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Date: Wed, 09 Apr 1997 00:45:34 -0700
Subject: affected by. this discussion on the vices and virtues of christianity, boy, it takes me right back. i went to one of those missouri-synod lutheran churches when i was younger. for those of you keeping score at home, robert anton wilson repeatedly refers to the missouri-synod as a cult throughout his work, which used to give me no end of amusement to read, hee hee. (what also gave me amusement was raw's idea that belief is the death of intelligence. i mean, you'd have to be totally stupid to believe that, right? but i digress.) i also went to a missouri-synod parochial school, from the grades pre-school entirely through eighth grade. many of you may have spent time wondering just what the hell goes on at a parochial school, and i feel particularly qualified to talk about the subject. for a while when i was younger, my mother was married to a catholic man, who had three catholic children attending a catholic parochial school across town; my family was, as i have said on many occasions, an interreligious brady bunch of sorts (and here is where kyra will sense the opportunity to chime in about my greg brady hair, and perhaps, just perhaps, KEEP IT TO HERSELF THIS TIME! but i digress). we went to catholic church every other sunday and lutheran church every other sunday. the catholic church was particularly memorable because they had a rockin drummer. but i digress. first of all, there was this thing called "memory work." beginning in first grade, continuing all the way through eighth grade, you had to memorize a passage out of the bible and recite it for a grade. when they ran out of passages to memorize (and this is possible for reasons which may become clear later), they would give you verses from hymns to memorize. if any of you gravities reading this are currently considering going into the seductive field of hymn writing -- PLEASE, PLEASE come up with something more unique than "Holy holy holy you are amazingly cool" and endless variations therein. (ah, but the trap is, how to avoid becoming petra, isn't it. but i digress.) then after memory work (which happened first thing in the morning, and often you would find poor scotto frantically memorizing his memory work in the five minutes it took to get from A to M in the roster, which, not at all coincidentally, led to the development of the VERY SAME MEMORY SKILLS which allowed me, in my later life as an actor, to memorize all of Hamlet in exactly 12 minutes! no lie! well -- okay, i'm lying, but you get the point.) you had bible class. bible class was an hour every morning where you were taught bible stories. now i was having dinner with kyra and justin the other night, and justin mentioned that he was not brought up christian, and as such didn't really know any bible stories. this was a staggering wake up call to me, as i assumed every red blooded american knew all the important bible stories by now, i thought they were common context for all americans, metaphors which we could all refer to. this is evidently not the case. the reason, though, that i came to think this is that monday through friday for 10 years growing up, i got an hour of bible study to start my day. actually, wednesday mornings as i recall we went to "chapel" services, so that didn't precisely count as study. but they made up for it on sunday mornings, when we had to go to -- you guessed it -- sunday school, and spend an hour studying the bible and then go on to the fullblown church service. this is a shit load of god to pour down a kid's throat! and i was christian to the point where, i had conversations with god all the damn time as a youngster, and those days are OVER, thank you very much and gee whiz i miss him. there was a time in my life -- i'm talking, when i was like 8 to 10 years old or so -- where the notion of judgment day was wrapped around my brain and would not go away. most particularly, i was afeared of the notion that one whole half of my family was goin' to hell. because, either the catholics or the lutherans had to be right, and so one or the other of them was wrong! burn baby burn! in retrospect, this must have been the first situation where doubt was allowed to emerge in my nascent model of reality -- the whole dilemma presupposed that i didn't really know which side was right, meaning that although i had gone to the concert, i had not bought the t-shirt or the program or the keychain or the headband. who knew! this line of thought eventually developed into the even larger doubt which went something like, "and if i had been born on the other side of the damn planet, i coulda been muslim! are those souls just totally unlucky because they were born over there instead of in the u.s. of a?" (which of course, they are, as any red blooded american will tell you. why it practically goes without saying that only americans really even have red blood, but i digress.) early signs that my head was not entirely screwed on properly included a dream i remember, in which i was sitting on the bed in a large red bedroom, talking to my pal, our lord and savior Jesus Christ. three large McDonald's Fry Guys burst into the room, only these fuckers had TEETH like you wouldn't believe. shouting the entirely improbable "MMMM! JESUS YUMMY!" they leapt from the door straight to Jesus' throat, chomping down hard, and Jesus' head bounced across the head and hit the floor. i will let this tidbit hang for future historians to parse; i still haven't figured it out myself. now, one major difference i remember between our particular lutheran school and my stepfamily's particular catholic school was that, when my stepsister was in fourth grade, i remember finding myself absolutely astonished that they didn't actually study the bible. at that point in her career, my stepsister was and had been studying out of -- well, some kind of picture book, almost. big story books which provided handy abridged interpretations of bible stories, without all the confusing biblical text to get in the way. by the time i was in fourth grade, i had fucking memorized and recited half the fucking bible, and they were getting off with picture books! and they had a cool drummer, and they could take communion at like age two or some ridiculous age, and they had big fuckin loaves of bread which they tore off grizzly hunks of during communion, as opposed to our pathetic wafers of tasteless whatever-the-fuck. we didn't last long as the interreligious brady bunch, as it turned out. my stepfather, as it turned out, was something of a sociopath, and the shit hit the fan one day when we come home from someplace and for some strange reason, heard this loud recording of one of my mother's phone conversations playing from underneath the floor, where, you guessed it, a tape recorder was hidden and hooked up to the phone so stepdad could track mom. in addition to all of that ugliness, the guy smoked pot for heaven's sake, so it was obvious he had to go. do you get the sense that this post is entirely a digression? perhaps even in the same way that i feel my entire PAST is a fucking digression? umm. i digress.... the ultimate evil involved with parochial schools is that they tend to be quite small. imagine, if you will, a class of 20 students coming in to preschool together, and then spending the next 10 FUCKING YEARS together. imagine being the mutant freak in that bunch. you get to be hated by the same people for 10 FUCKING YEARS. small consolation that they will someday GO TO HELL for treating you so badly. i managed to survive high school with my christianity intact. then i encountered my first college humanities course. suffice it to say, a college humanities professor will ALWAYS offer a different spin on the gospels than a lutheran pastor. this surprised me to NO END. and i sat in my seat and SQUIRMED as the books of genesis and job were treated as HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS instead of THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD. genesis was NOT written by moses, no matter what charlton heston might tell you. it was written by people with names like X, Y, and Z. and Z didn't always agree with X, and there was probably some individual, A, B, C, who edited all of X, Y, and Z's work together. BUT, the kicker is, whoever did the editing over the years did a shit poor job and wouldn't get work at USA Today if they were around, because, for instance, in one section only USDA approved animals get on the ark two by two and in another section every drug-addled thing on legs can mambo right up the door, etc. the book of job is another conspicuous target; job will say something controversial, and then R or V will come along and stick in "look, that's not what job meant at ALL!" the gospels are the weirdest thing to look at, because they were all a bunch of plagiarists, which, you know, "thou shalt not steal" SHOULD INCLUDE STEALING FROM OTHER BIBLICAL SOURCES, you know, but i guess the rules were different back when the lord was going to return at any any moment and take everyone's containers up to heaven. this is all just picking nits, it's the metaphysical equivalent of accusing buddha of misusing his COMMAS for god's sake, but it was enough of a crack in the foundation to allow doubt to begin seeping in. as you probably know, and as i restate here simply to continue the endless process of consoling myself, metaphysical crises are ususally NO FUN WHATSOEVER. doubt is not a blast; agnosticism is not a comfy pillow upon which to rest; cynicism, while certainly witty and somehow cool and seductive, will nevertheless leave you with that not-so-fresh feeling if you pursue it long enough. the floodgates burst in my situation when a good friend of mine fell apart and wound up committing suicide. i was performing in a theme park in missouri and was unable to attend his funeral. i still to this day have dreams wherein he arrives, as though he has been hiding. the other day, the closest thing to closure i ever got happened in a dream. he had been absent for quite some time, and then i had this dream wherein i was actually at his funeral, which was taking place at a conference in a mall somewhere. and i somehow acquired access to his email. to what was in his inbox at the time of his death. to some missing puzzle piece. this friend was the son of: the principle and first grade teacher from the old lutheran school. well, surely it is all apparent what happened next. i began a slide into despair, during which time i befriended such folks as free agent rez and jenna, treated them relatively horribly (and mind you, my despair is not now nor has it ever been some kind of "excuse" for what i did and who i was and still am, only the context), and somehow wound up getting dosed on lsd before my trajectory followed my friend's. the reason this all exists in your inboxes, today of all days, is that the christian thread is entirely exciting on this list. but as with almost all threads on this list, the voice of the person who is one or had one or does something or was something or wanted something tangible and real and super and hard isn't even trying to get heard the way it should. what christianity does and has done (and this is all something so much less than my opinion, so take it with less than even a whole entire grain of salt or whatever passes for it in health food stores these days) is so much water under a bridge which nobody's even using! it is, as with virtually any major religion you can point at, comprised of so many good intentions irrevocably harnessed and padlocked to just as many equally miserable and vicious intentions. which is why in the bhadadavadinnagaddadadavita (sp?) you can have war along side peace. which is why in the bible you can have Jesus dying for our sins in the same vicinity as joshua and the israelites practicing genocide -- yes genocide, though the word wasn't used -- on the nations which inhabited the so-called "promised land." in the kabbalah, this is all taken for granted. there is your pillar of severity, and your pillar of mercy, and you don't get one without the other, and the unifying element in the triad here is consciousness. and it happens inside each individual alive on the planet. no meaningful conclusions are forthcoming, this another drop in the bucket of endlessness here on channel Gravity. if i were God, i would make every gravity post once a week or more!
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