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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pastafarianism and me.

I was born and raised Catholic.   I still believe in a God, it's just not the God of the Old Testament or New Testament.  It's not the God of my parents.

Growing up I had a lot of questions, and remember getting in trouble with a Sunday School teacher because I dared question them on Abortion or other such thing.  I've always been a bit of a radical I guess when it comes to free thought.

I explored different ideas all through college and eventually decided to call myself a Taoist.  To me it just made sense and to somehow "know God" or to claim that you, and only you, had the correct path to something beyond our understanding always struck me as arrogant.

When I first learned of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I took it for what it was.  A joke, a way to playfully poke at the organized religions and point out some of the flaws in them.  A way to say..."we can do better."  I'm not an atheist.  I'm not anti-religious.   I have seen to much and felt to much not to believe in a higher power, and to quote Shakespeare:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

However, I'm a rationalist.  A realist and someone with a scientific and engineering background.  I consider myself to be a follow of the flying spaghetti monster only to the extent that I can raise a point about some of the silliness that is religious belief today.  I'm at home in hard facts.  The reality is that we're so fucked in so many different ways, but that is for another time and place.  As of late however I fear that my brothers and sisters in playful anti-religious rhetoric are starting to go a bit to far.

Case in point, New Zealand has officially recognized Pastafarianism as a actual religion.  Not as a loose group of agnostics, atheists and semi-believers...but an actual religion.  We have become what we tease.  

Poland actually recognizes us as well, but that was...and I swear this is true, a clerical error.  If that does not sound like a made up God of carbohydrates acting on our behalf I don't know what is.

Being recognized as a religion is a big thing.  Technically I could argue that my company would have to give me every Friday off (with pay) because Fridays (every Friday) is a religious holiday.  For now however many Pastafarian believers fight smaller battles.  Like getting a identification photo of yourself wearing a colander on your head.

Sure it seems harmless and silly.  Until you consider headgear in other religions.  Or until you stop to wonder why the country of Turkey adopted the Fez as its "official" headgear.   Symbols can be powerful things.  There may come a time years from now where the strainer will be seen as a mark of a Pastafarian.

Humor is not a bad thing, it allows us to poke fun at ourselves and our follie's.  What worries me, deep down in my core, is that a silly made up religious movement will start to gain ground and lose sight of what it was supposed to accomplish in the first place.  That we will become an actual religion with all the trappings (and problems) of modern religion.

The good news is that we are a small group, spread all over the world with different ideas and core beliefs.  The good news is that those beliefs are slowly spreading.  Growing and evolving as more people are "touched by his noodly appendage".  We have no army, no nation or single organizational body...yet.

Give us 1000 years, maybe 2000.  Then we will see where and what we are at that time.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Time's untimely problem

So back to Politics for a moment.

Time Magazine is conducting an online non-binding poll for their Person of the Year.  The poll results may not matter in whom Time Magazine picks...but they are in a no win situation.  

Currently Bernie Sanders leads the race.  He's a whole 5% ahead of Malala Yousafzai who is currently in second at the time of this article.  He is well ahead of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the other two political figures that matter in this particular horse race, leading Hillary by 9% and Trump by 8%.  

Here's the problem for Time Magazine.  If they don't pick Bernie Sanders they run the risk of alienating a large part of that ever important advertising dollar (the 18 to 25 year old sweet spot for advertisers who also support Bernie Sanders in droves).  They run the risk of being part of the vast media conspiracy which is designed to prevent Bernie's message from getting out there (please note I don't believe that crap for a moment).

Sanders does generate a lot of interest and a lot of passion in his followers.  Like many I originally went with Bernie because I did not want to see another Clinton or Bush in the White House.  I don't believe it's good for the country or democracy.  Honestly several months ago the media did make it seem like these two were destined to battle, and I would have voted for Clinton holding my nose the whole time.   I still might have to.

If they chose him, it will undoubtedly be for his crowds of thousands of people and his "socialist" label.  The fact that he has matched many of his challengers on both sides dollar for dollar with relatively small donations.  You just "don't do that in modern politics."

He's always walked the walked and exposed hypocrisy for what it matter who has said it.  

For me, the outside observer, the fact that people are even talking about "a media conspiracy" is interesting.   It just shows the overall distrust that Americans have in the "system" in general.  Sadly we've all seen news stories get the facts wrong, print retractions or flat our lie in order to get ratings or "scoop" the competition.  

That's what is fueling the raise of Sanders and of Donald Trump.  The feeling that the system is broken, how to fix it however remains up in the air.   I'm not saying or implying that Trump, Cruz and Carson are fascists, but let's be honest...they lean more to the right than anyone else in the Republican party.  He, and the Tea Party before him, have damaged the Republican party possibly beyond repair.

If Donald Trump was a traditional Republican candidate he be sitting in the bottom of the polls because the party would have muzzled him years ago.  He leads the race on the right currently because he offers the Right the same thing Bernie offers the left...a chance to tear the system down and start anew.

Again he puts Time in a uncomfortable position.  Yes, they could name him Man of the Year and it would be well deserved.  However they would face charges of "jumping on the bandwagon", supporting "racism and jingoism."

Trump has pretty much run his race his way and with his own money.   Again "You just don't do that in modern politics."

Honestly....I would not be surprised if Time named both men as "Outsider of the year." I guess we will see.