Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Worshipful, Worshipworthy

I really miss George Carlin. On stage ne was always a constant, hilariously brilliant, source of cantankerous reason. Ne turned normal things on their head to show us how wondrously silly they really were. During the early days of the Internet twenty or thirty sayings got tagged to the ends of peoples emails as part of their signatures with George as the author. Ne wasn't the author of them, of course, as with things ascribed to Einstein, Christ, or Buddha; since they reflected Georges on stage character and they were brilliant and funny people just thought the must have been said or written by him.

At different points of time I had several to a dozen of nirs routines memorized to share with friend, and acquaintances. Of course, they weren't nearly as funny when I did them - George was a genius professional comic, ne could do things with nirs eyebrows that would make people wet themselves with laughter. A few changes of expressions and people would be rolling in the aisles. I'm surprised nirs audiences didn't destroy entire theaters with paroxysms of laughter when ne did nirs acts.

I'm not a very religious person, but I do get the occasional religious feelings. I wonder where they come from and what evolutionary purpose they serve. I suppose we might have some bits of gunk in our genetic makeup we carry around for centeons. Crud that clings to our DNA, surviving from species to species, not because they influence our survival in a positive way, but they just stick to the beneficial bits and that's their way of surviving. Just sticky genetic bits that bloat our genetic code, so they can keep existing.

It's tempting to think religious feelings come from those useless sticky bits of DNA that hang around stuck to the more successful bits. Certainly there's a whole range of horrible things to hate about some religious organizations, and many of the people who focus on or specialize in the religious feelings of humanity. Most of them seem about as useful as those sticky bits of DNA, just hanging around poking us in our religious feelings so we pump out change into the collection plate.

Sun Worship
Photo by gollor all rights reserved.
Today I was walking around the track in the park next to where I work, and it was one of those cloudy days with many big fluffy white clouds. The kind of big white clouds that dream of the day real soon, they can grow to giant gray black thunderheads, throwing lighting and rain around. Today they were just big and fluffy, floating around blocking the Sun to amuse themselves as they grow.

I got one of those great shots of the clouds in front of the Sun with it's rays shining from behind - a grand collection of light and shadow. A shot that shows the glory of the sun by it's effects, rather than it's direct incandescent self.

A photo like this seems to inspire Christians to think of their god. I frequently see these great photos with some Christian's confusion about their bible printed across it. Those misused photos always make me feel a little sad, because they kind of miss the point of the photo. In Christian terms the photo shows a glorious piece of their god's creation, and a picture speaks a thousand words - why cover it up with your confused babble? I really don't get that.
Sun, sky, light and shadow that together created a unique beauty that just made me gape for a few seconds, my brain frozen in awe and worship of it's exquisiteness. In psychological terms, the numinous experience had captured my brain for a short time. In the words of that great mystic, Christopher Hitchens, "Everybody has had the experience at some point when they feel that there's more to life than just matter.".

We feel a connection with some aspect of the universe, and we feel a sense of worshipfulness. Things like that vision of beauty in the sky, seem much more worthy of worship than some invisible bearded grumpy dude with lots of rules about how you should eat, and cloth yourself, and really do every damn thing. Maybe those kinds of silly stories were helpful to some brilliant leader of the past, who wanted their people to stop killing each other for petty reasons; and not poison themselves with shellfish they couldn't figure out how to prepare or cook.

The numinous feelings of worship just seem to come to us. They bring a bit of special meaning to some experiences that would otherwise seem normal, plain or banal. I think we need better things to worship than those described in thousand year old dusty tomes. For example, the entity behind those clouds - our local star - The Sun. Everything in this solar system, including us, came from the corpus galactic of the ancestors of our Sun. We little parasites on the surface of this small rocky stellar child, live at her whim. All of our air, food, water and shelter come directly or indirectly from the Sun and her child.

Hopefully that sounds like something George would have written, because I'm paraphrasing one of my favorite of nems schticks. Hopefully that search string on YouTube shows a video of nirs sun worship bit, because it's one of nirs greatest. I would link to a specific vid, but some stupid algorithm of Google's or the MAFIAA would take it down eventually because they can't seem to fathom fair use.

It's from his, You Are All Diseased special. Which probably has more snippets up on YouTube than any other George Carlin special. Which it should, cause it's a damn fine show. So here's some key bites from this bit, where George describes these feelings better than I possibly could:

"I decided to look around for something else to worship, something I could really count on, and immediately I thought of the sun…Overnight I became a Sun Worshiper."

"Several Reasons: First of all, I can see the Sun, okaaayy?!...Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the Sun. I'm big on that, if I can see something… I don't know… it kind of helps the credibility along."

"So every day I can see the Sun, as it gives me everything I need - heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake,… the occasional skin cancer, but hey - at least there are no crucifixions, and we're not setting people on fire simply because they don't agree with us."

"Sun worship is fairly simple, there's no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money - there are no songs to learn - and we don't have a special building were we all gather once a week to compare clothing."

"And the best thing, the best thing about the Sun - it never tells me I'm unworthy. It doesn't tell me I'm a bad person who needs to be saved. It hasn't said an unkind word - it treats me fine."

"So, I worship the Sun - BUT, I don't pray to the Sun. Know why? I wouldn't presume on our friendship. It's not polite."

Well said, George. I will speak for myself and the Sun and say we both miss you a whole bunch. Even though it was meant as a critique of conventional religion, I think we can take nirs words literally here and come off none the worse for it.

So take a look at that photo of the rays of the Sun; worship it's beauty; know that it will keep on rising each day, and helping the Earth provide us with a bounty of air, water, and food. At least a few billion years more - or until we fuck up badly enough the Earth really gets serious about killing us off.

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