Yeah, we’re nuts at this point. Just listened to what come mega-church pastors were saying last year about COVID-19: “there is no pandemic. As believers, as Christians, we have an immunity from the Holy Spirit.” Right. Now, some of them are saying the vaccines will give the “mark of the Beast” and provide a way for the Satanic government to insert microchips into the faithful. Or probably even the unfaithful. For more than a year, some of these churches have been meeting in person, despite government orders to cease and desist. Even when the “believers” have fallen ill and died from COVID-19, they refuse to be swayed. And there is no shortage of believers, despite the death toll.
I wonder, at times, what separates faith from fanatacism. Do I consider people who abhor science and fact to be fanatic simply because their views don’t agree with mine? Have I made science and reason my religious faith? If so, is that merely hypocritical on my part? I don’t quite know, but I know that faith in something that rejects faith in something else is usually not something I can deal with.
So, I am not a Satanist. I am not even sure I believe in Satan, although I do believe in evil. I believe there is a force that is antithetical to good, to benevolence, to beneficence. A force that intentionally seeks to do the greatest harm to the greatest number of people, in the greatest way possible. Accordingly, I am not inclined to explore nor align with a faith structure that includes celebration or at least tolerance of such an impetus. It doesn’t feel right for me, it doesn’t connect or resonate in me. So, more power to Satanists, but…not for me.
I don’t have issues with faiths, theologies, deologies, belief structures that involve anything other than harm to all. I don’t resonate or connect with things like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or traditional Christian denominations, but respect their right to believe whatever perspective they offer for Jesus Christ and his teachings. I generally adhere to the “live and let live” mindset on the validity and acceptance of these traditional, organized sects.
Where I lose patience is when there is such obvious harm to people, and not just the people who have consciously chosen to follow. When a “preacher” tells his flock that he alone has spoken to the Almighty, and assures them a pandemic is a lie, I have some problem with that, if for no other reason than people who dialogue with unseen divinities are often diagnosed as schizophrenic. Rebuttal for that usually points out stories from the Bible, where various historical figures were visited by Yahweh and received instructions for the greater good of the believers. Hold that point, because the validity of the Bible as a true historical document is another story entirely, and I’m not sure I accept the Bible as the true and verified word of a Divinity. What does God need with a book? What does God need with stone tablets? What does God need with a collection plate? But I digress.
Regardless of my beliefs, or lack of faith in certain mythology surrounding the meaning of life and our purpose here on this Earth, I am fascinated by people’s willingness to kill and wage war over differences in belief. What difference should it make to me whether another person, who essentially has nothing to do with me, believes in some cloven-hooved yet sentient beast that resides in some place called Hell? What difference should it make to me whether yet another person believes that the word of Jesus Christ is contained in the New King James version of the Holy Bible, or the Book of Mormon? But many people not only care, but they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to assert their belief as the one correct version of everything.
I tend to believe the Bible, as we know it, is mythology. It’s a way to explain things like the seasons, night and day, war, death, good and evil, the human condition. It seems to be no different from the Book of Mormon, or the Vedas of Hinduism, or the Torah of Judaism, or the Book of the Dead. These are all ways to explain that which really cannot be explained, no different than Greek and Roman mythology explained the natural order of things in humanistic terms – Zeus was a real piece of work, probably not unlike any other guy in a ziggurat.
That sacred texts are not supernatural concordances from the heavens seems apparent to me when I take into account their misogyny, absence of diversity in skin color, sexual expression, body size, etc. We’ve all been somewhat oriented to the Cecil B DeMille version of what the ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, and early Christians looked like, and that was pretty much white-washed, quite literally. But then just about everything in America was white-washed in that fashion.
None of this, however, seems to explain why people are willing to fight, and kill, for guaranteed prevalence of their version of that which we cannot understand. I’m not sure there is really an answer, but people will definitely kill over matters of faith. Willing to go to jail, willing to hurt others, willing to live in poverty. Willing to disavow family and friends, willing to risk health and life itself. What exactly is that about?
I don’t have an answer for why faith prompts human beings to do such extreme things, but what I do know is that faith and religion are not equivalent. I also know that faith is not relegated to matters of theology, or divinity. Even more importantly, people sometimes use the claim of secular faith to provide singular immunity from matters of conscience. And therein lies the rub.
Today, I watched the press conference concerning viewing of the law enforcement body-cam video from the most recent unarmed Black man murder. This one is close to home, at least geographically, in Elizabeth City NC. Police went to the home of Andrew Brown, ostensibly to serve an arrest warrant, and things went very wrong. Andrew Brown is dead, of a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Officers fired copiously at him while he attempted to escape in his car. He was unarmed, and there is no evidence that he aggressed on the officers present, even with his vehicle. But, nonetheless, he is dead.
It’s been a week since the man’s death, but the body-cam video has just been cleared for the family to view. The county attorney drug his feet on clearing a viewing for the family, but after much prompting from the family’s legal team and the media, a viewing was scheduled for this morning. Even that was delayed by a few hours, as the county attorney begged for more time to “redact” the video. (Huh?) But, finally, the family and their attorneys were brought in for the much awaited viewing.
The viewing was…disappointing. Infuriating. Suspicious. There were multiple officers at the scene when this man was killed, but the county released only one body-cam video excerpt, which lasted a whopping 20 seconds. That video started well into the incident, and showed officers already engaged in firing at the man. He was in his car for the duration of the video clip, and never once aggressed toward the officers. He was unarmed, and never exited his car. The shots kept coming, too many to count.
The coroner has released the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head. The back of the head. This makes little sense, but it was clear he died within seconds of being shot, which is merciful. Merciful, but the family and the family’s legal team are terming this an execution.
The county attorney has been resistant, and non-responsive. NC law says that in order to release even the video excerpt to the public, a judge’s order is required. The county attorney said the sheriff has to request the order, and the sheriff has finally done that. It should go before a judge this Wednesday, a full week since the incident. This is more than a little nuts, especially when they are all pledging transparency in the investigation.
Other county officials, when pressed to release the video for at least the family’s viewing, responded belligerently, saying they would not be “f*ucking bullied*. That’s not a good sign. Because of that attitude, and the delays and legal maneuvering to block the family’s attorneys from taking part in the viewing, there are now widespread claims of cover-up. Several of the officers involved in the incident with Andrew Brown have either resigned, or retired. Also not a good sign. What are people supposed to think? In the absence of information, people will make up their own story.
There is now almost a daily report of unarmed Black people killed by the police, or law enforcement of some kind. People have narly abandoned the call for justice. The narrative from the Black community now is that justice is not possible unless you can bring George Floyd or other victims back to their families, which is not possible. The call is now for accountability, and consequence. One of the few times accountability has been achieved recently is in the case of George Floyd, when Derek Chauvin was convicted of his murder. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even get used to that reality before there was Daunte’ Wright. Before there was Ma’Khia Bryant. Before there was Isaiah Brown (who is still alive, but shot 10 times). Before there was Andrew Brown.
This. Is. Ridiculous. It is beyond disheartening, and feels relatively hopeless. I don’t like feeling hopeless. To add insult to injury, it was reported this morning that a lot of people who have gotten their first dose of a 2-shot vaccine have failed to get the second dose.
It was also reported that India is on the verge of a complete medical system collapse due to a second wave of COVID infections and hospitalizations. They were literally running out of oxygen, but hopefully have gotten a reprieve with some additional supply today. So, in Asia, people are fighting to stay out of the morgue, and in American, people are blowing off the available vaccine and throwing caution to the wind in favor of no masks and large gatherings. I don’t even know what to do with that. I’ve gotten my second dose, and still laying low until it’s been two weeks and (hopefully) antibody production has started.
I’ve had fun before, and this is not it. My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of insanity…we are, without a doubt, quite nuts at this point. Arrogant without cause, and thinking we got this. We don’t got this. Not by a long shot.
Out of sight, out of mind, but still there.