Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Bonfire Of The Vanities

So today in church, we went on a trip to the Kidron Valley.  For those who weren't aware, it's a dry creek bed that runs between the east side of the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.  Here's what it looks like of late:

In two instances in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is written that the kings had idols burnt here.  We were invited to consider what idols we might wish to drag outside the city walls and burn, scattering the ashes on the tombs, burying the dead gods with the dead people.

I can think of so many.

How about religion, for a start?  Let's chuck it.  Get rid of the whole idea.  A source of human division and wanton cruelty for most of our history, we have created glorious structures to our own ideas, celebrated our uniqueness at having discovered the truth, and gleefully slaughtered those who had the temerity to question our arrival at the Heavenly City.  Whether Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox or LDS or Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish or Islam: drag 'em kicking and screaming if you have to, but we should rid ourselves of these idols we call religion.

I might suggest we also rid ourselves of the idol of humanity.  Not people, mind you.  Just the notion of "humanity" as something special.  The last thing we should be celebrating is some unique characteristic that separates our species from the rest of those who have arisen over the eons.  What, precisely, have we done that is to celebrate?  We build all sorts of monuments to our desire for security, whether they're commercial or financial or ideological or political, consecrate them with the aid of whatever priest flatters our sense of ourselves, and insist others stand in awe at what we have created.  Meanwhile, our oceans are deoxygenated, our forests are torn down or burn, our land and potable water - where its available as drought spreads its bony fingers across more of the planet - are poisoned, and we continue to alter the climate, which creates more and more hazards for so much of the rest of the world.

Finally, my own preference would be to torch our constant insistence that there's anything to figure out.  That life has questions that need answers, that ours is either the best or the worst of times; the best or worst of generations; the most blessed or cursed of nations or people or religious groups or however we might phrase it.  Life isn't a series of questions.  There aren't any answers, either.  Not in the Bible or the Holy Q'uran or the Baghavad Gita or the Guru Granth Sahib.  Not physics or biology or sociology or psychology.

The only things there is now is the only thing there has ever been or ever will be - to live with one another, to love those closest to you as hard as you can, to love those far away from you as if they were those close to you, and never forget that none of it, not a single moment of our lives, is something we deserve.  The world, other people, our legal, religious, political, and other social structures don't owe any of us a damn thing.  Because none of it is about us.  Had any of us, including me, never been born, the world would carry on quite well, with all the ups and downs, the horrors and joys that make up existence still there.  We don't need to think about stuff to get it.  All we need is all we've ever needed: one another, working with one another, living with one another, celebrating with one another, mourning with one another.

I think there a whole lot of other idols I'd be willing to drag to that dry roadside and torch.  Getting rid of this jetsam would do us all a whole lot of good for starters.

Virtual Tin Cup

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