The Unadorables

Why would anyone in his right mind address the topic of religious malfeasance? To my mind, only a man in his right mind would – and should – address the issue. Why should anyone turn aside when the cloak of religion is blatantly employed to corrupt American politics and international affairs and undermine the welfare of the general public? Religious entities are fighting tooth and nail to impede social improvement, eagerly denying that there is an objective social entity (except, perhaps, for family and church) or improvement (other than in areas of personal gain and righteous feeling), recklessly violating an explicit compact with the nation.

Religious entities chose to aggressively enter politics, a grave error that noted spiritual leaders have lamented, warning of dire consequences for the principal purpose of religious exercise. One would assume that glorification of a deity would be the first objective of the enterprise, and one would hope that the betterment of congregants, and the population of the nation and the world at large, would be close in priority.

Yet, religious entities, perhaps only a boisterous minority, have become the last refuge of scoundrels. A Dickensian deep, dark depravity runs amok and unchallenged in religious leadership that perverts its calling. Entities that follow such leadership deserve to be stripped forthwith of all claimed exceptions and exemptions, as they have not only lost respect for, but all connection with, public decency, justice, fairness, right, blessedness, and reason. I humbly offer as evidence the religious group that harassed the funeral services of veterans. A few cynical religious consultants even conduct back-channel dealings with foreign powers of distinctly shady standards and practices to bring them to play in America’s work at home and abroad.

What say beings left to the mercy of such charlatans? Though many mute and oppressed inhabitants of earth are unwilling or unable to speak for themselves, weary ethical beings of gentle, clear logic, based on objectively verified and probable fact, say, “Time is up!”

First-hand, I have witnessed the effects on elders in Tennessee of a religious house that defaulted on its covenant with members of good standing and long service. Second-hand, I have discovered how a changeling reverend used and abused his old congregation – how a predator sapped the good will and wealth of men and women into their old age and returned nothing to them in terms of comfort or guidance in their years of frailty and infirmity.

As a people, as an ethical social church, we should ferret out these miscreants, drain the venom, defang the viciousness, and terminate their benefit of the privileges rightly afforded to houses of worship and social service whose leaders aim to respectfully contribute as a part of the general social body of the nation. As for respectables who claim that local individuals, families, organizations, institutions, and governments do good work more effectively than national government, they owe it to put up and do what they claim rather than expend all effort to block the progress of all other remedies.

Let there be no more inattentive overlooking and polite dismissals of religious malfeasance from this day forward. A rapacious politicized pastor is to God what a tiny, blank sticky note is to literature and history. The influence of these scam artists taints lives around the world: they worsen lives suffering under the thumbs of their villainous allies in countries such as Russia and Uganda. And the intent of this mischief has no relationship to the work of God and critical bearing on the undoing of it. These missionaries of doom turn logic and language upside down in extremes that would make Orwell blush in unholy familiarity. When those under the banner of religion choose to rant, plot, and meddle in every public forum – act to undermine our Constitution, our just policies, the integrity and vitality of our planet – religion forfeits its special place and protections and calls upon itself scrutiny, censure, and even taxation. Abhorrent are despoilers of good works and honest reputations. Fie on them and their minions – and may God save their followers and us all from their depredations and their devious and dangerous ways.

In Other Words

After a few million years, God said, “Let there be a change in climate.”

Then God commanded, “Children of Adam and Eve, as you have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, you must adapt together to a new challenge that affects all the earth.”

When sons and daughters of Adam and Eve complained that man was too small and could do little, God said, “Remember what Noah did.” And when they denied the change that God had ordained and claimed, like Job, to have done nothing to contribute to such harsh conditions, God said, “Your knowledge and your ignorance have endangered creation. You can undo what you have done if you use all of your talents in concert to conserve the bounty given you.”

And the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve went forth about the earth performing miracles, applying gifts from the Tree of Knowledge to turn sun and wind and water into light where it was dark, into heat where it was cold, into cool where it was hot, into moisture where it was dry, into fertility where it was barren. And God was pleased with man’s stewardship of the earth and saw that it was good enough.

Uncommon Companions

With my joy theme in a previous essay, I sought to stake ground on religion from a reasoned position before life events dispose me not to. One might ask – if one is unplugged – “Why all the uncomfortable religious stuff in the middle of a festive holiday season?”

To enumerate a few reasons, I start with three selfish ones: First, on the off chance that others sometimes feel like life is formless or in disarray, I elect to explain my way out of the primordial soup to discover adaptive insights. Second, I need to stake more cheerful ground now before age dispossesses me of the ability to get my spirits up; I try to lock myself into an upbeat posture. Third, I need to state my sense of being in the cosmos quickly before my mind turns to mush: that point where one might remember sometime but have difficulty distinguishing whether it happened or not, and when. And if one does momentarily straighten it out mentally, one can’t retain it in memory for over an hour before other thoughts wash it off the field of attention. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, just wait, you aren’t old enough yet to sense your mind go soft – where images are vividly recalled but not well placed in context or historical fact.)

The whole endeavor of religious exposition, from my point of view, is a metaphysical exploration of the universe using a tiny brain. In the case of my own mind, you cannot grasp – assuming you are inclined to try – its world unless you take on the dimly lit philosophical factory that keeps churning around the clock. A dialogue is just that: more than one side talking. But if I am the only body participating in the exercise, I have got to fully reveal my divided thinking on subjects. But answers are elusive and never as one-sided as one word, one phrase, one complete sentence – or one brain.

There is another reason, too, for continuing a pattern of pursuing unusual discussion in an unconventional way. Published eccentricity has its advantages. Chief among them is privacy in plain view. When one broaches taboo subjects in responsible speech, barriers dissolve and expression expands.

In the past twenty years or so, religion has insinuated itself again, sometimes negatively and belligerently, into the politics of public policy. The disappointment of the past election – to some – should inform the religious and the non-religious alike that this is a time for changed dialogue about religion and its place in a modern Western society. The religious need to see more clearly how good non-church-going people view religion as it is now expressed. And non-religious participants in society need to stretch beyond their comfort zones, and intellectual self-satisfaction, to see how religious views and customs enrich individual lives and civil society.

There is a significant role for religion in public life. For instance, during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, it was not an intimate knowledge of history or a close reading of the Constitution that moved many toward expanded rights for minorities. But rather it was the impulses of religious upbringing – perhaps fortified by adolescent hormones – that shaped and nourished passions and fortified certainty in the rightness of a cause aimed at more personal freedom of action, fuller political participation, and heightened standards of social responsibility.

A fresh discussion reaches down into basic understanding of where religious and non-religious views touch philosophy and fundamental properties of human existence. That’s why now! There is vast meeting ground but low attendance in the revival of such dialogue. I am convinced that these great questions still pull at modern people who think. They will gnaw at us until we perish – all the while supplying inspiration and guidance.

But wait! There is much, much more to the story. I neglected to mention our invisible friends – other interlocutors whom we can enlist in our personal deliberations.

Read it here.

The Star-Bright Manifesto

Nailed to the Wall in Christmas Colors

Though this essay is fleet of foot, truthful, unusual, and – dare I say – interesting, I do not expect it to please anyone. Clearly, dear friends, this is a discussion between two entities and reader likes and dislikes do not figure prominently in the calculations. The message within will be conveyed once, but you are not likely to hear me repeat it again as directly as it is spoken here.

Read it here.