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Worship and Idealization Of Heroes

November 20, 2007

Heroes, idols, ideals, God, Gods… When I woke up today, I laid in bed for some time, thinking about what it means to ‘worship’ something.

I thought about how I used to find it so stupid that people would “worship” some rock carved into a weird looking statue, and more lately, why people worship an abstract God they’ve never had any communication from.  And they’re all so vehement about their beliefs.  It’s life and death – their everything!

But why?  It’s so weird when you think about it.  I was at church last Sunday, and my father (the pastor) was asking everyone to stand up and say a short something as to what they’re thankful for (as Thanksgiving is coming up right around the corner).

Some stood up and were thankful for their families, wives or husbands, their job, friends, military men fighting overseas for our freedom, their home, etc.  I found all these things quite rational to be thankful for.  When it was my turn to stand up, I said I was thankful for peace of mind, because money can’t buy that, and I find it very precious.  I don’t have perfect peace, but I can honestly say I’ve been getting closer to it over the past years.

What interested me though is what some of the other members said they were thankful for.  They stood up and would say things like, “I’m so thankful for what Jesus did for us!  I just can’t believe someone would die for me, and our sins.  It’s just… awesome.”  Considering I’m at church, this is to be expected, but at the same time, I wonder what that even means sometimes.

I hate going over this, but let’s take a short stroll through the story: God is the creator of everything, including sin itself.  He makes up a system, knowing we’ll all fail.  Then says that anyone who fails in his made up system, he’ll throw into eternal torment in hell.  But fortunately for us, anyone who will call on him to ‘save them’ will be saved from eternal damnation, due to his death on the cross, which saves us from our sins.  So God makes up a system, completely arbitrarily, to where he has to come down to Earth, commit suicide, in order to forgive us?  Why couldn’t he just forgive us, and not bother with all the rest?  Seems like a lot of extra headache and unneccessary brutality.  “It was Jesus’ perfect obedience that is so beautiful.” — So does that make the Father the one who’s a bit deranged?  (Actually, thanks to Joseph Campbell, I’ve come to learn this is all symbolism which means different things entirely, but we’ll leave that for another entry.)

The man who was thankful for Jesus’ death on the cross got teary eyed when he spoke of what Jesus did for all of us.  It’s strange to me that this is such an emotional issue.

I have no idea how such a thing could be moving to anyone or anybody.  I guess I’m not moved, basically because the Christian God (Jehovah, Jesus) seems like a neurotic to me.  “No forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood!”  To me, it reminds me of being a small child, and your parents are crazy, but you’re too young and too weak to do anything about it.  You’re stuck in this crazy home until you can find a way out.

If your conception of ‘sin’ is that which causes bad effects on people, then we have this situation:  Jesus gives us free will, then plops us in a room full of doors.  Some doors are “sin”, and some are “virtue”, and fortunate for us, they’re all left unmarked.  So the young child, completely stupid, opens his first door.  It’s a door of virtue!  Welcome to the next room full of doors.  The process goes on, and we’re in another room full of doors.  Eventually the kid chooses a “wrong” door, and in comes the loving Father, ready to torch the kid with hell’s flames if he forgets to say some prayer for forgiveness.

If you believe a person can’t sin unless they knowingly do something wrong, and believe all the doors are marked ‘sin’ and ‘virtue’ (we all know right from wrong natively in our minds), then we come to these same rooms of doors.  Sure they’re marked, but there’s a masked murderer with a chainsaw chasing us away from the good doors, and we’re running in a panic.  Most of us don’t want to do ‘wrong’, but anger, sexual tension, and other passions consume us at times and we end up screwing up.  It was so nice of the loving Father to give us a body which craves everything that is wrong, and has to struggle so hard to do what’s right.  Throw in studies of psychoanalysis, and you start hearing about the “dark forces” which reside within us, and how even innocent childhood fears can end up causing anxieties in our adult lives.

Once you study depth pscyhology, you learn that if a person becomes neurotic enough, they can’t even tell what’s going on anymore.  They have so many repressions filtering their thoughts they become insane.  Maybe the doors were marked initially, but they had some terrible events happen, which forced them through so many sin doors they seem to have become lost in a labyrinth.  In fact, as they’ve found themselves deeper and deeper in depravity, the rooms get darker and darker, but the demons and horrors are still in each and every room.  Eventually they can’t even see anymore.  Everything’s so dark they can’t tell right from wrong, up from down, left from right.  They don’t even know where they are.  They only know they’re in a lot of pain.

We’re naturally born stupid, desiring everything that is wrong, and full of all kinds of dark forces to magnify the consequences of our mistakes.  How thoughtful!  Most of us eventually give in to a “sin” door not because we want to per se, but we’re hoping it’s a closet to get us out of the madness.  Unfortunately there are no closets in this maze.

When I look at most people, even ‘sinners’, I sit back in admiration.  Most people are really trying, even when all the odds are stacked against them.  I can’t say this for all people, but I can for most.  But, naturally, as we’re given such a difficult task (pretty much impossible task) to remain sinless, you can rest assured that all of us will fail.  Known sin, or unknown sin, you’ll indulge in both of them as soon as your mind is developed enough to comprehend.

Now we find the Old Testament Jehovah.  What does he want to recompense our sins?  “I’m mad at all you guys, you better sacrifice some animals right now!”  That really makes a lot of sense.  You cheat on your wife, therefore take it out on an innocent cow, by killing it?  But, as Christians love to tell us, “the blood of bulls and goats wasn’t enough.  It only masked our sin, like a thin blanket covering a pile of manure!  God still smells the stench, and knows you’re full of vile nastiness. The killing of animals was only a precursory look into the marvelous work Jesus was planning on the cross!”

If you’re seriously trying to justify that, you’ve lost all sense of reasoning.  You can say you believe it all in blind faith, and I suppose I’ll concede that you’re so scared of hell’s flames that you’re going along with it all, but to say you’re in it because it’s such a beautiful system, you have some awful sadistic views toward the beautiful and sublime.  The things people value in this world are so strange to me.

I go to church on Sundays, and see the crowd during “worship”, and they’re all under mass delusion.  I’m sitting there, in the back, watching people lift their hands, praising Jesus for all he’s done.  This form of worship is just focusing on their own minds, and whatever they believe to be ideal.  Like a mass hallucination, they believe all kinds of stuff is happening in this spiritual realm, but to me sitting in the back, just watching observantly, it’s insanity, literally.

One man came up to me and said how God revealed something to him during worship.  Some deep revelation that he wanted to share with me, a fellow Christian.  I asked him what God revealed to him.  I was very interested to hear what he thought God said to him during the worship service.  He went on and on with some doctrine completely contrary to what the Bible teaches.  I’ve read the Bible cover to cover many many times, and have read many many theological texts of every kind.  I’ve heard many interpretations of scripture, but this guy was so out there, he was just in the ether.

He said something like the greatest thing a man can do is sing worship music to God.  God requires praise, that’s what man was created for.  In fact, God loves praise so much that we’re going to be judged on how much we praise him during this life.  I asked, “And what is praise?”  He went on about having a “personal relationship” with Jesus, and “moving God’s heart” and other nonsense.  He went on and on.  I listened, smiled, and nodded.  But I wasn’t smiling because I was being revealed anything special, I was smiling because I knew exactly what was going on.

Freud teaches much about daydreaming and dreaming, which are very similar in nature.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken, this was his favorite subject.  This man I was talking to wishes to be a praise and worship leader.  He is a talented musician, and is obsessed with “worship”.  He loves to play music more than anything.  Now when these people are “worshipping”, in a world completely immersed in their own minds, they enter into daydreaming, and as Freud shows quite conclusively, daydreams are rooted in wish-fulfillment.  Is it any wonder why his mind created a doctrine, idolizing himself as the ideal man, and tells him that he’ll be greatly rewarded in heaven, in fact be the elite in the heavenly crowds, and all he has to do is play his instrument (which he loves to do) and sing songs (which he also loves to do)?  How convenient.

Doesn’t ask anything out him, and doesn’t require any change on his part.  How nice.  But, as any of us who have actually read the Bible know, at the final judgement, the Bible teaches that each man will be judged by his works.  Every deed we did, and how we treated other people will be examined, and good deeds rewarded, and bad deeds will be “burned away”.  If you are not forgiven for your bad deeds, there is a debt you owe, and you cannot pay, and you are cast away into a place where there is, “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  There is no talk of being judged on anything related to “worship”.

This case, and several others, have proved to me without doubt that all this “worship” business, and thinking God talks to you during prayer is nothing but daydreaming, a way to neurotically lose yourself in your own mind.  God is not talking to them.  It is their own unconscious minds creating artificial balms to calm their troubled souls.

Praise Jesus, praise him, praise him, praise him!

Most of them struggle day to day, and are not happy where they are in life.  They praise Jesus, that he’s going to bless them and help them come to a place of prosperity and goodness, but it never seems to happen.  I can remember when I was a child, seeing these same people in church praising God that he’s going to bless them, and some of them are worse off now than they were way back then.

They thank Jesus when they’re hired on a new job, and don’t even think to thank the proprietor. God’s the one who brought this opportunity to them!  “God blessed me with a new job!”  Did he?  Maybe, maybe not.  Whether God was involved is dubious at best, shouldn’t you say, “I’d like to thank Mr. or Mrs. so and so, for giving me the opportunity to work in their business”?

They continually cheer themselves on, saying God will reward the faithful.  If they’re not rewarded in this life, they’ll surely be rewarded in the next life.

Now that I’m not under that trance, I just sit back in awe, and wonder what’s even going on.  What does it mean to be ‘faithful’ to Jesus? —  Is it about singing songs during church?  Is it about lifting your hands during worship?  Is it about praying frequently?   You’ll notice that all of these things just distract them away from the real issues.

If it’s about living right, and being moral, then many ‘sinners’ are being much more faithful to Jesus than their Christian counter-parts.

Sometimes I consider myself a ‘humanitarian’, but am I also serving Jesus?  I’ve said the prayer during church.  I’ve “asked Jesus into my heart.”  What happened?  Well, nothing happened.  They talk about changing your ways, and becoming a new creature, but I’ve seen people do that who have not said the prayer.  I ask God to forgive me when I sin, and I forgive others.  I follow the moral codes written in the Bible.  Is that it?  Is that following Jesus?  Is that what it means to be ‘faithful’ to Jesus?

If so, then the only distinction between between a Buddhist monk, many secular philosophers, and a great deal of liberal professors of universities is this prayer asking Jesus into your heart and to forgive you of your sins.  A prayer which takes less than 30 seconds to say.  If that’s the only worthwhile distinction between these groups, I seriously wonder about it all.

If I’m not mistaken, Bertrand Russell had said the saving prayer in his youth, but later became an “athiest”.  His morals were basically the same as a Christian’s, besides sex before marriage, but he advocated that you shouldn’t have sex with people you don’t love, and isn’t this the reason Christians say to marry before having sex anyways?

It’s hard to be faithful to Jesus when we don’t even know what that means, but to answer the question as to whether you’ll “prosper” if you’re “faithful” to Jesus, this basically comes down to whether or not they follow the laws of how money is made.  What are those laws?

Money is made by serving others.  You find a way to provide some value into the life of some other person.  That may be making their lives easier, saving them money and or time, or overall making life more enjoyable.  You improve their quality of life in some way, and you’re rewarded by them giving you some of their money.  (Ex: You save their company $10,000 per year, and they pass on $3,000 per year to you, and they get an extra $7,000 per year in profit).

Excusing corruption (such as banking and other financial institutional corruption), most people don’t make any serious money in this life without finding some way to help and or provide value to other people who are in need.  Prosperity doesn’t come by accident.  Most entreprenurs work their rear ends off, night and day, to provide value to their customers.  People who have high paying jobs provide a lot of value to their customers, clients, and patients.  That’s why they’re prospering materially.  They give the farmer a new tractor, and the farmer shares a little of the crops.

How does singing songs, winning souls for Jesus, or praying help anyone?  It doesn’t.  It doesn’t even help the people who do it.  It’s just a waste of everyone’s time.

Singing songs may help a person emotionally if the lyrics are inspirational I suppose (from what I see, it’s the opposite, and is mostly escapism).  Winning souls for Jesus is nice for the eternal realm (if it’s true), but doesn’t do much for us while we’re living right now.  As for praying, what I mostly see in prayer is people praying for God to fix their problems, and their nations problems, instead of them doing it themselves.  They find themselves in the maze full of unmarked doors, and are tired of ending up in rooms which cause them pain.  They’re driven into hoping God will raise up someone to do the work they’re too tired to do, or at least lead them through the maze.  I don’t blame them really, but I will say it doesn’t help.

I hate prayer.  I get so tired of it.  Philosophers, intellectuals, and other political workers relentlessly pounding away at the evil forces in this world, trying to change things.  They work so hard to make a difference, and then all the religious crowd give God all the credit when things change.  It’s just flat out wrong.  It’s the exact opposite of thankfulness.  Thankfulness is understanding why something is the way it is, and how it got to that state, and how it has been, and how it could be worse.

Thanking God for fixing our problems reminds me of what I witnessed one time in the church parking lot.  A child asked his mother why the rocks shined.  The mother replied, “God made it that way.”  What a wonderful catch-all phrase to explain whatever it is you don’t understand.  Needless to say, it didn’t help the child.  Thanking God for changes you don’t understand doesn’t help anyone either.  It’s just an excuse not to have to look into the actual reasons things changed.  It’s easier just to thank God – “Thank you Jesus” – memorize those three words and you’ve mastered thankfulness.

Prayer is so cheap and tawdry.  All it leads to is the abstract beings in the heavens getting credit for things they likely weren’t involved in, or leading to fears of things people don’t understand (praying God ward off the hurricane, or stop the plague).

It’s a lot easier to “witness” to someone on the street, handing them some cheap, crappy Bible with the New Testament, written in text that’s so small you could never seriously read it, than it is to kneel down and actually help that person succeed in life.

It’s a lot easier to sit in your room and pray for people than it is to study psychology and help them understand their emotions.  It’s lot easier to sing worship songs, than to actually get out there clean trash off the streets.

I spoke of God as a catch-all phrase just a moment ago.  To the Christian man who testified as to all God had done for him, God is a catch-all phrase for all the good things that happen in his life, and the devil the reason for his every pain and failure.  (I know this for a fact, as I heard him once request prayer and said, ‘The Devil has been attacking me all this week!’) Naturally he gets emotional when he talks about Jesus, because the word ‘Jesus’ is linked to every good thing in his mind, and is the believed causal principle, the very reason he thinks he has those good things.

That should suffice to explain what it’s like to worship the God you can’t see, but how is this different than worshipping the God that you can see?  The carved rock, the bronze image, the golden cow?  Well, that leads us to another discussion, but with interesting conclusions.

If you believe the golden cow, the bronze image, or the carved rock bestows spirtual blessings (or cursings) on you, and manipulates reality in an invisible, intangible way based on what mood he/she/it is in, then you’re in the exact same position as the worshipper of the abstract God in their minds.  There’s literally no difference.

The rock is a rock.  The bronze statue is a bronze statue.  The gold cow is a gold cow.  All the rest of it is mental.  They make the religion real.

Whatever you believe pleases or angers the bronze cow, you’ll modify your actions accordingly.  If it wants sacrifices, it gets sacrifices.  If it wants you to sing praise and worship music to it, it’ll get praise and worship music.  Once again, an entire imaginary delusive world is created within the worshipper, and the same discussion we just had applies equally.

If a new group of worshippers took the Bible as their text, and changed a few verses and said the golden statue is Jehovah, then we’d have the same church services going on, in the same manner.  Worshipping the unseen God, or the bronze image, there’s no difference.  It’s the exact same thing.

I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell’s book, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” here lately.  It’s a very wonderful book, which has given me a lot of insight into things.

I learned that in many religions of the East, to “worship” their statues and idols means something entirely different than the kind of “worship” I’m accustomed to seeing at Christian church services.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with singing songs, “praising”, or bowing down prostrate. The statues are a symbol to look upon, and each component stands for something.  The lightning bolt being held, the hat on the head, the look on the god’s face, etc., all have spiritual symbolic meanings, to instruct the person in various life lessons.

The statue is kind of like a checklist.  They meditate near the statue because they systematically look over the statue with their eyes, and it reminds them of what things they need to be thinking about.

To “worship” the statue means simply to respect what the statue represents.  It’s not much different than when a nation’s flag is raised and people put their hands on their hearts, and sing a song.

I was reading that some (possibly all, I’m not sure) Buddhists teach that their gods are meant to be transcended, once you understand what they represent.  They’re looked upon as symbols which represent life lessons.  They are guides, to lead you to understanding yourself, and the weird inner conflicts within you.  They’re a symbolic representation of the road-map to lead you through that maze, and prepare you for the beasts and demons you’re to encounters deep within your own soul.

The more I study, the more I find that everything I used to think was “how things work” was entirely false.  Nobody was worshipping stones, and there’s nothing to look down upon at all.  The ones who do “worship” the stones are the ones who don’t “get” it anyways.

Why did I not see this before?  I saw a girl’s myspace page here recently, and she was saying the things she likes to talk about.  One of her bullet points was, “And anything related to Christianity.”  That’s big red-letters saying, “I’m not interested in other religions, as they’re all false.  Don’t bother me with them.”  I used to be the same way, and over the past years I’m realizing just how stupid I’ve been.

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