From A Branding Point Of View, “Christian” Is Kinda Spent; Followers Of Jesus Need A New Name

I’ll own it — a born atheist has no business telling Christians anything about their brand. Except, Christianity — being a sales-based religion (“Hey, have ya heard the ‘good news’ style proselytizing started with Paul, the actual inventor of Christianity) — relies almost entirely on how it’s perceived by others. After all, isn’t the point of me hearing “the good news” the hope that I’ll come to my senses and convert?

Christians are preaching to a shrinking choir. Have they ever stopped to ask themselves why? No, they haven’t — because self-analysis isn’t part of the brand. Confession is. So’s an intense focus on rules & regs at the diminishing expense of any sort of spirituality. Christianity’s problem isn’t branding. Christianity’s problem is its brand.

I’ve blogged on many occasions with receipts (so I won’t do it here) about the Christian Church’s origins. It’s entirely Paul’s invention. Entirely. Jesus’ simple (Jewish) message — Do Unto Others — got subsumed into and under the mythology that Paul created and spread to the brand new churches forming across the Roman world. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. He failed trying to sell his version of Jesus to the Jews (with its wild, magic-heavy “proofs” that Jesus was the messiah) and, so, turned to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles, having no knowledge of (or concern for) Jewish mythology, accepted Paul’s version — because why wouldn’t they? Paul had created something genius — a way to conquer death. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you can live forever.

That has nothing to do with “Doing Unto Others”. And the church Paul created was big on forcing non-Christians to accept Jesus. Ironically, those Christians were going to “Do Unto Others” on pain of death.

The Catholic Church, once it acquired political power, never let that power go. Whatever spirituality there was in the institution died. More irony — Jesus preached against having churches because churches, he said, were corrupt. What could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church? Almost from the day it hung out its shingle, the Catholic Church has concerned itself with rules & regs, getting money into its coffers, and increasing its “membership”.

There is no way to count the number of humans who have died because of religion. Christianity — with its crusades and its inquisitions and its own internecine wars — has put its stamp on a veritable shit ton of them. And all to sell a product that its own supposed creator would never ever EVER recognize.

The Christian Church and Jesus aren’t just estranged, they’re strangers. That disconnect is what’s killing the church (whether Catholic or Protestant). I have a dear friend — a Presbyterian minister — whose job is trying to keep Presbyterian congregations alive.

The proud conservative Christians running the Republican Party — bowing in total obeisance to the evangelicals — have also helped destroy any notion that such a thing as “Christian mercy” exists outside of a sanctimonious Sunday sermon. Brown Children in cages was not what Jesus had children suffering unto in his mind.

If I’m a brand that needs new followers to stay alive — that needs brand loyalty from current followers — that has to compete with a thousand more ideas than it ever had to before — I’m afraid (if I’m Christianity). I wouldn’t be however, if I were Jesus.

Is there a more potent antidote the vile, self-serving piggery of Trumpism than “Do Unto Others”? Republicanism — same question. Christianity — you, too.

Jesus and Christianity have nothing to do with each other. Followers of Jesus — even now — are loathe to associate themselves with evangelicals or the rapey Catholic Church or any of the rules & regs heavy institutions their parents forced on them when they were kids.

I would say Followers Of Jesus need a new Paul — to create a new institution that gets the mythology right. But, right off the bat, that would violate one of Jesus’ core tenants — the need for a church.

Maybe a better way to go would be to actually follow Jesus. If you want to follow him theistically — go directly to god. Skip the institution. If you just want to Do Unto Others? Well, who’s stopping you? All you have to do is “Do”.

Maybe the best new brand for Followers Of Jesus is to call themselves DUO’s. They Do Unto Others. That’s all you need to know about them (so long as their actions match their words). I’d say they don’t even need that.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb atheist.

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If Our MSM Reported Voldemort The Way They Reported Trump, They’d Describe Voldemort As A Man In Need Of A Little Rhinoplasty

Dear CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post Et Al — You seem to have a persistent problem reporting on Donald Trump. After all this time and bullshit, you STILL don’t know who he is. Maybe if you pulled back the lens you use to look at him, you’d see that the various different Trumps you report on are all parts of the same “Uber-Trump” where all the horrible Trumps pool into one giant cess pit of corruption.

You can’t seem to grasp that the ludicrous Donald Trump who wants to buy Greenland is the SAME Donald Trump named as an Unindicted Co-Conspirator in court documents for having committed ELECTION FRAUD.

It’s the same Donald Trump who the Mueller Report accuses of persistent Obstruction Of Justice — and whose obstruction didn’t permit a thorough investigation into possible conspiracy (within the narrow scope of stolen data, it’s passage to Wikileaks and Wikileaks’ transmission of said data out into the world as part of a GRU (Russian military intelligence) active measures campaign.

It’s the same Donald Trump who we KNOW had a deep, abiding friendship with pederast Jeffrey Epstein.

It’s the same Donald Trump who — on day one of his campaign — announced his overt racism to the world: “Mexicans are rapists”.

It’s the same Donald Trump who PROUDLY confided in another privileged male that HE was so privileged that he could grab any woman’s pussy — and she’d let him do it.

It’s the same Donald Trump who insisted after a white supremacist mowed down anti-hate protester Heather Heyer that “both sides had good people”.

It’s the same Trump who shared OUR SECRETS with the Russian Ambassador in OUR WHITE HOUSE.

It’s the same Trump who meets privately with Vladimir Putin because he knows — if WE THE PEOPLE knew what HE was saying out of our earshot, we would have him on trial right this second for TREASON.

It’s the same Donald Trump who puts brown children into cages after kidnapping them from their parents — the whole point of the exercising being to dehumanize, brutalize and dis incentivize asylum seekers (many of whom are seeking asylum because of violence caused in their home countries by American drug gangs).

It’s the same Donald Trump who bragged about walking in on GIRLS in their dressing room at a beauty pageant he owned.

It’s the same Donald Trump who cheated on his wife just after she’d given birth to his child.

It’s the same Donald Trump whose own WIFE accused him of raping her.

It’s the same Donald Trump who has lied over 10,000 times (by a conservative count) since literally STEALING the presidency.

It’s the same Donald Trump who would not be POTUS if not for Russia MAKING him POTUS.

These aren’t “different” Donald Trumps (no more than Trump is a “different kind of POTUS” — there’s no such thing. All these Trumps are one and the same with THE Donald Trump — the bloated orange jackal turd who literally STOLE the presidency.

You cannot report on just “one” Donald Trump because that’s not who he is. It’s like reporting on Voldemort as a guy in need of some rhinoplasty.

There’s so much more to Voldemort of course — just as there’s so much more to Donald Trump. If only you (our MSM) had perspective… then you might see Donald Trump for who & especially WHAT he really is — just like Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson (a former WSJ reporter) did when first hired by the RW Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump.

The real Donald Trump has always hidden in plain sight. That our MSM refuses to see him for what he really is — that’s entirely on them.

Have I Ever Told Ya About The COOLEST Movie Project I Ever Got To Work On But Never Got Made?

When I’m not tilting at windmills here or on Twitter, I write movies and screenplays. And a book (which I’m now agent-shopping by the way…).

I’m going out as we speak with a huge TV series called City Of Angels — the story of how Los Angeles became “Los Angeles” starting in 1906 (and then going decade by decade telling the almost completely true, completely insane story of Los Angeles — a city like no other on the planet). There’s a reason noir was invented in LA.

The first season (running from 1906 – 1910) ends as the film business arrives on the scene. The rest of the first season tells the stories of William Mulholland, Edward Doheny, Griffith J. Griffith, Virginia Rappe, Roscoe Arbuckle, William Randolph Hearst and Ricardo Flores Magon — the intellectual architect of the Mexican Revolution (which was planned in large part in Los Angeles) among many, many others.

But I digress… A project I worked on eons ago — that I thought was dead — showed signs of life tonight — and I am thrilled. And I needed to shout about it a little — if only because it’s such a cool project and doesn’t deserve to die in total obscurity.

My wife and my therapist are asleep so — it’s gonna have to be “you”.

My friend Roger Harrison got the idea for “Cousins”. Roger’s an amazing producer with a great eye for material. For instance — Roger found, developed, backed and produced the musical “Louis & Keely Live AT The Sahara”. Roger wanted to put together a concert for charity. That concert would have reunited three great boogie-woogie piano players who also happen to be cousins.

These three men — their story is absolutely true — were all born in 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana and all three cousins grew up in a swirling gumbo of music (blues coming up from the delta, hillbilly coming from the Ozarks, gospel coming from everywhere else), religion (hard core, fire-breathing Assemblies Of God fundamentalism that believes absolutely in heaven and especially hell) and family dynamics as only happens there in Louisiana.

They became three very successful men. One became country star Mickey Gilley (whose gigantic roadhouse bar Gilley’s was the setting for “Urban Cowboy“. The next became famed-but-twice-fallen-from-grace televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. And the last became rock n roll’s “killer” — Jerry Lee Lewis.

They’re all first cousins. Jerry Lee and Jimmy are first cousins on both their mothers’ AND their fathers’ sides — cos it’s Louisiana.

Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart are flip sides of a very twisted coin. Both men envy the hell out of each other. They love each other but cannot (as of the last time I was involved with the story) stand each other. There are “issues”, shall we say.

Standing between these two men is their other cousin Mickey. Mickey genuinely loves his two cousins and wants them to reconcile. That is what the movie’s about — Mickey’s failed attempt to reconcile his two famous but ornery cousins — told against the backdrop of their larger story (what formed them all and caused their estrangement).

Running through it all is a shitload of incredible roots music — everything the three cousins were listening to and inspired by.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Mickey who shared a lot of wonderful stories and insights about his two cousins and what made them all tick. It was a window (in addition to my own research) into an amazing world. I didn’t get to talk to Jerry Lee or Jimmy. I had always hoped that, had the project moved further along, I could soften up Jimmy; I was told to forget about talking to Jerry Lee. Just as well — it was Jimmy Swaggart who I most wanted to talk to. I still want to sit down with that guy if I can.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to judge Jimmy in any way. I want to tell his story. I want the audience to understand what it was like to be him — to be groomed from the age of five to be a preacher — to be this “character” outside of who he really was. He had to start doing that before he even knew who the hell he was — and the character he had to play was a denial of half the things he felt. It was impossible not to be damaged by this.

Jimmy, Jerry Lee and Mickey were all excellent boogie-woogie piano players. But early on, something touched Jerry Lee. He was always the wild one, taking risks. He attributed his talent and success to a deal he said he’d made with the devil. He claimed that when he was 6 or 7, he was playing outside the sharecropper shack of a young black playmate when he heard Robert Johnson’s voice — singing “Terraplane Blues” — coming from the Victrola inside the shack. Jerry Lee asked his friend about the man on the record.

His young friend explained (his daddy had told him, he said) that the man playing the guitar and singing — Robert Johnson — made a deal with the devil just so he could sound like that. Jerry Lee, in his head, made the exact same deal. Jerry Lee got early fame and it was huge. Though his penchant for marrying young cousins brought him back to earth again, Jerry Lee remained one of the essential gods of early rock.

No one resented that fact more than Jimmy Swaggart. Jimmy wanted every last bit of Jerry Lee’s fame. But, on the flip side, Jerry Lee wanted something that Jimmy had. Jerry Lee envied Jimmy the relationship he had with their idea of god more than the relationship he had with their idea of god. That’s literally what Jerry Lee envied.

Jimmy pointedly judged Jerry Lee for every one of his failings. When Jimmy Swaggart fell from grace — he got caught with prostitutes not once but twice (never mind what he did or didn’t do with them) — Jerry Lee did not get his cousin’s back. He never called to lend any support whatsoever — and that failure was duly noted.

Like I said — flip sides of one very twisted coin. And in the middle of them — find Mickey — a very good man who just wants everyone to get along.

Hope in the film-TV business is a dubious thing. It’s like setting yourself up for failure — hoping about a project. In my mind, “Cousins” was never going to happen. That it most likely still won’t is the status quo.

That it might could find a home (the money) at, say, a Netflix (not a possibility because it didn’t exist when we first started working on the project eons ago) or other streaming service — well, that’s reason for genuine hope. In this town, “No” means “not this second but, if circumstances change, ask again”. And “No” doesn’t mean what you have isn’t worth a fortune.

William Goldman’s maxim — “Nobody Knows Anything” — is eternal. Don’t forget: every single studio in Hollywood said “No” to George Lucas when he pitched “Star Wars”. When Fox finally gave in and ponied up the dough for production, they thought so little of their investment that they gave Lucas 100% of the film’s merchandising.

That chunk of change is now called LucasFilm, LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic.

Anything can happen. The trick is getting the words under the right noses. And therein lies another Hollywood tale — I sincerely hope.

Of Peckers & Peccadilloes — What IS It About Men & Their “Manhood”?

Things that begin with the letter “P” — Peculiar… Powerful… Pederast… Pervert… Penis.

Peckers, too. And Peccadilloes.

One of the stories that’s already bubbled up in the Jeffrey Epstein saga is his apparent need for a minimum of three orgasms a day. On the one hand, I do admire the man’s capacity. On the other hand — dude, take care of business yourself if it’s that urgent — and get some therapy; you’re addicted. The question is “to what?”

I suspect that, in too many men’s minds, sex gets conflated with power whereas it should be conjoined to love. Even if you’re not in love with a sexual partner, it’s nice if you at least like them. Better yet, respect them. It says something about YOU when you regularly have sex with people YOU don’t respect.

The bottom line about male sexuality is this — by our very nature, we’re “squirt-n-go” creatures. Our orgasm, pleasurable as it is, is 100% reproductive. Everything about the male orgasm focuses on getting our DNA from inside our nutsack to the inside of a female where, if all goes to genetic plan, our sperm will race toward a waiting egg.

What happens after that — to a male — is almost entirely irrelevant. He may rise to the challenge and become a great father but that’s entirely up to him. He could just as easily squirt n go. As lots of men do.

Women, on the other hand, can orgasm all they like — without it ever making them pregnant. Their orgasm, as far as we know, is all about pleasure. They don’t even have to have an egg in the chamber, ready for fertilization, to have orgasms by the bucket. But if a man ejaculates inside of them — achieves his orgasm without any protection — and there is an egg in the chamber? That’s a whole other story.

No woman would ever speak the words “I alone can fix it” as Donald Trump has repeatedly. Trump’s not the only man to think that way about himself. A dude driving around lost, refusing to ask for directions, suffers from the exact same delusion. Female biology necessitates communal thinking instead. While it’s possible to bear and raise a child alone, doing it alone makes success highly unlikely for either parent or child. Even a woman without a mate still needs the better part of a village to successfully raise a child.

Stories about twisted female sexuality are fascinating as much for the twisted sexuality as for how unusual they are (most often it’s a female school teacher and a boy she fixated on). Most stories about twisted sexuality are all about men. Catholic priests, for instance. The man who sexually molested me when I was 14 (I’ve learned about him that he grew up the youngest boy in a group of Yeshiva boys trying to outrun WWII where he was likely bullied and sexually assaulted himself). Jeffrey Epstein — and every man who partook of the underage action Jeff provided.

A cultural shift is happening as we speak. We’re finally dis-empowering the penis. It’s about damned time. Men who think with their penises have made a mess of the planet and civilization.

Just because your pecker says it wants something doesn’t mean it gets the thing it wants. There are rules even a penis has to follow. Penises have to ask permission to go places. If a vagina or a mouth or a rectum agrees unconditionally to a penis coming for a visit? That penis has permission.

BUT — all permission is conditional. Penises must behave at all times — and a misbehaving penis (a penis NOT playing by the agreed-upon rules) is a penis who deserves to be expelled.

By the way, a well-behaving penis is also a responsible penis. If there’s a dress code — raincoats required — all penises are therefore required to dress before gaining entry. Whining and cajoling are bullshit.

If the male of the species is ever going to be fully civilized — I hold out hope though not much — he’s going to have to learn to get good at another “M” word — “masturbation”. Men need to learn that every single urge they feel CAN in fact be dealt with directly. And, hey — contrary to what our various religions taught us, masturbation’s actually healthy.

How’s this for irony — what men need to learn MOST about their own sexuality? “I alone can fix it”.

The Difference Between Bullshit & Horse Shit — And, Yes, There IS A Difference…

I think of “now” as A Golden Age Of Bullshit. And we are the mountaineers bravely climbing Bullshit’s highest peak — the Trump White House.

Humanity has invented and lived through countless Ages of Nonsense, Lies, Rubbish & Self-Delusion. Pick a religion. Add a little dogma. Bam! You have bullshit on your hands now. The Golden Ages are when religionistas take up arms against each other — killing on a grand scale in order to prove that their imaginary friend can kick the other guy’s imaginary friend’s ass.

Bullshit can kill people. Climate deniers use bullshit to justify doing nothing as if “doing nothing” would prove climate change isn’t real. But climate change will happen and destroy human lives regardless of what humans think. Only what humans “DO” can effect or even, hopefully, slow what we humans have done to our own freaking habitat.

We all know bullshit when we see it, smell it, hear it, right? It’s like they used to define pornography. We can’t say quite what it is (it covers so much territory), but we know it when we “experience” it. It’s that distinctive.

Horse shit, by comparison, is milder stuff. Horse shit is your idiot RW uncle at Thanksgiving “Yeah, but”-ing every argument, because he still thinks blaming the Clintons works.

Horse shit is your kid missing curfew and swearing they were caught in traffic.

Horse shit is 60% of all Cable News talking head panels. It’s rubbish — mostly harmless, masturbatory navel gazing done by second tier talent who keep getting air time because there’s so little first tier talent. The other panels are 10% worthwhile conversations (mostly via Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline White House) and 20% outright bullshit.

There are certain regular guests on some of these shows who are especially good at pointing out the dividing line between horse shit & bullshit. Dr. Jason Johnson is always good at laser-lighting it. Elie Mystal is amazing. So’s Zina Maxwell and Anand Giridharadas. Dr. Eddie Glaude articulates the dividing line beautifully. So does Maria Hinojosa.

Hmmmmm… Do ya suppose it’s a coincidence that those most skilled at seeing the difference between horse shit and bullshit have been most beaten up by bullshit? Slavery was/is bullshit. Racism is bullshit. All bigotry is bullshit. All misogyny is bullshit. I’m biased. I’d say pretty much all conservative thinking is bullshit (whereas people thinking conservatives and progressives could ever work together again — that’s just horse shit).

We Are Living Through Historic Times… Is It Okay If We Change The Channel Now?

This can’t be right… Donald-Bloody-Trump is on every freaking channel!

There’s a famous “curse” (we’ll argue attribution another time) “May you live in interesting times” — meant, usually, ironically. Our times, it turns out, will be among the most interesting (and historic) ever. The forces of right wing darkness, repression and greed — forces we told ourselves were dealt with at the end of World War II — have emerged from the rotting chrysalis they were hiding in all these years (while they mutated into a vicious, racist, ignorant Euro-thug) — and sprung upon the west’s liberal democracies.

Right wing darkness has always had a home here, in America — right along with every other group that found a home here. The only difference is, right wing darkness got it into its head that only it was allowed to have a home here in America. That was something RW darkness told itself. At no time was it ever true.

It is exhausting living in these here times. Even a decent night’s sleep feels inadequate to deal with the average morning’s headlines. Outrage fatigue is a very real thing. I get it. I’ve felt it. It would be nice to think about something else for a change.

And that’s exactly what they NEED us to do (never mind “want” us to do). The Forces Of Darkness rely on our exhaustion. Exhaustion is acquiescence and that act of giving in instantly normalizes the darkness. That darkness is now “what is”. Accepted as one of the possibilities. That’s the mistake.

It can NEVER be accepted as one of the possibilities. That means not only not accepting it but making it clear that it won’t be accepted ever. That means saying it out loud the moment it happens and forever thereafter until it stops. That means remaining outraged about it while remaining outraged about everything else that deserves our constant outrage.

Sorry about the bad news. The answer’s no — we cannot change the channel. Reality’s like a pathogen. It doesn’t care what you think about it. It doesn’t care if you want to bury your head in the sand (or refuse to vaccinate yourself) — it will do what it does regardless and if you do nothing to prepare yourself, it will kill you one way or another.

Who knew history was a contact sport?

Why Do They Even Call It “Christianity” When Their Religion Has Nothing To Do With Jesus & Never Did…

I’ll confess right here — lifetime atheist though I am, I am also a big time fan of Jesus. I don’t know for sure if a historical Jesus ever existed but someone like the character depicted in the New Testament seems to have put forward a teaching — “Do Unto Others” — drawn directly from the Jewish culture into which he was born and lived his entire life — that, today, still resonates loudly across the millennia.

In 1985, a group of actual bible scholars (people with actual academic degrees from reputable institutions of higher learning as opposed to bullshit degrees from bullshit Christian universities with bullshit standards and zero integrity) got together and formed The Jesus Seminar. Their goal — apply some serious objective analysis to the NT texts so as to coax out, as best they could, an historical Jesus.

The Seminar identified 15 or so phrases unanimously agreed upon by the canonical gospels which, the seminar felt, could have been spoken by a historical Jesus — so as to be disseminated by his followers. The Jesus who steps from the pages of the Seminar’s analysis has a simple message — Do Unto Others (which includes suffering the Little Children to come unto you) and, if you need to speak to god, go to “the father” directly. You don’t need a church to intercede on your behalf. GO DIRECTLY!”

If you recall from the stories about Jesus, he didn’t like the money changers. He didn’t like that the temple authorities allowed the money changers inside the temple’s forecourt. That, Jesus taught, debased the core message. It invalidated the temple’s authority to speak for god or to even pretend that they could intercede on their followers’ behalves.

Jesus advocates AGAINST having churches or religious “authorities”. So — how come there’s a Christian “church”? How could so gigantic a contradiction sit right in the heart of the Christian faith itself? The answer is ask Paul.

Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) invented Christianity. The majority of the NT texts are Paul’s letters & epistles to the various gentile communities to which he was spreading his version of Jesus, Jesus’ story and Jesus’ message. Remember — Paul never met Jesus. Never spoke to him. Never heard his voice.

For a good, solid understanding of and perspective on Paul, I recommend A. N. Wilson’s excellent book Paul: The Mind Of An Apostle.

While Paul started by selling his version of Jesus to the Jews, they didn’t want it — because Paul’s version wasn’t authentic. Gentiles didn’t have any history or knowledge of Jewish customs, thought or mythology so Paul’s contorted version — virgin birth in Bethlehem, wise men presaging greatness, rising from the dead — seemed perfectly authentic. Never mind the fact that it was all invented, top to bottom. When Paul speaks of Jesus, he never stresses the messages Jesus himself stressed.

That’s because historical Jesus was of no use to Paul. So he invented a new Jesus. A Jesus that worked for him. Paul invented the Jesus that smiled upon the Catholic Church — an institution Jesus would have hated with every single atom of his being. Don’t hurt yourself laughing so hard, Protestants — your version of Jesus is just as disconnected from reality.

We won’t even talk about the Mormons (whose version of Jesus even visited North America — a place the real Jesus had no way of knowing even existed).

Ya know how, these days, we can’t figure out why Christians are so… “un-Christian”? This is why. The problem isn’t them, it’s us. All those people are being COMPLETELY Christian. What they aren’t being are “followers of Jesus”. To follow Jesus means all those devout Christians would have to denounce their “Christianity” — and all the oppressive, regressive, obsessive rules and regs that are the real appeal of their faith — and, instead, become spiritual. That ain’t happening.

To follow Jesus, one must be spiritual or have the capacity for spirituality. That’s the opposite of following a religion. Religions are crowd control. They are defined by their rules & their structures — and those structures don’t build or sustain themselves. The money has to come from somewhere which is why churches work so hard to get bodies into the pews and money from the pockets in those pews. Churches don’t really exist for the benefit of anyone’s faith, they exist for the benefit of themselves. Churches are like sharks (and relationships) — they have to keep moving or they’ll die.

If a historical Jesus could come back, he surely would not recognize the faith being touted as his creation. That’s because it isn’t his — and never was. It pains me deeply to quote Woody Allen but he got this one right. If Jesus were to come back to see what’s been done in his name, “he would never stop throwing up”.