Rest in Peace, Octavia Butler. – Gary Young MySpace Blog

Aw man. Octavia Butler died recently at the age of 58. I’ve read all of her novels, I think, and a collection of short stories. This is a huge loss for the genre of science fiction. Aside from just being a great author, having the perspective of an African-American female in sci fi is indispensable. Sigh.

Octavia Butler interviews and stories

24

You know … season two is pretty darn good except … for Jack’s daughter. I mean … for goodness sake. She is SO stupid! And then all this crap happens to and around her. Her character exists to serve as bait or hostage for some unnecessary subplots about every five minutes. Boo. I’m glad she wasn’t in season four and so far hasn’t been in season five. It’s like some kind of twisted fantasy — the innocent “All-American” girl that needs constant saving. Blondebait. Like some kind of pathos.

Thinking About Religion

Do I even need to do this? No. No I don’t. But I think I will anyway. I’m not anti-religion and I don’t regard Christianity with disdain but … for goodness sake. I’ve heard some of the most awful excuses for reasoning ever this week. And other Christian radio personalities that are so in bed with President Bush’s administration that it should count as adultery in the Book of Names. Not to mention the TV guys. This may be presumptuous of me but something tells me that the true ethos of Christianity is mutually exclusive with being an asshole. Christian jerks should not be proud of themselves for being jerks. Being a jerk is not a value. It’s a social maladjustment.

But that’s not what I wanted to say. Actually, after writing the previous paragraph I don’t feel like getting to my point. But I will anyway. I’m tired of hearing people intimating that religion is for the weak minded or stupid or deranged. I understand the backlash against Christianity and religion in general. Religious people are making asses of themselves in a feverish play for political and social sway, flexing their muscle one minute and claiming to be innocent victims the next. It’s unsavory.

I’ve heard it said that religion is the opiate of the masses, right. I’ve heard it said that religion is responsible for more deaths/wars than … whatever. And that it’s the worst invention of man ever. People site the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, etc.

You know what the opiate of the masses is? Opium. Marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, pain killers, alcohol, gadgets, cars, houses, video games, television, movies, work. Opiates are the opiate of the masses. Wars are ultimately about resources — land and wealth. Justified often via religion, sure. Atheist Communists and Nazis have murdered millions in the Soviet Union, Asia, Asia Minor, Europe, etc. Besides, the Crusades and the Inquisition and slavery have as much to do with the principles of Christianity as Lenin and Stalin’s brand of Communism have to do with the tenets of Socialism.

Some people believe that religion is something to be evolved beyond. As if religious faith or spirituality were a genetic flaw.

Religion is … philosophy in action.

It’s ubiquitous to every known human culture. As ubiquitous as smiles, laughter, language, and the minor third. Being sentient is synonymous with questioning. What is this. Why am I here. What am I. Who am I. Is this all there is. What happens when I’m … no more.

I think it’s these questions that drive us. We spend our time either avoiding or pursuing them. It’s these questions that we escape from through vice. When we don’t want to be alone it’s because we know we’ll be alone with the “not knowing”. Aside from eating, drinking, sleeping, sheltering and procreation just about everything else we do is to avoid the looming presence of mortality.

Philosophy questions the nature of existence. Science questions the nature of physical reality. Religions attack the unknown head on. If I had to pick out the common element I’d say that it’s the acknowledgement of reality being bigger than we are. Of a power or conscience or reality that’s infinitely or unimaginably more vast than ourselves. Whether it’s God, Allah, the Tao, earth spirits, the conscience if existence itself. It’s the seeking — the effort to know this vastness and seeking the greater conscience or the greater way.

By the way, if you’re a praying person pray for the people you love and the things you care about. I sincerely believe that there is power in prayer. It’s a very powerful means of grounding yourself. Prayer is meditation. Meditiation is a focusing of the mind or an emptying of the mind. Grasping hold by letting go, if that makes any sense. And I believe that we have the means to will things into existence in a way. When we focus our minds and meditate on something we affect that thing. That may sound kooky. I admit to being kooky. But you know, you can’t observe something without affecting it and being affected by it. If scientists can demonstrate that a quantum particle can affect another quantum particle no matter where it exists in the universe … well, how many quantum particles are our brains made of? And when our neurons fire and generate electric fields and patterns how does that affect the atoms and sub-atomic particles in it? And how many remote quantum systems are affected? All this to say that we are a part of creation and prayer and meditation are a way of being in tune with that fact.

Of course, getting off your ass to do something every now and then helps, too. 🙂 And having a clear, focused, or open mind with which to choose is invaluable.

Overall, I think religion is a noble effort. I don’t remember whose quote the following is but it’s one I like.

“Christianity is a noble endeavor despite Christians, not because of them.”

All the ills that can be cited about, say, Christianity are really about the pursuit of and abuse of power and the nurturing of fear. The Catholic Church as an institution has done, condoned, ignored, and covered up some eeevil s—. But that stuff has as much to with Jesus as tall, pointy hats. It’s the sheep-like nature of group thought where all those ideals fall flat. That’s where the logical torsion occurs. But at least with a belief system that posits constructive ideals and tenets like unconditional love and forgiveness, for example, it can self-correct.

I’m not saying that you have to be religious to be a good person. And I’m definitely not saying that all faith followers are good people. I know plenty of agnostics and atheists who are more upright and genuine and less materialistic than some Bible thumping Christians. But hypocrisy isn’t an indictment of the belief system; it’s an indictment of the professed believer’s discipline.

Anyway, just a few things that I’ve been thinking about this week. And on that note I’m going to lay down and fall asleep. Dang it. I was supposed to be working on some music tonight. Argh.

Currently reading :
The Reluctant Metrosexual : Dispatches from an Almost Hip Life
By Peter Hyman
Release date: By 27 July, 2004

Sarah Lindsay

Way to be reasonable and articulate. Come back to California and let’s have drinks.

Posted by Sarah Lindsay on Feb 28, 2006 2:55 AM

S. Flick I

Octavia Butler died???? I have a recently signed copy of Parable of the Sower I think I’ll start reading tonight…

And about religion– “But hypocrisy isn’t an indictment of the belief system; it’s an indictment of the professed believer’s discipline.”

Amen

Posted by S. Flick I on Mar 4, 2006 4:47 AM

Gary Young

Thanks for the comments.  I like-a da comments.  Thinking about two things today.

1.  It’s interesting to me how the people who say that humankind needs to evolve beyond religion — how come they aren’t saying that we need to evolve beyond rape or war or poverty?  It’s indicative, I think, of the anger of disillusionment and trendy bashing.  Throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

2.  The other thought was something I wanted to append to paragraph about prayer above.  Or to sum it up in one sentence, prayer and meditation are the practice of relinquishing your ego.  Even if you’re asking for something for yourself, it’s letting go and recognizing that the solution, the answer, is not necessarily contained in Self.

Okay.  I’ve got to get back to work.  Just wanted to get that thought out of my head while I was thinking about it.

Posted by Gary Young on Mar 7, 2006 10:47 AM

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