Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holy Roman Church, Batman!

Recently someone said to me that they believed that of all the churches, that the Roman Catholic Church would not have need to standardize itself in order to safeguard themselves against a downturn in religious interest.

Obviously they don't know me very well.

Seriously? The Roman Catholic Church? The very same church that took the practice of sprinkling (as opposed to immersion baptism) from the zealousness of Constantine? The very same church that promoted the Holy Roman Crusades in an effort to spread Christianity by killing off those that wouldn't convert to it? The same church that uses iconography as a religion unto itself -- what with putting The Blessed Virgin Mary up there between us poor sinners and God, instead of letting us talk to God Himself. Please, let me stop now, before I continue to go on and mention pagan rituals taken from various solstices, equinoxes, rituals and celebrations -- including Ishtar -- and before I go on a soap box rant about saints and martyrdom and the Roman Catholic Church owning more land, titles, money, and gold than any other entity on the planet. Not to mention its extensive library of works kept so closely guarded that even most priests in the church never get access to such a body of literature.

And lets not forget the selecting of the Canons, and thus the setting aside of some "biblical" works, because they weren't holy enough, or something, that resulted in the Gnostic bible. And there was that Protestant business, when an entire faction broke off, rebelled, and started a new system of worshiping God, because the Catholic way was offensive to that many people. And then there's the argument that it's really the Catholic Church at the original complaint with the whole "church and state" argument. Sure, the Catholic Church is obviously so pure an entity as to need not bother with wondering for its own survival. Surely the rest of the heathen of the earth will simply catch fire and burn up if they attempt to overthrow such a righteous institution.

If you are Catholic, dear reader, then let any offense you take to this post only anger you into researching my claims. Of course, don't ask your priest... that's not researching anything, that's being too lazy and too spoon-fed to bother to do your homework. If you're amused, as I am, as to the claim of the infallibility of the Catholic church, then laugh with me, and understand that the laughter is empty so long as people are still so undereducated as to not know our own world history.

One day we will see hot dog vendors selling high school and undergraduate degrees at sporting events. You wait and see. "Get your ice cold bachelors in world religions right here!" "How much?" "Five dollas!" "Mmm, too rich for my blood. You got a hot dog instead?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the way we were

Growing up as a child of the 80's, I am familiar with excess, luxury as commonplace, and the outdated idea that if you just put in 40 years with the same company, you can retire with a gold watch and a nice pension.

The beginning of the 20th century wasn't so spoiled as the end was.

It wasn't until the 20th century that a pension or a retirement age even existed. "In 1881, 3/4 of men in Britain over 65 were still working. It was only in 1898 that the British civil service began to enforce a retirement age*." The average life span changed dramatically in a short amount of time as well. "For a French person born in 1820... the average life expectancy was 40; in 1900 is was 47, and in 1992, 77.... The prospect of a sustained span of life in retirement also focused attention on pensions and savings. Out of this attention, government-backed pension and insurance plans came into being*."

Another fun fact is that unskilled labor is not a new issue. In short, people went where the jobs were, and before WWI, there was much demographic shifting in Europe as persons and families moved from country to country in search of work, and before immigration laws really cut out much of that movement. "Migrants tended to move into low-paid unskilled jobs, often ones which locals no longer wished to perform*." I know I remember hearing something quite similar to that about United Stated agriculture jobs....

In my relatively short lifetime, I've heard a lot of whining about not being able to find a good job, not being able to have the job security to earn a pension, not having enough life insurance, not having enough leisure time, having to work too many years to be able to retire... it seems that someone is available to whine about any and everything.

A mere one hundred years ago, pensions were virtually non-existent, insurance plans unheard of, retirement ages didn't exist -- you merely worked till you died. And on top of all of that, if you didn't save your own money, then you had no savings, simple as that.

Today, we suckle at the government teat for everything, complain it's not enough, and bitch that the government is too involved in our personal lives and wallets. Well, what is it? What it is, is that we are spoiled. We are the fatted cow, ready for the slaughter; too drunk on our own excess to notice that we haven't learned from our past, don't even know our history!, and are blindly willing to follow the best sounding politicians down whatever road they lead us. How hard is it to take charge of one's own financial responsibilities and hold no other accountable for one's own life? Hard, apparently. For all the higher education we seek, we don't bother to learn basic fundamentals of accounting -- where you spend less than you earn, and put some back into savings for a rainy day and retirement.

*James, H, 2003. Europe Reborn: a history, 1914-2000. Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, Essex. Pgs 31-35.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Returning with a Flourish

It's been a long time since I wrote here. Let me say now that it's not for a lack of things to say, rather it has been a question of focus as well as some forces beyond my control.

To that end, I'm part zombie now. More specifically, I've undergone a reconstructive surgery that put cadaver parts in me; apparently my own parts were too broken to be useful. At this moment, I'm in-between surgeries, while I await further zombie transformation into the person I've never been before. Wanna guess what I'm going to be for Halloween this year? You guessed it; I'm going as Bill Murray*.

For the last 8 months or so, I've watched the world whirl by with as much a keen eye as a blind one. There have been moments when I've wondered what we've gotten ourselves into and moments when I've known with a shudder. After some good conversation and imbibing with friends, what I really don't want to do is turn this blog into a political rant (very often, anyway). I'm at a place in my life where I can't say I believe that the 1st amendment protects the rights of any basic citizen to free speech, and my reason for coming to this conclusion is long and mostly boring. Since I'm not part of the free press and I'm not a politician, and since therefore my rights at free speech aren't really rights anymore, merely ghosts of privileges, I'm going to protect myself and keep my mouth shut instead of sporting my foot in it.

To the end that even the blogosphere is becoming an opportunity for the political monitoring of ideas and thoughts in awareness of the grass roots mindset, if not in any appreciation for it, I cry for the broken notions that once established this nation under an ideology that reminds me of Atlantis: completely missing and buried in time and under water.

Young girls in America have been raised for decades to believe in princesses and white knights -- at least for their wedding day -- and many have had those dreams smashed at the altar and other places. Me, I dream of the next Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock... of all the flawed and brilliant men brave enough to demand better than they had, and with the foresight to set up a model that was as scientifically brilliant as any experiment in that it was repeatable. What did we do with our social contract over the last 150 years to use our Constitution as metaphorical toilet paper? Even more importantly, who's figurative asses do we wipe with it now?

But I digress into a disappointment that bends towards anger. Politics is what it is, and I am no politician. Journalism is what it is, and I am no journalist. I am something (in my own mind) far better than both, because I've been bought by no man to spin any tale.

And so it is a jaded return indeed!

*An homage to Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and with a hilarious cameo appearance by Bill Murray.