How to Redefine Marriage

hipster henry viii

 

I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” Chick-Fila-A’s Dan Cathy

Despite the countless examples of why marriage has never been ‘traditionally defined’ the way they think it is, fundamentalists still stick to the argument that allowing gays to marry would be ‘redefining’ marriage.  And because marriage is a religious institution, according to them, the government has no authority to do so.  You could waste your time trying to present a logical argument to these people, but if they were logical, they wouldn’t be fundamentalists.  Instead, I say fight fire with fire.  If marriage is a religious institution, you have every right to form a new religion that defines marriage anyway you’d like.  Then by supporting heterosexual marriage and not homosexual marriage, the government would be violating the first amendment by “respecting an establishment of religion” and “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Think this is an original approach?  Think again!  Turns out it was done 500 years ago, with Christianity!  In fact, the Protestant Reformation, which paved the way for nearly every denomination of Christianity besides Catholicism, was sparked in part by one man’s wish to redefine marriage.

Henry VIII was the King of England from 1509 to 1541.  At the time, England was a Catholic country, part of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  But after Henry’s wife Catherine of Aragon did not bear him a male heir (and after he decided that he liked her cousins more), he needed a way to get out of his marriage.  Pope Clement VII denied his request for an annulment on the grounds that it violated church doctrine, so Henry, undeterred, decided to form his own church whose doctrine would allow his annulment.  Thus began the Church of England, one of the first official Protestant Churches in Europe.  It is to this redefinition of marriage that all major denominations of Protestantism in America owe their freedom to practice their religion, including Baptists, undoubtedly the most outspoken opponents to gay marriage.

Now the good news is that we live in a day and age where you don’t have to be a king to start a new religion, and you don’t have to go around destroying all the churches that disagree with you, as Henry did.  All you have to do is decide to start one and voila! it shall be done.  As a matter of fact….

I hereby proclaim a new religion that I shall call Equalitism.  Its doctrines are simple:

1. Love everybody.

2. Gays can get married.

Bam! Now any government that does not recognize the rights of gays to marry is violating my constitutional right to practice my religion.  Anyone care to be a disciple?

Support Independent Film!! and general weirdness!!!

flushing

A good friend of mine and purveyor of alternate realities, the one and only Taylor Cohan, has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund an independent movie he is producing in New York City.  The movie tells the story of an awkward romance between two characters on the fringes of society who use one another in more ways than they realize.  The synopsis on the Kickstarter page goes like this…

Flushing Flush is a dramatic comedy about questionably autistic Eugene, and his happy ending masseuse Amy, and the unlikely bond formed between them when Eugene is fooled into helping Amy escape sex slavery.

The two have extremely distorted views of reality and are able to find comfort in one another. As their relationship grows, Amy regrets taking advantage of Eugene. She realizes that she has put him in serious danger and must make a big choice in order to find their happy ending…

If I know anything about the filmmaker (and I know alot more than I’d like to), I can tell you that this film is going to be an unsettling insight into a character that has a deeply distorted perspective of reality, and will have you questioning whether or not this person lies within some deeply buried part of your own personality.  Take a look at the teaser on the Kickstarter page and decide for yourself:

Flushing Flush Kickstarter

If that didn’t convince you, take a look at some of his other work, and that of his creative team:

Psychic Cheerleaders: Dawn of the New Age from Taylor Cohan on Vimeo.

Prom King from Taylor Cohan on Vimeo.

THE VIRGIN HEROD from Xander Robin on Vimeo.

Notice the man who’s falling apart is the man eating corn and sacrificing cheerleaders to Satan is the man who’s obsessed with dumplings and happy-endings from young asian masseuses.  Actor Michael Patrick puts his versatility to the test again with this new character, whom he’s bound to bring to life with unsettling believability.

If you’d like to support independent film or deeply disturbed individuals or both, please consider donating to the cause.  Any little bit helps, and there’s incentives for every donation, including Producer credits, a Blu-Ray of the final product, and even a short story about you written by the madman himself!

I am that I am (and that’s all that I am)

popeye is god

 

In my recent post about the Lost God of Peace, I discussed the linguistic origins and evidence of the Canaanite god, and briefly mentioned some of the others in the pantheon and their linguistic remnants in the Semitic languages.  But there was one small deity in that pantheon that I may have overlooked (or intentionally passed over) whom you may recognize.  Did you find him?  He’s way down there almost at the bottom.  Yup that’s him!

That’s right, Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God worshipped by nearly 55% of the world’s population, once sat alongside Shalim as one of the minor gods of the Canaanites.  While this is hardly news to any diligent theologian, it may come as a bit of a shock to casual believers.  So how did this marginal, seemingly insignificant deity come to overtake his brother’s temple, marry his father’s wife, and completely redefine religion as the world knew it by becoming the one true god of monotheism?  Once again, a linguistic analysis may be able to help us explain this.

Take another look at the gods of the Canaanite pantheon.  Notice that almost all of them have a dominion that they ruled or oversaw, whether it be Yaw, the god of the seas and rivers; Ishat, the god of fire; or our guy Shalim, the god of the dawn.  In determining the origins of the names of gods in polytheism, you often run into the chicken vs. egg problem. For example, it may never be known whether Shalim took his name from the Canaanite word for ‘dawn’ or vice versa.  It can pretty safely be assumed that at one point the language was so primitive that the two probably shared a name, and possibly an identity.  Keep in mind that in the same way that monotheism arose from monolatrism which in turn arose from polytheism, polytheism probably arose from an amalgam of animism and ancestor worship.  Euhmerus theorized that all of the gods of Greece were named after distant ancestors who became deified over the generations, but he may have overlooked the fact that animism was an equally influential early religion, and many names of gods are derived from the common terms for natural objects.  But what about Yahweh?  It seems he was unique in this sense, as he does not have a natural phenomenon or an aspect of society that he supervises.  A little digging gives us evidence that he may have derived his name from a location or cultural name of his followers.  Probably the earliest mention of his name is in the Egyptian accounts of the ‘Shasu of Yhw,’ a nomadic tribe of people living around Egypt during the time of Amenhotep III (coincidentally the father of Akhenaten, the pharaoh who attempted to convert Egypt to monotheism… hmmmm….).  Since the other shasu mentioned in the accounts are followed by location names, it’s safe to assume that this instance of ‘yhw’ referred to a location as well.  Since these people were nomadic, we can hypothesize that they may have traveled south to Canaan and assimilated into the culture there, thus lending the god of their homeland to the Canaanite pantheon.  From there, this fringe group of pseudo-Canaanites, who seemed rigorously intent on maintaining their cultural identity through their god, were either pushed north by outside forces, or were led there on the promise of finding a land of their own, as the Bible states.

Enter Moses, the founder of Yahwehism.  Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘But Logan, didn’t Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all come before Moses?”  Or maybe you weren’t thinking that at all, but anyway.  Yes, these patriarchs of Genesis were the leaders of the Israelites before Moses.  But notice the name for Israel.  It has that pesky little -el suffix we discussed in the last post.  Also the Hebrew name used for God throughout Genesis is Elohim, another derivation of El, the Canaanite’s father god.  Clearly the author of Genesis meant for us to infer that during this time, the Israelites were still a sect of Canaanites.  But when Moses fled Egypt, according to Exodus, he lived with the Midianites, which the Bible tells us were also a sect of Canaanites or ‘Kenites.’  It is also possible that the Midianites were the ‘Shasu of Yhw’ mentioned in the Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Either way, it would appear that the author of Exodus wanted his readers to make that connection, because it is while Moses is among them that he receives his most important message from YHWH.

When Moses encounters God at the burning bush, he asks God his name, and God replies, “I am that I am.”  In Hebrew this is three words: ‘Eyeh Asher Eyeh‘- eyeh being the singular present (and future) tense of the verb ‘to be,’ and asher being a general pronoun which can mean that, which, who, where, or even because.  This simple phrase holds a vast amount of meaning, and is still regarded as one of the most important phrases in the Bible.  Medieval Jews listed it as one of the names of God that held special significance.  The author of Exodus, in an almost Shakespearean play on words, not only makes reference to the ‘yhw’ of the Midianites and the YHWH that his readers currently worshiped, but also states with power and clarity the meaning of Yahweh’s name.  The phrase is most commonly translated into English as “I am that I am,” but it could also mean “I will be what I will be” or “I will be because I will be,” which implies his promise to prove to the Israelites that he is their god.  But the most interesting possibility to me, is the translation “I am because I am” or “I am that which is,” implying that the author is intentionally separating the name YHWH from its cultural and geographic roots, and giving it new meaning which could be equated simply to ‘being’ or ‘existence.’  This perception of the name of God could have influenced Yahwism’s development from a monolatristic religion into a monotheistic one, since monotheism implies that God is all things and the cause of all things.  God is found in every aspect of the universe and ourselves, and thus could easily be defined as existence itself. 

While we may never know which of these meanings was actually implied by the author, since the language itself yields all of the meanings, it seems possible, even probable, that the author meant to imply all of them.  This simple phrase would lay the foundation for one of the most important religious movements in history, and is still seen today as declaration of the nature of God and existence itself.  It nullifies the debate of the existence of God by stating the God and existence are one in the same.  No matter your religion, any person can see the divine nature of existence itself and the value of worshiping your existence and the existence of all things.  That’s my bit.  Shalim, and have a good day!

The Recycled Universe and a Defense of Ancient Wisdom

I don’t know why it’s still so surprising to me that proponents of ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ can often be as unreasonable as the fundamentalists they demonize.  I suppose it’s a natural reaction to the ignorance of reason from, say, Creationists, that they’d be met with equal ignorance from advocates of ‘reason.’  I guess they figure they should fight fire with fire, but stooping to their level is as bad as losing in my book.  Any true lover of wisdom must accept the universal knowledge that we cannot truly know anything.  The multitudes of people who view scientific theory as the last word on any question about the universe tend to ignore this fact, even if they do know it, as soon as they get involved in a heated argument.  They completely disregard the maleable and ever-changing nature of science and its theories, and propose that the latest commonly accepted theory is fact.

Take for example the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show).  If someone in this day and age tried to argue that the big bang theory is wrong, they would surely be met with disdain and condescension from these scientific fundamentalists.  If they proposed that, according to Hindu texts, the universe is recycled, created and destroyed in a cyclical process for eternity, they would almost certainly be labelled a fundamentalist and a religious kook.  Their accusers would probably ignore the fact that the recycled universe theory has been around almost as long as the big bang theory, and was even entertained by Albert Einstein.  They probably wouldn’t even consider the recent research which has concluded that a recycled universe is much more likely to create the inflation necessary to the big bang model.  Even if they accepted that the cyclic model is possible, they would still insist that the Hindu scriptures can hold no useful insight into the matter, since they are not based on scientific research.  They would see no significance in the fact that a roughly 4,000 year old text proposes a theory that may soon replace the currently accepted one, and they certainly wouldn’t admit that the scripture has any more relevance in the argument despite its being theoretically verified.

Please understand that this is in no way an argument against atheism, or a call to convert to Hinduism and worship Brahma.  This is simply a plea for everyone on either side to calm down, listen to the wisdom of their ancestors as well as contemporary experts, and consider all possibilities in any matter, especially the most important ones.