Chapter 3: American Pharisees
America was born of free thought. Without the opportunity to think freely humanity has no hope of ever being free. Unfortunately we have no proven perception point to embark from upon any intellectual quest for self-realization. We have no existential baseline. We have no idea of who we are that we can prove; so eventually inevitably, out of a maudlin and morose intellectual fatigue, we settle on some plausible acceptable mystery. Everything we think after that is worthless. America failed before it began. A man must be able to think free of delusion and misperception before he can hope to truly free anyone else. America is humanity trying to free itself, more than willing to fight anyone for the right to do so. America is the scared hurt angry young man. America is adolescence.
If we are American, we believe in the sanctity and autonomy of the individual. An individual autonomous identity is adult. If we are American, we believe in freedom. We define freedom as the right to think and choose freely. This is the freedom of a child, the freedom of obedience. This childish freedom cannot be coupled to an adult identity. One or the other of them must give way.
The right to choose right or wrong, truth or lie, does not spring from an adult sense of identity. It springs from a childish and incomplete understanding of the truth. The freedom of an adult is not concerned with right and wrong, because it is based on complete truth. "The truth shall make you free."
In order to retain our adult identity, we must be in possession of the complete truth of life. If we are in possession of the truth of life, we are no longer concerned with choice. Our possession of the truth sets us free from choice, to love. Adult freedom is the freedom to love.
America is a contradiction in terms. An adult identity cannot be coupled to the childish freedom to choose, without one or the other being destroyed. Philosophically, fundamentally, America is a reflection of our actual intrinsic human dilemma. We are always attempting to keep the child in us, and the adult in us, simultaneously alive. We are attempting to halt a metamorphosis, which is an intrinsic part of our true nature. Our lack of truth impales us precisely at our metamorphic point.
If we are American, we believe in the sanctity and autonomy of the individual. We endow ourselves as a nation with adult identity. If we must surrender our adult identity and become like little children, in order to find eternal life, then we must essentially surrender the name, American. We cannot be American and find life as a child.
If we call ourselves fundamentalist Christians and Americans, we are calling ourselves children and adults. We cannot be both. We must abandon fundamentalist Christianity, or abandon America. If we cannot comprehend the implications of the phenomenon of Christ, to a degree that frees us to love like an adult, we must abandon our American sense of identity.
If we cannot give up the name American, or our American sense of adult identity, then we must comprehend the implications of the phenomenon of Jesus Christ to the point of adult freedom, the freedom to love. The freedom to obey or choose cannot give us life without death in between, the death of our adult body and identity, the death of our name, American.
If we claim the name American, there is a war within us. It is a war between the essences of what we are. It is the war that has raged in humanity from the beginning. It is the war between the intellect of a child, and the adult body of an adult. The war can only lead us to the death of confusion, the death of the lost. If we claim to be American, and we are not in possession of the truth of life, we will be dead long before we die; and when we die, we will stay dead.
We are born into this world living with a true potential for eternal life. The world we are born into is really two worlds. The first world, the one we are born into, we may see for only a split second, or we may see it intermittently for years; but we lose sight of it when we develop an adult body and an adult sense of identity. This is the world called Eden, or the household of a God filled with children. No adult may live there. The second world, the one we end up living in, is east of Eden. This is not the true world of the adult. It is really more like the womb of a God. For us it is like a womb of conflict.
The direction of east gives us the idea of being turned toward the dawn, or the beginning of the day. If Eden is our childhood or beginning in a human sense; if we have left Eden, and headed east, we have gone from childhood to something previous to childhood. We go from being children in the household of a God, to being only potential children. We are regressing from children to only seeds.
If the legendary Adam and Eve of the quaint creation story were once children in Eden, then they lost sight of Eden for the same reason we do. They naturally developed an adult body, an adult sense of identity, without having a complete understanding of themselves and their idea of God. They became, the same as we are, children who can never grow up; because they believe they are already grown up. The legendary Adam and Eve did not lose any Eden for us. They did not make Eden into a place we cannot find. The legendary Eden simply became a level of life they could not return to in the story.
We are all born into an Eden. None of us ever remains long enough to grow up into the truth of life that we require, to step from Eden as living adults. We simply go through the natural metamorphosis into adulthood without knowing all of the truth; or we are driven out of our Eden by the adults around us before we know the truth; or we die as children in our Eden, victims of the error of the adults around us.
We all leave Eden thinking we are adults, but we never have more than a childish understanding of the truth. The legendary Adam and Eve did not lose our Eden for us. We all lose our own Eden, or have it taken from us, individually, because no parent since the beginning has been able to teach any child all of the truth. Until the legendary Jesus Christ became a part of our superstitious thinking processes, we could not learn the truth from any God we formulated, because we had already rejected it.
If we have children in this world we may dare to call ourselves parents, but in fact, we are not. Only our God can truly call himself a parent. A parent must be living. A parent dare not die. If the parent dies, the child will die as well. The child cannot believe he will live, if he must watch his parents die. The legendary Jesus died as a child, out of obedience. Because the parent he obeyed, refused to die, Jesus could not stay dead.
Intellectually, the phenomenon of the legendary Jesus Christ is indicative of a new and better Eden. The Christ represents an example of the truth of life, which we were meant to go up out of Eden as; and because his truth is reported to be already proven truth, and therefore potentially metamorphic to us in an intellectual sense, and not necessarily cataclysmic, we may live in the truth the legend represents for a time, as a new Eden, without surrendering our adult capacity for reason, and our adult sense of identity. We must have an unshakable faith that all of the truth of life is to be found in the implications of the phenomenon of the legendary Christ. If we doubt this at all, or if we doubt our capacity to understand the truth of this Christ, then we must trust our Christ to resurrect us as children in his household, and surrender up our adult capacity for reason, our adult sense of identity, and our adult body, to death. One way or the other, we must return to the Eden of our Christ for a time, in order to subject our intellect to the metamorphosis into adulthood all over again, which in an intellectual sense, we never completed the first time.
Our adult sense of identity has led us out of our Eden, and we cannot go back without a legendary Christ-like figure. Even with a Christ, we may have to die and be resurrected to return to our Eden. We will most certainly die without the truth. If we have come up out of our Eden, and have not been able to find in ourselves a home, a living world, then we have reduced ourselves from actual to only potential. If we are only potential children, we are like seeds in a womb of possibility. Without the truth, or a legendary Christ to stimulate us toward truth, we are even less than seeds. We are infertile seeds. We have an adult capacity for reason, and adult sense of identity, and an adult body, but only a child's understanding of the truth. This combination of contradictions that we are can only cause us to die in a search for the truth. We cannot find what we are not looking for.
We have another problem as well. We are also infertile in a structural sense. We are born into this world as either male or female. A male and female together, a marriage, is our complete adult human potential. If we have intellectually reduced ourselves to only potential children or seeds, if we are then unable to fulfill the complete potential of human marriage, which we are unable to do because we have only a child's understanding to the truth, we are only half seeds. Without a source of metamorphic proven truth, we are doomed.
The fundamental faith all western Christians begin with, is a return to the Eden of truth represented in their Christ. If we first come to a Christ as adults, we experience a genuine sense of rebirth. The born again experience is a return to Eden, and the sense of rebirth we experience is the child we once were being reborn in us. The problem we face in the west, especially America, is that it is too easy to live. In America it is relatively easy for us to avoid death for a time. We simply find it too difficult to abandon our present comfort, even though we know that the death of our adult body is a necessary facet of our fundamental faith. We all prefer, eventually, to destroy the new child in Eden, which was miraculously born again within us, rather than abandon our present adult comfort. We simply kill the child we need to be, for the sake of the adult we cannot be without the child. We find Eden and then leave it again. The longer we live as Americans, the more likely we are to destroy the little faith we have in a Christ.
We live in a world that is shrinking daily. As the world is filled with more and more people, we are forced to deal with the immediate proximity of people we do not agree with, and people who have needs that we feel are too great for us to address individually. Virtually all of humanity is structurally incapable of truly loving, since no one knows all of the truth; so we are forced to deal with one another out of our lack of love.
The problems of the world, our blinding lack of truth, and our childish perception of freedom, all combine and trick us into abandoning our true sense of adult individual identity. We begin structurally incapable of life. Our childish sense of freedom gives us a false sense of security as we inevitably destroy our adult individuality trying to conform ourselves to what we think the truth of humanity should be.
The cheap lawyer hirelings, who we elevate to positions of leadership among us, convince us that there can be love without individual identity. They give us community, nation, race, religion, and ideology as an identity. We give ourselves new names: American, Russian, English, Irish, black, white, Catholic, Protestant, Moslem, Buddhist, atheist, Christian, ghetto, suburb, the western world, and the third world. All of these names give us an identity out of which we seem to be able to love.
All we have really done, is surrounded ourselves with people we agree with, and out of the group formed a collective identity. We consider ourselves enlightened for feeling what we think is love for the other people in our group. The feeling of agreement that we mistake for love within our group, is nothing more than our intellectual agreement with one another to commit the same error. A collective identity is a group of people who have all come to the same wrong conclusion.
We become part of a collective identity because we lack the capacity for adult love. It is no wonder that we eventually categorize all people into some kind of collective identity or another. We feel warm and enlightened by the false sense of brotherly love we experience as members of our collective identity, so we reach out to others in the world from what is essentially an intellectually desolate state. We cannot deal with them as individuals, and in fact count their individual needs to be of little significance; so we give everyone other than us a collective identity as well. We give everyone in the world, other than those who are part of our specific collective identity, a collective identity of their own in order to amplify the significance of their problems to what we perceive is our level of concern.
Feeling extremely enlightened, we reach out from our collective identity to their collective identity and attempt a good work. The good work is worthless, because it is manifested collective identity to collective identity. It is an inescapable fact, that if as a collective identity, we are better off in the world than some other collective identity, we became better off at their expense. All of our good deeds are worthless, because we are the cause of the calamity that makes them necessary. To believe anything else, is to call the God we formulate for ourselves as a higher attainment, a worthless provider, a worthless parent, and a murderer. Someone is starving the children of this world to death, and it is not our idea of a God in possession of the truth of life.
It is estimated that Americans consume more than half of the world's annually available resources, and yet represent less than 10% of the world's population. Social action that reaches out from a collective American identity, or a collective western Christian identity, is simply of no merit. We are like thieves returning a few baubles to our victims. Our God of truth does not starve children to death. We do. Fundamentalist American Christians do it best.
The cheap lawyers, whose voices ring out weekly in the houses of our collective Christian identity, would have us believe that self reformation, and the wonderful mysterious grace of God, will give us life. They do not know the meaning of grace. The grace of the God of truth is poured out on us in the blood of dying children. As Americans, we are bathed in it.
America has shed more innocent blood in less time, than any nation in the history of the world. Any God must have a motivation in granting such a staggering amount of bloody grace. America is a kind of Eden. America is an Eden of information, access to information, free thought, free expression, and profoundly held adult identity. The whole truth of adult humanity could reappear in the Eden of America, and the revelation of this truth of adulthood could well be the motivation of a God of truth in granting such amazing grace to America. In any case, the protective walls of the Eden of America are only temporarily impenetrable by the grace of the God formulated by American Christianity, and their washing in the blood of innocent children.
In this world, the child is always sacrificed for the sake of the adult. It should not surprise us that children have died as a result of our actions in seeking to establish our adult identity. Within the whole of the philosophical foundation of America, the only ideas of any real merit are the idea of the sanctity of the individual, and the idea of the childish freedom to choose. Both of these profound ideas are compromised by the idea of the collective identity with its concepts of majority rule, and collective conformity. We are the worst enemy of our own ideology. In America the opportunity for adult eternal life is real, but we must first recognize that we cannot establish our true adult human identity by applying intellectual force to ourselves, simply because our intellect is founded in error. America is a fertile garden for our intellect, but we must bloom. Adulthood is a metamorphosis, not a decision.
The idea of the collective identity has permeated Christianity even more profoundly than the phenomenon of America. If the goal of our religion is false collective peace, the peace of intellectual compromise, the peace of conformity, it is a false religion. If we participate in a false religion, it is because we have lost our common sense. If we have lost our common sense, it is because we have become intellectually weak through the experience of either too much comfort or too much pain in our present life. American Christianity in any form is nothing more than an act of confusion. Death itself is an act of confusion, so it is not surprising that a religion based on the idea of death has become an act of confusion as well.
The superstitious relativity that we establish to the idea of God in modern American Christianity makes a death of confusion inevitable for us. We prefer superstition because we have not understood our Christ, and have given up any hope of ever understanding a Christ until we go beyond death. Our theology lacks common sense because we believe we must abandon our common sense to follow our Christ. The truth is, we may not follow any Christ without common sense. A Christ is indicative of a restoration common sense, a legend become phenomenon to shock us out of our foolishness with proven truth. If we must abandon our common sense and embrace superstition, in order to take part in any religion, then we have abandoned our Christ in order to find religion. If our religion has no common sense, it has no real Christ. If our religion has no Christ-like figure, we have no way to find the truth of life. If we have no way to find the truth of life, our religion is worthless. We must understand the implications of the phenomenon of Jesus Christ in a way that does not compromise our own human dignity, or the integrity of our individuality.
We live in the age of the Christian Pharisee. If we are American Christians we have allowed ourselves to be led and taught by blind guides, who are nothing more than cheap lawyers. We have allowed them to convince us that life is something we must bargain for, when in fact, it is us, and it is free. The legendary Christ is reported to have made himself apparent, and given himself up to us willingly. We would be fools to believe that we must now prove our merit before we can claim the life he claims to be. If a Christ is life, then life must be free.
The cheap lawyers that teach us would have us believe that we must find a legal loophole in the teaching of Christ, in order to bargain our way into life. They have led us into a miasmal sea of legalism from which there is no escape, as long as we attempt to understand the words they mouth.
They have no real respect for language. They look at words for the meaning of the moment, and play them off of one another hoping to gain power and insight. In the English language alone, a word may substantially expand or even change in meaning, in much less than a lifetime. A word that has been translated numerous times is next to worthless, as far as to the degree it may reflect its originally intended meaning. It is futile to deal with the words of the Bible in a legalistic way. The cheap lawyer is worthless to us as teacher.
The only value of a word is the life in it. To the cheap lawyer every word is dead its meaning complete. The unstable nature of the meaning of a word is proof of that it is naming infinite life. The cheap lawyer has no concern for this. The words of the Bible are dead to the cheap lawyer. Life cannot be found by playing legalistic and semasiological games with the words of the Bible. The words of the Bible, the same as any other book, can only have life it they are viewed through something living.
Common sense should tell us that it is our Christ the phenomenon that gives life to the words of the Bible, not the words of the Bible that give life to our Christ. The cheap lawyers, who we have placed at the exalted level of teacher, have convinced us, that they must interpret the words of the Bible for us, in order to give life to our Christ for us. They, and we are deluded.
It is the true poet in our present society, who whether he believes in a God or not, because of the glorious accidental nature of true poetry, gives us words with real life in them. He may write a hundred pages of dead drivel, and only one line of truly living words, but he will always be one line better than the cheap lawyer. It is proof of our thinking disorder that we have exalted and willingly provided for the needs of the cheap lawyer in our present society, and left the true poet to die in the desert of human misery.
We can readily discern the differing methods employed by the poet and the cheap lawyer in their respective searches for truth and life. The cheap lawyer hopes to resolve every paradox through semasiological gymnastics and legalistic ploys, and force a bargain with the unknown for life. The poet recognizes that the paradox is more meaningful than any solution to it that the cheap lawyers come up with. The poet knows that if there is a paradox at all, it is caused by an intellectual misperception. The poet knows that the cheap lawyer can only come up with a reactionary solution for any paradox. It is not the paradox that needs to be solved, but the misperception that caused paradox that needs to be discovered. The poet knows that any resolution of the paradox that the cheap lawyer proposes will only lead to a more complex paradox, because the cheap lawyer does not believe that his whole intellect is founded on an error. The cheap lawyer prefers to allow the unknown to remain so, and bargain or reason his way into knowledge of the unknown. The poet knows that it is his own intellectual error that makes anything unknown. He knows that the existence of a paradox is only proof of his own misperception.
The remarkable method the poet uses to search for truth and life is to swallow the paradox whole and bond the paradox to the unknown essence that is life within him, to literally become a living paradox. At the start, the poet has as much real life in him as is common to humanity. The poet knows that it is an intellectual misperception that is killing us, and believes that we are meant to live forever or we would not long for eternal life in the first place. The poet searches for the misperception responsible for the paradox by making himself into a living paradox. He makes himself a living conflict, a word bleeding war.
As the battle rages within the poet, he bleeds words out onto pages, and dies a thousand intellectual deaths. He cannot destroy the paradox without destroying himself, since his life and the paradox are now one. He becomes a visible readable microcosm of the human dilemma for his human brothers.
The poet cannot resolve the paradox he has become without shedding his own blood. As he records the battle raging within him, he occasionally writes a line in blood. In the blood on the pages, there is sometimes the pure essence of the truth of life. When the poet is wounded and nearly dying, the hidden essence of real life that we are all searching for, comes to life on the pages of his verse in the ink of his own blood, as the chance magical line of living words. This is the mysterious and terrifying magic of true poetry. The foundation of true poetry is the belief that we are meant to live and only die because of a fundamental intellectual error.
Much of the Bible may have been written by true poets. Moses and David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah, John the Evangelist and Paul, all may have at one time or another, become living paradoxes for their followers. They may have all experienced the occasional magic of writing lines of living words. It may be true, as well, that all of the recorded words of Christ are living words. We are foolish to trust the teaching of the cheap lawyers, who pass themselves off as enlightened Christian teachers in our day.
If the living words in the Bible came from the suffering of true poets, why hire a cheap lawyer to explain them to us? We would have a much better chance of finding the truth, if we adopted the method of the true poet, and became living paradoxes ourselves.
By visibly giving himself up to death, and then resurrecting himself and promising life to those who follow him, Christ the legend is encouraging us to be like poets. By taking away our fear of death, this Christ is encouraging us to enter into that terrifying union of life and paradox, and crucify ourselves to find the truth of life that is already in us.
True poetry is a blood letting union. Even with a Christ, the poet is usually a casualty. The poet may indeed come into life, but not without dying first. Since the poet searches for the truth at the expense of his unknown inner sense of true life, he must end the conflict within him at some point, or suffer a mortal wound. If he abandons his search for life before he finds life, he is also certain to die. Though the poet utilizes a source of truth, his hidden inner essence of life, that is capable of yielding up all of the truth, he cannot know all of the truth without dying.
If he is to know all of the truth without dying, he must find an external source of metamorphic truth. The external source of metamorphic truth that the poet requires is in the implications of the phenomenon of the same legendary Jesus Christ that encouraged him into poetry in the first place. This Christ now says to the poet: "Join me to the paradox, and crucify me."
The poet, in the final analysis, is able to bring forth from his torment a living known. He is able to pour out from his own true life, which is hidden inside him and unknown to him, the essence of that life onto paper, and make life known. The living words of the poet become a known part of life. The poet is a martyr for the truth, because his first premise is true, his source of information is living, and his method is correct. The poet is an example instead of a teacher, so he encourages only individual truth.
The cheap lawyer, on the other hand, can only strike a bargain or balance with the unknown. He makes nothing known that was previously unknown. The cheap lawyer bargains with an unknown God, with words he is not certain are God's words, with an intellect based on a misperception that can never reach a correct conclusion, to gain what he is not capable of recognizing anyway. The cheap lawyer is a liar and a fool, because his first premise is a lie, his source of information is dead to him; and his method is incorrect.
The cheap lawyer is a collector, who wishes to make all truth the same for everyone. There is no room for individual truth in his church. He is a reactionary. He speaks like the echo of a mindless claxon in the bottom of a midnight pit from which there is no escape. He collects people and breaks them, spilling their blood into his secret darkness.
The poet pours out his own blood in broad daylight onto pages of pain. He collects no one. He goes eventually to where only he can go, because he knows that every individual must go where only they can go alone. The poet does not teach. He bleeds.
Conventional wisdom advises us not to wait for things to fall out of the sky. The God we have formulated is not going to solve the problems of this world. It is rather pointless for any God to solve the problems of a people that are destined to relive a halcyon childhood in his arms. The problems of a people with such a God are all rooted in the fact that their intellectual development is stalled short of adulthood. If people cannot grow up, or cannot figure out how, it is only because they keep hoping for things to fall out of the sky. They may deny that they have this hope, but their belief that there is something all-powerful and benevolent above them is part of childhood. There may be a benevolent God, but only children expect him to rescue them with miracles.
In this world we grow up and leave our parentís house. It is inevitable. If we eventually succeed in establishing our own household, we may find ourselves in the position of inviting our aging parents into our own household in order to care for them. If our parentís values and our own values are not all the same, that difference of opinion is certain to be the cause of some conflict. If we compromise we feel like children. If our parents compromise they will feel like children. If we have children our parents will want to see them. They may not like the way we raise our children. If our parents still have children, we may not like the way our parents are raising them, or for that matter the way they raised us. In any case, the relationship between adult children and their parents can be very complex. If an omnipotent omniscient God is the parents, the relationship can only be more confusing.
In this age monotheism presents the world with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. God in a monotheistic system always represents the highest aspirations of a society at any given point in history. What is so superstitiously called revelation is really just a reflection of the rising aspirations of a human society. If we continue to relate to our idea of God within a 2000 year old framework of thought we will either lose our idea of God or our American ideals. If we are determined to remain monotheistic and in need of a God, we must at least allow our idea of God to measure up to the higher aspirations of our present society. There is much about the ancient idea of God that is beautiful, but there is much that is obsolete and foolish.
If our idea of God has the capacity to make things fall out of the sky to make our lives easier and he doesnít do so, we must accept within the framework of our present understanding that he has his reasons. This is really a master slave relationship but to be kind to ourselves we make it a parent child relationship and keep our idea of God safely enlightened. What parent watches his children suffer and die billions of times? What we excuse for wisdom is absurd.
Our idea of God is alone and without equal. (I will have much more to say about this idea later) We have forgotten why. Our idea of God lives by belief in himself. We have further formulated our God as the one whose belief in himself gives us life. If everything is because of our Godís belief in himself, where is our dignity?
If our God can make things fall out of the sky for our betterment and comfort and doesnít, he must have his reasons. His reasons are moot to us. Our chances of changing his mind are slim to none. Even if his reasoning is twisted, which it may well be, because there is only one God, and he perceives himself as having no equal, he would most definitely be awkward and arrogant in adult relationships. There is really very little we can do to change our relationship with our present idea of God short of compromising our adulthood. If our idea of God chooses to stubbornly reject our adulthood; while living on in eternal wealth, health, and security with more than enough to spare; while allowing us to suffer, starve, and endure infinite forms of human misery; we must not care.
We must refuse to give up our dignity. Our idea of God comes from us. We must make love a matter of the human heart, not a power of the divine. We must love our parents even if they torture and abandon us. If we do not do this in our relationship with our present idea of God, his love will surely kill our body and our adulthood.
We have made our idea of God the first and only adult essence. His belief in himself is the foundation of all things. His belief in himself is also what turns us into miracle seeking children. His belief in himself, regardless of any error or shortcoming on our part, is part of the problem with this world.
We need to grow up. Our idea of God will grow up with us. It is not necessary for God to believe in us for us to become adults. He may ignore us or fight against us. He may wring his hands or arrogantly despise us. We must believe in ourselves to be adults. If our idea of God reflects our highest aspirations, we need to allow newer higher aspirations to permeate our idea of God.
This world and the sorrow we confront on our quest for adulthood will crush and kill us and in the end separate us from our source of dignity, our human body. When that unnatural separation occurs we will cross the line of death and face the love and light of our God deprived of the dignity that gives our love meaning and find the wide opened arms of daddy God impossible to resist. In this way no human being is ever really lost, but no human being ever grows up.
We must resist the love lighted walls of the primordial nursery while we still can, and head off alone into the night if need be. The light of the nursery may be our Godís love, but it is not enough to fill up the shadow of our failure. Even our present idea of God can allow us to grow up. There is a part of us that even our God has yet to name and understand. God cannot understand our loneliness. Our idea of God believes in himself and has no equal and is always alone. We are always lonely because we have never found a way to be alone. When we are able to be alone our idea of God will change. We will be grown up. We always will be lonely until we are alone.