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.


The Insecurity of Politics and Religion

As I write this America is awash in discussions of politics and religion. It is my sincere hope that when you read this you know I mean “in the past,” if you get my drift. It’s certainly not being written when it’s the past if you get my additional drift.

There’s an insecurity about religion in politics, at least in America. You can feel it as preaching politicians try to convince you they’re somehow divinely guided. You hear it in their voices and see it in their actions – a mix of unsure and too sure. Insecure confidence, where you wonder which side of the state came first.

So as I am prone to think about such things, I’ve begun to speculate as to why some of these religionists who supposedly have great faith are so insecure. Also the bastards keep wanting to tell me and mine what to do with our lives.

First,think that’s because when you mix religion and politics, you end up having to deal with politics. You have to deal with power blocks and publicity, bureaucracy and laws that are there no matter what you believe or want to believe. Or say you believe. Religion has to deal with politics (even if, say, religion predated politics) as soon as it gets involved.

It’s talk Divine Truth when you’re really thinking in voting blocks and power blocks. The very sphere you want to move your religion to – and inflict your religion with – challenges it.

Politics also has to deal with reality, no matter how often it avoids it. Politics, as many of us are aware, is already awash in insecurity. People have to explain why they should be elected, or stay in power, or be listened to. When challenged they may have to explain themselves – or crack down which means people just lie to them out of self-preservation. Either way if you’re not facing reality, someone is lying.

Bring religion into politics and religion also has to collide with reality – even if some religious folk are real good at dodging that reality. This all means that when you bring your religion into politics, it’s being challenged constantly, and a lot of religious folks don’t deal well with that. A lot of politicians aren’t so hot at it either, so you get a kind of double-punch of self doubt and insecurity.

I think those trying to mix religion and politics in America are facing constant challenges, and often respond with made up confidence and bravado. Confidence of course is easily challenged, leading, of course, to more insecurity. It’s no surprise you end up with plenty of supposedly spiritual people acting like dictators – even if they didn’t start that way.

(Though for my money, most of them do start that way, they just get worse.)

Now these thoughts apply to current America and it’s revelatory/monotheistic dominant religion and our media landscape. In an age of television preachers, cable TV, and social media everything is in our faces constantly. You can select your own reality, but also have it challenged if you step outside of your media bubble. If you’ve ever seen some host of, say, an extremely political news show try to desperately spin reality you know what I mean.

I suppose at some point it’d be interesting to explore religion and politics in areas non-Christian (and indeed non-Abrahamic) religions. Though obviously you know where my concerns lie . . .

Saying and Learning

I write a lot about religion, because it’s relevant, because of my interests, and for defense in a world of religious abuse and manipulation. I am in no way against religion – in fact I am actually for it. There’s a human instinct to mix art, ritual, socialization, and connection with the world that I think is actually a good thing – or at least unavoidable so we best put it to use.

It’s just we humans kind of screw it up. I wish we didn’t, so I make my own small contribution to the world analyzing things. OK, sometimes just complaining then analyzing.

In light of not complaining as much, I want to share an interesting view of what makes religion useful, especially among people with different practices. There’s what religion says, and then what you learn.

I’m not exactly interested in what your religion says all the time, except when my theological interests arise. Anyone can say anything, write anything, have a vision (due to real things or a series of plant-based ingestions). People are saying things all the time and it can be bullshit. I know I bullshit enough – just look at the way I go on.

Besides, as we all know what a religion say and what people do can be pretty disconnected. For examples, just turn on the news and pour yourself a stiff drink – or get some plant-based ingestibles ready.

What interests me is what did you learn in your practice. Give me something that you learned, how you applied it, and how it worked for you.

It’s sort of science and engineering. You try something, you learn something, you use it, and then when it works you have a valuable lesson. Show me an applicable lesson and you have my attention because you got something out of it. You’re also being vulnerable by pointing to actual results you got from your religious practice, and giving me an opportunity to question them!

In fact, a person who has a religiously-derived lesson that really works is sort of having a secular experience. If the lesson has actual cause-and effect then it’s something they can share outside of their religion. It also makes me take their religion – or at least them – a little more seriously.

I might even take the “say” part of your religion more seriously.

It’s a practical view, of course, and one I think is quite helpful. I’m not going to write off religious and mystical experiences, I’m going to look at results. I might not agree with the metaphysics, but I am curious as to what happens. We can backtrack later on the structure of things.

This all comes from an odd series of youthful experiences where I careened from fundamentalism to mysticism to atheism and back to experimental mysticism. There were probably plenty of other detours as well, but it eventually went around a simple thing – did I get some useful results.

It’s a pretty good measure. I look forward to hearing your learnings.

– Xenofact