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The Clergy. the Gods, and Other Deceivers

By Carl S ~

Clergy are by definition specifically ordained persons of organized religious bodies, past and present, authorized to perform and administer religious rites. Thus: Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal priests, plus rabbis, ministers, imams, the priests of Baal, Ra, Ahura Mazda, including any and all of the millions of gods. Clergy are practitioners. And, if you're making a connection between clergy and voodoo practitioners and witch doctors here, you're getting the picture. (By the way, did you know that a “mojo” is “a magic charm or spell?” So is a Christian cross. Got your mojo/cross working?)

Dictionary definition of “clergy”: The body of people ordained for religious service.” And who “ordains” them? Why, other clergy! What other clergy? Why, the clergy that belongs to any sect which “ordains,” or, in other words, orders them so by decree. So, whatever the religious sect declares is true, is what they are ordained to practice. Unlike certification for other practitioners such as physicians, lawyers, and scientists, requiring proven factual evidence, clerical certification is conferred by tradition.

How does one get certification to speak for God or gods - what are the methods? Through learning by rote. And what does “rote” mean? Again, the dictionary tells us, “Memorization through repetition, often without understanding.” {Isn’t this the methodology of “religious educati0n?”) Anyway, repeating the repetitions to the satisfaction of the “ordaining” elite club members licenses one to become one of them. Now, with clerical ordination, one is endowed with authority to speak for and be a representative of, say, God, with a traditional title of respect, to boot.

“Theology: the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.” - H.L. Mencken

Now, what do clergy learn to know, actually? Well, they learn how to be careful what they say, so that they won't find themselves questioned or contradicted. They learn, through lessons from other clergy, plus trial and error, what to avoid talking about, what to ignore; such as doubts about what they‘re supposedly experts on. They have to know, for example, to tell a mother whose son was randomly killed, that the God he speaks for allowed this tragedy to test her faith, and loves her and the deceased. Or that God demanded the sacrifice of the child for the sins of the parents. Or whatever explanations they can come up with after ascertaining the gullibility of the believer. On them falls the task of assuring her they “know” these things. Perhaps through their own nature, or the nurturing of other clergy, they know the practice of traditional religious emotional manipulation. And, if they've been taught their religious history, they know that “truth” is determined by vote. Tradition.

A clergyman, traditionally, would advise a woman whose marriage or affair has ended to, “Pray to God for guidance; pray to God to send you his choice for a partner,” even when the woman has a history of bad choices of men who used and dumped her - every one of them she decided to get involved with after she prayed to God. (Note to “Christian Mingle “: God's choice for my first wife was the woman from hell.)

A clergy member would have to know just enough scripture to find answers for any situation, good or bad, and know all the rote answers and excuses for his god’s actions and failures to act. And, know how to practice those traditions dating all the way back to when the first gods were dreamed up.

Because clergy claim an “insider knowledge of truth” that ordinary people do not have (since clergy are by tradition exempt from criticism of their “knowledge”), they enjoy a privileged status in societies, and even dominance, in many societies, where they link themselves and their god as one. Unlike lawyers, scientists, doctors, etc., they are not required to actually prove what they affirm as true.

Indeed, how can one disprove the existence of invisible beings who speak personally to and through them? But I forget - no religious claims rest on proof.
The best clergy can come up with for their claims is, “Take our word for it on faith.”

Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), articulated this in his time: “The clergy know that I know that they know that they do not know.” Unlike scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc., they have not learned how to know. They are content to be authorities on what they don't know. If they were honest, they would admit this, but they can't even consider doing so; if they did they'd be out of j obs. If they were honest, they would not say the words they quote are those of Jesus or Mohammed, or any other prophets, but “attributed to,” or “allegedly said” by them. So, they must ignore and dismiss that fact, as well as train their faithful to ignore the contradictions and making stuff up in what they preach. This “ordained” practice is just the opposite of a search for truth, and is a reason they disagree with each other, have so many sects, and wage sectarian wars using the Medieval standard of “truth through combat.“ (Whoever wins is telling the truth.)

What's to be done about the tradition that rewards and reveres clergy of all faiths, who also by tradition contradict one another and one another’s sects? They're all teaching by rote, also known as, “memorization through repetition, often without understanding.” What if religions have turned that “often” into “always?” On second thought, don't all faiths require their practitioners, their faithful, to reject understanding, claiming that faith surpasses understanding? Ergo: Don’t even try to understand.

What’s so special about any system to make it traditional? Every practice is challenged to prove its claims are true . . . except religion. Perhaps religion’s value has to do with deception, especially self-deception. Perhaps we humans naturally are attracted, fascinated by, deceivers like magicians, story tellers, the characters actors portray to believability, by witch doctors, shamans, the Bernie Madoffs, Ponzis, popes, con artists, spies, etc. We are offended and even seek revenge for the deceit and betrayal that affects us personally, but are entertained when it doesn't. (And, after all, we know that deception abounds in nature.)

It all seems so natural to deceive one another and ourselves, avoiding or not bothering to understand why we do so. And religion reinforces those patterns, makes them sacred. Ordinarily, people are content to support the deceivers, including clergy, if they see them as entertaining and not threatening. Find a clergy member who doesn’t entertain, and he or she will be eventually out the door; find one who combines entertainment with telling the congregation only what they want to hear and you'll find a celebrity, even a Pied Piper. That’s traditional.

We don't know whether these suspicions as to why religion is still traditional are true, but we do know that it's about time not only clergy but believers knew that they don't know what they claim to know.