Sunday, May 25, 2014

The narrow, no-nonsense skeptic is every bit as naive as the breezy-brained New Age believer

God and the Devil are the same and religion is man made, flawedEver a critique of organized religion (or any rigid institution, for the matter), while simultaneously a staunch spiritualist, Tom Robbins waxes heavy on the matter of religion in one of his more recent books, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates. Coincidentally, I read said book at the exact time Mr. Robbins released his memoir. As I was reading, as an attempt to both share with you and to preserve exceptional passages for myself, I highlighted much of the book as I poured through its pages. When it was all said and done, I concluded that Fierce Invalids' most riveting selections revolve playfully and gay around six basic categories: 1) Awesome Description 2) Mysticism and Secular Spirituality 3) Society and Freedom 4) Sex 5) Religion

The following is a list of quotes about the fifth category, religion. I hope you find his writing, often the musings of his quirky and wise sideshow of a character, Switters, as enlightening and thought-provoking as I did.

"...a little known scriptural passage recounting the existence of 'neutral angels,' angels who refused to take sides in the Heaven-splitting quarrel between Yahweh and Lucifer, and who chided them both for their intransigence, arrogance, and addiction to power."
"The narrow, no-nonsense skeptic is every bit as naive as the breezy-brained New Age believer."
"Of course [you're no Carlos Castaneda]. You're one of those people who want to go to Heaven without dying. Cowardice in the name of objectivity is fairly characteristic of academics."
"The contemporary U.S. penchant for tracking down one's ethnic identity and then binding oneself to its trappings and traditions, no matter how irrelevant, rather than, say, liberating and transforming oneself by inventing an entirely fresh identity."
"The Devil doesn't make us do anything. The Devil, for example, doesn't make us mean. Rather, when we're mean, we make the Devil. Literally. Our actions create him. Conversely, when we behave with compassion, generosity, and grace, we create God in the world." 
"Stability the handiwork of God? You've got to be kidding! If God's aid is stability, then he's a monumental, incompetent failure, the biggest loser of all time. This universe he's credited with creating is dynamic, in almost constant flux. Any stability we might perceive in it on any level is as temporary as it is aberrant. Symbiosis, maybe; even a kind of harmonious interaction, but not stability."
"Why our cosmology is a binary system, as well. God equals one, Satan, zero. Or is it the other way around?"
"In a reality made of language, the people who get to name things have psychological ownership of those things. Couples name their pets and children, Madison Avenue names the products that dominate our desires, theologians name the deities that dominate our spirit -- 'Yahweh' changed to 'Jehovah' changed to plain ol' generic 'God' -- kids name the latest cultural trends or rename old ones to make them theirs...In a way, we're like linguistic wolves, lifting our legs on patches of cultural ground to mark them with verbal urine." 
"That's right. I'm on the run from the Killer B's. B for Belief. B for Belonging. The B's that lead to most of the killing in the world."
In reply to, So you do think the Bible a good thing?: "The honey that's dipped from that busy hive can be sweet and nourishing, or it can be hallucinogenic and deadly. All too frequently, the latter is confused with the former." 
"To practice a religion can be lovely, to believe in one is almost always disastrous."
"The original teachings of Jesus and Mohammed et al are extreme. If a person can participate in those extreme systems without identifying with the humbug they've spawned, without becoming attached to, say, patriotism or moralistic zeal in the church...then minds might be liberated."
"If women had played an active role in shaping our relationship to God, everything might be different. There might not be a conflict between the Church and Islam. There might not be any Church and Islam. Women wouldn't have seen the need for them."
"Think about it. Would Satan get New Orleans, Bangkok, and the French Riviera and God get Salt Lake City? Satan get ice hockey, God get horseshoes? God get bingo; Satan, stud poker? Satan get LSD; God, Prozac? God get Neil Simon; Satan, Oscar Wilde? Can anyone see Satan taking pirate radio stations and God being happy with the likes of CBS? God getting twin beds; Satan waterbeds; God, Minnie Mouse, John Wayne, and Shirley Temple; Satan, Betty Boop, Peter Lorre, and Mae West; God, Billy Graham; Satan, the Dalai Lama? Would Satan get Harley motorcycles; God, Honda golf carts? Satan get blue jeans and fish-net stockings; God, polyester suits and pantyhose? Satan get electric guitars; God, pipe organs; Satan get Andy Worhol and James Joyce; God, Andrew Wyeth and James Michener; Satan, oriental rugs; God, shag carpeting? Would God settle for cash and let Satan leave town with Mr. Plastic? Would Satan mambo and God waltz? Would Almighty God be that dorky?
"Fundamentalists are the same everywhere, are they not? Their desperate craving for simplicity sure can create complications. And their pitiful longing for certainty sure can make things unsteady."
"I've always assumed that every time a child is born, the Divine reenters the world. That's the meaning of the Christmas story. And every time that child's purity is corrupted by society, that's the meaning of the Crucifixion story. Your man Jesus stands for that child, that pure spirit, and as its surrogate, he's being born and put to death again and again, over and over, every time we inhale and exhale, not just at the vernal equinox and on the twenty-fifth of December."
"It was easy to grow paranoid in the desert. The absence of shadows caused the mind to invent them. History had proven this a hundred times over in a landscape where one man's mirage was another man's divine revelation."
"To the individual heart. The only church that ever was." 
Referring to fundamental particles in physics: "Would the presumed interweaving of light and darkness in that minutest of maws give her a clue that God and Satan might be codependent if not indivisible."
"If they believed too adamantly, then sooner or later they would be tempted to lie to protect those beliefs."
"Cowboys were fond of saying, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' It's always broke, and we can never fix it. On the other hand, there's nothing to break, so what is it we imagine we're fixing?" 

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