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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  December 25, 2012

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On the left is Mary, praiseworthy for her innocence of all worldly events. She holds her child in her arms, made pregnant not by Joseph, but by some blameless mysterious circumstance brought to the attention of village gossip and politely categorized as a miracle.

Joseph is on the right. The artist took liberties with crude stereotypes, depicting him as half Asiatic with sharp features suggesting a combination of numbness and passivity, as if all asians lust for opiatic diversions from reality. This is combined with exaggerated anti-Semitic tropes in his gestures and posture make him look neurotic, confused, and self-aggrandizing, a modern recreation spilling biases into events that lack historical basis.

In the middle is the savior, on a cross for his crimes of agitation and rabble rousing that provoked anarchy and disorder. Such judgment is so old-fashioned and rubs us the wrong way. We are rich now and have even more disgust for those who structure systems for effects, our tastes finding interest and entertainment in disorganization, dysfunction, messes, noise, disturbance, and war against leadership. We look up to him as a hero and rebel against the system, a first Che Guevara or Charles Manson. We gather to praise his efforts and pledge to continue his cause.

Today we unify in spirit all underdogs and likely failures. Praise be to the homeless, the handicapped, single mothers, drug addicts, the obese, dropouts, and welfare queens. We are all brothers and sisters equal in ability and value, especially when we band together to overthrow everything others create that we can't partake in, seeing that it keeps us down and excludes us through its implicit standards.

Tales are locked into tracks of a time and place long gone, like a drunken bum muttering about the apocalypse or the strains of Vietnam. The priest tastes the fermented blood, an opening stream of warm intoxication awakening that familiar feel, and sets to his rote lesson about sheep herders in the Middle East.

No one in the room is related to the tribe of Abraham, or has their inherent problems, yet we are told their struggles and personal solutions. Lacking refrigerators 2000 years ago to prevent spoilage, they prohibited pork. Lacking instincts of decent humans, they had to write laws to ban stealing, murder, and other impositions. The Tanakh is a confession of an inner failing, embarrassingly made public because it was thought by its believers to be universal instead of strange proof of tribal defects.

The priest continues onward telling about historical problems of Jerusalem, Syria, and people born in barns, while the crowd nods half-asleep, present out of duty and habit, so tuned out they don't erupt in laughter at the ridiculous stories and utter irrelevance. A senile uncle reeking of bad whiskey has more substance in his slurred rambling.

Despite the effort to construct a holy space, and the years of study the priest has undertaken, no one in the room is familiar with God. No part of the service comes remotely close to stirring the essential aspects of spirituality for which religions were created. Anyone spiritual will need to find the embers themselves, as they continue burning unseen by most, keeping many warm but hidden from clear sight to protect them from the extinguishing instincts of the envious.


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