Monday, October 01, 2007
Thanks for the Reminder
I apologize for once again spending too much time on this blog on local Buddhist issues, especially since most of you probably have no clue what I'm talking about, and what's more don't care. Plus it probably does no good for me or anyone else for me to spend time and cyberspace ripping well-meaning people for their ineptitude. As for Nashville Buddhism, I'm not a Buddhist teacher and have never claimed to be, so I think it's time for me to follow Brad's advice and Sit Down and Shut Up. I need to spend more time on my own personal practice and less on non-existent Buddhist "politics." In future entries, I will spend some time and some stuff that's worked for me, now and in the past, and leave other people alone. At least I'll try, thought there's this one local group just begging for a parody...
Anyway. I ran across this article this morning, and it reminded me why I started the Ratzaz Diaries, almost two years and one hundred entries ago. John McCain, who once appeared to be a man of integrity and clarity compared to the Bush Cabal, then sold his soul and his credibility in his efforts to appeal to brain-dead Bush supporters, has once again branded himself as the kind of doofus who shouldn't be anywhere near a position of political responsibility in American. The fact that he's still better than the creatures who are in control now is a moot point, though a scary one. Luckily, he seems to have permanently alienated the kind of thoughtless, history-free moron who might be wooed by the position he sets forth, apparently in Beliefnet, that only Christians should be allowed to assume the permanently soiled mantle of the U.S. Presidency.
Early on in the Ratzaz Diaries, I took a radically anti-Christian position. That position was based on my personal situation at the time. Since then, I have definitely mellowed on the subject; in a world in which a huge portion of humanity has given up on any positive or redeeming principles at all, the sincere Christians are trying to do what they believe is right. Yes, I still think that their underlying beliefs are delusional and pretty much flat-out insane, in the face of the modern world; but I also think that since we are all marching toward the same oblivion as a civilization, that Christians, like morphine addicts, can be forgiven their escape hatch. My own different path is based on an insistence on confronting and accepting reality, but not everyone will find that either desirable or possible, when the bullet meets the bone (to quote Golden Earring).
Also, a word to you well-meaning soles who have argued, in the spirit of Thomas Merton, that all religions come together on the highest level: perhaps. When one is speaking, say, of a Trappist monk and a Tibetan monk who have each spent thirty years in silent meditation, I am quite wiling to believe that the state they have entered is the same. I've never been there, and probably won't get there. I still think ultimately one has to drop off the sense of the Other, whether that be God, Jesus or Buddha, before one finds the selfless Self. But that's too much for this post.
The issue is, that's not the Christianity John McCain is talking about, or that his follower would identify with, if he still has any. I think that their Christianity is more like that of the man who inspired me to begin the Ratzaz Diaries in October, 2005 (and to quit my job less than three months later). That man was the manager of the company I worked for at the time, and he used to come in every day, whacked out of what was left of his mind on prescription drugs, puffing and snorting, full of his daily dose of reality from Fox News. Probably his major disease was an obsessive homophobia, which I have always taken to be a symptom of closeted gay urges, and I couldn't take one more day of this moron ranting about "queers." His second obsession was his own Christianity; he was a lifelong Catholic, and I believe his beliefs are quite sincere; he claims to have many friends of other religions and to approve of all of them (though he never could wrap his cloudy head around a religion without a God), yet at the same time he would insist that the United States was a Christian country, founded by Christians, and should stay that way.
By the way, this man was in many ways a very well-intentioned human being. I think he very much wanted to be my friend, and in a way he was and still is. He spent hours fixing my computer when I dumped the hard drive, and was probably the easiest person to work for imaginable, if you could ignore the bombasts. So this is really about how dumb beliefs (and Fox News) can poison a good person who does not have a sufficient defense against institutionally promulgated ignorance.
Now anyone with a real history book or an inquisitive mind knows that, while doubtless the earlier settlers of the Americas were in fact primarily Christians - under pain of death to be, many of them - the Constitution was a child of the rational European mind of the eighteenth century, and was written primarily by Deists and atheists. In its flawed brilliance, the United States Constitution was probably the greatest document ever to emerge from a committee, foreshadowed perhaps by the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, but the first indication of the dominance of the rational mind over the Western civilization of the next two centuries. It is a document that most of the world does not have the cultural background to understand or appreciate, which the morons who now run this "Christian" nation ignore when they try to foist the child of Western rationalism among Islamic fundamentalists or Asians whose traditions all come from monarchy or dictatorship.
When the civilization of which we have been fortunate enough to have experienced the peak and best is gone; when in the next few generations the total of the accomplishments of mankind has been wiped out by the inevitable consequences of mankind's obsessive, self-replicating, mindlessly spawning and all-consuming nature; will there still be copy of the U.S. Constituition left anywhere, as a paeon to our best and brightest moments? Indeed, in this age of the renaissance of blindness, ignorance and fanaticism, of civilizations's last grasping moments, will the clarity and hope of this country's founders survive even one more term of the Supreme Court, or one more lie from the mouths of its evil, corrupt and morally bankrupt leaders?
So, yeah you could do a lot worse than sincere Christianity. Sincere anything is at a a premium now. But thanks again to John McCain for the reminder of the well-meaning man who taught me the meaning for all time of one of the Boddhisattva vows: Fear, hatred, and ignorance rise endlessly. I vow to abandon them.