Keep Your Faith Away From Mine

If another politician claims that Jesus is their Savior, I’m going to scream. What exactly is Jesus going to save you from?

If another politician claims that Jesus is their Savior, I’m going to scream. What exactly is Jesus going to save you from? Is he going to save you from that pesky red guy waiting to pitch you in the ass with his fork because you decided to keep soldiers in Iraq for another 100 years? Or how about the fact that you buckled to the oil industry and are shuffling toward the center because you are afraid your charm may not win the election? If only JC could save us from egotism, self-congratulatory stories and pure vanity.

I’m still mulling over Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church and I feel completely violated as a person who believes in God. I also believe in Gods, plural, and Goddesses for that matter. I believe in nature spirits and whatever forces are at work when Diana Cage gives me a spot-on Tarot card reading. I believe in the good advice from friends just as much as I contemplate the aphorism of the sage Vasugupta who wrote “Consciousness is God.” You know what? I believe in Madame Pele. If you’ve ever traveled to Hawaii, you should know you are not supposed to take any of the lava rocks home — this is ancient Hawaiian lore. If you didn’t know, this is a warning.

Madame Pele is the Goddess of the Hawaiian volcanoes, currently active and erupting on the Big Island of Hawaii. She is the embodiment of fire and she doesn’t like people stealing from the land. Every year tourists mail back hundreds of stones to Volcano National Park, with letters attached saying how bad fortune visited them ever since they took these little souvenirs. I’m not kidding. This is true. I know people who secretly talk to deceased loved ones for guidance and comfort. I know atheists who do certain things before they get on an airplane because they are superstitious about flying. I know atheists who have lucky shirts and lucky numbers, and lesbians who have lucky underwear they wear when they want to get lucky. I know people who do certain private little rituals before public speaking or taking exams. I know a woman who jogs every day because it just makes her feel right. And I know a woman who spontaneously repeats the Lord’s Prayer to herself walking down the street, but never goes to church.

Do you know what taking the Lord’s name in vain means? It means don’t use your God’s name to justify your crimes and misdemeanors. Don’t use your God’s name to “lord it over “ other people. And, God damn it, don’t use your God’s name as a bludgeon for power. Why have we let these literalists dictate what faith is? Why have we let them hijack God and fly their moral judgments into our truths?

I’m tired of being bullied by these pontificators with their mega-churches, mega-agendas and mega-millions. There was a Sufi mystic, Al Hallaj, who lived several hundred years ago. He defied the dictates of the orthodox Muslim clerics in his town. He wrote beautiful poems, sang them blissfully and made people happy. The clerics hated him for that and had him hung in the year 922. In one of his poems he sang: “Hey you, you wanna know God? Then take a broom and sweep out your heart.”