— Harlan Ellison
Well. Here I am a-Bloggin'. Right away let me elucidate regarding the title of this here blog: "Vigilantius." Vigilantius is the word Vigilante comes from. In the context of, "Meeny-peeny heads are a cowardly and superstitious lot, I shall become a Vigilantius." No no no. I'm not dressing up in tights unless there's a Renfest going on or it's All Hallow's Eve or Cathy and I are having a creative workshop in the bedroom. And I'm not about to advocate bustin' heads of eeevil doers as that is agin the Terms o' Service and pointless. Violence gets you nowhere unless you're a professional athlete.
While the word Vigilante does have that negative connotation, the definition of the word "Vigilance" is more helpful in this blog's context:
state or quality of being vigilant; watchfulness: Vigilance is required in the event of treachery.
I was looking up the Wikipedia entry for an ancestor of mine, Pope Gregory (the foist), and I noticed that Gregorius, a Greek title for Pope Gregory is Latinized to Vigilantius, which means "watchful." My own foist name, Gregory, I already had known meant "watchman" or somesuch like meaning.
As Butch said in Pulp Fiction, "I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean shit." (Now you know why I put the Adult Content warning up. We'll use language and plenty of it where appropriate, squire.) Well, turns out some Uhmurkan names do mean something, since our names have their origins in the old country where your particular ancestors are from (which is our true country unless you're a Native Uhmurkan, which is a subject for a later blog entry. Maybe several blog entries.) Butch means something itself, of course. If you're English, etc, Butch means you are manly. If you are dead Butch, you're extra manly. The opposite of being a poof. See, you've learned something already by reading this.
And one of my goals with this blog is to entertain and also educate. Take what I blog as you will. I only ask you pay attention. Which is why I've called this blog Vigilantius. I'm also already tired of spelling that word, so henceforth in this document, we will refer to it as "the blog." So there. But I've called this blog "the blog" as I observe. I didn't use to. I used to be a sponge and for most of my life, even though I was more different than most of my peers, I was in a system. I was a Borg in my head. Other things had been grafted on to me from others who wanted me to be like them. But somehow I was blessed with unrepentant individualism and so I exposed myself to "that stuff which we do not approve of." And so having touched "the unclean thing" I opened myself up to a larger experience of life than the narrow ideology I was raised to accept as reality.
I'll touch briefly (or not) here on the concept of "Consensus Reality." Ever hear the term "Supernatural" or "Paranormal" before? Why sure you have. Why do we use such terms? Because we have all agreed upon, unwittingly in some cases and in some cases willingly, upon an idea of what reality is. That is the Consensus Reality. When something does not agree with that mindset, we have to give it another name. I do not like the term Supernatural, as all phenomena has to be part of nature. The word Paranormal is more fitting as those phenomena that do not fit into our worldview of how reality is supposed to behave appears to be not normal, or beyond or above normalcy.
The narrow ideology I was raised in, being born into a regressive rural Middle Tennessee cultural environment, was a Consensus Reality within the broader Consensus Reality and it was like living in a bubble. Many of the people born and raised in this culture have little knowledge or interest in the world outside their bubble. Which is why people still ingrained in that culture are having such a hard time with the information that is encroaching into their world from the rest of the planet. It is hard to reconcile certain concepts like the theory (not the law) of evolution, that other valid religions exist besides theirs and have for thousands of years, that many of the Founding Fathers were deists or outright agnostics (like Benjamin Franklin f'rinstance) and so on and so on. http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/john_remsburg/six_historic_americans/chapter_4.html
At an early enough age, I was exposed to these truths and they made me question the ideology I was taught and that caused me to question everything. And I paid the price for it as I have spent the majority of my life being truly lost. I allowed certain people to influence how I viewed myself. And that was a negative view. Because I was torn between belonging to the community and trying to grasp Truth. For a long time, being raised and trained to be a Christian, just as I was trained how to use the toilet and tie my shoelaces, having no other frame of reference or context in how to express this desire for Truth, I tried to become UberChristian. Therefore, I realized I could not simply rely upon the Sunday School lessons and sermons to do that, I had to study on my own dime. And that is where the trouble began. When I began to explore Christianity outside the bubble...I found over 38,000 other bubbles as there are at least that many other Christian denominations out there. All the knowledge I tried to glean about my faith in order to consolidate and strengthen it, only served to weaken it. The bible revealed itself to me as a sacred text, but nowhere near a cohesive, self-referencing narrative. Outside the filters of the Southern Baptist ideology, I discovered all the backstory behind the story and saw the guy behind the curtain pulling the levers and pushing the buttons. Having seen him, I chose not to pull the curtain back.
This is why beyond those 38,000 Xian (my abbreviation for Christian) denominations, Judaism and Islam also have their roots in the Judeo-Xian bible and why, for example, despite Jesus' direction to sell all you have and give it to the poor, millions of Xians in Uhmurkah are protesting that they are Taxed Enough Already and actually have spasms when someone suggests that we should Redistribute our Wealth, when the Early Xians did exactly that. This is why some Xian denominations say that some of the scripture applies to us today and why some doesn't. This is why some of the content in the New Testament for example is described as only applying to the people who were in the room with Jesus, like his immediate disciples. Whereas the majority of John Chapter 3, being a private conversation one evening between Jesus and a pharisee named Nicodemus, is considered as applying to us all, most notably the 16th verse.
This is an arbitrary, completely man-fashioned approach to a sacred text which, like all sacred texts, is and was not, ever meant to be taken literally, but is in ways more true than anything else. Therefore what is sin and what is not sin is completely arbitrary, which means there is no such thing. There is right and wrong which is an ethical concern which you do not need religion for. I could go on and in later blog posts, I warn you, I will.
Jesus is a deity, a righteous dude. He lived and died and resurrected like scores of other solar deities. We worship his birth around the Winter Solstice (although he was not born in the winter) and celebrate his resurrection in the spring when the sun gets stronger and nature blooms again. He rawks and pwns Satan. In short: he is l33t But he is currently a fairly lonely deity because he said a lot of things and instructed that his followers had to live and think a certain way in order to join his club. Do you love your neighbor, which as Jesus pointed out...is everyone else on this planet (and potentially elsewhere)? No? You're not a member of the club. There's the door. Don't let the doorknob wedge itself in your rectum on the way out. Go, and see that you darken our towels no more. Hit the road, jack. Return to sender, address unknown. Nossir, we do not have a reservation in your name, tonight. This is nacho cheese, meaning this cheese does not belong to you. You get the idea.
The crisis for me then having the scales stripped from my eyes was not one of faith, it was of my entire identity. Because I realized who I was was wrapped up in the religion I had been raised in and this was part of the culture I was raised to be a part of. But what of being HUMAN? What is the human experience? It's certainly not being a robot programmed to part of a collective. Resistance is NOT futile.
There are billions who do not share my culture who feel the same way about their god(s) as I felt about mine when I was UberChristian. When my religion appeared to be yet another narrow interpretation of reality, I basically spent the entire 1990s in limbo. Having gotten on the other side of bad female interactions (some my fault because of how addled my mind was) and having left college because I was being influenced by what I felt at the time was the classic "leftist, dreamy-eyed intellectual agenda" and having had my life threatened and seen my rather pathetic life passed before my eyes...I then tried to become UberChristian, but saw an abyss of arbitrary opinions and ignorance when I did so.
I asked my Sunday School teacher once why, if Jesus turned water into wine, it was wrong for us Southern Baptists to drink alcohol, the answer was, "because in the bible, when they say wine, they mean grape juice." I excrement you not. These people didn't mean to lie to me, they just didn't know any better. They were content to teach me as they had been taught because they were comfortable with that. I was not content and still am not completely. Because life is strange and complex and quantum physics shows that physical reality is an illusion anyway. I henceforth resolved myself that I should know better. That I have to look at the world objectively and openly, experience life with a desire for Truth, to entertain the possibilities out there and not settle for belief and faith, but direct experience of what it means to be alive, to be human. (And write run-on sentences and abuse the use of commas.) And the results have been "beyond belief."
I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Next time on "the blog" we may even let Chuck Goober embarrass himself with a rebuttal.
And a shorter post in general. Geez, this is long-winded, what?