Saturday, February 4, 2012

What I believe. For Dad, and Jeff.

Me and Meg have been outed to my parents as polyamorous. Folks from church saw our outrageously cute 50s night quad picture and went to the bishop with it. My dad is the bishop. He's the badass /r/christianity bishop of "Hi Michael" fame. Him and my mom have been sobbing all night and day about me and Megan.

Last night, we had the posse over.

God I love you guys.
The sage (Jeffy) asked me how I could still identify as Christian. And more importantly, why not just leave it all and be free?

Some hours later, when we were having "the talk," my dad asked some similar questions. He also asked if we could sit down sometime and talk about my beliefs in detail. This post probably won't supersede that glorious impending conversation, but it would be good for me right now to at least try to paint the broad strokes.

I believe that when civilization came, a lot of pain came with it. I believe (with Marshall Rosenberg, author of the life-changing Nonviolent Communication),  that when complex human societies got underway, with all the slavery and violence that made them so good at growing and winning out in the long term, our language and education took a turn for programming us to be better slaves. A lot of false dichotomies emerged that distorted our thinking. Laws and morality were codified and internalized in a way that made us believe in some absolute wrongs and rights that run quite outside of the scope of "love thy neighbor," and sometimes run right against it. These were useful for the overlords, the still-free. Like Nietzsche says, every moral doctrine has its root in its opposite. Every prohibition for the masses was born of the prerogatives of the few.  As state-level civilization picked up, this led to massive violence and hurt. Where transferring our moral responsibility from our consciences to the law of the elites allowed us to stone adulterers and feel good the next day, transferring responsibilities to banks and governments soul-less corporations (who have now come to have "personhood" in modern legislation) allowed us to literally maim, kill, and humiliate at an unprecedented scale, and not even know we were doing it. Organized religion evolved as a part of this control system, and it served its purpose well.

Judaism actually seems to mournfully acknowledge this all. Pre-civilized man lives naked and with a single rule: don't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He walks with God. Then he eats from that tree of codification and transference, and henceforth slaves away from the sweat of his brow.

The law is decreed. It's explicitly impossible to keep (whether it's from God, or not). Maybe this is God's brilliantly ironic retort to the people's insistence on having a law. Maybe it's just the slave-system hitting fever pitch.

Whatever the case, the Israelites do some inexcusably evil stuff. Stuff I can't and won't call Godly, ever. Genocide.

But then, in Christianity, the narrative twists breathtakingly. 

Nietzsche thought that Christianity was a dysfunctional religion, because even the elites were subdued by it. It still made slaves, but it didn't allow for anyone to be free. It is a weird-ass religion. 

Revisiting it, after I started to be more truthful with myself, I started to see in it a powerful story of freedom. God becomes a human, and works on the Sabbath, touches unclean people, hangs out with whores and breaks just about every law he can. He ordains apostles who literally call righteousness under the law "shit."

After all this insult and injury to the law, we're commanded to love each other. The Spirit will guide us and convict us. God dies on Tree #2, and we're back to something like the old rules.

This, surrounded by a thousand errata and contradictions and cultural moorings, is the basic narrative of Christianity. It's anarchistic, freedom-loving, and powerful. If there were a religion that could be read in such a way as to be liberating and empowering and ennobling, I think it's this one.

And if life isn't random, and things do happen for a reason, and we as individuals have a purpose, then the discovery of this probably has something to do with the reason I'm here.

You can RSS me if you like me.


  1. Love is the force that blurs the lines, bends the borders, letting me bleed into us. It is the only way we extend our identity to other souls, breathing the air of common moments.
    Every law is but a servant to love.

  2. Gutsy post, Ken. If I can put some work to bed and get over my other commitments, I'll be writing a loving critique of it.

  3. (PS) I wonder what "folks from church" were doing cruising the polyamorous site at Reddit. I'm sure that question has come up...

  4. Oh great, Jim, go ahead and demolish my argument so I have no remaining way to believe in good conscience :) Can't wait.

    Chris knows my reddit user name, and probably checked my recent submissions out of curiosity. Either that or he cruises /r/poly. Let's just choose to believe that.

  5. You believe because you are persuaded for some reason related to grace and love. That's reason enough. ;)

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