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Prior to today's sermon, I would just like to say that Mr. Johnson was away last week for a few days, and my daughter The Spare and I had loads of fun together while he was gone. Most of it was holiday related, since Spare is 15 -- and you know how young teens feel about certain holidays. The favorite moments for me occurred when we stood in a line of tots and parents to see Santa Claus, just for the joy of seeing the kids all excited. (Spare didn't sit on Santa's lap. I'm sure Santa was desperately disappointed by that.) The next night we strolled the streets of Snobville and saw Santa again. This time, a barbershop quartet was with him. They were singing, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." So of course I did kiss Santa Claus, and Spare did her best "shock face." She is a natural comedienne. We are going to own the Spoutwood Fairie Festival next year.
On to the sermon:
My friend Maebius tagged me to write on the following theme:
What religions do you find most interesting apart from your own? Would you pick one of the major world religions? Say Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Judaism? Or would you pick something more obscure, like Wicca or Taosim or Rastafarianism or Gnosticism? Would you pick irreligion, say Atheism or Agnosticism? Or if you're not Christian, would you say Christianity?
To me, every path, or tradition, or mystical experience, is equally fascinating. Why? Because I am interested in people.
The vast majority of us feel that Higher Powers exist -- superior beings, if you will. What differs is how we approach the divine. And wowsa, there are so many different ways to approach the divine!
You can put on an Ann Taylor suit and heels and go out on Sunday morning to the Methodist church, where you will be treated to a Bach selection on a $100,000 organ and perhaps a rendition of "The Messiah" by a 75-voice choir ... then a sermon on how to behave wisely and compassionately, which you won't pay attention to because your heels are giving you blisters and it's almost time for the Eagles kickoff.
You can stand in the sun and whirl around until you throw yourself into a trance state.
You can sit in a room and eat some shrooms and wait for your brain to open to higher levels. (Do not mistake this for an endorsement of hallucinogens. Did it sound like I was endorsing the Methodist church?)
You can chant, or meditate, or learn Cabala, or kiss the Torah, or dance in a drum circle, or stand in St. Peter's Square in a throng, waiting for a glimpse of the pope. You can sit at the feet of the Dalai Lama to learn his wisdom. You can work with Maitreya, you can be Asatru, Wiccan, Discordian, Buddhist, or even a Jehovah's Witness. All to me are fascinating.
EXHIBIT A: ANNE ENGAGED IN PRAISE AND WORSHIP
Why do we seek to commune with Higher Powers? Is it just because we're afraid of death, and we're self-medicating with false promises of something beyond that final breath? (I'm interested in atheists too.)
To me, all praise and worship springs from two sources: the mystical, which some of us experience, and the cognitive, which all of us experience. Our cognitive (thinking) praise and worship depends on our cultural constructs, most especially how our parents or friends or society approach the divine. Ask most Methodists why they are Methodists, and they'll say it's because they were raised Methodist. So for me, what's most interesting is the culture from which the praise and worship springs. That's why "The Gods Are Bored" invites so many ancient deities to visit -- because I'm interested in cultures that no longer exist, therefore their deities have been unfairly relegated to "myth."
What I don't like, as many of you know, is the propensity of certain faiths to proselytize and seek new members in places and cultures where a religious path already exists that is unique to that culture. It's downright disrespectful. Leave those Fiji Islanders alone! They've got it going. They do not need Jesus. Give them the antibiotics, and let them go ahead and praise their deities. Why is yours so much better? Breaking news: He's not.
In summary, we at "The Gods Are Bored" would say that the divine is universal, and the understanding of it is cultural, historical, and subject to change. Those who interpret the divine are people. People are imperfect. To me, it's those imperfections that make us fascinating and infuriating. The religion I find most interesting apart from my own is yes.