Since it was 06/06/06,
(666 South Ave.)
was having its hell party so I headed there and partied out until way too late. I also went to get pizza from
Little Venice Pizza
(742 South Ave.)
but found that they moved. Apparently this was their first day open in the new location where
(742 South Ave., formerly Slice of Life)
used to be. The guy said they were at the old location at 697 South Avenue next to
(703 South Ave.)
for 21 years. Remember that the 777 party will be at the house a couple doors down from
(757 South Ave.)
Speaking of the apocalypse, I've been in a fascinating discussion on a message board with my old college friends, the "RIT Looneys." Our clan of minor misfits spread out across the political spectrum in the many years since college. Anyway, we were discussing the separation of church and state with most of the east-coasters supporting the separation and the midwesterners supporting the consolidation.
Joe brought up a parable wherein a travelling circus caught fire and the manager sent the clown in full clown-garb to solicit help from the townspeople who assumed it was all a joke — or at best just an advertising pitch. Joe added, "the point of the analogy is that the clown is a modern day theologian who just cannot get his message across to the masses. He 'looks' too silly to be taken seriously and folks think that his message has no basis in reality." Mike then threw in his two cents, asking the non-Christians what makes Christians look like such fools. I started working on a reply but only got partway through because I wanted to spend some more time on it. Curiously the discussion fell silent after the request — perhaps everyone else's reason is the same as mine.
So let me address this to some religious clown.
First, there's a fuzzy line between faith and denial. A simple example is having faith that the world is flat — I mean, it looks like it's flat, right? Let's say you take a flat-earth person and systematically prove that the earth is actually round. At what point does their faith turn into denial?
I'm not saying that everything in the world can be definitively proven. Especially for things that are so complex that there is no definitive solution, like social problems. Or for things that are provably unprovable — what happens to your mind and soul after you die?
The test of whether something is a matter of faith or one of science (for lack of a better term) is whether it can be measured in terms of correct and incorrect. That is, in science, things are either correct or incorrect with reasons why either is the case. In faith, asking the question doesn't make sense. I mean, is it correct to believe in God? What does "correct" even mean in that case?
Next is hypocrisy.
How can one say they are following the path of Jesus while acting in a manner that defies all His teachings?
As I've discussed in the past, I've been to
(The Man, Black Rock City, NV)
several times now and I'll be going again this year. In brief, it's a week-long art festival / alternative community experiment that takes place each year at the end of August in the desolate Black Rock Desert salt-flats northeast of Reno, Nevada.
One of the most important things is that there are essentially no rules. Specifically, there are no explicit guidelines about how people are to treat one another. The laws of the United States, the State of Nevada, Pershing County, and the town of Gerlach are technically enforced, but they seem arbitrary and unnecessary. In such a community — where free expression reigns, sexuality is open, and drugs and alcohol are available and used — one might be tempted to think that it would result in lawless chaos reminiscent of the wild west. In actuality, people are amazingly civil to one another — moreso, in fact, than they are in common society.
Another important facet is that commerce is virtually banned and instead a gift economy is encouraged. Each individual is encouraged to first think to give, not to hoard. It reveals itself in other ways too: "think 'yes' first" — "can I kiss you?": "yes" ... "can I have some of that wine?": "yes ... well, as long as they're treating me like a person and not a source of wine" ... "would you like some heroin?": "yes ... actually, no ... that might fuck me up way too bad."
What you end up with is a community whose foremost thoughts are to give, to share, to love, to touch, to care, to express, to become more yourself. Now unless I'm terribly mistaken, I think these are the kinds of things Jesus wanted us to strive for: don't take, give; don't hoard, share; don't hate, love; don't shun, care; don't cower, express; don't pretend, be.
However, the festival is largely panned by religious groups because they oppose the superficial traits and deny that it can be a good thing. I happen think it's very much along the path of Jesus — absent the Christian religious journey — but I don't really care. I'll just continue learning to be nice to people and try to understand them. On the other hand, I see lots of Christians who claim to be on the path of Jesus living a life of taking, hoarding, hating, shunning, cowering, and pretending.
But the crux of my hyprocrisy compalint is to ask how can one call themselves "pro-life" and also a supporter of the death penalty? Relatedly, why be in support of life but against living? I mean, if you'll pardon my switching sides, God gave us the ability to do all sorts of things. The only thing that each of us truly owns is our own body. Why all the effort to prevent people from doing what they please with their bodies? The question is, at what point should you rightfully stick your nose in my business? If someone gets loaded on crystal meth and goes on a killing spree, can we interfere then? What if I want to have sex with someone of the same gender? I've got my own boundaries and they seem pretty self-evident, but apparently other people have very different ideas.
There's a fuzzy line between belief and self-righteousness as well. I, myself, feel I stand firmly on shaky ground. I don't know if there's a God, and if there is, whether He cares how I run my life, so I do my best to follow my heart and not stop others from following their hearts. It just seems right to do that for me. Even in the discussion with the Looneys I got a taste of the whole "well you don't believe now, but I know you're smart enough to come around" between the lines. It says to me that you know you're right even though I argue there's no "right" and "wrong" here. For myself, I have my own beliefs about the world and I think I understand things pretty well, but I certainly don't think your beliefs are erroneous: they work for you and I'm happy for that; I do not wish for you to think like me because we're different. I think you do wish I'd think like you, though.
There's also this artificial "better understanding of the world than you" meme that comes with Christianity. For instance, you might say the homosexuals are causing the social problems in the world. I blame the celebration of greed — the celebration of pride ... isn't that one of those sins we're supposed to avoid? (In case I'm getting ahead of myself, if we're constantly told that people who drive a H3 are better than those who drive a Geo Metro, isn't that just celebrating excess, greed, and pride?)
Why do you have to pick a weak target because it's easy? Is it that you believe you're a "Good Christian"? Because — by definition — you are Good, everything you do must be Good. It can't possibly be that driving an SUV 80-miles to go to work to support your 10-acre homestead on disposable products you buy from Wal-Mart have anything to do with any problem in the world. It can't be that your unsustainable consumption is at the root cause of half our problems.
Nah, it's gotta be the gays.
The only difference between me and you is that there are things I do that are not good — and that's okay. I can see that I do things that are harmful and I'm working on fixing them, and I know I'm not willing to fix everything at once. I know that some of the blame for our problems in the Middle East is because of oil that I indirectly consume to keep the X-10 control system computer running in the basement all the time. There are poor people in the world because I don't invite them into my home and put them on their feet — giving them a phone and an address so they can get a job so they can realize their potential. It's all everybody's problem — it's just not somebody else's fault.