Thursday, October 22, 2015

Object Relationships Survey

In a world filled with manufactured, or human-made, things, we are bound to develop relationships with these things. Almost all of us have patted the hood of our car after a long trip or lovingly hand-washed a favorite sweater. Without awareness, we have developed affection for these objects.

Some people have object relationships that go further than the norm. They feel deep, abiding love for an object. They often give this object a name and they experience lasting benefits from the relationship. Because of my own personal connection with an object, I'm interested in learning more about the phenomenon.

Objectum sexuality takes this relationship a step further, into the zone of the erotic. Objektophiles have sexual feelings towards their objects, and consider this their sexual orientation. Eija-Riitta Eklöf, a Swedish "OS" in love with the Berlin Wall, braved considerable ridicule to start Objectum Sexuality International in the 1990s. Their website has not been updated for several years, but may be a good starting place if you are an OS, looking to connect with others.

This is the link to a survey about human-object relationships. While Objectum Sexuality focuses on the erotic, my particular interest is in deep, abiding friendships with objects, rather than sexual relationships. Please, add your voice to the survey if you have an object relationship or share the link with someone you know who has an object relationship.

I have 55 responses so far, on the way to 100. The results of the survey will be published here, and perhaps elsewhere, but all responses are confidential. I'm already finding patterns, including a surprising number of folks who are comfortably "out" to their friends and families. In every one of my responses for far, participants have experienced nothing but joy and benefit from their object relationship.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Vote for Love

My friends, as the candidates strive for your attention, remember to judge them by the quality of their love.

Their love for their country must be greater than their love of money.

Their love for the hungry and hurt must drive their politics.

Their love for the suffering and sick must inform their health care policies.

When you enter the voting booth, may your hand be moved by love.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ditch the Book, Reach for the Holy Spirit

An idol is a representation of a god, or any natural thing, used as an object of worship. Many well-meaning Christians worship the bible as an idol—a manufactured thing they have imbued with divinity. They attribute to the book the qualities of their mono-god, qualities like infallibility, immortality and ultimate authority. They revere the book as if it was their god and this can lead to any number of problems for Christians. 

The most obvious problem, of course, is idolatry itself, or bibliolatry. The second is that the book has become a kind of “holy handbook,” an ultimate authority in all areas of life. This is a claim it can’t fulfill, because the bible is an anachronism, the product of a time and place very different from ours. Because of the many contradictions in the book, bible believers are also caught in an intellectual bind; in order to maintain their belief in the bible’s infallibility, they have to deny its contradictions and anachronisms. Their constant practice of denial is a dangerous trait in a world that needs our conscious awareness and thoughtful participation. Last and most important, the book ends up taking the place of the Holy Spirit as their comforter and guide, and in so doing, it may lead them astray. Even the devil, as Shakespeare succinctly put it, “can cite Scripture for his purpose.” 

It’s easy enough to debunk bibliolatry. Let’s take a quick look at the holy handbook thing. To be a viable guide to life, the bible would have to transcend all times and cultures, but instead, it's firmly rooted in a particular time and culture. Issues of marriage, righteous eating, making war, holding slaves and so on have changed over the past 5000 years, and rightly so. In holding to biblical injunctions, therefore, we may act in ways that are illogical or cruel.

In order to cope with these problems, bibliolatrists have a tendency to pick and choose which words to attend to and which to disregard. The bible is so internally inconsistent that they may be forced to consider half a dozen options for addressing any particular issue. Wealth is a good case in point. The parable of the talents suggests that capitalist wealth management is a holy thing, however, not only will the rich have an awful time getting into heaven (as a camel through the eye of a needle), but the rich will whither as the grass and shouldn’t be trusted (according to James). This is of particular interest to me, as I personally believe that great wealth is a reliable indicator of sin. I stand with James in this case.

Many Christians believe their book
is a manifestation of their god.
Why do people feel the need to worship a book in the first place? Why do they cling to it in spite of its obvious inconsistencies and its own injunction against idolatry? I speculate that it’s because of our human need for certainty. Humans prefer certainty to ambiguity, it’s built into our nature, so in a world that’s becoming ever more insecure, we grab hold of absolutes. The bible is not an abstraction like the agnostics’ god. It’s real. We can touch it and smell the ink on its pages. We can spend money to buy it, which always makes something feel more real in our marketplace society, and we can carry it with us as an amulet.

Poor misguided Christians! They don’t need a book. Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit!

Polytheistic Animists also believe in a Holy Spirit, the divine that lives within us. The Holy Spirit is our guide and comforter. His voice can be trusted to lead us well and he will always speak to us of love, courage and wisdom. 

We don’t need a book. We’ve got the Holy Spirit!

The bible is a great work of literature. There’s wisdom to be found in its pages. It’s a compelling record of one culture’s struggle to define human nature and understand itself in relation to God and history. It’s the best record we have of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. But the Christ who is the Christian’s Savior is the mythical Christ, not the historical one. They don’t need the bible to know Christ. 

Our human craving for certainty can only be satisfied by the certainty of faith, faith in our Creator’s love for us and our safety in his hands. We don’t need a book. As you reach out for the love of your Creator, seek instead what one biblical author has called the “still, small voice within.” That is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Listen and you will hear him saying to you, “Be at peace, little human. You are loved.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Animist Reality

Mongolian Shaman, 1909
Animism is humanity’s oldest system of belief and it’s still the most elegant and successful of our attempts to understand what is real. Based on sensory experience, animism describes a reality which is both wholly material and wholly spiritual. All of material creation is intelligent and ensouled. All spirit is embodied. 

Anthropologist Edward B. Tyler first defined animism in this particular way 1871, and said that all the religions of the world arose out of this fundamental belief in the spiritual nature of material being. Tyler was a cultural evolutionist, however, so he was convinced that animism existed along a progressive continuum: from the most primitive, focusing on “inanimate” objects, through classical polytheism to the “advanced” abstract monotheism of his day. I disagree with him on this point. Our spiritual development as a species has taken place in fits and starts. We still have a whole lot to learn, and how many gods we follow is not an indication of our level of spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity? What a laugh! Look around you and tell me—with a straight face—that humans are spiritually mature! The fruits of the ripening spirit are sweet and nourishing, but we seem to have grown some sour grapes, like anger and hate. Humans have stunningly sophisticated technologies. We are now the most powerful creatures on earth and we have an overflowing storehouse of factual information, yet the species is spiritually weaker than we were in our kinship days, and we’re pitifully vulnerable to the forces of cruelty and greed. We'd do well to be open to an animist alternative. 

Traditional animists held to their spiritually advanced worldview in the face of vigorous evangelizing by Christians and Capitalists, but they're being overwhelmed and may soon die out. Their systems of belief encompassed the whole of what is real, rather than being set apart as an institutionalized religion within a larger reality. Like contemporary science, traditional animism simply describes what is. This animist reality is not experienced as supernatural or ritualistic, or as a substitute for real (scientific) understanding. It is real understanding. This is also true of contemporary animism. It’s not a religion, per se. It’s a cultural reality.

Polytheistic Animism is a contemporary expression
 of the ancient animist cultural reality.
Traditional animism still lives on in isolated pockets, and indigenous cultures in developed nations, like those of the American Indians, also keep the flame of traditional animism alive. This traditional animism, however, belongs to other times and peoples, not to me. I practice a new animism, one that arises out of the direct, personal experiences of contemporary animists.

The new animist is a 21st century person who believes that all that exists is both material and nonmaterial (or spiritual), fully integrated and inseparable. All material being is conscious, intelligent and ensouled, each existent thing in its own way. Contemporary animists are not looking to fit into a traditional animist schema. We belong to the contemporary world. The animal totems and three-tiered worlds of traditional animism are not relevant to us. We live in a world of plastic food and digital devices, and since animism is always realistic and experiential, animist mythologies will change as material realities change.

An authentic animism is one that reflects the reality of ensouled matter in the here and now. 

We are surrounded by manufactured objects and live in a manufactured world, so our animism includes these things. We may have intimate relationships with trees, rocks, animals and other natural beings, but also with manufactured objects like cars and computers. Polytheistic Animists, like the folks in the Sacred Green Church, also have relationships with greater-than-human beings, commonly called angels or gods. We are contemporary animists who believe in the Gods of Love.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Polytheistic Animism: Our View of Sex in a Nutshell

From an animist point of view, all material being is imbued with spirit. 

Spirit, or the nonmaterial aspect of all things, includes intelligence, emotion, creativity and soul, soul being the sacred life force. Like all that exists, then, humans are material beings imbued with spirit. We are both body and soul, and as an expression of soul, our flesh-and-blood bodies are sacred. Our body’s natural acts are sacred. Sex is sacred.

From a polytheistic point of view, our Creator made our human bodies on purpose, whether through evolution or by other mysterious means, and what the Creator has made is good. He made our genitals on purpose. He gave us the sexual act on purpose. We understand these things as gifts from our Creator.

From an ordinary, scientific-rational point of view, we find that sex enables humans to easily and pleasantly procreate as well as offering us pleasure, comfort, fun, adventure, improved health and other marvelous benefits.

Finally, Polytheistic Animism supports a social structure based on kinship and a morality of loving kindness.

Putting this all together, Polytheistic Animism views sex as sacred, good, useful and righteous. Moral sex is loving and kind, not violent or hurtful, and within this moral limitation, many expressions of human sexuality are acceptable.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Time to Think

I'm awake at 5:00 am. Out of bed, exercise, do some chores, pack our lunches, take a shower, eat breakfast, read a few pages and off I go to work. Sound familiar? There's more. On my way home from work, I stop at the supermarket to pick up dinner food and the library to drop off books. I take in the trash cans, drop the groceries and start cooking, check my email, have dinner with my husband, do the dishes and collapse exhausted in front of my computer where this blog waits. Great! Time to write!

Unfortunately, by this time of day, my brain is foggy and tired, too tired to think deeply and critically. Tonight, though, I promised myself and you, gentle reader, that nothing would stop me from posting. Hell, the topic is right in front of us: we don't have time to think!

More specifically, we don't have that particular quality of time we need to think deeply and critically, and whether or not the dominators set it up this way on purpose, our lack of time to think certainly meets their needs. They prefer us to remain unthinking. They like us accepting, stupid, tired and disengaged. They want us too busy to think, because if we started thinking, deeply and critically and in large numbers, we might begin to notice the wheel on which we spin away our lives. Their wheel, the one that spins raw materials into gold.

The dominators learned their lesson about the dangers of an educated populace in the 1960s and since then, quietly but decisively, they've stolen away the quality of time we need to think.

Here's how it happened. After the Second World War, education blossomed. Children were expected to finish high school, and high school graduates went on to college in record numbers. The GI Bill swelled the ranks of university men and modern young women joined them. By the mid-60s, the boomer generation was in full bloom and these young adults were smart, educated and politically engaged. 

We were not only an educated group. We had more leisure time than ever before. In fact, there was so much more time available to the middle class that we expected a four-day work week to become typical. We developed hobbies. We traveled. We talked. We learned. We hung out. We connected.

Educated people with time to think, and too numerous to ignore, the youth of America were questioning authority, seeing new possibilities and experimenting with mind expansion and spirituality. We were poised to bring down the dominator structure and replace it with love, love, love but they caught on to us . . .

Now, we don't have time to think. Instead of questioning or getting angry about this lack of time, the vast majority of time-pressed and anxious Americans turn to the internet for guru wisdom: you just have to manage your time better, say the gurus. It's your problem, not a social problem. Prioritize. Multitask. Buy time-saving products. Bullshit!

Time to think is subversive and we have to fight for it! Turn off the television set. Let the dishes sit in the sink. Read, talk, and take time every week just to think about things. You deserve it. Your time is your birthright. Take your time back using sick days. Take it back with excuses and lies, but take some time to think deeply and critically about the world around us, before you forget how.

Check it out:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Return to the Mother!

Our Father: Spirit, Creator, Love

Our Mother: Gaia Earth

Long ago, before the beginning, Spirit fell in love with Earth and Earth with Spirit. Doing the dance of love, they conceived, and from the womb of earth we were born, children of Love and Flesh, the human kinfolk, sisters and brothers all.

Cut off from our Father Love, violence and greed grab hold of humanity and turn us against one another.

Cut off from our Mother Earth, we plunder her body until nothing is left and we starve and turn to dust.

Oh, beautiful humanity, return to the Father, return to the Mother. Come home to the garden, where you belong!