Sorry about badmouthing religion so much in the penultimate entry. I’ll admit I’m a dogmatic cat about it. Even though I majored in the subject in college, I’m still colossally ignorant about religion in general (which reminds me, apropos of nothing, that the anagram of “ignore” is “region,” even though Lao Tzu wrote in the “Tao te Ching” that “The farther you go, the less you know,” which is true, strictly speaking; but I hate speaking strictly, as it always hurts my throat and the muscles in my neck).
Let’s leave for a later entry the great religious texts I read in the survey class I took in my sophomore year, the one that made me choose religion over English as a major, a decision that has made me the (non)multi-millionaire I am today. What did Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Jimmy Swaggart do that I missed? Hmmm. I’ll have to sleep on that one.
The Beach Boys say, “God only knows what I’d be without you,” but the lyric should be “only God knows.” Cat Stevens gets the phrasing order right in his song “The Wind.” To say someone “only knows” something is to disparage knowledge as trivial and irrelevant. “I’m God–not to brag or anything, but I only know everything.”
My wife Jina, the star of the show, has criticized me often for my tireless, tiresome, and largely futile pursuit of knowledge (I say futile both because the subject is so inexhaustible and because the jockeying of facts, statistics, opinions, and arguments for position results in overcrowding that taxes memory’s ability to process and articulate it all, so that much of what I read or learn gets lost in the mix; I imagine I share this weakness with most other people, and there are so many gaps in my ongoing education that it’s not even funny, unless you have an unusually hearty appetite for schadenfreude).
Granted, she knows a hell of a lot more about the Bible, an indispensable work of literature, than I ever will, having read the whole thing and having an almost encyclopedic digestion of certain passages that nearly rivals an old polyglot professor of mine who had a photographic memory and could tell you not only which book he was quoting from, but the page number, and whether the page was on the left or the right side, and which position the paragraph was in.
“I’m sorry I can’t recall whether those two clauses are separated by a period or a semi-colon; please pardon my incorrigible negligence.”
Last Sunday after the church disservice ended and the congregation segregated and disintegrated, Jina sat me down in (on?) one of the pews (are they called that because they stink? sorry–lame pun) and hectored me into intoning after her a scary prayer in which she said essentially, “Dear Jesus, empty me of my sins and replace them with your blood.”
This ghoulish request, which I recited only with my mouth and not my soul, reminded me of the line quoted by Mark Crispin Miller in his excellent essay, “The Fate of 1984” (Sorry I can’t underline the year, but he’s referring to the title of George Orwell’s masterpiece): “We will squeeze you empty and fill you with ourselves.” Miller cites it as an indictment of corporate consumerism; in the context of the novel, however, the urbane torturer O’Brien is giving the protagonist, Winston Smith, a pep talk, while in the piecemeal process of crushing his spirit, annihilating every iota of resistance from his being, and guaranteeing that he will eventually, despite being an empty shell and husk of a man who will betray the woman he loves to avoid having his face devoured by hungry rats in the long cage strapped to his face, love Big Brother.
Jina’s hobby is singing hymns, something she sometimes forces me to participate in, which I only do with a hubby’s grudging resignation, and as sparingly as possible. One of her favorite hymns is entitled “Jesus Is Mine.” The idea of owning Jesus is laughable, considering how if you’re a Christian he’s supposed to be God, in which case he owns you, right? It’s also incredibly anti-Buddhistic when you figure that the Buddha pinpointed egotistical clinging as the source of all of our suffering (ambiguity in the word “all” intended).
After all, even Michael Jackson–risibly, taking into account his presumable sexual orientation–said, “The girl is mine,” but that’s clearly not true, at least not now, and we’ll all be following in his footsteps that stopped a few years ago before we know it.*
To quote They Might Be Giants: “And the truth is we don’t know anything.”
(Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration.)
Pray for peace–it probably won’t do any good, but it’s worth a shot.
* The title of the song, “The Girl Is Mine” is likewise offensive; human beings are not chattel, my friends; I just wish I could remove this bloody electronic ankle bracelet my wife makes me wear everywhere.