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  • hardie karges 9:18 am on April 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , KABBALAH,   

    Religio-Politics 2015: Capitalist Kabbalah, Dial ‘F’ for ‘Freedom’… 

    I don’t know why there is such hatred from mostly-Christian Westerners toward Middle Eastern cultures generally and Islamic religion specifically, any more than I know why there is such racism toward black people from those same Westerners. I suspect it’s because we’re so similar, and historically so close geographically, so competing for the same turf, really, physically and psychologically. They’re violent; we’re violent. They’ve had great cultures; we’ve had great cultures. They’re stubbornly opinionated; we’re stubbornly opinionated. They had slavery; we had slavery. So why all the animosity?

    Despite all the historic animosity over the Crusades, which was mostly an act of European aggression, there is the case of modern Israel, once again mostly an act of Western aggression, as Israel re-invents itself as a modern European-style alcohol-based republic, situated in the heart of the Mideast, after centuries of being ghettoized in Europe itself and largely protected in the Mideast itself.

    That’s brilliant—and our cross to bear, somehow, all puns intended. The current fad of ‘Christian Zionism’ is ample proof of that. Other than that, the only real difference is that we—and Israel—are free-for-all devil-may-care capitalist consumerist economies, while most of the oil-based Mideast is not. Hmmm… No surprise there, as Jewish banking funded Portugal, then Spain, then northern Europe in their Age of Discovery, after the expulsion from Spain along with fellow Muslims. They never looked back, at their former life as Middle Easterners—until now. It gets worse.

    For all the good it’s done, runaway capitalism today is the number-one problem facing the world, not terrorism IMHO. Enough is enough. Terrorists aren’t destroying the planet with global warming. We Westerners (Americans especially) are, we and our precious freedoms: freedom to drive our cars, mostly, around and around, uptown and downtown, whatever is left of our hollowed-out cities, existing for little more than ceremonial purposes (i.e. entertainment) now.

    The Big Lie in America is that ‘they covet our freedoms’, but the truth is far from the narrative. We said that first about Communists, and now about ‘jihadis’, and neither one was true, not necessarily because they don’t want more freedom, but because we’re hardly the paradigm for it. The communists waited in line for bread; we wait in line for Apple watches. “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Both have failed miserably. So what’s the big difference? Desire selects accordingly. The prostitute picks her trick. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:49 pm on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Nashville,   

    Gays on TV, Gays in Nashville 

    Kudos to TV’s ‘Nashville’ for having two men kiss on-screen, in a fairly realistic situation, in a fairly realistic way. That takes cojones in a show based around country music, an industry that loves to take cheap shots on liberal sacred cows. I was pretty skeptical, too, after their biracial relationship consisted of a ‘black’ lady with mostly cream, not much coffee, in her DD cups. Now the homosexual relationship is not exactly a romp through the bath houses, or a parade through the Castro district of San Francisco, but it is full of subtlety and nuance. No, I’m not gay; I’m just a fairly reliable member of a dying club–liberalism (cue God’s wrath in a thunderbolt from above)…

     
  • hardie karges 9:31 am on April 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chess, environmentalism   

    Religio-Politics 101: Winning the Endgame 

    The future for the planet ain’t so good, to be perfectly honest. If I were a fire-and-brimstone preacher, I’d probably say it’s God’s wrath punishing us for our many sins, trespasses and transgressions, and not forgiving those who trespass against us. That metaphor is powerful, and quite effective, but only if you believe in a war God, a God of wrath, and one that inspires great fear, the Judaic god that Christianity tried to soften for a kinder gentler soft Chuy future, with varying degrees of success.

    The issue is not who’s to blame for the current morass and malfeasance. The issue is how to survive in a world increasingly crowded and belligerent, hell-bent and money-broke. Liberalism is dead and conservatism is a joke. Democrats are deadbeat diehards and Republicans are a hoax. Everything is a caricature of itself now and politics are no exception. I always knew that the USA—and most of the world—was racist to the core, but I always thought that some civility would rule the day, not fear.

    Environmentalism is the only politics I care about these days, and I don’t mean a plastic bag here or a recycled paper plate there. I’m talking about survival of the species, something that everyone should at least give thought to IMHO, given the dire warnings for climate and food production by such entities no less than NASA, a visible face to a thoroughly-modern problem that was easier to ignore when proffered by some anonymous group like “97% of all scientists” or something anomalous like that.

    This is real and that is fact, insomuch as we are now officially victims of our own success, a few short generations ago double-digit-size families required to ensure survival of the family name, now those multiple filials threaten the demise of entire civilizations while family lineages take over entire cemeteries, resting in peace and lying in symmetry, rows and rows where poppies used to grow. Of course some nickel-and dime philosophers (not me, I charge two bits = $ .25) assume that all was well before religion, and that atheism is preferable, but you and I know better than that.

    ‘Innate ideas’ are few and far between, Descartes; ditto, Chomsky. Almost everything is learned. I’ve got a hunch that some of the knowledge is even transmitted across generations, but given the lack of evidence for any transfer particles, it’s probably better to hold my piece, out of fear of being labeled ‘LaMarckian’ and burned at the steak (yes, I know how to spell, just illustrating how evolution proceeds by brilliant mistake, by single-letter deletions and resource depletion.

    Do you want to be right or do you want to be alive? Make a choice; the dreadful freedom is yours. Awesome or awful? Terrifying or terrific? Perception is everything. Connotation is intuitive even where Meaning is explicit. You decide… the clock is ticking…

     
  • hardie karges 9:39 am on April 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apple pie, Ben & Jerry, dental, ice cream, smoothie   

    Apple Pie Smoothies and Life a la Mode… 

    Is there really no ‘Apple Pie’ flavor in the Ben & Jerry’s roster of winning tastes? That’s too bad. That’s hard to believe. After all, we grew up eating it ‘a la mode’, didn’t we? Aren’t Ben and Jerry all about putting comfort food in a cone? They have strawberry cheesecake, peach cobbler and maybe even Strawberry Alarm Clock, don’t they? I’m surprised they don’t have a pizza flavor…

    So in my current era of oral limits (no jokes, please) and gastric longing, post-surgery tooth extraction on both sides with a blister on my lip tossed in for good measure and God’s little reminder, ice cream the only hand-maiden in a rapidly shrinking universe, I tossed a healthy dose of apple pie, crust and all, into the blender, added milk and crushed ice then gave it a whirl. It was delish. I am vindicated….

     
  • hardie karges 5:17 pm on April 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Happy Easter, Passable Passover: Jesus as Shaman… 

    Christian church in Ethiopia

    Christian church in Ethiopia

    Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. ….

    That one line is enough to seal Jesus’s claim to fame as a prophet for me, even as much or more than the commandment of all commandments to “love your neighbor as yourself”, because it speaks to the heart of belief, and belief systems, which, of course, are at the very heart of religion, all religions. It even foresees the current degenerate state of ‘celebrity sickness’ that consumes the West in which everyone pursues his fifteen minutes of Warholian fame, and for which nothing else will suffice.

    When pilots crash planes and kill passengers just so they will be remembered, then we have a problem. When school-kids murder classmates for the same reason, then it’s obvious that the disease attacks at an early age. We chastise and castigate Muslim fundamentalists for their misplaced martyrdom, but offer no such cultural indictments upon our own celebrity-sick suicides, manipulative marketing techniques nor the ubiquitous hero-worship that populates social media to the gills. The desire for celebrity is the desire to be worshiped, the height of egotism.

    Jesus could foresee all that as easily as he could see that he himself would find scarce acceptance where people knew him as Joseph the carpenter’s son. He could see that people would become bored with Rome and seek knowledge in gurus and mahatmas and eventually even the parables of a mysterious carpenter’s son, but that his own family would never see that in him. Such is the price of enlightenment; it is selective.

    Jesus is possibly the greatest religious figure of all time, but he was a lousy religion-builder. That’s why we don’t sit around reading his great writings. He didn’t write. Buddha, Muhammad, Lao-tse and Confucius did much better at systems-building. That’s not Jesus’s failure, though, if he never intended such. What we study as Christian doctrine is as much Plato and Aristotle as Jesus. I think Jesus’s mission was to remind us of what we were about to forget as nomadic tribespeople as what we were about to learn as civilized city-folk, something he could see clearly while gazing upon Rome from Palestine.

    Jesus was a shaman, a Jewish one. Everything he did was shamanic, the communion with spirits and the performance of miracles. This was a rare commodity around the beginning of the Common Era, but it may have been much more common much earlier. Jesus could have intuited much of that, if not picked it up outright from one of many nomadic people still unassimilated at the time.

    Little or nothing is known of Jesus’s missing eighteen years, during which time it is imagined that he hang with the Essenes, Sadducees, or Pharisees, or even ventured as far afield as India to receive enlightenment; anything but the likely truth that he drove nails: all the better to appreciate the irony of having them driven into him a few short years later (and possibly developing some resentment against the conquering Romans).

    Easter is all about Jesus’s resurrection, his supposed return to life after death, every bit as miraculous as his supposed virgin birth; veracity optional. His magic act depended as much on suspension of disbelief as it did on physical transformation. That’s what shamans do. So do doctors, as in placebo effect. His healings are proof of his divinity for us otherwise-rational pharma-weary Westerners, whereas Christians of different backgrounds might find a different emphasis. His teachings pretty much boil down to one word: love. Duh.

    Now that’s revolutionary, but hardly a system of religion. Buddhist may have been a Buddhist and Muhammad was probably a Muslim, but Jesus was never a Christian. That’s the attraction, the call of the wilderness in us Europeans who scarcely even existed as a definitive group in Jesus’s times, Christianity and Europe coming into being together, in some sort of symbiotic relationship, developing a creed much different from that more aboriginal style still to be found today in Ethiopia, Armenia, and yes, even Palestine. Jesus is the wild crazy guy inside us, speaking in that still small voice. Now there’s food for thought. Happy Easter.

     
  • hardie karges 10:04 am on March 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: body, , , Death Cab for Cutie, , She and Him, soul, Zooey Deschanel   

    Religion Meets Politics; Body Meets Soul: Capitalism is the Past; Buddhism is the Future… 

    Huh? What? Is this guy illiterate? Why is he comparing apples and oranges while alluding to bananas under the influence of ananas (pineapples), knowing all the while that the only fruit that can cure his disease are cherries and sometimes cranberries? (Orange you glad I didn’t venture into tropical fruits whose names are only known through vague inference and oblique reference and bad translations like jack-fruits and custard apples and the alligator pears of a previous era?)

    Surely this is the greatest travesty of language competence since half-decent actress Zooey Deschanel and that other guy with a letter for a first name decided to call their musical duo ‘She and Him’, knowing all the while that one pronoun was nominative and the other accusative, without even considering the political implications of a feminine subject getting all on-top transitive and doing it to a masculine object, sure payback’s a b*tch, a batch of contradictions, but really his guitar-playing’s not half-bad and her only musical background is the title role in a season of ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ and the best line she ever had in a movie was “Penis!” in that flick with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But I digress.

    I mean, you can’t just inter-mix religion and politics for Sunday entertainment, now, can you, despite or because of the fact that it’s prohibited? Can you? “Never talk religion and politics” is an adage as old as America itself and the mixing of the two is an affront to the separation of Church and State that lies at the heart of our dysfunctional system of government, isn’t it? Why, yes; dysfunctional, that is…

    Everything’s different now. Everything is a caricature of itself, and nothing is sacred anymore. Our Western and American values are up for grabs and subject to reinterpretation. Our freedoms have degenerated into licentiousness, and our liberties have lost their licenses. Our paradigms have shifted and our grounds have been re-sifted. Religion has nothing to do with church anymore and politics has nothing to do with government. Work is not all about money anymore and life is all about quality and not quantity. The merger of politics and religion does not signal theocracy. It signals maturity.

    Capitalism must die, pool sharks notwithstanding. Its continuation threatens the planet and society. It doesn’t have to end overnight, but the sooner the better: no more booms and crashes, no more zooms and clashes. I’m not talking about free enterprise, mind you. That’s different. That’s sacred. Capitalism is a perversion of it, most likely originated in the extension of credit, and the various packaging and re-packing that comes and goes with that.

    If that makes me a Communist, then so be it. I prefer ‘Buddhist'; yes, that’s no typo. It’s no accident that some of the most successful Communist countries had a prior history of Buddhism. Even today the line is blurred—in China, Vietnam, Laos, Burma and elsewhere. But I’m not talking about totalitarian dictatorships. I’m talking about shared spaces and shared societies, not shares of common stock. The only common stock I care about is DNA handed down in re-stacked decks, hands shuffled and re-shuffled for hybrid vigor and species survival.

    If religions must go through the phases of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism (in no certain order) as lives must go through the phases of youth, middle age and ‘seniority’ = discipline, love and wisdom, then so, too, must societies go through the political phases of dictatorship, democracy and socialism both in their political and economic applications (‘apps’ for short). But the order is not ordered and the ‘roll-out’ is confusing. Silly phases must be gone through (passive voice intentional) and ch-ch-changes must occur in fields and screens of red, blue and green. Stay tuned…

     
  • hardie karges 10:13 am on March 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , terror   

    #Religion #Politics #Economics, Oh My! the Lure of the Inevitable… 

    Screen Shot 2013-03-24 At 6.29.27 PmWhy do guys—and girls—join groups like ISIL and Boko Haram and Al-Shabab? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it is much the same reason that a generation ago they (we) were joining the Weathermen, the Red Guards, Charles Manson and God-knows-who-all? He ain’t telling…

    For one thing we all want to be on the right side of history, correct? So there’s that. But more than that I think we want to create the right side of history, i.e. get it right, for once and for all. Call me an incurable romantic and unbridled idealist, but I truly think that many, if not most of us, truly want to make the world a better place and are searching hard for the best means of going about that in some rational coherent truthful and esthetically pleasing way, and unwilling to accept the lure of racism and hatred and the reductio ad absurdum that “might makes right.” It doesn’t.

    Of course the players have changed much since the pseudo-communistic stylings of our 60’s and 70’s Western forebears as inspired by Marx, Lenin and Che on a good day. Now many of those revolutionaries are silent, if not silenced, and their grandsons and granddaughters gorge themselves on iPhone chat and buzz-feed just like any other normal healthy youngsters, the previous knee-jerk rejection of our own affluence now nothing more than a shallow reflection of our youthful inclination for school-taught idealism and the exuberance of hedonism on the installment plan, enjoy now pay later…

    In dog years, those were our college days, civilization’s that is, twenty-one and counting, young and full of it, ready to bend worlds and wills to our liking, and assuming that nothing could be easier. Disaffected Western youth ruled the moment as only one particular group in any given zeitgeist can. It was ‘our time.’ Subsequent computer revolutionaries and keyboard warriors can make similar claim to some effect. The former were building on political foundations laid down a half-century before while the latter were building on Industrial Revolutionary foundations laid down a century before, the modern dialectic.

    But religion is part of this political/economic dialectic, too, so call it a trialectic if you will, no tied scores. The Christian West still gets it up for a good fight over abortion, but the main religious movement these days is with the Islamic jihadis. And while I don’t think they actually fit the prescribed mold of “rational coherent truthful and esthetically pleasing,” still I do think they honestly believe they’re doing the right thing, not inherently evil as commonly portrayed. Couldn’t you say the same the same things about drone strikes? Palestine? Fracking?  They do.  For better or worse, they own the political zeitgeist. It’s ‘their time’…. or so they feel…

    The rewards of this material existence are many but shallow—smart-phones Apple watches and Google cars only give so much pleasure before boredom and rot set in. There is as much pleasure in the smile of a child or in helping a friend than there are in all of the gadgets in Best Buy or Target. And you can wear it on your wrist or on your eyes, and still you only have children’s toys to keep you warm at night (though the technology it represents may indeed be profound, life-changing and earth-shattering).

    I’m not the only one who knows this. Thus people revert to the love of their pets as human relations become belligerent and sour, as the rise of Petco in the strip malls proceeds apace. And jihadis try to save souls while bending the world to fit their ends, in the rough wilderness, just like a generation of Cuban barbudos before them. Ironically there just may be common cause between freedom-loving Westerners and caliphate-loving jihadis.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jihadis are not the ones destroying the planet by enviro-cide. Westerners are, and as soon as we admit that, and deal with it, then healing can proceed apace. Until we stop demonizing them, and see the equality of error in our own ways, then we are doomed to live and die by the sword. If a just peace can be accomplished, then we can proceed with the larger task: saving the species. Best good start is for someone to articulate a future without cars. Garden cities, anyone?

    And don’t fall into the hubristic trap of denial. A Mideast jobs program will not cure all ills any more than imposing our ‘freedoms’ upon them. They don’t love our freedoms. They’re disgusted by them, as are many Westerners, too, or were, at least. Drunkenness? Murder? Pornography? Prostitution? No, thanks. How about if I put some high-tech into those future garden cities? Hmm, looking better now, isn’t it? Tech is enviro-friendly. Stay tuned…

     
  • hardie karges 8:48 am on March 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Religion 101: DNA as a Crown of Thorns—God Genes, Gay Genes, Devils in Blue Jeans 

    crown of thorns

    crown of thorns

    There has long been scuttlebutt about some so-called ‘God Gene’… but none has ever been found. And there has long been scuttlebutt about some so-called ‘Gay Gene’… but none has ever been found. Now there is even talk of a ‘travel gene’ predisposing us travelers to lengthy peregrinations and various unnamed (unmentionable?) and unrequited desires. So what? Why does it matter? Why bother even asking the question? Thus the debate rages, long after Calvin, long after Hobbes (no, not the cartoon characters; where do you think they came from BTW?).

    Free will vs. determinism is one of the major debates of the post-classical pre-modern Christian religio-philosophic phase, long after St. Augustine incorporated Plato into the mix, and St. Thomas added Aristotle. This is closely contemporaneous with the Western philosophical tradition’s division into two opposing camps: the British Empiricists and the Continental Rationalists. For those of you unschooled in that history, that was a preference for either experience or rationality as the basis of knowledge.

    And it was no passive intellectual preference, the roots of it likely going back to Gothic pragmatic feudalism in the decentralized European countryside after the downfall of Roman hierarchical imperial cities, and continuing in the sprawling US/UK suburban piecemeal planning vs. centralized European cities to this day. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 8:50 am on March 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Religion 101: God as Superhero, & a Case of Species Exceptionalism to go, please… 

    American Exceptionalism? Meh, I’ll pass on that, sounds like a weak concept from the get-go, the definition of ‘American’ subject to the shifting southwestern sands of borders and politics and vaguely articulated definitions… to say nothing of the continents from which we ALL came: Asia, Europe, and Africa. But ‘species exceptionalism’? I’ll buy that. We are certainly exceptional, for better or worse, all contradictions considered…

    We are the love monkeys, we are the hate monkeys, we are the smart monkeys, we are the stupid monkeys, we are the happy monkeys, we are the sad monkeys, we are the f*ck monkeys, we are the abstinence monkeys, we are the drunk monkeys, we are the abstinence monkeys, we are the drug monkeys, we are the sober monkeys, we are the music monkeys, we are the sober monkeys, etc…

    Cut the DNA deck, re-shuffle, and the results would likely never be the same—humanity. Re-arrange the continents and it would’ve all been different. Out of nowhere comes a butterfly to flutter by and there goes the neighborhood—pure chaos. Cue Mandelbrot. This is something routinely overlooked in almost all discussions of extra-terrestrial life: the odds of intelligent life on THIS planet are infinitesimally small, yet—here we are. Cue Darwin. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 8:56 am on March 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , eye for an eye, Hammurabi, , , lex talionis   

    Religion 101: Revenge is not sweet, not like turning the other cheek…. 

    An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth,” is probably the most misunderstood phrase in all human history, its modern implications suggesting—no, NECESSITATING—revenge, at any and all costs. We modern Westerners especially like to accuse Islamic cultures of this, suggesting that they are violent from the get-go, and obsessed with revenge. Now I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to find it in the Qur’an, considering that it is already present in the prior two editions of the Great Abrahamic Monotheistic Trilogy: the Torah (Old Testament) and the New Testament…

    This doctrine of vendetta is probably better expressed by the Spanish ‘sangre se paga con sangre’: “blood is re-paid with blood”. Yuk. That is truly a sad commentary coming from what was once the heartland of the Christian diaspora, leaving little doubt as to its intents, blood suggestive of life itself, with little subtlety or nuance as to what the actual loss is, and the extent to which someone has suffered damage. This is blood feud, ethnic cleansing, to the victor belong the spoils. ‘Spoils’, indeed. Under this system of escalating violence, all will surely be lost, later if not sooner…

    That is EXACTLY what the law of ‘Eye for an eye’ was originally intended to prevent, as first enunciated by Hammurabi in ancient Babylonia. Actually the best translation would be “ONLY an eye for an eye, and ONLY a tooth for a tooth.” I had this explained to me long ago, and assumed that it would soon become de rigueur in the marketplace of ideas, but no, the concept is still bandied about as the Muslim approach to eventual world brutalization and domination. True, the ‘jihadis‘ don’t help by cutting off the hands of thieves, but that is something entirely different, and truly barbaric… (More …)

     
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