The Santa Claus Delusion
Bill Moyers is right on here regarding the recent Mitchell Report on Steroids in Professional Baseball...
But suppose our national pasttime has become our national pathology? Ours is a society on steroids, and we're as blind as baseball's owners were a decade ago.
In our drugged state, we cheer the winners in the game of wealth, the billionaires who benefit from a skewed financial system -- the losers, we kick down the stairs. We open fire hoses of cash into our political system in the name of "free speech." Television stations that refuse to cover government make fortunes selling political bromides over public airwaves. Pornography passing as advertising assaults our senses, seduces our children, and pollutes our culture. Partisan propaganda gets pumped up as news. We feed on the flamboyance of celebrities. And we actually take seriously the Elmer Gantrys who use the Christian Gospel as a guidebook to an Iowa caucus or a battle plan for the Middle East. In the face of a scandalous health care system, failing schools, and a fraudulent endless war, we are as docile as tattered scarecrows in a field of rotten tomatoes.
Mr. Moyers, I couldn't have said it better myself. But a larger, unanswered question remains: How did we get here?
I blame JESUS!
Not the gospel of Christ. Even if Jesus Christ didn't write it, the Bible ranks among humanity's greatest works of social science and topical poetry. The sermon on the mount; The book of Ecclesiastes; Love your neighbor as yourself; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. These define a cultural and intellectual framework for sustaining a wise human society in a struggle against mindless complexity, crowding and a dissipated natural world.
No. I don't really blame Jesus. I blame belief. Because I have reached the rational conclusion that blind faith, Christian, Muslim or otherwise, is no answer. Rather it is, as Heidegger and Nietzsche concluded as long ago as 1890, a human dilemma, limiting progress and threatening our planet.
Even if Jesus Christ were alive somewhere and was coming back someday to judge us all, what difference should it make in daily life? In politics? In energy policy? Only a blind, fool believer could argue voting for George Bush because he, most of America and the Muslim world, irrationally hold to artifacts of religious culture? Who but a believer, professing adherence to the tenets of Jesus Christ, votes to render 1/3 of his paycheck to Dick Cheney, et al -- to reduce the taxes of billionaires? When Jesus talks to George Bush, does he tell him how many lives a barrel of oil is worth? Does the Bible contain such calculus? Apparently it does, if you're a believer! Because that is exactly what believers have voted for.
Believers voted to make college education so unaffordable that the only choice for their families is to send their children, not to college, but to Iraq, to fight and die to create a U.S. oil protectorate; to sustain America's status-quo dependence on imported fossil-fuel; and to benefit already too-powerful corporations at the expense of future generations. Yes, only a believer could risk her child coming home a headless body in a flag-draped coffin, to keep gasoline under three dollars per gallon.
On one side we have Peace, Democracy, Language, Knowledge, Truth, Love, Justice and Progress and on the other we have ancient myths and metaphors like heaven. Who doesn't make the obvious, logical choice for the benefit of one and all? Apparently -- Believers!
Recently, Ron Paul quoted Sinclair Lewis in response to a Christmas campaign ad for Mike Huckabee, softly equating Belief and Fascism. I too see the connection. Faith means yielding to power and denying one's own potential. Faith is the search for some mythical vision of Christ in the ether when we should be seeking him in the mirror. When Jesus said "I am the way the truth and the light and no man comes to the father but through me..." I refuse to accept he meant through Christ. Rather I have concluded rationally, in the context of human achievement, amid the struggle of human achievers like Christ, that he meant as Christ.
In other words, we are our saviors. And we can all be saved. But only when we think and choose to save each other. Thus it is not important when, how or what happens when one dies, but rather how one lives; in what one lives for, against or in spite of.
Thus belief is not a basis for human salvation but rather salvation's antithesis.
And that is how we got here.