by Ray Jason
As soon as I finish this essay and send it out into the world to find its way, I will begin my own private Christmas celebration. I will cast off the dock-lines, hoist the sails and head off to a little cove that will bequeath me the wondrous gift of Solitude. My only companions will be the creatures of the Sea and the Sky and an occasional fisherman drifting by in a cayuco.
What I will be seeking in this isolation is what has been lost in the current incarnation of Christmas – REVERENCE. This holiday is supposed to pay homage to the birth date of the founder of Christianity. But it has steadily deteriorated from a spiritual celebration into a materialistic, consumer frenzy. It is not about Spirit. It is about Stuff.
The object of my reverence will not be a god or a man-god or a man. It will be Nature. Whereas the existence of god cannot be proven, the existence of Nature cannot be denied. My handsome little sailboat will be moving through it – through the waves of the Sea - powered by the wind from the Sky. In a very real sense, my boat and I will be cradled by Nature.
On Winter Solstice Eve I will sit on the deck with my back against the mast and sip some warm milk enhanced with a festive dollop of Baileys Irish Crèam. The moon will be nearly full, and its sparkle on the water will match the glimmer in my mug. I will marvel at many things: the massive sky-dome twinkling above - the soothing stillness of the cove - the moon sphere in the watery mirror.
And I will wonder about many things: how many thousand generations ago did humans first realize that this was The Longest Night – how soon did they start celebrating the event with festivals – but above all, I will wonder why can’t the splendor and mystery of this world not be enough to satiate humanity’s need for spirituality? Why is the magnificence of our planet and the universe that surrounds it, not enough for us to revere? Why must we invent man-made gods and unleash the horrible consequences of such creations?
Our Cosmos is so lush with miracles: the precision of the planetary orbits – the power of the distant moon to affect Earth’s tides – our planet’s astonishing diversity of creatures. Why do we renounce these in favor of fake miracles – of talking snakes – of virgin births – of prophets ascending into the sky on horseback? Why do we choose what is false, when there is so much that is fantastic?
We do so because we have been fooled, we have been duped, we have been conned. The monotheistic sky-gods that dominate our world these days are new arrivals on the human scene. They emerged with the switch from the nomadic, hunter/gatherer lifestyle to the sedentary agricultural lifestyle. Surely it appeared like an evolutionary advance to domesticate plants and animals and thus seemingly end the risk of starvation. But what went unnoticed was the fact that humans were inadvertently domesticating themselves.
The most aggressive and ruthless amongst us recognized that they could dominate the great mass of the people; and they swiftly proceeded to do so. Joining the rulers in this quest were the priests. And to facilitate this they designed gods that were male, that were powerful and that were intolerant.
Conveniently, they were also “invisible.” But they were surely there laying down all manner of commandments and restrictions that you must obey. Otherwise, the first generation of the Malignant Overlords would torture or terminate you – or both.
If this assessment seems harsh to you, allow me to remind you of the immense suffering that the huge, organized religions have bequeathed 500 generations of largely innocent human beings:
· Witch hunts
· Rejections of scientific discoveries
· Persecutions of “infidels”
· Demonization of natural sexual urges
· Human sacrifice
· Forcing females to be subservient to males
· Burnings at the stake
· Suicide bombers
· Justification for slavery
· Forcing unwanted children on the poor
All of these atrocities were championed under the banner of the various religions. Take a few seconds and read through that list again. Were any of them committed in the name of Love of Nature? No, but they all were carried out at the behest of somebody’s god; and many of them are still being sanctioned to this very day. The so-called Clash of Civilizations, that is destroying the Middle East, is actually a Clash of Religions. Indeed, as I write this sentence, there is probably an innocent child being killed or mutilated in that Vale of Chaos.
Now that I have described some of the grisly, negative aspects of institutional religion, allow me to mention how many positive features there are to Pantheism. After I have outlined these characteristics, I feel confident that half of you reading this will convert to this very different form of spirituality. Well, maybe half of one percent.
· There are no “enemies” in Pantheism. People don’t go to war over who has the most beautiful rain forests.
· There are no ornate trappings in Nature worship. Who needs cathedrals and mosques on a planet abundant in fiords and volcanoes?
· Pantheists do not dictate how people should conduct their lives. There are no commandments handed down from celestial tyrants.
· Because they don’t view this life as a dress rehearsal for some celestial paradise, those who worship Nature live their day-to-day lives more fully and richly.
· Pantheism is the perfect answer for atheists or agnostics. These non-believers clearly see the absurdity and evil that dominates the big religions, and yet they seek something to revere beyond the material world.
As I wind down this essay, I can almost detect AVENTURA tugging at her dock-lines – anxious to head out to the islands. Soon we will be anchor down - with just a few flying and swimming friends to keep us company.
But I believe that our Solstice solitude will be as magnificent as any Christmas Eve mass in a mighty cathedral. And even though I will not hoist a golden chalice above an ornate altar, I will ceremoniously lift my humble mug of milk and Irish crèam. And I will do so to the sacred congregation of stars that twinkle silently above the Great Tabernacle of Nature.