290. The Messiness of History

Image result for st patrick's cathedral ny picturesReligion      and     Politics need to be very far removed from each other.  We need both to balance each other, but that never seems to happen. When one gets the upper hand, look out people!  Bad juju follows every time. Even in little Dorothy’s world of Depression Era Kansas, there had to be violence and death to reset the scales of justice.

Here is the five second outline of religion.

Impotent and scared, self -centered humans needed an explanation for the forces of nature.

They created unseen gods to explain what couldn’t other wise be explained.

(Motley Crue, 1982)

Eventually a priest came forward to run the show at a price that escalated over time.

“Trust me, people, I got this. The answer to our problems are the people next door. Seize their land, grain, cattle and women.”

Image result for images of moses in the desert(Charlton Heston before he joined the NRA.)

At first it was really cool to have priests running the show. It was new and sexy and liberating to rampage with the moral upper hand.

A new coercive order came out of the earlier chaos.

But the priest’s family inherited the job’s benefits and a priestly aristocratic class developed.

The priests concocted really cool ceremonies and rituals with costumes and props that amazed and scared and entertained the common folk, the 99.9% who labored on behalf of the cool priesthood, their shrines and temples.

Image result for aztec ceremonial pictures'(Where the Wild things Are.)

The 99.9%, ironically, felt more secure while being controlled because they knew the gods were on their side. Yippee! Because the priests told them so and executed anyone who disagreed.

Unfortunately, being essentially selfish human beings, priests built up riches at the expense of the rest of their people by taxing them somehow or enslaving them. Nice work if you can get it.

However, by that time they had become the lawmakers for all because they stood between the gods and the rest of mankind. Whoopy ding ding. They called the shots  and reminded everyone that they called the shots.

(Hammurabi talks with a chumpy subject. “Get my dry cleaning.”)

The priests interpreted what the gods did or didn’t do in such a way that it kept the priests in power. “Oh that?  That’s a holy enigma chupa cabra enchilada.”

“Holy Moly! Posiedon is really ticked off! We need sacrifices right now… but not from my family. Slaughter a 99.9% er.”

They usually had to kill somebody for some orthodox reason, but really they were just keeping their own power.

Image result for aztec ceremonial pictures' (Aztec holy heart extrication. Hmmm, looks like a 40 regular.)

Pretty soon the priests needed body guards since violence became necessary with the control of others.

( Singh warrior with sword. A really big sword.)

 

Inevitably the whole thing collapsed because of drought or natural disaster or the invasion by another bunch of lunatics with a different cast of gods. Or even better, when one of the priests accused the others of lying to the 99.9%.

So a new god would be born from the disaster, who must be appeased by the next selfish group of priests who arose from the ashes like an old burnt chicken.

Repeat. “It’s all good. Trust me. I got this.”

Politics is very similar to religion.

Secular government, religion in a different uniform, comes in between the people and some material enemy.

Image result for george washington victory pictures(Washington crosses the Delaware before the Coast Guard issued him a citation for overcrowding and standing up in a moving non-motorized craft.)

At first the secular governors are good revolutionaries and well armed… and then they get greedy and better armed.

Secular government attaches to myths of strength and greatness of the subject people.

 (George Washington shirtless, godlike. Putinesque.)

Secular government develops symbols and raises an army to defend itself. Funny how only a few years ago it had to raise a rag tag army to fight the evil empire of tyranny and injustice which inevitably it has become.

Image result for u.s. revolutionary army pictures

Secular government develops a nifty tax code to pay their own salary.  The new priests tax the 99.9% sufficiently to finance the expansion of the new empire. It sounds different, but it’s not. Some unfortunate soul is gonna have his heart ripped out to preserve the state.

Secular government’s primary job is to make it absolutely necessary that everyone submit to secular government, i.e., maintain its preeminence in perpetuity.

(A retired secretary of state looks at his legacy sinking.)

Secular government does not like or allow competition as it develops an aristocratic ruling class that mutates into lobbyists, which are congressmen without constraints.

(Napoleon stuffing money in his jacket.)

Secular government will eventually butt heads with religion, trying to suck out the vital marrow of religious truths and values while breaking the bones of any real religious power that might challenge the secular center’s grip on temporal power.

Secular government eventually overrules all competition until the government becomes bloated and unsustainable, and yet demands to be worshiped and respected.

Secular government eventually collapses under its own weight… a fatted pig that cannot walk, and so dies from morbid obesity a few feet away from the public tax trough.

Image result for extremely fat pig pictures (A former congressman turned lobbyist in Arlington, Va.)

Mixing religion with politics is toxic and brings out the worst in both. When the religious right got in bed with right leaning politicians, things got very hostile and stupid. Somehow God was sort of on the ballot. I’m sure there is a matching leftist rendezvous somewhere also, where secular leftists plot the neutering of religious institutions, opening a perfect secular world for loony leftists. I suppose the secular media and progressive politicians go to the same parties in Washington and make fun of religious folks, who are at barbeques with preachers and politicians doing the same thing only using different buzz words. That’s an opposite and equal mistake. Again, we need both but not together and not with one subordinate to the other. There needs to be a strong tension between religious folks and secular government, power balancing power, with guaranteed destruction of civilization hanging in the balance.

 Oh, my. Lions and tigers and bears are everywhere on the Road to OZ, which never did exist. But it’s good to know in our binary world that God is on our side and, therefore, not on anyone else’s.

 

 

 

 

 

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262. Coffee, Constitution and commandments

Despite the utopian nature of the Coffee Summit and the wonderful cacophonous harmony of disunity that has persisted for the past five years, it is time for some tweaking of the original charter. The genuine Magna Carta napkin has been misplaced, possibly in a washing machine. I thought it was in my old wallet, but when I switched to a new wallet at Christmas, aghast! The most important napkin in Christendom was gone!! It was an agreement among unemployed giants of our time inked out during one of the bleakest periods in our collective history. Like Washington at Trenton or Meade at Gettysburg, the future of the nation was at stake as Tim the Silver Back and Chuckles and I stood in a wooden canoe crossing the Conococheague. (It was shallow there and narrow. Okay, we just walked across on a June morning, but it was powerfully symbolic.) And rather than wave a blank napkin of surrender, we (really I) wrote down on one powerful 3″ x  3″ square eternal truths to live by. And I-uh-I seem to have lost it.

I must, however, persevere and recall as much as I can of the Constitution of Coffee Nation before it deteriorates in the landfill of wasted time and wasted minds. First of all, it was decided by voice vote that we would meet Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. unless otherwise directed by the Supreme Imperial Leader, which I decided was me. For an entire college semester, however, we met on Fridays at 8:30 due to a teaching commitment I had made. It was Abnormal Psychology. Shocker. I drew heavily on my interactions with the primates at Coffee Nation for the class I taught. (Sotto voce) “Here are lowland gorilla men grazing at a coffee shop. The one on the bottom is thought to be a direct link to the Himalayan Yeti. Note his ululating calls… ‘Ugggguggggllll. Uggggugggglll’. We call him Chuckles. The one on the top is from Allentown.  His call resembles human speech… approximating the expression of pleasant surprise…’That’s so coooool’. ” He’s Timmy.

It was simple then… Two articles: No politics. No religion. Bodily noises were permissible and continue to be.  Mild violence is encouraged but not required. No outside food or drink is permitted, however. It is not forbidden so much as ridiculed. Brother Lance brought a purple lady’s coffee travel mug once. ONCE. It was a long day for him. But I am getting far ahead of the Nation’s coffee creamer thimble of tears.

We grew one unemployed and undeserving man at a time. Matt the creeper tried to deny his predilections while only reinforcing our beliefs. He ranted on about astral physics while staring at women’s physiques. He was sanctioned. Low octane Walt rolled along for a while. He didn’t even drink coffee. However, we puttered along through his successful chemo treatments. Truly, there are far more departed Nation brothers than active ones. Rob the candy and ice cruncher moved on. Josh the armed American bull rider came faithfully but got a job and married into the System. He was always good for NRA propaganda and outrageous right wing conspiracies from Fox News Nation. “Did you know more people were killed by water heaters last year than by guns?” Many times he was sanctioned for offending Our second amendment– no politics– and for being downright naïve.

The artist formerly known as Egginator was a faithful attendee and chess opponent, but the coffee was too strong for him and he fled back to his Motherland. Ron 1 used to keep the bar up with his aging frame, while chatting amiably to the pretty young barrista-ettes. We talked for  a while about him putting me into his will, but he was hung up on the fact that I was older than he was. “You could die first, Ron. You need to be prepared.” He could not see the logic in my argument despite his End Timer tendencies.

Chuck the Cowboy came for a few visits. He was too busy, though, and could not take the constant demand for sluggishness by the group. He had to rope a calf or canter about. This is the existential problem when it comes to do’ers versus be’ers. Coffee Nation is all about being and is on record against doing. Anything! Once Lance suggested a purpose for our aimless crew. He was severely sanctioned. “Ignore that voice of doooty. We are here merely to be or not to be. Doing is not in our Declaration of Indolence. Heel!”  Dave dropped in for chess a few times and disappeared into that blind alley of upper mobility like a character from a Springsteen song.  We of coffee nation curse the cruel JOBS that have decimated our ranks. As the chart below illustrates, happiness comes from set points, which means inertia. Studies in the UK have determined that working toward specific goals actually hampers perceived levels of happiness in mental patients and sluggards. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Rob 2 affiliated with us for a few weeks. He was between financial gigs but graced us with his starched white shirt appearance for a while. Gigilo Gene took some offense to Rob’s eccentric white collar mojo.  D.J. helped mediate that fraternal fracas before fists flew. His MP background has come in handy a time or two in disciplining Big Steve, perhaps the most faithful National among us. Though fully employed by an international corporation, Steve routinely goes in late on Thursdays. When he dies we will bury him with full Nation honors as outlined in a previous post. (240. Time is Short)

And then there was Gary aka Jerry who tried after a brief internship to organize a coup d’état. What saved the Imperial Leader for Life’s life was the fact that no one speaks French, and therefore they thought Jerry was coughing while sneezing. “Make up your mind, Dude. Either cough or sneeze.” He was sentenced to a North Korean firing squad in Hagerstown. Actually we tapped Josh and his personal arsenal to shoot a precise outline of .17 caliber bullets around Jerry to warn him against insurrection. He was sentenced instead to a lifetime of servitude under a different dictator.

Oh the humanity!

218. Enter title here

It’s Easter Monday. I am home on a beautiful sunny day with my wife, grand daughter and two of my three daughters. My oldest left yesterday for NYC.  I’ve had a walk, a game of chess, a round of groundhog hunting, some voluntary yard work, coffee and meals, and time for this entry. Now that is a well balanced day. It’s been since Christmas that I had a scheduled day off. Wow, what a difference taking two makes. See, I also took Good Friday off. I can feel my neurotransmitters mating and producing more and more of themselves even as I type. I’d feel like some sort of mental frotteur except they are a part of my own body. So what does that make me? Highly sensitive, I guess. Yes, that’s it.

Yesterday my wife and two older daughters and I sat out on our deck in the sunshine. Grace and I played chess and chattered on as we do very dramatically with each move, jibberish from Seinfeld or song lyrics or who knows what; things like “Who’s your Daddy now? Boom!” “Oh, you wanna be like that? Baboom on yo’ momma!”  Meanwhile my daughter Erin and my wife sat quietly with big hats and sunglasses on reading on the bench seat across from us. That’s when I uttered, “Can you find the introverts in this picture?” My wife is making me read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s all about the unbridled power and genius of bridled  introverts. Whoopee. I am a self-diagnosed ambivert, but I’d rather not talk about it right now. I hate being put in the middle of things.

I walked alone this morning. It was so quiet I swear that I heard the dew drying on the grass. I could hear individual bird wings as they flapped by. A lady at the park had two wiener dogs that would not fill half a five gallon bucket, but we don’t measure dogs by the gallon. [Could I get two gallons of wiener dogs? And a quart of Chihuahuas for my side?] We do measure liquids that way. My wife was getting her hair cut later in the day and bought some boutique special shampoo. I overheard her say it cost $33 per bottle, not gallon or quart. $33 per bottle. I’ve never bought a bottle of wine or liquor for that much money, but I suppose it has secret herbs and spices and precious metals all blended into the fine essence d’oro, which is 98% water. It does not matter. All is good. She’s beautiful and I’m happy. I learned a long time ago not to mention what things cost… not even wiener dogs, paired up in a bucket. Maybe they’re a thousand dollars to the right buyer. As my buddy Vince learned with his Great Dane, the initial purchase price is just the down payment on a dog. Same as an engagement ring in marriage.

The sun is setting. It’s cooling off. Rain is  expected tomorrow or Wednesday so the farmers are spreading manure lavishly on their big stinky fields. Big tanks of the stuff roll down my street drawn by young men in giant tractors, eating pizza bare handed out of the box. What a deal, to haul manure all day long. Like working for the government. I suppose it helps keep a guy single. If you are in deep poop to begin with, who needs to get married?

Gratitude vs. lassitude. Hmmmm. I get gratitude, thankfulness. Now lassitude is one of those dictionary.com tasks. I like definition # 2. “a condition of indolent indifference”. I think I’m feeling a mixture of the two states– grassitude, thankfully painless laziness.  Yeah, that works. Like having a staycation on a cruise ship in dry dock outside of Baltimore. It’s a good day, but I’m not going anywhere.  As the temperature sinks, the indifference stiffens a bit. A chill chases my indolence but not my gratitude. I may be experiencing “assitude”, which is a horse’s ass with an attitude.

My wife is already finding me part time jobs in my retirement, which is at least five years away. “You’ll be bored with the monotony,” she tells me. “You can’t wait to get rid of me,” I offer back. “True, but you can offset our health insurance costs while seeing the country.” She thinks I’m going to be a professional presenter.

“You can teach and tell stories. People like you.”

“One problem, dear.”

“What’s that?”

“I have no topic.”

“Think of one. You have five years.”

“But I am crippled by my ambivertism.”

“Shut up. Don’t give me your assitude.”

“Maybe that could be my topic: Ambiverted Assitudes in the Mental Health Setting.”

She’s a mind reader, I swear. She brought home the local newspaper for me. “Read the bank article.”

I began reading about the bank that holds most of my money. Seems they were just released from the state’s equivalent of the SEC’s watch list for shaky financial institutions, and I don’t mean that their tellers are part time belly dancers. No. If my bank were a person, it would not be allowed to fly. Sooooo, I just opened  a new business account with them because they did not charge me for that service, which the previous bank did, $20 per month for them to watch my money. I’m faced with this dilemma: pay money each month to my bank for no apparent reason, or stay with a bank that is being watched where I could lose all my money. Sheesh!  Neither offers interest or any special services, not even a gallon of free wiener dogs to start with.

This is why you shouldn’t take time off work. You find out all this stuff that you don’t really want to know. Frotteurs, ambiverts, overpriced shampoo, manure hauling, lassitude, and raw bank greed, which is redundant to manure hauling. If I’d just kept working I would not be all worried and worked up now. But the good news is that I can keep on working in my retirement, and if I’m lucky, right up to death.

 

5. later

It’s Sunday afternoon April one, overcast and a bit  too warm in the house but a bit too cool outside for complete comfort without exercising. It’s a back and forth day, the kind that makes folks mildly bothered without their even knowing it. The phone does not ring. The big game is tomorrow night. Not one bright sunbeam all day, just filtered down sunlight, like God needs to change his air filter.

Lots of folks personalize the weather. I used to when I was younger and depressed. Not anymore; it’s a waste of time. Just go with it. You can’t change the weather, so roll, Baby, roll. You can change your own perspective with medication and therapy and time. So there. The dark comes and the spectrum of colors loses out to the gray scale as the evening fades into black.

It’s a day of recharge, enjoy dinner and the littlest things. Read a few more pages of that book I’m plugging through. Relax. Be present. Work is waiting tomorrow to weigh and strain on you. Yawn, and yawn some more. Tomorrow is coming with its weight and strain, but it’s not here yet. Here is here now. Enjoy the now and the here of this moment.