Jackels, Giraffes, and Dieties

So, last night, on our way to the U2 concert, we were accosted by a couple of Christian trolls. I say they were trolls because Kayti approached them and offered to be converted, and they couldn’t come with any concrete suggestions to her on how to get saved. (They weren’t, in other words, out there trying to save souls. It was actually pretty funny.. they were yelling things like “You’re behaving like your old daddy Lucifer.. he invented music, you know! Rock music leads to sex and drugs!” – to which we all cheered. Yes. We certainly hope so.)

Now, I recognize that these two were just trolling for amusement value, but there are really people who believe that a: Some sort of day of judgement is coming and b: We will be judged based – apparently – on how little fun we had. No, really, God made a universe with a lot of entertaining possibilities, but we lose points for every one of them we indulge in, apparently. We’re supposed to be unhappy so we’ll be worthy of being happy in the next lifetime. No, wait a second, where does that end? Next lifetime, we’ll again be competing for how little fun we can have? Who signed me up for this, and how can I get off the list?

Now, normally I bash Christianity because I’m pissed off at the Christians – for a long list of reasons detailed elsewhere in this blog that I’m not going to go into here. But I did make a serious attempt recently to figure out how to wrap my head around the religion – and I just don’t think I can.

To explain why, I’m going to head over to a topic that Kayti has been studying lately – nonviolent communication, or NVC – I think they have a web site at http://www.cnvc.org/ – now, obviously me and Kayti had some pretty spectular communications issues and it’s really great that she’s studying this, and she’s been sharing some of it with me – and one of the mental models they use to discuss communication methods is Jackel vs. Giraffe. The basic theory is that jackels are very judgemental, very lacking in empathy for the other side of any given discussion, while giraffes, with the biggest hearts of any animal on earth, can hear the needs behind the judgemental (and sometimes, let’s face it, horrible) statements of the jackels and manage to communicate with them anyway.

So, how does this connect to religion? Well, it seems to be a popular thesis that humans can’t understand dieties. Not everyone claims this, but the majority of people say, God is too big, you are too small, God will not make sense to you. Therefore, it seems likely to me that we see only the parts of God that we believe in – just like I suspect we see only the parts of the world we believe in, at least to a certain extent. There are input filters between our senses and the parts of us that are us, and they filter out anything that is too far out of line with our beliefs – or perhaps the filters are before our memory, and so we can only remember things that match the things we believe – anyway, I’m suspicious that, since the world is full of contridictory religions, and people of all of them are equally convinced that their religion is the one true one, what’s happening is that people are filtering the available data based on their belief-set, and thusly seeing what they expect to see. Dear all adherents to religion everywhere, congradulations, you are bending your own reality. Now, that’s not saying God isn’t real – after all, people all see the Sheer they expect to see too, and I’m pretty sure I exist. But I do think you get the God you believe in, at least somewhat. This doesn’t seem too difficult to figure out..

But, I was talking about jackels and giraffes. I have this need – being the candy-raver kid I am – for God to be a giraffe. I just don’t want to live in a universe where *e’s a jackel – I’d rather not exist. But I hear these people talking – usually right after I’ve made a statement defending gay people – about how God is a “just God” and therefore “MUST punish people” for “committing sins”. Now, if some guys tell me they have this book that disagrees with what my heart says must be true about the divine.. I’m going to ignore the book and go with my heart – and I think I’d be an idiot not to. Anyway, we were talking of the concept of God I get presented including the plans for judgement this creature has.

Well, what a jackel this creep must be! In general, judging other people isn’t the best behavior to be indulging in, as most of us figure out sooner or later. Why would God need to be judge and jury – for that matter, why would anyone need punished at all? Earth already has too many ‘consequences’ for my tastes, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Really what we need is a system to keep us from hurting each other – but there are many who would rather have a system where we can hurt each other, just so they can have the pleasure of punishing us for doing so.  And there I go Jackeling off again and judging them.. but.. read http://mindprod.com/livinglove/methods/nvc.html and consider how the statements in there apply to $DIETY.

To get somewhat off my original topic (I’ll come back to it, probably), what Jackel need is welling up in the Christians making these claims for God? A need for the universe to include some sort of punishment for behavior that they see as immoral, or possibly that just squicks them? Why would they need that? There really must be a valid answer to this, and I suspect it’s an issue of control. I haven’t really run my file-permissions universe by too many of these individuals, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t like it very much, because it removes any valid reason or even excuse for a ‘judgement day’. (well, I suppose you could have a time where you decided if the story-lines currently going on in your life were worth continuing..) – these people believe in this, presumably, because they want to! I certainly don’t seem to have any trouble not believing in it – and I’ve been just as convinced of having concious contact with the divine as any of the rest of you..

If I were trying to hear them in Giraffe, what would I hear? Fears about an inability to control the behaviors of others? Fears that if they don’t speak up for the Jackel nature of God, *e might turn out to be a big, tall Giraffe who doesn’t really care who we sleep with? The phrase ‘living in sin’ has always fascinated me – to this apparently huge group of people, there’s something inherently bad and awful about living with a lover unless you make a lifetime commitment to them – but I think the only reason they have for this is ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. Birth control and longer lifespans both change the rules in some fundamental ways, but religion adapts even more slowly than government. Human systems are not exactly light on their feet, and so little of our social systems seem to be optimizing for happiness.

Really, I assume there is some basic need in some people to control the behavior or happiness of other people. I just don’t understand why the need is there. Maybe some people only feel complete if they have power over others? Hm. That sounds like I’m judging them too. This nonjudgemental stuff is really hard, especailly when you’re talking about a subject that is fraught with oppertunities for unhappiness and the opposite of nonviolent communication.

Well, before the information age, I guess there wasn’t really any way we *could* be light on our feet in terms of idea structures – and now, we’re still learning how. So I’ll pat that jackel that’s over there in the corner bittering about how awful the world is on his furry little head, and continue about my original thesis.

From where I sit, the bible was written at least partially by forces that liked hate, darkness, and evil. Even Jesus doesn’t say ‘Yes, the people who came before me were at least somewhat wrong’ – even though the people who came before him seriously suggested stoning anyone who slept with another person of the same gender.. (for example). This is not a book written by love. I would dearly love to see what the bible *would have* looked like if it *hadn’t* been written by the forces of darkness. I suspect somewhere out there, maybe in some parallel universe or maybe in this one, is a “real” bible – a book of collections of ideas about love, written by people who actually know what it is and have felt it on a regular basis. For my own reasons, I suspect this bible would have more women then men in the list of authors. But.. Paul, for example, is the Enemy with a capitol E. Although I wonder.. if I heard Paul’s mysoginistic Jackel in Giraffe, what would I hear? ‘I’m frightened by women, because I feel they might be smarter than I am.. or because they’re so different.. and so I want them to stay quiet in church’? ‘I need to rig the deck of this religion to support my gender because otherwise I’m afraid we will all be overrun by the women’?

I’ve strongly considered the possibility that the book is both Giraffe and Jackel – that in fact it’s my own darkness that makes me unable to see the Bible as it truly is – I see my own darkness reflected in it, instead of the original message. However, if my nervious system is subbing out content from the world around me, there isn’t a lot that I can do about it. (Other than blog about it and see if it gets any reactions)

I suspect that I’m a jackel more often than I would like to be. Since Kayti discussed the course materials with me, I’ve been watching my words and thoughts to see how often they contain judgement – or pointless suggestions and advice – when empathy would be a more appropriate response. Anyway, if you are a Christian reading my blog – I know there’s at least a couple of you out there – ask yourself, why would you want God to be a jackel? Or, what need of yours does it fill to claim that you absolutely know what God wants, and that *e wants people to suffer if they (a: sleep with the wrong people or at the worng times b: don’t say one key phrase about accepting this one guy who got killed for trying to bring a message of hope and love c: whichever set of beliefs you happen to have). Are you sure there isn’t a better way to get that need met?

I just hope that God’s runtime behavior isn’t decided by what the majority believes about h*. That’s not a hard possibility to believe in.. if we’re each one neuron in a neural net that is God, for example, you’d expect behavior kind of like that. In which case, I should really be trying to convince everybody to have a happier view of the concept – perhaps as insanely happy as possible?

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