Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Fnord Fnord Fnord: What I Believe & Why It Sometimes Makes Me Depressed, Part I

I suppose I'm a Discordian, because every time someone asks me what my religion is, I give a different answer. Fnord?

Recently I've been reading all kinds of articles -- this month's BUST, last month's Bitch -- written by women of faith defending their faith. It's odd to be a person of random faith and realize how defensive even the people on your side sometimes make it. (And that's not even to bring up what Conversations with my Muslim taught me, and I have to find time to hook up with MM again.)

Some of the answers I've given recently (and I get asked this question sometimes more than most people because of the nature of my work and my physical appearance): "Ganesh/Legba/Mary/Eris is my patron/ness." "I guess I'm a pagan, sort of." "I would have been a Rastafarian, except that I won't accept the divinity of Haile Selassie. "My dad says I'm a heathen." "By that definition, I consider myself a witch." "I've been a Reverend in the Church of Universal Life for a few years now.." "Pacifist." "Pantheistic solipsist."

All of the above are true, but the last one is the one I give most often, because its relative complication in the age of the fifteen minute attention span means that people usually just nod wisely and say something along the lines of "I've heard of that..." (They haven't, unless they're Robert Heinlein fans; an ex and I once decided that the description given by the creator of the conjunction in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress was the closest thing to our real life philosophy we'd ever read in plain language.) Only people who like to know things for real usually ask me to explain.

But when little old ladies ask me if I "have faith" (again, my job), I can always answer them confidently, "Yes, ma'am, I do." And when I see exit polls counting votes for Bush as votes for "moral values", I go, "Hey! What about all us not-easily-labeled cranky freethinkers? Didn't we start this country?"

Even the best Discordian needs a community of chaotic folks (that's ch/good and ch/neut for the D&D geeks), and mine meets Wednesday nights in the front room of a tiny urban household (kind of like the early Christians). We're in the process of rethinking our goals, but we serve -- as all spiritual communities do -- as a repository of "people like us" in a world that is often not "like us" -- in the sense of kind, good, or understanding. There are seven of us. There are five hundred people in my mother's church, where I was raised and baptized, and I see "W" stickers every time I visit there. But I notice the same seeds of intolerance among those I consider "my people" that I once condemned in hers.

Maybe hierarchical thinking is simply ingrained too deeply in the human culture, but I see us -- in our liberal wrath, in our sometimes-deserved bemoaning of the rights of people like us (not usually in working on magic and spiritual things time, but in social time) descend into sniping and bitterness and demonization of the other side. I find myself often in the position of what, for lack of a better term, I must call "devil's advocate" -- the one who says, "Guys, guys -- we can't blame the fact that the entire world is fucked up on Christians, we have to blame it on stupid people." I name-check the Quakers and the Ba'hai more often than I think I should have to when the negativity about organized religion in general gets too high. I know too many moral people of faith who thrive off order and companionship in their spiritual path to say that the moral and ethical people of random or no faith I know are better off, more intelligent, or more enlightened on the whole. While I still delight in telling people with eighties-hysteria about Satanism that the Eleven Satanic Laws of the Earth contain a prohibition against harming little children, I am often saddened to have to remind people I consider to be relatively sensitive and tolerant that two thousand years ago pagans were slaughtering Christians for sport.

I often entertain Manichaean morbidities -- the Manichaeans being a Gnostic offshoot, kicked out of Christianity for believing that evil, not good, created the world. But when my faith is not shaken, I believe that the entire universe was created of God. that the strings we can't see that Steve Hawking mathematically proved make the quanta spin and the atoms stick together and my cat start yowling at nothing at 5:30 in the morning on my day off are there and vibrating in a pattern most of us will never come close to comprehending because they are the only complete things -- the only things with total God-awareness, the only things that are not themselves made up of universes of tiner things. I often state that I believe in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Sometimes, I just go Discordian and don't bother to explain fnord. That's why there may or may not be a Part II, if I decide to try to set down the explanations in writing. They've always come out of dialogue before.

That said, if to my cells my body is a universe, then I am a cell in the body of my world. And I know cancer when I see it, and I see cancer -- cancer in the government, cancer in the corporate culture, cancer in the gimme-gimme-me-mes and the oh-poor-me-what-can-I-dos. (I am both, sometimes, so this is on me, too.)

If I don't love my world, and wish to preserve it -- if I don't spread more good chaos in my space -- then I am cancer, too. One wandering cell of malevolent intent can do a body a whole hell of a lot of damage, and it's not damage I'm out for. Remember, I'm a pacifist. My values are moral values: do what's good for other people and not just yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, even when you know they probably won't. Do not harm little children. God is love.

Jesus made water out of wine? Not hard if you can talk to atoms, and I'm sure he could -- some people think Jesus was the fifth Buddha, and I've got no evidence to the contrary. Jesus wants you to kill doctors? Um, Jesus hung out with a doctor. And an IRS guy. And a hooker. And a bunch of dirty hippie type people like myself, who argued and murmured and sometimes didn't believe. If Jesus were a black guy in my neighborhood, he and the disciples would have already been arrested on suspicion of something. Don't tell me a guy who got in touch with the universal Om well enough to pull atoms apart and rearrange them with his brain wants you to kill anybody, or hate anybody, or pass laws about anything. The real Jesus kept his mouth shut about laws that blatantly discriminated against his people, paid his taxes, and got killed for talking about nothing but loving each other and being decent. Allah valued hospitality so much he got on Abrahams's ass about not sharing food with a man who prayed differently. The Talmud values human life over any religious observance. I know all this and I don't practice a single one of those faiths. Were the Manichaeans right? Is the world really the plaything of the Demiurge? Is that why there are Bushes...because the Demiurge has been watching one of my partner stations and wants to kick it up a notch?

Crise de foi, crisis of faith. Crise de foie, crisis of the liver. Maybe this is all the fault of the bologna I had for dinner, but sometimes despair tries to set in. Let's refer back to my horoscope for March:

**note: I am not such a smart witch that I realized I'd need a different post for the celibacy thing and the horoscope thing, so neener, I ain't changin' it.**

March. No-Thingness (reversed). Life in March is apparently going to be a pointless void, or feel like one; nothingness as opposed to detachment. March is going to SUCK, I betcha. (V, the Hierophant. See why I hate Western decks? They're all scarylike.)

Ostara. Fighting. At the Spring Equinox "Fighting" is an OK card to get, less scary than it seems. Apparently this Equinox needs to be dedicated to Erys and the warrior gods. That's OK; I've been meaning to read the Principia Discordia for three years now and haven't gotten around thereto. Whip me a little harder, why don't you, Future? (Knight of Swords)

Swords are Air, the Mind. Fighting in the mind? At Ostara? You don't say. But it wasn't as bad as it could have been, mostly because I had the Principia at work, and that book will forcibly keep you from taking anyone and anything seriously, even the National Scrabble Championship.

The original notes on the entire month of March include the phrase "The world's not going to hell, it's just the Void, hon. Let go."

Damn you, gently falling raindrop..

**eta: The title said "Belive" for a minute. Fnord.**


At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Lady Alambil said...

I haven't cross-referenced any of your links...I'm sure I shall at some point...but going on this entry alone, my thoughts run as such:
Pantheistic Solipsism, as Evan explained it to me, both makes a sort of sense to me, and doesn't seem to jive with what I read. I just can't seem to pin the tag "solipsist" on anything I read here. That's probably just me.
Way to go on the intolerance thing! Fanatics of any sort scare me. "Guys, guys -- we can't blame the fact that the entire world is fucked up on Christians, we have to blame it on stupid people." - Ab-so-fucking-lutely.
I have some fundamental differences of belief with you, especially when you get to the string theory. It's facinating, but Tolkein-esque free will is an indispensible facet of my belief structure, and string theory is, as I understand it, by its nature deterministic. That's just an observation, not a critique. :)
Good stuff with the observations on Jesus, Allah, and the Talmud! Things like this section remind me that I need/want to study more, understand more.
Anywho...I'm not sure if that's what you wanted of me when you asked me to read this...but that's what came out. Hope it was helpful/enjoyable/amusing! *smiles*


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