There is a little known sect of Islam called the Druze. They are a small group mostly located in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Their faith is similar to that of other Ismaili Shi’a Islam with a little bit of Gnostic Unitarianism thrown in for good measure. What makes the Druze interesting though is the number one Pillar of their faith:
1. (Truth in words) Speak the truth to other Druze. However, lying to unbelievers to defend yourself or the community is OK.
That’s right, rule number one of Druzism is that you don’t talk about Druzism. And if you do talk about Druzism, feel free to lie through your teeth about it. This, of course, makes it completely impossible for outsiders (especially anthropologists) to study their religion. As Daniel Dennett put it in Breaking the Spell:
But if it was true, this would create a dilemma for any anthropologist: the usual method of questioning informants would be a hopeless wild-goose chase, and if he made the ultimate sacrifice and converted to Druze himself so as to gain entrance to the inner sanctum, he would have to admit that we on the outside shouldn’t believe his scholarly treatise, What the Druze Really Believe, since it was written by a devout Druze (and everybody knows that the Druze lie).
This naturally leads you to a Liars Paradox: if all Druzes lie about their religion then how do we know that they are telling the truth about their First Pillar? Maybe the Druze have become expertly adept at knowing when to tell the truth and when to tell a lie. They know to mix honest fact in with complete bullshit to constantly befuddle anyone trying to discover what they really believe.
And that seems like an admirable quality to me. Since beliefs are so immutable and silly in the first place why should we treat them so seriously? Lie about your beliefs as often as you can. Completely confuse your friends by telling them you are a Baptist Pagan. Mindfuck your family by saying that you believe every word of both The Urantia Book and Dianetics. Tell them that you believe six impossible things all at the same time! It’s not like they can prove you wrong anyways. Follow the path of apologetics everywhere by coming up with the most twist pretzel logic in the history of man. And tell them that Eris made you do it.
I am not a expert at Chaos Magic. Hell, let’s face it, I downright suck at it. As a skeptic I barely believe that it exists. I personally feel that it is just a way of putting yourself in a trance like state that changes your subjective view of your surroundings. It is just an occult tradition that has no traditions. It is DIY and MYOB religion. It is the refusal to listen to anyone else when it come to what works for you.
And it almost never works for me. I’m entirely too antsy for meditation. I can’t sit still for more than a couple of minutes before my skin starts to crawl and my muscles rebel against me. Pagan rituals don’t seem to work for me either. I just can’t turn off the disbelief center in my brain. I also couldn’t do it back when I was a Christian. I’d often hear people after a service talking about how “the Holy Spirit sure moved here today” and be completely dumbstruck by the concept. It was just so foreign to me. Props or pageantry don’t seem to help either.
Having said that, there are a couple of things that do actually put me in the ultra-fine religious state of gnosis. I’ll just cover the first one in this post and talk about the others later on.
One thing that seems to work about 75% of the time for me is a simple music relaxation technique. As I’ve said before I am a very auditory learner and music can have a very strong effect on my psyche. First, I isolate myself in a distraction free room, which isn’t easy when you are married and have a 2 year old. The only equipment I need is an MP3 player and a good pair of headphones. I’m not an obsessive audiophile but good headphones are a must for this. I like hearing every single note clearly and it helps to block out any background sounds around you. I then lie as still as possible while listening to an album with an ethereal feel to it. The old standbys like “The Dark Side of the Moon” almost always work. I get chills every single time I get to “Us and Them”. I’ve also used Radiohead’s “Ok Computer” and Broken Social Scene’s “Feel Good Lost”with good results.
As with any Chaos Magic this technique doesn’t work for everyone and doesn’t work every single time. This particular technique can get me into a shallow trance-like state and positively affect my mood. However it doesn’t seem to be good for much else. I’ll get to the more powerful stuff next time around.
Pope Benedict XVI (you know, the guy that thinks he is the only true pope) is currently in the middle of an Africa-wide tour. On his first day in the AIDS-ravished country of Cameroon he made the following statement:
“It (AIDS) cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.”
As a counter-point I, Pope Iason Ouabache the Skeptical make this statement:
“Automobile accidents cannot be overcome by the mandating of seatbelts in all cars. On the contrary, they increase the problem. Sure, the statistics show that traffic fatalities have gone down worldwide since the seatbelts have become wide spread. But we believe that the best way to prevent these deaths is to tell people to not drive at all. Or you may obtain a specialized license from the Holy Church of the Skeptic after you swear to never ever drive dangerously.”
The other pope is currently unavailable for comment.
The guys over at the Right Where You are Sitting Now podcast decided to dedicate their 23rd (fnord) episode to the memory of Robert Anton Wilson. In the 2 hour long episode they spliced in quite a few of RAW’s clips from various lectures along with interviews with Rev. Ivan Stang, Richard Metzger of Disinfo Corp, as well as chaos magicians Lon Milo Duquette and Taylor Ellwood. They cover everything from The Illuminus! Trilogy, e-prime, Aleister Crowley, Prometheus Rising, chaos magick, the future of counterculture, and of course, Discordianism.
I had never heard of this podcast before but I’m a big fan now. I don’t know how I’ll be able to fit yet another podcast into my busy schedule but I’ll find a way.
Yes, I know that this is supposed to be a Discordian blog but I figured I’d mention something big from the one of the other groups of “godless heathens”. Subgenius High Priest and radio personality Doug Wellman (aka â€œPuzzling Evidenceâ€) has decided to launch his own YouTube channel to chronicle all the crazy irreligion that he has partaken of over the last quarter century. As a quick sample, here’s the original Dr Hal’s Hour of Prophecy that was pirated to millions of tvs in the western United States back in 1985:
INSERT VIDEO HERE!
(Hat tip to Laughing Squid)
And now I shall present to you a dramatic reading that I have entitled Fundie Telephone Game. Please enjoy.
CONGRESS: Hey! Because of that whole church/state thing colleges can’t use bailout money to repair any religious building. LOL, SORRY!
Jay Sekulow, ACLJ: ZOMG!!1 Congress is totally discriminating against Christians. Religious organizations deserve the right to use those buildings. You can’t take that away from them!!
CONGRESS: LOL, wut?
OneNewsNow (while lashing self): Persecution!!!
CONGRESS: Hai, guyz! Did you even read the thing?
Sen. James DeMint: Democrats hate Christianity and eat babbys!
CONGRESS: I thought you was one of us…
James Dobson: JIHAD, MOTHERFUCKER!!!
And now for something completely different. Apparently everyone’s favorite lovable cartoon skateboarder Bart Simpson is a Scientologist and has been doing robocalls in the greater Los Angeles area promoting his upcoming auditing session.
Watch the shocking video here!!!
In case that video gets pulled like the YouTube video did it wasn’t REALLY Bart but voice actresses, Nancy Cartwright making the calls. She’s thrilled about reaching OT VII and wants everyone to come see her speak at the Scientology Center in Hollywood. Nancy is currently in trouble with Fox for unauthorized use of the Bart Simpson voice and name. No word yet on how they will punish her.
Word is that Anonymous will also be attending the event on Saturday in full Simpsons gear.
(hat tip to Hoopla)
And I guess I’m bringing up the rear.Â My section here is called ChaoSkeptic which is also the name of my personal blarg (ZOMG, GO THERE NOW, I AM A SHAMELESS WHORE!!).Â I’ll be doing the religious beat here.Â I like hanging out in the tiny sliver of the Venn diagram where religion and skepticism meet.Â Where belief meets disbelief. Where faith runs face first into reality.Â I love the trenches of the Culture War and will do my best to send back dispatches for all of you.Â Hopefully hilarity will ensue.
I guess I should take this time to introduce myself and why I am using the name ChaoSkeptic.Â I’m going to assume all of you know what Discordianism since you are already here.Â Eris. Discord. Strife. fnord.Â Yada yada yada. But I also see Discordianism as an irreligious stance that focuses on the illusion of order and chaos in the universe. It is an attempt to escape dogma of all types. Or as I have called it elsewhere, “militant subjectivism”.
Skepticism, on the other hand, is “a scientific or practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence”. It is the rejection of all supernatural explanations in favor of critical thinking and inductive reasoning.
Now you may ask, how do this two things ever intersect and how can someone be a disciple of both? One is about being completely subjective while the other relies whole-heartedly on being objective. As I see it, the main similarity between them is the outright rejection of beliefs. As the late Robert Anton Wilson said, “belief is the death of intelligence.” Or as another wise man said, “A belief is just a thought you keep having.” Holding on too tightly to one ideology or another stops all thought. We should strive to question things as often as possible. And don’t stop questioning until you stop moving.
I hope to point out as many different strange beliefs that are out there in the universe and give a long and hearty laugh at all of them.Â With any luck you’ll be laughing along with me.
Millions of people today are still celebrating the swearing in of President Obama and some are saying that his inauguration speech many go down as one of the best in history. However, the Discordian community sees it differently. With one short sentence Pres. Obama has declared War on Discord:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
Many groups see this statement as both offensive and un-American. The Reverend Jim Reinard of America’s United for Discord is quoted as saying:
This is a complete outrage. Apparently Mr. Obama has forgotten his history books. This nation was founded on Discordian principles. Would there have been a Declaration of Independence without discord? Would we have had a Revolutionary War without strife? And where would the Constitution have been if our Founding Fathers hadn’t conflicted over the Articles of Confederation? I expect a full retraction from Pres. Obama in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Elaine Whipspittle president of the Discordian Alliance of Mothers has written a press release stating:
We at the Discordian Alliance of Mothers are appalled at Obama’s resolve to strip our children of their fundamental right to be raised in the faith of their parents. Our religion is not “an introduction to terrorism”, as Mr. Obama portrays it; to see how wrong he is you would only have to see the joyous look on a child’s face as she places memebomb stickers on public property.
Not everyone is opposed to Obama’s new front on conflict though. Central Scrutinizer of the Concordian Movement was quoted as saying:
Success on all fronts! At last someone has awoken to the insidious international threat of DISCORD and has dedicated money, manpower, and bureaucracy to combat this extremely precise problem!
The Obama administration was unable to be reached for comment at this time.
(thanks to Nigel and Hoopla for their help)
(Cross post from ChaoSkeptic: http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com)
Some time later on this spring the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the rather interesting case of Pleasant Grove City (Utah) vs. Summum. For those who have never heard of Summum, they are a religious group based in Salt Lake City founded by a man named “Corky” Ra. It’s sort of Gnosticism meets Mormonism meets Scientology. Weird but mostly harmless.
Back in 2003 they petitioned the government of Pleasant Grove, Utah to ask if they could erect a monument to their â€œSeven Aphorisms of Summumâ€ next to a thirty year old monument of the Ten Commandments in the city park. The city, of course, said no and Corky, of course, filed a law suit saying that his free speech rights had been violated. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit agreed with Corky, stating that since the park is a public forum and that the Ten Commandment monument was private speech from the original donor Corky is allowed to erect his monument. The city appealed it to the highest court in the land which that brings us around to today.
Interestingly enough, Pleasant Grove is being represented by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice, a right wing Christian group that has often fights against the separation of church and state. I say interesting because the ACLJ is going against their usual argument that religious groups should have equal access to public property. They are actually arguing that the original Ten Commandments monument government speech rather than private speech and that the park isn’t a public forum. This means if they win there would be a precendent in the legal system saying that monuments on public property is government speech and every single Ten Commandments monument in America would be subject to removal.
However, if Summum wins it could also be a huge win for all minority religions and irreligions. All public property that currently has a religious monument on it could be considered an open forums that would have to accept almost any religious monument. Discordians could argument for a monument to the Law of Fives. The Pastafarians could argue for even more Flying Spaghetti Monster statues. Atheist could ask for a monument to… um… nothing? It would be just like the chaos in the Washington state capitol last December times several thousand. Sounds like a great idea for a GASM to me.