Chris Hedges Robert Scheer SI Podcast

A Come-to-Jesus Sermon From the Rev. Chris Hedges 

During another pandemic holiday season when everyone could use a little faith, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist talks to Robert Scheer about putting Christ back into Christmas.
[Journalist and minister, Chris Hedges. [Photo courtesy of Chris Hedges]

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Another holiday season plagued with high Covid-19 rates and fears of infecting loved ones has come around, this time amid supply chain shortages and other economic woes. As runaway American capitalism tries to sell us consumerism as the answer to our current crises even now, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and ordained minister Chris Hedges reminds us that the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with purchasable gifts. Hedges joins Robert Scheer on this week’s “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss which personal experiences revealed to him what the Christian holiday is about, as well as what he thinks of American Christianity in its current, most prevalent iteration. 

“The Bible has been used by systems of power to perpetuate all sorts of injustices and persecution since the Christian Church was institutionalized in the third century by Constantine, who was a brutal dictator,” says Hedges. “[Once power] essentially captivated this ideology, it was [and] has been used throughout history to carry out all sorts of what I would call heretical [acts]. [And] I’d call the Christian right heretics; they’ve acculturated the worst aspects of American capitalism and imperialism and white supremacy with the Christian religion.

“A White Christmas” by Mr. Fish.

“Jesus, if he lived in contemporary society, would be undocumented, because he was not a Roman citizen; he lived without rights, under Roman occupation,” adds the ScheerPost columnist. “Jesus was a person of color; the Romans were white. The Romans nailed Jesus and other people of color to crosses the same way we finish them off on death row, or gun them down in the streets by militarized police. And the Romans didn’t care about Jesus’ religious importance; they killed him as an insurrectionist, as a revolutionary, because they feared the radicalism of the Christian gospel, which defied so much of Roman culture. 

“The Roman state looked at Jesus the same way the American state looked at Malcolm X or Martin Luther King,” he concludes. “And, as is true throughout history, prophets are often killed.” 

Listen to the full conversation between Scheer and Hedges as the host asks the reverend how to recognize the misuse of Christianity, as well as how to directly challenge immorality with one’s own actions, culminating in a personal and yet deeply universal Christmas parable of Hedges’ own. 

Credits: 

Host:
Robert Scheer

Producer:
Joshua Scheer

Introduction:
Natasha Hakimi Zapata 

Transcript:
Lucy Berbeo 

RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, and this one is occasioned by, obviously, the Christmas holiday. And I have my favorite reverend, Reverend Chris Hedges, who—first of all, his father was a Presbyterian minister; he went to Harvard Divinity School, was ordained years later after a career in journalism. And yet he’s sort of my go-to person about what religion says, and particularly about Christianity. He’s written about Christian fascism; he understands all its complexity. So let me just throw it up to you. And I remember a slogan from my youth: there would be some people on the religious side of things who would say they wanted to put Christ back in Christmas, that this holiday had become totally commercialized, and that Christ was left out of it. So let’s just begin with that. What is the relevance of Christmas to this national religion of ours, which it is?

CH: Ah, well, that’s probably a fair criticism; it has been completely commercialized, and as less and less people have any relationship with the institutional Church, that’s probably primarily what it is. But the actual story of Christmas was driven home to me when I was in a refugee camp in Honduras for Guatemalans who had fled the fighting in the early 1980s. And so these were all peasants, very poor, living in mud, in tents provided by the UN. And they were all hanging up strips of colored paper, because they said that in the evening they were going to celebrate what’s known as the Day of the Holy Innocents. So that’s the moment when Herod, in order to prevent the birth of the Messiah, according to the Bible, slaughters the children of Bethlehem; but Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus are warned, and they flee. 

Now, that’s a story I—it’s from Matthew—I could recite by heart. I heard my father read it in Christmas services every night; we lived in a small farm town in upstate New York. But I asked them, well, why is that such an important day? And they said, well, because that’s the day that Christ became a refugee. And I realized the power of that story for somebody who had to flee with their children from the murderous rampages of the Guatemalan army and the death squads. It had a whole different import than it did to somebody who lived in relative comfort in a farm community in upstate New York. 

And so I think—and James Cone, the great theologian, I think has driven home this point: that the gospel was written, in his words, for the crucified of the earth, and that they see in these stories of persecution, and finally crucifixion, a message that is lost on people who don’t suffer from that kind of oppression. 

RS: So, you know, this is the positive view of gospel and of Christianity. And I know that you were ordained officially so that you could be more effective in your work in prisons, with prisoners and so forth. And obviously, the story you just told is one of bringing strength and understanding to the most dispossessed. And the current Catholic pope is given to that message. On the other hand, there’s another side of the impact of Christianity, and you’ve written about Christian fascism, and we know antisemitism was also fueled by some perceptions of the gospel. 

And I remember as a kid—one reason I go to you on these occasions is I had a very ambiguous relationship, as did many people, and certainly many who were not Christian, to this holiday. And I remember as a kid the song we would sing and really liked was “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” And it was a dream of family and inclusion and love and support, and everybody sang it; it was very popular, and it had been written by a Jewish guy, Irving Berlin, who had a different name when he started out; Israel was his first name. And yet, researching it just for this thing, I thought well, what about this song? And we used to think it was sort of odd, because at that time many of our Catholic neighbors thought—well, some of them, anyway, thought we Jews had killed Christ. And I was of a mixed family; my father had been born a Lutheran and my mother was Jewish. But nonetheless occasionally I was held accountable for this deicide, and you know, “you killed our Lord” sort of thing. 

And there would seem to be irony in it. It was a positive season, it was a season for—but somehow, Jewish people weren’t included. Yet Irving Berlin, who wrote that song, was married to a Catholic woman who went to church all the time. But it wasn’t until 1965 when Pope John officially said that the Jews were not responsible, and it was in 2011 where Pope Benedict officially said that. So this charge of deicide fueled antisemitism, was used by the Nazis very effectively during World War II. So why don’t you comment a little bit about that contradiction? 

CH: Well, the Bible has been used by systems of power to perpetuate all sorts of injustices and persecution since the Christian Church was institutionalized in the third century by Constantine, who was a brutal dictator, a savage dictator. And they attempted to codify—I mean, the Bible, it comes from the Greek term ta biblia, which means “little books.” So there were all sorts of books—Gnostic books, and matriarchal stories, and stories that fused Roman pagan customs with the Christian religion—and you would go in and take out what you wanted. Well, that wasn’t put together into a formal doctrine until the third century. None of the gospels, of course, were contemporaneous with Jesus’ life. 

And so once power essentially captivated this ideology, it was, has been, used throughout history to carry out all sorts of what I would call heretical—I’d call the Christian right heretics. That they’ve acculturated the worst aspects of American capitalism and imperialism and white supremacy with the Christian religion. The Nazis, by the way, did the same thing with the so-called German Christian Church. But just a close read of the Bible defies so much of that. And Jesus, if he lived in contemporary society, would be undocumented, because he was not a Roman citizen; he lived without rights, under Roman occupation. Jesus was a person of color; the Romans were white. The Romans, you know, nailed Jesus and other people of color to crosses the same way we finish them off on death row, or gun them down in the streets by militarized police. 

And the Romans didn’t care about Jesus’ religious importance; they killed him as an insurrectionist, as a revolutionary. Because they feared the radicalism of the Christian gospel, which defied so much of Roman culture. So the Roman state looked at Jesus the same way the American state looked at Malcolm X or Martin Luther King. And as is true throughout history, prophets are often killed. So, yeah, you’re right. It has been perverted and used for—I mean, from the Inquisition to the Crusades to the antisemitism carried out against Jews in Europe, it’s been used quite effectively to give a kind of sanctification to genocide, murder, and oppression. But I don’t think that that is in any way in accordance with either the teachings of Jesus or the life that Jesus led.

RS: Well, you know, this contest over what basically is Jesus’ legacy—and I know there’s a project to find out what can you really attribute. And so let me just cut to the chase here. Did Jesus exist? What is the documentation, if he did, to what he said? Which camp, or different camps, are right? One of my most favorite, most important ideas attributed to Jesus is in the parable of the Good Samaritan, but it’s only in Luke, I’m told. It doesn’t have—you know, the meaning if it had been in all of the gospels, et cetera, et cetera. So you get in these—you know, and you have the people of the prosperity church telling you, no, that’s the real Jesus, he wants you to get rich and be happy. 

So what are we fighting about here? And the reason I’m raising this with you—I know you can get irritated when I raise it—because I am worried that, first of all, these ideas are misused by different people. But also, where do we get ethics and morality without religion? That’s a question that very often is not raised by—basically, in a secular culture. But at least in our traditional religions there’s a notion of accountability; there’s a notion of judgment, there’s a notion that your life has to add up in some summary court of meaning and value and ethics. And the secular society is up against the reality that maybe there’s no ethical, moral core.

CH: Well, you can get ethics without religion. I mean, I don’t know Kant would be considered religious; Aristotle, Socrates—I mean, all sorts of figures sought to perpetuate or propagate the ethical life, who didn’t necessarily come out of a religious tradition. I think where religion actually is probably most powerful is when it deals with mystery and the sacred and the transcendent, and all these forces that exist for all of us. The search for a life of meaning, the struggle with our own mortality. And that almost always, I think, pushes you into some kind of religious language. But you know, the power elites in every society, not just Christian society, have always sought to—and this was true with Islam, with Buddhism, with everything else—have sought to coopt religious leaders to serve their interests, and those religious leaders are well compensated, often, and essentially integrated into the power structure. Billy Graham would be an example of that. 

But there’s always existed, I think, these radical elements in any society, these radical religious elements—I was of course friends with Daniel Berrigan, the great radical Catholic priest—who I think have held fast to the core issues raised by all of the world’s great religions, and sought to lead the religious life. But it has often not only put them in defiance of the major centers of power, [but] created antagonisms between them and the institutional religious structures. My own father had that by standing up for GBLTQ rights in the seventies when the Church did not recognize the equality of GBLTQ people, in terms of ordination, marriage, or anything else. And he was very ruthlessly attacked for that, although, you know, he’d spent almost 40 years as a parish minister. 

So it gets to this idea that the theologian Paul Tillich writes about, is all institutions, including the Church—Tillich writes—are inherently demonic. So in many ways, in order, I think, to come closest to the radicalism of—and that core issue of empathy and ministering, as you talk about, the Good Samaritan, ministry to the suffering—let’s go back to Cone, to the crucified of the earth—often has to be done in defiance of the very religious institutions that you may belong to, and that may very well expel you. I mean, Spinoza, who was Jewish, was excommunicated. You know, oftentimes these figures are seen as—especially radical reformers—are seen as heretics, condemned as heretics. 

RS: So, but you did decide to get ordained, and you did go to the Harvard Divinity School, which is I guess the center of Protestant consciousness about ethics historically. And you do, when you entered the prisons—and people know your writing, they know you’ve written quite a bit about prisons—but you’ve devoted, what, the last 15 years to teaching in prisons. And religion comes up all the time. 

And one thing that differentiates certainly Christianity—and we’re here to talk about Christmas—say, from Aristotle or others, is the notion of accountability. And rebellion. Because what you have in the—at least the perceived image of Jesus, the way Martin Luther King or Father Berrigan referred to him, was as a rebel. Challenging authority. If you go to Aristotle, you have a defensive authority, certainly a Greek authority. And you know, and even to Confucius, of the Good Emperor. And at least what was compelling, say, to King, as a very good example, certainly the Black Baptist Church as opposed to the white Baptist Church, was the notion of Jesus as an instrument of justice. Of acceptance, of concern for the least among us. And it’s a very powerful message that is left out of a lot of what I consider convenience philosophy: you know, do unto others as you would do unto yourself. Here is a notion, no: you are accountable to worry about the least among us. And all of us have a soul, and so forth. And that seems to me what’s been lost in modern Christianity. 

CH: Well, that’s the core of the Christmas story, is really, I think, a kind of lesson in how to be human. About kneeling before a newborn infant who’s helpless, vulnerable, despised, and poor. So it’s—and this is why the Romans were so terrified. Because it inverted traditional Roman values. That it calls on us to protect—you know, let’s use the Biblical term, the least among us. And not only the least among us, but those who are demonized and rejected. So, you know, that is the power—for me, anyway—of the Christmas story.

RS: So let me—I don’t expect you to have all the big answers, and you kind of kid me every once in a while, say I seem to bring this up more than you do. But your writing about the Christian fascism, the misuse, or the use of Christianity to support basically racism and xenophobia and so forth—your writing suggests that that’s a very powerful element in contemporary America right now.

CH: Well, it’s predominant. I mean, the mainline Church that I come out of is dying; every year the numbers are dwindling, churches are closing. And so it is this fusion of the iconography and language of the state with the iconography and language of the Christian Church. So it’s the sacralization of state power, but the worst forms of state power, of capitalism. For instance, the whole idea that God rewards or Jesus rewards the just means that if you live in poverty and deprivation and suffering, you deserve what you get. You don’t need unions, you don’t need health care, you don’t need vaccines; it’s magic Jesus. And that’s very appealing to people who feel shunted aside by the rest of the society. Because what comes with it are calls for holy vengeance against these Satanic forces that have created this dysfunctional world around them. That is a very large part of the message of the Christian right, and why that kind of holy violence is an integral part, or I think a very attractive part, to people who feel—I mean, not incorrectly—that they’ve been dispossessed by a society that no longer needs them or cares about them. 

RS: Well, you know, this blending of opportunism on the part of very powerful forces—corporations, the state—and a message to the people who are despairing of their condition, you know, has precedent in other societies. And particularly—and I want to close on this—but, you know, when we talk about Christian fascism, I mean, the echo there is of Nazi Germany. And when you bring it up people say, come on, that’s an exaggeration; well, I think increasing numbers of people now in the United States recognize, hey, you know, even a very prosperous society—which Germany had been at different points in its contemporary history, well-educated and so forth—can go berserk. And can entertain what would seem to be contradictory ideas. You can have, as Germany did, strong science and clarity and logic and so forth, and yet engage in a religious war against Jews, primarily, and then others, or “the other.” And we see that in the United States now. I mean, that’s basically what you have been writing about; it’s the combination of the calculating, rational, capitalist state, which Germany was, with this truly irrational, primitive religious appeal. 

CH: Right. And there are very frightening similarities. So Hitler, in the eyes of this German Christian Church, was the Volk Messiah: he was an instrument of God. The same view that right-wing evangelicals held about Trump. And then you sought out those who were demonized for Germany’s economic collapse, especially Jews and communists, and in religious terms they became agents of Satan. 

Again, that’s replicated in the United States. I mean, I studied with the great scholar James Luther Adams, who was 80 when I was at Harvard Divinity School, and he’d been in Germany—he was bilingual in German—in 1935 and 1936, and actually dropped out of the University of Heidelberg and worked for a year with the Confessing Church, the underground, with Bonhoeffer, Niemöller, Schweitzer, all these figures, until he was picked up by the Gestapo and thrown out. And he drew these parallels for us with the Christian right; in fact, he was the first person I heard use the term “Christian fascist.” He used to tell us, when you’re my age, you’re all going to be fighting the Christian fascists—we were all in our early twenties, and although he was certainly one of the most brilliant scholars I ever worked with, I thought even then he was being hyperbolic. Well, of course, it turns out that he saw what was happening long before we did. 

So I find—and of course Trump had no ideology; it was the Christian fascists who filled that ideological void. And what comes next in 2024 may not be Trump, but it will be probably a Trump-like figure, like Pompeo or DeSantis or someone else; Tom Cotton, I don’t know. But they will be, I suspect, far more embedded within this movement—Trump was not embedded at all—and, frighteningly, probably more competent. And I think with the return of these Christian fascists to power, the overriding theme, given the attempt at censorship and January 6 and the belief that the election was stolen, will be a reign of vengeance, really frightening vengeance. 

RS: You know—we’re going to conclude on this, but to my mind, this is the essential quandary, really, of the human condition. We don’t have, really, a story of who we are, what we are, why we’re here, what is life all about, what is mortality. You have, you know, attempts at it; the scientific goes far, but fails in the end to tell you what it’s all about, mortality and so forth, and the meaning. And then you have these variety of competing religions which can be twisted and turned and changed. And so, you know, you have people quoting, whether it’s the Old or the New Testament or what have you—or Buddhism can be oppressive, it can be liberating, any one of these religions. And really when it comes to morality, we’re in a never-never land. And you’re a guy who’s trying to assert a moral imperative. And at times you tell me, well, you’re not basically, you know, into the religion anymore as a guide. So why don’t we conclude with that? What are people to make of the human condition?

CH: Well, the moral imperative, actually, the categorical imperative, that actually comes from Kant. I think that really the issue is, if you want to speak in religious terms, it’s God’s law versus human law. And then Martin Luther King, I think, spoke about this quite eloquently: that we have a duty to defy human law when it is in conflict with God’s law. And that can be very empowering. Solzhenitsyn writes in The Gulag Archipelago about those most able psychologically to endure the gulags, and he said it was the Chechens, who were practicing Muslims, and the Christians, who didn’t ask whether it was practical; they just asked whether it was right. And they often died in larger numbers. But they had a kind of sense or a bond that allowed them or gave them a kind of protection against many of the oppressive forces around them. 

And H. Richard Niebuhr had a great quote: he said, “Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people.” There are all sorts of charlatans, and the airwaves are filled with them, who misuse religion to manipulate the despair of people as, I think, is happening with the Christian right. And then there are those magnificent figures; let’s not forget that both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X came out of strong religious, had a strong religious orientation. King actually writes about it at the end of Strength to Love. And I think that especially in moments of extremity, I would say that kind of orientation to the world, which I’ve had since I was born, is very liberating, and gives you a kind of sense of right and wrong, and a sense of direction that allows you to at least hold on to yourself. 

RS: So, finally, when we understand, say, the pope washing the feet of prisoners and so forth, I want to put you in this picture, Chris Hedges. It’s not easy to go into these prisons; it’s not easy to endure those conditions, which you have to, let alone to be a prisoner. And is this your connection with your father? Is this where you go to meditate and think about this?

CH: In all of my career as a journalist, I placed myself in situations of extreme oppression: El Salvador during the war, Gaza, Sarajevo. And the prison, going into the prisons when I came back from overseas, keeps up that kind of continuity. I think that’s what I’ve always done, and I think that that does come out of my religious background and my understanding that one must stand with the crucified of the earth. And that often if one truly stands with the oppressed, they’re going to get treated like the oppressed. 

And that actually is a great comfort, because, you know, I used to work for the New York Times covering the biggest stories in the world. And I’d write a story on the front page of the Times, the next day the State Department would have to hold a press briefing about it. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore; I’ve been pushed out. And yet I think that that very clear understanding of what life is meant to be about, you know, gives me a great deal of comfort, and not a sense of loss, but a sense of—you know, I don’t want to use the word “achievement,” but a sense that I am able to be who I am meant to be.

RS: So you, finally, you’re your father’s son. Your father the minister would be proud of you; you’re proud of your father. And it’s not exclusive to the Christian tradition, but there is something about religions that can produce accountability. And isn’t that the main struggle, that we don’t let careerism and opportunism and individualism of a certain kind dominate? That there’s accountability, moral accountability? 

CH: Yeah, but even more, you can’t teach morality. You have to show it. So, I mean, I watched people walk out on my father’s sermons when he spoke about, in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, or against the Vietnam War. And then, of course, the Church pushed him out for standing up for GBLTQ rights; he was pushed out. 

And I remember I was at Colgate, and he had a big church in Syracuse; they told him to stop speaking out about equality for GBLTQ people, and he instead held an Easter service for the GBLTQ community in the city of Syracuse, and came and got me. He said, this is probably the last time you’ll hear me preach. And he got up and he said, marriage is a sacrament; it’s not a reward for being a heterosexual, and any church that doesn’t honor the sacrament of marriage does not deserve to call itself Christian. And they crucified him for that, the church where he dedicated his life to. And that’s how you pass on morality. 

So, yes, you know, because I saw it; and I saw that it entails sacrifice, and if there isn’t sacrifice, it’s probably not very moral. And that’s right: you know, it’s my voice, but they’re my father’s words. And in the Christian religion, that’s called resurrection. 

RS: OK. Let’s conclude this. Is it right to say this is a parable for Christmas? Is that the proper use of the word? Can people share this with their children or grandchildren, reverend?

CH: Yeah, yeah. You’ve got to act morally; you can’t teach it. You’ve got to—if you live the moral life, that’s what perpetuates the moral life to those around you. As Daniel Berrigan said, it’s the good drawing to it the good. 

RS: Ah. All right, well, that’s it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence. And I want to thank Christopher Ho at KCRW for posting these, and Natasha Hakimi for writing the introductions, Joshua Scheer for being the overall producer, Lucy Berbeo for doing the transcription. And the JWK Foundation in memory of Jean Stein, a very independent and morally driven journalist, for helping fund these shows. See you next week with another edition of Scheer Intelligence. 

136 comments

  1. A good one by the Whiteheads, to ramify the message — “The Christmas Baby Born in a Police State: Then and Now” by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

    They begin with an epigram:

    When the song of the angels is stilled,
    When the star in the sky is gone,
    When the kings and princes are home,
    When the shepherds are back with their flock,
    The work of Christmas begins:
    To find the lost,
    To heal the broken,
    To feed the hungry,
    To release the prisoner,
    To rebuild the nations,
    To bring peace among others,
    To make music in the heart.

    ― Howard Thurman, “The Work of Christmas” from his book The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations, October 1, 1985

    https://dissidentvoice.org/2021/12/the-christmas-baby-born-in-a-police-state-then-and-now/

  2. “And Jesus, if he lived in contemporary society, would be undocumented, because he was not a Roman citizen; he lived without rights, under Roman occupation. Jesus was a person of color; the Romans were white. The Romans, you know, nailed Jesus and other people of color to crosses the same way we finish them off on death row, or gun them down in the streets by militarized police.” Ha, ha! Chris Hedges has become the Adam Schiff of religion.
    Jesus was a Jew (his people were responsible for most of his conflicts/troubles). The Roman soldiers of Judea were actually more “policeman” than “soldier”, and generally two/thirds of them came from the indigenous people of the area. They likely had much darker skin than the baby Jesus.
    Unlike modernity, Romans had no concept of race (although they had bogeymen to fight) and they valued competence (ruthless effectiveness). The Empire surely had more diversity and more people of color than actual Romans (who were NOT white). The most white people in Roman history were the Northern Europeans, who often became slaves of the Romans. Or dead.

    https://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2020/09/30/were-the-ancient-greeks-and-romans-white/

    1. Yes! So many with military minds don’t look at other avenues. They depend solely upon being the biggest and strongest bully on the globe or block.

  3. 196 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), but the United States has not.

    While our government helped draw up the human rights treaty that was adopted in 1989, we have failed to commit to its promise, which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children worldwide. President Obama considered our lack of commitment to be an embarrassment, yet neither he nor any other president since that time requested that the Senate act to close the gap. And so, they haven’t. The reasons, of course, are mostly political.

    According to the UNCRC, those under the age of eighteen have the right to:

    life, survival and development;
    education that facilitates them to reach their full potential;
    protection from abuse, violence or neglect;
    express opinions and be heard; and
    be raised by or have a relationship with their parents.
    The complete text can be read at Convention on the Rights of the Child text | UNICEF.

    1. Makes you wonder if some faction of USA had plans we don’t know about. Pandemic and climate change both coming on at same time and ahead of scientific prediction, also leaves doors open for lots of speculation about people who cannot be trusted to have your best interest at heart. But there was an honest assessment of our frailties by the Army War College which can no longer be accessed, published in 2019. I presented some of the salient points to my city council in January of the same year. Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army, United States Army War College, August 1, 2019, whose last sentence says, “A decision to weaponize weather in the future would carry with it an almost certain international condemnation for any nation willing to undertake the effort. If someone could prove who did it.” Dire times indeed.

    2. So much that needs attention. Where are the people to transform our nation? I guess that’s up to each of us to decide to step up or not, but I do not think we should shut up at all. You need to place your information in your local and other newspapers, and if you are a member of a church or organization, I hope you are talking to them and to family and friends about this issue. Thank you for making me aware of it.

    3. The U.S.A. might ratify the UNCRC if it came with a loophole regarding children in “enemy” countries. Or children of the poor, incarcerated, or people of colour in America.

  4. Reading this reminds me of a quote from Christopher Hitchens –
    “Religion is a totalitarian belief. It is the wish to be a slave. It is the desire that there be an unalterable, unchallengeable, tyrannical authority who can convict you of thought crime while you are asleep, who can subject you to total surveillance around the clock every waking and sleeping minute of your life, before you’re born and, even worse and where the real fun begins, after you’re dead. A celestial North Korea. Who wants this to be true? Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate?”

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Like I said to Marcus, whatever works. If the beliefs you explain so well work for you, I’m the last to contradict what jives with your temperament. We’ve touched on this subject of emotions before and how they play into ones thinking. Tough to figure out at times which one comes first and which influences the other. 🙂

      And wasn’t it you that said that basic human nature is about survival? If so, and if this life has no consciousness after death, there are no real rules for those who want all this one life has to offer in the material sense. Spiritual enlightenment has little value over a brand new Ferrari to end any suffering. One of the other commenters (Tip, I believe) endorses your view that humanity is nowhere near evolved to know what the answer is. How much more time do you figure it will take? Buddhism is 2500 years old and the 2021 Doomsday Clock is 100 seconds to midnight. 😉 🙂

      1. @Chris Wolf
        No that wasn’t me. Existing as corporeal beings is just the starting point. The goal of humans should be to expand our consciousness as much as possible, and it’s the only legitimate reason for human existence. Obsessing or even focusing on the physical/natural world is wrong, and the results of humans doing that for many thousands of years are destruction of the planet and all life here. We should be living as lightly on the Earth as possible, which means in much lower numbers as hunter-gatherers. It will probably take thousands of years to get to that point, but that nevertheless is where we need to get to. And before you or anyone else says it, this would NOT be going “back” or “backward.” It would be a major step FORWARD mentally and spiritually, which is where our focus needs to be. It would only be going back regarding the physical/natural world, with which our interactions should be limited to “look but don’t touch” after we meet our physical needs for basic survival.

  5. When I was much younger, I visited a southern baptist church in Wichita Falls Texas. I attended Sunday school to see what it was like. The teacher pulled out his bible, read a few passages and then slammed it down on his desk and started in berating a church just down the street of another denomination. I concluded that modern Christians must have enemies to function. A very unfortunate attitude which serves the state that also has its “enemies”, real or invented.

    The use of the “fear of enemies” has spread to other institutions. More recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a project to get rid of house mice on the Farallons National Wildlife Refuge. The mice are the enemy and even though they have lived there for something like 150 years causing marginal impacts to the bird life , they must all be killed by poisoning. The poison to be used is a known secondary and tertiary toxin meaning that any bird that consumes a poisoned mouse may also die and if another animal eats the bird it may die as well.

    That the government, which is supposed to protect us and our wildlife heritage, would do such a thing seems contrary to basic morality and life itself. What a metaphor. It speaks of a cult of death. And it seems that our ‘wildlife refuges’ or the ‘refuge of democracy’ exist in name only, subject to the deadly whims of corporate, state control.

    Are we the mice?

    1. Did we learn nothing from Silent Spring? This is absurd and I believe is an example of a captured regulatory agency that does the bidding of those who need to keep selling poisons to make money, not life.

    2. @Beeline
      You have no idea what you’re talking about. The mice on the Farallons are not native and are causing great harm to the native plants and animals there. What Fish & Wildlife proposes, which was also done successfully on one of the Channel Islands, is the ONLY legitimate use of pesticides. Non-native species can be impossible to remove without using pesticides, and sometimes the harms caused by the non-natives are worse than the harms caused by the pesticides.

      Instead of making ridiculous comments like “the mice are the enemy,” you should learn something about ecology, wildlife biology, and natural history. The mice were brought to the Farallons by the colonizers (as stowaways on ships) and they don’t belong there. Invasive species is one of the main causes of the Sixth Great Extinction, and this problem needs to be dealt with.

  6. Love this article and shared it with christian family members. “The least among us” I take a step further and include the flora and fauna, the unseen microscopic life of soils and oceans so necessary to our survival.

  7. Thank you Mr.Hedges for all the work that you do! Merry Christmas to you Sir and a have a Happy New Years! See you in the next year! – Derek

  8. “… Chris Hedges reminds us that the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with purchasable gifts.”

    Whether one accepts the traditional Christmas religious narrative or not, this timeless story packs some powerful messages that are ignored only at one’s peril.

    Like… there is a Divine Spirit and Force in the Universe. That this Power/Divinity is a reality and not just wishful thinking of humans who conjure up something to believe in. That this Divinity exists beyond human acceptance and understanding and It is the fundamental bedrock Ground of our Being of all existence and the source of of our own consciousness of each and every human being on the Planet.

    That this Divinity has an interest in the human family and watches and oversees us but with as little interference as possible to allow humans to find and make their own way out of our personal and social dark caves of ignorance and emptiness. Sure, the Divine could step in and “fix” everything to Its or our liking. But if that were the method used, what would we have learned? How would we ever get in touch with our own power and find our own personal revelations and decide upon our own “truths” and conjure our own versions of personal reality that quantum physics teaches that we are doing when we use our Observation to collapse the Wave Function of endless possibilities? In short, to accomplish
    something meaningful we have to struggle… fail… get frustrated… and yes, succeed and rejoice in the steps of progress that we make along the way.

    The Great Divinity has warned us all about worshiping false gods. And false gods are running loose and wild these days. The false gods of… the faux divinity of The State. The faux credibility of State-Sponsored-Science-For-Profit-And-Social-Control. The false gods of Antisocial Media and State Corporate Mega Media. This warning does not come from divine ego. It comes from giving us a clue about where NOT to find our god.

    And perhaps the biggest false god of all… Ourselves. Yes, we have a spark of the Divine within us. But the totality and majesty of The Divine is much, much bigger than we are individually. When we act as gods ourselves, we deny the True God its universal preeminence and we elevate ourselves to unwarranted status of god over our lives and the lives of others. We mock not The Great Spirit but we make mockery of ourselves.

    God is not religion. God is not some elderly person looking angry and getting offended over every little thing humans do. In fact, God is beyond human understanding. And how could it be otherwise? ‘God’ cannot be a ‘thing’ to be understood beyond just our knowing that we are in the presence of a Power and Intelligence that has shared with us the gift of existing at all. Out of the void and emptiness, we get to be. Just like the binary computer world of zeros and ones. We go from a non-existing state of Zero to the miracle state of being a One.

    “You know—we’re going to conclude on this, but to my mind, this is the essential quandary, really, of the human condition. We don’t have, really, a story of who we are, what we are, why we’re here, what is life all about, what is mortality.”

    And THAT is what makes all this in universe work. WE HAVE TO MAKE OUR OWN ANSWERS to these eternal questions. That’s the whole purpose of this bizarre human experiment. No book of easy
    answers. No FAQs to find shortcuts. No chosen oracles who are going to hand all the secrets of the Universe to you on a platter.

    It’s about us figuring all this stuff out on our own and finding our own best answers. But most of all, to know the Divine is among and within us all. And Who is more real that even we think we are.

    1. What I loved about what Rev. Hedges said was about the strengths of religious belief; mystery, etc. Science is trying to analyze all that mystery and since the destruction is obvious, some have been looking deeper than ever into the mystery of life. It remains the same: God is a no-see-um by most unless you are a scientist using a microscope and understand that god can be a very small, unseen by naked eye, master of a universe gone awry and contrary to the mystery’s intentions. Mr. Hedges, you are my most favorite representative of religion and ethics of all time. You pull it together with Paul Tillich and others that make so much sense. And I love the phrase, “the least of these.” Not being anthropocentric, I take that it includes all life who has no voice within the current value system.

      1. @Johnny
        Religions have been perverted and devolved so that they’re actually ANTI-spiritual. Buddhism may be an exception to some extent, but even this best of all religions now contain elements that are contrary to what Siddhartha advocated.

    2. Roundball Shaman,
      Prove it.
      While I appreciate your enthusiasm, you can’t prove your beliefs. I don’t take “leaps of faith.” One might leap into a good situation or a swamp. Although I’ve loved and admired Chris Hedges for being who he is for many years, he takes no truck with atheists, of which I’m one. There’s no one more moral than he, but I am just as moral as he. We diverge only on religious belief. …and perhaps the value of animals compared to people. I’ll take animals over people any day of the week.

      1. Sorry, can’t ‘prove’ it. But neither can those who deny Divinity. And that’s the beauty of this eternal exercise in rational tension and polarity. No easy answers here because these answers were not meant to be easy. It was set up as such to create tension in our minds and spirits and impel us to seek answers outside of our easy grasp.

        All ‘The Science!’-ists in the World cannot tell you where Consciousness comes from. They cannot tell you how Something came out of Nothing. They can’t tell you where the Spark of Life comes from (and came from in the Beginning). They can’t explain how out of a quantum soup of endless energies and possibilities comes collapse of the Wave Function that conjures reality into a sort of freeze-frame once Observed. They can’t tell you why nearly 100% of an atom is empty space and how subatomic particles are not really ‘things’ at all.

        They can’t tell you what happens to you (not your body, the You that is your Self) after you die. In fact, they really can’t tell you much about anything outside of their heavily structured, narrow-vision approach and protocols that will never be large or fulfilling enough to give us real answers about anything most important in Life.

        They have no answers to these questions. And most likely, they never will. And they can’t because it is beyond their scope and vision. And most of them don’t even want to look.

        But what can and does explain all of these things and much more? A Divine Mind. A Divine Intent. A Divine Power that creates the ground of all being. Call it Source or just The Power.

        No one is compelled to accept these assertions. But no one to date has proposed a more inclusive, more fulfilling answer than that of the presence of Divinity… Source… The Intelligent Power.

        And when I say ‘Divinity’, I’m not talking about some cartoon version of a deity that claims to describe this Force in any complete way. Any Divinity worth anything is by default far beyond the ability of humans to comprehend it.

        For those who accept that such Divinity exists, it is enough to leave it at that.

        For those who are repelled by the idea of Divinity, no answer is ever sufficient.

        And that’s OK for both camps. It really doesn’t matter what others think. But it’s vitally important to discern what we as individuals think for our own self. Because the answer we settle upon is going to run our entire lives. And just maybe, our destiny.

        Divinity does not care whether we accept ‘It’ or not. Human cognition is just an exercise of personal indulgence one way or the others. But great big things are going on in this Universe all around us every moment and we can sense only a tiny sliver of it all.

        And, our acceptance of Divinity is at its core more of a personal knowing beyond the rational. How do we know? We can FEEL IT. And once felt, it can’t be denied.

        And yes, animals have a spark of (small D) divinity in them as well. Another window into the Divine Matrix of Life.

      2. @Roundball Shaman
        We don’t need to prove anything, you do. If you propose something, you’re the one who needs to prove it. The fact that we can’t prove a negative is meaningless.

        Instead of obsessing on some magical divine being, who BTW would be so much more evolved than we are that you wouldn’t have a clue what it is if it were right in your face, why not instead focus on clear facts and expanding your consciousness. THAT’s what real spirituality is, as opposed to religion which is phony BS.

      3. “We don’t need to prove anything, you do.”

        With all due respect, no I don’t. I’ve already stated that Source/The Power is not something that one can ‘convince’ another of. My words are my statement of (personal) experience.

        This MUST be personally experienced. I’ve also stated that no one has to believe anything. It’s personal choice totally. Accept or reject or leave as a question mark. It’s all good. No one could or should convince another person about Divinity. It’s just not a useful goal. This is completely a personal quest should one have the desire to pursue it. I am not less for someone not believing me nor are you any less for not believing me.

        If something happens to you and you believe it to be true… it does not matter whether I or anyone else ‘believes’ in it or that it happened. You know it to be real and that’s all you need for yourself. All the World could remain unconvinced of your experience and that would and should not affect what you know to be true.

        Likewise with Divinity… you are not going to ‘prove’ this in a lab… by a government mandate… in a press release by some religious leader… by some ‘miracle’ out of the blue that appears on demand… that this Divinity will one day land on the White House lawn. In other words, if a ‘non-believer’ is honestly seeking some kind of proof of Divinity there needs to be questions asked first:

        For the ‘non-believer’ : What kind of ‘proof’ am I looking for? What kind of ‘proof’ will I find sufficient? What kind of ‘proof’ will be convincing enough to change my mind? And if the ‘proof’ looks damn convincing, am I strong enough to abandon my previous point of view and make a change or do I just double down on what I previously thought because I didn’t want to be ‘wrong’?

        “Instead of obsessing on some magical divine being…”

        In this there is a problem. Divinity is not a ‘being’ or a ‘thing’ or to be thought of as an object. Some theologians have already well covered this. Divinity is more to be thought of as Divine Power Matrix or Grid… “The Ground of Being (itself)… or just the marriage of Power with Intelligence and Intent. That is a reasonable characterization of true Divinity.

        The idea is… The Divine is not the biggest and fastest and strongest and craftiest player ever on the football field. It is the Power that creates and sustains the existence of the football field itself and all the players on it. It is Divinity that manifests all of this and much more.

        “… religion which is phony BS.”

        Amen to that.

      4. @Roundball Shaman
        It looks like we mostly agree on this. When people mention god to me, I tell them that if something like that exists, it would be like The Force in Star Wars, or universal consciousness. The term “divinity” was the trigger here for me, perhaps there’s a better way to characterize what you mean. Divinity implies religious BS.

      5. Ahh, scientism is the new religion, and, of course, it is sorely disasterous when there is no head to “do unto yourself as you might do unto your neighbor.” You get the idea. Will the precautionary principle overrule the scientism of our day? Do no harm, rule?

        In His eye, no, all of us pantheists or aethists? The great creator, put us here to challenge the dogman, man. Beiefs are dangerous, even inside on person’s head, if they intend to act upon those dangerous beliefs in the name of science, god, country or their own nasty selfishness.

        Again, a heck of a template, this creator? Nasty broken homo sapiens, though the new gods are tech gods, wanting to do transhumanism’s bidding.

        Check out good stuff here — https://siliconicarus.org/

        Good one here, too, those Masonics — On Cyberpunk, Sumer, Synagogues and Vending Machine Government

        https://wrenchinthegears.com/2021/12/31/on-cyberpunk-sumeria-synagogues-and-vending-machine-government/

      6. @Paul+Haeder
        Thing is, there are many different aspects of life. The intellectual aspect, in this case embodied by science, and the spiritual aspect (not religious) are both real aspects. If you obsess on an aspect and ignore the other ones, you are ignorant by definition and you’ll never have a good understanding of life. To be clear, these are only two aspects, there are others.

      7. Roundball Shaman:

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Denying “Divinity” is not an extraordinary claim. Proclaiming the existence of one most certainly is, especially if it’s based on “feelings”. So yes, prove it.

        “Divinity does not care whether we accept ‘It’ or not. ” Uh … how on earth do you know what a “Divinity” cares? This is classic anthropomorphism.

      8. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

        What is ‘evidence’? ‘Evidence’ is trying to ‘satisfy’ the demands of human mentality to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ something. But normal human logic and structured patterns of thinking are extremely narrow and doomed to their failing limitations.

        Humans only perceive frequencies of light and sound and dimension in a laughingly narrow range. Yet, plentiful active frequencies of light and sound (and dimension if one wishes to go that far) always surround us. So how can one ‘prove’ that such expanded frequencies exist within such a limited framework of ability to perceive them? You can’t do it because that from which you are limiting yourself to ‘perceiving’ won’t ever sense them (without the extra help of some device).

        There is plenty of ‘evidence’ of Divinity within normally perceivable limits to satisfy billions of people right now. But for those that are not included with them, again, that’s OK. No one has to be ‘convinced’ of anything. One simply goes on with their life and rejects the notion of Divinity as intended here (‘The Power Matrix/Grid of Intent and Intellect from which everything springs forth). No one has to believe this if they choose not to. But what one does or does not believe as a human being has no effect whatsoever on the (Divine) Matrix Grid from which subatomic particles and the spark of Life comes from and is sustained by… (for those who perceive this in any manner they are able).

        “Denying ‘Divinity’ is not an extraordinary claim.”

        It most certainly is. In fact, in many ways, this claim is more astounding. This claim is just as ‘extraordinary’ as a claim of Divinity seems those who reject the idea. The spark of Life is beyond any human capability to create yet here we all are and we didn’t (and cannot) do this thing to ourselves. And that spark of Life is but one footprint of the Divine.

        “Proclaiming the existence of one most certainly is, especially if it’s based on ‘feelings’.

        As already stated, you can’t ‘prove’ a feeling to someone else. It is impossible. I can’t prove a feeling I have to you any more than you can prove a feeling you are having to me. Can’t be done. Feelings can only be directly experienced.

        “… how on earth do you know what a “Divinity” cares?”

        Divinity has no limitations. It is what lies outside the bounds of space and time (and yes, expressions of it within such as well). ‘Caring’ is a limitation. Divinity is not annoyed or made upset if someone doesn’t accept ‘It’. Sure, the Divine Mind ‘could’ care about everything and anything. But the point is that ‘Its’ existence is in no way dependent on such an idea that it has to have human acceptance. Divinity is complete as Itself and does not need human approval.

        Does the Elephant need the ant to believe the Elephant exists? No, the elephant will get along quite nicely belief or no belief. Divinity existed before humans and It will exist after them should we disappear.

      9. R. Shaman,
        I understanding exactly what you are saying, though I disagree with it. I have a friend who states that no one can know reality; it’s all subjective. I argue that there’s a reality outside of the observation of people that exists no matter who observes it. In other words, yes, the falling tree in the forest does make a sound, even if humans are not there to hear it. You are saying the same thing, yet it’s the opposite of seeing reality. The difference: one can prove facts, sound for example, but not a devinity existing anywhere.
        To each his own.
        Cheers, may 2022 bring a better world. RR

      10. Quantum physics is proving that looking some kind of objective ‘reality’ is not very fruitful. Everything exists in a state of energy flux. Or, as some have described this – effervescence. The smallest bits of objective ‘reality’ are both ‘particles’ and waves simultaneously flashing in and out of existence. And in fact, they can not even be thought as a pieces of ‘anything’.

        Any kind of ‘reality’ that is perceived as objective is just a collapse of that particular wave function into a single apparent state out of countless other possibilities that never go away.

        In my take, The Divine is the Energy Matrix that provides this field of existence and possibilities. And yes, it possesses intelligence and intent. That such a field of energy and intent exists is enough ‘proof’ for me. And when certain personal life experiences are added to the mix here that show Intent far beyond my understanding and abilities, my conclusion can be only one choice. There can be no other conclusion if I am to be honest with myself.

        But this is my experience. Everyone gets their own set of personal experiences and from all these constructs a World view that they choose to live within. That’s why comparing different views of ‘reality’ is fruitful. Like meeting different universes and comparing notes.

        We are all travelers into and out of other people’s universes every moment of every day. Sort of makes life interesting.

        May we each enjoy our chosen universe to the fullest.

      11. @Roundball Shaman
        True spirituality and theoretical physics come to the same conclusions. See The Tao of Physics by physicist Frijof Capra. That book was written decades ago, nothing new about this.

      12. Roundball Shaman,

        Belief in the divine is just that: belief. Everyone is welcome to his/her beliefs, but let’s not confuse belief with anything verifiable. When we ask you to prove it, that’s what we mean. Heck, kids still believe in the tooth fairy, but it’s not for us to prove that there is no such thing, surely!

        Now is it convenient (and fun) to perpetuate certain rites and rituals and myths? If it makes the kids happy to find a coin under their pillow, I suppose we can all live with that. But why must we continue the fiction once they’ve reached a certain stage of consciousness?

        Isn’t that what humans have to do as well in relation to the “divine”? How long must we be trapped in a belief system — especially competing with other belief systems — when the evidence before our very eyes and within our own minds and experiences is that the world is (can be) a wondrous place without any further explanation. Can we not just watch a beautiful sunset without invoking either science or the divine? Can we not be repelled by wanton cruelty without having to hang this revulsion on some religious hook?

        Why muddy the waters with creation myths and floods and pairs of animals, and the necessity of a creator (a jealous god) who watches our every move and monitors our every thought; or the necessity of a scapegoat to be sacrificed on a cross in order to “save” mankind (well Christians at any rate). The very thought is grotesque — but we know that the crucifixion is just another incarnation of an ancient idea, an archetypal theme: The king is dead, long live the king!

        Which is not to say that one can’t learn something from the supposed teachings of Christ (or at least the idea of Christ, because the lack of hard evidence or even incontrovertible circumstantial evidence — that word again! — leads one to doubt such a person ever existed as depicted), but then there are plenty of other gurus who’ve also had some pretty insightful lessons for humanity. And you know what? All these teachings emanated from a succession of charismatic individuals (real or fictitious) who were able to make imaginative connections that resonated with their followers in very specific cultural contexts. Philosopher poets, peddling hope and fear, love and hate, tolerance and brutal absolutism.

        There’s this appealing notion that Buddhism is a peaceful religion that leads to a personal awakening, and expanded consciousness. Well let’s ask the Rohingya about that, shall we? Is there any place, or any creed, where tribalism doesn’t rear its ugly head? Here, we call it the culture wars when it’s not racism pure and simple. And scapegoating is its stock-in-trade.

        And meanwhile I have a family member who has been sucked into a quasi-Buddhist cultish group (lots of pretty butterflies and images of rainbows and wide open skies) which is exploiting her financially and psychologically; she’s a “trainer” (tutor, teacher … they all have one, don’t they …) and I’ve witnessed her teaching sessions, replete with proprietary jargon and mind-numbing pseudo-psychobabble. But she’s well and truly hooked. Not overtly damaging enough for us to instigate a full frontal intervention, but still …

        (Oh please don’t anyone ask me to read the Bible to find any “proofs” of the divine, or of Christ’s existence — ugh!)

      13. “…why must we continue the fiction once they’ve reached a certain stage of consciousness?”

        The way many children are ‘taught’ by their parents (and the State indoctrination centers aka schools
        and much of organized religion) is most certainly a form a child abuse. Widespread and pervasive. Generational. They pass along some version of Plato’s Dark Cave and call that child rearing and education. And it goes on and on… until some responsible parents stop this abuse. Or the child figures this out and gets out of the pit.

        In prior generations, there were some who seriously challenged what they were being fed by the older ones. Sadly, that quality seems to be disappearing from many of the younger people today and that’s just fine with the Dark Powers now pulling the strings. The Borg may be winning.

        “How long must we be trapped in a belief system…”

        Never. Not for a moment.

        “… when the evidence before our very eyes and within our own minds and experiences is that the world is (can be) a wondrous place without any further explanation.”

        Nothing wrong with that. It is the declaration of some who believe this way that there is ‘no Divine’ where the problem starts. Maybe there is no sense of the Divine FOR THEM… but they cannot make judgments over what other people are experiencing. That’s like saying there is no life other planets. The only rational way this can be said is after one has visited every planet in the universe. And maybe then it still wouldn’t be true. All one could say is that they don’t THINK there is a God, not that there IS NO God.

        “Why muddy the waters with creation myths and floods and pairs of animals…”

        Consider the age and times when this narrative began. What else did they have to satisfy their deep need for cosmic answers? They did the best they could at the time. Just as we are now in our times.

        “…and the necessity of a creator (a jealous god)…”

        God is NOT jealous. Plenty of ‘religious’ people will assert this. But jealousy is a base-level human emotion that has nothing to do with Divinity. People who say this are just parroting what some foolish dogma was pumped into them.

        “Is there any place, or any creed, where tribalism doesn’t rear its ugly head?”

        Tribalism is mind virus bred and embedded deep into the human spirit. We may never get rid of it. But when someone realizes that they are NOT their collection of beliefs and chosen narratives and chosen groups to identify with but they are something far greater than those silly limitations, that’s when the spell of tribalism is broken. Once this has been done, tribalism looks ridiculous and laughable.

        “… I have a family member who has been sucked into a quasi-Buddhist cultish group…”

        One of the great gifts of Life we have all been given is to be wrong and make bad choices. Not saying here that this is what this person has done, only that part of the human bargain is that we can be wrong about things and make an utter mess of our lives.

        And why would the Divine ‘allow’ that? So we ourselves finally get sick of the mess we’ve made for ourselves and we try to do something to fix it. If Divinity steps in and does this for us we would have learning nothing for ourselves.

      14. @Roundball Shaman
        I’d go further to say that there definitely IS something wrong with young people today, because they don’t rebel against the establishment. Youth rebellion is as old as civilization, but it’s dying or dead. My guess, and it’s just a guess but it seems logical, is that because children are no longer allowed to just go outside and play regularly (they hysterically have to be supervised and watched at all times) and because they’re constantly staring at some electronic screen, they’ve lost all sense of reality and are totally brainwashed.

        The Borg HAVE won, and this includes adults. DEVO’s theory that humans are devolving into a race of robots has been confirmed. The only exceptions I know of are hunter-gatherers, and a very few isolated agricultural societies that live very minimally in a material sense.

        There is nothing wrong with actual tribalism. Hell, that’s how all of us should be living: it’s the only natural way to live, and living in civilization is destroying the planet. We should live in exponentially smaller numbers and without industrial means of travel, which would require living tribally. Of course “tribalism” has been weaponized as a bad thing by those who are upset about partisan bickering, and I have no problem with opposing this idiotic bickering & fighting for no good reason. But denigrating people who live naturally or a natural way to live is unjustified.

        BTW, jealousy is NOT a human emotion. Horses are by far the most jealous animals I’ve been around, and that includes humans. Jealousy is a natural animal emotion. Because humans have so much more power than other animals (large intellect, self-consciousness, walk upright, opposable thumbs, etc.), we have a lot more responsibility to control these emotions than other animals do, because we can do more harm if we don’t control them. But that doesn’t make jealousy a “virus” (another denigration of a different form of life, you really need to check your anthropocentrism) or anything bad.

      15. “I’d go further to say that there definitely IS something wrong with young people today, because they don’t rebel against the establishment.”

        Rebellion by the younger generation is a healthy right of passage. This signals the young people entering adulthood and leaving their infancy behind. Rebellion is necessary for the health of society because in rebellion is vitality and questioning of ideas and attitudes that were foisted upon the young. That which is behind passed down to the young must be challenged and the young need to feel the joy of setting their own paths. Changing styles in music and clothes has always been a public face of this evolution. Without developmental rebellion, society withers and dies. We’re well in to that process of societal dying right now.

        “There is nothing wrong with actual tribalism.”

        This is true. My use of ‘tribalism’ was in the sense of toxic inbred separatism and judgmentalism used by certain groups as a weapon against others.

        “But that doesn’t make jealousy a ‘virus’…”

        Again, this was a reference to toxic jealousy as a form of rampant selfishness and me-ism that everything that one might covet ‘must’ be theirs to possess or their feelings will be hurt. Jealousy if used as a positive motivation of ‘gee I’d sure like to have what they have’ can be used as a positive energy.

      16. I see you haven’t struggled in newsrooms, in classrooms, in homeless facilities for youth, in prisons, and teaching college to young and old, even prisoners and military.

        Decades of colonizing of the minds. K12 needed radical thinkers, hands on doers, encampments, and a total rejection of the masters of MBA schools, the admin class, the Chromebooks, the billion dollar sports systems, and buses and cafeterias supported by PepsiCo, CocaCola, Pizza Hut, etc.

        Prisons, my friends.

        Then, all the perverse entertainment, the videos, the movies, the celebrities magazines and then TV shows and then reality screen time. With more worthless, but rich in shekels humanity (sic).

        Then, trillions spent on military, and then military colonizing media, academia, entertainment, the whole nine yards.

        The police state, the fine-penalize-foreclose-repo-toll-tax-code enforce-ticket society now on steroids for the banks, the data banks, the soul and mind snatchers.

        A pretty steep hill to climb, when the gray hairs and the 15 Percenters are professional grifters, dream hoarders, and, then their masters, One Percent and Four Percent, wow, what monsters.

        Living in a monster society, with jelly for backbones adults, with the buy buy buy, sell sell sell of Capitalism on Shocks, Infected with Parasites, Child Predators, Zombie and Destructive, all for a US of Murder Incorporated, going back to the beginnings of this genocide nation, well, good luck on getting youth to rebel, resist, hack the system, subterfuge it all.

        Digital gulags, QR passbooks, own nothing and WEF/4IR/Soros/Bloomberg/Davos Crowd and Tech Fascists will take care of your gene-edited, internet of bodies lives.

        I am not seeing rebellion in many old or middle aged or 30 somethings!

      17. “Digital gulags, QR passbooks, own nothing and WEF/4IR/Soros/Bloomberg/Davos Crowd and Tech Fascists will take care of your gene-edited, internet of bodies lives.”

        As for youthful rebellion or just rebellion in general…

        There is a negative and positive way to use most anything. A hammer can be used to build a house or to do serious damage to another’s property.

        Of course there are negative or destructive manifestations of rebellion. Those are simply an acting out of our lower emotions and baser human drives. I advocate healthy questioning and pushing back to test the strength and value and authenticity of embedded ideas and habits.

        Many of the things you cite are evidence not of rebellion of course but of herding we the sheep into pens for our sheering or worse. There is a Predator Class running wild these days and They have their hands on the steering wheels of most everything around us. In other words, there are numerous places where healthy rebellion can be utilized today but people have become so robotized and empty of energy and spirit that they choose to do nothing and follow the predator shepherds right into our pens of slavery and worse.

        “I am not seeing rebellion in many old or middle aged or 30 somethings!”

        ‘Not Questioning’ today is rewarded. Questioning is punished. Following Orders is rewarded. Pushing back is punished. Parroting narratives that are promoted by the Predator Class is rewarded. Having competing ideas is punished and one is cancelled and erased or worse. ‘Following the crowd’ is expected and anyone who does not do so is seen as anything from a troublemaker to a dangerous maniac who must be denied a place in society.

        In short, all generations today are marching headlong into their dead-end dark alley. The older generations have lost their spirit. Much of the younger generation has yet to find one.

        The Divine seeks and promotes individuality and uniqueness. The Predator Class seeks dehumanization and that one is just a cog in Their wheel. Without a healthy spirit of rebellion… this Planet has no future.

      18. @Paul+Haeder
        I don’t see anything substantially different in the problems you mentioned between the ’60s or even the ’90s and now. And it doesn’t matter whether older people are rebelling, we’re talking about YOUTH rebellion, and rebellion usually comes from the youth.

      19. Lyrr Descy, I don’t know if this response should go to you or Shaman.R.
        Thanks for your considered response, but if your are going to quote me at the beginning, please include the entire comment, not cut it off, leaving the gist unsaid. Anyway, to me, all religions are cults. I was at a party with many professors from a liberal college, several were from the Religious Studies Department (purely academic) and one guy, when I said all religions are cults, said, “No, it’s hard to leave a cult.” I knew he had been raised a Catholic and had left the church. I asked him how hard it was to leave his religion. He stared a minute, and said, “Oh, right.” It had been darn hard, with his entire family against him.
        BTW, it’s up to the believer of the divine to prove his/her belief, not the non-believer. Otherwise, leave off concrete statements.
        Oh, yes, I, too, love the world and all the beauty in it, but never deny the evil that’s out there.

      20. @Rob Roy
        It’s vitally important to distinguish religion from spirituality. In fact, they are pretty much the opposite. The most fundamental thing wrong with humans is their lack of spirituality, because the lack of feeling a oneness with everything allows or causes people to harm others, including non-humans and the Earth. If people had an adequate level of spirituality, we’d all be living as hunter-gatherers and would be focusing on expanding our consciousness instead of unnaturally harming the natural world for our own benefit. In a nutshell, spirituality good, religion bad.

        The only exception regarding the major religions is Buddhism, but even that religion has been grossly perverted. Siddhartha was on the right path, and Buddhism has retained many of its good aspects much better than the other major religions, but there are still problems with it due to the entropy that all institutions suffer.

      21. “… to me, all religions are cults.”

        The deeper one gets into organized religion institutions, the more one sees and experiences just how cult-like they all are. The religion tries to present a beneficent public image to attract new adherents, but inside it is not a pretty picture.

        The mind control is crushing. The robotized behavior is pervasive and stifling. And anyone who does not adequately mimic the expected behaviors and attitudes of the ‘faithful’ are driven out one way or the other.

        This is not to diminish anyone who finds something positive in religious institutions. If that is your experience, good for you.

        But the fact remains that we are surrounded by nothing but cults these days. Political cults, religious cults, ‘social-activist’ cults, climate cults, etc.

        We are like mice that are fully surrounded by numerous big traps baited with cheese. And once caught, that’s when our fun really begins.

      22. Rob Roy,

        Sorry, I don’t know which quote you’re referring to. I don’t think I quoted you anywhere, except maybe several of us are using the phrase “prove it.” Otherwise I don’t think it’s anything I wrote, so maybe your remark was intended for someone else.

      23. Roundball Shaman,

        I don’t think I’d equate the possibility (likelihood) of other forms of life in the universe with the possibility of the existence of a divine being. We know what ingredients are needed for life to occur (carbon-based life), and we have a good idea of the conditions in which life might emerge and evolve.

        It’s quite true that none of us can prove anything with regard to the personal experiences of another. But that has nothing to do with an objective divinity. Consciousness of, or belief in, a divine being must surely be a subjective experience, which can be explained in cultural, psychological as well as biological terms, and even via chemistry.

        Already we hear of a God gene, but it’s not likely that theists and atheists are genetically distinct. Beliefs are inculcated by parents and other mentors or authority figures, in specific cultural contexts. The fact that religions and spiritual pursuits share common themes only speaks to the universality of the human condition: the desire for connection, for meaning, for hope in the face of suffering and the inexplicable — all those things outside our control that we don’t want to believe are simply random.

        At root is an overwhelming desire to find patterns, and rites and traditions to perpetuate natural forces that are benign, and to ward off those that are not. This same desire fuels conspiracy theories and groups like Q-Anon which attempt to find for certain events explanations that serve as bias confirmation. It really doesn’t matter what the reality is.

        The propensity to believe in something outside ourselves (formerly as an explanation for the mystifying workings of the natural world) is no doubt ingrained, but that’s because it satisfies a need that is both subjective and communal. But it has nothing to do with an actual, objective divinity.

        To quote Voltaire: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” Of course this can be interpreted to mean that God does in fact exist, but I lean towards the alternative reading, which is the ironic recognition that Man (humans) did in fact invent God. I would say that Man created God in HIS (Man’s) own image, rather than the other way around. It’s that anthropomorphism at work again.

        At best Voltaire was a deist, and he held no truck with the priesthood or rites and rituals.

        “There may be some good in religion, but an intelligent man does not need it as a support to morality; too often, in history, it has been used by priests to bemuse the public mind while kings picked the public pocket. ”

        “Virtue should be defined in terms of social good rather than obedience to God, and it should not depend upon rewards and punishments after death. ”

        “Écrasez l’infâme! Crush infamy!” By which he meant religion organized to propagate tribal allegiance, mythology and superstition (often targeting the poor or people without hope, and of course the credulous) as well as “learned councils assembled to debate whether one absurdity or another should become part of the infallible creed. The Church, basing its power on the popular appetite for consolatory myths.”

        So I would contend that divinity, insofar as it exists, does so within the confines of the consciousness of the individual who affirmatively CHOOSES to believe, and has nothing to do with the rest of us who regard such a choice as irrelevant. We don’t CHOOSE to disbelieve, because one doesn’t have to affirmatively pick sides when only one “side” has any objective truth, just as we don’t CHOOSE to disbelieve in the tooth fairy or in Santa. I personally resist the label “atheist” because I don’t need to define myself as something that I’m NOT, only something that I AM. Call me a humanistic naturalist.

        Incidentally, the French word for a religious denomination or sect is “culte” — le culte catholique, le culte musulman, le culte judaïque, le culte bouddhiste …

      24. “It’s quite true that none of us can prove anything with regard to the personal experiences of another. But that has nothing to do with an objective divinity.”

        But that is what I’m saying (for myself). Personal experiences I’ve had was my real introduction to (an Objective) Divinity… much more than anything I ever learned in a church or elsewhere. In my case it did have to do with objective divinity. That’s when Divinity became real for me and not just an idea or theological construct.

        “At root is an overwhelming desire to find patterns, and rites and traditions to perpetuate natural forces that are benign, and to ward off those that are not.”

        This is true. I like how Joseph Campbell describes things… ‘what we really seek is the feeling of BEING ALIVE’. I would add that discerning patterns become a bonus.

        “The propensity to believe in something outside ourselves (formerly as an explanation for the mystifying workings of the natural world) is no doubt ingrained, but that’s because it satisfies a need that is both subjective and communal. But it has nothing to do with an actual, objective divinity.”

        I would agree that the need to believe anything in a human is separate from the existence of an actual objective divinity. But when these two things intersect in the same space is when and where one has the kind of personal encounter with Divinity that I have been describing. It’s a form of Theological/Experiential/Personal ‘Orgasm’ that one is changed by.

        “We don’t CHOOSE to disbelieve, because one doesn’t have to affirmatively pick sides…”

        Again, this is true. Nor did I ‘choose’ or ‘will’ myself to have the kind of experience of encountering the Divine. It just happens. And for that I am eternally grateful. I do not share this to ‘convince’ but to offer this into the Life Matrix for whatever one might wish to do with it.

        Whatever way a person chooses to believe about and experience Life… they do not need to mimic my experience of course but I fervently hope that they can experience something akin to it in their own style or manner because when they do they will be forever changed and enriched.

      25. I was twenty three, lying on a rooftop working on my suntan, and reading a spiritual book. I got tired, put the book down, and accidentally drifted off into that place of unity, divinity, understanding, compassion, and wordless instruction: “The Silence.” It happened to me several times over the next two years. And then no more. That was thirty one years ago.

        I’m guessing only a small percentage of Americans have experienced this. Otherwise, they would need no convincing and they would be making very different choices. When I read comments like, “Prove it,” regarding divinity, it seems like trying to convince them is an exercise in futility. If I were to cover the eyes of a newborn with red cellophane so that the child grew up only seeing the world in shades of red, how could I ever prove green or yellow? The Silence is like a door to a whole different reality. It seems if they truly wanted to find, they would try harder to seek. “Prove it” doesn’t sound like a sincere request, but a statement of obstinacy.

        I applaud you for trying. I’ve enjoyed your comments.

      26. “I… drifted off into that place of unity, divinity, understanding, compassion, and wordless instruction: ‘The Silence.’ It happened to me several times over the next two years. And then no more. That was thirty one years ago.”

        Once you’ve ‘been there’ you’re changed forever. And as you’ve expressed this, you never know how and when and why something like that happens. You’re just thankful and glad that it did.

        I hope you will experience that again. In fact – in the Higher Realms that await us – you will.

        And yes, it’s a challenge trying to convey with words and experience that which is beyond words and our usual state of being. But until and unless someone encounters such an experience personally, words is all we have.

      27. Yes! It did change me forever and my life choices reflect that.

        Years after these experiences ended, I took a week-long retreat at a monastery, hoping to empty my busy mind enough to make room for the Divine to visit again. No go. I learned you can’t force a Divine experience to happen. It is a gift. I do trust I will be right back at that warm place again after my final breath, but hopefully sooner.

      28. @Julie Ashton
        It’s not about forcing anything. As we were taught in Buddhism, “they will come when they are ready.” Work on shedding your desires (not forcefully, but naturally) and on expanding your consciousness. That’s as good as it gets for base corporeal beings like us. If you are really lucky, you might reach a state of relative enlightenment, which his the most you can hope to attain from this position in life.

      29. “I learned you can’t force a Divine experience to happen. It is a gift.”

        If a person could write a “How-To” book on encountering Divinity or “Five Easy Ways To Have a Mystical Experience” they could make a fortune. Yes, ‘quick and easy’. Woven into the fabric of American Life. And many of us might wish that everything could be that way.

        But as I stated earlier, this Life Matrix was designed specifically NOT to make such things quick and easy. A degree of difficulty and subtlety was built in order that the process itself would yield valuable lessons to the Seeker. But adding difficulty does not mean impossibility. It just means that the Seeker must find his and her own individual path to such spiritual riches and encounters and there is no one-size-fits-all. And that also makes the achievement of such wondrous states that much more revealing and fulfilling.

        An ironic thing about these Divine and mystical encounters is that while they are not subject to a simple formula, one does just ease into them. No forcing. No ‘working at it’. While one can develop techniques to empty the mind and achieve more peaceful states and higher brain wave activity (lots of books already written on that), there is a gentle just slipping into these Higher States that requires no particular ‘effort’.

        And then one is left with the feeling, ‘Wow… where did THAT come from?!’

      30. @Roundball Shaman
        When I was about 20, I was doing acid with my girlfriend and another friend at the friend’s house. I got upset about some trivial matter, and in order to get my head back into the right place, I did some meditation exercise (don’t remember what, it was about 45 years ago). Next thing I knew, when I looked around the room, I was sitting there with the other two people. I neither know nor claim to know what that was, except that I was definitely in an elevated state of consciousness (which I took advantage of by experiencing the “game of life” and the oneness of everything).

        Did I “leave my body”? If so, what am “I”? Is there an independent “me,” or am “I” just a minuscule part of the universal consciousness (I think the latter)?

        My point is that, as the saying goes, the universe is an ocean and our knowledge of it a mere drop. I don’t believe anyone who claims to have answers to these questions, because those answers are far beyond what humans are capable of knowing at their very rudimentary level of consciousness. Better to continue to inquire and to work on expanding one’s consciousness instead of claiming that one has answers to these types of things.

      31. “… was definitely in an elevated state of consciousness (which I took advantage of by experiencing the “game of life” and the oneness of everything)…Did I ‘leave my body’”?

        Our bodies are not solid because they are made of subatomic particles that are not solid. So in a sense, we are ALWAYS ‘outside’ of our bodies.

        “If so, what am ‘I’? Is there an independent “me,” or am “I” just a minuscule part of the universal consciousness (I think the latter)?”

        There is a ‘You’ that you can either experience as separate or (as you shared above), as part of the larger Whole of Reality. It is like tuning the viewfinder on a pair of binoculars. You can fine tune it down to a tight, narrow perspective, or you can widen it out and see/experience a whole lot more. Sometimes using or not using something external to ourselves to stimulate the experience.

        And of course, our true essence is non-material and is Consciousness itself. We are the eyes (without form) that experience Life.

        “…the universe is an ocean and our knowledge of it a mere drop. I don’t believe anyone who claims to have answers to these questions…”

        I don’t believe anyone who claims to have ‘answers’ either. What we have is to make a best judgment at any given moment of all the information and experience we have acquired in our lives and work up some kind of useful outline that is constantly being updated and refined. And then, we share our outline with others.

        “…those answers are far beyond what humans are capable of knowing at their very rudimentary level of consciousness.”

        This is why the only way to approach a clearer understanding of our Life experience is to ‘get out of our own heads’… set aside ingrained ideas, limiting ideas, etc.

        What comes first? The ‘experience’ or a ‘definition’ of it? Legalists and Fundamentalists want to embrace the definition first and force their Life experience to fit within it. Honest Seekers embrace the experience first and then try to ‘define’ what they experienced in as honest a way as they can later. But the experience is always primary because the definitions will change over time (if one lives with an open and seeking mind).

      32. @Julie Ashton
        The big problem here, at least for me, is the term “divinity.” That term evokes all sorts of evil religious crap among anyone grounded in reality (and by “reality” I don’t mean only the intellectual realm, I mean excluding religious/superstitious BS). Do you mean “universal consciousness”? If so, why not just say so?

      33. “… the term “divinity.” That term evokes all sorts of evil religious crap among anyone grounded in reality..”

        I was raised a Roman Catholic. I did not have bad experiences with the church. I graduated from a Catholic high school I liked. The nuns were nice. I have walked into cathedrals and seen the beauty of the creator reflected in the vaults, the stained glass, mosaics, and statues. I have been transported to a higher place listening to the angelic music of Vivaldi (an Italian priest). I have been lovingly held by a nun as I cried after my mother died. I have benefited from retreats at monasteries. There actually are a lot of good people in the church.

        Because I am a critical thinker, I left the church at eighteen. I do believe there was a Jesus and I agree with his teachings. I don’t believe he was the only son of God, born of a virgin, and sacrificed as a ransom for our sins. I don’t believe the eucharistic is the literal body and blood of Christ. I don’t believe premarital sex or abortion are sins. I have sifted out what rings good and true and speaks to me about Christianity and discarded the rest. I would argue that all the evil perpetrated in the name of religion is what man has done to God and not what God has done to man. Man has fashioned God in his image, hence the sociopathic, jealous God of the Old Testament. I think many evil people hide within the church. I think those who believe that every word of the Bible is the inerrant word of God are cowardly and not using their God given brain. I think the vast majority of the Bible is a history book that has been used and abused for control. So there is a lot to throw out. I can, however, find small gems of divinity if I look carefully: John I, James, Hebrews.

        You have thrown out the baby with the bath water. (The same as you’ve done with dogs, which you “hate.”) For me the word “Divinity” evokes a warm, loving, grace-filled embrace. You have decided that the term “divinity” evokes “crap” for you and for those who you deem are “grounded in reality.” It is interesting you can find nothing good at all regarding religion. I have read a lot of Eastern/ New Age type books. Again, I had to sift out the good from the bad. And the bad, as I see it, is the appeal to ego and the danger of thinking you are superior to others for being “enlightened” and for “raising your consciousness” or having mystical experiences.

        I am in almost total agreement with you regarding politics and the environment, so these strongly negative reactions you have to religious language and dogs strike me as grounded in emotion rather than logic. Did you have some really bad experiences?

      34. @Julie Ashton
        I’m glad you didn’t have a bad experience with your church. However:

        1. Ask the Natives of what are now the Americas or what is now Australia about their experiences with Christianity.

        2. Religions are evil, and the fanatic monotheistic religions are the worst of them. Instead of promoting spirituality as religions were originally meant to do, they do just the opposite. The concept of one god is authoritarian BS, and the concepts of heaven & hell and of body & spirit are as anti-spiritual as it gets, because a fundamental concept in spirituality is oneness, and these concepts promote false dualities.

        3. The Christian Judaeo (and Muslim?) concept that humans should have dominion over the Earth and all life here is totally immoral and anti-environmental. If anything, humans should worship nature and live within its limits instead of constantly and harmfully manipulating it.

      35. “Ask the Natives of what are now the Americas or what is now Australia about their experiences with Christianity… The Christian Judaeo (and Muslim?) concept that humans should have dominion over the Earth and all life here is totally immoral and anti-environmental.”

        What about Nation States? Like the powers of Europe of France and Spain and England deciding for themselves that the North American Continent was ‘Their property’ for their conquest and pillaging and carving up? Yes, certain religions did terrible things to the Native people without question. But it looks like terrible things were going their way one way or the other. That’s what a misguided sense of privilege and dehumanization of humans fosters, whether that sense comes from a religion or another direction. Those Nation States may or may not have used religion for their cover but if They did that was just a convenient excuse for what They were going to do anyway.

        “If anything, humans should worship nature and live within its limits instead of constantly and harmfully manipulating it.”

        Like the Native Peoples have done for thousands of years. But they also do believe in a ‘Great Spirit’, too.

      36. @Roundball Shaman
        The lone exceptions I make for religion not being evil is where the religion worships nature and is actually spiritual. Traditional indigenous religions generally fit that exception.

      37. “The lone exceptions I make for religion not being evil is where the religion worships nature and is actually spiritual.”

        The most central core for any religion is: What are we truly (REALLY) worshiping?

        If the answer to that is actually dogmas and doctrines and traditions and notions of a God that only fits within those tightly-formed dogmas and doctrines and traditions… then it could be said that those religions are ‘evil’. Because for any religion to be valid and useful and life-giving, the central focus and default setting of it must always be upon the Deity… the Giver of Life… the Power… the Source… the Energy Matrix of Life.

        Nature is in many ways the purest and most evident manifestation of that Source Life Matrix. For nature does not concoct dogmas and doctrines and traditions and notions… it just lives and exists without any contrivance of human thought being laid down over it.

        The majesty of the procession of the Seasons… the rising and setting of the Sun in our perception… the curiosity shown by animals as they encounter something of interest in their daily path… the miracle of plant and sea life… on and on it goes.

        Whether one encounters The Source somehow sitting in a church or with a walk through nature or just enjoying eating a good salad… how it happens is not as important as THAT it happens.

        Native cultures in many ways are so much more evolved than technology-lusting, nature-denying First World environments. Those who turn their backs on Native cultures are turning their backs on wisdom that will save us from what our World today has devolved in to.

      38. “I would argue that all the evil perpetrated in the name of religion is what man has done to God and not what God has done to man. Man has fashioned God in his image…”

        The First Commandment is a warning not to believe in ‘false gods’. When one puts anything in their Life in primary position rather than the seeking of the Divine… they have put some other ‘god’ in first position for them. This is a Mind and Spirit default virus from which all our other problems develop from.

        This doesn’t mean you sit around all day pondering your navel and chanting or singing hymns. But it does mean that you can see the Divine all around you if you honestly look for it. You just go on about your Life and you’ll still find it.

        “For me the word ‘Divinity’ evokes a warm, loving, grace-filled embrace.”

        We can each find the Divine in our lives in many different places and ways. That’s because in whatever direction one looks… the end or source point of that manifestation is part of the Divine Matrix (‘The Source’). You can’t help but see the Divine whether one recognizes that in their consciousness or not.

        I use the word ‘Divine’ because the letters G, O with D and have hijacked to a great degree and many people just shut down as soon as it is used. Many shut down because they have had bad experiences with organized religion and they don’t realize that the Divine is not the property of religion.

  9. With ever abiding thanks to Chris and Robert for this excellent and meditative post. It is indeed very hard to feel joyous about much during this Christmastide (and this irrespective of C-19) further to the ongoing assaults on human rights (e.g. Myanmar and Ethiopia) at this time, and especially when young children are very literally starving to death in Afghanistan as I tap this out, and this in large measure as a result of American foreign policies that are wholly self interested (despite pretending not to be) and essentially neoliberal in their emphases etc. I regret to say – and this to the chagrin of Americans at this website – that your country has very regrettably been a force for bad rather than good throughout the world post Eisenhower and this as it pertains to the interconnected vicissitudes of imperialism that you have imposed upon the world further to those twin golden calf obsessions which are Moloch and your insane belief in rationalism as the only way of being – as especially testified to by at this time of the year (as well as Easter) by your inane belief in the literalness of the Bible. Americans would do very well to attempt to understand that very great book from the aspect of the depth psychology and the symbolic non-literalness that is contained within it as opposed to any ongoing literalisation, and this if even most Americans are of course incapable of doing that further to them being so imbued by the kind of culture which has now produced Trump, while too, glorifying in their ignorance of the world and other cultures within it. Finally, and in regard to the above interlocker who cited the Hitchens quote, Hitchens gets it wrong in regard to his rant: His attack on religion has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christ who is depicted in the New Testament, while that is an image (or rather ‘imago’ in terms that are expressive of depth psychology) that we should all genuinely try to live up to, even if, things will of course regrettably be resuming ‘normal transmission’ once again (as commensurate with the mega USA capitalist ideology ethos which now pervades the whole western world) when all the Satyricon-like feasting is finally over!

    1. Hi Marcus,

      With all respect to your point of view, Hitchens made a valid observation. People who are psychologically dependent on one form of authoritarian belief are far more prone to accept the same from government. If you read Hitchens’ book “God is Not Great, How religion poisons everything” he makes a good case for religion being an authoritarian doctrine used to manipulate the masses through one of the most basic human emotions – Fear.

      Hedges (whom I greatly admire) has obviously thought through his concept of religion and put the fear factor on the back burner. I doubt most true believers have gone this far in their thinking. 🙂

      1. Dear Herr Wolf,

        Thanks for your reply, while my only real point in citing your post was to make a delineation between the Christ (and therein the Christ-ian) image which is depicted in the Gospels, and that concept of organised (state or otherwise) and systematic religion which the late Herr Hitchens very legitimately attacked in his ‘GING’ (with its title of course initially being more a pun on Islam than Christianity). Well of course ‘religion’ in its external guise can be and is a social engineering tool, and potentially too, an organising instrument which is employed by the modern secular state, while aside from pointing to the more obvious Islamic countries and too, in the case of so-called Christian nations, almost all 20th century totalitarian western Governments (especially romance language speaking ones i.e. of Spanish and Portuguese heritage) as being examples of that, one of the best depictions in art of this condition can be seen in Puccini’s opera, ‘Tosca’. Again, and further to one having laboured it above, organised religion has nothing to do with the non literal Christ who is depicted in the New Testament, and this in the same way that many variants of Islam (aside from the more radical aspects) have no relation to The Koran and the message that are contained within that equally ‘great book’, with these conditions being similarly commensurate with other religions. That said, and further to your initial post, the greater culprit in this space perhaps is the above ‘JR’ following her/his assault on the literalism of Christ’s actual existence, while that contention of course matters not one iota! What matters far more are the expression of – in the case of Christianity – those sentiments which Christ sought to extend toward others as ‘live by principles’, while other than that, I for one have no truck whatsoever with that old saw which was uttered by Marx concerning ‘religion being the opium of the masses’. Indeed, the real reason for why that recognition was so palpable then, with it of course remaining so now – and this arguably more caustically so these days given its mix up with nationalism – is because the vast majority of people cannot think critically, and for that matter, do not want to ‘think’ further to those disquiets – as Heideggar knew – which “thinking” causes in them, while rather than this being a value judgement on other persons, it’s more a reflection on my own practice years in the consulting room. As the great Erich Fromm understood following his iconoclastic work, ‘The Fear of Freedom’, the fact is that most people essentially want ‘a belief crutch’ (religious or otherwise) that is external to themselves; albeit this ‘biologically and therein naturally so’, and this too further to what Andre Malraux has called ‘the human condition’ being inclusive of the inherent need that persons have for meaning and connection. Nevertheless, and in conclusion to my herein retort asseverations, that is assuredly an absolute which neither Messrs’ Hitchens, Dawkins, ‘JR’ – or dare I say as well, your own good self – can ever extinguish.

      2. Dear Chris W.,

        By way of an addendum, I realised after sending my reply to you, that I didn’t respond to your second paragraph by means of the defence of the Rev. Chris Hedges (who of course has also been a minister for a long time rather than being the pseudo priest that ‘Simon’ herein claims him to be!) while again, I totally concur with Hitchens’ view that external organised religion is an authoritarian doctrinarism form which distorts and corrupts the ontologies of persons. That said, one might assert, in recalling Herr Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ title, that CH has gone ‘beyond fear’ further to his, as you say, parking of it, while in his ‘sermon’ to us herein, he demonstrates many of those characteristics which are aligned with the Christ in the Gospels. Indeed, Hedges is for me the modern equivalent of Christ in the temple where those money changers reside (with them having nowadays transformed into the corrupt and morally bankrupt persons in Congress, and throughout America’s corporation apparatus etc.), while his courage (along with that of his great friend, Cornell West) in going on the offensive in regard to that immensely all pervasive juggernaut ought to be a genuine inspiration to all of us who similarly quest for that nowadays ‘gone into witness protection’ value that is the truth!

      3. @Chris Wolf
        I was at a Chris Hedges presentation that quickly turned from being political to being spiritual. Hedges’s form of Christianity is what Jesus preached. While I have some spiritual differences with Jesus — I’m more of a Buddhist — his teachings were good and I generally agree with his attitude toward life. Of course the vast majority of “Christians” are actually the opposite of what Jesus taught, and they’d be the first to kill him if he were alive now (maybe they’d torture & imprison him instead, which is the modern form of political execution in the West).

      4. Hi Marcus,

        Very interesting and thought provoking comments. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

        Skeptics (not cynics, there Jeff :)) like JR that you took issue with may well be of the Zeitgeist school of opinion. With respect to the Christ theory, no one knows for sure. Maybe, maybe not. The same can be said for the subjective word “truth”, depending who you talk to. As for myself, I try to look at this existence we all share from the perspective of it either being a Darwinesque one-shot-deal or it all having some purpose. If it’s a one-shot-deal it’s survival of the fittest. If it has some purpose (which presupposes an afterlife) it has to be personal growth and development. Now we get to the religious part that has certain rules as to what personal growth and development means, aka – The Holy Grail of Moral Righteousness. To the free spirit skeptic this sounds like someone telling him/her what to do and round them up into some group-think when we are all really unique individuals.

        The biggest fear for most is the fear of death. This fear is consoled by various theories about what life is supposed to be all about. From my perspective I see this world as both a very beautiful and fucked up place to inhabit. It appears to run in cycles that can be seen as aiding personal growth and development in terms of running one’s life through different stages of experiences and challenges. That appears the most logical to me without getting into the religious aspects.

        I’m not trying to be argumentative or disagree with what you see as “assuredly an absolute” that no one “can ever extinguish”. Great! And I have a lot of respect for people who are firm in their convictions, as is Herr Hedges. Our resident Reverend has a very logical mind that has been purged (for the most part) of wishful thinking. His predictions about the future are sound from both an economic and historical perspective. May God help us all, to use the old expression. 🙂 🙂

      5. Dear Chris,

        Thanks for your further missive, while firstly in regard to ‘truth’, this is not a subjective definition – as courts of law, policing, and legal institutions know full well further to their no total nonsense – albeit black and white – definitions of ‘truth’! As much as I respect Nietzsche (while both ‘Hitch’ and Dawkins are indeed exceedingly mild in comparison with the attacks on religion made by the Basel sage), he got it wrong when he said, “there are no such things as facts, only interpretations”, while as exhibit A re: that, we herein at ‘Hedges sermon central’ see our somewhat deluded and literary theory conditioned confrere, ‘Niko’ fooling with the truth further to his ‘Merriam-Webster’ riff; indeed one which I regret to say is as with so many persons nowadays who have been wholly sculpted by POMO, “a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Anyway, it’s his warping of the truth via his prismatic of fascist definitions (albeit one that ‘Jeff’ took him to task on), that has of course allowed for the monstrosity of Trump and his imitators to occur, while he would have been better to try and round out the kind of fascism which corporations impose on the citizenry rather than trying to associate it with the Left or ‘liberals’ within the US definition. As for your Darwinian references, we have – and unlike animals – been conditioned nowadays to believe in that social vulgarity further to Thatcher and Reagan’s induction in the 1980’s of neoliberalism – a vile ideology which has gone on in its current post stages to infect every aspect of 21st century life, while there is really no Kierkegaardian either/or to be dreamt of in your philosophic choice: human beings must have belief – as Viktor Frankl knew from his time in Nazi death camps – and this given that life does assuredly have meaning, and this at least if only in relation to other persons. For to believe otherwise is to cross over into that nothingness netherworld which is nihilism, while I must say that I have thus far detected nihilist threads in several of the posts which have been put up in this comments section. Anyway, as Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon knew, “we must go on” – no matter what, while as you suggest the fear of death – or rather ‘the denial of death’ (following Ernest Becker’s famous tome) does concentrate the mind – and its obsessive compulsive reaction formation behaviour – wonderfully. Finally, when I used the word ‘absolute’, that wasn’t intended as a index finger wagging exercise by me: Rather, what I meant was absolutes in terms of those psychological absolutes that are innate to all human beings, and therein biologically immuned from influence via external engineering, while let us not forget that ‘truth’ (as in what is un-semantically and therein ‘literally’ true) is inclusive of that! With best wishes – in ‘Christ charity’ terms – to you and your family for a happy and safe 2022!

      6. …BTW: typo error in my first reply to you re: “ever extinguish”. Should have been ‘never extinguish”. 🙂

      7. @Chris Wolf
        I have no doubt that life has a “purpose” so to speak, but I also have no doubt that humans are nowhere near evolved, intelligent, or knowledgeable enough to have any idea what it is, at least to any specificity. My best guess is that we’re tiny parts of the universe becoming aware of itself. I’ve long thought that as humans, OUR goal in life should be to experience as much as possible (and have fun doing it!), while doing no harm to the Earth or any life here to the extent possible. But to be clear, the fact that there’s some purpose to life doesn’t mean that there’s an afterlife, at least not the way that term is generally meant. Only dead people know what happens when you die, and they ain’t talking. Assuming that some part of you survives the death of your body, it would be unrecognizable because your body is a large part of who you are.

        Religions — real religions, not the perverted anti-spiritual crap that passes for the vast majority of religions — don’t tell people what to do or not do for illegitimate reasons, they do so in order to make it more likely and easier to expand your consciousness or reach enlightenment. For example, they prohibit drinking alcohol or taking drugs not for moral reasons, but because you’re trying to uncloud your mind, and drugs and alcohol cloud your mind. No one forces you to participate in those religions, and if you don’t want to follow the teachings, you don’t belong there.

        As to fear of death: This is somewhat nuanced. No sane animal wants to die. However, humans have a highly developed sense of self-consciousness, so they always overthink their own deaths. My perspective is that if you’re afraid to die, you’re afraid to live. For example, I sailed to Tahiti and back from San Francisco Bay, and no one who lives in fear of death would do anything like that. This is not at all to say that one shouldn’t act prudently as much as possible, but sometimes you have to risk death in order to really experience life. I also think that people who fear their own deaths have an ego problem. We’re all obviously going to die, so what’s the big deal with your own death (not meaning you personally)?

      8. [This seems to be the last place to “reply” to any letter, so I’m stuck here.]
        To all who’ve written, most thoughtfully, some beautifully, I can add a simple thought. People want to find “meaning” in their lives (when there is none except what they themselve create) and seek “other worldly” sources because of two things: fear of death and arrogance (what? I am gone forever?! Unacceptable!). These two “reasons” are subjective, of course, selfish, and they do require some kind of “god” to assuage the fear and fulfill life after death, the doctrine of which causes more anxiety than comfort.
        “Recognizing truth requires selflessness. You have to leave yourself out of it so you can find out the way things are in themselves, not the way they look to you or how you feel about them or how you would like them to be.” ~H.G. Frankfurt

      9. @Rob Roy
        I think a better way to look at it is to ask who “I” is. You will eventually conclude that “I” is the universe, and that individually we are each minuscule parts of it, all connected. “You are me” etc. (Reincarnation is when the worms and microbes eat your dead body and you live on through them.)

    2. Hi Marcus,

      It’s nice to have this forum to discuss various matters, and because we have Brothers Hedges and Scheer to set the tone we get the religious aspect along with calling out the monsters. It’s clear to see where the strength of conviction comes from both of these individuals, and that’s really all that matters with respect to the conversation we are having. Whatever works to make one confident enough to get through life with some self respect. We all have individual values, and while we can all agree with some fundamental “truths” that doesn’t make it any less subjective when you get into the gray areas. There are no absolute truths that cannot be seen from another perspective give the right circumstances.

      That said, throwing religion into the mix muddies the water even more. I’m happy enough with the mystery of death without any answers. The “vile ideology” you see as neoliberalism fits a pattern that has been going on forever, and out of that may grow the sort of Christian fascism that both Hedges and Scheer appear quite terrified of. This world has no shortage of boogeymen, which come in all ideologies, but we are not in the gulag yet. 🙂

      You are absolutely right in saying that “human beings must have belief”. If you want word peace and unity these beliefs obviously need to be universal. Ain’t happened yet for a whole bunch of reasons that I see as having no real workable answers to solving. The best that I can come up with is it’s supposed to be like this, be it Dawinesque or otherwise. 🙂

      Nice chatting and I like the cut of your jib. 🙂

  10. Why must fascism come from the political right, the religious right? Fascism is overtaking the planet as a progressive police state protecting us from plague manufactured by the deep state.

    And the liberal-left establishment, pretending to care for the least among us in order to promote unprecedented genocidal agenda, is leading the way into a biosecurity dystopia with PR fig leaves of equity, sustainability, and building back better the perennially genocidal system of class rule.

    Rather than fascism coming to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross (Sinclair Lewis), it’s wrapped in a mask and carrying a syringe. Not even Hitler had it so good with Nazi doctors deployed to deliver the cure of the final solution. And Trump is a bad joke of a dictator compared to the algogarchy of AI set to rule over the proles who remain after the Great Reset.

    Authoritarianism’s home is neither right nor left, but the consciousness controlled by any means necessary of technocratic management and social engineering. If Hedges has any conscience left after his collaboration thus far with the covid coup, he should look beyond false prophecy to find the least among us in every human being now targeted for transhuman hell on earth.

    (Race mythology in ancient history is an anachronism.)

    1. @niko
      Fascism is by definition a right wing system of government. At its core it means that the government is controlled and run by the large corporations. Large corporations are owned and run by the rich, and right wing politics means supporting the rich & powerful.

      There is no such thing as a “progressive police state.” In fact, that’s quite an oxymoron. If you’re progressive, you strongly oppose a police state.

      Liberals are not part of the left, they’re part of the right. Only real progressives and left wing radicals are part of the left, which barely exists in the U.S.

      1. In Mussolini Italy and Hitler Germany, the archetypical fascist states, the large corporations were totally subject to the will and wishes of the Duce/Fuehrer and not the other way around as implied.
        In a true fascist state , the Leader/Party/State are the embodiment of the Nation and everything else, including the economy , are secondary to the vision/ideology guiding them which is primordial.
        In this sense, Stalin USSR and Mao China are very similar to the fascists states, the only difference being the specifics of the ideology.

      2. @alteyid48
        What you describe is not necessarily fascism, which again is corporatism. The fact that a leader is a dictator, demagogue, and/or authoritarian doesn’t mean that the country has a fascist government. There’s a reason that there are different words. Kings were often the embodiment of their nations, but those nations were not fascist.

      3. Merriam-Webster aside, the meanings of language in this case are determined by usage, so that fascism in theory and in practice can be quite different. This is all the more true when deception is taken into account, where people, and propaganda systems, use words to mean their opposite or something in application contrary in meaning to its abstract form, hence oxymoron as a common phenomenon in society as heavily propagandized as ‘ours,’ making for many oxy-morons spreading plagues of confusion most useful to ruling powers.

        Think doublethink, and the politics of language, as Orwell emphasized, in building a totalitarian social system, an inverted totalitarianism (Sheldon Wolin) where 2+2=5, etc. And how he recognized that can be achieved in the name of socialism or Ingsoc. Actually existing communism and capitalism both have exhibited the scientific management, bureaucracy, rule of technique, mechanical engineering of society that forms an authoritarian technocracy which may underlie any range of ‘opposed’ ideologies.

        Linguistic meaning evolves in both theory and practice; dictionaries are revised and traditions transform. Left-right spectrums of earlier eras reveal a history of revisionism subject to the ruling ideas of the ruling class managing perceptions. Neither left nor right at present is comparable to what I grew up with more than half a century ago.

        One of the reasons liberal-conservative and left-right oppositions have become embedded in political tradition, forgetful of their origins in such revealing practices as the left represented on the left of the king or ruling power and the right on the right – both being loyal or controlled opposition serviceable to and by established authority, as among conservative wolves and liberal foxes (Malcolm X) – is because they foster the kind of (political) knowledge of the world by which power over people obtains its greatest advantage in becoming invisible, assumed to be the way things are, con-forming how we think and what we think about. This is winning the war without having to fight a single battle.

        The 1971 Powell memo/manifesto announced a class war to roll back popular gains and people’s movements central to neoliberal de/re-regulation of institutional structures under increasing systems of global governance through debt and financial capital. Chief among Powell’s concerns were the cultural institutions crucial to the hegemony of capital, recalling Gramsci, like universities, think tanks, nonprofits and NGOs which have since become primary means for philanthro-capitalism, dating back at least to Rockefeller and Ivy Lee, to infiltrate and capture enemy working class territory once more autonomous of the corporate state and its professional rule of expertise.

        By now, many ‘progressives’ no longer blink an eye when staring into screens where corporate PR reeks of socially and ecologically responsible pretenses. Now, the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma and the UN IPCC and on and on are going to save the world – from ourselves. Progress for humanity requires Humanity 2.0 and a New (ab)Normal where techno-feudal conditions of our keep on their earth insures ‘equity,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘building back better’ and blah, blah, blah. It’s all advertising and image is everything in the Spectacle or Matrix when you’re re-engineering the proles to line up for final solutions.

        All’s fair in love and war, and anything goes with the supreme narcissists and psychopaths who aim to shape history and historical meanings in their image, whether led by ‘the right’ (war on/of terror) or ‘the left’ (war on/of bioterror). “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” (Orwell) With covid-1984, progressive police states and all sorts of down-the-rabbit-hole psyops are underway to lead us into a 4th industrial revolution and Great Reset, as the WEF PR puts it, to insure that ruling powers will not just control perceptions but be the perceptions.

        “The World is a Corporation” (Network, 1976)

      4. Jeff,

        “Fascism is by definition a right wing system of government” and a “progressive police state is an oxymoron.” If only that were true. We’ve seen the exact opposite this past year.

        The rich and the powerful are on the left as much as on the right, so that’s a wash. And they’re as much into social engineering, it seems.

        We have to get away from thinking of politics as existing only on a Left-Right axis. There is also an Authoritarian-Libertarian axis which crosses it, and which together form not a political spectrum, but a political compass. So one can have leftist economic and social values and still adopt authoritarian methods of organizing society (cf. Pope John Paul II who was high on the authoritarian axis, and maybe left of center on the left-right axis, and Pope Francis who is further to the left on most social and economic issues and also much less authoritarian than John Paul, though he’s no doubt hemmed in by the papal curia which is conservative to its core).

        One can have laissez-faire economic policies that favor a particular class and be either authoritarian or libertarian in implementation. In fact, the Liberal parties of Europe are not “liberal” at all — but Libertarian. Unfettered capitalism is their god. As Thom Hartmann used to say: Libertarians are fiscal conservatives who want to get laid.

        Totalitarianism is not the preserve of the right, as we’ve seen from Communism as it was applied in practice. And what would you call North Korea?

        You don’t need a single dictator to create a fascist state. And there’s no one way to define fascism. It may have had its inception with Mussolini, but even as conditions and political and economic systems evolve, we nevertheless recognize fascist tendencies when we see them.

        It’s naive to believe that progressives in the US who worship and preach “THE science” of Covid are liberal-minded (open-minded). On the contrary, they absolutely refuse to consider any alternatives, any science that might call their data or policies into question. The result is the suppression of information, and harassment and censorship of dissenters. Sound familiar?

        We have been let down badly by “progressives” who have drunk the Covid Kool-Aid and want to institute an apartheid system based on vaccination status. Apparently this is all for our own good, despite the overwhelming evidence of the inability of the injectable biologic products to prevent infections or transmission, and their ineffectiveness as the miracles intended to end the pandemic.

        But I agree that organized religions tend on the whole to be authoritarian even when presented with the face of love. You’re not supposed to question their respective “truths” and dogmas, or even the myths on which they’re based — the reworkings of existing religious traditions and practices to accommodate a new social order, using pragmatism to make the new system or new religion palatable to the populace.

        Christopher Hitchens made the insightful point that the reason Communism was so successful in reorganizing Russian society was because the country had no history of democracy: the preceding authorities were the Tsarist regime and the Russian Orthodox church. Ordinary Russians had never had to think about political ideology, or the concept of choice, of representative government. It was simple enough to co-opt existing loyalty to the Tsar and the church, as well as Russian nationalism, into the Communist creed. The propensity to be compliant was already ingrained. So Russian Communism was far from atheistic. The Russian Orthodox church was permitted to continue to operate as a kind of twin of Communism as the new state religion.

        Well that’s what is being asked of us today: to be compliant, to trust in the wisdom, the “truths” and therefore the dogmas (Get vaccinated!) of our Dear Leaders. Only they elicit this compliance with a scolding finger-wag and public shaming rather than at the barrel of a gun. But are the Gulags so far off ? Consider NY Assembly Bill A416 — “An Act to amend the public health law, in relation to the removal of cases, contacts and carriers of communicable diseases who are potentially dangerous to the public health.”

        This bill has been floated for years, and therefore predates the pandemic, but as we know, data are manipulated in such a way that if Biden can casually declare that “the unvaccinated are killing people,” it’s clear that this legislation could be seriously abused, especially if “potentially dangerous” is open to wide interpretation.

        If they succeed in setting up an in-group of vaccinated folk and an outside, pariah group of vaccine Refuseniks, using vaccine cards or QR codes or microchips or other technologies to segregate the two, expect to see “police powers” invoked. By which I mean the police powers of the state to enforce certain rules relating to public health. Already we have the thought police, right, in the form of Facebook and Twitter and Google?

        There’s nothing progressive about any of this, despite the labels worn by certain members of Congress and state legislators.

        Habitual obedience and deference to authority inculcated by religion over millennia, and reinforced with the fervor of self-righteousness are the oil that lubricates the three cogs of fascism: government authority (federal agencies such as the NIH, FDA and CDC, and Biden at his BULLY pulpit); the military (enforcers of all kinds, including the gatekeepers at public and even private institutions and businesses who want to see your vaccination card and may fine you or fire you, or withhold other privileges); and industry (the profiteers who have used propaganda to capture our federal agencies and stoke fear among an increasingly docile public so as to foist their lucrative poisons on us).

        Why isn’t this a form of fascism? At the very least it’s medical fascism, right?

        If fascism (national socialism) thrived in Hitler’s Germany, it’s thanks in large part to the complicity of religious authorities, and especially the Catholic church (and Pope Pius), as well as industry and the military.

        I’m afraid Chris Hedges and others like him can cherry-pick their Christianity as much as they like, but the tree itself is rotten. Which is not to say that all Christians are rotten. But you can’t have it both ways: if you’re going to promote “Christian” values, you’re going to have to bear the burden of Christianity’s hideous past, which continues into the present. And that burden includes the bloodthirsty Old Testament which was not discarded by Christianity, as the latter needed to secure its legitimacy by fulfilling alleged prophesies of old.

        I think we have to look at morality as something separate from religious teachings: while these might provide a framework, it’s perfectly possible to be moral and ethical and to lead a meaningful life without them. In the end we have to give meaning to our own lives, not seek a formula outside ourselves.

      5. @Lyrr Descy
        Where you’re mistaken is that there’s nothing progressive about a police state, and that you confuse “liberal & conservative” with “right and left.” There is no such thing as a rich person on the left, because being on the left means opposing the rich & powerful in favor of poor & working class people. Rich people can be liberal or even progressive on social issues, but they are all on the right.

      6. Jeff,

        I’m afraid I’m baffled by your understanding of left vs right and liberal vs conservative and the idea that the rich by definition can’t be on the left. If they espouse progressive values and ACT on them, what does it matter how much money they have in their portfolios? Look at Bernie Sanders, accused of being a hypocrite because the book he wrote sold well and the royalties flowed, making a millionaire. Is he suddenly not a progressive?

        So I would also dispute the idea that a police state can never be established by progressives; that somehow these are mutually exclusive. But if you think about it, every utopia fails as soon as it tries to formalize its creeds and practices. Same with progressives. Enforced “solidarity” by mandating particular behaviors or medical interventions is not inherently progressive. This is precisely what communist regimes did.

        Yet the most “progressive” media as well as the regular mainstream media are among the most brutal towards vaccine Refuseniks. Common Dreams goes so far as to warn prospective commenters to articles that “anti-vaxxers are not welcome”. How progressive is that? At the very least this smells of cognitive dissonance.

        I’m afraid the old labels and categorizations are failing us. We’ll have to look for a realignment that exists as much if not more on the Authoritarian/Libertarian axis than on the Left/Right axis.

      7. @Lyrr Descy
        Bernie Sanders is not ruling class rich, not even close. Those are the people I’m talking about, and I’ve never seen one of them advocate against their own interests by advocating for the poor & working class and against the rich.

        As to being progressive and creating a police state, I would argue that if you create a police state, you’re not progressive by definition. A police state is in direct opposition to progressive values such as civil liberties and free speech. The people you’re referring to aren’t real progressives, it doesn’t matter what they call themselves or what they were before they contracted Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  11. “only in United States has nationalism carried with it the christian meaning of the sacred. the revelation of america serves to blight and ultimately preclude the possibility of fundamental social change”. Sacvan Bercovitch (2012)

      1. Herr Niko, you’ve been “mentioned in (my) dispatches” (i.e. above/below) while to quote C. S. Lewis – a writer I suspect you would completely loathe (and maybe even call a fascist!) – “fight me on that” if you are so inclined, while as you say, “All’s fair in love and war”. 😉 M.A.

  12. There is no evidence of any kind that Jesus ever lived. Two thousand years plus of intensive searching for actual evidence has turned up exactly zero. Historians and theologians know this and will / have admitted to the lack of evidence. Even the Gospels are all considered forgeries, the only so-called “evidence” that exist; none were written by any of the Apostles. Dr. Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman and others have more then adequately demonstrated the countless falsehoods found in the Bible, including the supposed historical “narratives” of characters like Moses, David and Christ – none which are found anywhere within the factual historical record. So when Hedges describes who Jesus was – he’s supporting a fake narrative, a fictional story that simply never happened. Perpetuating this dishonesty is beneath Hedges, he should know better.

    1. That’s all true about Christianity, it’s called lying by omission. Hedges has revamped himself into a “reverend” as if that should give him more credibility. Yes, ONLY on the outside. Presumably, since he got “pushed out” his unconscious motivation, or desperation, propels him to symbolically gain more authenticity as a couterforce via a deceitful garb of religious clothing.

      Lying by omission, of course, has been the working order of all religious people anywhere.

      Religions, and other fantasies, have always flourished because most people are delusional. They do NOT WANT the truth but WANT fantasies. Those megamajority of people are one of “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” ( https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html ) that has dominated, exploited, and destroyed the entire planet.

      1. Ditto in regard to what I said to ‘JR’, while in your case, see the ‘addendum’ I recently sent in reply to Chris Wolf. Also, and further to your sartorial references – and this in remembrance of Polonius’s claim in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ that “the apparel oft proclaims the man” – that is not the case in regard to Hedges’ clerical garb; indeed this following your somewhat trivial reference being quite superficial in consideration of Hedges proven courageousness as a journalist and thinker, while his practical action is of course an absolute galaxy away from your somewhat ‘Don Carlos’ like ‘grand inquisitorial’ assertion…Anyway, suffice to say that it’s what Hedges says in his pulpit, and what he demonstrates by his actions that matter in the end, while unlike him, most clerics fail to do that etc.

    2. In the interests of fairness and disclosure, you might want to read my reply to Chris Wolf’s address to me given the references that it therein makes to your post, while basically in regard to your comment, you’ve fallen – albeit somewhat ironically so – into the same literal trap that has ensnared most of the god fearing USA, aside from too the world’s multitudes who believe that the words in the Bible are quite literally true!

      1. Pretending to understand like you do with articulate low-grade slander and bogus allegations at “Simon” and “J.R” is not the same as actual understanding.

        Hedges decided to represent religion. Yet Christianity / religions are lies, as “J.R” and “Simon” pointed out. No truth, justice, and peace can come from an institution of lies, a propaganda outlet of lies. History proves it too.

        Truth is apparently not fundamental to Hedges. It’s his own fame and status. Truth has a subordinate role to Hedges. Looks to me after he got “pushed out” he needed a bigger following for himself again. So he chose a big mainstream institution –organized religion. That should do it, I reckon.

        You write, “what Hedges says in his pulpit, and what he demonstrates by his actions that matter in the end”… well what HIS ACTIONS demonstrate is this:

        Hedges has come “full circle”… working for years for a KNOWN big mainstream propaganda outlet of lies, the New York Times, to serving another KNOWN big mainstream propaganda outlet of lies, Christianity / religions. Does this demonstrate he’s a matured proven wise courageous thinker and doer? No. But in your fantasy-laden version of him that’s what he is….with his “proven courageousness as a journalist and thinker.”

        Just because you cannot face the reality about Hedges (whom you falsely and foolishly idolize) and instead spew childish slander at “Simon” does not negate this reality about him. But it exposes your delusions about Hedges and Christianity / religions. Seems like you’re one of the majority people “Simon” noted with his “somewhat trivial reference”…..

        Not sure why anyone would want to read your reply to whomever after what you wrote here. Because the “literal trap” allegation is always a bogus allegation, a straw man, from religious folks who cannot face reality and desperately hang on to their delusions, no matter what. If anything you are in a delusion trap.

      2. Herr Gallowscorner!

        As with The Commendatore’s statue in Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, I have now come for you!

        …That said, how wonderful to be stalked by a hang-person further to your operations in a (presumably dark) corner ‘gallows’ space, and this further to one having got to the point where I was beginning to say – in recalling a line that my compatriot Paul Keating used to exclaim in the days of his leadership when things were boring – “I wish someone would attack us” (i.e. ‘moi’)! That said, be advised that I shan’t go willingly to the scaffold, while instead I’ll now mount a spirited defence on the barricades further to having my gun firmly fixed on the space between your assumed confederate bandana (or does that print instead say ‘we was robbed in 2020’?) bandana and your eye sockets!…Anyway, at least ‘even you’ should by now be able to discern that I’m not an American, while were that the case, I would have well and truly pulled the trigger on you by now, while doing it faster than the time it takes for a white US cop to fire on a black guy!…Anyhow, ‘mate’, in your case, “I wanna you slowly”!

        Firstly,  I don’t “pretend” to anything at all re: my posts: What I’ve written should be clear enough – even to a ‘dim’ like you – while my original central thesis/contention has now found its somewhat pithy synopsis in this comments section via the medium of ‘Jeff’s’ post relating to the distinction he makes between ‘organised religion’ and the Christ in the Gospels. 

        If there’s any pretending going on here, it’s coming from you further to your feigned ‘how dare you’ bourgeois respectability pseudo outrage re: your “low grade slander and bogus allegations” concerning my gaslight reach out to both ‘Simon’ and ‘J.R’, while these alerts were in fact direct, clear enough, and hardly abusive, with ’em (inclusive of the one to ‘Niko’) being sent merely as a kind of ‘courtesy’ re: not wanting to verbal their comments, and this further to the references I made to their posts in my interactions with Chris Wolf.

        Finally – at least initially as it concerns in your case, your paltry opening shot misfire (aka sentence) – be assured that I “understand” perfectly, and this especially insofar as to ‘how’ disaffected and embittered apparent Trump supporters (with this assumption being based on your succeeding comments) like you came to be ‘formed’ as a result of the US Democratic Party having deserted its working class and ‘decent liberal’ base – indeed a theme that Chris Hedges has long been preoccupied with – further to the monstrosities of neoliberalism. That said, I ain’t here to be the proverbial bash up bag for what the vile Clintons or other Democratic party money grabbing hypocrites did to make you so atomised, while in regard once again to my alleged, in your reckoning, ‘outrageous slurs’, there is of course no thought by you that you’d EVER make “low grade slander and bogus allegations” further to your attacks upon either moi or Chris Hedges! Then again, your brand of self righteousness and ‘I’m right’ belief is always of course a fake news Right wing species marker, further to you and your kind – I did not say “deplorables”! – having conveniently skipped that bit in the Bible about the plank in the eye of he who criticizes the splinters in the eye of another – or whatever the wording is!      

        Next, I have no argument regarding much of external and organised religion being about ‘lies’ (even if the Gospels are most assuredly not!), and this irrespective of the idiotic arguments herein concerning the literalness of Christ! When I listen to Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (as I do at Christ-mas time each year), I’m not thinking about the bloody Vatican or the latest Papal Bull/encyclical/edict; rather I’m thinking of the Christ who is shown to us in the New Testament: that is to say that figure (literal or otherwise) whose ethical values – and these as they relate to how we treat our fellow human beings – ‘should’ be a watchword for how we conduct our lives etc., while arguably – and by way of reducing this to a cause – the re-makeover of Christ got going after St Paul (and even more so further to the inauguration of the Papacy in Rome by Peter) with ‘the gospel Christ’ thereafter becoming moulded to suit sundry ‘power’ agendas (from the Crusades onwards); indeed all of this – by means of a comparison that is admittedly many centuries on from the first Pope – in the same way that say, Edmund Burke’s conserv-ative philosophy has been corrupted nowadays to suit big C ‘Conservative’ and neoliberal political agendas.

        Re: “Hedges decided to represent religion”, I’ll assume you’re tendering the photographic evidence further to the pic. of CH in the party frock…Well, yeah, so did the recently deceased and ‘uniformed’ Desmond Tutu, while his life (unlike indeed so many clerics in the chapels) exemplified ‘the Gospels’ Christ’ further to the institution that he sought to operate ‘within’ from the aspect doing of ‘the good’ which he irrefutably did given his now ‘honourable legacy’ as this relates to genuine social justice – indeed one of the perhaps few good things that organised religion has indisputably performed well at! And yeah, as far as your febrile and needs to be deconstructed attempt at philosophy goes re: “No truth, justice, and peace can come from an institution of lies, a propaganda outlet of lies” (wow, I never knew that!), I’ll assume such thought bubble gems (not!) are ‘terms and conditions’ that don’t apply to you letting Donny Jay, his Mafiosi family, and all his sycophant hangers on through the security check-in barrier!

        While Hedges hardly needs to be defended by moi, your record of his biography is dishonest and misrepresented, and this specifically further to CH having left the NYT by his own choice after he took a moral position re: his refusal to comply with a corporate directive. This ain’t “fantasy” – either in my world or the bigger one, pal – it’s FACT, while regarding your ref. to the NYT being a “mainstream propaganda outfit”, THAT is the ‘catch out’ here re: you presumably having all the Trump merch. and maybe even too, the Jan 6. themed combat paraphernalia around you as you were typing out your measly mimetic of ‘an attempt at a philippic’ to moi there in that dark corner of your bed sit, while there is no way of course insofar as it pertains to what is ‘dreamt of in your philosophy’, that Rupert’s ‘Fox’ (or even worse – and as hard as it is to believe given ‘Darth Murdoch’ – the US far Right rabble media outfits) would ever be cunning, sly, or opportunistic when it came to those now ‘variations on a theme’ that is ‘truth’!

        ‘No more’ – and this if only because there is no anti-nihilist point to this reply given you’ve been conditioned to think the way you do further to your innate character structure in combination with the ‘obeying orders’ directives you get from the likes of Alex Jones et. al. – following moi being able to keep hitting you and your like into the stand for six (yawn!) with every ball you bowl! Yeah, I ‘know’ the “reality” of Hedges further to his life and example having been ‘truthfully’ chronicled online for umpteen years as a journalist and commentator, while nothing to be gained here re: that by responding to you and ‘thems’ who are a combination of self entitled opinionated egotism, relevance deficit syndrome, self knowledge deficiency, and all those other archetypes that go to make up all alienated and ontology redundant personages like you, while other than that, I ain’t gonna waste my holidays trying to sought out any more online classic insecure ‘obsessive compulsives’ (yeah, that’s right: I’m also a psychotherapist), with the only reason for this reply being that I’ve been able to tap it out while at the same time over these holidays watching my national game on the telly!….baseball!

        You can reply to this – which, as with Trump were he in within the same scenario, you will no doubt do, and this of course because your mob always have to have the last rant! – but you’ll get no reply back from moi, and this if only because I can’t bothered, and this too, ‘cos I ain’t bothered! As a famous Danish guy once said, “The rest is silence”!

        Nota Beta: More than happy to send the rope for you to now hang from in your dark gallows corner, while I also now delete you re: any potential ‘do-op’ backing next time I’m singing, “Oh yes, I’m the great pretender” at my local karaoke club! 

    3. “There is no evidence of any kind that Jesus ever lived.”

      WRONG!!! Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and Roman senator and historian Tacitus both briefly mentioned him. They had no reason to make it up. Do your homework before posting your own wishful thinking.

      1. Julie Ashton,

        “They” — Josephus and Tacitus — “had no reason to make it up.”

        Quite right. The passages in question never came from their pens. Linguistic and historical analyses indicate that the passages referring to Jesus (Josephus) and Christ (a title, not a name “used” by Tacitus) were late forgeries, and not significant or reliable enough in their day to be used by Christians in propagating or defending the new faith — not until the 4th Century CE.

      2. Julie Ashton:

        Well one can debate anything, but there are serious holes in the supposed Tacitus account of the persecution of “the Christ” (the Messiah — Jesus is never mentioned by name).

        Tacitus was writing around 116 CE, and the fire of Rome during the time of Nero’s reign took place in 64 CE. The passage in question refers to “a vast multitude” of Christians living in Rome at the time of the fire, for which they were blamed. So that gives rise to serious questions: how, just 30 or so years after the crucifixion, in a world with no mass transportation or mass communication, could there have been a vast multitude of Christians (still an unformed, inchoate sect) living in the city of Rome?

        As a Senator, Tacitus would also have known that Pontius Pilate would not have been acting as a “procurator” (a tax collector) but as a “prefect” responsible for law and order at the time of the alleged crucifixion.

        The negative depiction of the Christians in the passage in question would have had them portrayed through the eyes of the righteous Romans as represented by Tacitus.

        It’s not unusual for new cults and sects to have a highly developed persecution complex as a way of bolstering solidarity among members. This is classic cult behavior, which is why cult members are often kept isolated from the population at large so there’s no reality check available to them. Actual or even imagined persecution is what makes them a special, elite, chosen group. And yet not till the 4th Century CE did Christians avail themselves of this propaganda tool provided so conveniently by “Tacitus.” There’s good reason to believe that the interpolation in Tacitus dates from this later date or close to it.

    4. @J.R
      You totally fail to understand what Jesus’s messages were if whether he was an actual person matters to you. It’s like the Don Juan/Carlos Castaneda books, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus or Don Juan were real people, what matters is their messages. Maybe this is an American thing, but this obsession on who said something instead of focusing what was said shows that people have been successfully brainwashed by personal attacks. Focus on the message, not the messenger!

  13. The contention that Jesus was a Person of Colour (POC) is very interesting and raises some very interesting questions like :
    1.Him being Son of God, is God also a POC?
    2.Jesus being a Jew , are all Jews POCs or was Jesus a kind of POC honoris causa?
    As for the rest, I stand by Marx (Karl not Groucho) dictum “Religion is the opium of the masses”.

    1. @alteyid48
      Anyone who obsesses on what color Jesus’s skin was totally misses his messages. It is totally irrelevant whether Jesus was Black, brown, white, yellow, or red (or green or blue for that matter).

      1. Yikes — White Washing Jesus.

        “The color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence. The whiteness or blackness of one’s skin is a biological quality which has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the personality. The significance of Jesus lay, not in His color, but in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His will to God’s will. He was the Son of God, not because of His external biological make up, but because of His internal spiritual commitment. He would have been no more significant if His skin had been black. He is no less significant because His skin was white.”

        This is the quote the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave when asked about the race of Jesus in October of 1957.

        What made this quote off putting to me was not the existence of a conceptualization of Jesus as white, so much as the idea that one of the most prominent figures in the American history of Black Civil Rights–who was himself Black–thought the Son of God was white.

        While King’s statement that “Jesus’s skin color is of little consequence” should perhaps be true, as Howard Blum says, “a Jewish Prophet from the Roman era ran so explosively into the American obsession with race that his image has been used to justify the worst atrocities of white supremacy as well as inspire the most heroic of civil rights crusades.” That is to say that, while empirically the race of Christ shouldn’t matter, it does.

        Even though race is a social construct, and one that is much different today than it would have been in Jesus’s time, it is a construct with very real implications. For Christianity to ascribe Jesus’ race as white distorts the historical fact that, geographically speaking, he would have been of Mediterranean or African descent. More than that, to assert that Jesus was white is to imbue him with a sense of privilege and power contrary to the story of what Christ experienced.

        This matters because “Christ is the essence of Christianity,” and “Christianity is essentially distinguished from other faiths by the fact that everything in it is related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth.”

        So how, then, if Jesus is so central to the faith, did Christianity get this one imperative construction wrong?

        The process of white washing Jesus was not unique in any real sense. It was done through art, through writing and of course through sermon. Art like Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel and Warner Sallman’s light-eyed, light-haired “Head of Christ” made Jesus palpably white to common people. This art worked in conjunction with the already dominant theology built on centuries of white European thought that deemed Jesus to be a white man.

        This white washing set the stage for the justification that Jesus stood with the powerful rather than the disenfranchised. For example, when hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan called themselves Christian groups, they did so under the guise of protecting the purity of a race pre-ordained.

        Yet briefly in the 1930s and again in the 1960s and 1970s–more sustainably the second time around–Jesus was not only analyzed as standing with the oppressed and dismantling the status quo, but he was constructed as a Black Man. This construction of Jesus arose from the assertion by Black theologians that a Jesus who stood and empathized with the marginalized and was crucified at the hands of an unjust government could not be white.

        In recent years, academia and some parts of the church have begun the process of recognizing the actuality of what Jesus looked like, to more closely agree with the constructs of Black theologians of the 1930s and 1960s. More simply put: people finally realize that Jesus wasn’t white.

        https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2020/11/richardson-16112020

      2. @ Paul+Haeder
        You missed my point and are talking past it. I said that anyone obsessing on the color of Jesus’s skin is totally missing his messages. Nothing you said contradicts that fact; if anything, your post implicitly supports it.

      3. I agree that pigmentation should not be the main determinant of one’s existance.
        I was responding to the rather absurd contention of CH (not challenged by RS) that Christ was a POC which in my opinion looked as a pathetic quest for relevance and approval from the “in” crowd by introducing a faddish buzz word in a rather minor discussion.
        Especially when my engineering “back of my mind” reminds me that in physical terms white is a colour ( even more, it is the summation of all colors) and black is the absence of color (no back radiation in the visible spectrum).

      4. If Jesus were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, he might be profiled for additional screening by TSA.

        The myth of a white Jesus is one with deep roots throughout Christian history. As early as the Middle Ages and particularly during the Renaissance, popular Western artists depicted Jesus as a white man, often with blue eyes and blondish hair. Perhaps fueled by some Biblical verses correlating lightness with purity and righteousness and darkness with sin and evil, these images sought to craft a sterile Son of God.

        The only problem was that the representations were historically inaccurate.

        Modern Western Christians have carried these images over into their own depictions of Jesus. Pick up a one of those bright blue “Bible Story” books in a Sunday School classroom and you’ll find white Jesus waiting for you, rosy cheeks and all. Or you could survey the light-skinned Jesus in any number of modern TV or film portrayals, including History Channel’s hit series The Bible.

        Interestingly, the Bible is far less descriptive on the matter of Jesus’ skin color than we are. Christian scriptures say very little about Jesus’ physical appearance. They do not comment on his nose, eye color, skin pigmentation, or hair. The glaring exception is Isaiah 53:2, which prophesies that the messiah won’t be much to look at, another fact that places the Bible at odds with the “well-groomed surfer-dude Jesus” who’s often put forth.

        The Bible is far less descriptive on the matter of Jesus’ skin color than are we. The scriptures say very little about his physical appearance at all.
        If the Bible is silent on the matter of Jesus’ skin color, does it really matter that Megyn Kelly says Jesus is white?

        Yes, actually.

        As some historians and theologians have posited, the silence of the Scriptures on the issue of Jesus’ skin color is critical to Christianity’s broad appeal with people of various ethnicities. In a world where race often divides communities and even churches, the Biblical depictions of God’s son positions him as one who can bridge those divides.

        For this reason, one American Presbyterian minister in the 1880s warned his flock not to trust popular images of Christ:

        If He were particularised and localised—if, for example, He were made a man with a pale face—then the man of the ebony face would feel that there was a greater distance between Christ and him than between Christ and his white brother.’ Instead, because the Bible refused to describe Jesus in terms of racial features, his gospel could appeal to all. Only in this way could the Church be a place where the ‘Caucasian and Mongolian and African sit together at the Lord’s table, and we all think alike of Jesus, and we all feel that He is alike our brother’.

        In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Advice for Living” column for Ebony in 1957, the civil-rights leader was asked, “Why did God make Jesus white, when the majority of peoples in the world are non-white?” King replied, “The color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence” because what made Jesus exceptional “His willingness to surrender His will to God’s will.” His point, as historian Edward Blum has noted, is that Jesus transcends race.

        Those warnings hold just as true for believers today. Within the church, eschewing a Jesus who looks more like a Scandinavian supermodel than the sinless Son of God in the scriptures is critical to maintaining a faith in which all can give praise to one who became like them in an effort to save them from sins like racism and prejudice. It’s important for Christians who want to expand the church, too, in allowing the creation of communities that are able to worship a Jesus who builds bridges rather than barriers. And it is essential to enabling those who bear the name of Christ to look forward to that day when, according to the book of Revelation, those “from every nation, tribe, people, and language” can worship God together.

        Until that day arrives, though, can someone please tell Megyn Kelly that Jesus is not white?

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/insisting-jesus-was-white-is-bad-history-and-bad-theology/282310/

      5. @alteyid48
        Either you don’t know anything about Chris Hedges, or you purposely smeared him. The idea that Hedges would “quest for relevance and approval from the ‘in’ crowd by introducing a faddish buzz word” is ludicrous. You are projecting your personality onto Hedges, I suggest that you look in the mirror.

      6. @jeff I agree that pigmentation should not be the main determinant of one’s existance.
        I was responding to the rather absurd contention of CH (not challenged by RS) that Christ was a POC which in my opinion looked as a pathetic quest for relevance and approval from the “in” crowd by introducing a faddish buzz word in a rather minor discussion.
        Especially when my engineering “back of my mind” reminds me that in physical terms white is a colour ( even more, it is the summation of all colors) and black is the absence of color (no back radiation in the visible spectrum).

  14. Jesus, real or not, gave us some clues:
    ‘The father and I am one’
    Yep, God is not in some starry heaven or perched on a cloud.
    She/he is as close as your breath.
    (Which is pretty much what the Buddha said).
    Or:
    ‘The kingdom of heaven is within’
    Not in the great ether, or the hereafter.
    Right here, right now.
    Feel that sensation in your hands, your lips, your legs, your feet?
    That’s Life coursing through your body.
    And Life IS God.
    Here, now, beyond language and mathematics.
    Beyond music? I’m not sure.

  15. I recall watching a video about the Fox News host or whoever who I believe tweeted some slap against all homeless people when they were accusing a homeless person of burning down the NYC Christmas tree. I recall commenting to the column saying Jesus, Mary & Joseph were homeless, and all the right-wing Christian fascists responded in their typical form. While I was raised southern baptist (founded as a full-racist, pro-slavery denomination) and shouldn’t any longer be surprised at just how backward the American right-wing is, nevertheless I still was. Because it couldn’t be more obvious for those who are biblically literate how Jesus’ homelife as an infant was.

    Anyway, while I normally agree with Hedges here and elsewhere, I always thought it wasn’t so much the Romans who wanted Jesus dead; it was the Pharisees or Sanhedrin or whoever. The Jewish theocracy. But I’m sure the Romans were ok with executing him, because had he lived there might have been a revolution in Israel.

    Funny, we’re the Romans now. Killing and murdering and doing a lot of dirty work for Israel. That country has always needed bailing out.

    1. I really hope the US are not the Romans who in 70AD destroyed the second Temple and exiled the Jews from Judea!!

    2. You’re correct, but too kind IMO. It is not merely incorrect— rather it is intentionally disingenuous— for Hedges (who is highly educated about scripture) to create this false paradigm where the Roman state was the authority that feared Christ and caused his death. Hedges knows full well that Pilot and the Roman authorities were largely indifferent about Christ and only carried out his execution because certain Jewish authorities of the time (leaders of Pharisees, Sadducee etc) specifically brought Christ to the Romans and demanded His crucifixion— repeatedly so, including AFTER Pilot/Romans had stated initial reluctance based on their view Christ had done nothing wrong.

      1. @Michael
        Rome was an evil empire, period. Defending that empire by nitpicking about which group of jerks was the most responsible for killing Jesus is immorally disingenuous.

  16. “WRONG!!! Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and Roman senator and historian Tacitus both briefly mentioned him. They had no reason to make it up. Do your homework before posting your own wishful thinking.”

    Welll! Speaking of wishful thinking, eh, what!? An article by a “Christian” Reader in New Testament Studies at the University of Cambridge is surely not the last word in evidence of an historical jesus. Surely, as much as the much more detailed analysis by an aetheist scholar (see, below), is the last word…Albeit, many more scholarly articles exist pro & con. Proof, is in the pudding, and very little trustworthy proof truly exists.

    https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/did-jesus-exist/

    https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/did-jesus-exist/

  17. The winter solstice is the real cause for celebration each winter. We start with the basic concept and feeling of our feet on terra firma. Feet grounded on what we know by direct observation. This is our personal and shared reality. Community consensus is assured. And we’re assured that the self may guide the self, at any time, most urgent, or not.

    My preference is life in a community of universal self-guidance, where everyone I meet every day agrees with me that all of the birds want to soar to each of their highest height, and each of us do too. So let’s rely on nature’s pinnalce achievement thus far, our own minds, the human mind. Develop it. Put our energy into it. Put all of our faith, hope, and trust in it. Do not expect your full potential, if you let authority think, choose, and act for you.

    1. “The reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’ (natalis solis invicti); this festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky.”

      (The Encyclopedia Britannica)

  18. Oh, that Christ in the broken down homes of my friends, Latinos, in Mexico and along the US-Mexico Border (sic) . Pure marketing.

    Quoting —

    But the all-time most-reproduced image of Jesus comes from another period. It is Warner Sallman’s light-eyed, light-haired “Head of Christ” from 1940. Sallman, a former commercial artist who created art for advertising campaigns, successfully marketed this picture worldwide.

    Through Sallman’s partnerships with two Christian publishing companies, one Protestant and one Catholic, the Head of Christ came to be included on everything from prayer cards to stained glass, faux oil paintings, calendars, hymnals and night lights.

    Sallman’s painting culminates a long tradition of white Europeans creating and disseminating pictures of Christ made in their own image.

    The historical Jesus likely had the brown eyes and skin of other first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel. But no one knows exactly what Jesus looked like. There are no known images of Jesus from his lifetime, and while the Old Testament Kings Saul and David are explicitly called tall and handsome in the Bible, there is little indication of Jesus’ appearance in the Old or New Testaments.

    Even these texts are contradictory: The Old Testament prophet Isaiah reads that the coming savior “had no beauty or majesty,” while the Book of Psalms claims he was “fairer than the children of men,” the word “fair” referring to physical beauty.

    The earliest images of Jesus Christ emerged in the first through third centuries A.D., amidst concerns about idolatry. They were less about capturing the actual appearance of Christ than about clarifying his role as a ruler or as a savior.

    To clearly indicate these roles, early Christian artists often relied on syncretism, meaning they combined visual formats from other cultures.

    Probably the most popular syncretic image is Christ as the Good Shepherd, a beardless, youthful figure based on pagan representations of Orpheus, Hermes and Apollo.

    In other common depictions, Christ wears the toga or other attributes of the emperor. The theologian Richard Viladesau argues that the mature bearded Christ, with long hair in the “Syrian” style, combines characteristics of the Greek god Zeus and the Old Testament figure Samson, among others.

  19. The God Who Wasn’t There —

    https://youtu.be/alurfHwH_zY

    Did Jesus exist? This film starts with that question, then goes on to examine Christianity as a whole.

    Director: Brian Flemming

    Writer: Brian Flemming

    Stars: Sam Harris, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier

    Storyline

    Documentary filmmaker Brian Flemming examines the Bible and discusses the history of early Christianity, raising doubts as to whether the New Testament personage Jesus ever really existed. Flemming examines the similarity of the Jesus story to other savior myths of the time and points to inexplicable gaps in early Christian history that combine to shed doubt on the Bible’s Jesus story. Written by Martin Lewison

  20. “God is the Universe and the Universe is you.” When you understand this, you will be free…

    1. @Susan+Leslie
      Yes! We are all just minuscule parts of the universe, and we are all connected. And by “we,” I mean everything in the natural world (i.e., everything not created by humans). Plants, animals, air. land, water, sky, photons, galaxies, whatever. This is all us and we are all this.

      And BTW, if you believe in one god (which I consider to be a fanatic belief), you’d better see god in everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Otherwise your god is false.

  21. @Paul+Haeder
    “Yikes — White Washing Jesus.”
    I admire the width of your encyclopaedical knowledge and the richness of your trove of quotations, but I am less impressed by your own contribution to the Jesus POC controversy.
    ” For Christianity to ascribe Jesus’ race as white distorts the historical fact that, geographically speaking, he would have been of Mediterranean or African descent.”
    First of all, Christianity already ascribed to Jesus the title of “Son of God” so making him white is small change compared to that.
    Secondly, all humans are of African descent if you dig far enough, but do you really mean that Mediterranean descent makes you a POC? Tell that to the Italians, Spaniards, French, Greeks, Albanians etc.
    And why not Asia Minor or Middle East descent? They are closer both geographically and historically : Abraham supposedly arrived from Ur and Assyria, Babylon, the Hittite empire have been traditionally much more involved with the Judean territory.
    And if you insist that Jesus was a POC, the logical conclusion that all his ethnic community and their descendants are also POC which I am sure will be news to the likes of AOC and NJK.

  22. @Jeff
    “Either you don’t know anything about Chris Hedges, or you purposely smeared him.””
    You are right, I don’t know CH and I am sure that he might be a marvelous person.
    All I know are his opinions as expressed herein and I disagree with most of them.
    Re the POC thesis, the alternative is that he really believes it and that is very unlikely for somebody of his undeniable intellectual capacity.
    As for my “projection”, thank you for the free psychological evaluation, but I am more the skeptical cynic (or cynical skeptic) type and do not tend to care for crowd opinion.
    Anyway, I belatedly realized the sheer idiocy of discussing Jesus’ descent (i.e. DNA), Him being a non biological construct (Son of God with a Virgin mother) any DNA He may have is what God the Father endowed Him with, and I do not presume to know His will, which apparently CH does.

    1. @alteyid48
      So now you’re calling Chris Hedges a liar? I’d believe him way over you, and that’s all I’m going to say on this matter. Your obsession with this one minor comment about Jesus’s supposed skin color indicates that you’re racist, as do your comments about white & black colors.

      1. @Jeff
        Frankly, that minor comment was the only interesting part of the chat
        My comments regarding white/black were Physics 101 .
        Happy New Year!

  23. Just what the world needs: Bronze Age fairy-tales:

    It was a very different world in ancient times. Gods filled the ancient skies and demons lurked in a shadowy underworld, their awesome activities controlling human affairs. It was an age of superstition, which Webster defines as a belief resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or a false conception of causation.

    It was an age in which miracles were viewed as common occurrences rather than breaches of the natural law, because in those days there was no natural law to breach. Science had not yet come into its own and placed boundaries on human imaginings. And it was in this milieu that the coming of a man god, Christ, was announced, and in time, accepted.

    Of course, Christ had followed a long succession of mangods in the ancient world, many of whom were said to have performed prodigies, and who shared with Christ the tradition of a virgin birth, a divine nature, a resurrection, and an ascension. And so it appears that the miracles surrounding Christ, including his divine nature, were very likely modeled on the miracles of more ancient cultures and are therefore mythical.
(Tom Flynn)

    1. Ahh, the new gods are on the Digital Dashboard, the AI Technocrats, the satellite-dumping billionaires, the Holly-Drt moguls, the Pharma Phaorohs, the lot of them. Supersititinons, for sure, oh the dancing Israelis 9/11, Gulf of Tonkin, Pearl Harbor, Operation Paperclip, COINTELPRO, FBA, NSA, TSA, AFT, CIA, CDC, NIAID, DARPA, oh the new gods.

      It’s the New Intelligence Design? CRISPR and mRNA. There are no forever gods, but there are forever chemicals. Oh, those gods.

      1. @Paul+Haeder
        Precisely! The entire planet (with the totally minor exception of some humans) would be much better off in a world where nature is worshiped and “science” simply meant a search for knowledge, instead of creating harmful technologies as it now does. People who worship science are evil fools.

      2. N.B. The 9/11 dancers were Palestinians , not Israelis.
        A few more additions to your alphabet soup UN, UNESCO, UNHRC, UNRWA, CCP, FSR , WTO, WHO, WMO, DHL, UPS, NHS, and so on ad infinitum…

  24. @Marcus Adamson

    As you seem to be an unconditional fan of CH, what do you think of his characterization of Jesus as a POC? How do you tell a POC from a non POC? Is there a Central Register of POCs or any laws, akin to the Nuremberg Laws defining pure Arians, that apply to POCs?
    ” genuine social justice – indeed one of the perhaps few good things that organised religion has indisputably performed well at! ” Do you refer to Archbishop Tutu or organized religion per se? If it is the latter, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the unmitigated support of the homophobic Russian Orthodox Church for Putin, the Ayatollahs, the Taliban and countless other occurrences are not exactly poster examples for social justice!
    The only redeeming well performed good thing from organized religions is inspiration for artistic masterpieces, the Handel Messiah being one of them.
    The difference between us is that upon hearing it (all year long, together with Matheus Passion etc) I think about Handel’s and Bach’s genius and times and not about the Gospels.
    I am afraid we painted ourselves in a corner as exponents of white centric culture which nowadays seems to be a bad thing.
    Anyhow , a Happy New Year and good baseball watching ( shouldn’t it be cricket or Australian football??)

    1. Man, again, leaving out the Torah and Talmud Gang.

      In 1493 Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull of Demarcation that split rights to claim the new world between Spain and Portugal. That agreement was revised by the Treaty of Tordesillas the following year, pushing the pole-to-pole meridian further west to 370 leagues beyond the Cape Verde Islands. That adjustment meant Portugal was entitled by Papal decree to dominate and colonize lands discovered by Pedro Alvarez Cabral six years later, those became the nation of Brazil.

      Catholics weren’t the only Europeans enriched by the abundance wrested from indigenous lands, Jewish people benefitted as well. Infrastructure investments that for centuries were directed into minerals and agricultural products are today being applied to the capture of behavioral data for human capital valuation. The colonial interests that built Brazil’s sugar empire are again on the scene, which is not surprising given that communities of faith are hubs for social service delivery. For that reason, they are poised to serve as ready-made channels through which global capital can bring industrial-level poverty management to scale. The sugar connection interests me, because I explored the idea of hypothecation and mortgaged human life and data collection in the so-called “community school” model in the context of sugar refineries in a post a wrote a few years back.

      Sir Ronald Cohen is a key figure in global impact investing. A Harvard MBA and the father of British venture capital, Cohen fled to the UK with his family from Egypt in the 1950s. He is Jewish, in fact his wife’s now deceased father was Yossi Harel of the Exodus, but moves fluidly among all circles in his role conducting the symphony of the global technocratic social impact transition. Cohen has appeared at the Vatican’s social impact conferences as well as conferences on Jewish venture philanthropy at Fordham University in New York. Ronald Cohen collaborates with Omidyar Network, an organization working on many fronts to remake Brazil as a data-driven society suited to the global impact economy.

      Jews faced forced conversion under the Portuguese Inquisition, a few years after Spain’s purges had gotten underway. Those who did not flee had to convert though many continued to practice their faith in secret. Converso history (videos here and here) has gotten considerable attention in academic circles and the media over the past decade as more and more people are getting their genomes sequenced for ancestral purposes. Converso history overlaps with the Jesuit church, which tended to be receptive and whose missionary program enabled such people opportunities to leave the regions where they were persecuted. The Jewish Heritage Alliance states that 10-25% of the population of Brazil likely has some ancestral connection to Conversos.

      From 1568-1648 ongoing skirmishes took place between what is now The Netherlands and Spain. After that separation was accomplished, Portuguese Conversos poured into Amsterdam, fast becoming Europe’s largest port, a center of maritime trade and intellectual ventures, including printing. There they often renewed their cultural and faith practices while playing a key role facilitating the financial transactions of European empire building. Dutch acceptance of Jewish culture made New World colonies, like Recife, an attractive option for those seeking opportunities abroad.

      The oldest synagogue in the New World is in Recife, a northeastern coastal smart city, the fourth largest in the nation. Jewish settlers came to the region during the short window of time, 1630-1654, that it was controlled by the Dutch and the West India Company. The Jewish community of Recife helped establish a sugar industry as well as financing construction of infrastructure like roads and sewer systems. The Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, now a frequented tourist destination, was built sometime before 1641 and restored in 2001. Jewish people were forced to leave in 1654 when the Portuguese regained control. Some came to New Netherlands, New York City, where they were initially rejected by Governor Peter Stuyvesant, but won a right to remain by petitioning the Dutch West India Company in 1655. These Brazilian exiles built the first synagogue in North America, Shearith Israel. It was the only Jewish congregation in the city from 1654 to 1825.

      https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=library_papers

      The apologetic point, though implicit, was clear: studying the history of the Jews would reveal that the most basic values of America were in fact originally Jewish. Demonstrating that the rule of law and the notion of a government of, by, and for the people was entirely compatible with and, in fact, ultimately
      grounded in Jewish values and Jewish history would solve the old conundrum of what it meant to be both Jewish and American.

    2. Dear ‘letters and numbers’ ;-),

      Rather than telling you what I think of Chris Hedges’ position re: the ‘little’ “POC” non-storm that you’ve been stirring in your tea cup (or coffee mug if you happen to be a denizen of the ‘land of the un-free’) far better for one to advise you as to what I think of your, indeed, OC-ness’ relating to this insignificant ‘issue’! As I’ve said throughout my posts at this site – albeit ones that might have been better edited (especially when it came to sorting out that scaffold troll) given summer distractions such as ‘baseball’ in my part of the woods at this time of the year – it matters not whether Christ literally existed or not, while further to your pigment obsession, it also matters not as to whether this possible literal Christ was black, brown, white, or bloody brindle! – a point that ‘Jeff’ clearly enunciated your way, while I also have to say that I ‘potentially’ now concur with his allegation re: you being a racist further to your broken record pursuit of that subject. One thing is for certain however re: your tricolour (or more shades) carry on: Even if Christ was black or brown (while the so-called ‘proven’ evidence by linguistics scholars that Christ spoke Aramaic ought to strongly suggest that!) on the outside, the West (and especially nowadays the US via its Evangelical wing) have tried to make him white on the inside re: their/our ethnocentrisms. In my country – and one that is indeed the 51st USA state given that we copy everything they/you(?) do – we have a pejorative term for radical Left Greens politicians: ‘Watermelons’ – i.e. green on the outside and red on the inside – and while I don’t know if there is a name for some chocolate ball that has a white almond at the centre, your frankly ‘silly’ (while I’ll spare you the term idiotic) ‘self controversary’ is sort of approximate to that – if you want to think about it. …Anyway, just give it up now, yeah?, and this lest I am hereafter made to go down the same wallaby track as Jeff re: the ‘r’ word, while also too. lobbing you in with that troll!

      I’m also not going to get into arguments about ‘social justice’ definitions further to the Tutu reference I made and your mix in of that with what are assuredly ‘non-social justice’ examples (the Crusades, Putin’s Russia etc.). Again, what I said was clear enough, while I don’t know what is is with people who can’t write clearly these days and too, persons who don’t seem to understand simple points i.e. ‘It’s the Gospels Christ, stupid!’; indeed this further to so much of the commentary in these overall discussions having been, in my view, self referring, egocentric, pet-issued, and obscurantist in its reply to others! Anyway, I blame the now corporate anesthetised universities for much of that further to them having totally acquiesced to Postmodernism, Utilitarian positivism, and in the case of English departments, that absolute tyranny which is effing literary theory! Nevertheless, and if the greater truth be uncovered, it’s probably got more to do with the now full circle/apotheosis of that atomised Gesellshaft condition which the great German sociologist Ferdy Tonnies identified in the 19th century.

      Lastly – and this given that I now need to get another gin and tonic in this heat (or should I say an iced cold beer?) – one’s “baseball” ref. is an inversion of the reply of “cricket” that Charles Ryder’s father gives to the American dinner guest, Jorkins in that seminal literary representation of the kind of destruction which organised religion does to the psyches of human beings: Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’ – a work I know very well (and have indeed ‘lived out’ given my own heavy handed RC experience before my now very lapsed condition), while that was of course said in my case, in ‘ever’ infinite jest. Anyway, it’s always the first sniff out confirmation of an obsessive compulsive when he/she doesn’t have a sense of ‘who-ma’!

      Finally, you wouldn’t have tried telling either JSB or GFH what to think when they were writing their ‘toons, while your ‘I” is – as with every other damn bloke and his dog these days – indeed just that re: your ‘opinion’. As for me being an “unconditional” Hedges fan, ‘Mr Speaker, I have been verballed by the honourable member!’: Hedges is, as Hamlet said of his father, “a man” and a person who as with you, me, and everyone else, comes with faults as added extras. That said, Hedges’ is among that rare breed which has on its resume, ‘truth teller’ further to the appalling ‘inverted totalitarian’ (i.e. Wolin) state that we all now labour within (apart from those within the corporate oligarchy of course!) that is also inclusive of say, Cornell West, Tariq Ali, Chomsky et.al. while it is these somewhat ‘modern Christ’s’ (while no correspondence from any detractors on that please, and especially when I prefaced the C word ‘somewhat’!) are very badly needed throughout the world nowadays further to the violent corporate hijacking of our minds, hearts, and souls! To ignore them is to, yes, “do so at our peril” (to reprise ‘Roundball’s’ Erda-like warning herein), while without belief (and this arguably just as much via ‘storied ethics’ of figures from religious texts as with too, equally valid secular examples) we are all left hanging (no ‘gallowscorner’ pun intended) from ‘the tree on non-life’, and this with only that nihilist vision that one hears in Sibelius’s 4th symphony, or in a more recent literary motif, that of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, to ‘not’ comfort us!

      …And as far as any continued chat from me goes re: further posts, once again, “The rest is silence”, or should I instead say, as with Christ’s last words on the cross, “It is finished”? Yeah, better now go and watch the….cricket!

      P. S. As so many of my compatriots now say (as I do), If Christ had tried to come into my country by boat as a refugee (at least since the 1980’s) he’d have been chucked into a detention centre – and this even if he was white!

      1. So, have you decided between the gin and tonic ( the best I ever had was in Rome, at the Europa Bar on Via Vittorio Veneto, with a mix of indian spices I did not found anywhere else) and the beer (hopefully an Australian or Belgian brand, not an American one from the “sex in a canoe “variety).
        Let me begin with a prayer :
        ..I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
        Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!
        (Nina Simone/The Animals 1964/65)
        Just to clear the record, I don’t care at all about the literal existence of Jesus, His colour, the literal truth of the Old/New Testament, the Coran, the Upanishads, the oral tradition of the Aborigines, the Book of Mormon or any other religious document. I also think that arguing about religious beliefs is pointless and everybody is entitled to hers/his.
        What I don’t is the blatant use of religion as political propaganda , such as CH recruiting Jesus to advance his anti-capitalist world view. I also don’t agree that his injection of the POC construct into the discussion is a “minor” issue, au contraire , it is central to his thesis and his condemnation of capitalism.
        But forget CH, what you, Marcus A., think is a POC? All I got as a definition is “Mediteranean or African descent “(from P+H) and Aramaic speaker from you , which both are rather risible.
        And forgive me for insisting on a definition , but from my STEM+scientific socialism+ dialectic/historic materialism background I am used to well defined concepts and tight logical reasoning ( not the non sequiturs abundant in most of the discussions here).
        And finally the idea that the Messiah on His second coming is going to care about the TSA or CBP protocols is a little far-fetched for me ! If one accepts the premise of an Almighty God, than it results that the only reason the Romans so calling “killed ” Jesus is in accordance with His unfathomable plans !
        Enjoy your summer while most of us endure the cold, rains and snow!

  25. This Christian Nation, In God We Trust, USA — In Science We Act: The U.S. orchestrated a coup in Ukraine that put a Nazi party in power. I mean there are photos of John McCain and Biden on stage at a rally with leaders of this party. This is the real politik of the privileged white class in America (never mind the party put in power in the region, as a break off from Ukraine, named a street for Stepan Bandera, Nazi supporter, and decorated the local mall at Christmas with a huge swastika). But then, again, this is the point. Fascist resurgence has broken to the surface during the pandemic lockdowns. Certainly eastern Europe had large reservoirs of fascist sentiment slumbering since WW2. Remember Project Paperclip?

    “As Allied forces crossed the English Channel during the D-Day invasion of June 1944, some 10,000 intelligence officers known as T-Forces were right behind the advance battalions. Their mission: seize munitions experts, technicians, German scientists and their research materials, along with French scientists who had collaborated with the Nazis. Soon a substantial number of such scientists had been picked up and placed in an internment camp known as the Dustbin. { } Operation Overcast was certainly under way by July 1945, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bring into the US 350 German scientists, including Werner Von Braun and his V2 rocket team, chemical weapons designers, and artillery and submarine engineers. There had been some theoretical ban on Nazis being imported, but this was as empty as FDR’s edict. The Overcast shipment included such notorious Nazis and SS officers as Von Braun, Dr. Herbert Axster, Dr. Arthur Rudolph and Georg Richkey. Von Braun’s team had used slave labor from the Dora concentration camp and had worked prisoners to death in the Mittelwerk complex: more than 20,000 had died from exhaustion and starvation. The supervising slavemaster was Richkey. In retaliation against sabotage in the missile plant – prisoners would urinate on electrical equipment, causing spectacular malfunctions – Richkey would hang them twelve at a time from factory cranes, with wooden sticks shoved into their mouths to muffle their cries. In the Dora camp itself he regarded children as useless mouths and instructed the SS guards to club them to death, which they did.”

    Alexander Cockburn (Operation Paperclip: Nazis Head West, Counterpunch 2017)

    Disney made enthusiastic use of Von Braun when designing ‘tomorrow land’. If FDR had reservations about the wholesale import of high ranking Nazi engineers and scientists, Truman had none. (shock, that).

    “By 1946 a rationale based on Cold War strategy was becoming more important. Nazis were needed in the struggle against Communism, and their capabilities certainly had to be withheld from the Soviets. In September 1946 President Harry Truman approved the Dulles-inspired Paperclip project, whose mission was to bring no less than 1,000 Nazi scientists to the United States. Among them were many of the vilest criminals of the war: there were doctors from Dachau concentration camp who had killed prisoners by putting them through high altitude tests, who had freezed their victims and given them massive doses of salt water to research the process of drowning. There were the chemical weapons engineers such as Kurt Blome, who had tested Sarin nerve gas on prisoners at Auschwitz.”
    Alexander Cockburn (Ibid)

    The department of defense and the Pentagon went to great lengths after the war and on into the 50s to shelter the nazi criminals working for them. And the response when questioned about the employment of war criminals was that its better we have them then Stalin. This was the real engine driving nearly everything — fear and hatred of communism. And if that meant helping men who tortured Jewish women and children, well, you must break eggs to make that omelette.

    Worth noting that former Nazis worked with every branch of the U.S. military, conducted secret experiments (such as giving radioactive oatmeal to kids, or the various LSD experiments on prisoners, the poor, and often the psychologically impaired, as well as, across the board, on blacks) and “Many of the prisoners in the experiments in the Oregon and Washington state prisons were given vasectomies or were surgically castrated. The doctor who performed the sterilization operations told the prisoners the sterilizations were necessary to “keep from contaminating the general population with radiation-induced mutants.”

  26. @Jeff
    “Rome was an evil empire, period.”
    Evil empires exist only in “Star Wars” and Cold War propaganda.
    Rome existed as a republic and empire for about one thousand year and while at times its human rights record for sure does not meet 21th century standards, it is still one of the pillars of Western ( and indeed human) civilization. It is the source and basis for much of art, politic organization and language.
    It is due to Rome that there is an US Senate, Constitution, Latinx etc.
    I agree with you that the cast of characters in the Jesus saga and their respective actions are irrelevant, they were just playing their parts in a Divine Plan, directed by the Deus ex Machina (aka God the Father) with the Holy Spirit as assistant producer.
    The whole crucifixion is “fake news”, as Jesus did not stay dead and was resurrected by the seventh day.

    1. @alteyid48
      Dead wrong! All empires are evil, and Rome was the first big one that I know of (I don’t claim to be a historian). Sure, the people living in the empire have it materially good, just like in the U.S. That doesn’t make colonizing others at all OK. Your defense of Rome is equivalent to defending Nazi Germany as far as I’m concerned, and we therefore have no basis for discussion of this issue.

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