Cults: December 2008 Archives


This is a seasonal post - but with a twist.

Although I'm a refugee from a Roman Catholic youth, a steadfast atheist for almost 50 years, I suppose I may still be somewhat conflicted about the baby Jesus.

For some reason, when I saw this delicate little ceramic infant a number of years ago inside the gift shop at New Mexico's ancient El Santuario de Chimayo, I couldn't resist snapping it up. At first the priest didn't want to part with the pale-skinned hand-made figure, even though it was on the merchandise table, but he eventually agreed to sell it. It turned out to be the last one in stock, and he wasn't sure they'd ever get another. Maybe he had fallen in love with it himself, and maybe he sensed I wasn't going to use it for conventional devotion.

Okay, it was the eyes that got me.

I lay him down carefully in some raffia on the cherry tea table every December 24th; it's always the most Christmas-y thing in our apartment. We're actually both pretty devoted to this child, even though our own convention is that he gets packed away in a few days until his return appearance next year.

When the kid looks up at us through that fantastic eyeshadow, I like to think he's trying to tell us something we already know.

Hieronymus Bosch The Mountebank 1475-80 oil on panel 21" x 29.5"

I'm going to close my eyes and count to ten, and when I open them I want to find that fat mountebank gone.

I'm very much in and of this country, but I'm not a member of Rick Warren's wacky faith-based syndicate of dupes. I'm not a Christian of any description, and I'm also not a Jew and not a Muslem or Bahá'ist. I'm not Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddist, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Druze, Shamanist, Unitarian or Yoruban. I'm also not a part of the Prince Philip Movement.

In fact I'm not a member of any magic cult, and I'm not a part of any other kind of club. I like to believe that I can think for myself. It's a competence I continue to hope I might share with every American adult, in spite of all the sad evidence to the contrary. At the very least I'd like to think that the person chosen to occupy the office of President of the United States of America can and does think for himself. Yet it now seems pretty clear, as he's about to be anointed on the steps of the Capitol, that even our latest almighty one doesn't think for himself, or at least that he doesn't want us to think that he thinks for himself.

It's not only that I am appalled by Obama's choice of Rick Warren to deliver an "invocation" at his, no, . . . our truly-epochal January 20th inauguration ceremony. No, it's much bigger than that: I object to the fact that even in the twenty-first century, in order to get a proper send-off into the most important secular office a nation can award to one of its citizens, the President-elect of my country feels he has to enlist the public help of any crazy sky pilot to formally summon the private imaginary friend the two of them share.

NOTE: If I were to object only to the specific choice of Warren as the next American high priest, I would hope I could come up with more reasons than those connected with his vocal opposition to gay marriage, comparing it to incest, pedophilia and polygamy. This seems to be all that most people find appalling about Warren.

I would add, and this is just for starters, that he does not believe in evolution; that he would deny women the right to their own bodies, comparing abortion to the Holocaust and those who defend a woman's right to choice as no better than Nazis; that he has said that women should submit to their husbands; that he believes that Jews who do not convert will surely roast in hell; that he has advocated the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; that he has said that Christians who advance a social gospel (the religious crusade against poverty and inequality) are Marxists; and that he opposes stem-cell research.

But enough. Écrasez l'infâme!

[image from Web Gallery of Art]

This page is an archive of entries in the Cults category from December 2008.

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