Sunday Sermon (February 10, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody,
Okay, so yesterday was a good day. If all goes accordingly, by next week I should be able to seduce you in private. ::grin::

Some people here are afraid that if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, that it will guarantee a McCain presidency. The often unspoken implication being that there’s no way “Red” states (as in: the Old-South where the-Confederacy-flag-is-still-flown-and-watch-out-we-don’t-drag-your-black-ass-while-we’re-at-it South) will vote for a black man. Heck, some of my friends are nervous about any state voting for a black man with a funny name.

I say, fuck all that shit! Tell yo mama you’re voting for Obama!

* * *

Beyond Belief and Disbelief
“In the process of defining myself, I have a tendency to set up rules and boundaries and then forget that rules are made to be broken, as are boundaries to be expanded and crossed.”
— Kathleen Casey Theisen

In Orphans of the Sky, science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein depicts a civilization lost in space. The problem is that it doesn’t know it’s lost. Centuries before the novel begins a mammoth spaceship is built. It’s built to resemble a miniature planet, complete with its own ecosystem, sky — everything the earth would look like. What’s left of humanity is herded into this spaceship in order to escape a ravaged and dying planet. What happens, however, is that early on, the “pilots” located in the secret upper echelons of the spaceship are killed during a vicious radiation storm. It is also here where all the information is sequestered. The ship is set adrift wandering aimlessly in space and as time passes and succeeding generations replace the older ones, the memory of who they were and where they came from is lost.

Radiation has also infected the masses, resulting in mutations and for those living within the spaceship, it is all they know. Their concept of the universe is encapsulated by the boundaries of the spaceship. To them, the universe is that spaceship. As the centuries pass, philosophical and religious thought is dictated by this limited worldview. Everything is hokey dory until a group of renegade kids, in defiance of social norms, begin exploring the upper echelons…

It’s a short book not more than 200 pages, but I think it’s one of Heinlein’s best works. And it manages to bring up a slew of moral and philosophical questions, not the least of which includes the concept of God.

I’m not interested in entering a debate about God. I think such discussions are a huge waste of time. It’s a lot like being fatally shot with an arrow in the woods and refusing treatment until you find out who shot you, why, and with what.

It remains that we’re awed — intimidated even — by the very fact of our existence. Thousands of years of philosophy, religion, myth-making, and war are the silent monuments to humanity’s attempts to make sense of existence. The one thing I can say is that the more things change, the more this most human of basic instincts remains steadfast: the need to believe we’re groping the controls that are real, but which we sense are not.

Our quest for something to believe in is our collective response the The Cosmic Joke of our lives. All we really know is that we’re gonna die, and that’s a fucked up joke. This instinct to believe is so powerful it sometimes overrides our instinct for survival. A quick look at our shared history will show that we will defend, with our very lives, the gods, and dreams that others have created for us.

(The Kool-Aid is extra thick today, boys and girls. LOL!)

Of course, there’s also disbelief. To exist and to be aware is to be conscious of our sense of disbelief. In fact, the major way we interact with the world is through disbelief. We begin to disbelieve our previous opinions when we are confronted with something so marvelous, hideous, or outside of our small sense of self that we’re compelled to throw away our set of beliefs when we can no longer categorize or pigeonhole something. In other words, if you had never before seen a horse and were all of sudden confronted with the sight of a man on a horse, your shit would be all fucked up.

Are we significant in the grand scheme of this Cosmic Joke? What is pour place? Why are we alive? Why the fuck do we ask all these fuckin’ questions?!! LOL! Are we really who we think we are? And please, I’m not looking for your answers to these questions. I am trying to point out that questions are sometimes more important than answers.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… (<— dot dot dot)

Disbelief pulls these questions from us we turn to the heroin of religion, politics, and addictions for the false relief of numbness they supply. For many of us, that numbness – the zombified state of not feeling – is preferable to the very real pain we feel when we come face-to-face with our lives and the inadequacy of our beliefs.

Most belief systems are unnatural corruptions of our original and affirming state of disbelief. They stifle human potential and creativity. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that a belief in a god or an ideology is a bad or even evil thing when used as a tool for personal or spiritual development. It is when we confuse the tools for the work that we become deranged and lost. It is when we worship the style over the goal and the form over the content that we die a little everyday, with every thought we make.

We’re clever in creating and cultivating beliefs, tragically stupid when we confuse them with the real thing. What happens is that the symbols of belief become more important than what they signify. Millions of people died in the vain effort to prove the superiority of one symbol of belief over another. It’s as ridiculous as arguing over which brand of jeans are the correct ones to wear. Duh! They both serve the same purpose. They differ only in style.

Belief systems can become like prisons in which we cage our free-flowing original selves. It is only when we limit ourselves to one worldview that we become trapped, like the characters in the Orphans of the Sky, by our tunnel vision. The vast spaciousness of our souls demands that we break down the false walls of our beliefs. Disbelief is like a quality of surprise like the feeling you get when you’re thrown a surprise party. In fact, it’s a surprise party thrown for you by your awareness.

Use beliefs as tools, appreciate them as art, but don’t confuse them with the real work at hand. Never be afraid to let them go once they’ve become useless and destructive. Despite what others may tell you beliefs are not life preservers on the tumultuous sea of life. Rather they are more like anchors, limiting us to one point of view, one range of experience.

Dang! I’ve gone on and there’s so much more! I’ll leave you with the following:

Who we might become is an act of spiritual transcendence of who we think we are to who we really are.

Love,

Eddie

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