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Satan and the fallen angels now inspire music in many different styles as they seek to divert worship from God.
December 5, 2003 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Truth About Rave? "Raves are a means of the devil to solicit worship. The Raver who commits himself to ingest drugs and dance the night away is unsuspectingly presenting his entire body as an instrument to express worship to demons and satan."

And here I thought God was a DJ....
posted by grabbingsand (136 comments total)

 
Ravers tend to accept anyone, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic background.

just like jeebus.
posted by quonsar at 9:09 AM on December 5, 2003


I don't think they quite know what "worship" means.
posted by Foosnark at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2003


Without question, satan has counterfeited music.

This site has to be secretly run by the RIAA.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:26 AM on December 5, 2003


The greatest sin ravers commit is listening to terrible, terrible music. And dressing like knobs.
posted by keswick at 9:29 AM on December 5, 2003


My Testimony - I couldn't even get laid at a rave, so I made Jesus my boyfriend and now you all have to stop having fun.
posted by 2sheets at 9:30 AM on December 5, 2003


I hear they say the same thing about Heavy Metal music and Christian Rock.
posted by brownpau at 9:44 AM on December 5, 2003


Does the website have pictures of raver chicks? I LOVES me some raver chicks. (over 18 of course...)
posted by vito90 at 9:48 AM on December 5, 2003


Ahh yes, memories of church youth group, where every new (errr, 20 years old) youth trend is treated as just another recruitment tool for Satan.

Back, modernity! Back! Back!
posted by Ty Webb at 9:50 AM on December 5, 2003


"Christianity now serves as a means by which the Demiurge operates to inflict suffering upon the Earth. The Christian who commits himself is unsuspectingly presenting his entire being as an instrument of mischief or even destruction. This is accomplished without any conscious awareness on the part of these Christians themselves, who initially hold the best of intentions. It is, ironically, their absolute conviction that they are correct and that all others - by definition - are misled at least but perhaps even actively in the employ of the forces of Darkness - which gives them psychic and moral license to commit acts so appallingly at odds with the teachings of Christ. Small acts of violence - against those they perceive as evil, or in the clutches of evil - gradually escalate until they become Torquemada himself breaking prostrate, screaming apostates on the rack. And so they are - unwittingly - captured in the embrace of the Evil One"
posted by troutfishing at 10:03 AM on December 5, 2003


That's a great picture on the cover of that "Dancing with Demons" book, brownpau. I love how the devil isn't even playing his oh-so-wicked-looking giant guitar, but just has it stuck in a pile of lava for effect while he lures all those people into the plainly-visible fires of hell using a set of panpipes... I mean, c'mon, everyone knows it's the oontz-oontz-oontz-oontz beat leaking through the walls of every nightclub in the world that does the devil's work. The illustrator should have at least given the poor guy a sampler or something.

"called me out of darkness into his marevlous light", indeed. This site is so cute.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2003


"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching on magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
-- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc. 1989
posted by jfuller at 10:22 AM on December 5, 2003


Hey, don't forget, kids: Rock Music Kills.

A big, sloppy, wet kiss to the first person who points out the statistical fallacy in that page.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:22 AM on December 5, 2003


I always assumed that techno music (alternated with synthpop and goth) would be the soundtrack in jonmc's private hell, so maybe they're on to something.

And when I'm in spiritually troubling times I find myself listening to old-style gospel music and bubblegum and sunshine pop records and they even me right out. So all music has a spiritual component.

But what these folks and proponents of rave have in common is that they seem to prefer long-winded pretentious explanations of what's basically faster, more mechanical disco.
posted by jonmc at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2003


"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
-- Marcus Brigstocke, British Comedian
-- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc. 1989 (apocryphal)
--Karen Price, Nintendo Representative (apocryphal)
posted by nthdegx at 11:06 AM on December 5, 2003


Maybe someone should tell this guy...

"The friendliness, energy, and loved-up nature of raves has been a perfect atmosphere to spread the word of Jesus our Lord," said Hatfield. "House and Trance Music is a gift from God. By listening to house music, we feel you can be in Gods house, hence we formed the House of God."
posted by Blue Stone at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2003


Johnny Assay -- Could it be the fact that their sample only includes dead musicians? (So that a musician who is alive and 80 years old today does not contribute to the average.) Combined with the fact that rock music hasn't been around that long, so that a dead rock musician is likely to have died young.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2003


"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching on magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
-- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc. 1989


jfuller wins! ROFL!
posted by quonsar at 11:17 AM on December 5, 2003


Let's cut to the chase:

"Fun is a means of the devil to solicit worship. Someone who commits himself to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain and transcending suffering, ignorance and deprivation is unsuspectingly presenting his entire body as an instrument to express worship to demons and satan."

These people truly befit the label of "Nasty Nellies." (This is an old American expression that may or may not predate prohibition, but is dead on.)
posted by kablam at 11:22 AM on December 5, 2003


(full disclosure-I'm on a worship team that plays Christian rock in the worship services.)

Having had experience with both MDA and the Lord, I have to say that the MDA is a spiritual risk. So was the LSD. I could tell you what I saw but I won't.

There are a lot of Christian groups who think that modern music is evil. Apparently they don't remember that a lot of older hymns were set to the tunes of drinking songs of that era.
posted by konolia at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2003


konolia - as far as I'm aware, preexisting beliefs play a crucial role in shaping what one experiences while under the influence of psychoactive drugs.
posted by troutfishing at 11:45 AM on December 5, 2003


konolia.... Growing up Methodist, many times I heard about Charles Wesley recycling several tavern songs while penning his hymns, but maybe that's stretching the truth.

(Which is kind of sad, as I'd always thought of the Wesleys people who'd make for great conversation over a pint.)
posted by grabbingsand at 11:52 AM on December 5, 2003


hahaaha Christian rock hahaha
posted by xmutex at 12:05 PM on December 5, 2003


konolia, what troutfishing said. I think MDMA may be a spiritual threat to you, but would you argue that MDMA or LSD threatens any one else spiritually? How so? I'm sincerely curious.

Insincerely: comparing electronica to disco, jonmc; ouch, what a zinger.
posted by squirrel at 12:08 PM on December 5, 2003


Worship.... team?
posted by majcher at 12:14 PM on December 5, 2003


Only Samurai Jack can save us now.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:15 PM on December 5, 2003


who still goes to raves? Soooo 1994.
posted by trbrts at 12:25 PM on December 5, 2003


"Fun is a means of the devil to solicit worship. Someone who commits himself to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain and transcending suffering, ignorance and deprivation is unsuspectingly presenting his entire body as an instrument to express worship to demons and satan."

Jesus. Are they serious? This is the sort of thing I would write if I was attempting to parody this position. The "Anything fun is clearly a tool of Satan" approach, that is.

They can attempt to shed and feel bad about their bodies all they want. I'll keep using mine, and when both of ours are dead and gone we can decide who got more out of it while it lasted.
posted by nath at 12:26 PM on December 5, 2003


Actually, what bothers me a little about the Christian Rock movement is that they seem to base their definition of "Christian" on which record company the artist is signed to or which church (usually fundy) that the artist is affiliated with.

This is probably why when you hear people talk of "Christian Music" they rarely mention Bob Dylan, Van Morrisson, T-Bone Burnett, Johnny Cash, U2, New Creation, the Danielson Family, Alison Krauss The Holmes Brothers or for that matter even Mahalia Jackson or the Fairfield Four or The Blind Boys Of Alabama who are all outspoken believers (of somewhat unorthodox varieties sometimes, but I don't doubt their sincerity) and they make excellent music.

But the fact that you rarely hear these artists mentioned by the "christian rock" partisans when they so obviously meet both criteria makes me wonder what the actual agenda is.
posted by jonmc at 12:31 PM on December 5, 2003


What is MDA? Do you mean MDMA? If so, then I've had experience with both MDMA and LSD as well, and I'm reasonably sure that my soul isn't in jeopardy (but I'll never look at a bowl of M&Ms the same way again.)

What amazes me about this site is that how, time and again, such narrow-minded folk simultaneously believe that judgment is the sole province of their deity, and yet immediately castigate their neighbors according to their own criteria.

The only reason I'd even concern myself with these wackos is that they probably have more influence over government than I do at this point.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:34 PM on December 5, 2003


I spent months attempting to master the art of dancing with glow sticks.

Months, huh? Guess he didn't know about this site...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:36 PM on December 5, 2003


I spent months attempting to master the art of dancing with glow sticks.

Does this mean the mad dance skillz I picked up in 7th grade gym class are completely useless if I'm holding a glow stick? And all those hot raver chicks who were pointing and staring weren't really admiring my flawless Electric Slide? Son of a BITCH!
posted by crake at 12:37 PM on December 5, 2003


Worship team:Keyboards, guitars (electric and lead), electric bass, drums, and sometimes saxophones or trumpets (this is my church, other instrumentation may vary.) Oh, and choir too. You should hear our main lead guitarist. And at one of our sister churches, the worship leader also occasionally backs up Bonnie Raitt when she is in town (evidently he worked with her some before he became a worship leader.)

konolia, what troutfishing said. I think MDMA may be a spiritual threat to you, but would you argue that MDMA or LSD threatens any one else spiritually? How so? I'm sincerely curious.

Well, I saw demonic things. A whole pantheon of them. Meanwhile later, I had a real sense of God, and he was really upset (a concerned upset, not a mad wrathful upset) that I had done the LSD. Being the heathen I was at the time I turned around and did more acid later in the week.

My theory on the whole thing is that any time you are not in control of your faculties-such as being under hypnosis, under the influence of illicit drugs, or drunk-you leave yourself open to demonic influences that could carry thru after the experience. The reason I don't worry about prescribed drugs is that they lack the sin element that the other things I mentioned have. (Yes, hypnosis is spiritually dangerous, and I experienced that too. )

But like other things of the Christian persuasion, I really don't expect most of you to relate to any of this. I wish you would, but I won't hold my breath. :-)
posted by konolia at 12:38 PM on December 5, 2003


My theory on the whole thing is that any time you are not in control of your faculties...you leave yourself open to demonic influences that could carry thru after the experience

Better not go to sleep.
posted by Hall at 12:46 PM on December 5, 2003


But like other things of the Christian persuasion, I really don't expect most of you to relate to any of this. I wish you would, but I won't hold my breath. :-)

Not so fast, konolia. I'm struggling with a lot of things at the moment and I've been trying to come to grips with belief in God and my own understanding of the world around me. I listen to religious themed music all the time for comfort. Mavis Staples & Lucky Peterson's version of "Down By The Riverside" never fails to cheer me up.

But at the same time that I feel the need for moral structure and spiritual presence in my life, I also have strong disagreements with the Christian establishment on issues such as sexuality, war, ecumenicalism and other issues whre I believe in my heart that they are mistaken and often malicious. So many of us are just following our own paths, you see.
posted by jonmc at 12:48 PM on December 5, 2003


It's not sinful to go to sleep, silly,

Jonmc, I hear you about the definition of "Christian music" and I certainly agree with you re your list of artists.

Meanwhile I don't listen to most Christian radio because I am nauseated at the dreck that is supposedly Christian music. I long for quality music. God is worthy of it.

And I bet the Lord really likes Johnny Cash.
posted by konolia at 12:51 PM on December 5, 2003


I forgot to add that the very first Christian music I bought as a new believer was Bob Dylan.
posted by konolia at 12:53 PM on December 5, 2003


A friend of mine does "Christian Techno" (which sounds just like regular techno to me, but whatever) at Christian raves. He used to play goth and industrial at a bar I went to "religiously" long ago, but now that he's born again, it's Christian Techno only. I didn't know it existed until he started doing it...
posted by greengrl at 12:55 PM on December 5, 2003


You really oughta check out the New Creation album I linked to, konolia. It's probably the oddest thing I've heard in months. It was recorded in 1970 and easily out-weirds almost any album from that weird era (imagine the Velvet Underground meets "Revolution #9" meets the Archies) but it's so sincere and unpretentious that it's hard not to like.
posted by jonmc at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2003


"The reason I don't worry about prescribed drugs is that they lack the sin element that the other things I mentioned have."

Wait a minute - You're saying that the devil will leave me alone if I'm on a morphine drip in the hospital, but if I shoot heroin in my living room, I'm fair game?
Heroin used to be legal, so at what point did it become a sin? Was it when secular lawmakers made it illegal?


Do you understand why I would be skeptical when presented with that kind of logic?
posted by 2sheets at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2003


Jonmc, that IS something. Could use some help in musicianship, tho.

Was it me or was there a tiny bit of Jefferson Airplane in there somewhere?
posted by konolia at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2003


Konolia, for what reason do you hold that LSD or MDMA is sinful? I'm honestly curious. My first experience with psilocybin mushrooms reinforced my belief in God and appreciation for spirituality more than any other experience I've had.
posted by 4easypayments at 1:06 PM on December 5, 2003


Konolia, there are protestant denominations who feel that being "not in control of you faculties" is a state that is closer to God. You have the Pentecostals who speak in tongues and when they do they are not in control of their faculties. You also have the "snake handlers" who also achieve trance like states. Does this open them up to a demonic influence? If not, why not.

My southern baptist relatives would be worried about a church that brings in so many 'tools of the devil' to a worship service. They see the guitars and drums as tools of the devil". Don't get me wrong, I approve of the move, Eddie Izzard did a hilarious parody of white protestant worship on "Dressed to Kill".

I too have done MDMA and LSD and have found it can be a very spiritual experience, it can also be a crazy and/or frightening experience. I don't think the 'sin element' really matters. God created the world and he created a lot of plants that cause the person ingesting them to feel happy and perceptive. Maybe God knew that life could be hard on humans and sometimes they would need to just get away from it all. Maybe there was some other reason he put peyote on the planet.
posted by whatever at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2003


more conclusive evidence: heaven does have a DJ
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2003


Jonmc, that IS something. Could use some help in musicianship, tho.

That would kinda ruin it in a strange way. The New Creation are a perfect example of what we record geeks call Outsider Music. To teach them "the rules" and "musicianship" would destroy their uniqueness.
posted by jonmc at 1:08 PM on December 5, 2003


Did anyone notice that right over beside this:

"If you are involved in drug abuse while attending Raves, you are being deceived !! IT IS URGENT THAT YOU HEED THE WARNINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD and turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith before it is eternally too late."

between the two insipid inspiring pictures of God's creation, there's a photo of poppies! I don't think it's an intentional "warning" picture, given its location. That seed pod on the left looks just about ripe . . ..

"My theory on the whole thing is that any time you are not in control of your faculties-such as being under hypnosis, under the influence of illicit drugs, or drunk-you leave yourself open to demonic influences that could carry thru after the experience."

I don't know about the rest of the heathens here, but I could certainly buy that. The last time I got plastered, I had to spend the next afternoon at an outdoor funeral in 95 degree heat. With a long winded Baptist minister who somehow managed to work in two poems and a rant about creationism. A minion of Satan sent to prolong my torment if I've ever seen one.
posted by crake at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2003


Do you understand why I would be skeptical when presented with that kind of logic?

It isn't illogical at all. Sin is what opens the door. When I was morphined up after my gallbladder surgery, that was a proper use of the substance. Shooting it up on the corner is not the equivalent.

God created opium poppies. They have a purpose, but making heroin addicts wasn't it.

Since my worldview is different from yours, I can see why you might not agree, but under my worldview, it makes perfect sense.
posted by konolia at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2003


"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
-- Marcus Brigstocke, British Comedian

posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:13 PM on December 5, 2003


jonmc - Stop thine seeking, for the Devil nips at your heels and threatens to devour your very soul ! ( bwahhahaha )

Really though - My born again brother was listening to "Christian Rock" back in the late 70's.

Nowadays, I hear there are some self proclaimed "Christian" bands that are fairly good - as long as you tune out the lyrics, that is (if you're not born-again.)

Konolia - Obviously you've been through this. I can only wish my brother had the independence of faith to see it your way. The "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" command seems to suggest high standards to me as well.........

It was truly frightening back in the days of the late 70's. The protocol, for many who were "Born Again", would be to throw away or burn all of one's ideologically suspect albums and then buy new "Christian" music from a paltry short list of amazingly atrocious bands seemingly created by some sort of seemingly satanic (but nominally christian) answer to the Soviet era factory model which creaked out consumer goods which were uniformly awful - drab, shoddy, poorly designed, and obsolescent before they even hit the (barren) state run store shelves.

Imagine - Christian "rockers" cut from the mold of frighteningly white bands like "Bread" (or was that "frightening bands cut from moldy white bread?", anyway...) appearing on album covers in tight white bell bottomed polyester pants, "sensible" white go-go boots or restrained platform shoes, and wearing white polyester blouses (tilted stylistically a little towards the "Pirate Shirt" style satirized in one Seinfeld's episode, the style with the puffy sleeves and lots of frilliness). They would sport blow-dried shoulder length manes in the fashion of Shaun Cassidy or Leif Garrett, and there might even be a huge white cross displayed prominently on the cover.

The band members - four of them, poised with the usual rock band instruments (lead guitar, base, drums, lead vocalist), would be emerging from a dense bank dry-ice generated fake "smoke" and their eyes - clear, wide, and trusting in the Lord - would be uplifted to the heavens. Their features - already made beatific through the incandescent radiance of their faith - would be airbrushed to accentuate an inner spiritual glow which would seem to emerge from deep within their beings and shine outwards their blessings upon the world, and to gently proclaim their love of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

On strong drugs, they would seem.

And then the lyrics.......well, let me tell 'ya -

No, on second thought - let your imaginations run wild.

In any event, I'll listen to almost any music that's good as long as the lyrics aren't of the "Titanic struggle of good vs. evil" sort (with occasional exceptions there too, such as for Dylan).
posted by troutfishing at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2003


4easypayments, you are in a way right-these drugs really do open you up to a spiritual realm. That is the very reason they are dangerous. We aren't equipped to deal with reality in that realm. Just because something is spiritual doesn't make it safe or good.

Whatever, I happen to be a Charismatic who speaks in tongues. I am not out of control of my faculties when I do so. I could walk up to you on the street speaking in tongues if I so chose. Now there are certain experiences that a lot of us happen to have had, but that has to do with the Holy Spirit. A holy-rolling Pentecostal service may or may not be "in the Spirit."

Look, the spiritual realm can be compared to the physical realm. In the physical realm I can be around good folks, or I can be around dangerous people.
It is not a good idea to walk thru a drug-infested neighborhood in the middle of the night-taking illicit drugs is kinda like that midnight stroll.

There are spiritual entities that are pure evil-who happen to know how to counterfeit good ones. When you are walking thru their spiritual neighborhood, you are not safe.


posted by konolia at 1:22 PM on December 5, 2003


I also forgot Maria Muldaur (yup, the "Midnight at The Oasis" & "Don't You feel My Leg" gal) who has been doing some great old-style gospel work recently. And lore has it, (along with T-Bone Burnett) is the one who converetd Dylan).
posted by jonmc at 1:25 PM on December 5, 2003


Ah. Illusions of grandeur.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:26 PM on December 5, 2003


these drugs really do open you up to a spiritual realm

heh. so you admit spiritual feelings -- grace? -- are a chemical phenomenon that takes place in the brain -- like, you created God, not the other way around?
imaginary childhood friends, drug-induced hallucinations, anyone?

it's a good first step

I happen to be a Charismatic who speaks in tongues. I am not out of control of my faculties when I do so. I could walk up to you on the street speaking in tongues if I so chose


it takes brass balls to write stuff like this in a community like this. it does. my most sincere congratulations, konolia, I'm serious (even if I don't, ahem, exactly agree 100% with your point)

Apparently they don't remember that a lot of older hymns were set to the tunes of drinking songs of that era.

John Newton's (pretty lame if you consider how popular the song ended up being, can't really hold a candle to Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's work) Amazing Grace lyrics are set to an old drinking Scottish tune, as well
posted by matteo at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2003


A few years back I was walking the streets of Deep Ellum passing around flyers for a local (nonreligious) rock band I was supporting. One guy glanced at the flyer and then abruptly it back to me.

"No thanks."
"What's wrong?"
He looked at me like I was insane, "It's christian rock, man!" He rolled his eyes and stepped away.
"No it's not. Have you listened to them?"
"No!" He walked away.

I felt like a Jehovah's Witness with a broken bicycle. A lot of Christian rock turns more away than it attracts. The very name has become synonymous with mindless brainwashing synthopop. I don't understand why, but the guy looked at the flyer and then just assumed it was Christian music. People purposefully err on the side of caution just to avoid possible exposure.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2003


konolia: if you are looking for postive music that doesn't suck, you might enjoy Gram Parsons if you like Cash and Dylan.
If you like hiphop, you might like Blackalicious.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:34 PM on December 5, 2003


umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph, umph umph umph umph.
posted by Satapher at 1:38 PM on December 5, 2003


As far as christan rock goes, I'm fond of 16 Horsepower and The Denver Gentlemen...they mine some of the same musical territory as Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey. Definitely not mainstream christian rock...I mean that in a good way.
posted by echolalia67 at 1:38 PM on December 5, 2003


Metafilter: oontz oontz oontz oontz.

::goes back to listening to music played on actual instruments::
posted by emelenjr at 1:39 PM on December 5, 2003


What is MDA? Do you mean MDMA?


yea he probably means MDMA

... but MDA is methylenedioxyamphetamine, a component from which MDMA is synthesized, and very often included in pills in conjunction with MDMA and a buncha other goodies in there, too. (caffeine, ephedrine, MDE, 2CI, 2CB, MA, K)

checkit: http://www.ecstasydata.org/
posted by 11235813 at 1:41 PM on December 5, 2003


The "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" command seems to suggest high standards to me as well.........

There's an song by the Rainmakers called "Let My people Go-Go" (audio here which features these lyrics:

Moses went up to the mountain high
To find out from god why did you make us why
Secret words in a secret room
He said a womp bop a lu bop a lop bam boom


I think that says it all.
posted by jonmc at 1:41 PM on December 5, 2003


heh. so you admit spiritual feelings -- grace? -- are a chemical phenomenon that takes place in the brain -- like, you created God, not the other way around?
imaginary childhood friends, drug-induced hallucinations, anyone?


We are tripart beings-body, soul and spirit. I have no problem believing that chemicals have a part in all this. I simply disagree that the physical is the only part of the story. Taking a drug in itself is not a spiritual act. The drug having an effect on the brain chemistry is physical, but it allows the spiritual to come into play. Lot of shamans and witchdoctors understand that principle quite well.
posted by konolia at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2003


yea he probably means MDMA

No, I meant MDA. This was back in the late 70's. We didn't know about ecstacy back then. We did call MDA the "love drug" and from what I have read about ecstacy the effects seem to be similar. MDA was an all night trip tho.
posted by konolia at 1:46 PM on December 5, 2003


Konolia - ("Sin is what opens the door.") I have come across ways to depict this formulation which do not rely on the usual Good vs. Evil framework. Such as the "vibrational level" analogy in which acts typically associated with "sin" are associated with far lower, courser "vibrational" states much in the same way as a Jean-Pierre Rampal flute solo compares to a heavily distorted bass guitar playing thrash-metal.

In this formulation, there is no absolute "Good" or "Evil", exactly, but participation in the "lower" vibrational energies shapes one's nature and spiritual being accordingly, and tends to attract life experiences from those energy realms also. Free will is, of course, still present and so humans can always make the effort to ascend to those "higher" realms (of higher vibrational energy) which tend to seem, at least initially, much less enticing than the lower realms (thus, "sin")

I hope what I have just written does not appear to you to be gibberish.....

Ahaa!! (reads most recent posts) - Re: "In the physical realm I can be around good folks, or I can be around dangerous people. It is not a good idea to walk thru a drug-infested neighborhood in the middle of the night-taking illicit drugs is kinda like that midnight stroll"- You know, there is an awful lot of similarity between your view on this as a Pentacostalist and the views from many animistic traditions. You may disagree. But I could have written, from my perspective, the same opinion almost word for word.

I makes me think of Shamanism : drugs are used in many such traditions, yes, but only in very specific contexts and only with with arduous preparation. But Shamanism has drug-free methods which might be compared -in a way- to speaking in tongues, in the sense that the experience is always under conscious control and so is ultimately safe. The realms opened up by drugs, on the other hand.....

And to amend my top comments - we live in a crowded neighborhood, so to speak, but are usually unaware of the existence on most of it's "residents" - and, association with given energy "realms" will attract non-corporeal beings common to those realms........

The beings who are attracted by acts of rage, violence, betrayal, and so on......these are not ones most would willingly invite in for a pleasant cup of tea and a chat.

Well, now 17171 people think I'm insane.
posted by troutfishing at 1:48 PM on December 5, 2003


AMMMM_PHE_PHE_PHE_PHETAMINE.
posted by Satapher at 1:50 PM on December 5, 2003


This sounds like yet another poorly thought out plan to "scare" the kids straight. Oh yeah, dance all night, take drugs and you are worshipping the devil! You hear me, the DEVIL! Oooh scary.

I'd be worried if the religious leaders ever removed their heads from their own asses and realized that the world really no longer gives a damn about them and their lame creation stories.

Let the ravers rave and quit the scuttling about looking for evil under ever passed out raver chick.
posted by fenriq at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2003




Stolen from the great comic megatokyo.
posted by starscream at 2:01 PM on December 5, 2003


I could walk up to you on the street speaking in tongues if I so chose.

I live in SF, people walk around talking in tongues all the time around here. I kid.

I was always under the impression that talking in tongues is what happens when someone is filled with the spirit. Not everyone who is part of a religion that practices it actually does it. I thought that you had to "let go and let God" to achieve this sort of spiritual experience. I thought that tongues was a way of letting God speak through you literally. If God is speaking can you really interrupt to talk to me?

I do not mean to denigrate your religious practice, I just want to understand.
posted by whatever at 2:01 PM on December 5, 2003


My theory on the whole thing is that any time you are not in control of your faculties-such as being under hypnosis, under the influence of illicit drugs, or drunk-you leave yourself open to demonic influences that could carry thru after the experience.

Okay, konolia, you've got me curious too. Don't you find the mental state you're describing - not in control of faculties etc. - very similar to the kind of thing that happened to numerous prophets in the Old Testament? Hearing the voice of God, talking bushes, visions of salvation and apocalypse, etc.? Even the whole wandering-the-desert-for-days thing the prophets were always doing sounds like either a natural way to induce visions (try staying up for like three days straight, even without the heat and dehydration, if you don't believe me) or else coded language for a state induced by some psychotropic substance.

This is genuine curiosity: how do you square this alleged "sin element" in say a naturally occurring substance like psilocybin mushrooms or mescaline or cannabis with the Bible's tales of prophets seeking highly altered mental states in order to receive messages from God?

(Oh, and in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I'm a long-lapsed Catholic with a strong bias verging on actual commitment to Buddhism. "Practising to be a Buddhist," as a friend of mine once put it.)
posted by gompa at 2:13 PM on December 5, 2003


You know, there is an awful lot of similarity between your view on this as a Pentacostalist and the views from many animistic traditions. You may disagree. But I could have written, from my perspective, the same opinion almost word for word.


Actually you are exactly right. The animists do see the spiritual world. But what animists would call spirits I would call demons. As a Christian I would be protected from evil-but sin kinda pokes a hole in the armor, if you get my meaning.

Christians are forbidden to access the spiritual world except thru the Lord. That is why there are so many strong warnings against the occult.


I was always under the impression that talking in tongues is what happens when someone is filled with the spirit. Not everyone who is part of a religion that practices it actually does it. I thought that you had to "let go and let God" to achieve this sort of spiritual experience. I thought that tongues was a way of letting God speak through you literally. If God is speaking can you really interrupt to talk to me?

First off, the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is what you are probably talking about. An evidence of that is speaking in tongues. I don't think everybody necessarily has to do it tho. Some would disagree.

Now what "tongues" are is a heavenly language-or in some cases a foreign tongue that the speaker does not know. A lot of times when one speaks in tongues one is simply giving praise to God. If God is speaking thru them it would probably need to be in a context where someone with the gift of interpretation can interpret. (Now we are getting a bit deep for the average enquirer-this stuff is talked about in First Corinthians.)

Well, gompa, the impression I get from the biblical accounts is that the prophets weren't setting out to have an experience with the Almighty. Ezekiel is a case in point. A lot of these guys were a bit overwhelmed by the experience. None of them took a substance for the purpose of finding God. Fasting might help in having clarity in hearing God (many Christians still practice it. I have in the past.)

Most people who take drugs or mushrooms aren't doing it in an effort to find the Lord. Those that are are risking being led astray by a spiritual counterfeit. As I have said upthread, spiritual experiences have the potential of real danger.
posted by konolia at 2:39 PM on December 5, 2003


Believing in the "sin element" of certain chemicals seems strikingly similar to early christian tendencies to view the entire material world as fundamentally sinful/evil.

...in other words, if it's physical, it's sinful. If it's fun, then it's definitely full-blown evil.

[I don't want to imply that Konolia holds that view, or has any opinion on the matter; I just thought it was an interesting similarity.]
posted by aramaic at 2:40 PM on December 5, 2003


aramaic - I don't think Konolia is attributing any sinful qualities to the chemicals themselves, but she can (and probably will) speak for herself.

I dislike Manichean thinking too - hence the way of thinking which I expressed up this thread ( "I have come across ways to depict this formulation which do not rely on the usual Good vs. Evil framework.....")

Konolia - There are some qualified distinctions of good and evil in animist traditions, and some have an understanding that - overarching all of the spirit beings and living creatures - is a spirit not all too different from the Christian God, although less tied directly to human and linear history, and certainly most often far less interventionist.

As far as the "armor" afforded by the pure (or disciplined) life goes - many of the animist traditions have this too, though they they express it differently. In fact, (as I'm sure you know) the disciplines of fasting and prayer, abstinence from sexual intercourse, and - in general - the avoidance of the common "ways of the flesh" (at least temporarily) are methods shared in common by both Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and animist traditions for either approaching the "spirit realm" (in Animism) or becoming closer to God (in the monotheistic traditions), or achieving enlightenment ( In Buddhism ) .

Furthermore, it is for these very sorts of reasons that shamans traditionally underwent ordeals both of great pain and bodily privation, and also of psychological anguish - to "die a little to the word", and so have one foot in the word of the living and the other in the world of the spirits. In other words - they learned, in their own fashion, to navigate through the dangers of a sometimes bad neighborhood and - further - to act as a guide for others at times, too.
posted by troutfishing at 3:09 PM on December 5, 2003


We aren't equipped to deal with reality in that [spiritual] realm. Just because something is spiritual doesn't make it safe or good.

Oh, great. So now must fear our spirits as well as our filthy, urge-filled bodies? You know what is killing humanity's spirit, konolia? It's not evil; it's the belief in evil, and the smug close-minded clarity it induces.

Once you "realize" what's good and what's evil, the whole world falls into place. Curiosity ceases. Nothing left to do but go around uninstalling the evil you see. It's the most base, aggressive, counterproductive mode of living I have ever experienced. Also, it's steering our country.

Who has the source of this (not exact) quote? "Evil is a dungheap. Everyone stands on her own and points at those of the others."
posted by squirrel at 3:11 PM on December 5, 2003


I just reread that last comment, and it sounds more aggressive toward konolia personally than I feel. To me, the issue is bigger than konolia's belief's per se. I'll try not to pretend to know exactly what knolia believes. I can't help it if what she has written here reminds me of the issues I just wrote about.
posted by squirrel at 3:18 PM on December 5, 2003


squirrel - there are many viewpoints which express what I find to be (for myself) the positive aspects of Konolia's perspective which are not fundamentally about fear - For a few, see "The empty mirror" (by Janwillen De Wetering, re - life in a Buddhist monastery) or "Chasm of Fire" ( by Irina Tweedie, re - being the disciple of a Sufi master )....or the classic "The Way of the Shaman", by Michael Harner.

There are also, many fascinating accounts from the Christian mystical tradition.....

And - oh yeah - "Magic and Mystery in Tibet", by Alexandra David-Neel, is quite a classic - by the first westerner, a woman, to really penetrate that mystical, despotic religious kingdom atop the world (circa 1926). It has a fascinating description of the creation of a "Tulpa" (folks, don't try this at home!).
posted by troutfishing at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2003


Well, troutfishing, I have read a bit concerning the aceticism of many of the monks and shamans. Problem is that none of it brings them closer to God. (even the Christian mystics-I know about them too.)

Acceptance from God comes totally and solely by the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In other words the great ordeal that these monks and mystics undertake has already been done, once for all.

Interestingly enough the human intellect seems to rebel at the fact that simple belief and reliance on Jesus' sacrifice takes care of restoring fellowship with God. We seem to want to DO something. Suffer more. Do more good works. Anything that takes human effort. Problem is that God is the one that has made the effort and He did it first-and he considers anything we try to add to that as an insult to what He did.
Yes, it seems ridiculous, but God intended it to be that way so that one has to rid oneself of pride in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. God's pretty shrewd.
posted by konolia at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2003


squirrel - although I'm not a believer in demons, as often people use such beliefs to evade their personal responsibility for things, I'm having a real hard time figuring out how you cannot believe in evil. A look through today's newspaper or a history book give us plenty of examples of actions that can only be called evil. Does it really kill humanity's spirit to say that the Holocaust or the latest shooting wherever is evil? Is it really an act of "smug close-minded clarity" to say that enslavement, genocide and wanton violence are wrong?

No, if there is any mortal danger to the spirit of humanity, I would look for it in the unwillingness to set boundaries beyond which certain actions become evil. This does not equate to retribution or revenge, but just the simple realization that certain acts are wrong.
posted by pyramid termite at 3:49 PM on December 5, 2003


I had a close encounter with God once. It lasted two weeks and didn't involve any drugs at all. It was a very surreal and enlightening experience that I generally don't talk about, because it would weird people out.

I didn't speak in tongues or anything. It was just God helping me out with some stuff. I was a heathen before, and now I'm a heathen who finds it odd when people think they know something about God's will. What I learned from that experience is that I don't have a hope in hell of understanding God in any context, let alone God's will.

God is okay with the gay thing, though. I checked. I'm totally serious, yo.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:56 PM on December 5, 2003


Christians are forbidden to access the spiritual world except thru the Lord. That is why there are so many strong warnings against the occult.

And the only way to "access" the Lord (learn about how to interpret the book, learn about how to pray, learn about all the dangerous stuff) is through the church. Which keeps the turnstiles turning and the money flowing in.

Before there were churches there was spirituality. All over. But hey, it wasn't properly centralized and controlled. Utter heterogeny reigned! Myth predominated over Truth! Hmmm, well, F.U.D. and violence took care of *that* problem!

Checking it out without going through intermediaries IS the tradition. But the damned heathen devil savages jiggling to that unsupervised music won't pay dues.


posted by Twang at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2003


A big, sloppy, wet kiss to the first person who points out the statistical fallacy in that page.

I haven't even looked at it yet, but one can usually get some mileage out of good ol' "correlation is not causation"....
posted by freebird at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2003


Back when I was working for a rave magazine, I got a press release about Andy Hunter, the Christian techno DJ. You can read a review of his recent album, Exodus, over here, and an interview with Andy here. According to this photo, Andy's headphones are jacked RIGHT INTO GOD! Cracked me up.

But honestly, if Christians are trying to win over ravers, a Christian DJ is probably going to do a better job of it than truthaboutrave.com. A Christian DJ is the more harm reduction "if they're going to dance, it might as well be to techno tunes about jesus" approach, instead of the fire and brimstone abstinence approach of truthaboutrave.
posted by arielmeadow at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2003


Why can't those damn fundies keep away from sex, drugs and loud, fast music outright? Hands off our fun, you fundies!

Whenever someone befriends me and suddenly says "oh, I'm christian, btw" I feel dirty - as if my mother had tried to sell me a porn mag.

Urk.
posted by spazzm at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2003


I wouldn't use "evil" and "wrong" interchangeably, pyramid termite. "Wrongness" has terrestrial causes which invite investigation; "evil" is wrongness on a super-human scale, which cannot be understood and must simply be destroyed. Evil is used by those unable to explain behavior they see as wrong but who cannot substantiate their position by any other means.

The Holocaust was very wrong, but it wasn't the product of a visitation or influence from another dimension. That lets those responsible off the hook way too easy. There were instead all sorts of reasons for what happened. Reasons that we may understand and prevent from occurring again if we work hard enough and don't fall back on intellectually lazy explanations such as evil.

God is the one that has made the effort and He did it first-and he considers anything we try to add to that as an insult to what He did.

Chapter and verse, please, konolia. And try to bear in mind that this is a book we're talking about. It may look like a flaming bush to you, but it's a book to most of the rest of us.

Mmmm... flaming Bush....
posted by squirrel at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2003


Also, just to clarify, I have a deep connection with God, which I consider to be the center of my life.
posted by squirrel at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2003


Does it really kill humanity's spirit to say that the Holocaust or the latest shooting wherever is evil? Is it really an act of "smug close-minded clarity" to say that enslavement, genocide and wanton violence are wrong?

When you label things as evil, it then becomes easy to think that those who are involved in evil things are evil people. You may not think that way personally, but the concept of evil is too easily misunderstood.

Evil is just a poor way of trying to understand how wrong things happen. The hard and important thing to understand is how ordinary people who do not consider themselves evil get involved in horrible things, and how much those people are just like you and me. That leads to a glimpse of what compassion is really like, and how it's incompatible with labelling people as evil. And that can lead to the concept that we suffer and we cause suffering whenever we see the world through a lens of good and evil.

At least, that's what I believe, and it's a belief that sustains me a lot more than any idea of God.
posted by fuzz at 6:04 PM on December 5, 2003


Chapter and verse?

Try the book of Galatians. (New testament.)

Hey, you asked.
posted by konolia at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2003


That's right, I asked... for chapter and verse; not book. I think your grasp on God's will--even according to a testament as narrowly accepted as the Bible--is dubious unless you can quote the scripture.
posted by squirrel at 6:40 PM on December 5, 2003


Evil is just a poor way of trying to understand how wrong things happen.

Or it's a word we use to describe concious, knowingly malicious acts and the people who perform them. We may differ on the definitions of those acts, but I think that's a fair definition of the word.
posted by jonmc at 6:44 PM on December 5, 2003


Of course a good person canb commit an evil act. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I fone bad act made you evil I'd have been doomed long ago.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on December 5, 2003


Squirrel, I'm sorry, but evil is not defined as something that has a supernatural element by necessity. But I really don't want to get into a definition war - I would agree that supernatural evil is not something that should be inferred when considering the actions of others. I would say that saying "The Devil made them do it" IS intellectually lazy. However, asking, "What acts should be considered evil (or wrong)? Why do people do them?" is anything but that.

And fuzz, you are absolutely right about distinguishing between people and acts, but the question I've often wondered is, "Why are some people so drawn to doing wrong things, so compulsively, time and time again?" There are some people who seemingly can't come out of this. How are we to deal with them? Difficult questions. Unfortunately, many look for simple answers.
posted by pyramid termite at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2003


Okay, Squirrel, I looked it up for you: Galatians 2:16 thru 3:14. Also 5:1-14.

Actually, the whole book addresses the subject, as the discussion is about whether salvation is in observing the Old Testament law or in faith in Christ. So I really would recommend reading the whole book. It isn't that long.
posted by konolia at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2003


For me, the interesting part of this discussion is the acceptability of various gateways to 'the spiritual realm.' My perception of things is that, under late Western Christianity, there is a strong divide between the physical and the spiritual, and we are beings that occupy a kind of border between the two, capable of shifting (or being shifted) across that line. Since the physical realm is undesireable (we are 'born into sin'), the use of physical (rather than mental or spiritual) means to cross that divide is undesireable, and will lead to an impure spiritual experience.

This relies on two major assumptions: the segregation of the physical and the spiritual, and the impurity of the physical. Animism resembles Christianity only up until you look at these assumptions, since the animist believes that the physical and spiritual world are inseperable - the spirit is intrinsic to the physical - while the (late Western) Christian view is that the physical is only spiritually significant as the result of an act of a spiritually perfect being. Further, the animist doesn't accept that the physical world is inherently unclean.

I actually don't think that these assumptions are intrinsic to Christianity, or at least, they weren't always or neccesarily as absolutist as the modern Christian will tell you. There has always been a great deal of disdain for the physical, but remember also that there are times when a sacrifice is judged worthy or unworthy, meaning that the physical object can have different degrees of spiritual significance. Furthermore, a physical object can be imbued with spiritual significance, and thereby made spiritually pure (viz, the body of Christ). Would a consecrated tab of acid allow a spiritually acceptable trip? Also note that, as I think konolia would agree, actively seeking an encounter with god is unacceptable except for in the context of religious ritual: We can only achieve a 'pure' spiritual experience when we've performed rituals (prayer, chanting) to put us outside of a physical context.

"Interestingly enough the human intellect seems to rebel at the fact that simple belief and reliance on Jesus' sacrifice takes care of restoring fellowship with God. [...] Problem is that God is the one that has made the effort and He did it first-and he considers anything we try to add to that as an insult to what He did."

I agree that trying to do good works to purify onself is pointless, from the Christian viewpoint. But I take issue with statements like this because they tend to ignore that Jesus left directives to love one's neighbor, "do unto others," and take care of the world that was left to us. I think these leave a very strong message that we need to do good works (or at least take care of the land and our neighbors) in order to be in accordance with God's word. (Can you really claim to accept god if you neglect or refuse to carry out his moral directives?) So yeah, I agree with you, but I really loathe seeing certain people subvert Christianity to a doctrine of absolute political power for Christians, encouraging ignoring neighbors who don't accept Christ or helping them only on the condition that they do, believing that accumulation of power and raping of the land is alright, so long as it is done by 'good' Christians...

(full disclosure: kaibutsu is spiritually unaffiliated, a 'hardcore agnostic' with a tendency towards buddhism, 'the religion of no religion,' and metaphysical beliefs including the lack of seperation between mind, spirit, and body.))
posted by kaibutsu at 7:27 PM on December 5, 2003


(that was long...)
posted by kaibutsu at 7:29 PM on December 5, 2003


Galatians 5:6 says: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

This is the closest I could find to what you were talking about here:

We seem to want to DO something. Suffer more. Do more good works. Anything that takes human effort. Problem is that God is the one that has made the effort and He did it first-and he considers anything we try to add to that as an insult to what He did.

I may be inferring you wrongly, but I don't think the verses you cite validated your notion that our works actually insult God. I see that Paul argued that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, but not that further works insult the Father.

On preview: kaibutsu, you rock!
posted by squirrel at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2003


kaibutsu - It was as long as necessary, no more.

"Animism resembles Christianity only up until you look at these assumptions, since the animist believes that the physical and spiritual world are inseperable - the spirit is intrinsic to the physical" - this is an important point.

The Cathars of 11th to 14th century southern France bridged, to an extent, the gap you talk of - part of their heresy ( ruthlessly "cleansed" from the Languedoc region by the Catholic Church's first inquisition, during which the Cathar "Perfect", who were celibate, vegetarian, and reportedly adhered to special exercises - the knowledge of which was lost in the violence - went sometimes hundreds at a time singing into that first inquisition's great pyres, to be burnt alive. Reports have it that they did not cry out as they were consumed in the flames.....) involved, surely, a recognition of the interrelated nature of spirit and flesh.

"There were instead all sorts of reasons for what happened. Reasons that we may understand and prevent from occurring again if we work hard enough and don't fall back on intellectually lazy explanations such as evil."

Squirrel - how about the distinction between proximate explanations and transcendent ones? I'm a believer in the power of reason, rational explanations, and strategies derived from those, to improve the world, yes. But what if those fall somehow short of the mark? Sure, we are imperfect creatures, yes - or perhaps we are merely well adapted to evolutionary circumstances and environments which we ourselves have now changed - for better or for worse. Perhaps we are mere matter (whatever that might be....) - this is all our reason can tell us. If so, we ought to be able to eventually come to grips with our instinctual natures and build defenses - in our political, legal, and social systems - against acts of great human evil such as the Holocaust. And if - in spite of our best efforts - we cannot do so, what then?

We can only apply our rationality to the task, yet we must be aware that, first of all, such problems may be beyond our comprehension. But, further, we cannot rule out the possibility that we are not the only agents in the equation, and that we have less power than we think. This was the Gnostic view I hinted at earlier.

I'm a believer in holding simultaneous and mutually contradictory perspectives. So I can accept the need for a rational approach to attempting to eliminate human evils and also at the same time hold a larger mystical perspective in regards to the matter.

But - in regards to the question of ultimate evil.......in the book I mentioned up this thread, "Chasm of Fire", Irina Tweedie, the 60 year old Russian-British widow and disciple of a Sufi saint (in the early 1960's, somewhere in Pakistan) describes her guru casting a demon out from a man who had walked many, many miles from his home village to be cured.

"The young man was now lying on the ground having convulsions, froth streaming from his mouth, his face contorted and terrible. "Don't touch me, don't touch me, I will destroy you!" he was shouting. The voice had nothing human in it. It was like a desperate wailing. Bhai Sahib continued to look steadily at this unfortunate creature ; he was in deep samadhi, his eyes like bottomless pits of still, dark water, unseeing, veiled. The young man was shouting louder and louder; his convulsions increased to a paroxysm. His father was squatting near a wall of the bungalow, trembling like a leaf with fear. Then with a pointed finger, very slowly, as if describing a circle around this demented body, "Go away", Bhai Sahib ordered sternly. He repeated it twice. Then the voice which came out of the young man's throat, and which had nothing human in it, shouted three times :

"I am going ; leave me, leave me, leave!"
"Go!", said the guru, making a stabbing movement at him with his raised forefinger. All of a sudden, there was silence.......slowly the young man sat up shakily. His nice, simple face had a perfectly human expression again. And with a lovely smile, lifting one corner of the chik, he silently touched the feet of the guru......"Go, my son," said Bhai Sahib gently, "Go both of you in peace." They went dazed. Not a word more was spoken....'Well', I said, 'that was something!' He fixed me with the eyes that see other worlds. "If he comes back, I will burn him", he said darkly, "sometimes they are rogues, and then they come back. Then I will burn him and all his relations."....[ the next day ]....I asked him what he meant...."oh that", he said, "It is quite simple ; those kind of spirits are rather powerful elementals. If they want an experience on the physical level, then they attach themselves to a human being. In other words, they obsess him. They are really most horrible things, very ugly to look at.....We all have good and evil spirits - the good and evil in us - and who wins is the master." "I thought it is in the mind", I said. - "Yes, the mind also. But spirits too.".....

"And also, if I say 'I will burn him', it is not so easily done. They also have a right to live. For they are a parallel evolution to man. They have no notion of good or evil. If they have a desire, they fufil it. But I have to protect my race, the human being, so, I will help him and get the spirit out. If he should come back, I will drive him out again and give him a stiff warning. If he comes back again, I will destroy him then, and with him all his relations. Shaitans are many ; a whole race of them, usually. But when the Saint is powerful, they are afraid to come back!"


I'm sorry for all the text, but I didn't know how to say this otherwise, in a manner which would convey my point so vividly : "shaitans" we might very well call Evil (in the stong sense) but - to a saint - they are merely entities.

And final Evil ? That question is beyond my comprehension, truly.
posted by troutfishing at 7:48 PM on December 5, 2003


Squirrel, I disagree with you re those verses, but I can agree to disagree and go on.

Kaibutsu, I understand what you say about Western Christianity somewhat. Somewhere we got stuck thinking that the body and physical things were bad and that spirit was everything. I forget where that started (unfortunately I forget a lot of things these days) but you might know. Also in the back of my mind I am thinking that Celtic Christianity took a different view, but again my memory fails me.

Oh, and you are spot on when you say that things like loving one's neighbor, helping the poor, taking care of God's creation, and so forth are actually evidence that one serves the Lord. The good works do not earn salvation, they simply reflect the fact that salvation has occurred.
posted by konolia at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2003


I believe that Konolia was leaning more toward this section of Galatians...

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. 24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

... rather succinct description of salvation through faith rather than through law, actually.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:11 PM on December 5, 2003


And that may seem evasive, but consider : all the great mystics, Christian and not, have stated that the divine is beyond words and even beyond comprehension. So, too, I suspect of ultimate evil. Absolute good and absolute evil - These things are mysteries to us. When we try to gesture at absolute good, we must fall pitifully short. When we try to point at what we percieve absolute evil, we risk perhaps becoming it's agent. And do the two two principles ever, in the end, embrace to form a totality? In Christianity, no - hence it is symbolized by the line. In Hinduism, yes - hence the circle. Christianity in an historical religion. Hinduism, especially, and Mayan religion, perhaps Buddhism too - these look toward great repeating cycles.

I am not arguing for moral relativity either. As with the Sufi saint Bhai Sahib, or as described in the Bhagavad Gita, one always has situational loyalties - whether to family or merely to humanity at large, or the natural world itself. We are not discarnate entities, "elementals". We are embodied and so are loyal at least, in the end, to our species and to the Earth.

Konolia ("The good works do not earn salvation, they simply reflect the fact that salvation has occurred.") - How about this : Good works do not earn salvation, but they can set the stage on which it happens.

I believe that the matter/spirit distinction long precedes Christianity, and arose close to a thousand years prior to Christianity, in the form of Persian Dualism, or Zoroastrianism : "Zoroaster taught that Ahriman was not created by Ahura, but that he was possessed of independent existence. The evil spirit, to be sure, was not equal to the Lord in dignity, nor even in power; nevertheless, both were creative, and both were original in being themselves uncreated. They were the representatives of contradictory principles. And this doctrine constitutes the dualism of the Persian religion"
posted by troutfishing at 8:12 PM on December 5, 2003


konolia, I agree to disagree as well. :^)

grabbingsand, I got what you got, too. But I didn't find the notion of "insulting" God through works, which was what struck me in konolia's post. I understand that to Christians, faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation, but I had never heard that works (while perhaps unnecessary) actually galled the Heavenly Father.

I was raised a Baptist of the "to work is to pray" variety, so the notion of works angering God struck me as false. Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation of the Bible, though.
posted by squirrel at 9:02 PM on December 5, 2003


OK, for the record I am loving this thread, and would like to encourage you all to continue, for whatever that encouragement might be worth...
posted by aramaic at 9:18 PM on December 5, 2003


Gonna Lay Down My Burden, Down By The Riverside...Down By The Riverside...


well, you said continue..best I could think of
posted by jonmc at 9:23 PM on December 5, 2003


faith without works is dead. book of james.

honestly , i am so fucking tired of these psuedo christian wanks that jump up from the prairies and parade their psychoses masquerading as christianity , their need to control and hurt other people hidden under proclamations of truth , who the fuck wants to believe anybody that spent a month trying to dance with glowsticks ?
what a total fucking embarrasment to the christian faith , its assholes like this that are a bigger problem than the folk shoving puppies into the wicker men.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2003


Well, I'm going to bed - no comparative religion folks about, it seems.
posted by troutfishing at 10:16 PM on December 5, 2003


I'm sincerely jealous that y'all have dropped acid and I haven't.

Poop.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on December 5, 2003


And my one contribution to the god-talk in this thread:

If your Christian religion has more than two rules, it is wrong... and I believe that if you were to carefully read your scripture, you'd find exactly what I mean.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 PM on December 5, 2003


Acceptance from God comes totally and solely by the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.


Ok, I'm calling bullshit. Preface statements like that with "I believe", and I'll let it slide, but you know what...if you're going to make categorical statements, so will I. I'm not willing to believe that a bunch of babbling holy rollers are the only ones with a ticket to ride.

We all get the point...you're a Christian, you're an Evangelist...we get it, ok...now leave it alone. This is not your blog and we are not all Christians...and your faith is just that...faith.

Just like the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the rest have their faiths. Yours is no more valid to them than theirs is to you. So, enough with the proselytizing. How dare you smugly lecture me on what my relationship with God can be if I don't worship your version of the sacrificial tree/harvest king? For me, Jesus is like Elvis...love the guy, but his fans make me crazy.

You'll be sorry when the Elders return...I'm just saying...
posted by dejah420 at 10:54 PM on December 5, 2003


The discussion here reminded me of an experiment done in 1962 by a Walter Phanke, which tested the hypothesis that psilocybin could catalyze genuine spiritual experiences in people who were religiously inclined and who took the psilocybin within a religious context. I saw a recent documentary in which some of the participants were talking about the positive spiritual influence that single experience with a psychedelic had had on their lives. I've dredged up a 1994 article on it from The St Petersburg Times, which takes the more conversational route. Or check out the in-depth Long-Term Follow-Up and Methodological Critique from the The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
posted by Onanist at 10:56 PM on December 5, 2003


(sorry trout... Wandered off to do some math, as the Putnam exam is tomorrow..)

"I believe that the matter/spirit distinction long precedes Christianity, and arose close to a thousand years prior to Christianity, in the form of Persian Dualism, or Zoroastrianism"

My understanding - and reading of the passage - is that Zoroastrianism was where the light/dark dualism arose, not the spirit/flesh dualism. The spirit/flesh dualism probably runs far back to pre-literate times; the idea of a non-corporeal spirit and 'walking outside the body' certainly go back that far, though there are also civilizations like Homeric Greece where spiritual beings have a very physical reality.

But what's really at issue is the Christian association of the physical as unclean and the spiritual ("soul"-full) as pure. Even in the decidedly spiritual realm of Hell, our representations focus very much on physical forms of torture, like burning and prodding, while heaven's rewards are decidedly non-physical (to paraphrase Plato, if heaven were about physical pleasure, then the angels would be drunk all the time). Where did that come from? My guess is that it was therein a very subtle way in the beginning (In Genesis, imperfect man is cast from clay, for example), not absolute in the least, and that over the centuries, with various cultural influences, it became more and more exaggerated. It's a complicated problem, and one I'm certainly not well-versed enough to even try to answer. It was definitely fully established by the time Descartes wrote his Meditations, and probably by the time the flaggelants were wandering plague-stricken Europe.

Ultimately, I think it's a very counter-productive dichotomy. Establishing a direct relationship between evil and the flesh opens up massive possibilities for self-hatred (because we all have bodies and god hates evil) and superiority complexes (women, being more intimately connected to their bodies, are therefore spiritually inferior to men). The superiority complex, when combined with the assumption that the superior have the right to rule over the inferior (as God rules over his kingdom), translates directly to sexist, racist, and environmental oppression. (I have a Karren Warren essay related to this I'll be posting in a few minutes, once I get it formatted.)
posted by kaibutsu at 11:00 PM on December 5, 2003


Ok, that took longer than expected. But here it is: the essay is "The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism," but the part of particular interest is the section entitled "Climbing from ecofeminism to environmental ethics." (The logical constructions in the first part, addressing the ethics of superiority, are also of interest. Really it's a great essay all around, and well worth the time to read it.)

The section is on two different modes of perceiving reality, with an example given in the realm of mountain climbing. In one mode of vision, the rock is something to be conquered. In the other, the rock is a vital member of the climber's relationship with the rock - the rock isn't something to be dominated, but worked with. The idea is to stop seeing the world in terms of objects, and start seeing it in terms of your relationship to it. Then there is no self/other dichotomy, but rather a total immersion in the world.

In terms of the present discussion, this would have heavy repercussions for the spirit/flesh dichotomy, particularly apparent if one identifies the self with the soul. The soul is then intimately tied to the physical realm, connected to it through its carrier, and in an ongoing, elastic relationship with the physical world. Just as I can't not be affected by the rock, so then would the soul have to be influenced by the physical world. Then it becomes impossible for the soul to be inherently good (since the world affects it) or the world to be inherently bad (since the soul affects it). As Warren goes on to talk about, the politics of oppression also fall apart under such a viewpoint.

I'm curious how the (modern Western) Christian viewpoint would react to this...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:45 PM on December 5, 2003


heres a short cut : you know nothing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:03 AM on December 6, 2003


Fish, I believe that you are talking about loving God with all your heart, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Bible states that everything hangs on these two things.

Squirrel, I think I understand now. What God would be insulted by is the attempt to EARN salvation thru works. Good works in and of themselves are highly encouraged and viewed as a "fruit" of faith, if you will.
posted by konolia at 5:58 AM on December 6, 2003


Dejah, I ain't scared of no Lovecraft. Heh.

Seriously, feel free to add the "you believe" to anything I write-just know I myself am convinced of it and it feels like wimping out if I put it any other way. I think all the nonchristians out there are big enough to handle it.
posted by konolia at 6:02 AM on December 6, 2003


What? no mention of Moby? None?
posted by wobh at 7:48 AM on December 6, 2003


Okay. Not that I personally feel it's necessarily a good thing to encourage this kind of behavior in MetaFilter (because theological discussions tend to inevitably lead to either mushy smarmy feelgood sessions or near violent debates that get beligerent and cover no ground), but I'm with Aramaic. This may be/have been/is the single best MeFi thread on the subject of religious theology that I've ever seen in MetaFilter. So yeah. Maybe it is a good idea to encourage this kinda behavior. People of so many different approaches to theology coming together and sharing one another's opinions.

I dunno if I wanna see a lot more threads on this topic though cuz now my brain hurts, and I don't feel like I know more about what I believe than when I started reading this thread. It's just really cool to read and try to understand what other people know they believe.

Five fresh fish said somewhere in the maelstrom above something like "If your Christian religion has more than two rules, it is wrong" I happen perhaps by pure chance to agree with him that JC rewrote the Commandments when he was down here. I don't remember chapter and verse but I'm pretty sure it's in the book of Matthew... M'kay I looked it up. Chapter 22, Verses 34-39. Gotta love Bible Gateways.

The pharisees asked JC to choose one of the ten commandments as more important than any of the others, hoping to humiliate him in an argument over semantics. JC just looked at them and said, "Put God first. Love your neighor as yourself. If you do these two things then you follow all the laws of my Father and more." ..or. words to that effect.

I happen to agree with FiveFreshFish in that my Christian belief system only has two rules which are important. However, I disagree with FiveFreshFish that this makes anyone who disagrees with me or him wrong. JC wasn't deleting thousands of years of culture and history and lawmaking. He was giving a smartass answer to a smartass question, that just happens to summarize the cornerstone of Christian thought. At least for me.

My belief structure is right for me. It works for me. I can't vouch for anyone else. And so long as people can look at it that way, I think more threads like this one can happen.

We can share with one another. We can debate. We can even witness a little - tell our stories and where we're coming from. So long as we don't start pointing fingers and telling one another who's right and who's wrong, perhaps we can eventually make more progress here in MeFi than any room filled with priests and rabbis and gurus ever could.

This thread gives one hope. That much is certain. I just wanna thank all you guys and gals for being so gosh darned civil and thought-provoking.

Ravers should feel allowed to express themselves and enjoy themselves however they wish. God has a way of getting his point across to people one way or the other, and for some that way is through Raves.

Some Christians are reactionary, and feel things like raves are competition. So they demonize anything that leads Christians astray and keeps nonChristians from seeing what reactionaries believe to be THE way. The truth. The light. These reactionaries do not truly put their trust in their god, otherwise they wouldn't feel it necessary to demonize the competition.

God has a way of making Himself known to people. He gets through to each individual on the planet. Whether he preaches to the choir or takes it to the rave. Or brightening up the sentiments in a message board thread.

For some, God's way of making Himself known might be through a rave. Those of us who are short-sighted and closed-minded really should put more faith in our God. I question the alterior motives of people trying to shut down something that brings people together and gives them joy.

God doesn't need that kind of help. He knows what He's doing. At least, that's what I like to believe. YMMV =)
posted by ZachsMind at 9:10 AM on December 6, 2003


Well, we can agree to disagree, then. I think Christ was dead serious when he stated that the only two rules are to love God and one's neighbour, no smart-assing involved. I firmly believe that all else is but frail trappings of human self-importance, wholly irrelevent to the end game.

All the rules that people put upon themselves, outside those two, are not God's rules, but human rules.

Regarding the first rule, God doesn't give a good goddamn if you go to raves or chow down on eucharist: those are mere physical actions, wholly irrelevent to the spiritual love of God. They may or may not be indicators of your spiritual nature -- and that's something that one must decide for oneself -- but they are not spiritual. The first rule is solely and wholly spiritual.

Consequently, as long as our hearts are truly loving of God, the only rule that limits our physical nature is the second rule, in which our actions must demonstrate consideration and love for our fellow man.

The first rule is entirely spiritual. The second rule is entirely societal. The two do not share common territory. Provided you have a love for God in your heart, and provided you contribute positively to society, things are going to be okay with God.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2003


FFF - I am worried that hell may be getting chillier because I have found myself nodding appreciably at your posts lately.
posted by dness2 at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2003


[ moment of respectful silence ]

OK, back to the sarcasm...... no, really - I guess we can at least talk religion, if not Iraq. Although I'll have to say - I got bored banging out my non-christian oriented comments. I was a little surprised by the non-reaction to the account of the Sufi exorcism which I included in one of my long comments, and got the same odd feeling about it as I sometimes get when something I think is especially noteworthy or striking elicits absolutely no response at all, such as the phenomenon of nursing mothers flushing out fat-soluble, accumulated PCB's and PAH's from their breasts into their nursing babies ( these chemical are known to act as endocrine disrupters ). For all the brainpower and relative width of perspectives displayed on Metafilter, I seemed to be the only one to be especially impressed by this. So I have to wonder - was it too disturbing, instantly repressed and chucked down the memory hole?......And, in the same vein, my quote several comments up, about Bhai Sahib performing the exorcism : who knows, the account could be completely made up. I can't be sure it isn't. But it had the ring of authenticity ( to me anyway ). However, Christianity isn't well equipped to address such accounts which arise within other religious traditions - except by way of dismissal or demonization.

Oddly, Protestantism is less likely, I have found, to acknowledge non-Christian and comparative theology (let alone Shamanism and the animistic traditions) than is Catholicism which - for all that it is - has it's scholars (The Jesuits, for example) who study such problematic material with great vigor and diligence - the better by which to promote the Catholic faith. In that case, there seems to be little of the sort of fear - of knowledge of, and association with, religions other than one's chosen faith - which seems to cling to Protestant Christianity. Ah, but the Inquisitions.......OK, point taken, though Catholicism hasn't acted up as viciously in nearly half a millennium. Meanwhile.....

I can't be content with mere ChristianFilter - fine though it may be for others - because I find the phantasmagoric richness, and the sheer scope of human religious and mystical experience far too compelling.

But I may sing a different tune (overtly, anyway) if I choose to have children.

Kaibutsu - I hope the math prize event went well for you. I revisited Zoroastrianism and found that we were both right, kind of. To boil down the doctrine - An all powerful good spirit (AKA 'God', I suppose) created the material world knowing that it would entrap and contain the less-than-all powerful evil spirit-force. This says nothing of human souls directly, but they do exist in the tradition and are also distinct from the physical, material plane. So, yes, the matter-spirit distinction existed at that time. But - digging a bit last night - I came across such a fantastic variety of material from so many different traditions that I concluded that the body/soul and spirit/matter distinctions are so basic as to have arisen independently in a wide range of traditions throughout human history.

Here's one take on how this generally happened - it was really not until humans learned to domesticate animals and plants, to breed them for selected characteristics, that the strong spirit/matter distinction emerged. This event is considered by some to have been a psychological and spiritual watershed event for the fact that it has generally been central (so far as is known) to the ethic of hunting and gathering societies that humans do not have the right to own and to alter fellow animals and plants in the way of farming cultures. To do so would be quite unthinkable or - at least - abhorrent. This is so because all have spirit and all have equal rights as beings.

[ For more on this, see Calvin Luther Martin (his real name, by virtue of a slightly sadistic father), "In The Spirit of the Earth - Rethinking History and Time." 1992, Johns Hopkins University Press ]

But humans are tinkering lot, and so : with the advent of domesticated animals and plants - and all of the massive cultural shifts which followed - humans came to see themselves as fundamentally different from other creatures and eventually ascribed to themselves (and themselves alone), those things called "soul" and "spirit". Animals and plants were no longer felt to posses such things and were gradually stripped of even consciousness (in the eyes of humans) until - in the end - western science held the view that animals were mere automatons which had no consciousness and so felt no pain (even if they possessed the same nervous system as their fellow mammals, humans).

It has only been in the last two decades, at best, that scientific researchers have acknowledged the near-certainty that animals do, in fact, feel every bit as much pain as do humans. And as for their spirits or souls? Well......
posted by troutfishing at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2003


Any religion that states that it is 'the' religion, and all others are false is on a hiding to nowhere, IMHO. According one of my friends who claims to have converted to Catholicism, Catholic Christianity makes this assertion. Another thing to add to the list of reasons why I don't trust Christianity as a whole. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can dig a non-deist outlook on Christianity, but I can't see the point in assuming the label Christian if that were the case.

Ecstasy, LSD, DMT, are things which help us to understand ourselves. They do not add or take anything from the brain in the long term, so any experiences that occur are generated within. It is a fast-track to enlightenment for alot of people, and sure beats prating around for years in some masochistic torpor.
Taking these drugs in a friendly atmosphere can also tell us alot about other people and how we react to them, which can further help us to interact with society. Drgs are good, m'kay.

As ZachsMind says above, in his way, it's all good.

troutfishing, I am reading 'His Dark Materials' at the moment, which seems to have an animistic outlook, so far. FYI. Oh, and I was interested in breast feeding PCBs, I just had nothing to add to the discussion.
posted by asok at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2003


asok - It's good to good to know that you, at least, noticed the story. Meanwhile - "But humans are tinkering lot" - I meant "...are a tinkering lot." I'm started to sound like an alien, or a Norwegian.
posted by troutfishing at 1:12 PM on December 6, 2003


Ecstasy, LSD, DMT, are things which help us to understand ourselves.

It's getting high. Dress it up however you want, but you're chasing a buzz as shamelessly as a fratboy at a kegger. Trust me, I've been there.

The morality of drug use is a personal choice, but let's ditch the pretension, please.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on December 6, 2003


I was a little surprised by the non-reaction to the account of the Sufi exorcism...

Yeah, I read it, but the Sufi's description of the spirit seemed pretty deeply culturallly rooted... When we talk about religion, I think there is a tendency for Sect A to say "Well, we think it's like this," and then for Sect B to say, "But we think it's like that!" And then they fall into a long argument about whether it's like this or like that. We've all seen it happen. When you meet someone who has accepted something on faith, then there's not much use talking to them about that something, since the faith part seems to mean that they've already made up their minds.

So instead, I try talking about things that they didn't realize they had accepted, the parts of the faith bargain that aren't nearly so obvious. Often, when you've accepted some faith, you've accepted a set of 'facts,' but you've already implicitly assumed certain ways of looking at the world. A good way to shake up someone's faith is to aim at these implicit assumptions or fundamental viewpoints, and then watch the fall-out in the religious system. I don't think that challenging particular facts (demons are veil vs. demons have as much a right to exist as us) will usually have much effect, since we denizens of the internet are so used to it.

That said, I'm not out here to convert anyone. I don't think that spiritual or philosophical growth can occur without a good degree of shaking and challenging. Answering such challenges causes one to come to a more stable, meaningful relationship with the world one lives in.

For more on this, see Calvin Luther Martin...

Thanks, I'll check that out.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:49 PM on December 6, 2003


The morality of drug use is a personal choice, but let's ditch the pretension, please.

The morality of drug use is a personal choice, as are the reasons for doing so. For some it's "chasing a buzz", for others it's something more, just because for you it was a fratboy high does not mean that this is the case for everyone. The fact that you are unwilling or incapable of understanding that drug use has a self-exploration or spiritual element for some does not mean that drug use doesn't have those elements for some. The pretension here is your own.
posted by biscotti at 2:19 PM on December 6, 2003


Ecstasy, LSD, DMT, are things which help us to understand ourselves.

It's getting high. Dress it up however you want, but you're chasing a buzz as shamelessly as a fratboy at a kegger. Trust me, I've been there.


but what's "getting high"? Just because your experiences with mild altering drugs didn't include any insights or intense experiences that changed your outlook, doesn't mean that it's impossible for them to do that. Personally, I've eaten psychedelic mushrooms 3 or 4 times and I still remember the intensity, beauty, and for lack of a better word, enlightenment, I experienced.

The way you approach something has an effect on what you learn from it, and then there's just some random element that plays a part. Moments are sometimes meaningful despite their seeming ordinariness, and the difficulty in explaining to others what it was about the feeling that made it monumental. Have you ever just suddenly come to see something that seems obvious and mundane when you try to translate it into words, but which nonetheless stays with you? - that sense of understanding you felt catching a stranger's eyes on the subway, or the grip of a certain book or lecture or even just passing remark someone makes... sometimes it's difficult, even impossible, to pin down that clarity, to show someone else why it remains important, but I think these moments still change who we are, how we interact with the world, how we comprehend our lives. I don't think it's being touched by anything external, and I don't think these things have objective importance, but I do think they make a difference in one's own appreciation of what life is and what it means personally to live.

I don't believe in a spiritual realm, or god, or anything beyond what is, except in a sense the mind: the ability to be conscious of all this. Aristotle said that to try to separate the soul from the body is like trying to separate the imprint from the wax - the soul is the organization, the form, of the body, which is what allows us to understand - the organization of matter allows matter to have a relationship to the rest of the world. The soul can't be separate, because it's not a thing itself, but the arrangement of the thing.

Anyway, I've been reading and enjoying this thread, but to avoid the strict theist/atheist dichotomy, and allow you middle grounders to explore alternate territory, I haven't responded.
posted by mdn at 2:36 PM on December 6, 2003


Advantage: love.
(Runner up: five fresh fish)
posted by squirrel at 3:07 PM on December 6, 2003


mdn, your wonderful explanation prompts me to recall perhaps my favorite Einstein quote.
posted by squirrel at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2003


Anyone here do, oooh, downhill skiing? Long-distance running? Work out at a gym? All those things induce chemical changes in the brain.

Anyone here do, oooh, sex? Play an instrument? Paint or draw? All those things induce chemical changes in the brain.

Anyone here, oooh, give birth? Get tattooed? Narf their shins on the coffee table? All those things induce chemical changes in the brain.

Anyone here do, oooh, coffee? Chocolate bars? Turkey dinners? All those things induce chemical changes in the brain.

I should think everyone sees where I'm heading with this: there's no such thing as a non-chemical brain. There's no such thing as not altering your brain chemistry. You do it daily, and you do it by your choice of action.

So if it is okay to create a tryptophan chemical change by chowing down on turkey, or a anandamide increase by eating a quality chocolate bar, or an endorphine high through a good workout...

...well, then, I daresay it's going to be difficult to argue that other kinds of self-induced brain chemical changes are necessarily a "bad thing." It boils down to simple prejudice, with exceedingly little logic or rational thought involved.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2003


that other kinds of self-induced brain chemical changes are necessarily a "bad thing"

Maybe not a bad thing, but a false path. If these things are used as a shortcut to heaven or enlightenment, then they are "bad", as in being improperly used. There are no shortcuts and a temporary high is not the same thing as enlightenment or being closer to God. Some religions use intoxicants or sleep/food deprivation as a tool to aid the religious experience, but I don't know of any in which it provides a religious experience by itself. All the major religions caution against intoxicants (as sins or distractions) because they can be so easily abused by people looking for an easy way.
posted by dness2 at 6:59 PM on December 6, 2003


Sounds like common prejudice to me: don't do it because I don't do it that way.

Pray tell, where does Christ (or your favoured diety, whatever) say that there are no shortcuts and that one must seek heaven and enlightenment only through difficult means?

The only part of your message which stands true is the "easily abused" passage: one can not uphold "love thy neighbour" if one is abusing drugs. The only rational definition of drug abuse is the use of drugs in a way that harms others, either directly through one's behaviour while abusing, or indirectly through one's inability to contribute at all positively to society.

So long as one can uphold the two rules ("love god" and "love thy neighbour"), it matters not a whit what one does to oneself.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on December 6, 2003


Maybe not a bad thing, but a false path. If these things are used as a shortcut to heaven or enlightenment, then they are "bad", as in being improperly used.

As fff said, then you could call it a false path to try to find god through looking at sunsets or reading poetry, if the material world isn't the way to go to uncover something spiritual. All the moments of epiphany you have register in your brain. I've already made clear that I don't see the meaningfulness of the world as anything separable from the material, but even if you have some conception of dual realms, everything you do experience is necessarily through organized matter, because that's what you are.

I dunno, perhaps your argument could be considered valid if you're actually trying to gain access to some separate spiritual existence. What I was trying to do was gain a better understanding of myself and the world, and I found chemical alteration an interesting tool. But really, anything you do to "find god", you'll have to do through material paths, because whether you like it or not, you're part of the world. I like it. I recommend liking it. It's a pretty amazing world, after all.
posted by mdn at 8:14 PM on December 6, 2003


konolia : Seriously, feel free to add the "you believe" to anything I write-just know I myself am convinced of it and it feels like wimping out if I put it any other way. I think all the nonchristians out there are big enough to handle it.

I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. One way of speaking about your beliefs leads to tribal evil, sure as day follows night, and one does not. I leave it as an exercise for you to figure out which is which.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on December 6, 2003


To do an instant snap-back to the original post "The Raver who commits himself to ingest drugs and dance the night away is unsuspectingly presenting his entire body as an instrument to express worship to demons and satan." "

I think that those paramilitary forces around the world which are designed to repress and kill civilians to advance a political agenda are far closer to being representatives of Satan than most ravers. Ravers are farther from committing violence against civilians than most in human society.
posted by troutfishing at 9:20 PM on December 6, 2003


but what's "getting high"? Just because your experiences with mild altering drugs didn't include any insights or intense experiences that changed your outlook, doesn't mean that it's impossible for them to do that. Personally, I've eaten psychedelic mushrooms 3 or 4 times and I still remember the intensity, beauty, and for lack of a better word, enlightenment, I experienced.


What's getting high? Sensation seeking. Pain obliteration. Wanting to be taken out of your own head. Filling some perceived void. Taking a funhouse ride.

I've sampled the whole chemical buffett, too. Booze, weed, pills, acid, blow and it didn't leave me anymore enlightened than when I started. If anything I was even more bewildered.

I've recently removed all mind-altering substances from my life, save for coffee and cigarettes (and eventually I'll ditch the smokes again, too). I realize that having substance abuse problems has as much to do with the abuser as with the substance, but I have no illusions. They're called "recreational drugs" for a reason.
posted by jonmc at 10:04 PM on December 6, 2003


I'm with Stravos re: "I believe" being needed to grease the wheels and avert war. On the other hand, I can appreciate Konolia's feeling that doing so is "wimping out."

If it comforts the religionists, they can prepend "I believe" to the following statements, though "belief" isn't at all the correct term; it's would be like claiming I "believe" the sky is blue or that beer is good.

There is no existence other than the physical one. Any spiritual domain is merely a fantasy of the mind: a useful prosthetic, perhaps, for some people, but nonetheless fantasy. Our consciousness arises as a consequence of our complex neural network. When we snuff it, our consciousness snuffs it, and what was us is no longer. We don't go into the light, we don't go to heaven, we don't do S.F.A. except rot in our graves: our only hope for legacy is in our acts and in our children.

This is the truth. All else is lies or fantasy.

Fortunately, I can make-believe with the best of them, and pretend that there is a God. Religionists tend to make things far more complex than they really are, but that makes for more interesting conversations. "Live a good life" isn't much of a conversation-starter. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 PM on December 6, 2003


There is no existence other than the physical one... This is the truth. All else is lies or fantasy.

Hmmm... So let me get this straight: Because we arise purely through the interplay of physical phenomenon, the only proper way for us to understand the world is in terms of those physical phenomenon, or, even more particularly, the interpretation of these physical phenomenon put forth by Western science? Believe it or not, that's a pretty steep claim.

Scientific neutrality is bunk. (How can a scheme that assigns positive value to neutrality be neutral?) The 'Objective' view is the process of reducing natural phenomenon to a set of objects and their interactions, dividing, dividing, dividing. The Law of Unintended Consequences seems to dictate that this presents an incomplete view of reality. Furthermore, our science is one of many possible descriptions of the world, and it is contained entirely in our heads and in our books. Science is not the world, it is a finger pointing to a part of the world. There are other fingers pointing at different parts of the world, just as valid, though in many ways different from, our Western science. (Check out Sandra Harding for some of the hard arguments behind this. Or if you're more into science fiction, check out the excellent "A Door Into Ocean," by microbiologist Joan Slonczewski.)

If you take the Aristotle quote above, about the wax and its imprint, the physical scientist would miss out on the imprint entirely. The imprint is particular, while the wax is phenomenal. You seem to tend towards a rather reductionist view of the world. Many would say that such a view is likely to miss out on quite a bit.

Religionists tend to make things far more complex than they really are...

You're saying that "Our conciousness is determined solely by the interplay of electrical signals in our brain, influenced by chemical and hormonal promptings from the body" is simple? I think it is only "simple" because you have accepted it.

"Live a good life" isn't much of a conversation-starter.

Some might disagree.

But, then again, we've been here before.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:14 AM on December 7, 2003


So long as one can uphold the two rules ("love god" and "love thy neighbour"), it matters not a whit what one does to oneself

Actually I agree with you. I didn't say that all drug use is a false path. I meant that using drugs to attain some type of psychological or spiritual state that one can't or doesn't want to bother to reach while sober is a false path. A person who is only at peace with the world when they are stoned is not a peaceful person. Being happy when you are drunk does not necessarily mean you are a happy person. These experiences can be fun and relatively harmless if in the right context, but I think there is a real danger for people to use them as a crutch, even without being an addict or anything. I think that loving this reality is an important part of loving God. and that distorting it too much is not quite the idea. But it's late and I'm tired -- not enough caffeine this morning :)
posted by dness2 at 12:49 AM on December 7, 2003


I've sampled the whole chemical buffett, too. Booze, weed, pills, acid, blow and it didn't leave me anymore enlightened than when I started. If anything I was even more bewildered.

Well, my friend, I've got to say this : expecting, to any degree, that anything -- other than contemplation, learning and the mindful practice of whatever rituals put you in touch with the divine -- will help you towards the illusory endgames of 'enlightenment' or 'peace' is misguided.

The point is the person who is seeking, not the tools he uses. Drugs work for some, sure, but not for others. Jesusmonkey works for some, buddhamonkey for others. To put it another way, it's not about the destination as much as it's about the path, and everyone's vehicle is to some extent unique. Some find their soul in service to others (scant few, these days), or in nature, or in art. Most never bother, because it's all too difficult, forging a path, and either put it from their minds, or eat the TV Dinner of the holy and join their local church, which may satiate but does not nourish.

My personal experience is that some drugs, infrequently used when I was much younger, did indeed allow me to touch the face of god (or perhaps the butt of god - it's a bit unclear after all this time), and afforded me experiences that I cherish, the memories of which have sustained me many times in the intervening years, much more so than anything gained during my brief experimental flirtation with suburban worshipteam messianism, which was fun but ultimately made me loathe humanity. This is merely my experience, of course.

What I'm trying to say is that your basic premise in the couple of posts you've made is off-kilter, I think. Drugs certainly won't help you unless you're on a path already, and even then they may hurt as much as help. But it's not the drugs that matter, it's the person who takes them, and how that person lives their life. If you really seek 'enlightenment' from your life, and want to use chemicals as one way to do that -- and there is nothing either inherently good or evil in the chemicals themselves, I repeat -- then start reading, start seeking the divine in yourself and those around you, seek out people who are genuinely good (and some of those may be bible-thumpers, although the two do not often coexist well, I've found) and learn as much as you can from them. Then take some drugs, if you want.

There's no Enlightenment-0-maticâ„¢, as I'm sure you're aware. It's hard work - the work of a lifetime, and one way to make a lifetime a worthy one. Giving up (or taking) the drugs won't necessarily help or hinder. Don't get distracted by the small stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on December 7, 2003 [1 favorite]


kaibutsu: Whatever. Stick an "I believe" in front of what I wrote, if that makes you feel better. I'll do the same for what you wrote. Meanwhile, we should go back to "let's pretend" and join the conversation proper.

Stavros make a good point, I think: the intention of the drug use is important. If you're dropping acid just for the freaky special effects, you're not going to get very far down any sort of spiritual path. If you're dropping it having set about preparing yourself for a spiritual trip, and have that distinct goal in mind as you trip, you're far more likely to have a spiritual experience.

Many religions make use of chants and ritualistic actions to create a brain-chemistry change that "opens the door" to spiritual enlightenment. This isn't so very different from other means of reaching the same goal.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2003


MetaFilter: Enlightenment-0-maticâ„¢, as I'm sure you're aware.
posted by squirrel at 9:53 PM on December 7, 2003


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