Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

“Lentil Soup and Lent

Yesterday I made a pot of lentil soup as well as a loaf of bread, since the weather demands it. I realized that while my back was screwing with me last week, I missed out on Mardi Gras on Tuesday. I have not been a practicing Catholic for . . . yikes. That would be over a half a century. I do dig McDonald’s having cheap Filet o Fish sandwiches (YEEE-Hah!!) during Lent, so naturally I will take advantage of that for the next 5 weeks.

But here’s the thing. Stay with me on this: When the kids were still in elementary school and their mom was on the dating scene, which I called the “Boyfriend of the Month Club,” I decided not to date. One parent dating like a rat in heat and dragging impressionable young kids to these men’s homes was bad enough; it didn’t need to be repeated by me.

I knew that the dating cycle was about 5 weeks is because that is how often I’d be asked for my recipe for scaloppine alla Marsala, the dinner she’d prepared for those guys. And I wouldn’t date.

It got to the point, though, that those years were adding up. Because I did the celibate parent thing voluntarily, I believe I should be allowed to give it up for Lent. Got it now?

So in Rome, we’ve got Il Papa, Pope Francis, who reflects virtually political and social position I have. I’m going to throw myself at his mercy and see if there is a special dispensation in his heart to allow me to give up celibacy for Lent. I’m guessing that he’d go for it. Hell — he can even live vicariously through me, if he wants. So I am confident.

Do I have any volunteers?
Pete Xander

Read Full Post »

spinoza-final

Driven indoors by the rains and tired of bad movies and worse novels, I decided to curl up with a little Spinoza.

Spinoza’s first name is either Bento as his Portuguese family named him or Baruch as the Dutch Jewish community referred to him or Benedictus as Christians called him. He lived in the mid-Seventeenth Century at the start of the Enlightenment. Many consider him along with Bacon, Descartes and Locke one of its founders.

To me at least, I think Spinoza and Francis of Assisi, are two of the few Saints produced in the 1200 years of western historical tradition (a small list that includes Groucho Marx, Hildegard of Bingen and Maria Callas). Although they may appear to many to be polar opposites, one rational the other transcendental; one believed in avoiding pain; and the other welcomed it; one thought this life is all one has to live and the other welcomed an afterlife, they have many similarities.

images-1

They both believed God and Nature were one and that to live a moral life we should behave frugally, and treat generously ourselves, humanity and nature. They also believed acceptance of ritual whether religious or social, although they may be necessary for one to live comfortably in one’s culture, are often independent of and at times inimical to a moral, kind and generous life. Spinoza refused to accept the rituals of his Jewish culture were synonymous with rational thought and morality and so willingly suffered excommunication (cherem) from the society he loved. Francis, who rejected the materialism of his society as inconsistent with his ecstatic morality, also separated himself from those he loved.

If Francis is the patron saint of the environment, Spinoza most certainly could be considered the patron saint of science.

Spinoza Factoids: On the Chair’s table in the Dutch Parliament, Spinoza’s Tractatus theologico-politicus is one of three books, thought to be most representative of the beliefs and ethics of the Dutch people; the other two are the Bible and the Quran.

In the early Star Trek episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the antagonist, Gary Mitchell is seen reading Spinoza and the dialogue implies that Captain Kirk also may have read him as part of his studies at Star-fleet Academy (which may be the reason why to me Kirk always appeared a bit constipated. On the other hand I am sure Captain Picard read Spinoza and he was better off for it.)
__________________

Read Full Post »

English: Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx...

English: Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, cropped from group photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now I know it may sound unbelievable to many of you but for those under 40 years old, Groucho Marx may be virtually forgotten and I doubt if any of my grand children if they read this have any idea who he is.

Well, to me Groucho Marx is the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century.

“Wait a minute,” some of you may exclaim. “Groucho was a comedian, not a philosopher.”

To which, by way of response, I direct your attention the Greeks of classical antiquity. To these progenitors of many “Western” cultural and intellectual beliefs, comedy and tragedy were just two ways of expressing truth. In the radical dualism of which the ancient Greeks were so fond, humanity’s experience was of only two types; either all your hopes and dreams turn to shit or, if you survive, they still are shit but you can laugh at them. There is nothing more in the cards for humanity except terminal boredom.

Before Groucho, the worlds greatest comedian was Machiavelli, who I have sometimes quoted in these posts. Before him, in my opinion the world’s greatest comedian was Socrates. Plato was a fascist jerk and Aristotle a woolly headed liberal.

Aristotle

Aristotle (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Now some of you may say whoa, ”Aristotle a liberal?” “How can that be? Over the years some of the most autocratic people and institutions (like the Catholic Church) relied upon Aristotle to crush the human spirit?“

As Leo Rosten said, “A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead.” There is nothing so liberal that a few centuries later a conservative could not find useful to beat away challenges to his prerequisites. For example nearly 50 years after Marx, that arch-conservative Lenin saw in Communism something with which he could beat up a group of doddering superstitious autocrats and take over their empire (and while he was at it crushing the inept liberal Mensheviks along the way). Later Stalin had Trotsky killed to make sure Marx received the same treatment that Spencer gave Darwin.

Why do modern conservatives reject Darwinism when Spencer and his “survival of the fittest” did so much to make him their favorite scientist through most of the last century? I guess they found God. He is after all the ultimate survivor. As one supporter of conservative causes has written, “Jesus was against the minimum wage,” and the Bible “absolutely condemned” the estate tax, and opposed the progressive income tax also. This, of course, leads me back to Groucho and his immortal line, “I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.”

History is often funny in a sad sort of way or as Groucho would say,

“Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?”

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners taken to the gallows (after a fair trial of course) passed by the pub on their way  to be hanged

The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ”ONE LAST DRINK.”

If he said YES, it was referred to as “ONE FOR THE ROAD.”

If he declined, that prisoner was “ON THE WAGON.”

So there you go… More bleeding history.

On thing about Groucho he never was one to curry favor. He once famously observed, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”

Speaking of to “curry favor,” it comes to that part of the world that actually speaks english  from Australia, so let’s put some ‘strine’ on the barbie, shall we?

It seems that at some point the inmates of the penal colony that was Australia decided that they wanted to improve their image in the world so that they would no longer appear to be what they were, criminals. They discovered that it was fashionable in certain circles to adopt the appearance of being civilized to cover the rough edges, so to speak. They decided that this was a good idea and they would do so too.

The first thing civilized thing they did was to start killing the aboriginal inhabitants that they were sharing their country with or driving them off the land that they, the civilizers, wanted for themselves. The second civilized thing they did was for a few of them to become as rich as Midas by destroying as much or the land as they could and where necessary killing anyone who stood in the way. The third civilized thing they introduced was gambling venues at which these new rich could flaunt their money. Since gambling casinos were considered immoral at the time, the most civilized gambling activity they could consider was horse racing.

Soon a lot of money was spent to find the fastest horse of them all so that someone could boast that he owned it. At one time that horse was named Favor.

Now, there is a comb or brush used to remove tangles or burrs from a horses coat. It is called a currying comb or brush. Now I assume at the

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ...

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in the early days (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time people were lined up for the chance to brush the famous horse much like groupies lined up at a Rolling Stone concert for a chance to be shagged by Keith Richards. And that’s were we get the expression to “Curry Favor.” ——- No. to brush the horse, not get shagged by Keith Richards, that’s called something else.

For a horse of a different color, they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “PISS POOR,” but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot, they “DIDN’T HAVE A POT TO PISS IN” and were the lowest of the low.
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

 

Read Full Post »

It is interesting that in the iconography of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) death is most often imagined as a demon; “Lucifer Light Bringer” being the arch-demon.

Lucifer Light Bringer was a demigod (angel) who like Prometheus (another demigod) committed the universally unforgivable sin of gods everywhere for bringing knowledge to the human race. For this they were to be punished for all eternity; Prometheus by being chained to a rock and having his liver clawed out daily by an eagle; and Lucifer by having his light put out and being forced to live with that monstrous big boobed bitch Lilith while spending the rest eternity dipping the souls of the damned, head down into barrels of boiling piss.

It seems that what the gods intend us to learn is that on earth as it is in heaven, no good deed goes unpunished.

This is probably why so many of our Abrahamic brethren suffer so:

The Jews with their unreasonable sense of guilt, probably for inventing the insane god that they did. But cheer up my circumcised brethren, the pagan gods were no better, except that they were superior at multi-tasking; being able to drink wine and laugh, while roasting humanity on the rotisseries of life.

The Christians with their utter terror of their totally insane and vindictive god

Muslims with their hatred of anyone not forced to suffer like them under the not so benevolent hand of Allah.

The history of the Catholic Church and Christianity can be summed up as the battle between those who believe that god intended the spoils of life to go to those whose lives most demonstrate a willingness to do almost anything to achieve success in this life (e.g. Augustine and Jerome who believed, it is not the good you do that makes one blessed but the strength of your blind fervor.) and those who now and then actually do a good deed or two. Unfortunately, that dank cesspool referred to as the Catholic hierarchy all too often gave lip-service to the latter but idolized the former.

The Gnostics understood the truth behind the symbolism when they maintained that the Abrahamic god was the prince of evil and that Lucifer Light Bringer and Prometheus were the avatars of the God of Light destined to ultimately end the dread reign of this spawn of Loki.

Of course there are always exceptions, Maimonides, Hillel, Francis of Assisi, Rumi are some. I would like to add one of my favorites Omar Khayyam to the list. After all he did say that the primary goal of life is “…a loaf of bread, a glass of wine and thou beneath the bough…” but that is going too far I think.

By the way, what is it about Islam and alcohol (they invented the word for god’s sake)? After all, their history is filled with alcoholic poets and drunken califs and sultans.

Did you know, that there once was an Ottoman sultan so distressed that his supply of favorite wine in his cellar was running out, he allowed himself to be persuaded to begin a war to conquer the country (Cyprus) that made his beloved vintage, after the Cypriots, egged on by the Pope (of course), threatened to sell no more of their wine to the islamic heathens.

The good Christian nations, fearing that these vines would be lost to the true church should the sultan achieve his goal, united, as they had almost never been able to before in history for anything, and kicked the Sultan’s ass at the battle of Lepanto, beginning the slow steady decline of the Ottoman Empire and of Islamic civilization that continues today.

It was just about at this same time, back in old Europe, recently recovered from the plague, that a few priests, among them Luther, Calvin and Wycliffe, decided to take the lunatic god at his word. Recognizing that the fruits of life seemed to inure to those most willing to climb over the corpses of anyone who stood in their way, these divines declared that since that is what usually happens in life anyway, it therefore must be the will of God.They also maintained that such success must be some indication of favor from the Most High and therefore as long as he (and it most assuredly must be a he) took the psychotic god into his heart, he would also be first among the elect when he, to the relief of his victims, finally died.

After all, God must be displeased (as he was displeased with the children of Israel once they stopped winning their wars of extermination) with the miserable of the earth and the poor as he was with the Southern Eastern European migrants to the US during the last century and the South American and Africans of the past few decades, since he made their lives so unbearably wretched.

Our fundamentalist brethren,( and if truth be known, the Catholic hierarchy) cheer this insight to this day.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: