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Sunday, September 16, 2012

FUNDAMENTALISM ON THE LINE


          robert ryman, untitled



For the fun of it, I went to youtube and found INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS, the short "movie" that is getting American embassies burned and people killed, threatened, maimed, Anglo people, non-muslims. The film really is outrageous. The most outrageous is that is sooo baaaad, and not a Pink Flamingos kind of bad. It is worse than those absurd Bible story films I saw under duress in summer Bible school, early 1950s in b&w. They were made by adults for kids and kids couldn't stand them. Anyway, I couldn't. A bunch of white people dressed up like Middle Easterners of several millennia ago orating simple sentences like they're the greatest words ever spoken, they're Bible. This film is one more bit of evidence that the Middle Eastern conflicts can be called the Fundamentalist Wars. Islamic fundies vs. Baptist fundies. Fox News represents Baptist fundamentalism that has left the realm of the Spirit and taken up politics with Rush Limbaugh the high priest. My mother tells me Baptist is not a "religion," which I already knew, but she didn't mean it that way. I call it a religion separate from Christendom, a religion unto itself as it has no connection with compassion, love, caring for the poor. Jesus himself said going by rules and regulations is not it. What do the Baptists care? The self-called preachers know better. To keep it clear, this is my own subjective experience, not somebody else's.


I saw on a news clip the guy responsible for the film has been taken into custody. Probably for his protection. He needs to be charged with being stupid. But in this time Stupid is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. The Islamic fundamentalists can't be any brighter than the American fundamentalists; they act the same where belief in absolutes is concerned. The hilarity is that if Islamists made a 15 minute video of Jesus as embodiment of the seven deadly sins and such a lout as this absurd film made Mohammed, the Christians wouldn't even notice. It's like: somebody white says nigger and black people hit the ceiling; somebody black says white motherfucker and nobody white notices. Of course, we've had something on the order of democracy where freedom of expression is the order, meaning we hear all kinds of things, pick and choose for ourselves and let the rest go. Islamists, like Baptists, think in absolutes: I'm right--you're wrong. Never any thought of questioning, searching, seeking, allowing others their own beliefs. That's what the mission field is about, teaching the heathens what they're supposed to believe. The Baptist religion still thinks in 19th Century colonialist terms; which is to say, the religion has no future. It is locked down in the past and will not make it through the transition from the Age of Fire into the Age of Electricity. These fundamentalist wars appear to be clearing out that old way of thinking that is not productive any more in constructive ways. The fundamentalists have taken on the role of the Destroyer.


I'm still laughing over that yo-yo in the Kansas legislature, the state that voted to keep Evolution out of the public school curriculum, calling for assassination of the president according to the Bible. Is this not the most telling evidence that we are in the time of the Absurd. We laugh like crazy at absurd humor. I have a difficult time inside myself with my Kansas past; K-10 in Kansas City, Kansas, and 10-12 in Wichita, a city I never learned to like. Allen Ginsberg found something there in one of his major verses, Wichita Vortex Sutra. His world in Wichita was very different from mine. He hung with the college crowd, the dope smokers; I was in high school going to football and basketball games like they were important, church, barely able to read with minimal comprehension, getting through school like a donkey led by a ring in the nose. Keeping up with what's required. Just like a job. Just like everyday life. The churches I came up in were the worst. The church in KC, Calvary Bible Church, fundamentalist by self-definition. The preacher was an intelligent Baptist preacher. I respected him all the way along. Respected him more, as a man, than I knew at the time. The preacher at the church in Wichita by now I've forgotten his name and the name of the church. He was the greatest betrayer of my trust of my life. He taught me never to trust a preacher. I don't even make an effort to remember that time in my life. It is full of memories that make me remember why I was so happy to leave that city, and the state with it. These are entirely my own subjective (karmic) experiences. Other people have other experiences.


In Kansas, they think the South is backward. I went to Charleston, South Carolina, in the last years of the Old South, saw there the last days of the old ways, the same as living in the mountains, came here in time to see the passing of the old ways. In that way I feel culturally privileged. From South Carolina I looked back at Kansas as backward. From the mountains I look back at Kansas as backward. I made it through the Kansas period, alas the formative period, not without a lot of internal damage. Leaving Wichita and Kansas, I was leaving my past, erasing it as I went along like a math teacher's blackboard. I came to life in Charleston at the College of Charleston. Didn't do anything special, got the education I needed at a small school that didn't cost an arm and two legs, about two-thirds of the faculty incredibly bright and a third not so bright. The College was still in the OId South my first three years. I loved the opportunity to become acquainted with the Old South from the inside. In like manner, I love the opportunity to know the old-time mountain culture in its last years. In both places, seeing the new culture of television coming in was worthy of some sorrow, like watching Wal-marts come in. But I remember my attorney friend of several years ago, Lorne Campbell. He was one of my peep-holes into the world of the mountains before electricity. He said, "The mountains need new blood." They do.


I hear Kansas fundamentalism in the news and it gives me the shivers. The really funny part for me is that from the Kansas fundamentalist perspective, the old-time mountain Baptist churches, the Primitive and the Regular, are backwards, need to come up to date. My mother, after an experience in one, called it, "That ridiculous church you go to." My thought: I was thinking the same thing about yours. What she took for ridiculous was that it was not fundamentalist full of fire and hell to keep the flock from nodding off. Her religion made an atheist of me. At first, I thought it was by reaction. That must have been the initial boot kick to get me out of it. It had no life for me. No living spirit. Patti Smith just now sang in my head, "What's the church but rules and regulations TO ME, TO ME." Simply put, Kansas fundamentalism made an atheist of me because I simply did not believe it. I believed the core, the Jesus part, but from there on it was all false and negativity piled on top of negativity. Had nothing to do with love. I never once felt a pixel of love come from any of those three churches I was dragged through. And I came to see that God prefers an honest atheist to a hypocritical Christian. I know it is not this way for everyone. This is entirely my own subjective, karmic experience. Since I've lived under my own power, I am happy with the places I've lived. Loved Charleston, love the mountains.


My Baptist friends think I am brutal when I get on that subject. They say, "My church is not like that. We have a lot of love where I go." And they're right. I would like to say pretty things about it, but have none to say. So I keep up the reminder that this writing is only from the point of view of subjective experience. My experience is my own. Your experience is your own. We draw difference conclusions from our experiences. When I found myself a baby on Meher Baba's lap saying, "dada," I was happy the Baptist religion had spit me out. Therefore, it's a good thing, all of it. My karma. Looking back over the path of my life, it has all been a matter of self-healing. This is why I've never joined society or whatever it's called, because of my life's mission to heal the wounds from the Kansas era of my life. It wasn't that it was just Kansas or Baptist church, either. That was just the context. Venus is my guiding planet. It means I require beautiful surroundings where I live. I thought Charleston was beautiful, and the mountains the apex of beauty where I can hear katydids and tree frogs chirping in the trees outside the open door at night and bird song all day.


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