Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A note to peers

Hey, friends.  I’m terribly busy and can’t write for awhile.  Be back in the future at some point.

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April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My id tells me that I need to move on, goodbye dearest.

I know when you say “I am atheist” people think, “Ah, you don’t believe in spirituality at all.”  Actually I do.  I believe, with the existentialist, that things, in general, have whatever meaning you give them.  From time to time, I have these incredible dreams.  One such dream is one of the first things I blogged back on my crappy Yahoo360 account and can be read here.

I was in little cabin, a shed almost.  The wood was weatherd a dull, lifeless gray .  Sunlight was pouring the open door, and I was looking out into these green, rolling hills.  My wife was out there somewhere, waiting for me, but I couldn’t make my self go.  Some darkness, some inner dread, kept me from walking out the door.  I turned back to the cold fireplace, the fire long gone and stared at the ashes.

There was a captain ladder behind me to the attick and I heard the squeek of someone coming down.  I turned, and behind me stood three women.  The first was my highschool sweetheart.  The second the woman I dated in college, and very nearly married.  The last, a stranger to me.  They were all beautiful, but etheral somehow.

They smiled, bitter sweet, slightly hurt smiles as they walked towards me. The two I knew gave me a speech, and it went something like this.

Dearest, we are your ghosts, ghosts of relationships long dead. You have kept your ghosts well and held our memories dear.  But it’s time to grow up.  Please let us go.  Stop keeping the memories alive.  We’re not real.  The women you remember are long gone, and we can’t ever be them again, not in body, not in spirit.  You can’t ever be the man we loved again.

Darling, you don’t need us anymore.  You’ve held our memories because you were sad and broken then.  To a broken you, our love, our compliments, our attention was the greatest thing you ever had.  It’s not anymore.  You are loved now, respected, treasured.  You don’t need us anymore.  Let us go.

The one I didn’t recognize stepped forward.  She touched my face, gently.  As I looked I recognized her.  When I got kicked out of Bible college she was the waitress who offered to take me home at the end of her shift, the girl who folded my laundry when I forgot it at the laundry mat, the CNA who rubbed my shoulders as I charted the worst shift ever, the girl who put my arm around her at a hayrack ride in youth group when I was too chicken to do it.  She was evey female that ever made me like I was someone special instead of trash.

They all held me.

“Goodbye, my dears,” I said.

“No hard feelings, beloved.  Goodbye.” They said

I stepped to the door, and woke up

April 22, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Totally Unsubstantiated Parallels to the Church

First of all, the modern Church could not exist without the New Testament (Or New Covenant as it is properly called).  I am fascinated by the Bible as a human artifact.  First off, the Bible is open source.  Think about it.  There was no top down command structure that caused the Bible to be developed on certain lines.  The “design” was open source.   All kinds of people wrote their stories, their advice, their point of view.  The word Gospel means good news, but it doesn’t just mean that in the sense we mean it today.  It was a common way for a traveler to begin a positive story.   The Gospel according to Mark could be changed into the expression “The Big story, according to Joe”.   Tons of people wrote original work, many more people copied the original work and made minor changes.  A lot of the original work was not that great and many of the changes were pointless.   The really good stuff was kept and the not so great stuff discarded. Eventually a certain writing style, presentation, and language developed.  Sound familiar?  The Bible was the original wiki!  (You might consider the Koran the original Linux. The source document was written by one vision, but the most of the Koran is actually inspired commentary on the source.  The inspired commentary was written by experts of the source document in collective, co-operative, and Darwinian manner.)

Then there is the early Church.  The church began with a handful of true believers, profoundly affected by what they had seen.  Each formed his own following, a small group that respected and obeyed him.  In modern middle eastern cell ideology this called the cell ring: the core cells in the center of the org chart that basically independent but lead with a connection to each other.  The churches under them met in houses, this would be the secondary cells.  Rituals began to develop that encouraged a sense of intimacy and family between people who had not previously been related.  (The siblinghood of all man under God and through Christ encouraged this.)  Then, increasing notoriety and public knowledge resulted in increasing religious cleansing. The movement went underground.  The leaders began to die, and the cell structure split into two separate cultures depending on local tradition and local acceptance. One was leaderless resistance movement, where the cell don’t communicate much, but work independently towards the same basic goals. The other movement became more of a top down cell group structure of a Western rather then middle-eastern tradition.  Sound familiar?  It’s the same with every small group of political or philosophical resistance fighters world over.   It is how terrorists organize their cells, how the special forces organize theirs, how the NVA fought in Vietnam, how the Communist fought in China, and so on.  It is the premiere method of organization for asymmetrical warfare.

Then, when the church became accepted, the western style bureaucratic cell structure prevailed, gradually absorbing the leaderless cells, and setting up a chain of command.  There was the individual, the decons, the elders, and a bishop.  Due to the social welfare provided by the church, a geo-political government formed, with a chain of command and hierarchy.   Everyone paid the church (tithes were not voluntary, making them de facto taxes), but not everyone one in leadership.   The church was divided between clergy and laity.  The low level clergy had some say in political issues, and were appointed from the top down.  Because this was a source of wealth and power, becoming part of the clergy was the route to wealth and power.    Sound familiar?  It’s the communist party in Russia.   Just as junior level party members had some power, and high level ones all the power.  The discongruous enormous personal wealth, power, and luxury of senior level party officials was identical to that of senior level Church officials.

Then the Church grew into a machine that took and took.  The message of all the world under one cross was taken to the farthest corners of the world, and the old states of the Roman empire became the Satellite states of the Church.  The Church provided military aid and advice to accomplish it’s goals.  Improper expressions of the Gospel (ie, ones that didn’t pay tithe to Rome or refused to serve the Church’s armies) were viciously eradicated.  Sound familiar? Soviet history anyone?

During this time the Church maintained itself as the world’s first multinational brand, with immediately recognizable franchises in every city of any importance in Europe, and small branch centers is smaller towns and villages.  (Read the history of McDonalds)

Then, the Reformation.  The massive bureaucracy was unable to respond to the new paradigm of freer, more democratic leadership selling a religious experience for the individual rather than the city or village. (IBM vs Apple, Cars vs. Trains, landlines vs. cell phones)

Everything you need to know about business, about management, about wealth, about power, about technology, about organization, about counter culture, about revolution, about change, is all there in the history of the Church.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Linux, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Male Privilege and me

Privilege.

Hello, I am a white, straight, male. This means I am the privileged member of the Patriarchy.  When I first started reading feminist blogs the whole Patriarchy thing really pissed me off.  It seemed this whole bugaboo with really bogus standards of existence: “Don’t believe in the Patriarchy? It’s because you are the Patriarchy!” I mean, I’m not sure that there isn’t a conspiracy which that couldn’t be applied to.  “Don’t believe in the Reptilians? It’s because you are one!”  “Don’t believe that Elvis is alive and the truth is being suppressed by a conspiracy? That’s because you are part of the conspiracy.”

Several (male) posters made this argument.  A lot of the responses were vindictive, cruel, and not particularly helpful.  With time, though, I heard some good data.  First of all, that the concept of the Patriarchy is the most misunderstood concept in feminist thought.  The Patriarchy as visualized is bunch of old white dudes with mutton chop side burns and full beards.  They’re these semi-immortals that have been locked in a boardroom since 1885.   They’re wearing old suits, sitting in overstuffed leather chairs.  There’s mounted endangered species everywhere from antelope to zebra.  The guy at the head of the table leans back in his chair and pulls a long drag on his huge, expensive cigar.

mutton1

“Boys,” he says with British accent, “we gotta do something about these feminists!”

General “Harrumphs!” ensue.  The men smoke cigars and drink bourbon from crystal glasses as they control and manipulate the whole world, sliding little brass tokens across a sepia world map.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated.   There is no boardroom.  This is not a conspiracy of the grand sort, this is a conspiracy of peers.  Friends take care of friends.  People feel most comfortable with people that look like them, act like them, value what they value.   That’s the basis of a whole lot of ‘isms, racism and sexism most obviously.  It’s not a purposefully conspiracy, it just happens.  Life is series of choices.  When we don’t force ourselves to think about, we make choices that are helpful to people like us.  The people that aren’t like us don’t quite advance as fast as we do.  With time, people think the backwardness of the people who “aren’t like us”, is accepted, a given.  It’s the way it was meant to be.  Then come moral statements.  They’re like that because they are morally inferior.  They don’t advance because lack the moral fiber it takes to succeed.   Because we don’t hold them down on purpose, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for their failure is themselves.

The Patriarchy is the end result of this advancing people just like us.  The tiny, top of the pyramid of exploitation. The reason that most people in charge of the world are white, straight, and male.  I am member of this privileged class.  I get that now, and I accept it.

But it would wrong to feel guilty for it.  I didn’t choose to be born the straight, white, male child of two college educated parents.  That which I did not chose, I will not apologize for.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Now, if I use this position of privilege that fate granted me to fatten myself at the expense of others less fortunate, then I have done something wrong.  I have become the exploiter.   But on the other hand, I did not make this world.  I am not the person who said a white, straight, male’s opinion was more valuable than other peoples’.    And I will not take my “bully pulpit” and ignore it.  Me not using the position of privilege I have as the person I am to make the world a better place,  would be as wrong as me refusing to walk just because there are people out there who can’t.

I admit it.  Society privileges me.   And I vow to use that for good, and not evil, and never to feel guilty for it.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Using our genitals to sell meat product.

Textual Fury, Feminist 101, maybe Lottie?, and a couple other blogs I read have all mentioned Womanist Musings

Feminism sort of makes me uncomfortable.  I’m not going to rule out the possibility this is because I am part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  I take that possibility seriously, and when I read self-described feminist material I do so with an open mind.   I think that movement which aims to have all human beings treated as such is worth one, and even if I don’t always agree with the conclusions, I think a democratic society needs the voice of feminism.  That said, sometimes the the things that upset feminist are frankly confusing to me.  Consider this: a post providing a juxtaposition of two food commercials with both blatantly and sexualize men and women.  One is for fish sticks, the other for pork sausage.   The fish stick commercial is about salmon.  Salmon is pink, which (in case you live in an Amish community) is a slang term for the intervulvalar region.  The other one very obviously using the phallic nature of sausage.  So both ads are selling food by talking about genitals.

Renee, the author of Womanist Musings, points out something I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.  The fish stick is passive and objectified.  The only way the female is show to have any power is by allowing herself to be viewed.  The male, on the other hand is shown as active, powerful.  The sausage is doing things, going places, improving things.

That’s a good insight, and think accurately describes the ad, as well as the cultural undercurrents which allow such a presentation to get our attention in the first place.  However, I think the fact that the giant, greasy dick-of-a-sausage getting flippin’ eviscerated at 0:18 partially contradicts the “Ah yes, the penis is so great, look at all the stuff it can do.”

The first commercial shows women being objectified by showing off her “pink”.   The second shows what the ad carefully construes as a penis being emasculated.  Isn’t coercive emasculation at least at bad as the exploitation of stripping?  Can’t we say that both are equally destructive to the human experience and both are exploitative?

I don’t want to be “that guy”.  The guy that always finds some bizzare, left-field example to counterpoint every feminist argument, so that he can stay comfortable with his vindictive, entitled way of seeing the world.  I agree with her overall viewpoint on this.  I just think that a dick getting sliced and diced is not really the best example of phallic worship, no matter how awesome the narrator hypes it up to be first.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jesus Suicide (Trigger warning)

I stumbled onto a blog the other day called Textual Fury.  It’s the daily musing of a woman named Kateryna.  I wish I could say the blog is great, but I’m afraid that if I just said it’s great, you might get the wrong idea.  Kat is a truth speaker.  Sometimes truth is beautiful, sometimes it’s as ugly as death.  Because she just writes the truth, the subject matter is occasionally ghastly.

I’ve written about my parents before.  I spent about three blogs attacking them.  Upon reflection, I realized that wasn’t fair or right and publicly apologized.  I’ve said before my parents never abused me, not verbally, not emotionally, not physically, not sexually.  Kat’s parents did, frequently and regularly.  While my parents weren’t perfect (none are), anything my parents did wrong was well meaning harm, rooted in sincere love.  Kat’s father was a monster, and her mother both enabled the physical and sexual abuse as well as actively pursuing her own emotional abuse.  I was never anywhere near anything that compares.

Yet when Kat talks about how she felt about herself and what she did to herself, self loathing, self harm, suicidal thoughts, suicidal actions, she could be reading my journal entries from not so many years ago.  She is survivor and a victim of abuse of a kind I could not even imagine had I not read her blog.  I try to wrap my mind around this.  I carry almost none of the scars that she does, yet had the same level of self hatred and self destruction.  I, with my basically good family, her with her sick one, both came to believe that we were trash.  What possible environmental condition could we have shared?

We were raised in Christian homes.  Her father wanted her raised in a Christian home to make her easier to control and harm.  My parents wanted me raised in a Christian home because they love me and wanted to protect me.  I think most people who are Christians and want their kids to be Christians do so with true hearts of love.  It is this love, and not scripture, which is good for children.

The beauty that can be made of  Christianity in spite of scripture, does not, however, change what scripture says.  It says first that you are worthy of eternal torture.  Let’s look at the torture first.  Burns are one of the most painful things the body can experience.  The Bible, in too many places to mention, says hell is a place of eternal fire.  Imagine being doused in gas and lit on fire.  Now imagine that it never stops.  Imagine as your flesh burns away, it is healed so you can keep enduring it forever.  As you scream and cry and besoil yourself…remember, you deserve this.

The most foundational aspect of Christianity is that you deserve to be burned alive forever.  What do you suppose truly believing such a thing does to a person?  You can’t believe that you are valuable, special, or worthy of love and believe such a thing.

Ah, the Christian contends, surely not.  You accept that Jesus loved you before you were even born.  So, to accept that, you must accept the fact that love can include torturing someone almost to the edge of death, then stopping at death so you can torture them some more.  After all God said you had to go there and he loves you.

Having accepted that, you may now rejoice! If you believe that Jesus is God you are saved, accept you’re not.  Because the demons in hell believe that and tremble at the mention of His name.  Faith must be shown in works (James 2).  Do works save?  No.  They reveal what is inside.  Real salvation is accompanied by a real change.  But how much change is “real change”.  The Bible says that people have raised the dead in Jesus name and still had to go to Hell.   You’ll never know, so you will have to keep working and working, constantly asking yourself, “Is this enough?”

So, you are a horrible disgusting murderer (you killed Christ), the greatest love includes the threat “Or I’ll burn you alive for ever.”  And finally, you will live under the constant threat of hell.  You will never know if the actions you are taking are personally costly enough (actions taken in God’s name to advance yourself rather than God are punishable by death).  You will keep suffering and suffering, waiting for God to pour out his promised blessings upon you.

This is a recipe for madness.  Convincing people of a horrible guilt, twisting the meanings of common concepts like “love” or “justice” until they mean the opposite, and creating constant stress of never knowing what is going to happen next are text book methods of control.  It worked for Stalin.

Does this mean all Christians are evil?  Not at all.  Most Christians are wonderful people who really want to the make the world a better place.  They subconsciously focus on the best parts of scripture, the savability of man, universal love, and the siblinghood of all people.  But Christian doctrine in its raw state, rather than sanitized for mass consumption, is a road of worthlessness and self harm to the individual and manifesto of abuse to the predator.

Accidentally and in spite of the hard work and compassion of rank and file believers, the doctrine of the Bible when practiced literally, rather then re-written by modern psychological norms, is a doctrine of violence and abuse.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A better system.

So, I’ve been really blue the last couple weeks. I’d forgot as I occasionally do, my point and purpose. I bought the lie. I am not here to make more money. I am not here to pad my ass. I am not here please the people who hired me.

I am here for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to start a fight. There is a world of injustice out there. Some of it caused by individual persons. There is nothing is I can do about that. Some of it is systematic and I can make a better system. I am here to fight a system that keeps us divided.

I quit working on that goal for a while. I forgot that and started working for the system instead of against it. I started studying things other people care about, instead of the things I care about. When I did study the things I love, I felt guilty for not studying the shit that matters to other people. I started to look differently at my car, which should have been a huge red flag to me. Part of my system is “You are not what you drive.”

So I am writing tonight the things I must remember. I must put myself on the right track again.

I am here to start a fight. I fight the idea that you are what you buy. I am here to fight the idea that problems aren’t fixable. I am here to fight the idea that someone else can tell you what makes you happy. I am here to fight the idea that others know what is best for you better than you do. I am here to fight for my rights. I am here to make a better system. I am here to find a better way to get to the better way.

As I find the desire to fight again I find my peace again. I find the place in my heart where injustice should be fought, not expected. I start looking at suffering and the stupid, and I say it’s not OK. I find my voice again in Niemöller’s poem.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
First they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
First they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

I will not be silent. Even if I cannot reverse the tide, I will not sell out to it.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | 4 Comments