Getting a Handle On The Messiahs

I live in Silicon Valley, which as we’ve seen, has spawned people with Messiah Complexes. There’s always someone out there ready to save the world with their new solution or idea – you can check the marketing materials. And if you think you know who I’m talking about, you’re probably wrong by the odds – because we’ve got a lot of them.

I also move in spiritual and political spaces. There’s plenty of messiahs there to, ready to tell you how to save your soul and save the world., sometimes at the same time It’s the same old gig we’ve seen for thousands of years, really. Oh, and once again if you think you know who I’m taking about you’re probably wrong because of, again, the odds.

Now you may think I’m going to talk about grifters and opportunists. I am, tangentially, but I’m also talking self-proclaimed Messiahs in general. Because Messianism goes pathological if it didn’t start that way.

Think about what it takes to think you’re a Messiah. You have to believe that you are the one or a small amount of the ones who will save the planet. You have to know that it’s up to you to do everything, that you’re the linchpin of human history. You have to think you’re really special, if not touched by God or his/her immediate stand-in.

Know what you also have to believe? That everyone else is useless without you.

To be a Messiah is to know you’re special and by contrast everyone else is lesser. A Messiah may not say it, may not think it, but they must believe everyone else is lost without them. I don’t’ buy the superiority of these Messiahs, but it seems obvious many of them didn’t just buy it, they got a subscription.

In fact, to be a Messiah, you need other people to be worse than you. Messiahs are nothing without someone to save. To be the savior is to need people who need saving, and without that a Messiah means nothing. If your identity is bound up in being a Messiah, then other people automatically get a downgrade in your book.

What of those people who don’t think they need you? To many a Messiah, they’re the enemy, the disbeliever, the opponent of humanity. To get in the way of the Great Savior by not believing in them shakes up the entire Messiah’s belief system.

Being a Savior needs the saved, and needs someone to explain why the salvation isn’t happening.

This is a pretty toxic mix. You have to believe people are worse and that you’re the best or better. I also am pretty damn sure many a self-proclaimed Messiah started with the dislike of other people or increased self-regard, and then built up from there. I imagine many an honest, sincere Messiah even lost their metaphysical marbles confronting all of these psychodynamics.

Even a potential benevolent Messiah risks getting pretty goddamn pathological. I’m sure in this day and age many of the mass-media Messianic Maniacs started pathological and only went up from there – or down, depending on your viewpoint.

So no, I don’t trust Messiahs. I trust people, folks as messy as I am, hands dirty, getting busy just trying to get things done. There’s lots of those, working every day. Some of them may be legitimate Messiahs . . .

. . . but you’d never know it. And maybe it’s better that way for all of us.

Duration of Sin And The Unbuilt Building

At least weekly – often daily – I read about some scandal or another at a church or religions organization – usually, Christian, as I live in the United States. These are sometimes very highly-placed people, and the scandals are of an obvious nature. You know the kind, the person doing them had to know they were wrong. You really can’t keep doing the same horrible things for years without some idea you’re awful.

But so often the organizations go on. The followers follow. Someone goes to jail or get sued, but they often go on. The rest of us go on because it’s just another scandal, and we’re all used to them because tomorrow there will be another.

And I wonder, who thinks of the theological repercussions of this – again for the mostly-Christian audience in my country. Why did their God (god? “god?”) allow such horrible things, abuse, scandal? Why didn’t anyone do anything at supposedly holy organizations?

I don’t understand how they go on.

A long term series of horrible acts show whatever Church of organization is just . . . a group of people. There’s no holy structure, there’s no divine order, there’s not even an organization, just a kind of group of people like anything else.

It’s really a reputation of most people’s very orderly idea of a monotheistic universe and warrants some pretty deep personal and theological contemplation.

Of course people don’t want to admit that they trusted the wrong people, that the organization won’t protect them. The people in the organization don’t want it to end for their own reasons, from belief to they’d be out of a job. So everyone just sort of goes on, maybe fiddles with theology, and it all continues.

Then there’s another scandal, and another.

What’s strange is that every scandal has to eat away a little more faith that people have. Each one is just another sign maybe you chose wrong or believed wrong and the divine order you want is not something you access. But to give up on that? Well that’s too hard, even if there’s really nothing there anymore.

I wonder how weak some religious organizations are. How much their scandals and failures have been patched over in people’s minds so often they might be close to breaking. I wonder what happens when things break and what reforms. I wonder what has broken that I just didn’t notice.

And in the end, I think all those people lying to themselves, trying to persevere, not admitting to themselves how messed up their church is, they all have to hurt. What’s it like to have things so repudiated, to be so betrayed, what does it take to go on? How much of you is left after you lied to yourself enough?

I don’t understand.

I guess I wish I did understand. But what does scare me is maybe there’s nothing to understand. Maybe at some point you just go on no matter what because stopping means you’ll have to look back.