Monday, January 28, 2013

Religion = Politics

Whenever I am asked my opinion concerning the Pope… you know, the Pope… the bishop of Rome… the leader of the globally entrenched Catholic Church… the titular successor to Saint Peter… yeah THAT Pope. Whenever I am asked my opinion concerning the Pope… I usually reply: “Good work, if you can get it.” I say this, not merely to be snarky, but to illustrate the point that being Pope… although an elite and arguably highly coveted position within the Church is, at the end of the day, just a job.
…A job, occupation or profession… a means of livelihood, taken up by a man or woman in order to “earn a living.” The subtle implication (capitalist mindset) of the previous sentence is that a man or woman must have a job, in order to justify their existence… “What do you do for a living?” read: “How do you justify being alive?” In the case of the Pope… and as far as jobs go… being the reputed voice of God on Earth, could be cynically perceived as a pretty good gig.
If the occupation of “Pope” is a job… what is the job description? On first glance, it would appear to be a function of ecclesiastical “upper management” …overseeing the workings of the Church. It would also appear to be representative… that is, the Pope is elected by his peers within the College of Cardinals during papel conclave. Similar to the appointment of Supreme Court Justices within the American Judiciary branch of government, the position of Pope is a lifetime appointment. Talk about job security.
The more we examine the “office” of Pope, the more we realize it to be a political appointment. The political power of this prestigious priestly position was consolidated, in a fashion, by none-other than the Pope himself in 1870, with the proclamation of “Papal Infallibility.” This takes the form of a dogma wherein the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error when defining a doctrine concerning faith or morals. You would think that the Pope’s “dogma” would eventually get run over by his “karma” …but I digress. 

So… after 1870, the Pope is not only the voice of God on Earth… he is also infallible… can do no wrong… in regard to interpreting morality (proper behavior). We all know how well the Catholic Church’s clergy are faring in regard to proper behavior, but again, I digress. The point is… there is a guy out there who’s title is Pope… who’s job is to oversee the Catholic Church (over one billion members world wide) and tell it’s members what to think, concerning right and wrong. Again I say… Good work, if you can get it!
Now the Catholic Church is what is known as a Religion. Religions are organizations, much like corporations or governments… of humans, run by humans, who want to tell other humans what to think. In justifying their bossy behavior, the humans who run religions, piously yet vaguely conjure spirituality. Spirituality is not an organization, but rather a relationship… a relationship between an individual human and that which gave rise to, sustains, and ultimately implodes… all that is… or Universe. So the guys who run religions use a very personal relationship, to somehow confer authority to themselves, to tell you an I what to think! Unbelievable!
If we reject the premise that any organizational entity created by men is justified (divinely ordained) by a personal relationship between an individual & the power of Universe, then the façade of spiritual authority… of any religion… falls away.
Absent the “cover” of spiritual authority, religions are… in reality… a form of government. The science of governing humans has been popularly identified as… politics. Politics and especially politicians… currently enjoy a rather unsavory reputation. In light of the above, the similarity between religious organizations and governmental (political) organizations becomes unsettlingly apparent. The current “fall from grace” by the Catholic clergy, driven by increasing accusations of child abuse, coincides with the eroding popularity of politicians.
The horrific frequency of cases of abuse leveled against Catholic Priests, appear to be validated by the number of convictions and/or cases being “settled out of court.” Likewise, public opinion of elected governmental officials sinks to an all-time low amidst continued criminal chicanery. The abysmal performance of these two institutions leads us to the inescapable conclusion that politician and priest alike are completely derelict in their public duties. The undeniably symmetrical failures of these two institutions can be succinctly illustrated in the following formula…
Religion = Politics
It is likely that none of the above is anything new to readers of this blog. Many of us have watched for some time, the shameful fall from propriety of both priest and politician. I realize that there are exceptions to this condemnation… that there are exceptional individuals, both religious and political, doing excellent work. However, it could easily be argued that religion and politics have traded in the currency of deception and manipulation since the dawn of civilization. Certainly when viewing the history of the Catholic Church as a political entity, it has demonstrated a very bloody yet successful track record. For many of us, it is a proven fact that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
Religion and its twin, politics… are shameful and corrupt institutions with apparently no redeeming value.

So if in fact religion is indeed synonymous with politics, if the two entities are two hands of the same institutional organization of deceit, manipulation and control, where does that leave the individual? The great tekgnostic saint, Groucho Marx said it best (concerning membership in the Hollywood Friar’s Club)…
“I sent the club a wire stating” Please accept my resignation… I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member!”
Seriously… absent any moral authority coming from Church or State, the individual finds solace in the very mechanism that those who control religions point to when seeking justification… the very essence of spirituality… Relationship. Relationship is the foundation of harmonious success… On Earth, as it is in Heaven. When asked, every successful politician, as well as every successful clergyman/woman, especially those who are honest and do truly good work for their community… attributes their success to the good relationships they have fostered within their communities.
Relationships are the key to success in all of our Earthly undertakings. Humans are social animals, and as such, we are only as strong or successful as the relationships we nurture. Our ability to build strong relationships at home, at work and at play, is directly proportionate to our success in these endeavors. This is the true secret of success. This secret is both plainly obvious and profoundly subtle. It applies equally to the mundane deeds of man, as well as to the intimate relationship between self and the mysterious power of Universe.
And now that the proverbial “cat is out of the bag” …now that the secret has been revealed, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with a few more words of wisdom from the incomparable Groucho…

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

 “Those are my principals… and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Bonus Wisdom from Groucho…

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.”
“Last night I shot an elephant in my Pajamas… how he got in my pajamas I'll never know.”