Posts Tagged Christianity
(The Dissection of The Soul In Three Parts)
Bethlehem, Pennsylvannia-How much would you pay for the soul of a 5 million year old man? 10 million dollars? 20 million? 100 million? What about a billion dollars? 10 billion dollars? 100 billion dollars? A trillion dollars???
Would you give up the pinky finger on your left hand? What about your right pineal gland? Would you watch every episode of the television show Manimal? Would you become a cannibal who injects himself with Dianabol? Would you sell your children to a band of angry Saudis? Would you trade in your mother for three broken down Audis? Would you endure an hour-long attack from ravenous dogs? Would you reprise Ray Milland’s role in the movie Frogs? Would you trade dentures with Martha Raye? Would you spend Father’s Day with Marvin Gaye? Would you elope with an antelope? What about a cantaloupe?
Billionaire heiress Angelina Corpsegrinder did just that. Corpsegrinder, the granddaughter of former President John F. Corpsegrinder, purchased the soul at a nearly incalculable price at an auction on Friday outbidding thousands of lustful members of the American aristocracy. Corpsegrinder now has, within her beady little hands, possession of the one object that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God not only exists, but also intends us to hear his outrageous and inconsistent demands.
Encased in glass in case of loss, this abandoned soul sits in a vault, collecting interest at nearly 8 percent. Corpsegrinder has had the soul examined by thousands of religious icons and hundreds of other idle idols of the breathing class. Their findings all point to one inescapable fact, that people, given the correct amount of compensation and fearing for the devaluation of their name and the deflation of their credibility, will say anything to remain unforgotten by strangers. That we are conspiring against all logic and pinning our dreams and hopes upon an empty vessel is not important, what is important is that the conspiracy continues to hold true no matter how vengefully its core fiction has been used.
Thousands have filed past a replica of this soul in the Museum of Spirit, Fellowship and Other Inane Cruelties. For years, it was thought that this replica was the only soul alive in captivity. Many believed that, in nearly every case, when one expired, the soul passed into another realm leaving only a husk of body in some embarrassing pose. And teeth. Now, thanks to the generous nature of those who possess most of the world’s resources, we can rest assured that a real soul exists.
The soul originally belonged to a Neanderthal named Arnold Mulligan. In his haste to consume the flesh of a recently slaughtered pig, Mulligan’s soul fell out of his body and fell into a tar pit somewhere south of Tupelo, Mississippi. After being discovered some years back, the soul was passed to different collectors in high stakes poker games. It eventually fell into the clutches of former Presidential candidate Adali Stevenson and has languished in a coffee can in his basement since 1964. But, that is not important. Who needs chain of evidence when there isn’t even the evidence of a chain?
Finally, a pawnbroker from Jamaica, Queens named Arthur Leo Sclerosis slumped into the vault and examined the artifact. It was elliptical. No bigger than a marble. It had been poked and prodded by the finest pokers and prodders on this planet. Its verification had been peer reviewed by peers and reviewers who had all made tenure at the finest educational slaughterhouses on the planet. They had stood in line for hours to see it, all seeking to be part of a truth that, as keepers of truth, they were free to invent. Some of them, the rebels, tried to destroy it, but Plato had told them long ago that it couldn’t be destroyed, so they stopped.
Sclerosis didn’t care. He was dying and had the freedom that only the truly condemned and utterly forgotten can ever gain. His body, ravaged by disease and disrepair, crawled towards the altar upon which the soul had been placed. He made several silly motions with his hands to confuse the guards into thinking he was part of a group of fiction providers larger than himself, then he dove face first into the case, shattering the shatterproof glass and freeing the soul from the most recent in its series of cells.
The alarms sounded. Everyone on earth froze and locked their eyes upon him. Were it destroyed, they’d have to go back to having faith in something implausibly stupid. Were it destroyed, the whole edifice would plunge headlong into a nothingness of materials careening off one another and going nowhere in particular for an undetermined period of meaningless time. Were it destroyed, they’d have to accept the possibility that God or whatever creative force begat us from Its stomach was cruel enough to simply leave us in the middle of an endless wilderness of despair with no map to get home. Were it destroyed, they might look in the mirror and come face to face with a walking pile of animated flesh killing time between now and when its life functions had ceased.
“Please…we beg you! Leave us at least the illusion of stability in this demented nightmare of an existence!!!!” they cried in unison.
He held it aloft for all to see. “This,” declared Sclerosis “is nothing more than an M & M!!!!!”
He popped it into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. He died at that moment, for no other reason than his heart stopped beating.
People were aghast! So little truth had flashed before their eyes since religion adopted the game show format in the 1950s that this mockery of their very existence flung them into an orgiastic fit of rage. Still…there was something to this. After all, this was an experience they had just experienced. An event. A happening. A thing. They were all a part of it. Suddenly and without warning, the guards draped an American flag over the former man’s lifeless body and hoisted him on their shoulders as if he had just scored the game-winning touchdown in a championship football game.
“HE………IS………..RISEN!!!!!” they shouted in unison.
Everyone went back to work.
I bow down your precious icon, deity of self-suppression
This effigy of flesh, corporeal christi, nailed
In submission to this false idol, seeking deliverance
From this spiritual hierarchy, downward spiraling, a corrupt throne
Of repression and guilt
Our will be done
Thy kingdom burn
On my knees, before this tormented flesh, in irreverence
In communion with this parasitic host of virtuous divinity
This imperious creed bears testament to the failures of our morality
Righteous durance is our cross we bear in stations
In stations of the lost
Our will be done
Thy kingdom burn – thy kingdom burn
Our will be done
From your knees arise
By your own hand, your god you scribe
The earth shall inherit the meek
Your god is dead
Bound down, in God we’re trussed, foul stature
Icons embodied in flesh, we nail
In servitude to deities fashioned in our self image
Shadows of eternal strife cast by those who serve
Serve a crown of pawns
If up until this point you weren’t sure how the band Carcass feels about religion, Embodiment states it completely and in no uncertain terms. The song is an outright renunciation of organized religion, Christianity in particular. The lyrics bubble with hatred and scorn for the self-annihilating principles that they believe mark the Christian outlook. I don’t share the disdain that the band feels for Christianity, but the force of the language used in their argument is highly compelling.
The song’s central argument is that Christianity is an advanced form of slavery. They make the case by dismissing the existence of any fathomable God and assuming that the goals of religion are to allow those who are in power to continue an unfettered hegemony over the practice of free will. Where some people see peace and comfort, Carcass perceives control and subjugation. Certainly, some of their argument is legitimate. There are plenty of historical examples of the misuse of religion to advance the selfish ends of a tyrannical elite. However, the song fails to address much of the comfort and solace that it has brought people for over 2000 years. Further, it would be facile minded to simply assume that the self-abnegation at the core of Christian thought is completely a bad thing. The giving up of one’s desires to benefit the community is on many occasions, inside or outside of a religious context, beneficial towards the human race as a whole.
In spite of the problems the argument presents, the language with which the case is made is striking. The core belief in the song is contained in the beautifully efficient and devastating pun “In God we’re trussed”. By taking an expression found on American money and perverting its message, Carcass is able to make several critical points. First, the use of a religious phrase in an economic context effectively links the agenda of today’s Christianity with the pursuit of financial gain. Then, they take the phrase and change trust (an act of faith) into trussed (to be tightly bound or in this case completely controlled). Essentially, they argue here that while you may choose to subvert your needs for the Church it will not extend you the same courtesy and, worse, it will take your belief and use it to hoodwink you into giving up your possessions and your liberty. In their eyes, it is the greatest hustle in human history.
What is truly lost for believers is contained in the heart-wrenching expression “the earth shall inherit the meek.” The original phrase “the meek shall inherit the earth” is an appeal to the Job-like masses that give so tirelessly but ask for little in return. They suffer in silence, but at the end of the day, they will be rewarded…or so the story goes. The good and humble people will come to control the earth and the wicked will be cast from it. The subversion of this expression contains allows for a very troubling message to be presented. If you suffer in silence and do the right thing your reward will be the grave. Death awaits us all and those who are pious and righteous are rewarded with the same eternal darkness that await those who pillage the world blind. There are no rewards in this life or any other for those who follow the words contained in the Bible. The meek will be buried right alongside those who engage in a Dionysian life of personal excess and unabated greed. The ground cannot tell the two apart.
If this argument is legitimate, it presents us with chilling questions about how we should live our lives that goes beyond religion. If there are truly no consequences for our actions, why not do whatever we want? Those with the most material, at the end of the day, are those who have benefitted most from a purely material world. If all that is promised to us for a good life is an eventual death, what is the motivation in living a justly?
I believe that the truth or untruth of God’s existence need not bear on whether someone acts morally. If every word of the Bible is true and God’s existence is exactly as portrayed in Christianity, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable. If every word of the Bible is false and Christianity is an unholy scam perpetrated by on the masses by ruthless power mongers, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable. The reward of living a just life is simply getting to live a just life. That’s all. The earth may inherit the meek, but at least the meek can lessen the suffering of those around them. Nothing else is promised and nothing else is certain. TS Eliot eloquently summarizes this principle in his poem “Choruses From The Rock”…..
All men are ready to invest their money
But most expect dividends
I say to you: Make perfect your will.
I say: take no thought of the harvest,
But only of proper sowing
It is our station to care for one another to the best of our abilities regardless what the truth of the universe is. To love without condition is the greatest gift we could bestow on our world no matter what the terms of our existence are. Any philosophy that brings us closer to that ability, be it religious or atheistic, is worthy of our respect and consideration.
The Year is 2223. Reverend Scott E. Pippen the 29th stands in front of his congregation of 24,000 with his arms raised high in the air. He is a tall man, about 6 feet 8. He is wearing a gown with the number 23 embroidered on the front in gold. He is up on a stage with a golden basketball hoop mounted behind him. A hush falls over the capacity crowd.
“Today, I’d like to talk to you about greatness. Many religions have valued different things over the years. Some of the religions praised self-restraint, while others loved commitment and dedication. These qualities can be very good things, but their followers seemed to miss the bigger point. Trying really hard is not enough. In order to truly be worthy of God’s love you must win!”
“AMEN!!!!” screams a parishioner.
“The people of olden times used to worship martyrs! Do you believe it? They would cast their lot with people who tried really hard….but lost! Those martyrs were great men, but they couldn’t figure out how to triumph over evil. Sure, they would say that some of their martyrs rose from the dead, but many people had trouble believing that part. There wasn’t enough proof. Maybe they were successful, but they weren’t able to pull it off on the big stage! I mean, most messiahs wouldn’t make it in the NBA as a 12th man for the New Jersey Nets. For years, we could only choose between this losing messiah, that losing messiah or sometimes a messiah that hadn’t even shown up yet! Can you believe it people?”
“NO!!!!!” shouted the crowd wildly.
“Thankfully, on February 17th, 1963, that holiest of days, Michael Jordan was born in a barn in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, Jordan was a good player, but certainly not the messiah we know him as today. Everyone by now has heard the story of how he was cut from his High School basketball team. This was the first in a series of setbacks for His Airness, but each time he was given an obstacle, he learned how to climb over it and most importantly HOW…..TO…….WIN!!!!!!”
The crowd bursts into thunderous applause.
“When Georgetown tried to slow him down in the 1982 NCAA Final…HE WON! When the Pistons and Celtics stopped him early in his career he came back and….HE WON!!!! When the Knicks attacked and beat him game after game he rose up and….HE WON!!!!!! When Jordan retired for the third time, after his sixth NBA title everyone thought that was finished. Then, as a 60 year old man, Jordan returned to the NBA and led the Chicago Bulls to four more titles. Age tried to beat him down but…..HE WON!!!!!”
“JUST DO IT!!!!” screams the crowd.
“Those old-fashioned religions used to talk about an afterlife. They were preaching the gospel of weakness. Today, we know that the dead are just quitters! When Jordan turned 100 he proclaimed that he would never die. He went up to his basketball court built on the side of the greatest mountaintop and that is where he is still today. No one has talked to him in years, but he has promised that one day he will not only return to us, but return to the NBA. One day, when you go to your weekend sports temple to show your commitment to God and your home team he will emerge from the tunnel and HE…..WILL……PLAY………….AGAIN!!!!!!!!”
“YES!!!!!” “JUST DO IT!!!!!!” “AMEN!!!!!!”
“Those old fashioned religions told you that God loved everyone. Jordan taught us that they were wrong! The truth is that GOD LOVES A WINNER! You prove your devotion to him not by being beaten down by the opponent but though VICTORY! God has no time for losers. He will not give you a trophy just for competing. He has no time for lesser men. He is not going to hold your hand and tell you it is okay to fail. God values results! The simple truth is that God Hates Losers!!!!”
“PREACH IT!!!!” JUST DO IT!!!!”
“Jordan came to save us all from the pain and humiliation of losing. Whenever there is someone buying a pair of His Sneakers….HE’LL BE THERE! Whenever there is a team the overcomes the evil of losing….HE’LL BE THERE! And when we buy His shoes and praise His name and WHEN WE WIN……….HE’LL………BE……….THERE…..……TOOOOOO!”
The crowd erupts into a screaming, howling frenzy.
“And now I present to you the top ranked choir in the entire world….The beautiful and talented Jordan-Airs!!!!!!”
The choir begins to sing and basketball players in different throwback Jordan uniforms dunk golden basketballs into the hoop above the stage…
“To The Temple of Jordan Our Savior Went One Day,
And We Read That Phil The Baptist Met Him There,
And When Jordan Scored 60 in the Finals Versus Philly
The Mighty Power of God Filled The Air.
I’m On My Way
To The Temple of Jordan
Were Going To Win
At The Temple of Jordan
And Victory Will Cleanse My Soul”