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The Winter Garden Part 2

Such a blessing!

December 28th, 2014|Reclaim your BODY|0 Comments

Sun Of God

As I sit down to begin writing this the date is December 21st. Today is the Winter Solstice, a day truly worthy of celebration. In fact, earlier this evening I organized a Westside Freethinker Meetup group at a Winter Solstice sculpture in my city. It was beautiful. I am so grateful to have gathered with such great people to celebrate the solar systems’ cyclical ways. Needless to say we were absolutely amazed by the Sun’s glorious light display. Here are some pictures I took of the sculpture itself. It is designed to catch the setting sun on the Winter Solstice.

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Here is a picture I took of the Winter Solstice sunset this year. It was awe inspiring to say the least.

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For thousands of years the Winter Solstice has been celebrated as a holiday (holy day) of light emerging from darkness, of stellar rebirth, and of the return of the life-giving force.

It seems however that nowadays most people lack perspective of the fact that they are on a planet spinning around a star, and they don’t know what a solstice really means, or even how seasons work.

The Winter Solstice is an astronomical phenomenon caused by the Earth’s tilt on its axis, and its motion around the sun. It is this tilt of the Earth that causes the cycle of our seasons. For the last 6 months, (since the Summer Solstice), the sunrises and sunsets have been moving south along the horizon, and the days have gotten shorter as the nights have gotten longer. “Solstice” means “sun stands still”, and the Winter Solstice is when the Sun stops its apparent motion along the horizon and begins to move northward again, reversing its ebbing presence in the sky. From this day forward the days will begin to get longer, and thus the Sun is thought to be (and/or the Sun God is believed to be) reborn.

The Winter Solstice is the extreme of winter, and as the yin/yang symbol suggests, any extreme contains within it its own opposite. That is why the Winter Solstice, the day with the least amount of daylight, is actually a celebration of the Sun. At least it used to be.

In the modern traditional “holiday season” the Winter Solstice is all but forgotten, and December 21st just signifies that there are only 4 shopping days left until Christmas. The question is: how did we go from celebrating the Winter Solstice to celebrating Christmas?

In much the same way that Christian churches are often built on much older sacred sites, the Christian religion also celebrates its holidays on much older sacred days. For example, in ancient Rome December 25th was the “Dies Natali Solis Invicti”, or the “birthday of the unconquered sun”.

It was only in the 4th century that the Church (whatever the hell that is) decided to celebrate Jesus’ birthday at all. In 324 AD Pope Julius the First chose (I repeat, chose) December 25th as Jesus’ Birthday in an effort to “conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of nominal adherents to Christianity”. And just like that, a Roman festival of light (based on much more ancient solar celebrations) was coopted and Christianized.

I must say that I was surprised to find out that for the first 300 years of Christianity Christians didn’t even bother to celebrate the birth of their messiah. (Instead they focused on his brutal death, which says a lot about Christianity). Perhaps the reason they did not celebrate Jesus’ birthday for all those years is because they had no idea when it occurred. That’s right, the actual date of Christ’s supposed birth is lost in history. (Its not like they couldn’t have written it down back then when it happened. You’d think that someone would have marked the date on their calendar. If the Son of God was just born to a virgin you’d think someone would want to remember the date. But I digress…)

There are many other examples of how today’s holiday season is based on much older “pagan” holidays. Suffice it to say that Christians have turned the Winter Solstice into “Christ’s-mass”, and the day the Sun (or Sun God) is reborn has become the birthday of the so-called Son of God.

But that is just the history of the date Christmas occurs. What does Christmas really mean and who is responsible for it?

Christmas, we are told, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, (the son of Mary and Joseph Christ of the Nazareth Christs), but let’s go back a step further. Who is responsible for the birth of Christ?

According to the legend, Jesus’ birth sure wasn’t Joseph’s idea. His wife tells him that she just got pregnant with God’s baby and he buys it. What a schmuck!

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Mary’s idea either. We are told that Yahweh, the god of the Old Testament, planted his seed in her without having sex, (thus keeping Mary’s vagina immaculate), but have you noticed that no one ever really talks about whether or not God and Mary had a relationship before she got pregnant? I mean, were they dating? Did Mary even know God? Or did God just find a married virgin and impregnate her out of the blue one night? Was the Immaculate Conception actually an immaculate rape? I mean, Yahweh is not exactly known for his people skills. I can’t imagine him being a particularly romantic or gentle lover.

Regardless, whom else could we really consider responsible for Jesus’ birth but his father himself? But what was his motivation for creating Christ in the first place? Perhaps knowing the reason Jesus supposedly existed will shed some light on the situation. So what was the purpose for Jesus (if he existed at all)?

Jesus was born to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. He was sent by God (his father) on a suicide mission to redeem the world by being crucified. He came down, did some preaching, and performed some magic tricks, but really he came here to be martyred. He was born to die “for you and for all, that sins might be forgiven”. Put simply, Jesus was a scapegoat. He was created to be capitally punished for crimes he did not commit. He was born to be killed.

So the next time you walk by a nativity scene, or see a picture of that cute and precious baby Jesus, I want you to remember that perfect and holy child of God was born for the sole purpose of being brutally tortured to death to redeem humanity from the Original Sin that his real father created everyone with in the first place. The reason for the birth of Jesus is the death of Jesus. The reason for the nativity is the crucifixion. The purpose of Christmas is Easter. Chew on that.

(And by the way, doesn’t it seem like they are keeping it in the family a bit too much? How is it that the only person who can get us out of the spiritual trouble we are supposedly in is the son of the guy who got us in this trouble in the first place? It sounds like a scam. Its called “getting them coming and going”. It’s like Halliburton being awarded contracts to rebuild all of the shit Cheney blew up in the wars he started. It’s a total conflict of sinterests.)

I know I just said it but it bears repeating, Jesus was born in order to die for the Original Sin his father created humanity with in the first place. That shit is just twisted. What kind of parent would do something like that? Who would worship a God like that?

And so, in our search for Christmas’ cause we have ended up once again with Yahweh, the old bearded white man in the sky who judges everyone. He is responsible for the birth of Christ and therefore for Christmas.

But wait, there’s more to the story because on Christmas we just so happen to celebrate another old bearded white man in the sky who sees everything that you do, and decides if you are good or bad. I am speaking of course about Satan Claws. Sorry, I mean Santa Claus.

Even the most precursory of investigations reveal that Santa, (like Jesus), is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He is a conglomeration of various characters and embodies many ancient gods, Odin in particular. Odin is the Norse All-Father who has a white beard and rides through the sky on a flying eight-legged horse, leaving gifts beneath an evergreen tree during mid-winter celebrations of the Yule Log. Sound familiar?

Lets take a brief look at the history of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas was born in Greece in the year 280. He became Bishop of Myra, a small Roman town in modern Turkey. He died on December 6th of an unknown year in the 4th century, and that day was to become St. Nicholas Day. For several hundred years, St. Nicholas was known as “ a friend to children”, “the bringer of gifts” and was the toast of celebrations centered around his day, December 6. (not December 24th/25th)

Then, during the early decades of the 19th century all that changed when a series of poets, writers and artists strove to revive and remake St. Nick. In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote “The Night Before Christmas”. The next year it went viral. To this day the plump and jolly Santa described therein rides a sleigh driven by eight flying reindeer. In the late 19th and early 20th century, thanks to several cartoonists and ad campaigns the image of Santa became standardized as a plus-sized adult, dressed in red with white fur trim, etc. And just like that, a cultural icon was born.

These days for the most part Santa Claus is just a seasonal spokesman selling crap in a capitalist/consumerist Saturnalia. He is just a mascot for corporations to use in order to tug the heartstrings of their sentimental customers. Santa has become a shill, a marketing ploy to boost year-end sales. But above all, Santa Claus has become a lie.

Lets face it; culturally we lie to our children. Most parents feel that it is acceptable to lie to their kids every winter about how there is a guy with magical powers of flight who lives at the North Pole with a bunch of elves. He knows who has been naughty or nice, and he sneaks into houses to give gifts to the good kids on what just happens to be Jesus’ birthday.

What else do we know about this Santa character? Well, lets take a look at all of the verses in the song Santa Claus is coming to town, (nearly all of which sound like direct threats).

“You better not pout. You better not cry. You better watch out. I’m telling you why. He’s making a list and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.” That’s pretty messed up.

Can’t we just teach children to be nice without all the lies and bullshit? Can’t they just be “good for goodness sake” instead of being good so someone will buy them stuff? Why does not being an asshole have to involve the promise of presents? Are candy, and gifts, and coercion, and lies about threats from magical sky-daddies the only things keeping society from descending into anarchy, mayhem and madness? I refuse to believe that. There has to be a better way.

I know that there are good parents out there during the holidays just trying to give their children a beautiful experience because they love them. And I know this whole article might just seem to some like a cruel critique of Christmas. For the record, I’m all for friends and family, and food, and generosity, and good will towards man, and peace on Earth, etc. I just can’t help feeling that by sanctifying Santa Claus we as a culture are saying that it is not only OK for kids to believe such nonsense; it is OK for parents to lie to their kids about such nonsense in order to control their behavior.

What else could possibly be the point of such an overtly manipulative and dishonest ritual? Perhaps it is to covertly lay the foundation for the big lie we tell our children, the one about the other old man in the sky who watches everything they do and judges them. That’s right, our old pal Yahweh (and by proxy, Jesus).

It never ceases to astound me when Christians tell me they don’t believe in Santa Claus because Santa is just a story for kids. They fail to see the analogy between Santa Claus and Yahweh/Jesus. They are utterly Christmissing the point. They have yet to see that they still believe in “SuperSanta”. They don’t realize that they are still trying to get their spiritual stocking stuffed. (They are getting their spiritual something stuffed, but it sure isn’t their stocking)

I started making these shirts to help people see. (I will be selling them on this website soon)

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Too rarely do people stop to question traditions. If they did they might realize that truly traditions are what we make of them. As we have seen, holidays and the things they celebrate morph and transform throughout the ages to become what we want them to be. The whole point of this historical look at the changing character of holidays and the changing characters they celebrate is that we are the ones who give meaning to these things! Christmas is no more special than any other day. Its only significance is the meaning we give it.

So ultimately, humanity is responsible for Christmas, but only God is responsible for the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice actually means something. It is a real and significant event you can count on. You can set your watch (or your calendar) by it, and you can build monuments to it. In fact, somewhere around 2600 BC Stonehenge was aligned to the Winter Solstice sunset, and here’s the really amazing thing, it still is!

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Hundreds if not thousands of religions, gods and holidays have come and gone since Stonehenge was built, but still the alignment to the Winter Solstice remains true. It’s F’ing ineffable! It shows something incredibly important to those with eyes that see clearly. The universe is the universe no matter what we believe. Different cultures have come up with different names for the same thing and then spent history killing each other about it. What humanity must realize (or remember) is that the cyclical physical reality of the stellar stage upon which this drama unfolds remains unchanging, and is therefore divine.

The so-called pagan (aka non-Yahweh worshiping) sun worshipers in pre-history knew that the cycles of the solar system are cause for celebration. They understood that expressing awareness of where we are is why we’re here. However, in modern times we as a culture live spitefully out of sync with the rhythms of the universe, and so its no surprise that instead of being about the wonders of nature and the source of life, our holidays are about shopping.

Jesus’ supposed birthday and Santa’s supposed workday are total fabrications used to usurp the true holy day, the birthday of the Sun! The Winter Solstice is a real event that happens every year. It’s how the universe works. It is an integral part of our lives and survival. Nothing is as fundamental to our physical and mental wellbeing as the Sun.

Moreover, there is no greater metaphor for God than the Sun. There is no object more worthy of worship and wonder. So take some time today to give thanks to the brilliant life-force that graces us with warmth and light. Take a moment to appreciate the Sun’s embrace on your face. Raise your eyes to the sky and praise its rays, for they shine upon every earthling equally, uniting us all.

And now I bid a merry solstice to all, and to all a good longest night of the year.

December 25th, 2014|Liberate your SOUL|3 Comments

Kill a tree for Christ

Well, its that time of year again. Christmas is a around the corner so tradition dictates that in order to celebrate the birth of Jesus people should cut down tree, crucify it in their living room, decorate it, give each other gifts beneath it, and then throw it in the trash.

This disgracefully wasteful religious sacrifice infuriated me year after year. Then in January 2010 I decided to ride my bike up and down the alleys of my city taking pictures of this forrest of discarded trees. After two months I had taken hundreds of pictures of these “crime scenes” and I published them in a book called Kill a Tree for Christ. Below are some images from that book.

Every year this despicable ritual breaks my heart. Finally I decided to make it art, so that somehow someone might speak for these trees.

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December 18th, 2014|Liberate your SOUL|0 Comments

I know it’s bad when…

I know it’s bad when I find myself agreeing with the Ayatollah Khamenei’s latest tweet.

What did he say?

Well, first let me put it all in context. The Senate recently released their Torture Report on the CIA’s untoward activities in The War Against Terror (T.W.A.T. in case you hadn’t noticed).

The CIA is in trouble for their “enhanced interrogation techniques”, aka torture. These euphemisms (or “fuck youphemisms” as I call them), just continue to rage out of control. George Carlin’s bit about euphemisms grows truer every day. In his classic bit he spoke about going from shell shock to “post-traumatic stress disorder”, and he even mentioned how the CIA doesn’t kill people, they “neutralize” them. He said it’s getting worse with every generation and he continues to be right. There is less and less honestly direct language anymore, yet there is more and more blatant misdirection and dilution of definition. All the humanity has been removed from communication, and now meaning is being disguised by soft, lifeless, grotesque evasions of truth. Instead of prisoners we have “detainees”, instead of rebels we have “insurgents”. I believe that if George were alive today and he heard torture referred to as enhanced interrogation techniques he would “engage in an involuntary personal protein spill”, aka vomit.

Besides, everybody knows that they were torturing people. What were they going to do? Ask them nicely? Infect them with the Miley Cyrus virus by playing her songs at them over and over again until they spilled their guts? No, I’m afraid its much more nasty, and cruel and bloody than that. It’s some viciously sinister military grade pain generation, and spirit breaking. Shit too grim for me to contemplate and elucidate, (but at the same time shit that I’m sure people would pay money to sit in a movie theatre and watch). I heard the worst of the techniques that were revealed was hypothermia, and the most unusual technique was giving someone a hummus enema. Apparently, “detainee Majid Klian’s lunch tray, made up of hummus, pasta with sauce, raisins and nuts, was pureed and rectally infused.” But you just know the things they were doing were waaaayyy worse than that. I shudder to think how bad it really was. Hypothermia and butt-humus must be awful ways to go, but I dare say many people have died worse deaths care of the CIA. And lets not forget that the really horrifying stuff they outsource to other countries. This torture by proxy goes by the pleasant sounding name of “extraordinary rendition”, which seems more like a compliment at a karaoke bar than a sadistic nightmare.

We can’t get our hands too dirty, because we’ve got a reputation to protect. We are America for Christ’s sake! Even though the people of this Christian nation are crucifixated on Jesus being tortured to death in order to save their souls, they don’t condone torturing people. That would be bad, and evil, and wrong, but on the other hand flat-out killing someone is morally acceptable though. If these prisoners had the decency to die when they were supposed to none of this would be an issue. If the CIA sends a drone to blow-up a wedding and kills innocent people aka “non-combatants” who just happened to be there, well they’re just “collateral damage” in TWAT, but if they get captured then all of the sudden we’re supposed to treat them like human beings.

Anyways, so here we are with the Senate Torture Report in the international news, and then yesterday the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted this:

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The Ayatollah called the US government a symbol of tyranny against humanity. Can there be greater truth and hypocrisy? (Or is it irony? Or both?) Either way, I have to say I agree with him. He called the United States out on their bullshit, which is pretty badass (if you ignore the fact that the only thing separating this spiritually retarded and sickeningly sexist tyrant from a caveman is the fact that he knows someone who knows how to tweet), but still that tweet could have come from me.

Speaking of hypocrisy, #torturereport from the Ayatollah? Are you kidding me? He’s probably got his men going to town on some infidels right now. He even hasghtagged Furgeson! The leader of a country that has police who will arrest you for being gay has something to say about our totalitarian regime’s racist lackeys. Seriously?! The ruler of a country where being gay is punishable by death tweeted #humanrightsday on Human Rights Day. Unbelieveable, and yet I can’t help but agree with his tweets. Wow. Just wow.

But there’s more. He also tweeted, “They claim human rights and trample its basics in their prisons, in interactions with nations, and even with their own people.” He said the brutality of our “corrupt capitalist regime isn’t only limited to Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, but also shows no mercy to its own people”. I couldn’t agree more.

In another tweet he said, “The destruction of the environment is an outcome of arrogance. The well-off minority led the world into pollution, disease, and death.” Preach brother!

He also said, “US government has debased & misguided their people who aren’t aware of many realities”. That’s practically my mission statement.

And if that’s not enough he also wrote, “Look at how humanity is being treated by dominant powers with flashy propaganda and in the name of human rights, democracy and freedom”. That’s the real deal. That’s some heavy-duty rebellious truth. That’s some Bill Hicks kind of shit right there. And it came from a tweet from the Ayatollah.

What a world.

 

 

If crime fighters fight crime, and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?

-George Carlin

December 11th, 2014|Clarify your MIND|1 Comment

Craptism

Over the last 15 months two couples I know have been blessed with beautiful baby daughters.

Both sets of parents are not religious, and yet both of them allowed their babies to be baptized because the new grandparents wanted them to.

It’s like Christmas in reverse. My friends don’t have the heart to tell their parents that Jesus isn’t real, so they just play along, and baptize their kid as a way of leaving presents from Santa under their parent’s Christianity tree.

I know my friends just wanted their parents to be happy, and I can respect that. They didn’t really want to baptize their babies, but nonetheless they conceded to their parent’s delusion that there is something intrinsically wrong with their baby. Sadly, it was easier for them to just allow their parents to tinker with their baby’s eternal soul than to stand up to their parents and say that this nonsense, this mind-virus ends here.

But what exactly is the mind-virus baptism transmits?

The underlying theme of baptism is that there is something inherently wrong with newborn babies, which only this ritual can fix. What exactly is it that’s wrong with these babies, you ask? They were born sinners. No big deal. It’s just that God totally fucked up when he created humanity, and made us all start out evil.

The assumption is that these miraculously perfect and beautiful babies were born with “Original Sin”, and unless they get baptized they will be forced to spend eternity in Limbo or worse.

Psalm 51:5 states: “Surely I was sinful at birth,
 sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” What a sick and twisted way to view the creation of a human being. If a newborn baby is a sinner then what does that say about the world we live in? And more importantly, what kind of God makes babies born sinners in the first place?

There is nothing more innocent than a baby, and yet millions of people really believe that not only is their baby born a sinner, but that their baby is guilty for the sins Jesus supposedly died for, and conveniently coincidentally, only Jesus’ blood can cleanse their baby’s sinful soul.

The Bible says things like, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that disbelieves shall be condemned, because unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. So repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Blah blah blah.

But what exactly does baptism mean? What is it?

Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is also the identification or union of the believer with him in those events. Baptism is a ritualistic drowning and rebirth into the life of a Christian. Baptism is God’s terms of surrender, and is always accompanied by repentance. Baptism is an induction to the faith, and is a symbol that you have accepted Christ’s gospel. Baptism is when you exchange your life for Christ’s, and start living your life for Jesus. Baptism is a Christening.

All of these are fine reasons to go for a swim if you’re a consenting adult, and you’re into that sort of thing. Who am I to say what stories you should or shouldn’t believe? (Just as long as you don’t tell me that I have to believe them too)

There are adults that get “born again” into Christianity all the time. They think somehow it will absolve them from anything bad they have done, and they want to use Jesus Christ as a scapegoat for their wrongdoings. To me, this is a backwards and cowardly step for a human soul to take; however if an adult chooses of their own volition to do such a silly and irresponsible thing, then so be it.

What I am not cool with is the fact that when parents are making eternal bargains with Yahweh regarding their baby’s soul, they are doing it entirely without the baby’s consent.

In this way, infant baptism is like spiritual circumcision. Infant baptism is called paedobaptism, and paedobaptists actually believe that baptism is a counterpart to Old Testament circumcision.

My friend’s babies never had a choice but to be inducted into the cult of Christ. If you give them a choice when they are 13 years old, or even better when they turn 18, and they say, “Yes. Please baptize me”, then good for you! You’ve got one more member in your Jesus Christ fan club.

But in reality, the reason this religious nonsense is implanted when the child is too young to know it has a choice in the matter is because the Church knows children are innocently ignorant enough to believe it.

Seriously, one of the worst sins I can think of is to lay the concept of Original Sin on a newborn baby. To tell a toddler that they are responsible for the torture and murder of God’s only son is a disgustingly disturbing form of child abuse. (It’s not as bad as sending your only son to get crucified for the Original Sin you created humans with in the first place, but it’s still child abuse). The ritual of baptism is just like smothering babies in dead people’s baggage. It’s like covering their souls in bullshit. A baptism really is a craptism.

I just can’t imagine the self-hate it takes to believe that a baby is spiritually broken from the moment it is born, and from it’s first breath is in desperate need of fixing, (or rather crucifixing).

What a scam! What a racket! What a great business model for the church! Convince everyone that they are born destined for hell, and that you are the only ones who can save them. Tell everyone that God made a huge mistake by trusting Adam and Eve not to eat a particular fruit, and as a result Sky Daddy has decided to take it out on the rest of us, so now everyone is born into this world a sinner. But don’t worry; the church is here to rescue your baby. They are here on behalf of God to save your baby’s soul from the curse God put on it. Don’t worry, the church will tell you what to believe…

From then on it is just secondhand God. It’s just someone else telling you their interpretation of what they read in a book that someone else wrote thousands of years ago about some things someone else said he heard God said you should or shouldn’t do if you want to stay out of hell.

Yes, water is a beautiful thing. Yes, celebrating a newborn soul is a beautiful thing. So why not forget about all that Jesus stuff and have a ritual that celebrates the newborn baby in conjunction with the water itself? Let the elements of Water and Soul be united in the simultaneous appreciation of both. What could be better than to celebrate a life that has been given while celebrating the giver of life? Let’s grok the water of life like Michael Valentine Smith in Robert Heinlein’s masterwork A Stranger In a Strange Land. In sharing water we are reminded of our commonality, and therefore grow closer.

I could get behind something like that.

 

December 1st, 2014|Liberate your SOUL|1 Comment

The Winter Garden

As the seasons continue to turn the garden slowly changes. It has been a particularly HOT winter so far, and much of my winter veggies are a little behind schedule. But we finally got some rain today! THANK GOD!!!

December 1st, 2014|Reclaim your BODY|1 Comment