Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oprah Winfrey, Jesus, And Why Do Mountains Exist?

Why DO Mountains Exist?

Oftentimes, I find myself completely out of the national consciousness loop, preferring, instead, to avoid most television for a walk out the front door, or a walk out the back door. I do admit, though, to having a couple of vices. CSI, House, and every minutiae of American Idol (I think they should extend the coverage of tryouts in Hollywood Week to about eight episodes).

So I missed the whole Evangelical/Oprah-going-to-hell thing and just happened to bump into a You-Tube clip while looking for more fornicating monkeys and drunk elephants...

Apparently, Oprah is pulling good paying housewives from the pews, and giving them some New Age Magic in its stead, and this has got the Christ movers and shakers in a tizzy.

Oprah is not only stealing money from their donation plates, she is giving these women "tools" to send themselves straight to hell. It is all very upsetting to Oprah's ratings, I've since discovered.

When I was a child, Werner Ehrhart and his Cultish EST Pay-To-Be-Program was big in our neighborhood. My friend G was sent to their teen program by his mother "They made you sit all the time without going to the bathroom and fed you peanut butter and mint sandwiches and talked and talked and talked..." His mother had gone through several of their programs, and "Got It."

G, a slightly hyper boy of ten, just got squirmy and bored.

My Pops also went through the program, and other than learning a few catch phrases for which to use on us kids as "reasons" for not letting us do something-- "It's just SO!" he would say-- it didn't alter his life all that much. He was always a lucky bastard, and that continued whether he "Got It" or not.

My Pop's mother was a Southern Baptist born and raised. She got wind of this Cult and would call my father on the phone, crying and pleading with him to get back in line, to believe in Jesus and the bible and go to church on Sundays. She was genuinely in fear of her son's soul going to hell, and we, as a non-believing family, were genuinely amused.

"Spirituality" of any kind has always both intrigued and puzzled me. Within the word is the idea of "spirit", which has forever been bantered around human cultures (almost universally). Watching something die, you get the sense that the essence of what made something "alive" had "departed" and you are led to ask "where did it go?"

"Where did it go, indeed?"

One of the fundamental characteristics of humanness, is that we like to ask questions and have them answered. In this case, the truth is not hard to understand, but is oftentimes hard to accept. Think of a bright, vibrant boy with a high IQ, musical talent, and a love for driving reckless on his bicycle. One day he is struck by a car and he suffers massive head injuries. Instead of the super kid, you are met by a blurry-eyed, barely functioning boy who requires 24 hour care and cannot develop a thought or get his motor-functions to do anything purposeful.

"Where did "he" go?"

You know the answer to this. He did not go anywhere, his brain simply got scrambled and no longer functioned metabolically accurate.

If he had partial cognitive function, would you say that the boy's spirit was "half in heaven and half in his body?" (or if he was naughty and a non-believer "halfway in hell and halfway in his body"?)

You wouldn't. (Well, not if you were at least as smart as Yogi...)

The "spirit" the boy possessed was the result of a physiological (electrical and chemical) interaction. If you damage that interaction (via drugs or illness or some physical trauma (like a bullet or a bat) you damage the "spirit" by damaging the "machine" that created the "spirit" and made it what it was.

The body creates the "spirit" in a living thing by allowing organic processes to occur (how cool is that!) and when the body is damaged or dies altogether, there is less or no more of this "spirit" because the processes no longer function. The smart musical boy doesn't travel to some other place. He disappears within the chemical and electrical impulses that he arose from.

The fear of death is the greatest human motivator for not accepting this fundamental reality. In order to be comforted in times of death, we make the choice to disregard the physical reality and opt for a softer, wish-it-were-so "spirituality".

That's fine, as long as we recognize our spirituality for what it really is-- a way to cope with reality. And since we humans can ask the hard, unanswerable questions, there really is no shame in "coping". Coping is a survival mechanism. Surviving is something to be proud of.

All that babble said, I have to say that I am both puzzled and amused at the new massive appeal for Oprah's ?new? "spiritual" movement, and especially amused by the Christian response to it.

These cycles of intellectual battles between the "spiritual" have the aura of vaudeville surrounding them. And the cause for all of this circus-like upheaval is simple- we humans demand answers to questions that we think we have a right to ask. In other words, because we can ask the question, we think we can answer it.

I'd like to ask the question "WHY DO MOUNTAINS EXISTS?" and see what response I get. I am not looking for the geological reasons for different types of mountains, but the "spiritual" reasons. The profound reasons. The reasons that come to you while you are walking beneath them on a starry starry night.Why DO mountains exist?

What is their ultimate purpose?


Mushy said...

Why are they there...maybe to make us aspire to something greater than ourselves, or to prove to us there is something even more mighty than we think we are...who knows.

I do know this crap scares me, but we see it each time someone gains more power and control over people than they should have.

I linked to this post from The Silverbacks. Let more people consider the facts.

Mushy said...

P.S. If you look for the won't be up until Saturday morning.

Cheesy said...

I think mountains are here so I can climb them .. look out over the world and remind myself just how small I am... like the ocean does.

blogless troll said...

These cycles of intellectual battles between the "spiritual" have the aura of vaudeville surrounding them.

That cuts right to the heart of it, great, accurate description.

Not sure why mountains exist, perhaps to provide a last refuge for the sane should the religious zealots ever gain total control.

Shirley said...

Wow! Oprah sure has made a lot of folks get their shorts in a big knot. I tend to agree with her so I suppose that means I'm going to suffer some sort of terrible punishment. I believe the bible was written by man a few hundred years after the fact so it can't be taken literally. It all depends on what you would like to believe it really says and means.

As for mountains, I believe they were thrust up as this planet cooled and land masses moved and they end up being a beautiful result of some accidental miracle of nature. It does't preclude any God if that's what you want to believe.

Shirley said...

By the way, I think mountains exist just because they do. They are there because that's the way it is. I just enjoy the beauty and marvel at the enormous force of nature that created them. Just the way I marvel at the waves that pound the shore a few thousand feet from where I live. It's a beautiful force of nature. For sure there are others that feel I'm going to go to Hell because of my beliefs. That's fine, I love them too.

Jeannie said...

The spiritual reason for mountains?
- to astound us with their beauty
- to challenge us to reach greater heights
- to humble us
- to keep those crazy ass Californians fenced in a bit and away from normal people

BTW - Christians do not equate the spirit or "soul" with the mind - the spirit is more the personality that uses the mind and body for its own purposes. Even if the mind is damaged, the spirit is not - at least not in the same way.

I don't exactly agree with Oprah, however, I can identify with where she's coming from. I don't believe she is going to send the population of the world to hell. Her beliefs and those of her cohorts have been around forever. Nothing new. Just new packaging. I'm not about to get my panties in a twist over it. There was a time when I might have - Christians really are so full of fear - terrified they'll be lead astray and miss out on heaven because of some theology or other. It's stupid. That's what happens when you nitpick over words instead of reading between the lines to get at the real meaning. There isn't a person on earth who "knows" the real truth.

Scott from Oregon said...

Hi jeannie- here's a question-- We all know what a "brain" is. If you see what squished out of a head, you say "eww"...

And "mind" is what the brain creates, via synaptical switching and chemicals and electrical impulses and biological stuff.

Mind is where memory and thoughts all derive, and the latest theory is that it takes much of the brain to create the personal illusion that there is a central "I" within the mind. The parts of the brain all act to create the perceptions we think of as "us".

So what then, would be "soul"?

Does soul contain mind, even though mind is generated by brain?

Or does soul exist apart from mind?

If soul exists apart from mind, does it take what mind contains (thoughts and memories) with it when it departs? If so, how can this occur without taking the brain too, when it is the brain that creates the illusion of mind to begin with, by assembling "mind" within its own assemblage of organic parts?

And if mind doesn't go with "soul" to the big party, why worry about "soul" and where it goes when one dies, because without mind, there is no feeling, memory etc... with which to either suffer (in one scenario) or rejoice?

Jean said...

I really don't think it matters at all what anyone believes. There may not be any answers to be had, after all, when our body dies.
We are. Life is now.
Purpose? I've been thinking lately that there is no good reason for humans on this planet. It would do fine... even better, without us.

Jeannie said...

Hey Scott, I can't really answer your very good questions, I'm just reiterating the party line - one of those "mysteries" that some of us accept without thought that drives you batty.

There are a lot of things that probably don't make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Such as we all want to be happy, and we're all going to die.

carol said...

that was me,by the way. How's it going? Great post.