The Supreme Court, finishing its annus horribilus at the top of its American Enterprise Institute coached form has just told the Biden Administration – America actually – that the EPA can’t tell power plants how much they can pollute our air. For the Supreme Court’s information, the air THEY breathe is no different from the air Democrats or progressives or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus (or any other non-Christians) or atheists or agnostics or anyone breathes. But then, six of the nine sitting justices are Catholic! Hmmmmm… that’s weird… Catholics make up 22% of Americans but they make up 66% of the Supreme Court? Right off the bat, that’s bizarre. Of the six Catholics, only one was put on the court by a Democratic POTUS – Sonia Sotomayor by Barack Obama. The other five Catholics – especially the last two grafted onto the SCOTUS – Brett “The Rapist” Kavanaugh and Amy “Six Weeks Before The Election” Barrett – come from a very different Catholic tradition than Justice Sotomayor. Not all Catholics are created equal apparently. Not all Catholics believe the exact same things about their faith. Mel Gibson’s brand of Catholics is so far to the right, it thinks all other Catholics are heretics! This wouldn’t be a problem if the Justices on the SCOTUS could just keep their religions to themselves. But, alas, in the case of every single conservative Justice on the Supreme Court, their religion – and how they practice it – was very much the whole point of their being nominated to begin with.
The Heritage Foundation – heavy with Koch funding via, among other sources, the Atlas Network – backs every destructive industry there is and every greedy industrialist. From tobacco to pollution to gun control to abortion, the Heritage Foundation and its money represent a shrinking segment of America – the part that thinks white hegemony is kosher. The Heritage Foundation has been the “brains” behind the current SCOTUS. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett are all on the Court because the Heritage Foundation wanted them there. The Heritage Foundation is the brains behind current conservatism while The American Enterprise Institute is its political muscle.
The stated point of the SCOTUS takeover was to overturn Roe v Wade. But, as always with conservatives, there’s always a darker, unstated agenda. Remember: the whole religious swing toward being anti-abortion is a very recent innovation here in America. The Catholic Church has been warring with itself all along about what it felt about the unborn. It won’t give them communion when they die like they do a born person. I don’t think that was an administrative oversight. The Catholic Church is now and always has been a boys’ club. Nuns and other women could disappear tomorrow and the Catholic Church would go on just fine without them. After all, nunneries and convents were where “many unmarried and disabled women” were placed as an alternative to prisons. Convents were where they stuck rebellious women and children; it’s where “young girls were educated as they waited to be married”. As the power that controls the Vatican looks out at what’s left of its Holy Roman Empire, women and women’s issues mean almost nothing to them. The Catholic Church seems to have created a female flip side to the father, son and holy ghost: virgin, mother, whore. A woman could be one of those three things and nothing but.
As I’ve written many times on this site, I think the Apostle Paul was a genius for having invented Christianity almost entirely out of whole cloth. Well, out of the version of Jesus that he invented which wasn’t the Jesus who really was. When the former Pharisee (the former Saul of Tarsus) took his version of Jesus from the Road to Damascus back to Jerusalem, he couldn’t find any takers among the people who’d actually known Jesus or heard him speak.
Paul took his version of Jesus – and his modified version of Judaism (where males didn’t have to be circumcised) – out to the Gentiles who had no knowledge either of Jesus or of the Jewish history, customs and mythology that Jesus taught and preached to other Jews. The same way that Paul never met Jesus, he had no idea, really, what happened to Jesus’s body after Jesus died. Of all the things that could possibly explain why a body would suddenly disappear from a grave, “cause he rose from the dead on his way to heaven” while poetic, isn’t likely to pass any smell tests. It’d be a damned neat trick – no argument. But we’re going to need to see a little of the physics and biochemistry explained first.
Could Paul do today what he did two thousand years ago – start a worldwide religion based on a strange story whose story parts don’t add up? Actually, he might – up to a point. Consider what L Ron Hubbard did when he invented Scientology. Religious people hate to be bunched together with Scientologists – as if people believing a crazy story were unacceptable to them. Consider Joseph Smith’s invention – Mormonism – and how other Christians feel about it. It’s right there in “Christianity Today’s” headline: “Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away”.
Not to burst any one Christian’s bubble, but, to an outsider – a non-Christian? This is all much ado about nothing albeit a deadly much ado. Running a close second to Christianity’s bloody outlook toward the rest of us is Christianity’s bloody outlook toward itself. Whether it’s Protestants killing Catholics or Catholics killing Protestants, if you can’t even get along with yourself, what possible hope is there for the rest of us when you come knocking?
What makes it all so painful is that the guy lost in all this – Jesus – actually preached a fairly simple, easy to practice, downright satisfying to live life lesson: do unto others. He also taught “turn the other cheek” and “suffer the little children” – all positive, uplifting and empowering messages. But those teachings weren’t what made Jesus radical. What made Jesus dangerous to any authorities was his teaching that one didn’t need a corrupt temple or its corrupt temple priests in order to talk to God. That, Jesus taught, one could/should do on one’s own.
Strange, don’t you think, that one of the first things Paul does as he begins to preach his brand-spanking new Jesus mythology is create an institution – a corrupt temple and corrupt priests – to run it. That is always the breach conservatives rush in to fill. If you agree with the Jesus that The Jesus Seminar rigorously drew from the texts, you’re standing with the most likely version of the historical Jesus. They narrowed down authentic Jesus to about a dozen and a half aphorisms and sayings. “Do unto others” and “suffer the little children” make the cut.
But, not everyone wants an historical Jesus. Strange as it seems, a flesh and blood Jesus presents more problems than he can solve. For starters, a living breathing, human Jesus stops being an abstraction. He lives and breathes. He needs to eat and buy clothing. He needs nice digs. And actual humans screw up regularly. Not a one of us is “perfect” the way Jesus is (or is supposed to be per the book.)
Quick question: if Jesus’s purpose in having lived was to die for humanity’s sins (made a necessity because Eve ate the forbidden fruit that blew up Eden), then Judas isn’t so much “betraying” Jesus as he is serving a necessary purpose to get Jesus into the death pipeline. If Judas never betrays Jesus and Jesus goes on to preach and teach – exclusively to Jews, growing his audience via his radical “Talk directly to God-the-father” message until he dies in his bed a happy old rabbi surrounded by his loved ones, then no one gets saved. No one dies for anyone else’s sins.
And no one gets to be born again or rise from the dead like Jesus. Story-wise, an old guy refusing to leave the stage after a good, long run isn’t the same as a young guy killed by The Man before his time. Jesus’s death is more important to Paul than any part of Jesus’s life: Jesus has to die in order to complete his messiah-hood. Ya can’t come again if ya never left in the first place. It’s that “re-birth” that sets Christianity apart from Judaism.
Take Judas out of the Jesus story and there isn’t a Jesus story – not according to Paul. With that in mind, Paul had to revise Jesus’s life so that Jesus could line up with David, (a tribal king ruling a relative handful of people) who’d died nearly a thousand years previously. And all of this in a world of oral traditions.
I take nothing away for Paul’s invention or his inventiveness. Same goes for the early church as they wrestled with the Big Ideas they found themselves thinking. Before they’d thought them, no one had – as far as we know. In the great story of human thinking and evolution, theirs is essential to what became Western Civilization. That doesn’t mean for two seconds that the ideas at the core were correct. Magical thinking is magical thinking is magical thinking.
Which brings us back to the SCOTUS we have versus the SCOTUS we actually wanted for ourselves. The majority of SCOTUS judges are there courtesy of a vocal minority of wealthy, well-connected Americans. And those wealthy, well-connected Americans (the Kochs, the Mercers) all believe in a brand of Christianity that puts them squarely at God’s right hand. Who are we kidding – American Christianity is proof positive that monotheism is dangerous. When it puts “the voice of God” inside its believers’ heads, it’s planting the seeds of megalomania.
Does everyone hear the Voice of God in their heads? Of course not! Only a special few do. And, if you’re one of those special ones, it means you have a special relationship with the creator of all things. When the creator of all things tells you what he likes or doesn’t like, it’s not your job to question it, it’s your job to preach it and practice it. Anyone who doesn’t go along – they’re heretics or, worse, unbelievers whose very faith in something else contradicts your faith in whatever you believe in. Someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong in this world.
God and Thetans can’t co-exist.
It’s a stone cold fact that progressives never use religion to justify anything. Morality, yes – but not religious morality which, as we all know, sports a lethal level of bullshit in its component parts.
The religious never have to rely on facts or data sets to justify their nonsense. “God says” will do just fine. It closes all doors on analysis. And if God’s wrong at the end of the day? Well, he was just teaching us something, don’tcha know! It’s like a whole way of thinking that’s been built of Jello.
The conservative argument against abortion is rubbish of course. It insists that life begins at the instant of fertilization. That’s just today. No doubt, some Christian legislator is already hard at work trying to figure out how to make life begin the moment a rapist first feels his dick get hard. Conservative arguments about climate change are even more redolent of bullshit. Same goes for their thoughts about voting rights, money, the pandemic and every other topic on the table in front of us.
Ooga-booga won’t feed the hungry. It won’t provide life-saving healthcare or make American streets any safer to walk down or drive on. It won’t do anything about corruption. It won’t make our elections any freer or fairer. It won’t make the world a better place or anyone’s life more meaningful. And yet, a certain subset of Christians won’t let that get in their way.