1/03/2016 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
Listen up ye rotten sinners; now hear the word of the Lord:
"But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, "Oh God, be merciful to me the sinner!" I tell you, this man went back to his home justiﬁed rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself shall be exalted."
There are numerous examples of the "wonderfulness" of being a humble person, in all religious teachings. (Islam itself means "submission.") This is because they depend on an individual's acceptance of being "sinful" by nature. "Me the sinner" can be carried so far out as to involve humiliating oneself in front of others. (The Communist party, under Mao, made great use of public personal humiliations.) The cry of, "Oh God be merciful to me a sinner,“ uttered by believers, has been a steady source of windfall beneﬁts for his spokesmen. In the beginnings of Christianity, believers were urged to go about unwashed and lice-ridden, to practice their subjugation.
The attitude of the God who came to the conclusion after the Flood, "all humans are prone to evil from birth," and are disobedient children, has permeated religious systems where the "sinners" suffer and the parent ﬁgures "men of god or gods" (the "fathers" and "holy fathers," for example), prosper, because the disobedient children have to be held in check, and who better to do this than them?
But there's a double standard when it comes to humble status: According to the tradition of all religions, the average person must be obedient, forgiving, non-judgmental, and virtuous, but the same standards are not required for the representatives of the gods.
Following the examples of their God or gods, anything is permissible to his/their agents. The god's ends justify his means and agents. Their "divinely-assigned" tasks are to be judgmental interpreters of the will of God/gods and his/their penalties, while doling out forgiveness or non-forgiveness and penances, meanwhile chastising and pronouncing punishments for the very wrongs they themselves may privately commit. Of course, they're exceptions to the practice of virtue which applies to those under them. Read your history; they are always rewarded with special privileges.
In medieval times, serfs and laborers toiled while bishops and priests, and the monks in their monasteries ruling the farms, thrived. (The monks of Tibet are parasites on the community.) When Henry VIII decided to strip the monasteries, his men found immense wealth accumulated within them. But it isn't the church properties alone that up until then were inordinately prospering. Just as the wealthy and/or celebrity people today receive privileged treatment as if it is owed them, in every society, so are the priests of all the gods, from ancient Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Inca and Aztec civilizations, etc., etc., and every other civilization! Every single expert on the gods made up each god's wishes and commands!
Mexico City, built on the ruins of the Aztec empire, was at the height of its power composed of several rings. The innermost ring held the royal family, the next was for the priests, followed by rings for the artisans and craftsmen, etc. This pattern of primacy goes back for thousands of years.
Even today, in democracies, of all places, clergy enjoy special status. Cult leaders enjoy a similar “god-anointed" status, leading their cults. Televangelists and bishops live high in tax-exempt estates former kings would envy, the pope enjoys palatial grounds, priests and ministers get free room and board. None of them have to work. And all of them, by tradition, enjoy the fruits of other's hard- earned wages. (As one saying from the Middle Ages goes, “You keep the faith; we'll keep the money." Some things never change.) This has gone on in spite of the fact that many of them were debauched, debased, morally and emotionally bankrupt, and hypocrites who were responsible for the destruction and suppression of countless lives and properties, and of torturing and executing innocent people whose only crime was to disagree with them.
The preached Christian "humility which will be rewarded with exaltation" depends on a steady state of obedience to God/ gods via their reps. Those who, like them and Jesus and Mohammed and every other cult leader, tell us not to rely on our own judgements, but on their god, are really telling us to trust theirs. But since they represent vast numbers of sects, this tells us that their belief-roulette-wheels have nothing to do with evidence of truth. (Shouldn't clergy, by law, be required to have a disclaimer, "I don't know," tattooed on their foreheads?)
When the movie "The Handmaid's Tale" came out, fundies protested that it was a criticism of Christianity, although that religion was not even mentioned in it. Could it be because the story’s biblically-based ruling class were such hypocrites, dictating virtuous behavior on the populace, especially women, while being themselves sexually dissolute? This double standard is what you get whenever a theocracy rules; so be careful who and what you vote for. Knowing of the author, Margaret Atwood, and her sly insinuations, must have hit too close to home. But one doesn't need an occasional movie or book to make this point: turn to any religious TV channel.
Do you remember when John Lennon said that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus," and the fundies went into an uproar? Well today, J.K. Rowling, Ian Fleming, J. R. Tolkien, Walt Disney and Chuck Jones are more popular than "Jesus," living through their ﬁctional harmless creations which give entertainment and joy to millions, unlike religions‘ ﬁctional creations. (Fantasy is very lucrative, as religions know.) Those creators really earned their money; they worked to create their fantasy ﬁgures and situations, which were not handed down to them gratis on a silver platter, like "Jesus" has been.
To add a personal disclaimer: The author does not mean to imply all clergy members ﬁt the patterns exposed. My wife's pastor, for instance, gets by ﬁnancially, and that's about it. And I know that he permits intelligent design to be taught in his church, even as he knows it's b.s. That's one price he has to pay for being supported by the system.
All the religious systems of exploitation mentioned here are stated accurately, and the troubles the religions have always perpetuated are ongoing today. As Robert Green Ingersoll said, "The clergy knows that I know that they know that they do not know." Perhaps her pastor has a job I'm not aware of: "protecting" my wife as if she were an innocent child, from the "forbidden fruit" of my writings!