Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.– Joseph Campbell
Computers have been on my mind this week because mine has been getting medieval on my ass lately. Windows Vista is a wrathful God. I love this quote from my man, J.C., and I love the analogy because I think it is relevant to the times we live in. JJ and I had discussion’s on religion many times and he told me I had an idealistic view of what religion “should be” and was unrealistic about what it is.
I like Campbell’s mythologizing of the computer and I’m going to run with it. I don’t think religion can be defined as having a single function. Belief systems provide many different utilities in our lives (as well as being a source of Religo-Vista grief.) This is true even if you don’t consider yourself a religious person. Technology can be both a simile and/or an analogy for religion, particularly with the pervasiveness of those unseen things called WiFi, the Internet and the Cloud. Like a religious institute, the computer is something like a church. It relies on that mysterious force called electricity (or power) just as religion relies on the spark of life as central to beliefs. A force which is unexplained yet still exists. It has a physical infrastructure upon which economic and social institutes are built and where they will market their goods to you. There are sects – MAC or Windows. And sub-sects – Dell, Sony, Panasonic, or Toshiba. It has programs to access ideas about the world. There are manuals telling you how to work the system. It provides a congregation, a social-network, most often comprised of people who think like you. Of course, no analogy is perfect; no two things are exactly the same. So, I’ll stop there for now.
For all of this we use one word – technology. For belief systems we use one word – religion. JJ gave me a book that exemplified his dogmas called God is not Great. The book was not that great either. Sure, the author had some good points. I am certainly a fan of the scientific method, but what I take issue with is his arrogance. Myself, I am not an Atheist but an Agnostic. Atheism has a dogma; it is a religion in it’s own right. It states that I know that no religious ideas are correct and that there is no greater mystery in life that moves us, created us, communicates with us or shaped us. Agnosticism is simply a word for, “I don’t know all”. That does not mean I don’t know if there is a “personal” god or that I believe in the dogma of any specific religion. It means that I would not arrogantly assume that I know all the answers to the mysteries of life, the Universe and everything. To my mind, Atheists are just as self-righteous as uber-religious people in that sense.
Another observation on Atheism is that most people who profess it lack faith, not simply in the archaic versions of “god” they are presented with from most outdated, mainstream religions, but lack of faith in the unseen. They desire to “prove” their ideas as much as my sister wanted to “prove” that Noah’s Arch existed.
There is much of life that is unseen – like friendship or love. JJ wanted love and a guarantee of success proven to him before he committed. We have only indicators and actions, none of which are perfect or complete, but the word love it’s self is symbolic of something that is experienced only by our intangible hearts and minds.
I would like to have given JJ more books on Jung or Campbell like The Masks of God (which could be subtitled, Or why I think I don’t know shit about life). As for me, I would be afraid to know everything. I would detest a life with no mystery or discovery, with no journey or challenges. To know all would be purgatory and suffering, a psychological place devoid of surprises and epiphanies. A Wasteland.
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
- In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
- Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
- Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.
Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.– Joseph Campbell