Monday, December 23, 2013

The Longest Night

The other night, after a delicious candlelit solstice dinner, Pinko and I found ourselves in a conflict that lasted 'til six in the morning. Since it was the longest night of the year, it didn't last until dawn, but still, midnight 'til six is long time to remain in a heated discussion.

It all started over chakras, of all things, but really the argument centered on the same issue I was concerned about months ago, the one about how his way of determining what's right for him is the only valid way for anyone to determine what's right for them too.  More specifically, we should all be skeptical atheists because there's no way to prove the existence of God, or anything metaphysical at all, using Logic, Reason and Empirical data.  It is incumbent upon the person making an assertion to prove that assertion is true logically, using concrete, measurable data to support his/her view or else that view is, in a word, bullshit.

Let me say, first, that I don't think there are little glowing spheres spinning at various points along my spine.  I would love it if I were made of cotton candy and rainbows instead of blood, guts, digested food in slimy intestines, churning in miscellaneous acids that occasionally emit toxic fumes.

I'd also like to mention that a few nights before this altercation, Pinko and I were on the subway coming home from a Burner Happy Hour and he stood up and said, "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen," just like a panhandler and announced to anyone who paid attention, "I love this woman."  He did it on the express, and he did it on the local too.  I can't remember what all he included in his announcements, but it was nice.  It was, in fact, one of those romantic moments you see in movies, but rarely experience in real life.

Alcohol was involved in both the altercation and the announcement, but I'm not sure whether it had anything to do with either one of them.  I can say that the conversation the other night only got heated after we'd decided to open a second bottle of wine.  For sure, each one of us would maintain our respective positions whether we were fully sober, tripping balls or soaked in a barrel of bourbon.

Honestly, I understand that militant atheists like Pinko, and Woody and my good internet buddy Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein have a legitimate grievance about people who use their religion as a reason to control the government, start wars, oppress women and anyone else they can boss around.  Lots of people like to believe that all they stuff they've accumulated proves God likes them best.  I would suggest that those people have been so steeped in consumerism as perpetrated by capitalism that they can't differentiate between money and God - and that's how the first ruling class used priests and shamans to keep all the resources for themselves.  It's also how kings and priests wage war, killing as many innocent bystanders as necessary in order to secure all the resources for themselves.  Oligarchs do that shit.  Or maybe it's Plutocrats.  I always get those two confused.  Hegemony, too.

Whatever.  Theologians, Philosophers, Anthropologists, Scientists and drunks in bars have been arguing about the nature of God and Man for centuries.  Pinko and I were not arguing over the nature of God and Man.  Pinko was trying to convert me to his way of thinking because he believes I'd be better off.  I would respectfully suggest that anyone who tries to convert an individual who incorporates metaphysics into her personal cosmology to a world view that requires peer reviewed data to define Reality is just as intellectually arrogant as missionary who tries to convince perfectly happy indigenous people to buy into a capitalistic God.

If I were using any of my personal beliefs to wage war, like nearly every ruler in the recorded history or the western world, or to bamboozle a bunch of suckers into handing over wads of cash like I was Tammy Faye Bakker, there would be every reason to advocate for another point of view.  That's why people have been saying Religion and/or The Church is full of shit throughout the millennia.

Lots of people feel more emotionally secure in a reality that is purely defined by science - even though every few years Science makes new discoveries that alter the nature of that reality.  It's much easier to walk on a floor with a stable foundation, and lots of people need a concrete foundation.  It's all good.

The trouble with insisting that peer reviewed data is the only valid form of information is that the same capitalists that use people like commodities to wage endless war and ecocide are funding most of the scientific research.  A random billionaire may finance research on topics that interest him/her personally - kind of like Walt Disney was into cryogenics.  Even Copernicus had patrons.  So does Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Ergo:  the data that establishes known reality only goes as far as the funding can take it.

Pinko concedes that there is more to the universe than scientists have proven so far.  He just thinks that anyone who believes in metaphysics is just as stoopid as the rube buying snake oil from some traveling charlatan in the wild west.  I took issue at being included in that bunch of rubes, particularly by someone who looks me in the eye and says I'm the smartest woman he's ever known.

I didn't get angry and shout about that, however.  My knee jerk reaction to patriarchal imposition is just as strong as Woody Konopak's knee jerk reaction to Catholicism.  Ergo:  When someone says my thinking is "irrational," I come out with my howitzers blazing.

Pinko was absolutely right when he said that I lay all kinds of hostility toward the patriarchy on him that he doesn't deserve simply because he's a man, and that anything he has to say to me is not a result of patriarchal privilege even though he's a man who justifies his position using the same vocabulary and narrow intellectual framework as generations of academics, priests and various power brokers of the patriarchy have used before him.

He's had to defend himself against those guys too - although Pinko's focus is on politics and economics, which is what he knows about.  Pinko and I crossed swords for hours unnecessarily because of my knee jerk reaction to patriarchal imposition.  It would have been much easier just to tell him he was being an asshole and to quit trying to convert me to Empiricism.  It's not like I'm trying to convert him to Unity Consciousness.  Hell, I'm not trying to convert anyone to anything - I'm just trying to figure out a way to walk through the world without giving into suicidal despair every time I look at the headlines.  Most likely, that's all he's doing too.

Maybe at the end of the day, that's all any of us can ever do - concoct some sort of story that reconciles all the contradictions and injustice in the world in a way that makes us feel like we have a reason for being.  That reason for being can be especially tricky for existentialists since we believe, on a fundamental level, that there is no reason.  Even if there is no reason for being, however, we still exist.  It simply becomes incumbent on each of us to make our own meaning and find our own purpose.

On the longest night of the year, the world can be lonely and scary - especially when you're at odds with someone you love.  The thing is that the person you love is not a collection of ideas or even an assortment of chemical components.   Each person has an essential spirit that makes him/her who he is. Some of us think we're isolated in physical bodies; others believe there's universal consciousness - a spark of divinity that connects us all.

Why bother to deconstruct and define that spark when you can celebrate the connection?  I'm happy to say that by the time the sun had risen after that longest night, Pinko and I are celebrating that connection.

Blessed Be.


mbarnato said...

Physicists were colleagues for most of my career, and the majority likely did not believe in a "god". But I think they would also be the first to tell you there are things in the universe they cannot understand, given all the observations, all the data. If we've kept even our five senses open, we've probably had some sort of experience or encounter that defied logic. So I think these are all part of the mystery of *everything*, and as mystery, doesn't get attached to any one thing; religion, science, whatever. I hope some things never get figured out.

Gail said...

HEY TEXAS - well, tough night for sure. I don't get involevbd with other folks beleifs on suchmatters and I am thankful SKipp and I believe in similar ways and in the areas we don't, it doesn't seem to matter or impact our love/life negatively, certainly not in an argument. I think that whatever armor people need to feel safe in this world, to believe in God, to not believe in God, whatever, I say it is their armor and so be it. Amen.
Love you girl

Jerry Critter said...

That' s the good, and bad, thing about belief. It doesn't require proof.

Daisy Deadhead said...

The only reason I have found for religion and spirituality is the best reason: makes me personally feel better. Praxis--I enjoy my private and group rituals. (I don't advocate or force them on anyone else, so what is the harm?)

I hope he wouldn't deny some dying person the comfort of thinking they were going somewhere else when they die.

And as Buddha taught: we are ALL "dying people".

That's the thing. ;)

Enjoy your blog, as always.

Jennifer said...

Gratified to read the outcome. We have the same, one conflict in my relationship. Well, we agree to disagree and I ignore the subtle look that washes over his face when such things do come up because he can't simply can't ignore my folly. No relationship could align on everything could it? There are certain aspects I could not live with, certain politics, lack of compassion, anger, dogma, litterbugs... This one disagreement is something we can work around, as we do. And you and Pinko will continue to do, if you choose.

I'm so happy for the promise with which you're venturing into this new year. I couldn't have wanted more for you.

mac said...

From my perspective, albeit male, and atheistic, he's right. There is nothing except the physical world which we can quantify.

Then there's Love, the most powerful and nonquantifiable force, making me wrong.

PENolan said...

Jennifer - I'm thinking that he and I will both grow as a result of this area of conflict because it's really not about whether or not metaphysics is valid. It's about respecting each other and saying your piece at the same time.

Daisy, as a rule, he's very "live and let live." I know he's simply looking out for me - just like he wants me to see a doctor about my snoring ;)

Jerry - you said a mouth full

Maureen, I also hope we never solve the mystery of Life, The Universe and Everything. There's something fundamentally stimulating about the exploration

Gail, me too. We all need that armor sometimes

mac - exactly

ellen abbott said...

One of the most frequent reasons for me and mine fighting back when we engaged in that behavior, was that he was always telling me that the way I did things was wrong even when the way I did whatever worked just fine. He wouldn't come out and say I did it wrong, he would just find fault or tell me that I should have done so and so differently. to him, he was just trying 'help me improve'. To me he was telling me I was too stupid to know how to do things correctly. This is one of the ways that un-patriarchal men still express the patriarchy and they are insulted when you call them on it. It's these unconscious attitudes that are the hardest to deal with. It was many years before he would accept that there was more than one right way to do things.

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