Saturday, March 14, 2020

Media-ocrity Part 1 (Opiate for the Asses)


Disclaimer: This current screed contains a number of severely and sarcastically harsh opinions regarding organized religion, calls into question the veracity of a Supreme Being, and possesses more than a few statements which could be considered both profane, if not wholly blasphemous, by those who consider themselves deeply religious or pseudo-spiritual. I make no apologies for this, and I will not be issuing any, no matter what kinds of recriminations may occur from such a viewpoint.

Also, threatening me with eternal torture in a place by an entity I don’t believe in, will only result in my engaging in bouts of maniacally mocking laughter, which I will be more than happy enough to do to your face. So please, don’t threaten me with a good time, and endeavor to save your prayers for somebody who is either six years old, or incredibly gullible, thank you.
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“The public wants work which flatters its illusions.” - Gustave Flaubert

Hello Blogiteers!

Today is a strange day, for I find myself without a sense of clear direction as to what I’m going to write about. Granted, this has never slowed me down before, but it can still be somewhat vexing, nonetheless. As I sit here at The Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery in Silver City, fortified by my standard order of cheeseburger sliders, my Diet Coke (with 3 lemon wedges) and side of fries with Ranch dressing, I realize that as far as the act of falling into a personal rut goes, this one’s kind of awesome. Not to mention that my favorite office away from the office comes stocked with a pretty decent selection of locally produced spirits, and who couldn’t love that?

Straight-edge incels, that’s who.

And for once, I’m not narrowing that description to just Trump supporters, even if they’ve proven that they definitely like to drink. Arguably, most of what they consume is ignorant Kool-Aid, but I’m certain that the occasional beer just has to make an appearance, if only to act as a balm against an inner monologue that suggests non-stop that man oh man, did you ever back the wrong horse. Don’t color me as callous, because I am sympathetic to the reality that we all make the erroneous choice from time to time, but JFC, how personally detached from the concepts of Reason and Humanity do you have to be to support this vulgar and inane piece of overly bronzed human pudding skin? Sure, I may have suggested in my youth that Xanadu was going to sweep the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography in 1980, but looking back with middle-aged hindsight, I can begrudgingly acknowledge why they gave those lauded honors to Kramer vs. Kramer, Sally Field, and Apocalypse Now.

And the valid reason can be summed up in just five words: the Academy hates leg warmers. In my opinion, which is also entirely correct, nobody outside of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance has ever worn them better than Olivia Newton-John. Come at me, bro- I’m more than prepared to throw down over this. It’s a real shame however, that his base of cultists is unable to monetize all the rationalizations they exude to deflect from the reality of who and what he is. If they could, they’d all be rolling in the wealth they think he’s going to grant them. That of course, being sometime in the very near future, I’m sure. After all, he promised, and you can take that to the bank. Not an American one to be certain, but I’m pretty sure Promsvyazbank based in Moscow, probably has some sort of bulls**t to Rubles trade-in rewards program.

And the best part? Their free pens can also do double-duty as listening devices, so that’s an unexpected plus.

With Odin as my witness, I never thought I’d live to see the day where my fellow Americans would so willingly not only lie down with a flea-infested treasonous whore-monger, but would also sing the praises of his massive character flaws as well. I used to think that with my past sexual history of being easier to ride than a Big Wheel, there’d be no way that I could ever become president, but now? I’m starting to think the long-suppressed details of my 1993 Mardi Gars trip to New Orleans could be made into a comic book and handed out to Boy Scouts, and I’d still be swept into office by a landslide, because obviously- a lot of people have gotten totally cool with an extensive range of behaviors that previously, always ended in either lawsuits or criminal charges.

For those of you who might be thinking that I’m making a groundless blanket statement, keep in mind that our current “leader” and his slavish base of legislative licking enablers have defended or attempted to rationalize, the following; xenophobia, white nationalism, voter fraud, sexual assault and domestic violence, acts of political violence, pedophilia, treason, collusion, foreign influence on our electoral process, cyber-bullying, bribery, influence peddling, abuse of power, homophobia, rampant narcissism, fabricated falsehoods, half-truths, quid pro quos, willful ignorance, and my personal favorite, supporting a president with disturbingly blatant cognitive issues in relation to his ability to accept or function within, the construct of actual Reality.

Windmill cancer, anyone?
How about some repeatedly flushing toilets? Or we could go rake a forest when we get some communal free time, just to keep the wildfire risk low. That is, after we figure out how to collectively close an umbrella, and find the giant armored limousine that’s been parked right in front of us the whole time.

There’s a famous movie quote uttered by Jack Nicholson that goes, “Sell crazy somewhere else. We’re all stocked up here.” And to be honest, a truer statement has not been made as of late, and I certainly don’t expect one to be forthcoming from the conservative element within this country that’s hate-fu**ing America as if it were auditioning for a web-cam series on Pornhub. Out of all the abominable qualities that this country currently finds itself overstocked on, it’s quite easy to overlook one of the most virulent, due to its uncanny ability to fly under the proverbial radar using its innocuous countenance. I am of course, not referring to the most publicly aggressive issues of our time such as institutionalized racism or the never-ending battle for true gender equality, but something just as insidious in our day to day lives, if not more so, depending on who and where we are as a society at any moment. I am referring to both the bane and cornerstone of modern POP culture, that being the commoner’s sanctuary known far and wide as mediocrity.

While there is an extensive list of underwhelming accomplishments to choose from, some of you may not possess an actual mental image of what mediocrity actually is. In its purest form, true mediocrity is the quality of something that is not very good, which can also be embodied as a person who does not have the special ability to do something well. Envision Tom Cruise being miscast in the 1985 film Legend as a forest boy named Jack, or in a truly puzzling act of “f**k all common sense and logic”, Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. I guess it could have successfully come together if the filmmakers had relocated Sherwood Forest inside the suburb of Aspen, Colorado where Costner currently resides, but that’s all water under the faux stone English bridge, I guess.

And speaking of water, I’d happily watch the extended Director’s Cut of his apocalyptic box office bombs Waterworld and The Postman back-to-back before I’ll ever allow myself to suffer again the unintentionally hilarious spectacle of him butchering the English accent. The last time I heard a vocal performance that cringe-worthy, Trump was talking about the Chinese, and we all could guess beforehand how that was going to turn out.

Whether we’d like to admit it to ourselves or not, mediocrity has always been one of America’s core components, and everyone’s been guilty of engaging in it at some point. For instance, I’m a pretty good cook, but a terrible singer, and an even worse dancer. If one were to judge me as I attempted to do both at the same time, they’d be convinced I was dually strangling a chicken while having an epileptic seizure, and essentially, they would be correct. There’s a very specific reason why I write and stay behind the camera, and sadly, the fact that I look go**amn amazing in a sequined jumpsuit isn’t enough to stave it off. In the days of yore, mediocrity had it’s own special realm, and was allowed to occasionally wander outside of its borders, on the condition that it was just visiting us, and not moving into the garage. But now? We’ve not only given up our spare set of house keys, we’ve turned over the guest bedroom to its in-laws as well. If you have doubt, just look at how low the bar has been set to achieve or maintain one’s fame in this country.

Talent, skill, ambition, and moral standards are no longer required to establish a truly dedicated fan base, in fact, those attributes are generally presented as either a hindrance or an occurrence of rarity overall, and as a society, we’re currently paying the heftiest of fees for this repulsive and ignorant as hell point of view. The origins behind the continuing dumbing down of America as a whole vary widely of course, but I’ll start with one of the biggest, that being the main causeway to how our society currently acquires what it perceives as authentically valid and vital information. I am referring to, as you may have already guessed, the most detrimentally useful resource ever devised by talking monkeys outside of coffee-flavored soda, that being the World Wide Web, AKA; the Internet.

A repository of joy, sorrow, statistics both real and imaginary, hope, hate, indifference, cat videos, memes, stunted debates, and for those who could care less about being emotionally connected to their fellow humans, shades of the pornography rainbow that even the normally stalwart Germans and dispassionate Japanese would take a hard pass on., And considering their singular adult output ranges from Scheisse videos to Shokushu goukan manga, you just know that there’s some truly disturbing neighborhoods of the Internet you should never even think about visiting often, unless you’ve always wanted to be put on a very special law-enforcement list. Feel free to Google those terms, because I ain’t ever describing any of this in detail here. As I’ve noted more than once, the lack of knowledge is a truly dangerous thing, especially when it’s packaged as quite the opposite to an intellectually-challenged demographic that doesn’t want it’s core of flawed beliefs even remotely questioned in the first place.

We live in an age where photoshopped images and weaponized paranoia are lauded to be just as valid as definable facts, and woe to those who dare to prove that assertion wrong, as it is always shown to be. One of the glaringly obvious flaws of a generation that’s never been exposed to the rigors of using a card catalog is its inability to do truly unbiased research when necessary. The internet at times, is a little bit like an overprotective parent, in that its tailored algorithms make sure you only get to see what it thinks you want or should see. In practice, it’s akin to when my dad would take me to our local drive-in to go see that year’s newest James Bond movie- I’ve seen Goldfinger like sixty times, but as for the ponderous swamps that are On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Never Say Never Again?

Once. Only once. Thank Odin.

Conversely, the Web can also serve as a portal to true personal enlightenment, by granting unfettered access to previously unknown concepts, cultures, and the possible expansion of your world view, when properly utilized. If you had told me in High School that one day I’d be having a real-time discussion with a fellow Creative in Australia as I lounged comfortably in bed wearing Star Wars pajamas, dry-eating a box of Froot Loops, I would have strongly warned you to stay out of my Ziploc bag of “special”  brownies in the future. Now, as somebody who’s career, hobbies, and social life is highly web-dependent, it would be exceedingly hypocritical of me to tell people that their exposure to all things online should be purposefully curtailed somewhat, but I’m still going to suggest it anyway. Sure, an online life is far easier to manage and debatably less chaotic in relation to your offline one, but it can also present itself as impersonal, shallow, and wholly disingenuous, at the best of times.

And let’s face it, if humble-bragging and selfie-posting ever become Olympic sanctioned sports, this country will sweep all the gold out of those categories. That’s right Romania... you’ll get nothing for your mantel at home. And you’ll like it.

But the Web also has another downside, and that’s the cumulative consequence similar to having a severe addiction issue. I for one, sometimes think that my quitting smoking and sleeping with single-named strippers wearing thigh-boots were much easier things to do than setting down my phone for five minutes unchecked. If you think I’m kidding, ask my GF, because I’m pretty sure that one day in the near future, I’m going to wake up and find that my Galaxy S8 “accidentally” fell into our home office paper shredder… three times. For me, it’s both entertainment and a yoke of sorts, due to my current living situation. We went from the 5th largest metropolis to a very small town that has no less than twenty-seven different ways to ask you how your mother is doing, not that I’m complaining or anything. It’s actually quite nice living among people who acknowledge that other people co-exist on the same plane at the same time.

How cool is that? Very, actually.

But when you go from being the resident “Mad Boy” of a marginally surviving art scene to being known as the local watering hole’s resident Bard of Snark, there’s definitely an adjustment curve of sorts for you to ride out, and it definitely takes some getting used to. I don’t mean that to come off as anything negative, but it does make you recalibrate your approach to both your life if not your life’s work, to say the very least. And if there’s one thing I unquestionably needed for quite some time before Ashley and I moved to the pastoral serenity that is Southwest New Mexico, it was a full-on spiritual and emotional rebuild. It’s never been a well-kept secret that I always had issues of one kind or another with my former artistic stomping grounds, but there exist very few people outside of my inner circle who knew just how or why I was feeling so particularly burnt-out and frustrated with the so-called scene overall. In as few words as possible, it was all based on my gut reaction to the maddening inclusion and generalized acceptance of mediocrity in relation to the created works, their presentation, and the marketing of such. Strangely, following the same path of ineffectiveness that hasn’t worked before and will most certainly not work again, isn’t typically how one achieves success, but you have to give credit to those who doggedly, and consistently, punch down to maintain their status quo in regards to snatching failure from the jaws of victory.

Because if there’s any descriptive that I’d use to accurately underpin America’s current state of mind in relation to its entertainment, spiritual, and politically-based news options, I would have to definitely lay the card of mediocrity on the proverbial table. 

I noted earlier that America has always had a mediocrity problem, but it was generally presented as talk-show filler and fodder, not as substance or as anything to be taken seriously. Think of who and what passes for deserving celebrity status nowadays: actors who can’t act, singers who can’t sing, and online “influencers” whom most of us over the age of 12 have never heard of. Look at it this way: Old Hollywood gave us Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, and Audrey Hepburn. And what has New Hollywood gifted us with?  Rob Schneider, Jayden Smith, and Kirsten Stewart. I’m not saying that I despise these people, but I’d definitely unplug their life support to power my DVD player in order to view films that unlike theirs, are worth watching.

If you took their collective body of work, and gathered it all together in a pile, the only way you could make these wretched movies a truly enjoyable visual experience would be to set them and the studio executives who greenlit them in the first place, on fire. And while you’re doing that, feel free to use the screenwriters who are solely responsible for Highlander 2, The Star Wars prequels, Green Lantern, and Battlefield Earth as additional kindling to keep this righteous conflagration stoked. Just make sure that when the ashes have cooled, you store them in the same place where they hid the shooting script for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s sadly never made version of Dune. And when it comes to the business of producing content for weekly television/streaming, it’s a mixed bag at best, to be totally frank. While in this case, the viewing options have gotten significantly better, the incessant need for said content has led to a still willingly limited standard of near biblical proportion and scope.

For every series like Jack Ryan, there’s The Bachelor. For every Cosmos, there’s the train-wreck that was Baywatch Nights, and for every inspirational Anthony Bourdain travelogue, there’s a long line of plasticine-based Kardashians laying in proverbial wait like the chlamydia in Paris Hilton’s underwear drawer. When one looks back at the dawn of television, the creators of shows that were destined to become classics were really not that much different than the people attempting creative relevance today. If you examine the brass tacks of the current ongoing cycle of creation at hand, the finish line is exactly the same as it was back then- try to create marketable content, line up some sponsors, and cash a hopefully huge check when all was said and filmed. And if you wound up sculpting an accidental icon at the end, so much the better. The crucial difference in my opinion, is that Television and Cinemas’ early originators were blazing headfirst into unknown territory, versus today’s maddening trend of endlessly rehashing and reanimating stereotypical tropes to the point where the audience not only knows the ending before the show even starts, they can almost quote the dialogue they haven’t even heard yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love predictability as much as the next slack-jawed mindless entertainment disciple, but throw me a charitably original bone every now and then, would ya? Case in point, the last Star Wars movie- I already knew to expect some awesome lightsaber fights, a few scenes of Kylo Ren moping like the sullen candy-assed Goth he is, some witty repartee from Poe Dameron, and the occasional British prissiness of C3PO, but Rey being able to shoot force-lightning out of her go**amn hands?!?

To that, all I can say is SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

If there’s one characteristic that has not changed since I was a kid, it’s that I am a hugely brazen dork- I love all things Sci-Fi, Super Hero, and Documentary related. It’s pretty much a rock-hard guarantee that if I have the choice between going out or watching a five-part miniseries on how the Universe was formed, I’ll be taking a raincheck in regards to your clambake. But unlike most people, despite my pessimistic overview on today’s choices for distraction, I’m also not a cultural snob when it comes to how I entertain myself, either. For every time I’ve managed to find myself at a high-end art opening sipping champagne, rest assured that there’s most likely a photo of me chomping on a turkey leg and sucking down a Miller Lite out of a wood flagon at a Renaissance Fair, dressed to the nines as a slutty wench.

What can I say? I like to play to my strengths.

In essence, I have no issue separating gold from its dross, and this stance applies to pretty much everything in my life that serves as a moment of interlude, depending on what my mood may currently be at the time. Somedays, an elegant four-course meal is what I crave, and other days, I’m perfectly fine settling for a lightly toasted ranch-dressing and bacon-bit sandwich. It’s all good. It’s basically the difference between watching the director’s cut of Blade Runner, versus 1980’s Flash Gordon, although both are excellent for a variance of reasons. Steak and potatoes versus a sauerkraut-chili dog, by way of analogy, as it were. Granted, a little celluloid cheese every now and then would be considered hardly a societal concern by most people, but as it does make up a sizeable portion of the offerings to be found within today’s streaming platforms and online, the risk does exist that constant exposure to malevolent thought slickly packaged as entertainment or worse, as a factual educational dialogue, can have severe ramifications that survive far beyond the pale of the immediate.

Once a virulent Jinn escapes from its lamp, it’s damn near nigh impossible to put it back in, as history has shown us time and time again, and with the advent of the World Wide Web, it’s also disturbingly possible to spread this rabid disinformation literally at the speed of light. Not for lack of better examples, for there are many to be found, but when I log onto Netflix or Amazon these days and see that numerous “documentaries” exist about Bigfoot, alien abductions, the Bermuda Triangle, the so-called 9-11 coverup, pro anti-vaccine propaganda, time travel, how the Clintons are serial killers, the Democratic Deep State, dimensional doorways disguised as pyramids, and my personal favorite- how the Earth is flat, I sometimes wonder if I should pray for Humanity or for the asteroid known as 99942 Apophis to arrive ahead of it’s projected timetable of April 13, 2029, and save me both the trouble and the possible wear and tear on my proudly heathen knees.

Perhaps due to the fact that I tend to read so much, I’m all sorts of critical when it comes to my choices in distractive entertainment. As previously noted, I have no issue with lowbrow cheese as a rule, but I draw the line when it comes to having my intelligence willingly insulted. For instance, the morass that was the god-awful 2001 movie Swordfish starring John Travolta, is notable for a few reasons, the first being Travolta creating a villain archetype he’d go on to rehash in several far more superior films, albeit with a less ridiculous hairstyle, and second- because the studio fairly thought a shot or two of Halle Berry in lingerie and reading topless could save this convoluted quagmire of clichés. Now don’t misconstrue my opinion, because there’s nothing I could possibly enjoy more than a half-naked woman comfortably reading fine literature when it’s essential to the plot, but not when it’s thrown in as a ham-handed distraction from mediocrity, as is seemingly the case with a majority of the content that Hollywood is apt to produce these days.

Put it this way- I’m more than willing to suspend my belief that an 11 year old boy who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake due to counselors who were supposed to be watching him having sex instead, and I’ll even accept that he came back from the dead having been transformed into a six-foot-five unstoppable killing machine, but that’s where I say enough is enough. I refuse to believe however, that the first thing anybody would do after discovering that one of their friends has been halved with a machete, is grab a flickering candle instead of a baseball bat, and go looking for whomever did it. Or even worse, decide that’s the perfect time to go for a solo skinny-dipping session in the middle of the deep dark woods. I’m not expecting a Shakespearian tragedy by any means, but at least create some characters who due to their lack of common sense, don’t make me happily root for their soon to be killer, would ya?

On the upside, according to *Smithsonian Magazine, more people went to libraries, than the box office last year, so maybe the odious tide of anti-intellectualism in this country is finally starting to turn. And I really hope this trend continues, because I for one, cannot handle yet another Adam Sandler cinematic eyesore, or even more terrifying, a full-on reboot of Battlefield Earth starring Tommy Wiseau and Owen Wilson, Don’t laugh- there has to be somebody who’s pitched it at least once, and you just know that out there somewhere, is also a director or studio who believes that they can remake Gigli, and turn it into a blockbuster, if they could only just get Andy Dick and Paris Hilton on board.
*[https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/americans-went-library-more-often-movies-2019-180974091/]

Sadly, when it comes to the other panacea that America turns to when it’s diet of bread and circus fails to sustain it any further, it’s the blatantly corrupt cash-grab and snake-oil mediocrity bazaar better known as organized religion. Before any of you start lighting torches and sharpening your designer IKEA pitchforks, let me just state that I truly have no solid grievance with persons of uncontaminated faith. I do however, have a colossal objection to people who abuse the Word as a permissive vehicle to act inhumanely upon their own personal biases in a means to shirk their willing complicity in such divisive acts. We’ve all gone to a detractor’s Facebook profile to see what type of person we’re dealing with, and discovered to our collective amusement that in such cases where said persons self-identify as “Christian”, that their profile usually looks as if a Hobby Lobby blew up in close proximity, and scattered the resultant crafty debris all over their page.

I don’t know who owns the usage copyrights for American flag emojis and the #Blessed, but if they ever started charging for it, they could buy their own planet complete with a fully-loaded space armada, thanks in large part to these hallowed hypocrites. As is true with most intimate relationships, corporatized Faith tries to discourage invasive questioning about its base tenets very much in the same way I successfully avoid my girlfriend’s queries about why my abode was once known as “Wayne’s Home for Wayward Strippers”. For those of you who are curious as to why that was, let me just clarify that I ran a fairly effective localized community outreach program for independent erotic dancing contractors, and leave it at that. And with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, engaging consistently in this sort of hands-on charity work can lead to one being branded as somewhat of a rogue, although I’ve always felt that valuation in my humble opinion, was a tad bit harsh, if not wholly inaccurate.

However, the fallout of such doesn’t always remain contained, and as proof, here is a sadly true but still somewhat humorous, side story. I once had a conversation with my now-estranged father regarding the person I was seeing at the time, which was prior to the current relationship I’ve been in for the last eleven years. When my dad had asked about how things were going and what she did for a living, I said that things were fine, and that she was a “professional dancer” as she was and still is, a professional ballroom competitor and dance instructor. So naturally, given my past history, my father asked “what club does she work at?” , and I had the joy of replying curtly with the following: “Arthur Murray Dance Studio… perhaps you’ve heard of it?”. I won’t speak for you, but that kind of awkward silence doesn’t come with a price tag on it, let me tell you.

In regards to uncomfortable pauses, one usually follows whenever I start delving into the minutiae of those who possess an obviously hypocritical sense of Faith.  You know the ones… people who like to brag openly and endlessly about their personal relationship with God, but yet, display no actual virtues resulting from such an interaction? Praising the Lord one moment, while blithely posting several examples of bearing false witness the next, these holier-than-thou malingerers are the quintessential reason why I’ve always rooted for the lions in gladiator movies. As it was noted above, I truly have no solid grievance with persons of uncontaminated faith, for when it’s used as either a crutch or shield, even I, the resident cynical agnostic, can see the positive side of such usage. But when it’s wielded as a sword to control or harm those whom you disagree with, rest assured that you and I are going to lock horns, and I will make it metaphorically possible to visit your Sky-Daddy in spirit, if not in person, far sooner before you ever expected to do so.

And that is not a promise, that is a certified guarantee. Right as rain, and as wrong as a man-bun.

However, religious hypocrites aren’t anything new, and it could be debatably argued that religion was never intended to be anything more than a subtle methodology who’s end goal was to control an ignorant and oft-abused populace, who if left unfettered, might seek out their own balance to power. It’s rather brilliant, when you give it serious pause. Tell the uneducated to live a virtuous life, instill rules that harshly condemn any inquisitorial curiosity regarding the illogical premise, and preach ceaselessly that they will experience the bliss of being rewarded eternally via the conduit of a magical sky kingdom, for their blind non-questioning conformity. Once they shuffled off the mortal coil, that is. Oh, and definitely don’t forget to demand that they tithe whatever they can and can’t afford, as God for some reason, apparently requires lots of investment capital and petty cash. Which sort of makes sense when you think about it, given all the absurd legal challenges that modern Christianity likes to foist upon our society from time to time. It’s fairly obvious that God would require an army of lawyers, and since there are none to be found in Heaven, bussing them up from Hell for a client consultation on a Monday has got to be bloody expensive in the long run.

But the regurgitating blathering sheep that spew such inanity, much in the manner of the most devoted of Trumpanzees, are only the end-product of the Jesus pimp industry, which markets eternal salvation very much in the same way that Ivory sells soap and my most hated ex posts her weekend rates. And from what I’ve read in some of the best bathrooms, they’re apparently quite reasonable for the service packages offered. Capitalism at its finest, if I do say so myself, and I most certainly do. Speaking of such, what passes for a personal moral code these days, is no more than an explicitly marketed Ponzi-scheme that targets our monkey brains hive-mind, and plays upon our fears, guilt, and superstition. The purpose of this is so that those directing it from above can fuel a lifestyle that Jesus would only not be disgusted by, but would most likely result in his trashing the lobby of the mega-church that supposedly reveres him and his teachings.

That is, if said “church” allows brown people in the door in the first place. Thank himself that Jesus, despite being a full-blooded Jew born in ancient Bethlehem, could easily pass as a WASP from Connecticut, otherwise he’d still be waiting outside in the parking lot.

I’ll be addressing these practitioners of the Profit Gospel in a bit, but for now, let me get back on the proverbial track. When I was a kid back in the early 70s, church was just a weekly obligation forced upon me by my parents- my Mom specifically, as my Dad was always more of a lapsed Lutheran, and sort of just went along with her sense of Catholicism, as one who just wants peace and quiet is apt to do. And quite frankly, I never understood why we had to be there. If God was omnipotent, why did we as a group, have to get all dressed up and come to a specific place to genuflect and kiss his ass? Does a church just have a far better Wi-Fi connection to the Sky-man hotline, and if so, what was the point of my daily praying at home if my call couldn’t get through?

Ever since I left my preordained faith, somewhere in my teens, I’ve always regarded God as an absent Creator at best, and as a petty sociopath at worst. Not to mention, he/she/it always struck me as something of a needy drama queen as well, because seriously… who needs that much focused affirmation just to get by? And yes, I will definitely explain my reasoning for this, lest some of you more reactionary types think you might want to send me to Valhalla via a case of rigged to explode Ding-Dongs, which quite honestly, is a trick I would totally fall for. If one were to dispassionately dissect the premise of an all-powerful and all-seeing deity, with a cynically logical eye, they’d have to view the belief in such with the same way one generally regards lauded actor Gary Busey. On the surface, it seems highly entertaining and harmless, but when you take the time to open the Ark of the Covenant, you come to realize that collectively, it’s just a cheaply gilded box of fables and threats, designed to control and deceive the gullible, the frightened, and those who need an immune to criticism underpinning for their conceited self-righteousness. And as a rule, it most definitely will melt your face off if you dare try to assert it’s nothing more than that. If you think I’m being overly dramatic, just think of every time some celebrity or politician has had to begrudgingly apologize to the Fantastically Fraudulent Faith Brigade for issuing a flippant or sometimes deliberate, comment they’ve made regarding organized religion.

I’ve always found this overblown sense of petty offense odd, considering that their all-powerful deity of damnation is supposedly beyond all mortal questioning and reproach, but yet strangely, still requires the deployment of manipulated minions to speak on his behalf. And boy, do they ever speak for him, even though there’s seemingly never any correlation to what he had Humanity write down, and what they do instead, but I’m fairly certain that’s really more of a communication issue than anything else, like say a sense of rampant personal bias or inherent hypocrisy, of course. And also feel free to ignore the factoid that despite the recorded history of there being anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 gods who’ve been worshiped on this planet, grouped into nine archetypes, based solely on divergent doctrinal characteristics, only theirs is the “true God”, and in a coincidental twist of Fate, their chosen god’s partialities and flaws of character just happen to not only mirror their own point of view almost seamlessly, but also allows for the flexibility of cherry-picking what rules they choose to follow, as is if they were grabbing a bite at Golden Corral.

I don’t know about you, but that kind of fortuitous luck makes me wonder if these people should consider investing in some lottery tickets long before they think of attending Sunday services.

Speaking of winning the lottery, it’s also an open secret that next to selling me Ding-Dongs, prostituting Jesus may be one of the easiest ways to amass ill-gotten wealth from those who are devotedly trusting. This detestable passion play, which uses the established fear-stoking of organized religion as a means to camouflage it’s shell game of graft, is also known as Prosperity theology, AKA: the prosperity gospel or seed faith. The cornerstone of this doctrine is an easily exploited belief by those of unscrupulous intent, which targets its parishioners by proclaiming that God himself will endow a financial blessing, but only if donations to their specific religious cause are consistently given. These modern-day flock fleecers claim to be loyal servants of God, but the only entity they truly worship and outwardly represent is Mammon, whom medieval writers commonly interpreted as either an evil demon or god. He/it is referenced by Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount, noting that: "You cannot serve both God and mammon."

The term also appears in The Gospel According to Luke, as a descriptor of the debasing influence of material wealth, and which is conveniently disregarded by the false prophets who promote this corruption of the Word as Faith in its purest proactive form. Disparaged by religious leaders from numerous denominations of faith, the movement has been tarred as reckless, endorsing idolatry, and as being in opposition to established scripture, along with accusations of being actively engaged in the deliberate exploitation of the poor. Launching its initial incursion in America during the 1950s, this tainted theology expanded its influence considerably due to the rise of the public’s interest in 1980s televangelism, and has only gained a disturbingly robust momentum in the years since. Some of its more effective hucksters such as Todd Coontz and Benny Hinn, have found themselves facing serious legal charges ranging from check-cashing schemes to federal tax evasion, crimes which when given the influx of steady and untaxable revenue, hardly comes as a surprise.

An absolute cash flow corrupts absolutely, and all that.

If you were raised to be religious or grew up in a religious family, (there is a difference) you’re probably familiar with what Jesus represented, and it sure as the place where these guys will end up for Eternity if you believe in that sort of thing, wasn’t about material wealth. To quote Matthew 19:24, “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” For the layman, this can be directly translated as an edict that you can’t buy your way into Heaven using physically acquired wealth, as God doesn’t accept cash, checks, credit cards, or participate in that FastPass system that Disney has in place at all of its resorts and theme parks. Or maybe God just likes seeing camels suffer. Either/or, as he/she/it tends to have mercurial mood swings at best. There is of course, a major loophole for us Catholics, as we like to present our accruement of good deed chits when we show up at the gates, and those are as valuable to God as a roll of duct tape and a box of paper clips is to MacGyver.

And the best part? It also applies to recovering Catholics as well, so long as we apologize for everything we’ve done on our deathbed. How do I know this? My priest told me so when I was a kid, and if there’s one thing Catholic clergyman as a whole are known for, intentionally misleading young impressionable boys wouldn’t be among them, I’m sure. But the deliberate deception that fuels the Profit gospel celebrant’s hypocrisy essential to keeping the future mansions and private jets rolling in, never stops demanding even more sacrifices from its congregation. After all, while Jesus may be the savior of all mankind, he’s apparently really bad at personal budgeting, and is dependent on you to cut his emissary on Earth a sizeable check to help keep him in the designer sandals and bespoke knee-length tunics he’s known for rocking like Dokken back in the day.

Given the naked greed and weak moral rationalization inherent within this movement, it may be the one time I ever give the Bronze-Age book of handed-down fairy tales that organized religion touts as both a cure-all and hammer a full mulligan, as it literally contradicts everything these capitalistic faux Christians preach. And yes… I’m looking at you, Joel “won’t open my church to those who need shelter” Osteen. If another natural disaster hits Houston again, I hope the same people you willingly turned your spine-free back on show up en masse at your 17,000 square foot 10.5 million dollar mansion, with its six bathrooms, five fireplaces, and separate guest and pool houses, and set up their yurts on your two acres as if they were attending Burning Man. And I most definitely hope that they’ll raid your fridge, while they’re overstaying their welcome, as well.

But Joel isn’t the only Galilee grifter who unethically profits from the dumbly devoted, he’s just one of the better-known ones, due to his television show, his books, and his line of branded merchandise, which ranges from T-shirts to, and I kid you not, custom chalkboard art. Just like Jesus would sell, if only to prove to Joseph and Mary that graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Mixed-Media Arts wasn’t a total waste of his time and their *Denarius. Sure, he’s known far better for that whole Son of God connection, but his Instagram and Pinterest were amazing, and nobody has ever come close to making those yarn baby Yodas quite like he has, hands down. Or in his case, nailed up.
*[Silver coins used as currency during the time of Jesus]

Other deacons of disreputability championing the theology of milking profit from those seeking eternal salvation, include: sex-scandal plagued Oral “God will call me home” Roberts, financially scandalized Robert “Being poor is a sin” Tilton, 60M jet-plane scandalized  Creflo “The Devil is trying to discredit me” Dollar , and current “spiritual advisor” to observably non-Christian and evangelical masturbatory fodder icon, Donald Trump, the one and only Paula “To say 'no' to President Trump would be saying 'no' to God” White. And sadly, that is a factual quote from someone who not only has the ear of the conceivably most unstable President in US history, but who also likes to claim that she is in fact, not a preacher of the prosperity gospel, maintaining emphatically in a 2016 interview with The Christian Post that: “I do not believe in the ‘prosperity gospel’ as I’ve been accused of believing it, I do believe that all good things come from God, and I also believe that God teaches us so much through our suffering.”

Despite her assertion, this falsehood is easily disproven by her actions and the repeated demands that she makes of her soon to be financially shorn flock of gullible sheep. Take this loathsome nugget of not-in-it-for-the-money faux sermonizing, where White opined to her followers that if they dared to portion part of their income to pay their electric bill, they were doing no less than worshipping Florida Power and Light (FPL) as if they were God him/she/it/self.

Let that inanity sink in. Feel free to take all the time you need to process the sheer hubris of its gall, and as you do that, enjoy her non-profit-based spiritual guidance: Instead of writing [that check] to the house of God as I’m instructed to, then what I’m saying spiritually is, ‘FPL, I have now established a spiritual law that put you first. So, FPL, save my family, FPL, deliver my drug addicted son. FPL, kill this cancer that doctors say is in my body.” All I can say after this is wow, because words actually have failed me at this point. If she gets this vexed at you paying your basic household bills, just imagine how furious she’s going to be when you’re buying food that wasn’t pre-approved by her accountants.

It’s this kind of pretentious fraudulence that makes me truly nostalgic for a mob of old-timey *Hexenjäger to show up and start pretending they’re doing the one true God’s work once again. They wouldn’t be, but as a society, we’d at least be happily rid of a blatantly false prophet, and I’d finally have a positive use for all of that wood scrap that’s been building up in my studio as of late.
*[“Witch Hunters” in German.]

Real problems require real solutions, based on a plan grounded in logic, and this approach should always be the go-to, not the afterthought. The concept of banking on magical thinking to rectify one’s issues always calls to my mind Loki’s rejoinder to Black Widow in Marvel’s The Avengers: “This is the basest sentimentality. This is a child at prayer... PATHETIC!” And no, I don’t really care if this POV offends you one iota- mindlessly praying for a fantastical conclusion to a reality-based dilemma is literally the least effective thing you can do to attempt some form of alteration to a negative situation, and it HAS NEVER WORKED… FOR ANYONE OR ANYTHING. I will add one small caveat to my cynicism here however, and that is this- if prayer gives you the strength to get though the personal trauma that Life dispenses the same way that Costco hands out cheese samples, more power to you. Comfort is comfort, after all, and even I won’t mock that.

But if you can’t rely on your “God” to stop school shootings, homelessness, war, poverty, sexual assault, Justin Bieber albums, and pedophilia committed by your chosen deity’s own employees, then why in the H-E-double hockey sticks, would you ever place your faith in that he/she/it would assist your team in winning the Super Bowl, cure your cancer, or finally convince your girlfriend to dress up as Wonder Woman on your birthday? Look, I get it. Being responsible for your own actions sucks, as does suffering the slings and arrows of unfortunate fate, but that isn’t an excuse to give the steering wheel over to the always empty seat next to you. Nor, is it a valid justification for the creation of a deflective scapegoat either, as has been eternally done via the construct of the ultimate bad-boy Satan, who conducts his infernal business under the guise of various names or aspects, depending on the theology you ascribe to.

The list is as follows: Abaddon, King/Angel of the Bottomless Pit, the Adversary, Morningstar, Lucifer, the Infernal, the Antichrist, the Beast, Beelzebub, the Great Deceiver, The Devil, Son of Perdition, The Fallen Star, The Enemy, Father of Lies, and according to British comedian Rowan “Mr. Bean” Atkinson, “Toby”, because apparently, Satan likes to keep things “informal as well as infernal”. The majority of these were obviously crafted by a severely overachieving evangelical public relations department, intent on laying the blame for their all-knowing Saviors gaffes on a hopefully far less likeable deity, hence why Hells’ marketing division countered this manufactured slander by making sure it cornered the market on that whole Sex. Drugs, Rock and Roll thing, to boost its leaders’ street cred.

And let’s face it, we all know that Angeline Jolie isn’t batting for Heavens’ baseball team, so I think we gotta give Ol’ Scratch some serious props for that heroic recruitment effort, methinks. That’s a dedicated administrator who definitely knows his customer demographic, and eventually is going to get Roma Downey onboard too. Count on it. In author Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel masterwork Sandman, Satan is a supporting, yet vital, character throughout the tales’ canon, both hindering and advancing the storyline, depending on the need of the situation at hand. At one point, he decides to resign his Lordship overseeing the day-to-day running of Hell, eventually coming to Earth for a series of related adventures.

Portrayed as a highly complex character, Sandman’s interpretation casts the Morningstar in an entirely new light, no pun intended, or implied. However, there is one exchange between Satan and Morpheus, who is the Lord of Dream, that I’ve always liked, to the point where I went and ultimately had the comic panel art depicting said conversation framed and hung in my home studio, and it goes as follows:

"You also rule a world, Morpheus… A world of sleepers and dreamers, of stories. A simple place compared to Hell. I envy you. Can you imagine what it was like? Ten billion years providing a place for dead mortals to torture themselves? And like all masochists, they called the shots.



'Burn me.' 'Freeze me.' 'Eat me.' 'Hurt me.' And we did. Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spend my entire day sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commit acts they would otherwise find repulsive. 'The Devil made me do it.' I have never made any one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them. And then they die, and they come here, having transgressed against what they believed to be right, and expect us to fulfill their desire for pain and retribution. I don’t make them come here.



They talk of me going around buying souls, like a fishwife come market day, never stopping to ask themselves why. I need no souls. And how can anyone own a soul?



No… they belong to themselves. They just hate to face up to it."

And therein lies the rub of the matter, as Satan doesn’t solely exist just as an example of what not to emulate, he also happens to be the go-to pretext for why bad stuff happens to “good” people, and why the wicked are compelled to do what they do. You can’t have Good without Evil, you can’t have the Light without the Dark, and you can’t sell Salvation without Damnation, or Ding without Dong, that’s for sure. Marketing is the engine which powers modern religion today, no more, no less. But as long as we’re diving into worthwhile issues, let’s discuss the nature of the free will supposedly “gifted” to us by God as discussed by his least enamored former employee, and how the utilization and consistent practice of such, really doesn’t work towards furthering the best interests of the dividend deacons that I’ve acknowledged previously.

Free will is defined as: “The freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.” So, what does our alleged Lord and Savior do if you decide to willingly use the “choice” he/she/it granted you? Well… like most heavenly decrees to be found in the Giant Book of Fairytales, it’s contradictory passive-aggressiveness at best, outright hypocrisy at worst.

From Romans 13:2: “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Or peruse this not-too-subtle threat from Galatians 5:16-17:So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” In so many words, God is basically admitting: “Here is a flaw that I purposely designed and put into you, so if you do dare to embrace it, I’ll just rationalize my sending you to a place of eternal pain and suffering, forever cast out and far-away from the grace of my sight and presence as the end result of something that’s entirely your fault, and not mine.”

Without question, God still does the best Marquis DeSade cosplay I’ve ever seen, hands down, and then adds a twist that even Ron L. Hubbard couldn’t have devised in his most fevered scheme dream. But considering God’s track record of hypocrisy, misdirection, posturing, half-truths, and overall pettiness, I just have to ask a question in regards to the loaded threat that he’s held over the heads of Man since the Garden, and that is this- is that gun of damnation even loaded? And if so, would he actually have the guts to pull the trigger? Keep in mind that he flooded the Earth after his first narcissistic version of the Matrix failed to produce the worshippers, he thought that he truly deserved, and even then, still felt the need to keep a family of subservient bootlickers around to sing his praises. And it only gets more screwed up from there, as we will discover.

From Genesis 6:5–7, King James Version:And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

Now, let’s unpack all of this, shall we? You have an omnipotent and vengeful Creator, who due to his own purposeful manufacturing flaw, decides to reboot the entire system, and rather than take some time and back-up a few vitally needed add-ons, chooses to wipe the Earths’ hard drive as if it was no more than the celestial version of Windows XP. And to be fair, I can almost understand that to a very limited degree, as more than a few of my creative endeavors have either met the office shredder or the occasional bucket of paint thinner, but even then, I just don’t get rid of everything. I’d be a sociopath if I did, as there’s apt to be a component or two that’s wholly salvageable in the end. So you want a kingdom full of new subjects, that’s cool, as you are the deity in charge, but seriously… what pray tell, did the wildlife do to deserve the same fate as the wicked flesh fiends?

Was there a particularly atheistic koala bear lazing around in Australia somewhere, watching furry-porn, sleeping with rent-by-the-hour Care Bears, and using the pages of the Bible to polish his collection of graven images? Because otherwise, Old Testament God is just having a toddler’s candy-aisle meltdown. I’m also not too comfortable with a certain set of instructions that God issued to Noah, given after he and his family were deposited back on dry ground, as it’s kind of creepy and awkward, very much in the way that watching 50 Shades of Gray with both sets of your grandparents would be.

Once again, we reference the Good Book, this time citing the lone passage from Genesis 9:1- And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Why is this disturbing, ask those thankfully few of you who seemingly lack the ability to do math and have obviously never read Flowers in the Attic? Once again, let’s look at what the good book says, as it’s just full of… let’s just say interesting, if not downright improbable, details.

Verbatim from the Book of Genesis, King James version: In the six hundredth year [sure…] of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.



And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.



And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

I have so many questions here, but I’ll start with the easy ones first, and I’ll toss them out as my consciousness flows. Starting with: Noah was 600 years old, and nobody in his village thought that was odd or that he was a demon? What did the animals eat? Why were those animals in particular chosen? Were they all devoted Catholics who tithed consistently? How did the animals from Australia make it to the middle east? Did they fly Qantas? If the Earth had been flooded, and killed every living creature and plant species, what did Noah and his clan live off of? Could there have been a celestial version of Grubhub that we weren’t made aware of? And if so, would Noah have had to tip the angel who delivered it? And because my brain tends to work in weird ways, what exactly would be the correct percentage, and where would the angel put it, as celestial robes are usually pocket-free?

And finally, if not most disturbingly, there were only eight people noted on the Ark: Noah, his wife Emzara, his three sons, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and their three wives, Sedeqetelebab, Na'eltama'uk,

and Adataneses, So, if we are to believe this tale that has more plot holes in it than the Resident Evil movies, all of Humanity stems from an abhorrent effort towards committing adultery at best, and dedicated inbreeding at worst. However, when given serious pause, this does somewhat explain just how your average Evangelical can openly support Trump- after all, they already have a track record of devotedly obeying the declarations of a petty and mercurial sociopath, so I would have to hazard a guess that breaking the stringent laws of morality and nature are perfectly fine if the so-called Creator opts to gives you a mulligan regarding Commandments six and nine.

Can you even imagine the awkwardness of the conversation that would take place regarding this edict?  How does one even begin to open an impersonal discussion in regards to hooking it up with both of your brother’s wives? And I’d also have to ask, given how juvenile my gender can be, if the inevitable joke was made about Adataneses and Na'eltama'uk being the bread in a “Ham sandwich”, because you know… somebody had to be thinking about it. Look at it this way- just think of how hard it would be to convince your significant other to engage in a threesome with that hot barista from your local Starbucks, and then add a generous helping of the “we’re all family” horsey sauce from Arbys’ on top of all that. Sure, it’s sort of mildly spicy and makes the repulsiveness easier to swallow, but you’re still going to be paying homage to the porcelain god come two A.M., whether you like it or not.

And when it’s over, you’re now going to have two women who will openly joke about that thing you do so badly, and I’m not referring to your inability to juggle several things at once. Oh wait, in a roundabout fashion, I totally am. Granted, while it’s sometimes been noted that I can be a rather clever linguist, even I don’t think my pitch to repeatedly engage in sexual congress on the orders of God with my brother’s sweet potato of a wife would ever take flight. And they’re both hardcore born-again Christians, which let’s face it as a demographic, are so separated from reason and logic, that you can sell them bottles of “Lourdes Holy Water” on the strength of their Faith alone.

The reality is exceedingly simple here. If I can’t get my girlfriend to hook up with the stunning café au lait soul sister working behind the counter on the basis we’re going to get free lattes for life, then no way in New Jersey that these three splooges were ever going to willingly trade their wives as if they were Pokemon. Just my two cents. However, one thing not addressed in the Good Book of Inanity, is also the glaring fact that once again, the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator who restarted the world from scratch driven by his own selfish needs, still somehow managed to get it wrong a second time. If your previous subordinates succumbed to the temptations of the flesh, why not just get rid of all of them, Noah’s brood included, and create Utopia anew? After all, if you’re the one pouring the foundation, why not use the best metaphorical rebar as a precaution?

Doesn’t make sense, does it? Unless of course, what you’re truly seeking is the ability to use your prior displayed act of terrifying pettiness as a tool of control, over a population that otherwise would rob you of said influence by simply forgetting you, much in the manner of how Mtv now likes to pretend it never knew who Winger or Thomas Dolby were in the first place. The only way to stay in charge, whether it’s politics or as upper management, is to control both the flow of information, and the reaction of the people who receive it. Hence, the vitriolic response from organized religion to any form of truly free thinking that’s presented in opposition to it.  The church may no longer have the impunity to physically burn it’s self-declared heretics at the proverbial stake, but it will, and has done so using the newly weaponized tools of mass media.

Are you a career politician? Well, you better be publicly Christian, because otherwise, how will we ever ascertain that you have morals? Because when you’re eventually caught in an act of illicit influence peddling, graft, or more likely, discovered with a rough trick named Chaz in a Motel 6, we’ll need you to tell us Jesus forgave you, so we can too. But if you identify as Muslim, your prophet and faith is false, unlike the one surrounding Jesus, whom oddly, the Quaran does recognize as a holy prophet, so at least there is some form of decorous professional courtesy granted there, which is kind of nice, when you think about it. Maybe you’re openly LGBTQ? Then obviously, you’re a sick sexual deviant who’s out to recruit our morally outstanding children into the fashion and designer industries. And you can just ignore the fact that Jesus never mentions it once, or that it’s nowhere to be found on the top ten no-no list either. Sure, God may be arrogant, judgmental, mercurial, illogical, and self-righteously sullen, but at least he’s no fan of Queer Eye.

Are you a woman who wants autonomy over your own body? Well sorry baby-killer, but according to Timothy 2:11-15, you’re out of luck, because your only value as a woman and your only route to salvation is to be a vessel, and a quietly meek one at that. To quote the Word:Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” In essence, shut your yap, and open up that gap, because Humanity being born into Sin was all your fault entire, and cannot be attributed to the sociopath who was the one who created the concept of original Sin in the first place.

Perhaps you’re a proud atheist? Man, oh man, does the Lord have a bone to pick with you. From Psalm 14:1, there’s this nugget of judgement:The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. I find this arrogance odd, given that I know way more kind atheists, than I do tolerant Christians, and with zero exceptions, their motivations for being so aren’t based on the fear of a petulant Sky-daddy.

Weird how that works, isn’t it? It’s almost as if they’re responsible for themselves, or something crazy like that. And despite what at this particular moment may feel like a completely off-tangent diversion, the concept of mediocrity I started weaving earlier still applies, as it should. The sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard did seemingly learn from the best when he created his pseudo-religion known as Scientology, and in a plot twist born out of a sense of sheer creative brilliance, decided to add extraterrestrials to his catechism Chex mix, which in my opinion, makes just as much as sense as the concept of my being cursed with the burden of original sin for an act of disobedience I wasn’t involved in, and held accountable by the very same flawed deity who’s solely responsible for it in the first place.

And how might I escape this cruel fate, you ask? By offering my unquestioning allegiance and slavish devotion to a sacrificial zombie whose own father sent him here to die in my place, because… mysterious ways, if you swallow that sort of moronic pablum.

Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here- while the overall story of an occasionally vengeful and wholly mythical deity is always a win, and given the fantastical suspension of disbelief required to take it to one’s heart, I would still have to admit that the overall marketing and cultural campaign for it is nothing short of amazing. Imagine being able to sell the same book for over a thousand years, and in an unforeseen addendum, having it turn out to be an unforeseen cash cow as well, which is nothing short of having Milla Jovovich showing up at your house with several cases of chocolate syrup and ten pounds of marshmallow fluff, and asking if you have any ideas on what can be done with it all. Trust me on this. I do have more than a few, and since I‘m now fully equipped with a state-of-the-art insulin pump, I’m also more than willing to get my glycemic index raised in the name of creative research.

And she wouldn’t even have to thank me for participating, as the statistical data produced would be its own reward, if I were ever so inclined to be humble.

So to recap, a for-profit-and-to-assist-in-the-unethical-control-of others posing as a spiritual movement, spearheaded by a cabal of morally rudderless and corrupt grifters using a highly implausible fairy-tale powered by the ongoing weaponization of the human tribes inherent fears, guilty consciences, and superstitions, and if one dares to point out the illogic, hypocrisy, and utter lunacy that comes with the faith in such, society is openly allowed if not encouraged, to brand you as either intolerant or bordering on the immoral. Nothing screams as being truly mediocre quite like being an otherwise rational adult who still ascribes to the bizarre concept of magical thinking, especially in this the age of access, where all of the world’s information is no more than a click or two away, false tangents aside. In this day, being consciously ignorant is a willful choice- don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Overall, it’s also the easiest path to achieve both personal and ethical mediocrity, no matter how it’s practitioners might try to package it for consumption by others. As I noted above, the strategic marketing campaign for this magical mysticism tour may be brilliant, but as for the contradictions, hypocrisy and outright naked greed it harbors?

Mediocre at best, and as a rule, definitely mediocre at worst.

Wow… it’s like 2 in the morning as I finish this section up, and after 11, 412 words thus far, I know that I and we, can definitely use a break of sorts. And when I come back, I’ll delve into the last leg of my Triad of Mediocrity, that being what fails to pass itself off as competent journalism these days. Normally, a topic that has all of the exhilaration of a sawdust-filled waterbed, but I’ll do my best to liven it up for you. Until then, get some sleep, grab a snack, and send your hate emails to the regular place.

“Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man. Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man. Any man who is afraid to have his doctrine investigated is not only a coward but a hypocrite.”

- Robert G. Ingersoll