. At the very least you too should "respect" someone else's sacred. Umm, sure.

America has a special kind of stupid set aside for people's "sacred" because we are a land of immigrant cultures and tribes, and there are a lot of teams. Team Religion isn't just beliefs, it's whatever religions do or say that tells you if are on the team. So perfectly sane 21st century people will continue to make claims that are, in effect, ways of saying, "I'm on Team Jesus" or "Team Jewish" or "Team Allah". The rest of it is a narrowing down, so that one can be on Team My Team, which isn't anything like Their Team Jesus. The sociological and psychological benefits of teaming up should make you want to re-read the great Emil Durkheim very, very carefully. Americans like to think that these "sacred" are really their individual choices because we really think we are just making up our own minds.

Of course humans have way more power when they identify with teams because that's one way we gain legitimacy. One person's religion is called neurosis, fifty is a cult, but 50 million is a religion. Your call. Once you get to a religion it's hard to remember that a "cult" is someone else's smaller version of your own obsession and that another's madness is just their own personal version of the prayer, "Our pasta, who art in a colander, draining be your noodles. Thy noodle come, Thy sauce be yum, on top some grated Parmesan. Give us this day our garlic bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trample on our lawns."

People get offended when you tell them that their version of Get Off My Lawn isn't really all that special but to them and most will take the But Ours view, which is a lot like thinking that YOUR lawyer isn't there to bill you hours because that's what other lawyers do. Everyone else is less special is part of the sacred too. And that gets as dangerous as the mob. A language is a dialect with a mob the way a religion is a cult or a personal neurosis with a mob. Is there any saving grace?

You can take the "it's spiritual, not religious" exit but you will simply end up on the county road version of the religion interstate. This bit of nomenclature legerdemain is another way to make you feel special about yourself and an another attempt to dissociate from some perceived larger group delusions. I'm not opposed so long as you know that your own personal Wittengenstein language game is what you are playing in order to find a way to live with yourself. After all, we humans make religions not only to control, manipulate, exploit, and dehumanize our fellow humans. We make them to accomplish what only teams can do---try building your own barn _entirely_ by yourself, see?---and because we have to tell ourselves some story that allows us to live with ourselves.

For my own frame of reference, for example, I like mostly Hindu stories that I interpret as humanist Jungian insights into our unconscious becoming our conscious selves, like it or not. YMMV but this creates a model for creating some mighty worthwhile meaning in a perfectly meaningless world. Of course this is not how the vast (any?) majority of HIndus understand their stories and behaviors so that reduces the team size in the Hindu league maybe to one guy and maybe a few of his friends. Like I said, choosing teams is hard when you think that other people on the larger team are involved in nothing less than abject superstition and a boatload of social emotional identity that doesn't speak to yours.

You want to believe that your team in the bigger league---say, Rajanaka somewhere in the larger reference of Team Hindu---relatively harmless inasmuch as it does some little good and really tries not to be too obnoxious about its own claims or too terribly demeaning of others. Rajanaka has the added advantage of being powerless in any socio-political or economic way, say, much unlike being Catholic or Mormon. Team Rajanaka doesn't really ask anything from you. It's a voluntary conversation and then the one you have with yourself. It's how _you_ re-write the Giant Spaghetti Monster Prayer to suit yourself. Rajanaka doesn't pray at all, of course, if you don't.

Not all religions, cults, and neurotic personal "spiritualities" are as innocent, at least not as I see it. Now, you don't like to pick on them just 'cause they are ridiculous but because so much of what they teach is just plain vile, such as LBGQT people are "apostates." (I'd call that lucky. You mean you get to be thrown out and don't have to do that again, with those people? Thank the Latter Day God...)

But it's now official Mormons really really don't want to be called "Mormons" any more. They find their pejorative historical nickname insulting. And, more importantly, they have been told by no one less than the Latter Day God to make this clear to everyone. I say, all the more reason to keep calling them Mormons. Insulting someone else's claim to Absolute Truth isn't insulting. It's an attempt to intervene in their application of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and to spare the world more misuse of capitalization.

According to the CNN report, the current old white guy that Mormons call simply The Prophet is, "A former heart surgeon who conducted Utah's first open-heart operation, the Mormon president said he has prayed for the Holy Ghost's help while wielding a scalpel over a patient's body."
Dr. Nelson, that's this guy's name, has had other interesting stuff happen because, you know, God talks directly to him and these folks think that God, yup, THE God, the TRUE God talks _through_ him to THEM TOO.

Thus, "Revelations have seeded Nelson's love life as well. After his first wife died in 2005, Nelson proposed to the former Wendy Watson. "To strengthen my proposal to Wendy, I said to her, 'I know about revelation and how to receive it,'" the Mormon president has said. Wendy Nelson said she, too, had received a revelation about their relationship." Well, I'm jealous. The closest I've come to my relationship is based on revelation involved a warm smile and other stuff that got me really excited. YMMVagain.

So there you have it, some sacred with your morning joe. I have to go teach today. We're gonna talk about heroines and myths and stuff and hopefully feel a whole lot better about just trying to be decent human beings. If any revelations happen, we'll let you know.