Do you believe in the rapture?

I’m looking for people who believe that the world is going to end soon, or people who pray it ends soon. If you think the rapture is around the corner or that we’re nearing the end times, I would really like to talk to you!
I would like to interview you talking about your beliefs. This can be in person, by phone or by skype. I’d like to record this interview, so I can use it as material in a musical piece that I’m writing. This piece will be played in England. Most of the people who hear it will have not previously heard the rapture described by a believer.
In order to make the music, your words will be put into a collage that makes musical sense. This does require some cutting, but I will preserve your meaning. I want to accurately convey your views, your beliefs and your hopes for the future.
This is for a 13 minute section of a longer piece of music performed by people with laptop computers. The entire thing will be an hour long. I’m calling it a “laptopera,” but it does not actually contain singing. The title of the piece will be The Death of Stockhausen. Your section does not yet have a title, but will probably include the word “Apocalypse.” The section will also include people with New Age beliefs surrounding 2012, but will make sure to differentiate their views from yours. (If you want to say anything about how the New Agers are right or wrong, I’d also like the hear that).
If you want to help, please leave a comment! Or, would you mind praying that somebody does want to help?

Catholic Church PR

So the Catholic Church paedophilia crisis continues to look worse and worse. I try not to follow this story too closely, but it’s hard to miss, especially given the appalling misbehaviour of the church hierarchy. The ways they’ve been making excuses lately also does not help.
For instance, Bill Donahue of the Catholic League ran an advert in the New York Times, which said that priests molesting children is somehow the fault of gay people thus reminding people that in addition to enabling the rape of children, the church has also campaigned heavily against the civil rights of LGBT people, including stripping us of marriage rights in California.
Then, on Good Friday, a vatican sermon linked the news coverage of the systematic and widespread rape of children to anti-semitism, with the logic that calling attention to a conspiracy to protect rapists is somehow like the genocidal murder of 6 million Jews. Which, it should be noted, the church didn’t exactly have a problem with, since they never bothered to excommunicate or even dissuade their faithful churchgoing member, Adolf Hitler. Indeed, if you are looking for the organisation that enables the raping thousands of children and murdering millions of jews, well, here’s one that stands at the intersection of both.
Will they next compare media attention and police investigations to the Spanish Inquisition? Perhaps to the enslaving of Native Americans in Missions? Maybe it’s like denying women access to reproductive health care?
Their message seems to be, “Hey, in comparison with the other horrible abuses we’ve participated in, raping a few thousand little kids isn’t so bad!” When I try to think of what would Jesus do, I think he would tell them to STFU.


My last post was about loosing faith in “fate,” an idea I left undefined. It wasn’t a bearded sky god, passing judgement. But more like an intuitive, uninformed impression of the “Higher Power” of AA. Some sort of thing larger than myself. An idea that things would be ok in the long run. That’s all crap.
Ok, obviously all of humanity is larger than myself. And the movement of chance and the actions of others are all out of my control, which is part of the idea I had. So the idea of serenity is still valid. But other ideas are impacted.
Let’s imagine a metaphorical compass. The red side of the needle points at moral actions. You’re walking through the woods of life and are trying to follow the compass direction, but taking into account local circumstances, including things like cliffs, trees in the way, streams, etc. And the terrain itself has a lot of magnetic rock, which makes the needle direction really unclear sometimes. But there is, out there, a set of right actions, which are handed down from someplace outside of ourselves. But that view of morality is crap.
Foes of prop 8 angrily insist that we can’t put people’s rights up for a vote. But, in effect, that’s all we ever do regarding people’s rights. People have rights because we’ve all agreed they do. Because of our human emotions and logic and ideas like the golden rule. Actions aren’t moral or immoral because they adhere to some imaginary Platonic form, but because the people involved all pretty much agree on the action. One person leaving a comment on my last post called this “freeing.” There’s not one way to be good.
But, still, more questions. A lot of morality and especially the application of justice is configured such that “crimes” are what poor people can do to rich people. And morally-neutral actions are what rich people can do to poor people. This is crap. Are poor people less human?
Also, what the hell does humanness matter? If we’re not created in god’s image, what makes us better than battery chickens in cages laying eggs all day, unable to move with their beaks torn off? Aside from us having all the power and them having none?
All morality seems deeply vested in power relations. Deists think something is good because God demands it and he’s got more power than us. Atheists think something is good because they want to preserve their position in life and understand this relies on mutual cooperation. The golden rule isn’t just a good idea because it helps use empathy to figure out right actions, it is also the test condition and justification for right actions. And we can’t imagine being chickens, and there’s no danger of being reincarnated as one because none of that actually exists, so who cares about them? And in these circles of “us” and “them” and powers to enforce, we decide right and wrong. Can we see ourselves in an out group? Then they’re in. Otherwise, they stay out.
Which is what it’s been all along. And knowing that might be freeing because we’re free to negotiate our relationships with others however the people in them want. And we take whatever life has handed us and try our best with it. Or not. And it won’t turn out fine in the long run. In the long run, we’re dead. And either other people stop caring or it all becomes somebody else’s problem. And they might not solve it either.
So let’s say you wanted to have faith because somebody told you it was a good idea. You want to put it somewhere. Where? You can’t put it in god, because he doesn’t exist. You can’t put it in a happy future because that doesn’t exist either. You can’t put in humanity because they could very easily decide that ‘personhood’ no longer applies to queers or some other group you think it should. You could put in your friends, but in the short term, they might not be up to it. In the long term, one by one, they’ll die or leave and then, you die. Despite that, you could have it in yourself, which would be a nice heartwarming thing to do, but what is that but the idea of fate and happier future? That’s crap. So fuck faith. Drown your faith like an unwanted kitten.
I don’t know if it’s freeing, but I can live with it. What choice do I have?
I do feel better, though.

Thinking about Pagans

The folks who were hexed have been caught by police, and, indeed, one of them had his family involved in his turning himself in, just as predicted by the head-hexer. However, I think a double-blind study is needed before I’m willing to concede anything about the general efficacy of hexing. I’m not sure such a study is really possible. What coven would be willing to participate in calling up such negative energy in order to prove something to skeptics?
I wrote something about how I hadn’t been to any pagan rites since university and that’s so untrue I don’t know what I was thinking. My friend Jean does something called “Burning Bowl” every New Years Day which has something to do with making resolutions, only not really. And, of course, Paul’s memorial last year was pagan, and even more emotionally charged than the most recent thing I went to. These things, though, were familiar. Drinking cider with friends. Or a memorial service. They don’t see outside of ordinary experience. And so they slipped my mind when I was writing about an extraordinary thing.
I spoke to a few people about the use of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the hexing. Apparently, pagans are practical and will use the goddess or god most likely to get things done for them. Because some of the suspects were described as Hispanic, the pagans decided to use their goddess against them. This, of course, relies on making some assumptions. Protestant churches are growing dramatically in the Americas, but let’s put that aside for a moment and go with the assumption that the Virgin Mary has meaning to the Hispanic men in question and specifically, her appearance in Mexico is something connected to them. Something about this strikes me as problematic. The pagans are using the symbols of a person’s religion against them. And it’s a minority religion which has faced past discrimination. (Of course, pagans would argue they were in the same boat, there.) This is troubling to me. I was at the ritual, in retrospect, more or less as a tourist, as it didn’t have meaning for me, so maybe there’s an argument there that a hexing is just going to be troubling because it’s a troubling thing to do in the first place and maybe religious rites are outside of arguments relating to axes of privilege. And maybe Mary of Guadalupe is a goddess figure subsumed into Catholicism and therefore belongs to all womyn. I don’t know.
My friend in London is from Somerset, where the farmers still do pagan stuff that their ancestors did. She was describing some of the rituals to me. They seem to all involve drinking a lot of beer and did not seem to be womyn-centered. I think that some feminists look to this as a source mostly motivated by the myth of matriarchy. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon, where there is a myth that once upon a time, women held political power. Everything was backwards in this time: the moon was better than the sun, etc. Fortunately, (the myth goes) men wrested power away and saved us from such foolishness. For example, Eve briefly lead Adam in Eden and look where that got us. Still, the idea of some ancient time when women had power is obviously attractive to women now. Alas, it’s all mythical, but it attracts them to old myths and old religions. And so a bunch of drunken, ribbon-wearing (male) farmers chasing a cheese wheel down a steep, rocky incline becomes a feminist religious inspiration, once separated by an ocean. Of course, they’re probably not drawing on that particular ritual and the information has been mediated by books or Hollywood or expectations and turns into it’s own thing. And just like the rituals in Somerset carry the cultural baggage of that region, and affirm power relations and privilege in that community, neo-pagans bring their own baggage to the circle.