Archive for October, 2008

God Bless Joe Pesci

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Well here it is, Halloween. The is a day dedicated to pretending to be something we’re not. I asked God what he was going go as today, but he pointed out to me that since human senses are completely incapable of experiencing him as he actually is, that pretty much every day is dress up day for him.

I got to thinking about the afterlife this week and in particular about George Carlin’s afterlife. George, when he was alive talked about switching from praying to God, to praying to Joe Pesci. He pointed out that his prayers seemed to get answered at about the same rate and he felt like he was presuming less on his friendship with God. So now George is dead and Joe is still alive. As an aside here, let me point out that I could have used some euphemism like “passed on” but, it being Halloween and all, it just seems like it would be disrespectful to the day to not just come right out and say “dead,” so I did.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

It just strikes me as funny that the whole flow of prayer has now gotten reversed. George is up in heaven or down in hell praying to someone here on Earth, while so many other people are here on Earth busily praying to someone up in heaven.

Alanis Morrisette ought to write a song about it.

Scary Stuff

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Since it’s fall and Halloween is coming, I’ve been talking a lot of death with God lately. She actually finds it kind of fascinating because it’s something that she can’t actually do. Oh, she can enter into something that’s dying, or various other tricks (or treats) but it’s just pretending when it comes down to it. It’s like us watching some character die in a movie, it might give us insight, but it’s not the same as really dying.

What she finds particularly interesting is how we put so much effort into celebrating something that we only ever get to experience in the future, something that none of us ever get the chance to hear a first person account of. So without a chance to get any first hand information, we’ve concocted various Day of the Dead celebrations, such as Halloween. Even funerals can be looked at as just another way of us preparing for that last great adventure, of trying to experience it in our heads before it happens.

The Christian take is that we’ll shuffle of our mortal coil and then catch the express train to either heaven or hell, depending on how good we were while living. Before getting the chance to have daily conversations with God, I was a pretty staunch atheist, but I still lived my life being as good as I could reasonably manage. I didn’t do it to get into heaven, but rather because of a firm belief that if we all tried to be good to each other the world would be a much more pleasant place.

So this leads me to wonder, what if I got into heaven just by being good and without “accepting Jesus Christ as my personal saviour?” What if I got up there and discovered that the place was mostly full of proselytizing zealots? That’s a notion I find a lot scarier than any horror movie I’ve seen. Maybe I should dress up as a preacher this Halloween and see how many little kids I can scare then? Then again, thanks to the Catholic church, that might be a whole different kind of scary.

Christian Consumers

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Fall is upon us and Halloween is just around the corner. Here in the U.S. we’re good little Christian consumers so the three calendar events that most empty our wallets are Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. An interesting thing that God pointed out to me is that Christmas and Easter are kind of like Iceland and Greenland, in that they’re kind of the opposite of what they advertise themselves to be.

See, Christmas tells us it’s about the birth of Christ, yet it was designed by the early Christians as a replacement for the Winter Solstice celebrations. Now they’ll tell you that that fits because it’s about the days starting to get longer so it’s about the rebirth of the sun, but really it’s a marking of the low point of the year, with regards to the sun, so it’s an observance of the death of the sun.

Easter, on the other hand, is supposed to be about the death of Christ. Again, they try to mix you up and tell you it’s about him rising from the dead, but zombie stories aside, it’s his death on the cross that we really focus on. But, like all good Christian holidays, this was designed to let the newly minted Christians still have parties and celebrations when they always did as your basic pagans, this case being the celebration of Spring, when all the world seems to be bursting with new life.

Halloween, however, has no pretensions about it. It’s about death and death it’s about. Oh they’ll pay lip service to it being about getting ready for All Soul’s Day on November first, if you really push them, but mostly they don’t shy away from good old ghoulies and ghosties. So start practicing your zombie shuffle, or your Hungarian accent and get ready for another year’s whistling past the graveyard.

Live Better

Friday, October 10th, 2008

With the U.S. elections coming up, God and I thought it might be a good time to remind you of some bits of history. One of the things that I run into in my profession is a lot of smart people that are adamantly against anything union. They’ve heard lots of stories about the excesses of unions and the corruption that goes on in some unions and they never really stop to think that part of why they’ve heard those stories so much and heard so little of what the unions have done that was good, is that they get most of their stories through the mainstream media, media run by big corporations that have nothing to gain from well organized labor.

I’d just like to remind people of some of the things that union members fought for, and even died for, in the past. Things like forty hour work weeks. Things like paid vacations. Things like eliminating (or at least reducing) abusive child labor. People in America take these things for granted and assume we could never go back.

“Never” is a very foolish word. Like Democracy and Freedom, some things must be fought for again and again.

I saw a car not long ago that didn’t seem really clear on the issue. They had two bumper stickers. One which read, “Live Better, Work Union,” and the other was in support of Ron Paul for President. In case you don’t know enough about Ron Paul to see the cognitive dissonance displayed by the juxtaposition of these stickers, imagine a a car with two bumper stickers, one says “Meat is Murder” and the other “I’d Rather be Hunting.” Either the owner of that car couldn’t be bothered to learn much about the politicians they supported, or they were just too ironic to be allowed to live. I’ll leave it to you to decide which.

Proposition 8

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Well, it’s just about a month to election time. Out here in California we’ve got a proposition on the ballot that’s kind of important to me, Proposition 8. Proposition 8 would eliminate the right currently held by the gay and lesbian couples of California to marry. Given that there are churches on both sides of this issue, both for and against, I thought I’d go right to the top and ask God what she thinks of it. Not just the proposition, but the whole idea of gay men or lesbian women marrying the person they love.

Now when I put it like that, sure I was loading the question, but if God can’t get past a loaded question, well who can? So I asked her and she told me that actually, she doesn’t care about marriage at all, gay or straight. The thing that she explained to me is that she created the idea of mating and the natural processes that go along with that, but that marriage is strictly ours. And like anything where we’ve tried to conflate the domains of government and religion, we’ve done nothing but make it a big mess.

So how would she vote? She wouldn’t say. She said that asking her how she’d vote was sort of like asking a person what flowers they’d pollinate if they were a bee, it’s just not a question that makes any sense. However, she was willing to agree with me that it would be a shame to break with tradition and actually enshrine discrimination against consenting adults into the California constitution. At least I think that’s what she was agreeing with.