Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lamentations for a Lost God/dess

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is ?"

And somebody points to you and says

"It's his"

And you says, "What's mine ?"

And somebody else says, "Where what is ?"

And you say, "Oh my God

Am I here all alone ?"

-Bob Dylan "Ballad of a Thin Man"

On Sunday I attended another LA Peak Oil Meetup at the Cat & the Fiddle in Hollywood. This meeting was not as well attended as the last meeting I attended on August 1 that I wrote about previously. In fact, there were only three people in attendance this past Sunday, including myself. We certainly had a good time together, sharing drinks, discussing new developments involving politics and Peak Oil, and agreeing that the next time we meet, it should be in coordination with some event that more people would want to attend and talk about afterward. Next time would hopefully not coincide with another Meetup group meeting in the same place. We jokingly lamented the fact that the atheists had a much better turnout for their Meetup in the courtyard than we did.

But being less popular than atheists gave me much food for thought. What is the future of religion in a post-Peak Oil society? Michael Ruppert weighed in on this prospect in the Chris Smith documentary Collapse, where he said, "Everything is on the table, God is on the table, every religion in the world is on the table now. They'll all be measured as standards by 'this is reality - and this is what the religion says' and every religion in the world is going to be under a huge microscope. This is going to be the greatest age of evolution in human thinking that's ever taken place". For someone whom his detractors try to paint as a doomsayer, I think that's a much more positive perspective than one I could envision. It's an incredibly hopeful prospect to foresee society participating in an Age of Enlightenment rather than the Dark Ages.

Perhaps there will be both enlightenment and darkness, depending on which region you happen to be lucky or unlucky enough to reside in. Stupidity has a habit of getting intransigent in the face of extinction; the Dominionists and Islamists are sure to create continued misery for the regions they inhabit in the wake of declining resources. But in regions where the majority of the population retain their intelligence, the major religions of the world will undergo a tectonic shift in their focus of how they appeal to rational souls that they are in fact relevant to the new way that the world works. That means that rational Judeo-Christo-Islamic Biblical teachings will have to sidestep previous exhaltations of Genesis 1:28 to "be fruitful and multiply" by saying essentially, "That was then, this is now". What I believe will happen within this community is a renewed focus on the Tower of Babel story in Genesis chapter 11 as an allegorical tale of what happens to humankind when they attempt to grow infinitely within a finite planet while living off finite resources - God, i.e. Reality smacks them down!


So what does the future hold for people who reject these old constructs reimagined for an overpopulated planet finally confronting the reality of finite resources it ignored far too long? I propose that people like me start taking religious affiliations a little less seriously. Where am I at, spiritually speaking? It's easier to say what I am not. First, with all due respect to those super-popular folks who outdrew us at the Cat & Fiddle, I am not an atheist. While I respect their right to their own opinion, I think atheism is just as wrong as any other religion for the one simple reason that they claim to know what they're talking about! As I see it, the problem with almost every religion in the world is that they claim to understand the spiritual realm. Atheism does this by saying it definitively doesn't exist. I say they're all wrong. But I'm not agnostic. Agnosticism is just too wishy-washy for me. I can't say we don't know whether or not there is a metaphysical realm beyond our physical comprehension of the universe. I believe it does exist. I just don't think anyone knows what it is! I also believe anyone who claims they know is wrong, myself included!

I say it is way past time to create new religions rooted in this simultaneous embrace of doubt and faith. Just recently, a friend from high school told me that he is the founder of "the fastest growing religion on earth" and gave me the details in a Facebook comment:

It is called apethism. We believe that many things may be true or untrue but we are simply too disinterested to find out. Services are held whenever and when someone gets around to it. i leave you now with the apethists credo, "May god bless you and keep you, you know, if you're into that sort of thing man."

Well, maybe that religion is bit heavier with the embrace of doubt than faith. But in that spirit, but with a heavier embrace of faith, why not take a known fictional construct and imbue it with religious faith? As long as it is a concept that can accept faith and doubt in equal tolerance without wallowing in fundamentalism, what difference does it make who thought it up? Why not believe in this:

I'm not talking about worshipping Alec Guinness, or George Lucas for that matter. I think we need to stop thinking of God as a person and embrace God, to paraphrase John Lennon, as a concept. I'm talking about embracing The Force. For those poor souls who have yet to experience this Immortal Truth and know not what it is, I shall quote the definition from Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope, "It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together". Imagine attending church services at The Force Cathedral, training to be a Jedi Knight. Pretty cool, huh?

Or, for those of you not impressed with the prospect of the conversion of sci-fi fanboy geekdom into a religious order, perhaps you might find George Carlin's metaphysical perspective more persuasive:

"I think we’re part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron…whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn’t punish, it doesn’t reward, it doesn’t judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while."

I wonder if, in a post-Peak Oil society, worshipers of The Force and The Big Electron will be true allies or passive-aggressive frenemies. Personally, I don't think I would join either one. I'm more inclined to start the Church of The Thin Man. Instead of trying to attain Nirvana, we all stay content being Mr. Jones. Because we know something's happening, but we don't know what it is.

Then again, in the wake of planetary devastation in the form of that other civilization-shaking effect of overconsumption of fossil fuels, Global Climate Change, there might be a return back to The Goddess. The embrace of the Gaia theory, that the Earth is a living, breathing system of organisms, might revert back to its Greek origins of worshipping Gaia, the Goddess personifying the Earth. Those who believe might do so with the faith that such worship combined with adherence to obeying certain ecological principles will heal the planet, and by extension, the people. Hopefully there will be an atmosphere of tolerance between all these prospective religions. But then, as far as those who worship the planet go, there might be intolerant responses from the Dominionists and Islamists toward them. Intolerant to the point of being homicidal. Nothing new for "civilization". George Carlin summed up this tendency toward violent religious intolerance quite vividly:
"Hey, if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death— has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, all taking turns killing each other because God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the lamb, vengeance is mine, millions of dead motherfuckers, all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question: "Do you believe in God?" "No." Boom! Dead. "Do you believe in God?" "Yes..." "Do you believe in my God?" "No." Boom! Dead. "My god has a bigger dick than your god!""


Tanya Savko said...

Wow, I love this post. I think I'd like to start my own religion of The Force mixed in with Gaia theory! That might cover it for me.

P.S. At one of my Autism Society meetings earlier this year, I couldn't help but notice that the Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting going on next door had a much higher turnout. Go figure!

Robert Paulsen said...

That would be a good combo: Gaia Force! And it seems to me like they would be completely compatible because they both revolve around the concept of living energy fields. It's a fascinating possibility.

I remember you talking about that meeting having a higher attendance. Yeah, it's a bummer feeling. I guess you just have to think, "How can I do better?" and let it be a motivating factor to generate more enthusiasm next time. Hope we both have better luck!