Welcome

Welcome to what I affectionately call My Other Blog. My main bloc is here.

I have two passions in life, other than writing of course. One of those passions is religion, Christian theology with a special focus on Christian heresy – I am a bit of a heretic myself in more ways than one. I also am a theologian and am anthropologist. That is what my degrees are in. I have combined those two academic interests on my main site.

What I do here is indulge my other passion – an intense interest in politics in the broadest sense of the word. I look at current events, major and minor, and offer commentary and analysis colored by my academic training and my heretical beliefs. The focus on my main site is very tightly focused on the development of Christian orthodoxy in its battles with the heretics in the early centuries of the history of Christianity. My focus here is much more eclectic and diverse, running the gamut from the relationship of religion and science to Presidential elections to racism in sports to things I find just plain funny.

Feel free to browse the archives. Thy are open to everyone. And if you find something that triggers your hot button, feel free to post a comment. I love feedback. You do have to be a registered with wordpress.com to comment. If you have never registered at any wordpress.com site, just click the Register link at the top of the left sidebar and follow the instructions. It’s quite easy and when you are done, you can comment on any wordpress.com blog as long as you are logged in.

Happy reading and I look forward to your comments.

Christian Capitalism, American Style

     Christian capitalism… Talk about an oxymoron. If you read the accounts in The Gospels and The Acts of the Apostles of the economics of the early Christian communities in Jerusalem and Samaria, you’ll see that they did not practice nor condone capitalism. Capitalism is the accumulation of wealth by private individuals. There are a number of quotations attributed to Jesus where he basically admonishes the wealthy to sell everything they own and give the money to the poor in order to gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. That sounds like Communism in it’s purest form to me.

      In 1905, Max Weber published and The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in which he outlines how the accumulation of wealth by private individuals became, for Christians, and especially Protestants, a sign of God’s favor. Talk about heresy!

      There currently is a revival of Christian fundamentalism in this country and it is associated with the accumulation of wealth. The latest statistics show that one percent of the American population, many of them probably “God-fearing” Christians, own 37% of all the wealth in this country. How these people reconcile their capitalism with their Christianity is totally beyond me. Didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven?”

The Means of Production: Introduction

I’m going to take a break from my reminiscing about my personal past. Instead, I’m going to return to a subject near and dear to my heart: politics. Contrary to what the common usage of that word is, for me politics is much more than the official business of the legitimate governing institutions of this world. I use politics more in the Aristotlean sense; that is, everything and anything that has to do with human interaction. Politics is about how we humans relate to each other, both formally and informally(for a detailed discussion of what I am talking about here, I suggest you read Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice).

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will find what I’m about to say a bit repetitious. Sorry about that, but I need to make we are all on the same page. When it comes to politics as I define it, I am a Marxist, but not a vulgar Marxist. What I mean by that is that I do agree that whoever controls the means of production, controls that particular society.

The mans of production is not just the purely economic means, such as factories, corporations, etc… Rather, the menas of productions includes the means of symbolic production, that is who controls the things like education, theater, music, religion: all those things that shape how we think and how we see the world. (My thanks to Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason for this concept). One of the major producers of symbolic products in Western culture is the media. The media, in it’s attempts to be profitable, sells advertising for products that we really don’t have a need for, at first. However, the advertising creates a false need in consumers. The most glaring and most troubling example, for me, is the advertising done by pharmaceutical companies, a subject I have discussed many times here. Feel free to search this blog for more specific details about my feelings about the drug companies. Suffice it to say, their advertising creates a false sense of need and we wonder why we have so many people in this country addicted to prescription medications. The sad thing is that too often the side effects are worse than the disease being treated. Personally, I’d be more than happy to live with a bad case of acne rather than the more serious side effects that some of the prescription medications for acne bring. In this series of posts, I am going to touch on a number of issues about control of the means of production that trouble me in Western society, especially here in the U.S. The first one, which we will cover next time, is the total misrepresentation in American politics(the institutional kind) and the media about what Socialism is, and who is or isn’t a Socialist. Let me tell you upfront; I am a Socialist, and Barack Obama is so far from being a Socialist, it’s not even funny. I only wish he was one.

Confronting the Past Part Twelve

What I want to talk about today is directly related to some of the stuff I’ve been talking about on my Christian Heresiology blog, especially the Digging Deeper articles(See right sidebar on homepage). It is my contention that we humans collectively shape our reality; that there is no reality outside of our collective consciousness. On an individual level, depending on the strength of our psyche, we can shape, to some extent, our own realities. If you have ever done any motivational training, or sale training, you have been exposed to a mundane form of this theory of mine. Not that this theory is original to me other than perhaps in the breadth that I use it.

Many religions, including Christianity, have mystic forms. In almost every form of mysticism, there is some variation of this idea of there being no reality beyond what we humans create for ourselves. One of the most ancient forms is in Hinduism that sees the world of reality as illusion. Buddhism also believes this to be true and that enlightenment for a Buddhist is to escape from this reality of illusion to a state of true reality. In some ways, this is what Christ was talking about in his kerygma. In my journey through my looking glass of religion, I have come to the conclusion that this escape to enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, is what Christians call the Resurrection. Death is not the end of existence, neither spiritual or physical. It is only a doorway into a new level of perception(thanks to Aldous Huxley for that one).

In my trip through the looking glass I have explored, to some level or another, most of the major forms of what we term religion. That includes, of course, the five major religions as well as various forms of “paganism” and “witchcraft.” Looking back at all those religious experiences these past few years is what led to where I am now. I do not deny the existence of God; I do deny the existence of the Fundamentalist Judao/Christian/Islamic concept of God. That concept has led to the oppression of both ethnic and sexual minorities, all kinds of stupid wars and other rediculous acts of violence and a general oppression of intellectual freedom. Religious fundamentalists, of which at one time I was one, feel they have the monopoly on truth, which is hysterical, since truth changes over time. Contrary to what these people argue, there is no absolute truth, and there never has been. This belief in absolute truth and it’s corollary of a monopoly on truth is what Karl Marx was talking about when he said that religion is the opiate of the masses.

Confronting the Past Part Eleven

Last time, we took a trip through my looking glass of politics; today, it’s through my looking of religion. Lewis Carroll would be proud of this trip, for, like Carrol, my trip was often enhanced by hallucinogenics of various kinds. It is not uncommon for fledgling mystics to us chemical enhancements to achieve trances. Who am I to argue with tradition? *Wink* I was born in Germany in 1948, my mother was Lutheran my father was Bulgarian Orthodox. I was baptized a Lutheran, originally. Because the Methodist Church sponsored my family to emigrate to the United States, we became Methodists, and I was raised a Methodist. I was such a good Methodist that, in either Second or Third Grade in Sunday School, I won a competition for memorizing and reciting Bible verses. I still have the prize I won: a leather-bound, gilt-edged, Revised Standard Version of the Bible from the Jenkintown Methodist Church. It’s falling apart a bit now, but I treasure it still. A few years later, my mother took me to Philadelphia to a Billy Graham Crusade. I signed up for and completed his Bible study course for kids my age. As I recall, I did pretty well. In case any of you are as big of an asshole as my son, who is typing this, a Billy Graham Crusade is basically a revival meeting, not a military campaign against the infidels. XD Michael is quite disappointed.

It was in my senior year of High School, that I became interested, at least on an intellectual level, in Eastern Religions. I started reading things like Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and The Bhagabad Ghita. In college, I really got into mysticism. especially meditation and the Kabbalah[for the unitiated, the Kabbalah is a form of Jewish mysticism.]. It was also at this time that I took up smoking marijuana, mainly for meditation purposes. My readings at this time expanded to include Aldous Huxley, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Jose Casteneda, and others. And I still only smoked dope! In 1968, I came to Chicago. It was here in August that I took my first LSD trip, something I did fairly regularly for the next 4-5 years. I know that many people will have a very negative reaction to that; however, in some ways, my religious development would have been seriously stunted without the use of LSD. The most memorable acid trips were…
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Confronting the Past Part Ten

I think it’s time I got into the juicy stuff; politics and religion. Before you all start running for the hills, no, I’m not going to deliver rants on either subject. Rather, I am going to talk a little about my own journeys through the looking glasses of politics and religion. Let’s do the politics today.

I grew up in a politically very conservative household. As I think I mentioned elsewhere, my mother, who was born in 1923, was a member of the Hitler Youth in the late 30s. My Grandfather, her dad, was NOT a supporter of Hitler. My mother really had no choice, though, about joining the H-J. Given all the propaganda and crap she was exposed to, it should come as no surprise that some of it did rub off on her.

My father grew up Tsarist Bulgaria. Monarchies tend to be very conservative, and the Bulgarian monarchy was no exception. Also, because of his very conservative upbringing, my father was sympathetic to some of the ideals of the Nazis, never realizing that he would ultimately have been sent to the Death Camps because Hitler had no use for Slavs.
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Blue Screen of Death

It’s not enough aggravation that I have to depend on others to do my typing and reading for me. Now my damn computer has crashed. Guess my time to do anything online is going to be even more limited than it already is… At least until I can get my comp straightened out, if that is even possible, who knows. Take care.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

I’m taking a break from my “Confronting the Past” series. Instead, I’m going to indulge in an old habit: I’m going to rant a bit. In a way, this is sort of confronting the past, but in a personal way but rather, in a cultural way.

With the end of the Cold War over a decade ago, we all thought that confrontations between Russia/Soviet Union and the USA were a thing of the past. That shows how stupid we can be. The sad thing about all this is that it’s not just the Russians or us Americans that are reviving the Cold War. It’s both sides being idiots. And the idiots are not just the elected officials on one side or the other; it’s the political fundamentalists on both sides. I suspect that the “military-industrial complex”, as Eisenhower called it in his farewell speech of 1961, that is the power behind the thrones on both sides. And all this is wrapped up in the Holy Shroud of Russian/American nationalism. You would think the world has had it’s fill of that shit. [My son doesn't agree with me on that. I guess I'm showing my age, lol]

Hopefully, things will calm down if there are any rational beings left in charge on either side, I have my doubts about there being any, but one can only hope.

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