Including the NFL, there are almost 1200 religions in the world. And except for the NFL, all are having difficulty filling their stadiums as disenchanted fans abandon their seats for more secular pursuits. Religions are competing for an ever dwindling number of newcomers and are having a tough time with their sales pitch as potential recruits demand more than vague promises of security and rapture:
“The truth is ours,” says the Mennonite. And we immediately think, “Isn’t mennonite an element in the Periodic Table?”
“We desire nothing,” peaceably declares the Buddhist beautifully attracting us with their completion backwards principle.
“I am infallible.” The Pope decrees. And we immediately think, “That’s nice Mr. Pope, but I’m due back on the planet earth now.”
“Why am I even in this conversation,” sayeth the atheist.
In any event they’re all nonsense sales pitches leading one to conclude that those who offer enlightenment are more in need of it themselves. Thankfully the deepest Truths obliterate the confining descriptions of both religious institutions and smart aleck writers. I should stop writing right now – my point being made. But as this is infernal earth where we talk over each other till we’ve chosen up sides, I’ll continue by tritely stating the obvious: A God defined is a God confined. He’s always typecast as this great being. Phooey. He doesn’t even have a Gmail account. He’s so password protected you can’t even see what he looks like. I mean, yeah, you can “friend” him, but you never quite get to know him. Why all the privacy? Well, maybe he doesn’t like targeted ads either.
God – Our Great Absentee Landlord
Facts are facts and we must recognize that if there was a clear path to the Godman, Apple would’ve found it by now. iGod? The Sonny & Cher app: iGod you babe. iGod you babe. On earth, religions are more about shared community, public worship and tax breaks. As the ever candid Napoleon Bonaparte scoffed between campaigns, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Thank you Mr. BlownApart. See you at Waterloo. Meanwhile I endeavor to enjoy our little Cirque du Soleil extravaganza by the sun I call “la Planѐte Terre.”
We contend with a broad spectrum of narrow band religions whose effects are more about mystification than edification. Not that anyone can actually teach God, but clearly your personal relationship with that untamed energy sometimes called the Holy Ghost is the key. So as we withstand these stand-in religions and pray for their salvation, I submit this modest proposal for their improvement. Please don’t stone me or burn any Star Wars figures on my front lawn, just allow me to suggest the following:
Much like governments allow their Constitutions to be amended due to changing circumstances or citizen petition; our religions shall act similarly and create mechanisms for antiquated or specious scriptures to be amended.
Amen brother, I Mean Amen…dment brother
This is not to say we take many of the wonderfully illuminating passages and run them through a Morally Relativistic word processor, but c’mon. Bear in mind, when most scriptures were written, an illness was thought to be a punishment from God. Toilet paper was known as your left hand. It was a toilsome period when luxurious vacations were called sleep. It was a lawless era when any sex act was deemed consensual. And finally, it was a time when the Earth (Planѐte Terre) was flat and all heavenly objects were thought to revolve around it. Not the most enlightened of times. Capish?
So instead of having today’s laity simply ignore tenets at the risk of rendering that religion irrelevant, I ask the clerics surrender their veto power and display some spiritual dynamism. Let them be reminded their power is derived from the consent of the governed and not from God. By surrendering the unsupportable ruse that they speak for God; they gain everything. A little empiricism added to blind faith is a recipe for a virtuous circle. By allowing the flock to instruct the shepherds and vice versa, the virtuous circle is completed. This is why I propose amending or updating scripture. Yes this can be criticized in a million ways and it’s not a watertight argument, but it’s certainly a start to reinvigorating a wonderfully moderating force on Earth. Undoubtedly more relevant than blindly following the dictates from some ancient writer guy who never owned a toothbrush or watched Seinfeld. In the absence of this amendment process, religions are just that peculiar analgesic of last resort we reach for on the shelf after we’ve exhausted all other remedies.
For Example…Papal Infallibility
Among the countless instances of deficient scripture or religious tenets in need of amending I’ll cite one that illustrates my point. In 1851 the Catholic Church issued a Papal Bull declaring God protects the Pope from error when he speaks about faith or morality. Papal Bull alright…that about sums it up. It’s not so much that I’m outraged by an organization saying their “Infallible”. I’m beside myself with laughter. Not “How dare they?” but “What’s next? Voting themselves X-ray vision?” Papal Infallibility because we say so? That’s precious. Clearly this needs to be reworked. How the laity doesn’t revolt and form their own religion I’ll never know. Perhaps that’s why the Catholic Church is a fading institution like monarchies.
However let it be said that Catholic Charities contributes more to the well-being of people everywhere than all governments combined. That’s precious too. They superintend some marvelously beneficent programs. However, in my parallel universe I’ve developed something called Hardiman Infallibility – a doctrine that holds that every word I write is imbued (by God of course) with unerring power and sublime truth. For example, when I say “Oh yeah, that’s the new priest. He’s preys differently than the other priests – mostly on young boys,” you laugh and wince at the same time. But when I say, “I was writing the other day and had a horrific semantic accident. Instead of helping my old Uncle Jack, off a horse, I accidentally helped my old uncle jack off a horse,” you just laugh. Now that’s power judiciously expressed.
Digression: Correcting our Errant World Aside
What the world needs now are fritters, sweet fritters. No not just for some, but for everyone. For all god’s children. God’s adults like’em too. We need less talk, more fritters. Corn fritters, crab fritters, all white meat chicken fritters, Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Fritters – a tremendous amount of fritters. They’re bite-sized and always welcomed unlike the unknowable mysterious truths that religions package in hard to open wrappers. With no nutritional labeling on the outside it’s hard to determine if the religious succor on the inside is even good for you. Yea verily I say unto thee. Fritters are the way.
Specificity: The Devil is in the Details
It is my hope, that in the near future, no church shall make any law regarding protein stains. But just as most clerics have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, the introduction of any change is usually met with a benign smile of procrastination. It’s the clerics who prevent the laity from reinvigorating their respective churches. And while it’s true constancy is important and religions should not change on a whim like the tenet of the month club, clearly adjustment is needed to keep them relevant. Let me cite a statistic you might find interesting: every year 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced. Now, let me cite something that pertains to this story: just as the United States Constitution allows for amendments, so to should religions allow for updating their sacred scriptures. Not in some morally relativistic way, but in a manner that reflects advances in science, society and general modernity. Call it marketing. Call it enlightened conformance. Call it what you will, but it is a necessary adaptation for religions to remain relevant and rooted in something approximating present day reality. The specific amendments needed are too numerous to mention, so I thought I’d list the ones that weren’t so numerous.
Top Ten Religious Amendments in Dire Need of Implementation
1. Ability of women to hold positions of high authority in the church, just like Margaret Thatcher did
2. On Birth Control: If a man impregnates an unmarried woman, he immediately has a 20lb boulder strapped to his belly for not less than 9 months. 40lbs if twins. And he must forever sleep with that stone till it’s 18
3. The words homosexuality and heterosexuality are replaced with the word sexuality
4. If a church takes sides on a political issue they must start paying taxes
5. They must start paying taxes anyway
6. Twice annually all religions must admit to their followers, “Clearly this is nothing more than a collective hunch.”
7. Like College Football teams, religions would be ranked every week on how relevant and enlightening they are
8. All clergy must work at something involving manual labor for 4 weeks out of the year
9. All religions must apologize to children for confusing them with 1200 different paths all claiming to have a stranglehold on God’s truth. When in reality religion is man’s description of God who hasn’t changed since before man began cataloguing him
10. And finally above every mosque, church synagogue or new age yert, the following Woody Allen motto shall be prominently displayed: God is Silent. Now if we could only get man to shut up
Most everyone who identifies with a religion does so because they were born into it and not because they sought it out. It’s like a preexisting condition and therefore is not covered by most health plans. So, I modestly propose a little triage: Amend, Adapt and we shall overcome. Perfume yourselves with loving reason and the flock will follow. I thank you for letting me be herd.
The Loyal Subjects of the Local 725, United Steamfitters Union
Readers Note: That really is the end of the story. I said what I wanted to say in this episode. The following is what I determined superfluous, ponderous or not funny enough. Here it is in unorganized and unedited form:
Where am I going with all this. You probably hope to another state, but I’m here to state: Long before the advent of Time Zones or watches, pagans in Ireland used to impishly ask, “What time do you think it is at Stonehenge right now?” and then they’d all break out into laughter. I don’t get that one either and I’m the writer, which is essentially how the laity feels about religious dogma, they don’t get it either, they just accept it. But what if they could do something about it – both my joke and inscrutable scriptures by amending them. Both the clerics and I would fight it because it represents repudiation and loss of control (as if we have control anyway) . We’d resist it and that’s why unexamined tradition is no friend of man. What if we could change my joke to: The Good Humor Ice Cream Company has been forced to downsize. From now on they’ll be known as Amusing Ice Cream.
And now the East Coast version: Friendly Ice Cream has been forced to downsize. From now on they’ll be known as Cordial Ice Cream. I sensed the difference when I visited their corporate offices and they greeted me with open arm.
Now this is not to be confused with my understanding that God’s truths have been unalterable since before during nd after man catalogued and defined them. Well first of all God is indescribable, but to the extent my lowly mind can perceive him , he’s always manifested the same way whether humans were in xistence or not. In other words, God has not waited for man to define him; rather it’s the other way around (I imagine). So the original scriptures defining him are at best solemn approximations of man’s need to merge with the one. And at worst they’re manipulative treatises designed to coerce and man into seeking the ever sheltering umbrella of religion. So we have these defective (though certainly worthy doctrines in many cases) scriptures to begin with, made doubly out of step with the passage of time. We want unshakable truths and religions give them to us but their based on what a group of horny, malnourished men said in a stone room 1500 years ago, well before the NFL was even a concept.
What if we had nothing to protect. Well we have nothing to protect. And yet we kinda do. And that’s why we need a daddy (religion). Either that or a sense of enlightenment grounded in the unknowable Adams quote: “The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole car-loads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.”
Religion just lends itself to snarky dissection. It’s too easy really and I’m the first one running to its offered security when my son is 10 minutes late from school. My intent is not to bash the Catholic Church (charity work) .But rather to highlight the lunacy what if you or I had to create a religion? Being fallible men it would probably look a lot like any one of these present day religions/ But that’s my point. They’re all made up. Based on some spiritually marvelous and needed ideas, but contrived nonetheless. There are real unshakable truths but only tendrils are to be found in dogmatic religions.
We all want god to recognize ourselves peaceably in its bosom as our loving creator of our souls. Part and parcel indistinct and connected. Earth offers a scary alternative and religion assuage those fear. (Maybe I should start my own religion). The tax benefits are incentivizing enough. Clerics born into that religion perpetuate the myth and lend credence to the methods many of which are insane or at least on par with Disney Sharia law, Original Sin, pork cleanliness, babes with 6 arms. And near 100% of clerics are practicing that religion cuz they were born into it and similarly for the laity. Few come to these religions volitionally, but by hoary traditions as in “Oh I need salvation and need to fill the aching void at the center of my bring. Oh what’s everybody else doing Hmmm oh religion well OK.” I don’t get it but m in. I want God too.
We here at the institute (name not important) believe these modest suggestions taken at the tide will provide a more febrile connection amongst adherents and facilitators and reduce false power wrapped in mystery by over 80%.
Starting Point. A Reset
Just like Europe and Japan we’re rebuilt from the ashes ground up after WWII. Religions would do well should adopt their own destruction and rebirth to revive and refresh the tree of spirituality.
Man is Wonderfully Imperfect
Christ never spoke a word of English. And if he did, I’m sure he’d be just as misinterpreted as when he spoke Aramaic. If somehow he was to reappear and share his worthy illuminations with the multitudes, the very moment he disappeared, they’d cut to some roundtable of well-lit commentators where a self-satisfied pundit would casually state, “Well I know what Jesus said, but what he meant was…”
Yet another cross he’d have to bear for us.
This part about uncompromising precept or God’s absolute truths – wrong. God has given us the ability to adapt and overcome. Look at Wright Bros they started with a bicycle shop and now we soar. Look at Heidi Fleiss. She with a simple kissing booth and went on to found a highly profitable escort service. The point is we must update or, as Rastafarians say, “lively yoself up man.” Otherwise we become irrelevant. I won’t present a laundry list of religious atrocities or deficiencies just a short proposal. The laity or clergy makes proposals and then the church votes on it Moral relativism. Hardly. That’s how these tenets were born in the first place. They weren’t even voted on Council of Nicaea, Celibate Pope’s ahem. I want to believe in something to but not a carnival of ideas formulated when the world was not only flat, but when death famine and pestilence was known as Tuesday.
We’re well beyond, “Hate the sin love the sinner.” We’re into, “Hate the ignorance love the ignoramus.”
Please admit that despite our earnest efforts and numinous scriptures highlighting the truth, God has been the same before during and after our religion or even individuals endeavor to describe it. It transcends ardent
A Modest Proposal
Agree on basic points:
- 1. God doesn’t look like Charlton Heston.
- 2. When you see a squirrel fall from a telephone pole, we must admit God has no plan, other than the plan we make with the tools he’s provided.
- 3. God is beyond description. And if you’ve ever seen a Lady Gaga concert you know what I’m talking about.
- 4. Eliminate celibacy in priestly vows or at least make it optional
- 5. Admit something as multi-dimensional and incomprehensible as God cannot be embodied by any institution
Amish forced beard shaving. Catholic priests. Gay boys club but they needed members. That’s what happens when you demand your clergy be celibate. Completely unnatural could you imagine how robust the Catholic Church (Origin of celibacy )if could have relations ? No you can’t alter a word of the sacred writing written when germs, candles and placenta were known as dinner and a meal was anything you could chew that didn’t move. People don’t want it altered for it represents the one thing in their life they can cling to that doesn’t change and represents God.
Well what if it doesn’t represent him fully enough. It’s not enough to simply expose the folly of man but it’s all I can do now. Amend it all texts. Amish beards, Sharia Law, cloven hooves, no birth control.
Until then you’ll have more contradictions and chimera than you can shake a unicorn at.