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ghsts On March - 7 - 2011

King James I of England did a great disservice to the world in his attempt to bring enlightenment to huddled masses.  We can’t fault him as he was the product of a broken home.  His mother was a ruthless opportunist who in her insanity turned to Catholicism to give her life meaning and his father (genetic science was still witchcraft, so only a vague assertion) Lord Darnley was murdered either by his mother, her lover and second husband or any other interested party.  Think of it as Jerry Springer on crack, English 16th century style, phase one in which Doris gets her oats.

A century before all this, a wondrous new piece of technology was unleashed on the world that sparked a dramatic surge in mass media and the ensuing international battles over copyright laws concerning Guttenberg’s first publication made a bloody mess of the status quo.  New reality shows were popping up all over Europe and you could go to any major city and be delighted by the royal shenanigans.  Often viewers were selected at random to participate with a wealth of door prizes and instant celebrity.  The fun couldn’t last forever as the competition for the limelight started to heat up as nations sought primacy in their monopolistic world order.  James was a product of this new fast moving cultural revolution, half progressive like his grandfather but with strong reactionary impulses of his mother.  He sought civil discourse and rational debate in politics hoping to change people’s minds while empowering them to participation using the still fresh technology.  He was a strong advocate of committees and convened the Hampton Court Conference to get his messaging perfect as he was intimately familiar with the dominant polling corporation’s opinion surveys by Gallup known by their old English family name the infamous Gallows’ Polls.

The result of the industrious committee members was an epic success that is the gold standard of legislation even today.  It replaced the far too simplistic Magna Carta that empowered the nation’s people but failed to properly format common law much the same way our own Constitution is a fading document, written on sheep’s skin that isn’t properly enforced to assert justice for all.

One of the most poignant stories in this fabulous work of fiction is a retelling of an old Herew fable called The Tower of Babel.  Though, this too is somewhat deceptive as the Jews never really used that title, their word was balal.  It wasn’t so much a city name but a slur and pun against the Sumerian people and a tale to devalue the culture of the people they themselves had successfully revolted against.  More specifically Ancient Mesopotamians and the city state of Akkadian, the remnants of which are still present in Al Hillah just a day trip south of  Baghdad.  The people of KÁ.DINGIR.RA had partially constructed an engineering wonder of the world but failed to finish, Etemenanki,  Sumerian for  temple of the foundation of heaven and earth.1

This context is important to understand when reading Genesis 11:1-9 of King James’ version of the story.  James was constructing a blueprint for his descendants to follow that would be the final word on all the hot topics of the day;  history, religion, law, morals, race, business, economics and politics.   It would combat the new media barrage that sought to destabilize his administration and limit his authority.  The book also carried a history of propaganda wars that its original writers were waging on similar issues by previous generations.

I will paraphrase, ‘god don’t want no stinking babelfish2 getting the people all uppity.’  Today we see our own techno revolution in the media and information.  I didn’t need to go rummaging through my old history books and dictionaries to find the correct names, spelling and dates I just farted around the internet, googling my way around citation and ancient memories.  Twitter and Facebook have been credited as a boon to the people’s voice and the new and improved revolution and I say they’re fine, the polaroid of the blogging world if you like that sort of thing.  I am old enough to think simple snapshots are kid of sleazy like a fat man with a mustache taking pictures in his basement but I learned valuable lessons from King James I, The Magna Carta and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Keep the law simple and easy to understand, irony and metaphor are often lost without a pair of eyes and lips and we don’t need no stinking committee doing all our thinking for us.

P.S. Have you been to Google translate?  You can talk to yourself for hours and in a different language so it’s not as pathetic.

http://translate.google.com/#en|de|

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Babel

2 Adams, Douglas. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy , Titan Books. 1978

Written by ghsts

glass house stone throwing society

27 Responses so far.

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  1. ADONAI says:

    Always loved the “tower of babel” story.

    “5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech”(Genesis 11:5-7)

    Jehovah is basically the Ashton Kutcher of deities and he punk’d them.

  2. Khirad says:

    The irony of course, was that was after stealing many Mesopotamian myths.

    A lot of the familiar stories from the Old Testament?

    http://www.amazon.com/Eastern-Mythology-Library-Worlds-Legends/dp/0872260046

    So yeah, I find slurring against the Sumerians supremely ironic. And in the destruction of the Tower of Babel, I thus find so much more symbolism.

    • ghsts says:

      The repression of multicultural histories when accepting the christian collective narrative as literal is so dangerous. Large empires are not eternal. As I listened to newt talk last night of his first action after taking the wh would be to encourage Israel to relocate its capitol to Jerusalem, Oy vey! Myth recycling, prophetic history and self fulfilling.

      • choicelady says:

        Newt, as a Catholic, is probably a Christian Dominionist “crasher” -- pretending to be Catholic, actually being a Fifth Columnist for the Dominionists. The message -- take back Jerusalem -- is entirely recent and the product of fervid minds that want Jerusalem in order to rebuild the Temple to fulfill the prophecy of the End Times. Catholics do not count -- their church is the Great Whore of Babylon in Dominionist eyes -- so these stealth artists are boring from within.

        Not only is this not mainstream theology, it’s not even theology. The Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming are all quite recent innovations of people with too much time on their hands. But the notions have swept the world, and the very rich while they may not believe, are perfectly happy to go along because the Dominionist believe in the domination of the rich over us all, and if everyone agrees -- and they do -- the rich get to keep all the goodies while the Dominionists pluck material wealth AND souls. And they ALL agree to off Muslims and keep all the oil!

        Don’t be thinking for a second that there is a shred of authentic religion in any of this. It’s been a scam since day one of the whole idea. They are and always have been capitalist opportunists wrapped in the mantle of religiosity. What’s scary is how powerful they’ve become. Be very afraid of them. They already own the world.

  3. KQuark says:

    Excellent article.

    I once saw one of the top ten list shows and they said Gutenberg’s printing press was #1 discovery or invention I forget now. I thought they were crazy.

    Actually the whole story of biological Jesus is really just centered around the movements of the sun. So Jesus is the Sun not the Son. Of course this story was stolen from the Egyptians and the biography of the god Horus.

    While I’m respectful of other people’s faith, my own belief is all the world’s religions are just myths at least the part of the religion that are biographical narratives or address the creation of the natural universe. I actually prefer Greek/Roman, Norse and Japanese myths to the bible they are way more entertaining.

    I also reject belief hubris. Unless you literally believe in something that has been absolutely unproven like people who think the world is 6,000 years old because that’s what the Old Testament says, your beliefs are as valid as mine because there’s a remote probability that your belief’s are “right”.

    I’m somewhere between agnostic and atheist. I believe in something but it’s never the same every day and my little monkey brain on steroids can’t explain what it is.

    Don’t even get me started on common law.

    • choicelady says:

      Hi-

      There was a Jesus -- and he did throw the laws into the faces of both the Romans and Pharisees. Historically he did live, did do his best to piss off the religious right of his day. But no, he did NOT get born Dec. 25 and while he probably died more or less around when we celebrate Easter, the whole cycle of the Biblical year is entirely out of sync with reality. it was indeed created to win over the pagans.

      What you write about the creation of the mythology is accurate, and most mainline faiths agree that the Bible is allegorical and not literal. But there are enough credible sources to confirm that what Jesus (that probably was not his name -- or full name -- either) said was recorded fairly accurately.

      What he taught was that the tribal rules that the religious right today hang onto with a death grip are all bunk. He moved into a new world of love for all people, of peace, of justice, that transcended the ritualistic hierarchical rigidity of his day and age. The guidelines he did save were economic rules of justice that are prefigured in the prophets and the laws of earlier times -- the things that today the religious right repudiate. You know, like Jubilee -- the forgiveness of all debts owed to you. That is what got the powerful people’s knicker in a twist -- he preached equality and justice for all people. He preached peace and an end to rank based on birth and nationality. He preached selflessness rather than privilege. That part is accurate.

      Was his a “virgin birth” and did he rise from hell three days later after crucifixion? Nope. I know that’s heretical to most conservative Christians, but it just cannot be sustained. What did “rise” is hope -- hope for a world of loving kindness, compassion, equality, and forgiveness -- not by a supreme being but by each of us to others. WE are the bearers of what is best in the world. The old scripture maintained slavery (and so did Paul -- whose influence over the new faith is, to me, despicable) but Christ said in Galatians -- there is no master or slave. All are equal.

      It is the teachings -- the Beatitudes -- the hope and the focus on equality, justice, and perfect love that lead most of us who are still engaged with faith to BE engaged. The legacy of King James and the narrow view of rules and regulations just is NOT on for us. That was what was to be abandoned. Those who cling to rules that let them point fingers at others based on Old Testament writings are NOT Christians -- they use Jesus just as a “get out of jail free” card. You cannot simultaneously be a “Christian” AND an adherent of the Old Testament punitive laws. They simply do NOT work together.

      A marvelous theologian I know has written a superb book, “Saving Paradise” that shows that until Charlemagne c. 800 AD, the whole focus of faith was centered on making THIS world the paradise it could be. Salvation and the afterlife were not the issue save for a smallish segment of scholars hidden away in dark rooms. Charlemagne made the crucifixion the centerpiece because it served to create binary classes -- the saved, the unsaved, the loyal (to him) and the unworthy. The acceptance of the “passion” or the DEATH of Jesus became the “test” of your commitment. How nifty to fit right in with the Divine Right of Kings! Then you could have crusades, inquisitions, etc. to make divisions of people and terrorize them into obedience! So faith is politicized, and today there are those who still use it as “the test” of worth. TOTALLY misses the point. Totally.

      The faith is a process of “becoming” -- becoming someone who is not petty, selfish, mean spirited, violent, and venal. The religious right don’t see that in clinging to King James and to the old codes they are violating their own espoused faith.

      Those of us within the “teachings” tradition also, by the way, have a good sense of wonder and joy on one hand -- and a great sense of humor on the other. The United Church of Christ uses a line from the late comedienne Gracie Allen as an OFFICIAL saying: “Don’t put a period where God only put a comma.” Now what’s not to like about a church who thinks that’s theologically important? And loves that source?

      Faith is different from religion even as people come together under the umbrella of a denomination. That is more social and communal these days than it is reflective of narrow theology. Nobody really worries too much about “predestination” vs “free will” or the micro parsing of details. It’s the joy of hope, the equal joy of community evolving into something better.

      That’s where it is, what it is, why we keep on keepin’ on.

      And we don’t need anyone to be IN our congregations to care about them and see them as complete, total, marvelous, absolutely equal human beings. Have a commitment to justice? That’s all we need to know. I hope that’s all you need to know about us, too.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        choice, isn’t it true that there are 18 years of Christ’s life unaccounted for? I have heard the assumption that during that time, he was in what is now India and the far east.

      • ghsts says:

        Choice, your faith in practice is a rare commodity, if you can read and preach without the “literal” dogma all the better for your congregation. Faith has always, whether christian or other, been a tool of control, sometimes used for good. My crisis came as I was finishing Catechism, as RC, this is when you finally hear the bad history. When a people are oppressed faith gives them the strength to overcome, when faith is wielded by power it does power’s will.

        • choicelady says:

          Oh, BTW -- I’m NOT ordained. I am a lay person working in public policy within a large faith organization. So I don’t preach. Theoretically I motivate people to action, but while I do get outraged and cranky, I have no pulpit so people can kind of take me or leave me. Thank goodness most of them take me or I’d not have a job!

        • choicelady says:

          ghsts -- there is so much distance today from that narrow dogma it pains me to know so many people are unaware of it. We equal in number the religious right in CA and hold big sway across the nation. We are the mainline Protestants, but you’d think all we did was bake sales.

          Look we also have a lot to be sorry for: we’re the missionaries and we brought you Prohibition. On the other hand, our denominations were ALSO in the lead on every major reform in this country and around the world -- abolition, labor, women’s suffrage, ending child labor; many were peace people even in WW I, were on the front lines in support of unions and the New Deal, were at the head of the line with Rev. King, and were out front leading the anti-war movement. Now it’s LGBT rights, women’s right to choose, alliances with our Muslim communities, standing against hate crimes. And yet -- everyone thinks we’re gone when we are, in fact, growing again.

          Over the years, our own failures, especially as missionaries, led to an excruciating re-examination of both theology and practice. We had and have alliances with the thread of Catholicism I revere -- the Catholic Worker Movement, the priests and nuns devoted to liberation theology, and so on. But we HAD to take stock of the hurt dogma does. We HAD to take ownership of the fact that belief in our own superiority did so much harm and overlooked so much that was good.

          One very dear Methodist minister friend -- a man who was tortured in a Brazilian prison in the 70s -- said that when you consider the earth, the solar system, the galaxies, the universe, the billions of stars and discoveries of other planets -- it just defies credibility to think God is a Methodist.

          And we had to redefine “God” because nobody in their right mind can believe joyously in a cranky Santa Claus with a Big List. God as collective human conscience, as the spirit of good in the universe, as the sheer presence of love, joy, creativity, decency, sacrifice, whatever -- yeah. THAT we can believe. For some God is another presence. Who can say? The issue is -- we don’t know, so your view is as apt as mine. What brings you peace is sufficient unto you.

          What is coming together, what the Christian Right (both Protestant and reactionary CAtholic) hates about us including many Catholics on this same journey, is the ecumenical/interfaith alliance of people who put sprituality and justice at the head of all else. No rules. Thoughtful reflection and human kindness drive us toward inclusive faith that presses always toward justice, always justice. That was the TEACHING. Yes, Jesus (supposedly) said the way was through him, but it was not meant ONLY him but, well, he was speaking, right? It does not rule out other voices saying the same thing.

          It might have been a bit less grand but more helpful if he’d said, “I -- and anyone else who tells you this, even those not yet here -- am the way, the truth -- insofar as it makes sense now and in the future when things we don’t yet know have not yet transpired -- and the light. Although, of course, the light can change over time depending on circumstances but you should always test it by its inherent kindness and inclusiveness. Nevertheless this is my word. Words. Whatever.”

          Lacks a certain grace poetically but might have cleared UP a thing or two even if it would sound rather Monty Python-ish.

          Those who are in recovery from Christianity really need to know there are alternatives IF finding someplace to be with others in reflection is important. And if it’s not, it’s still nice to know there are really kind and caring and progressive and politically active churches and people alive and well in America. And we stand by and with anyone and everyone who seeks justice and compassion and kindness and the common good. We don’t care if you doubt or disbelieve because truth is a journey, NOT a destination. We’re all doubting some aspect of this story. But we come together to seek truth and share that experience of making the world a better place and supporting one another along the way. That’s what Jesus and Mohammed (pbuh) and Buddha among others all taught. They did not ask for more than this one thing: that we be the best human beings we could be.

          But, in my own fine way of making a short point VERY long, I am not unique. There are millions on this journey, and it’s enormously exciting to be part of it. Hope that helps.

          • ghsts says:

            choicelady, thank you for your response, thoughtful and YOU have no reason to be sorry. I hope you could covert the “religious christian right,” you know me by now and I’m pessimistic that your numbers will do little to redeem the faith. Good people devote themselves to it, and do much good but it is the people not the institution.

            I have faith in humanity and if there was no church those people would simply continue to build “an empathic nation,” within any number of social institutions. My minors in Religious Studies and Philosophy (first time round) helped me understand the flaw is not in the parable, myth or faith but in it’s real world practice.

            I’ve met the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, John Paul II and all had hearts of pure platinum. You sound to be in good company, but that is far cry from the corporate church. I am grateful for the good people of ‘your’ congregation, they are woefully outnumbered on a planet where Honest Faith is far from dominant in power.

            Your long comments are enjoyable reads and I have a while before they come for me with the cross(too much?). Stay the course of love.

            • choicelady says:

              Well we are of Tutu et al. -- not the DAhli Lama or the Pope though -- and we are not the corporate church, not ANY of our 21 member denominations. That we leave to the Catholics and religious right. We ARE the people that would meet together under trees to share food, sing, and be as one. (A couple of our congregations are that way anyway.) We are many, we are determined to make the world a better and more embracing place, but dogma is out, hierarchy is muted (some, for getting things done not for imposition of rules), deciding we have the ONLY answer is out. Sniffy superiority is out. Promising salvation is out. It’s about love and grace. And then about taking that into the world to do justice. We are EQUAL in numbers to the religious right -- you just don’t see us much because the MSM think we’re boring. And we are! And if you took away the churches and the denominations, we’d be OK. We’re more grounded in Jesus as a teacher than the Unitarians, but we’d be fine. If you could prove there was no God, we’d be fine because we don’t need an oversoul -- what’s good is good with or without an overseer. But we do believe there are great things to learn and to RECLAIM from bizarro religion run amok. And those we hold dear. And we are powerful -- WE passed health care reform (Nancy Pelosi said so) and WE have been in the forefront of much of what has gone well in CA and around the nation in terms of reform. Our folks are out in WI, OH, IN, AZ, etc. leading the way for justice -- and we’re REALLY hard to ignore because our folks are kind, pleasant, usually gentle -- and they won’t go away. Never underestimate church ladies and gents. They are very dedicated and keep coming back to speak truth to power.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        wonderful, choicelady! A true description of genuine Christianity. I read “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne and was often reminded of the things you post here.

    • ghsts says:

      Thanks, that was a new revelation for me(whole astro stuff) when someone here posted, must have been zeitgeist or something. It’s always a road trip with you, Smiley pick me up when you reach IN.

      • KQuark says:

        I was raised RC but from a very young age I never got the Jesus thing. It always seemed man had a need to create Jesus so we could find a way to worship ourselves. It did take me to my adulthood to drop the whole concept of religion completely. After that but still many years ago I had read about how the biographical Jesus was related to the cycles of the Sun or technically the way the earth revolves around the Sun. But I have to say Zeitgeist put together the whole story better than any movie or documentary had that I’ve seen, especially when it relates how so many religions have similar versions of Sun worship quasi-anthropomorphized in some man/god-like icon.

  4. chazmania says:

    Loved the hitch hikers guide…ahh the British, they can be as self debasing as they are pompous…But always scathingly funny.

    • ghsts says:

      Adams is dead now, so I can speak for him and say the babel fish is a thinly veiled allusion to Jesus. “Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.” DA

    • KQuark says:

      Love it. Like always better book but the movie was good too. I even listened to the BBC radio series version.


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