Egret and crab

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Faith and belief

I am not much of a believer but try to respect those that rely on faith in their life. It is tough at times because I am a pretty skeptical person by nature but everybody is entitled to the belief system of their choice, that is as long as nobody gets hurt too bad.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19

Philippine crucifixion rite
Everyone is entitled to the worship or delusion of their choice, even if some of it seems like bad science fiction to a non believer like me. 

All religions are fairly irrational but that is a topic for another day.

You want to get nailed to a cross in Manila, have at it.

I admire your piety, if not your enormous pain tolerance.

And not to say the Jews are any more rational than the rest of them.

Twelve days a month you are forbidden to have any physical contact with your spouse. 

As in, even touching them, brushing up against their shoulder.

And let's not forget Deuteronomy 22:11, which promises everlasting hell if we wear linen and wool at the same time, not to mention a hell of an itch. Or Kaparot, where Jews kill live chickens by swinging them around their necks and transferring their sins to them. Weird.

Joseph Smith communes with the salamander that guards the golden plates

There is a point to my story in all this. When I was doing my show in San Francisco an old woman I know that is very good friends with two of my clients came into my booth. She went crazy for an Imari punch bowl that I recently purchased, ultimately bought a painting across the way.

But I could help noticing that the woman was bleeding from the bottom of both eyes. She had a bandage underneath both of them.

When her pals came by I asked if their older friend was okay? 

"Oh yes, she is great, not to worry," they said. "Nothing wrong." Case closed.

And then I remembered that they all lived together in a Christian Science home in the city. Of course she was okay because as you know, disease really doesn't exist.

I went to a Christian Science boarding school in Idyllwild for a year, Desert Sun. You had to sign a waiver if you ever wished to get medical care. 

They left open wounds on the horses at the school, as if they shared their spiritual belief system.

I remember them asking a fellow student if he wished to get treated and he said, "Hell yes, I bleed."

Faith can be a rather interesting thing to ponder. Hard for me to not think of all the red fluid coming out of that poor woman's eyes.

This reminds me of another story. I was a hippie and had traveled to Highbridge Park in Spokane for one of the first Rainbow festivals. I set my tent up by a creek. There were some back to nature hippies living there, totally gone native.

Anyway I asked them if the water in the nearby creek was okay to drink?

"Oh yes," they proclaimed.

I came down with the case case of giardia dysentery you could ever imagine. After my recovery, which took several days, I tracked these kindred earth spirits down.

"Hey man, you said the water was okay to drink. You never told me that goats were shitting in it upstream."

Their answer floored me. "We don't believe in disease, man." Mary Baker Eddy would have loved these hippies. And you want to know why I am such a skeptic...

Since we are on the topic of religion I might as well broach a subject I have been thinking about. I recently heard that popular culture tattoo artist Kat Von D has renounced witchcraft and become a Baptist. Good for her. Whatever floats your boat. Anne Rice, a fellow goth and novelist who also wrote some pretty intense pornography, had a similar end of life conversion, returning to her childhood Catholicism. George Harrison, a Catholic in his youth, ended becoming an ersatz Hindu as an adult.

What I notice about these choices is that all of the before and afters of these people were filled with heavy ritual. Rather than get off the ritual train, or even becoming agnostics, atheists or non believers, they all found a belief system to substitute in the opposite direction that delivered the message in a very similar way to their previous conditioning. The Hindu saints that George embraced later in life were really not too far removed from the saints of his childhood, just a slightly different color and flavor. People tend to swing extreme to extreme.

Not sure that I am making sense here but it seems like people need a certain intensity level and pageantry in matters of faith and that many obviously crave ritual, not mention a third party to intercede for them in matters of spirituality. 


Jon Harwood said...

Well now, I do think there is quite a gulf between what the various prophets and avatars said directly to their students and followers and the religions that developed from this. But more important, I wonder what a universal deity would be if we removed the human projections. I suspect that this deity may be well beyond our comprehension. Attempts to explain it will probably fall short by the nature of what is being described. The job of the prophet has been to translate this into an understandable form and in the process it reduces what is described somewhat on the order of explaining a nuclear reactor by making an analogy to a Duracell.

So by my logic, deity may be a big mystery.

On the other hand. there is also the possibility that religion is just what SeƱor Roberto describes: a parade of folly and exploitation. Well humans, ya'll have free will (maybe) so the choice is yours.

Jon Harwood said...

Carl Jung once said, “Modern man can’t see god because he doesn’t look low enough.”