Thursday, June 13, 2002

Where's Your Messiah Now?

 [email composed 13 June 2002]

"Please allow me to introduce my myself / I'm a man of wealth and taste." The wealth is insignificant, however, and the taste is questionable. As you'll see.

There is a line in the Rolling Stones song quoted above that goes: "Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed His fate"--referring to the Roman governor of Judaea who was in power when Jesus was crucified. When I was younger--my early years of university, not childhood--I thought the line was: "Made damn sure the pilot washed his hands and sealed his fate." For some reason I thought it referred to the man who flew the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War II. Considering that the line in the song that precedes the misheard one alludes to Jesus by name, my interpretation does seem somewhat disjointed (to say the least). Eventually I figured out the error of my thoughts--or at least, of that one in particular--and realized Mick and Keith and company were talking about the how Prince of Darkness played a part when Pontius Pilate gave into the mob's demands for the death of Jesus, washing his hands both literally and figuratively of responsibility for the act. (Yes, I did have to review texts to remind me not only of the details of the event but also how to spell Pilate's name. Eh, that's an American public school education for you.)

I do find some solace in the fact that the misinterpretation my mind concocted was that was historically accurate and could be construed as something awful that could have been influenced by Lucifer. Some people would undoubtedly analyze the "the pilot" interpretation and be offended that I would equate the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima--what many historians view as the decisive event that ultimately convinced the Japanese to surrender and end the war--with the nefarious acts of the Fallen Angel; was I suggesting that this element of the American war effort was spurred by the Lord of the Underworld?

Not consciously, not at the time I don't think, no. If anything it indicates my studies of World War II were deeper than any investigation of Christian history. Even with the justification that the bombing brought about a resolution to the conflict, unleashing the most devastating weapon in the history of mankind doesn't strike me as something to be proud of. I'm not some ban-the-bomb radical, nor am I some America-can-do-no-wrong pseudo-patriot; I'm not much for fanaticism, one way or the other.

And clearly I'm no Christian. (I hold no religious affiliations whatsoever, for the record.) I have no problem with Christianity, as a faith, as a concept; I do have a problem with arrogant hypocrites, but one need not have any particular belief system to be one of those. Still, the fact remains: I was not raised in any modicum of a Christian household. Sometimes I feel cheated, deprived of a religion against which I could rebel, on which I could turn my back some day. There is, admittedly, a Judeo-Christian slant in much of our society--our money does claim "In God We Trust," for Chrissakes--but it wasn't enough to teach me much of the story of their savior, or of who played a role in His death. (It did pass along enough that I learned to capitalize pronouns that refer to the alleged offspring of God--no other belief system enjoys such perks in English of which I'm aware.) No, to learn about Jesus I had to watch movies made from musicals with the word "Superstar" in the title. (Cinema is the true educator of the masses.)

While I have not accepted anyone who met with a terribly unpleasant demise as a "savior" (I can't quite wrap my mind around the concept that somehow I did something horribly wrong by merely being born, and thus am not convinced of a need for salvation), I do not consider myself bereft of spirituality. I admit I'm not sure from where I would draw such feelings, such a need. It would be logical to adopt atheism, but excluding the possibility of any higher powers or other planes of existence seems so... limiting. From a creative standpoint, the more possibilities, the better; what's the fun in pondering the meaning of life if reality is one way and one way only? This strikes me as a delightful conundrum to muddle over, to pursue but never catch.

On top of all that, I'm not convinced that mankind has enough on the ball, generally speaking, as a species, to warrant me having faith in it, so perhaps there's comfort in believing there might be something else out there protecting us from ourselves.

My spirituality lacks a name, is of my own concoction, is intended to apply only to me, and is subject to change without notice whenever a better idea occurs to me. This may sound terribly convenient, but really it's more work than it's probably worth. Sometimes I wish I could bring myself to accept the tenets of one of the organized religions: not only would I have a pithy term for my faith, I wouldn't have to think about what I believed. I'd have recognized holidays. I could be tax-exempt. And best of all, others could hate me for the mere affiliation with the faith without knowing anything about me as an individual! How efficient is that? As it stands now, others need to become acquainted with me before they can hate me.

My spirituality is tolerant of the beliefs of others--it has to be: otherwise it would be hypocritical and then I'd have a problem with it--so long as their beliefs are genuine. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, atheists, (I suppose in theory even) Scientologists, Satan worshippers, and the rest: as long as their beliefs are profoundly held--not just some crutch when times are bad, not just going along with what's popular, not paying lip service to what they were spoon-fed as children--and as long as they aren't sacrificing animals I know personally, I say live and let live.

By no means do I think my belief system--inasmuch as it's a "system"--is the best and that everyone should believe as I do. Frankly, nothing frightens me more than the thought of that happening. My spirituality may not be much, but it's mine. I'm not looking for converts. Go make up your own.

If you're wondering what would prompt me to compose this and send it to a bunch of people, where I lack any specific knowledge of the religious inclinations of many of them, rife with the potential to offend (touching on the taboo topic of religion as it does, somewhat), I could claim that my spirituality grants me the strength to spread these words without fear. I could tell you that I have faith in my audience and trust them implicitly. However, when we get right down to it, there's only one logical explanation.

The Devil made me do it.

"They told us of a Second Coming / so we look to the sky
It's not a savior that we want / just somebody else to crucify"
- from "Waiting" by New Model Army, 1981

(For those who didn't know, the Rolling Stones song is "Sympathy For the Devil." You really should have known that, however.)


Since I'll be in Vancouver next week on the Summer Solstice (next Friday, the 21st), allow me to send appropriate greetings about that now (just in case I don't get out another general message between now and then). It's the most daylight we'll get in the northern hemisphere this year, folks: enjoy it. Or don't. It's your life. (I don't celebrate it, per se: still, something drives me to acknowledge it, but let's not get into that now.)



This message was sent to and probably ignored by approximately 150 recipients, from as far away as Australia and Great Britain, and as close as three blocks from Doug's apartment in southern California, including relatives, co-workers, and even people he has never met in person. Thanks to the wonder of BCC, none of them would ever realize that if he didn't point it out here.

While recipients are under no obligation to reply, and while Doug is perfectly comfortable with not receiving responses--it won't dissuade him from writing more in the future--he certainly enjoys hearing from his victims--err, audience. Especially those whom he hasn't spoken to in a while, even if it's a very brief note proving nothing more that the recipient is still breathing; recipients who have kicked the oxygen habit are not expected to reply. All responses will be kept confidential, unless they're really funny. Doug does keep copies of all of these essay/rant/rambling messages, in case you're wondering. He has no website at this time, mostly because he's too lazy and unmotivated.

If anyone receiving this message wishes Doug would just leave him/her the hell alone, he/she should make that known, either by writing back and requesting it or by summoning demons and sicking them on the writer.

Yes, Doug considers approximately 1,150 words "brief."

not really copyright 2002, because, let's face it: who would want to steal this?