Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Church of the Immaculate Bewilderment

I occasionally go to church on Sunday mornings.

The Church of the Immaculate Bewilderment, is for people who don't believe in God but are curious to know, if HE did exist, what would HE really be like. 

Immaculate means blessed or pure.  To be bewildered is to be confused or baffled.    I'm certainly the latter.

Hemet, who is the resident pastor of  The Church of the Immaculate Bewilderment is an ex-research biologist who was forced out of his tenured university position at the University of California when, at the age of fifty, he stopped bathing, shaving, cutting his hair and brushing his teeth.  I met Hemet on a street corner one Sunday morning, where he was screaming and throwing punches at imaginary people,

"You doing okay?" I said, sticking five dollars into the paper cup Hemet panhandles with when not shouting at strangers.   I often do this, give the money to homeless transients.   I hate feeling sorry for people.  It makes me feel guilty.  "Can I get you anything?"  I said.

"A vente cappuccino would be nice," Hemet said with a sweet if slightly decayed smile.

 "God bless both of you," he said after I took the4 money back and went and got it for him.

 "If God exists," I said.

"Come with me," Hemet said and he took me to parking lot behind the Whole Food Market and introduced me to the rest of the congregation.

At the Church of the Immaculate Bewilderment we talk about a lot of things.  We talk about neurotheology which is the attempt to explain religious behavior in scientific terms.   Why, for instance, does it seem that some human beings are hardwired for faith while others are not?  

It doesn't seem fair.   But then, what does?

Edvard, who was a sucessful financial advisor before he retired to become a successful alchoholic, asks whether God, if He existed, would endorse capitalism.   Would He be shorting the commodities market and if so, could this be construed as illegal insider trading?   Which leads us all to the question, would He be a proponent of Swedish style socialism - high taxes, government regulation and health care for everyone?   Or more in favor of the Divine Right of Kings?  And if HE is, shouldn't WE?

We reach no conclusions.

Poulter, a Marine vet dealing with a traumatic brain injury, likes to discuss early religions, now disingenuously termed mythology, where people believed gods were human manifestations of the natural world - sun, moon, ocean, storm - and the noetic - love, war, wisdom.   Why, he'll ask, should people assume that they're any smarter and more devout today than we were back then.

We're obviously not.

Jones, who has paranoid personality disorder, likes to argue about the origins of the universe, did it all come from something or nothing, with a bang or with a whimper, is it expanding or shrinking and either way - who’s fault is that, huh?!  Huh!?

The nameless Gnostic transvestite who suffers from Fregoli delusion which means he thinks different people are a single person in disguise, likes to contemplate different dimensions of time and space.  How many are there?   Hemet will tell you there could be an infinite number which means in an infinite universe of infinite dimensions there could be an infinite number of you. 

God, if you believe in Him, forbid. 

And finally some one, perhaps it's Bethyl, who deals with depersonalization disorder but is female-centric, always asks whether it's even possible to put sacred concepts into human terms and whether a real knowledge of what is or isn't, is even accessible to human beings.

Probably not.

In the end, it comes down to a matter of faith.   Which our ever changing congregation has very little of.  And so we end up starting  the discussion all over again, in search of it.  Frankly it can get pretty loud and stupid and headache inducing, sort of like a French anarchist's convention and so usually, half way through the meditating, questioning, conjecturing, lecturing and proselytizing on Him - or in Bethyl's system of disbelief - Her - I'll get up and leave and go down the street and get an onion bagel. 

But for some reason, I always seem to go back.  

The Church of the Immaculate Bewilderment is always open to new members.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blue Zones!

Guess what? 

It is a fact that the happiest, longest living people in the world today live in small, isolated, rustic farming  communities called Blue Zones.  

Blue is the color of clear sky.  Blue is the color of clean water. 

In these so-called Blue Zones, life is exceedingly pleasant.  For example, as a rule, all folks sleep in till noon but when tired still manage to take a lot of naps.   They don’t wear watches because they’re not on any clear schedule and so time is not of interest to them.  Food is mostly tubers and roots and grains and there’s a lot of it.  People in Blue Zones drink a lot of herbal tea.  Also red wine that they make themselves which makes the vegetables and whole grains a whole lot easier to get down. 

In Blue Zones, when people want to talk to someone they do not use the phone.  Why?  Because they don’t have any!  Not even landlines!  No.  Instead they take long  walks over hill and dale to the other person’s house.   Amazingly, it doesn’t bother the person they’re visiting in the least.  They had nothing else to do and even if they did, it can now wait. 

 It is of particular interest that in Blue Zones, people of all ages have sex a lot!  Certainly something to aspire to.   Incredibly, they almost always have it with the same person.   Also incredibly, everyone works, usually at more than one thing.   This is because it’s a rule that you must contribute to the community at large, even if you’re old.  No one is excluded.  Especially the elderly. 

In Blue Zones, everyone is so into each other’s business, no one wants to lie or steal or cheat or sleep around because if they do, everyone else will immediately know about it.  To be less than responsible would be considered sketchy.  For some unexplained reason, people who live in Blue Zones are not anxious, bored and restless.   This is one reason they live so long.  Even though they’re all incredibly ancient, they all pretty much feel good about themselves.  Nobody has much money and if they did, they wouldn’t know what to buy.  They do not, at least on a daily basis, deal with information the mind is not equipped to handle and the body to do anything about. 

They have not bitten from the apple.

There are only five Blue Zones left in the world.  There used to be seven but God threw Adam and Eve out of the first one and the one in the mountains of Sardinia has become a four star spa resort developed by the eco-terrorist and Rogaine tycoon, Donald Trump. 

Blue Zones are tanking.   Sad but true!   Their promise of longevity destroys the very isolation that preserves them.   As the world becomes aware of them, they become aware of the world.  People leave and do not come back. 

How ya gonna keep’m down on the farm once they’ve seen Paree?

The opposite of a Blue Zone, of course, would be a densely populated, totally hard wired urban environment – call it a Black Zone.  This is an environment where people rarely sleep, always eat in restaurants, never go out of doors and only interact socially with others to drink designer cocktails, do excellent drugs and dance to loud music.   They have sex with as many others as possible in all sorts of imaginative combinations and in terms of work, are so hyper-specialized, they are practically unemployable.  

In Black Zones people are stressed, alienated and frightened of the future.  There’s a lot of illness, most of it psychosomatic.   Humor is pretty much based on sarcasm and self loathing.   Even the geese only mate for months.   Old people are ignored and marginalized as much as possible.  Poor people are seen as toxic and contagious and are resented as failures.  Everyone is so self-involved that all writing, even biographies, is in the first person.  People lie and cheat and steal to get ahead because it’s pretty much the norm and because it is, everyone has a low opinion of themselves.  They suspect however, that if they had more money to buy things with, they’d feel much, much better.   Confused as to what to live for, most inhabitants of Black Zones die or are murdered or killed as early and violently and tragically as possible and in a temporary, schadenfreuden kind of ecstacy, those still living feel much better when they’re gone because it leaves that much more of everything for them.  

Thankfully, social scientists have yet to discover any of these so called black zones.  They are theoretical at best and will hopefully always remain so.

Pause for moment of dramatic irony.

And now – in the mean time - coming soon to an ocean near you - Seasteading!   Buy a boat and build your own nation-state in International waters!  Sick of laws, regulations and moral convention?  Make your own!  Choose the government you want instead of the government you’ve been stuck with!   Tired of welfare freeloaders, minimum wage, tight building codes, and weapons restrictions?!  F’gedabout’m!     Live with the people you want to live with!   Streamline and start over.   It’s a brave new world out there, morlocks!   Soma for all!

Cue calypso music and singing crab.


Fade to black.