Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Amazing!

Wowie, zowie, it's amazing to revisit this blog after such a long time and find that people are still finding it and commenting on it. Thanks so much.

I'm out of the loop. Where are the animists today? The bioregionals? The tribalists? The oddballs like me, who talk to rocks and trees and hear the voices of the cloud people rising as the planet warms?

Lately, I've become aware of a couple of new areas of development in the animist world. The first is the attention being paid to assemblages in Human Geography. It's still an academic exploration among the university elites, but scholars are beginning to admit nonhumans into the social system as actors and agents of change. I find their work heartening. See, for example, Jane Bennett or recent work in political science like Political Matter.  

The other area is in objects as love objects. See the facebook page Objectum Sexuality. When reporting on this phenomenon, many articles will call it a disorder or a fetish. See the wikipedia article for a more objective (no pun intended) discussion. Objectum Sexuality, though, is limited to erotic or sexual relationship with the nonhuman, and I'm more interested in friendship, teacher-student, and family type relationships between humans and nonhumans.

I'm delighted to be back from the south, where my husband and I spent a sabbatical year, and living in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. I'm reviving my counseling practice here, as a hypnotist and life coach, this time specializing in serving creatives, sensitives and countercultural folks of all kinds. Yup, they're my peeps! My homies!

Once I'm up and running, the study project for the year is learning more about object love. I'll have a survey up in November, but meanwhile, if you have any experiences you'd like to share about your love for nonhumans, and we're talking about the whole spectrum of relationship, not just the sexual, do drop me a line here. Go to "view my complete profile" and click email.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trust the Rich


Pastors say all kinds of things. At one time, they'd raise hell and curse damnation on anyone not . . . what, accepting the love of god? Not belonging to their loving church? Not loving the right neighbors? Oh, the irony.

Today, pastors are more likely to say things that support the plutocracy.


Isn't that the party line? For which party? Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Evangelical party, Right-to-Life party. You name it. Even atheists toe that line, the one that says "Trust the rich. The rich people know what's best for all of us."





Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sleep: Another Offering to Mammon

One of the research stories highlighted in Discover Magazine this month was about "Social Jet Lag," a fancy name for the irregular sleep pattern common among young adults who work hard and lack for sleep all week, then stay up late and sleep late on weekends. The story reports that irregular sleep patterns are associated with obesity and higher rates of diabetes. Shift work is another culprit, but even slightly shifted sleep patterns can impact your pancreatic function.

My mom didn't need any scientific study to know that a good night's sleep was essential to my health and well being. Regular sleep patterns are natural for humans. Why not go to bed with the darkness and wake with the light? Don't you feel better after a good night's sleep? More alert, more energetic? You catch fewer colds when you get regular sleep. You do better on tests.

But Americans are getting less sleep than ever and a majority say they don't get the sleep they know they need. An active social life and work demands reduce available sleep time. The 24-7 world in which we live is constantly stimulating, ever-present stress encourages sleep-impacting drug use (for example alcohol and coffee), and always-on electric lights create irregular sleep patterns. The alarm clock wakes us before we're ready. The TV special lures us to stay up late.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: Wake up and produce! Get going and consume! There's no time for a social life in between those demands, so we take our social time out of our sleep time and we shop and work and watch screens when we could be eating, or relaxing, or lovemaking, or music playing, or running around chasing a ball with the family dog.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: The Fiscal Times reports that sleeplessness is a 32.4 billion dollar business. They've got us coming and going.

Sleep. One more sacrifice at the altar of Mammon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Which God?


The monotheists have been bickering for quite a while now over which one is the real one, the only real and true mono-god. The Big "G." He [sic]-Who-is-Everything. They still haven't figured out that the very fact of their bickering shows that there exists more than one god.

The great earth pantheon is home to more gods than are written about in the monotheists' various sacred books. When we celebrate Christmas in an orgy of consumption, we are performing the ritual of Mammon, God of Money and Greed. When we tune in faithfully to American Idol and do exegesis on OK! magazine, we are participating in the Cult of Celebrity. Our screens are altars to the Techno-Deity. Our politics a peon to Power.

I don't give a shit how many gods there are in this little piece of universe, or whether some churches think they hold the monopoly on the god-thing. What I care about is which gods a person chooses to love and follow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What have the Christians been up to for 2000 years?


What? No healing the sick? What have these Christians been up to for the past 2000 years? Not following Jesus, that's for sure because Jesus told us specifically to heal the sick in his name.

Universal health care is a topic of particular importance to me, because my husband and I have no health insurance and neither do two of our three adult children. That's not because we can be labeled as no-good trailer trash free-loaders. My husband and I are both professional people with 20 + years of experience, but we took a sabbatical, time off from work to serve god, and we were left high and dry. Our children all work, and the one who has health care gets it from a campus clinic where she goes to school.

Meanwhile, my relatives in Canada receive the care they need when they need it. When my dad was in his last years, Canada took care of his medical needs and gave my stepmom caregiver respite time. Yes, for free. Yes, high quality. Yes, from their taxes. What better thing to spend our taxes on than health care? Would you rather the government spent it bailing out the banks? Dropping bombs? My stepmom was able to carry on after my dad died without being burdened by huge medical debt.

Some people say that universal health care would lower standards and we'd get lousy doctoring. Why? Do they think doctors are only in it for the money and that paying them less would mean they'd stop caring and do a bad job? Do we think so little of our doctors? And would I want a man or woman who was only in it for the money to even touch my body?

Current medical training, the profit-based health care system, and the focus on technology all conspire to lower the quality of health care in the United States. Just look at what a mess our bodies are, with obesity and related diseases skyrocketing, infant mortality at a shameful 6 per 1000 (making us number 50 among the nations and well below the countries with universal health care), depression and anxiety rampant, death from cigarettes and alcohol still high . . . More to the point, iatrogenic (doctor caused) mortality is listed as 225,000 yearly in the U.S. (To compare, in the U.S. per year: all cancers 567,000; alcohol related deaths, 75,000; marijuana related deaths, 0.)

For-profit medical care is not the best. Not by a long shot. And it seems to me that healing the sick for free is what Jesus would do. In fact, that's exactly what he did.




Monday, November 26, 2012

Preaching Money


Preaching the goodness of money has roots deep in the Protestant tradition, roots that are well documented by Max Weber in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905, trans into English 1930). Weber is the man who coined the phrase "Protestant work ethic" and he described it as one of hard work, frugality, and responsibility. Those who work are righteous, no matter how lowly their position in life, and those few men possessed of great wealth are especially blessed by God. In Weber's day, according to the ethic, the wealthy were expected to contribute to the community according to their means. Check out Andrew Carnegie's 1889 Gospel of Wealth for a stunning example of the era's understanding of the Protestant work ethic.

Weber explained how the rise of Protestantism in Europe, Calvinism in particular, coincided with the rise of capitalism and provided it with theological support. Work, after all, turns the wheels of enterprise and in spite of its recent fall from favor, the Protestant work ethic has sustained the astronomic rise of the United States as an economic, social, and political superpower throughout the 18th and 19th and most of the 20th century. Ben Franklin's writings in the late 18th century contributed to the popularization of the work ethic among immigrants pouring into the country from all backgrounds and it has remained an important part of mainstream American culture until post-modernist times.

By the early 20th century, however, American society was well on its way to making the "great transformation" from a society with a marketplace to a marketplace society. Every institution was being sucked into the machinery of economics, subsumed within capitalist culture, and evaluated by the values of profit, efficiency, production, and the generation of wealth. Christianity was not immune from this transformation. In 1925, Bruce Barton wrote The Man Nobody Knows, re-imagining the son of God as a manly man, hard-muscled and work roughened . . .  and the best salesman of all time. After the second World War, the prosperity gospel was preached in earnest, beginning with Oral Roberts from the pulpit in 1947, moving on to A. A. Allen's Secret to Scriptural Financial Success in 1953, and then exploding through the world of televangelism.

Today, this "prosperity theology" is well integrated into most Pentecostal and Evangelical churches and is espoused by the biggest names in Christian self-help, such as Joel Osteen and Bruce Wilkinson. Somewhere along the way from work ethic to prosperity theology, however, the gospel of wealth had changed. From an ethic steeped in the bourgeois values of hard work and frugality, it had morphed into a consumerist fantasy of wealth through faith. Simply put, God loves you so he'll give you whatever you want. Just ask.

No work necessary. No thinking to bother you. No messy Christian values to trip you up with getting your camel through the eye of a needle. "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz . . ."

God approves of money. God wants you to prosper. Believe and be financially saved. It reminds me of the new and improved, no effort, easy, convenient way to salvation now sold like a drug by the pushers of religion-lite. God approves of you no matter what an asshole you are. Believe and be saved. No contribution to the poor necessary. No follow-me-to-the-cross nonsense. You don't even have to worry about climate change or genocide anymore. Just believe.

Meanwhile, the real American gospel is one of wealth and power, beauty, celebrity, ease and comfort and speed and technology. These are the things we're told will save us. In the words of Mammon: believe and be saved!