Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Antichrist, Revelation, Editing

I work for a publishing company as an editor. Over the past four years, I have edited around 300 books, most of them fiction. I've edited everything from a book of poetry gleaned from an email dating couple, who eventually got married, to excellent fantasy and scifi novels, to thrillers of international political and terrorist intrigue, to novels with gay content—but I have never edited a book like the one I'm working on now—a book about End Times, a survey of the various interpretations of the Second Coming, the Tribulation, the Antichrist, the beast, the horsemen, the apocalypse...that stuff.

I'm not religious, although I hesitate to claim I'm an atheist...maybe agnostic...but really just disinterested in a field of thought and way of being, concerned with, what? The afterlife? I live as though, when I die, I will cease to exist, completely, with nothing beyond. That's what I've come to after sixty years of being a sentient being with a consciousness. It's been a mighty good life. I like being aware of being aware, of knowing that I (this me consciousness) am mortal and that I have a body that carries around my brain, through which I interpret data from my five physical senses, attempting to "make sense" of what it means to me to be a live, sentient being.

Do most people ever give this much thought? It seems to me that if one is religious and believes in God and believes in heaven and hell, and God and the Devil, that there's no reason to think any further than that. But I've also noted that people who are religious and who profess to believe in all this stuff often live as if they don't. Look, I mean, if there is a heaven and a hell and you're going to end up in one place or the other, it seems that you'd be catatonic with fear of ever doing anything that will get you sent to eternal hellfire and brimstone. Wouldn't you rather get those 72 virgins? The white robes, be on the right side of God at his big Judgement day dinner? What do the saved eat? Do they eat or just sing praise songs for eternity?

For a little perspective on Religions, it seems that in these times, which I'm kinda sure are not End Times, the religious seem to be most concerned about how their religion is right and the rest are wrong. Is there REALLY going to be the Rapture? Are there really going to be only 144,000 sent to heaven? What...didn't God plan for the billions and billions of people on Earth?

The book I'm editing makes me think about these things, but the writer is definitely convinced that the Bible, the Christian Bible, is the real thing, and he's not concerned with whether or not it's God's word, but just that his interpretation of all that stuff in Revelation is the correct one.  I'm just as likely to get a book about Islam, next, which is just as strongly worded as this one, the writer convinced that when Jesus returns, He will install a Caliph to rule the world.


I think when I finally die, I'd rather just blow away as dust. If I wake up after that and I'm standing in front of the anthropomorphic deity, and he's got a long beard and is sitting on a throne, calling me to judgement, I think I'm probably gonna shit my pants, if I happen to be wearing any.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First entry. The new year

I've never been one to make and keep New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't think I have room for self-improvement—sure I do. But like many people, I think there is something fresh and significant about the dawn of a new year. For one thing, spring is on the way, which is more than symbolic renewal. It's earthy and organic and real. And so I look forward to the warmer days, the greening of the lawns, the budding of the trees, the scents of the new blossoms. So maybe, instead of resolutions, I want to bud out, to throw off the coats of the old year, throw open the windows and let in that first light's chilly air.

And to my way of thinking, too. I consider myself a thinking man, which means that I don't hitch my emotions and feelings to some particular group or political party. I don't have a preset bunch of buttons that can be pushed to make me react automatically (even though I do have those buttons and I do react automatically to some things).

I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. Although I keep up with the news and vote, I'm just as likely to split my vote, sometimes even voting for independents, who usually don't stand much of a chance of winning. But I don't get involved enough to lobby for a third party. I'm not sure the multi-party systems of some countries, as in Northern Ireland for example, is any better than our two-party system—or should I say what evolved into our two-party "system." The tension between the two parties is always there, like the north and south poles of a magnet; and we seem to have this back and forth and incessant tension between those who want less government (who really don't want less government; they just want our government to have big defense budgets and small or non-existent social budgets) and those who want more government (who really don't want more government; they just want our government to have big social programs and small, lean military budgets).

I really didn't like George Bush, the second one. He was unwise going into Iraq, when he could have gone full-tilt boogie after Osama bin Laden. And I really don't care for Obama. He seems almost catatonic. ¿Sí se puede? And just when is this supposed to occur? Ok...I know, "yes we can" as soon as the Democratically controlled congress gets some backbone to really pass that health care overhaul, rather than being enthrall to the medical lobby, the insurance lobby.

And I really don't like the "conservative" radio talk show hosts. I listen to Rush Limbaugh say things like the "four corners of deceit" in which he includes SCIENCE!  He knows he has a flock of sheep (duh, duh, ditto Rush!), and he knows the best way to control the actions of sheep is to get them to voluntarily lobotomize their thinking capabilities and to react automatically, to have buttons that can be pushed at will by the leaders. Ever noticed the talking points that these talk show hosts seem to have agreed upon for each broadcast day? They have the same take on each issue, and they pound away at the same talking points. But I'm not letting the "liberal" talk show hosts off the hook, either. Same scenario, same tactics.

Ciscero said that you should know your enemies better than they know themselves, which means I have to listen to both sides "conservative" and "liberal" and when an issue comes up that I'm interested in, I know the arguments of both sides and then I can look at my own thoughts and decide. That is if I have to decide. What these talk show hosts want—both ends of the pole—is for their listeners not to think, not to listen to the other side, to react in a programmed way.

Bam! You had a gut reaction.

Gay Marriage.
Another gut reaction.

Illegal Drugs.

Do you know that there are people who can label Obama as both a Communist and a Nazi at the same time? That makes my head hurt. First you have to know what communism is all about; then you have to know what Naziism is all about, and then you have to realize that "socialism" is not another word for communist. At least I'm old enough to know that Joseph McCarthy, the communist hunter, was not good, and hence we got very close to being a police state in the 1950s. This after we fought a war that saved the Jews from extinction, and after we invited Joseph Stalin into the peace process, to carve up Germany, this after we carved up parts of the Middle East and helped birth the state of Israel. This after we carved up Korea, this after we installed dictators in several countries.

We're seeing a return to the divisiveness that allowed Joseph McCarthy to ruin the lives and careers of hundreds if not thousands of people. We're beginning to see "socialists" under every bush, around every corner.

What I don't like and am sad to see is not that there are conservatives and liberals, but that there are few thinking conservatives and few thinking liberals. We're carving up our own country into opposing camps. We leave no room for moderation, for compromise, for thinking. I don't know, maybe we've always been mean and nasty to those with whom we disagree. Maybe there have always been people who are willing to assassinate abortion doctors, who feel an overriding need to bash gays, who absolutely must go to the polls and vote away some group's constitutional rights.

Ah ah ah! You see me leaning to the "left," don't you? Then how about this: I believe that we should choose the victim over the criminal. But I also believe the punishment should fit the crime.

I believe that we should put the education of our children on the fast track, and that the budget for education should be bigger than the budget for war. I believe that all children should have the same quality of education, that getting an education should be our children's jobs.

I believe that we should pay as much attention to what happens to a child that is brought into this world, as we do to the issue of abortion. Nope, I'm not saying that abortion is a good thing. It's really awful. It says a great deal about a country that allows convenience abortions. But abortions should not be outlawed, sending women back to the coat-hanger, either. But look at what parents are doing to their newborns, their children, once they've been born. How easily can you stomach all the abuse that children suffer? Although the religious right has declared war on women who abort their fetuses, they pay mere lip service to the children that are born into poverty, born to single mothers, and pay hardly any attention to orphans. Oh, yes, there's the Christian Children's fund. But they advertise for donations for children in other countries. How much do they concentrate on America's children? Someone, please educate me on this issue. comes spring, renewal, the burgeoning of sunlight and warmth.