Maybe Monotheism’s The Problem…

I have always been grateful to Hebrew School for making me the atheist I am today. I mean that in the nicest way possible. I’m pretty sure I dropped from the womb a total non-believer, but whatever lingering doubts I had about atheism being “the truth faith” were swept aside by eight years of religious education. The story that iced it for me — made following my tribe’s faith a total non-starter — was the “Abraham and Isaac” story. The three Abrahamic religions all hold up Abraham as “the first monotheist”. In actual historical fact, whoever “Abraham” actually was, while he may have been an early convert from polytheism to monotheism, he was by no means the first human to toss all the other gods in favor of just one, in Abraham’s case, Yahweh. The “innovation” in the Hebrews’ monotheistic creation was their deity’s relationship with people. Yahweh wanted one, having personally created us.

None of the characters in the Abraham-Isaac story made sense to me — even when I was a kid. Yahweh the god is petulant and petty. He’s powerful enough to create literally everything in existence, yet out-of-his-mind-neurotic because humans keep screwing up. Are there any other worlds out there this Yahweh character feels compelled to keep flooding and destroying because he got one of the pieces wrong? How many generations of human — after Adam and Eve — did it take for people to forget Yahweh created them? Why would Yahweh — creator of everything — let a single human get that wrong to begin with? If Yahweh created everything, why would he countenance the creation of other gods — even if only inside peoples’ minds? And, what kind of father is Abraham? He’s a couple hundred years old (per the text) and wants, more than anything, a son with his wife Sarah (whose baby-making machinery was equally old, but never mind!) He has a son with Sarah’s maid Hagar (Ishmael — the foundational character in Islam’s story) but it’s not the same. Finally Sarah bears Abraham the son he’s always wanted.

And, what does this loving, doting, adoring father do one day — with the son that he loves more than life itself — when the voice in his head says, “Hey, Abe — grab your kid and a sharp knife: we’ve got some business to transact”, what does Abe do? He takes that child he loves more than life itself to the place the imaginary voice in his head told him to. If the voice says “sacrifice your son”, that’s what Abe’s doing, no second thoughts. If not for the intercession of an angel — who offers up a goat as a sacrifice to replace Isaac (and what did the poor goat do to get hauled into this bloodbath?) — Abraham murders his own child, end of story.

I remember thinking back then “And the point of this story is…?” I grasped but couldn’t then articulate the perversity of monotheism and its strange “asks”. To accept monotheism, you have to accept Yahweh. And, to accept Yahweh, you have to accept a deeply flawed human creation. Only a human would think Yahweh, as written, is much of a deity. I bet among actual deities, Yahweh couldn’t get hired to bus tables at the Deity Café. He certainly wouldn’t get invited to sit down with them and play in any of their reindeer games. Yahweh’s too puny.

Or, is Yahweh too clearly what he is — a human creation? That’s an important distinction if we’re discussing the Creator Of Everything. Who created who first? Considering as Yahweh wasn’t the first god a human ever invented and wasn’t even the first god that the Hebrews followed (they also followed ElBaalAsherah, and Astarte before the cult of Yahweh over-rode all the other gods and the Hebrews settled on Yahwh as their “Hear, Oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”.

Here in the west, we tell ourselves that monotheism was an evolutionary step above polytheism. It was in the sense that monotheism emerged after polytheism as a new way to see the world. But is monotheism an “improvement” the way evolving webbing between our fingers would make us better swimmers? Did monotheism’s creation in the human mind produce improvements to human life for having been created? One could argue yes. In praise of monotheism, great buildings rose. Great art was made. Much thinking has been directed towards it. But, one could also argue that monotheism has been a curse.

It all comes down to Yahweh. As written, Yahweh has it in for his human creations. He tried once already to wipe us all out via flood (if you accept the stories as reality — a dubious thing to do). Apparently the new humans that rose after Noah were no better than the rotten humans that preceded Noah. Yahweh felt they were so rotten that he’d have to create a mechanism to “absorb” all that human rottenness, dispose of it somehow and then permanently redeem these creatures who constantly disappoint him. Yahweh created a “son”. But, not just a son — a way (if you believe in that son just the right way) to beat the thing that scares humans most: death.

The Jews ultimately evolved Yahweh into a creature who commanded them to make the world a better place for them having been it. The Christian world evolved Yahweh into a bully who insists you believe in his son — and his son’s ability to conquer death — or he’ll kill you.

Jesus taught you don’t need a temple or its priests (or a church and ITS priests) to have a relationship with God. And, by the way? Do unto others. But that’s not how the Paul heard it or sold it. He downplayed the “Do unto others” part and cranked up the dogmatic rules involved in beating death by believing in Jesus. To Paul’s credit, his invention was sheer genius. It’s longevity speaks to that. Christianity isn’t a religion you embrace if you want to “Do unto others” (you can do that without it), it’s one you embrace if you want to “live forever”. That’s the “good news” inside every Christian’s “testimony” — a dubious path to eternal life.

Once taken up by a believer, monotheism can morph into authoritarianism faster than any other belief system. How can it not? Where’s the check on Yahweh’s voice? It’s not like Yahweh walks in the door a rational character. His only real innovation is the ability to reproduce with humans. And what does Yahweh have in mind for his child? Death. If the mythology is going to work — if Jesus is going to be proven the actual “messiah” — then a bunch of things have to line up (at least in the telling). To begin with, Jesus has to die because Eve disobeyed Yahweh when she ate from the tree of knowledge thus committing the “original sin”. On top of that, Jesus also has to come from the priestly line and then from King David’s line to boot. Plenty of gymnastics to pull off there.

Plenty of dogma, too. Spirituality demands zero dogma. Religion relies on it exclusively to suck you in and keep you in. Monotheism relies upon the most rigid dogma of all — because it’s deity is so rigid (even at his most “forgiving”). “I am the Lord, your God and thou shalt have no other gods except me!” Gosh, Yahweh, when ya put it that way

What if the monotheist’s core assertion is wrong? What if there is a deity of sorts out there, but it’s not named Yahweh and the deity’s on a completely different mission than the knowledge-challenged Yahweh? What if Yahweh was as real as Harry Potter or Voldemort? Here’s the problem — if I base everything I think on a false premise — if Yahweh isn’t “the guy” despite what Yahweh cultists insist (what if Buddha cultists are right instead?) then literally everything that I do because I believe in Yahweh rests upon a flawed foundation. My core reason for doing anything is based on nonsense.

Or the wrong god maybe… .

The bottom line is this: religion itself is inert until a human being picks it up and puts it on. The “armor of Christ” that the Apostle Paul urged Christians to wear only becomes real and fully active inside a believer’s head. Even a “loving God” needs to be defended to the death.

I take it back. It’s not monotheism that’s made a mess of the world, it’s monotheists.

Storytelling For Dummies (And America’s Main Stream News Media), Part 24: How Villains Work

Villains (and by villains I mean good villains) have to play by certain rules — or they can’t be good villains.

For starters — villains must have a good reason to be villainous. There are plenty of mediocre villains — Bond level villains included — who seem to have no other purpose in life than to achieve world dominance — or, to their dying breath, go after the person preventing them. I’ve never met anyone like that — and I’ve worked in Hollywood.

Voldemort is an excellent villain, for example, because — in addition to wanting ultimate power — he’s a neurotic mess. Being the ultimate power will settle a personal score — and that’s really why he’s doing it. Villains have to be believable characters — believably bad but also believably human.

Think of Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes (in Misery). She’s a terrifying villain mostly because she’s soooooooo human.

Good storytelling demands good villains and good villains demand real human traits.

Donald Trump is a villain. For real.

As we’re learning, he’s been a very real villain for a lot longer than either we realized or wanted to admit that we realized. Trump’s a pervert and a rapist. People know these things. There’s always talk. There were always people along Trump’s blighted way who realized who and what Trump was. They let it slide.

Trump became POTUS by cooperating with Russia. Every Trump move since he took the oath of office has weakened America and strengthened Russia. People have died because of this. Died terrible deaths they did not deserve. Trump isn’t the only villain in this story — not by a long shot. Everyone who kept quiet, who knew or even just suspected what Trump was up to owed it to the rest of us to share.

What makes Trump’s villainy so extra awful is that it’s always been so patently obvious. It’s been so obvious, in fact, that it went right by us.

A big reveal is coming. A monster-sized reveal. That it will surprise anyone is tragic: Donald Trump is a traitor.

That it will surprise Americans will be, in large part because our press has been so slow to show up at the treason party. Think about how long it took them to show up for the Russia party. It wasn’t that long ago that some conservative talking heads STILL downplayed Russian influence because Trump did.

Our Main Stream News Media has the remarkable ability to report news — on its very own air — then act as if they’d never reported any such thing. How often do they turn from a story about all the ways Trump acts like a traitor to a story about Trump’s 2020 campaign as if Trump suddenly stopped being a traitor?

That’s the distinct feeling one gets: in the common wisdom, Trump’s only a traitor if they report that story directly. So long as they can weasel word their way around it — his reason is “obscure” — every treasonous Trump move gets chalked up to some other cause. Weasel words are music to a villain’s ears.

Trump has been a racist since birth. As far as I’m concerned, that makes Trump if not a verifiable racist himself, then someone who knows a mess of rapists and always seems compelled to spread racism’s “good news”.

Trump has also been a rapist from the moment he first realized he could score a little pleasure by forcing his teeny-tiny mushroom dick on any woman he wanted. That fact alone should make Trump a card-carrying rapist.

Trump’s also been a misogynist and a pederast and a crook and a traitor. Oh, FFS — and a VILLAIN. His whole life.

And yet — despite this fact, the MSM will have a catharsis shortly — they’ll pass a point beyond which they can’t dither anymore. Trump isn’t just a “different” kind of potus, he’s a goddamned criminal. THAT’S what makes him “different”.

And then the MSM will go apeshit — broadcasting this incredible reveal 24/7 at maximum volume. Donald Trump isn’t just a traitor, he’s a villain!

But, and this is what the MSM won’t get — it won’t mean that Trump “just became” a traitor and a villain, it will mean he’s been one all along.

And that will mean the MSM has gotten that traitor & villain’s story wrong all along. It’s goddamned villainous, I tell ya…

Dear MSM: Donald Trump Doesn’t Stop Being A Traitor Just Because You Aren’t Telling THAT Story About Him

It’s bad enough what Donald Trump is doing to the country, the Constitution and the American People.  It’s compounded daily by the MSM’s inability to get ahead of this story. Or grasp it at all.

Not only do they report it from behind, they report it from well behind. They’re the clean up crew scraping elephant shit off the street. Literally. 

They still have it in their heads that in some way Donald Trump is a normal president doing normal things.  It sounds absurd but our press MUST think that way because they report him that way.

Take today.  Lots and lots of good, breathless reporting about the text messages between Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, who was until last month the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, to Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Those texts are as much a smoking gun as Nixon’s WH tapes.  In this instance though, the crime goes far beyond a second rate burglary.

This is all about Russia and sanctions and Vladimir Putin’s hold not only on Trump but the entire Republican Party.  It’s all about Trump being a traitor.  That word gets used every day now.  We all know it’s not hyperbole. 

So – as MSNBC and CNN get deeper into this story and its implications, they put on the table a Donald Trump who clearly, unequivocally has betrayed his oath of office.  But then – having finished reporting THAT story, they turn to election 2020 – and what Trump is doing as a candidate for the presidency as if the previous story never existed.

It’s bizarre.  One breath – Trump has betrayed the country and the Constitution so extravagantly that we’ve just devoted HOURS to report it to you, BUT, next breath – they’re treating Trump like he was just a guy running for office with all those “guy running for office” problems.  Suddenly, being a traitor isn’t one of them.

How the hell can that be?  Did Trump STOP betraying us all just because the MSM changed story topics?  Of course not!  Trump travels with all that baggage permanently attached to him.  It’s the 900 pound gorilla that though you insist you can’t see is still stinking up the joint. 

Voldemort doesn’t stop being Voldemort just because he stops being rotten for two seconds to pay the mortgage.

Bond Villains don’t stop being Bond Villains because occasionally they need to move their bowels.

Vladimir Putin doesn’t stop wanting to undermine America just because he makes a joke about it.

Donald Trump doesn’t stop being a traitor just because he says he isn’t – or the Main Stream News Media goes to commercial break.