My Life is Words
Words and ideas turn on the lights in the brain
Created in God's image. Reality or the product of an overactive ego?
Religion, it seems to me, and there is ample evidence to support my belief, has caused more pain, suffering, and death to humans and other living creatures than all the wars and pandemics in the history of humans put together. What is it that drives some of us to be so passionate about our religion that it blinds us to our humanity? Why do we go off in a rage at another religion or take the words of some ancient being to mean we can lord it over all things on the earth?
I believe it is our egos that came up with this notion and that continues to need to be fed by the belief that we are "superior." Let's take a look at the Hebrew Bible, the first to "document" this idea.
And God said: 'Let us make man in our image/b'tsalmeinu, after our likeness/kid'muteinu; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.' And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female created He them. And God blessed them; and God said to them: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
If that isn't an exercise in the human ego, I've never seen or read one. We, and only we are created in God's image, and we hold dominion over all other living things on the planet, and one assumes if we ever find life on another planet, we update that to include that life. That is pure narcissism, more so that even Trump is capable of. And, let's not forget that this was all written by a bunch of old men who wandered off by themselves and came back claiming to have conversed with God.
We might also note that the statement 'Let us make man. . .' was written by a man. It was not 'Let us make humans or men and women'. In fact, the entirety of the Bible, Torah, and Koran were written by men, men with, one must assume, rather large egos and who appear to have been motivated to create a world in which men ruled and mostly had their way.
Tradition credits Moses as the author of Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy, but modern scholars increasingly see them as a product of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Moses walked the earth in the 14th & 13th centuries BCE. Whether it was Moses who set down these words, or others, it was still somewhere between about 2,500 and 3,200 years ago that all this was written and the intellectual properties of humans back then might be subject to discussion.
Studies were done, and continuing studies as well show that dolphins and whales are exceeding intelligent. We can't be sure how bright because we have yet to learn how to communicate with them, but they are unquestionably very intelligent animals. They have complicated languages, societal rule, and a sense of self-awareness, attributes we like to point to that make us human. What if God really created dolphins in His image and we humans have circumvented God's plan?
We have continually used the excuse, myth, or belief that we are just like God to justify running roughshod over all living things on the earth. That callous attitude includes other humans who we have determined, for a variety of reasons, often words in our religious texts, are not part of God's plan and we are therefore justified in killing them off or enslaving them or simply ignoring them. Was this really what you think God had in mind, assuming there is a God and that this God has a mind like ours?
The only evidence we have of our God-like personage is the presumed words of a man who lived over 3,000 years ago and who, like Pat Robertson, claimed to have exchanged texts with God. The people of that time protected their households by putting lamb's blood on their doorway so that the Angel of Death would know to pass over their homes. Moses "parted the Red Sea to escape the approaching Egyptian soldiers. These texts are full of genuinely outrageous events that we would never believe today, but represent how the people of that time thought.
Moses was preceded by Abraham who lived in the 18th century BCE, or about 500 years before Moses, and to whom it is said Moses was related. Abraham is said to have lived for 175 years. Others in Genesis are said to have lived 600 years and more. Notwithstanding "faith" this would seem, and it is likely that the cycle of the moon, or a month, was a year in which case 600 years would be 50 years old and the oldest person mentioned, Methuselah at 969 years-old would really have been around 81.
Again, these examples are cited to point out that the people of this time knew very little, were afraid of almost everything, and while perhaps well-meaning, their statements and contributions pale in their importance to human development compared to the likes Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Da Vinci.
This very brief visit to the Old Testament in search of examples of the mindset at the time is merely a way to point out that there seem to be some fanciful tales in the Bible that can sorely test a realistic mind.
Given the extent of suspicion and mysticism that prevailed at the time, it is not unreasonable to believe that the authors of Genesis and other books of the Bible may have been given to flights of fancy about who we are and how we came into being. Much of what happened back then, plagues, disease, natural disasters, and regular human events like birth and death were not understood the way they are today.
Abraham, Moses, and many others back then were the sleuths who were trying to do a couple of things I suspect. They indeed were curious about how we came to be, but the science of evolution simply didn't exist then. In fact, no science existed then, only imagination and storytelling. Astronomy, the first of the sciences didn't occur until about 1600 BCE.
Did the people in the Bible exist? Of course, they did, with the possible exceptions of any that may have been created as part of a convincing story that needed to be told. Did the voice of God really emanate from a burning bush? In the mind of Moses, I suspect it did, but in reality, I simply can't accept that as fact.
And, for these reasons, and more, I think it was the ego of humans that elevated us to some omnipotent status over all other living creatures, and not the work of a supreme being. And, given that hypothesis, I would like to see us develop a bit more humility toward each other and toward all life on this planet as opposed to the discrimination and bigotry of religion and begin to behave differently toward all life.
You may have noticed with my infrequent posts of All Things Food & Wine that my wife, Gale, and I are foodies and enthusiastic consumers of wine and other libations of the alcohol variety. And so, last evening we enjoyed just such an experience.
We were at Kaspar's Catering & Events company, conveniently located quite near our house. We've known Kaspar Donier and his wife Nancy for many years from their first restaurant in Belltown in 1989 to their relocation to Lower Queen Anne, and then, sadly for us, they decided to pursue catering rather than operate a full-time restaurant. Fortunately, for food lovers and us in Seattle, they still do special event dinners and holiday events, and so we signed on for the Fortuity Wine Dinner.
Like many of you, I suspect, we had never heard of Fortuity Wines, and like many of you, if they persist in producing the quality of wines we had last evening, a whole lot more people will know their name. Only two years old as a winery, Lee and Emily Fergestrom and winemaker Johnny Brose are producing wines like others who have been in the business for a decade or more. Enough of me sucking up, on with the evening.
We arrived right on time, which means five minutes late in our book. We were fortunate to be seated with Emily and Lee, the winemakers, along with Chelsey Nelson who writes about affordable wine on her blog, Wino On A Budget, and another woman I recall introducing herself as Terri (?).
We were immediately poured a glass of 2018 Rosé of Cinsault that would accompany the Charcuterie of fresh pickles, mustard, sausage, lamb and beef prosciutto, paté, and pickled rhubarb. The rosé was excellent with forward fruit and more body than you might typically expect from a rosé. The charcuterie was a perfect match with the wine.
Next up was a Hot & Sour Dungeness Crab Soup with tofu and English Peas married with a 2018 Viognier, another perfect pairing. The soup had just the right amount of heat, and the crab in the soup was a genius touch. The Viognier, although a white wine, had the structure and body to handle the heat of the soup and stand on its own. Another marvelous combination of food and wine.
The third course was Crispy Pork Belly & Nettle Risotto with wild mushrooms on the side was paired with a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. The cube of pork belly was crispy and perfect, and the nettle risotto was another exciting dish from Kaspar's kitchen. The Sauvignon Blanc was earthy and fruity, and again, it would be hard to imagine a better combination of food and wine.
The entree' was half of a roasted Cornish hen with a romesco sauce accompanied by saffron mashed potatoes and a spicy sauteed kale. This course was joined by a 2017 Merlot that was full of berry flavor, bold yet gentle and a perfect match for this course.
And finally, the pièce de résistance was a Rhubarb Clafoutis with a strawberry & peppercorn tempura with Kefir ice cream. This dessert course was served with a 2017 Le Classique Red Blend that had the depth and fruit and light tannins to be a perfect wine with this classic French dessert.
From start to finish, it was about three hours of pure enchantment for lovers of great wine and world-class cuisine. Kaspar has a long and storied reputation as a master chef, and Lee and Emily are well on their way to gaining similar renown in winemaking.
I would encourage folks in the Seattle area to check out Kaspar's for event catering from corporate gatherings to weddings and more intimate food events. And of course, everyone who loves the small round fruit.
"I enjoy a glass of wine each night for it's health benefits. The other glasses are for my witty comebacks and my flawless dance moves."
This topic requires 1,000 or more pages to cover properly, but most people won’t read that much, and I am sure as hell not going to write that much. Therefor, I will offer an abridged version of the history of the Crusades and what lead up to that particular bloodbath in the history of the world and religion.
I will cite some sources/resources where I got some information; most of the rest of it bubble up in my mind through something called critical thinking, or rational thinking.
Let’s begin with a look at religious evolution, fo which I have written in my book, Religilution.
In the beginning, we believed in a bunch of gods, gods that presumably explained the unexplainable for we ignorant humans of the time. Events like lightning, blizzard, pestilence, and disease were all a complete mystery to humans, so we designed various gods as an explanation for these inexplicable events and we devised ways to worship these entities as a means to appease them and end our misery, none of which worked.
As we evolved over the millennia, our notions of gods changed and eventually, we arrived at a belief in one god, the God, notwithstanding areas of the far east, India, China, and surrounding areas that clung to their religions like Buddhism, Shintoism, and Hinduism to name a few.
With the single God theory taking hold throughout much of the West, and as governments and people in power are wont to do, religion and power became intertwined, bed partners if you will. This corruption of religion enraged many people. Not the least of these was a young Jewish boy named Jesus. He began to push back on the Jewish church and it’s corruption and his ideas took hold. He developed a considerable following of “Christians” although that name didn’t exist in the beginning. It came later and was self-proclaimed by his followers who decided he was the Christ King.
So, now, generally speaking, we had Jews and Christians cohabituating in the area we now call the Middle East. The Jews weren’t big fans of these new “Christians” because (a) they were renegade Jews, (b) they had declared this man, Jesus, to be the messiah but that wasn’t possible if it wasn’t blessed by the Jewish religion, and (c) the Christians had thrown off many of the Jewish rituals and holy days. This back and forth went on for some 500 years after Jesus died.
There was a third group hanging out in the Middle East those days who were likely Jews to begin with, may or may not have tasted Christianity, and in any case, found both religions wanting, so along came Islam. With a little reading, you will find many parallels between both Judaism and Christianity. Many of the same people like Abraham and the Angel Gabriel occupy central places in each. Jesus is recognized, not as the messiah but as a great prophet.
You now have the three great religions bowing down to one God with all of them competing for followers, power, land, and declaring themselves to be the true religion of the very same God. Does it surprise anyone that the next 2,000 years would see this area, and the rest of the world, embroiled in war after war after war with each side professing that God is on their side?
Which brings me to the topic of the Crusades because one of my friends invoked that as justification for the allegiances of the various Christian nations in the West and their conflict with the non-Christians. He went on to suggest that although there may still God-fearing religions in the world - the Jews and the Muslims - they are still at fault for not bowing down to both Christianity and Donald J. Trump and that makes them a “threat to the American way of life”.
The Crusades, like many human conflicts, were all about religion, and territory, and power as mentioned above. Here are a few statements from one of my citations below.
There followed a total of 8 Crusades over a period of the next 195 years as Christians attempted to "reform" the infidels.
To be sure, the Muslims were not innocent victims in all this. Starting in the early 600s, Islam began the process of expansion, which is a nice way of saying conquering huge swaths of land throughout the Middle East, although their motivations seemed not quite as religiously militant at that time as were the Christians who would come later.
“During the seventh century, after subduing rebellions in the Arabian peninsula, Arab Muslim armies began to swiftly conquer territory in the neighboring Byzantine and Sasanian empires and beyond. Within roughly two decades, they created a massive Arab Muslim empire spanning three continents. The Arab Muslim rulers were not purely motivated by religion, nor was their success attributed to the power of Islam alone, though religion certainly played a part.
Non-Muslim subjects under Arab Muslim rule were not especially opposed to their new rulers. A long period of instability and dissatisfaction had left them ambivalent toward their previous rulers. Like all other empires, the first Arab Muslim empires were built within the context of the political realities of their neighboring societies.”
To suggest that any of the three religions have “clean skirts” is preposterous. Each has committed atrocities in their pursuit of power, land, money, and influence and continue to do so. We are no better than a band of chimpanzees that want to expand their territory into the of another band of apes.
The Catholic Church is infamous for its wealth. Judaism and Islam have no “center of wealth” like Catholicism and Rome that I am aware of but you can be damed sure that each is worth billions and billions of dollars. Religions rely on donations from their flock; the bigger the flock, the greater their wealth. They are all on missionary journeys to bring in new adherents by either selling their product - their form of belief, justice, and an afterlife - whether through persuasion or more radical measures.
So the argument that anything we are doing today is somehow justified by the uhholy slaughter of human beings during the Crusades, or any other religious genocide is ludicrous and serves only to continue to foment the distrust and hatred between people of faith.
We all dream of world peace. In my opinion it will not happen until we humans activate our logical brain and understand that God and religion are the construct of very old, very uneducated, and very suspicious minds and that holding on to these ancient beliefs continues to be the source of much of our pain and misery today. When we understand that we and we alone are completely responsible for ourselves, our actions, and our impact on others and our environment, and that it is not the will of God but the will of man that screws it all up will we have a chance at world peace.