These New Sacrements

It seems that human beings cannot really survive and thrive without something like religion (though how to define ‘religion’ is a task best left for another day). Attempts to do so (as in many communist countries) tend to devolve into nihilism free floating aggression and sterility. Much of the ideological weirdness of today is most easily (and maybe best) understood as attempts to recreate religion in the absence of belief in the traditional supernatural forces that power traditional religions.

From weird diets (from veganism through the paleo diet to breatharianism) through various ideological causes (from MRAs to SJWs and back again) people are trying to tease out the non-physical properties of the universe and to establish a priori independent moral tenets to guide their daily lives and relationships.

Personally I lack any propensity toward religious faith but I find belief itself to be endlessly weird and absorbing and so I’m always interested in the mechanics of how systems of faith are built and maintained.

One of the ersatz religions I find the most interesting are the various conspiracy theories. I’ve always loved the theories themselves in all their intricate goofiness but they were much cooler back before everybody and their dog didn’t know about the 12 bloodlines or the Great Work or secret space programs. One cure for the spread of the more traditional theories is to find ever more arcane theories (humans are alien bigfoot hybrids, mountains are remnants of giant trees). Another is to be on the cutting edge of conspiracies playing out right now as we speak. For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a lot of youtube channels that are updated each and every day covering the latest developments in an underground ideological war going on inside the US government as an anonymous source (Qanon) drops hints about dread doings going on and each enthusiast struggles to find meaning in each mysterious word and/or connections to their pope king Trump. Similarly I’ve been listening to the latest on the giant planet approaching us any day now! any! day! now!

When I finish listening to these and look up more… conventional news sources I feel a little bit like a medieval peasant probably felt has he left the cathedral and headed back to his mundane hut. The existence of another higher realm has been glimpsed and longed for but meanwhile there are crops to gather and garments to weave. The cathedral may be beautiful and fascinating but it doesn’t put the potatoes in the pot of light the fire underneath.

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5 Responses to These New Sacrements

  1. I skitter away from these theories. Nice to know that a giant planet is coming our way. Will need an umbrella then.

  2. Garr says:

    Do you have a source for “mountains are remnants of giant trees”? That’s really beautiful. Were these giant trees conscious? Were they super-people?
    I’m absolutely a theist. Kind of a pantheist, but a theist in the sense that I think that the cosmic self is a thinking, imagining, emotional person who generates us within himself, and that we’re sort of separate from him while we live but then dissolve back into him and he inherits our memories as his own.
    I’ve been playing with the idea of Greek (or otherwise pagan, but the Greek are the best) gods as the imaginative archetypes through which he (the cosmic self) generates us within himself. I think that we should revive Greek polytheism. It’s beautiful, there’s a god or goddess for everyone (alt-righters and feminists alike), and it’s pan-European unlike Norse polytheism. It’s pan-European because all of Europe thought that it was awesome. And since the Greeks themselves always identified the gods of Egypt, Phoenicia, etc. with their own gods, even our mostly Sub-Saharan friends can get into it.

    • cliff arroyo says:

      The original mountain tree video was by a Russian, an English version is here (though it’s tedious I haven’t listened to the whole thing)

      But if you put in ‘giant trees’ into youtube there will be a whole bunch of stuff…

      I’m mostly an agnostic, figure I’ll find out soon enough (and can’t take anyone seriously that says ‘you have to guess and guess right while you’re alive or you’re dooooooomed for all eternity!’)

      • Garr says:

        Well, yeah, obviously anyone who’d deliberately make you sad forever just for guessing wrong is an asshole, and God isn’t an asshole.
        People who don’t “believe in God” are supposed to not believe in God; that’s how God wants those people to be. And then he inherits their memories when they dissolve into him; so he gets to experience life as an atheist, retrospectively. If he didn’t get to experience life as an atheist he wouldn’t have a complete feeling for and understanding of all of the possible lives.

      • Garr says:

        I got through five and a half minutes of the video. Making people listen to your podcasts or video-soundtrack instead of just giving them a transcript is sadistic domineering abuse. I hate that stuff. My son learns that way, but I can’t stand it.
        Especially with a female reader. Sheesh. Female speech is for being cute and entertaining, not for imparting wisdom. I hope she has kids or is planning to have kids soon; otherwise she’s wasting her life. Maybe she’s the writer’s girlfriend?

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