I TOTALLY get why people read escapist fiction.

Nonfiction blows sometimes.

adult book boring face
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I am a seeker. I read nonfiction to find answers to big questions.

One big question of many that perplex me when it comes to the State of Israel and Jewish people is: Why are 14.2 million people more newsworthy in the West than the other 6.86 billion people of the world? Is there more to this than media control, ownership, or the claimed disproportionate number of Jewish people working in Western media? I don’t know. When I don’t know something, I read, and keep on reading until I find answers. This tiny segment of the world’s population endlessly reminds us of their stories of persecution; some of these stories are based on historically documented facts, while others have so little empirical evidence they border on the mythological. A media spotlight affords a tiny state some protection from transgressors, but in doing so, it can also cast a shadow on any freshly dug graves.

If you want to truly get a handle on a culture, you must dive into their indoctrinations.

The world’s religions mastered indoctrination long ago, so this, I thought, would be a good area to acquire a better grasp of a people without diving into the more volatile areas of politics and economics.

Yesterday’s read began with enthusiasm as I found a book which was touted to be: A Guide to Jewish Wisdom; something that appealed to me on a couple of different levels even though I am not Jewish, and have—putting it mildly—a general dislike of almost all religions for their exploitive,  for-profit business model which excludes aid to anyone who is not a paying customer. Firstly, this book appealed to the researcher inside me as I am usually forced to open dozens of books over several days just to find puzzle pieces which I then have to make notes on and later assemble into something that makes sense. It’s a good day when you find an author who has done all the work for you. Secondly, I have not given Judaism its due, relative to the volume of reading I have done on all of the larger religions. Oh sure I have skimmed the Tanakh and read the greatest hits of the Torah in my fact-finding missions to compare stories from other religions, but I really did not have a “feel” for this group’s beliefs. I really hoped this book on the mystical side of Judaism: Kabbalah, would give me a better understanding of the big picture.

A great many authors should thank their lucky stars I don’t publish reviews or ratings below three stars on a five star scale.

This book dodged a bullet. When we choose a nonfiction book to read, we are encouraged to pay attention to the credentials of the author as though only a credentialed person can put forth a valid thought—or so the publishing world a.k.a. print media would have us believe. The author is a Rabbi and an educational psychologist so I expected a balance of theology with logic and reason. What I got was a heavy dose of mysticism, magic, and the supernatural with a smattering of references to empirical research that, at best, offered a weak endorsement of how the magic worked. The spiritual mumbo jumbo, of course, told the believer how to think and live “correctly”:

‘You must be a giving person.’

In fact, there was an entire paragraph on how to appropriately greet and compensate a Kabbalist or Hassidic rebbe if you were ever fortunate enough to garner their attention.

‘You must not be an egotist.’

And yet the author saw fit to publish a photo of himself with the Dali Lama instead of one where he was feeding or counseling “displaced” Palestinian children.

In fairness, I expect hypocrisy in all books from theologians, however once you strip away the nonsense, there were about fifty pages of good reading where the author succinctly explained: The Ten Sefirot, the meaning of the Star of David, and he interpreted a number of commonly used Jewish religious terms while passing along some insights into Judaic “philosophy”. The book was just 200 pages so I’ll give it a 1.25 star rating.

Every book will give you something.

What did I learn? Nothing Earth shattering, but it would appear that Judaism:

  • Is a very complex belief system which requires significant interpretation.
  • Has a significant number of teachings related to self.
  • Places women closer to men in terms of equality.
  • Has roots in Zoroastrianism.
  • Is open to different planes of existence, science, and multiple universes.
  • Believes they have all the answers.
  • Believes Hebrew is the Holy tongue—necessary to enter a higher reality.
  • Believes their religious men are above the average follower.
  • Believes the Torah contains a hidden spiritual code supported by mathematics.
  • Codify beliefs into law in much the same way Muslims do.

This lacklustre book did however point me at a new target of inquiry. It seems that in the 1700’s a scholastic elite were the only ones with access to Jewish literary works. This wreaks of potential tampering akin to Constantine or King James. I’ll let you know if anything interesting turns up once I have chased down this lead.

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Radical Christian Extremists Are Active in My Neighborhood—A Christmas Story.

I just witnessed an act of Christian terrorism on my street.

While many of us were erecting ladders to put up Christmas lights, others had even more politically incorrect intentions.

A woman with her three girls from a few doors down, just skulked passed my house carrying a large standup carboard cutout of Jesus which they covertly placed in front of another neighbor’s house, a few doors up the street from where I live. I am guessing this mom is an artist, and the girls all participated in this craft project. I do not know either of these neighbors, but I grinned as the perpetrators ran by in a full retreat. A short while later, the terrorist leader mom walked by again to take a picture of their evil-doings; presumably to be used in a propaganda victory speech which would undoubtedly be posted on their radical facebook page tagging the victims. As she returned from her photo recon bomb damage assessment mission, she commented to me, rather matter of factly, “He hates religion.”, to which I replied, “Oh my.”, still wearing my amused grin but laughing hysterically on the inside as this woman had no idea who she was talking to. To me, this Sunday was quickly becoming more entertaining than any of the ones spent in the hundreds of Houses of Worship I have visited in my travels. It would not take long before a woman, who I presume is the wife of the aforementioned “He”, would walk by looking a little embarrassed as she carryied the big Jesus back to the terrorist’s encampment. I suspect this was just a good-natured prank among neighbors as big Jesus was leaned carefully against a tree in the yard of the terrorist’s command and control bunker, and no hostile words were uttered or shots fired as she departed.

This is how battles of religious ideologies should be waged.

We must now look at the victim of this atrocity who was targeted by these extremists because “He” believes differently. “He”, who apparently “hates religion”, could be an atheist, and if this is the case, we should be respectful of his choice of belief system. But what if “He” is not an atheist? What if “He” is like me? What if “He” has come to despise most religions as I have, because they have corrupted the messages of God and their various prophets in order to amass wealth and power—often promoting division, hate, the subjugation of women, and even violence. Am I next? How long before I can expect big Jesus in my garden? I  think it’s time to pick a religion just to be on the safe side.

So. let’s see what comes up when I google: What religion should I follow? Oh look, Belief-O-Match; they should be able to tell me. After taking their quiz, they decided I am a Seventh-day Adventist? I don’t know this one. Let’s find out what they are all about.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-seventh-day-adventism/

Oh, I don’t think so.

Not even close. So much for Belief-O-Magic.

Back to the drawing board. I will eliminate all religions with significant wealth that don’t spend most of it to feed starving children. Let’s see what google has to say.

https://www.therichest.com/rich-list/world/the-10-richest-religions-in-the-world/

Well that really shortens the list of possibilities.

Let’s try googling the most charitable religions. It is interesting that this search netted little of substance; just a few articles about do-gooders, putting Muslims, Agnostics, and Buddhists well in the lead. You would think that some of the other major religions would step up and single-handedly save a famished nation just for the bragging rights, but none do or have.

Although I could probably squeeze my beliefs into the Agnostic box, as a historian, I feel as though I should be able to find something—and I did—but unfortunately it is in decline with just 190,000 followers left. Maybe it is not about the popularity.

Zoroastrianism worships a single deity: Ahura, The Lord Creator, and The Supremely Wise. This religion predates most all of the best known prophets with its roots going back to 2000 BCE. (I like that.) It has no major theological divisions. (I like that.) In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to: “Be among those who renew the world; to make the world progress towards perfection”. (I like that.)

Its basic maxims include:

  • “Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta,” which means: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. (I like it.)
  • “There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.” (I like it.)
  • “Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.” (I like it.)

I am now a religious man, safe from big Jesus.

I am a Zoroastrianist . . . I think.

I have much reading to do, and perhaps I should check my terminologies while I am at it, before telling everyone. Once I have confirmed that Zoroastrianist is actually a word, I’m going to go tell the neighbor up the street—maybe “He” is one too, and just doesn’t know it yet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism

 

This is it for a while.

To everyone, regardless of your philosophies, faiths, beliefs, and indoctrinations, I hope you all enjoy a safe and happy Holiday Season.

Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta.

I like it.

😀