The Politics of God.

I see the world and its inhabitants, their virtues, sins and idiosyncrasies in political terms and have done for as long as I can remember. The manner in which people conduct themselves, their ideals and thought structures, almost always have political connotations in my mind. I find it amazing that people can care so little about politics and yet devote their lives entirely to other fields of human behaviour, without ever quite noticing the link between the two. Something that people should know, and know it well, is that there is not one thought, memory, decision, triumph or mistake that you will make as a human being without its outcome being influenced by politics.

Politics is, at its core, the process of a group of people, large or small, making a collective decision. Its definition has definite links with running a government, but its meaning is a hell of a lot larger than that. So when you’re standing in a shop with your friend trying to decide what film to rent, or when you cannot decide what the best fit of jeans is and you ask someone for their opinion, if you make your decision based on the input of another – you are being political.

So now we have established that politics isn’t just to do with fat men and frigid women sitting in a green room shouting random moans of agreement or injustice on the television while you eat your toast in the morning. Politics is its own entity, but it is an umbrella term for a whole host of juicy and controversial subtexts. Lets take the example I just gave about renting the movie again but this time apply two totally opposite political ideologies to it.

Scenario A – You are standing in a rental shop with your friend and you are torn between two films, one of which you desperately want to see, the other of which your friend is likewise eager to watch. One is a horror movie, full of gore and guts, the other is a romantic comedy full of vomit inducing stereotypes and grand gestures of love. You want the horror, your friend wants the romantic comedy. You give your friend a valid reason as to why you don’t want to watch the other movie (you just broke up with your boyfriend and it would be too hard to watch that kind of thing, the soundtrack reminds you of a dead pet etc.) Your friend therefore taking into account the feeling of the group, and feeling less opposed to watching the horror movie than you are to watching the romantic comedy for your personal reasons, gives in and you go and rent the horror movie. You watch it together and enjoy it, even though your friend wanted to watch the romantic comedy, they are content in the knowledge that you both would not have enjoyed it as much as you did the horror movie.

Scenario B – You are standing in a rental shop with your friend and you are torn between two films, one of which you desperately want to see, the other of which your friend is likewise eager to watch. One is a horror movie, full of gore and guts, the other is a romantic comedy full of vomit inducing stereotypes and grand gestures of love. You want the horror, your friend wants the romantic comedy. You don’t want to watch the romantic comedy because it doesn’t look like your cup of tea, even though you know that your friend isn’t exactly the greatest fan of horror movies. You turn to your friend and tell them that you have to get your movie because you drove to the shop, or you’re the one that is paying, or that it is your house that you will be watching the film at. You basically use the power that you have, most of it completely coincidental to get your own way. When you do get your own way, you watch the horror movie together and you have a riot of a time, but your friend doesn’t enjoy it and is feeling a little bruised that you got your own way for the sake of circumstance rather than necessity.

Now most people that I know (luckily) would be more inclined towards Scenario A and would take the feelings of the greater populace into consideration when making a decision that impacts how you both enjoy your evening. Those that did would be loosely following the political structure of democracy. Those that would have been more inclined towards Scenario B (whom I hope are few and far between) and would use whatever means necessary to get what they want at the expense of the greater whole, would have been loosely following the political structure of a dictatorship.

The basic difference between the two, although the outcome is the same is this – with a democratic decision, the pros and cons come from all the people who are involved in making a decision and then a group consensus is reached once everybody has had an opportunity to put forward their reservations and opinions. However with a dictatorial decision, one person has taken the power away from the other and made a decision based on their own opinions to benefit themselves rather than the greater whole, usually employing tactics that are very hard for the other person to object against. So democratic decision is one that derives its power from the people making it, whereas a dictatorial decision is one that derives its power without all the peoples consent.

I do hope you’re still following me *insert winky emoticon face here*. My point (which I bet you were just dying for after all that rambling) is this – a political decision is not just a decision made by politicians but one made by anyone with a certain belief structure in mind. By the same token, a political figure head or leader, is not just someone who governs over a country or race of people, but someone who has the power to either listen to the people or ignore them for their own gain. So I am going to ask you a question, and in true Ron meets Jigsaw style, a style that those who read my blog are used to by now, I want you to answer the question in your head. Okay, so here is the question –

What political party does the Christian ideal of God represent? Don’t worry my politically confused bumble bees I am not going to leave you completely on your own to pluck an answer from the heavens (excuse the pun) I am instead going to give you three definitions that you can choose from. Now it doesn’t have to just be one, or two, it can indeed be all three but I ask you to carefully consider the facts rather than your own opinion, because after all we are dealing with a leader that is arguable false, so lets try and keep our heads above the philosophical waters.

As we have been dancing with democracy I will give you that option first. If God was a democratic leader he would consult with his people before making decisions. His decisions would not be unilateral because they would derived from the people he was governing. He would not have the final word in matters but instead have to side with the strongest majority. He would be an expert at gauging the attitudes of his people and would have to effectively motivate them to behave how he would want his government to be run. He would take an active role in the lives of his people and bend his behaviour to the benefit of the people he governs. He would be a representative of a larger whole, accountable for their sins as well as their successes

The second political leadership style that God could fall into is the laissez-faire or free reign leader. In this instance God would pretty much give the power to the people and let them live as they wished, making their own rules and effectively governing themselves. He would not necessarily lead but let the people lead themselves to their own glory or indeed their own ruin. He would not have much input in the way they lived their lives and would not hold them accountable to things that he did not agree with. He would not be a leader in the conventional sense, rather than someone who handed the power back to the people he would have governed under a different leadership style.

The third and final political leadership structure I would like you to consider in regards to the Christian identity of God is an autocratic or authoritarian leadership style, very similar to the dictatorial themes we were talking about earlier. If God were indeed a leader of this style he would possess all the decision making powers and not consult with his people. He would tell them what to do and they would have to do it as part of his government. He would tell them what he wanted to but keep for himself what he didn’t wish to share for fear of revolution. He would make his own laws, regardless of the interests of his people, including his own punishments and persecutions. He would be completely unaccountable to anyone and never have to answer for his actions, good or bad.

So there are your options. Now that you have chosen one I would like you to consider something else, because I am all about the interactive internet debate stuff. I would like you to consider how God is viewed “religiously” and how we have just viewed him “politically”. When it comes down to it, religion and politics are one in the same. You have a leader, you have a system of which those people are lead chock full of ideologies, rules, punishment, reward and intelligence. When it comes down to it the only difference between God as a political leader as opposed to a religious leader, is language.

In religion God is “almighty”, void of responsibility for his actions, unaccountable and unquestionable. In political terms this “almighty” behaviour may be considered “autocratic” whereby God can do what he likes, when he likes and no one can tell him otherwise. In religion God is “omnipresent”, he is everywhere at all times, watching over his people and making sure that they are on the right track. In politics God could be seen as an Orwellian “Big Brother” figure that leaves not one personal or private decision to the people, but instead enforces those that he believes should be followed on them and carefully watches their every move to ensure that these rules are followed for fear of punishment or “eternal damnation”. In those terms God is not “ubiquitous”, “omnipresent” or “all encompassing” but instead he is a much more real form of “totalitarian” that controls every aspect of his peoples lives and leaves no room for “pluralism”, a governmental structure that encourages multiple lifestyles and opinions.

In my mind God as a leader, and not Christianity as a practice which does encourage very diplomatic and democratic thought patterns, does not fit the first definition at all. He does not listen to his people, but instead demands to be listened to and he does not represent us as a whole rather than a superior being with absolute control over the whereabouts of our mortal soul. God does possess certain aspects of the laissez-faire leadership style, in as much as he lets his people make their own decisions and leaves them to self govern, but then he does not strictly adhere to this foundation because the rules we are freely left to follow by ourselves are not made by us, but by Him.

So, with my immense powers of deduction, I can only assume that if God is not a democrat and he is not an advocate of free reign, then God is indeed a authoritarian dictator who tells his people what to do from an unelected position of complete power and unaccountability. Breakthrough *smiley face*! So the question burning on my lips is this – why do SO many people follow a completely unaccountable dictator who does not even have the potential to be overthrown?

The answer is simple. People don’t like to think for themselves. In a democracy you don’t always get your own way, but you have the possibility to. You vote and your friend votes, your neighbours vote and your parents vote – but not all of you can get your own way all of the time. The possibility of being able to get your own way, and then subsequently watching someone else get their own way is extremely frustrating. Take away that possibility of getting your own way and replace it with a different structure in which you know you, nor your friend, neighbour or parent will EVER get their own way and at least you’re all shooting with an empty gun. Human nature encourages us to suffer together rather than succeed alone.

The same can be said for the free reign module. People are genuinely too lazy to govern themselves all of the time and this governmental structure has mostly been employed in times of necessity when the formation of a new government was getting its breath back. It takes a lot of effort to lead a nation or race of people, and generally people who are given this task get bored of trying to please everyone else at the expense of themselves. Give a group of people a die cast set of rules and regulations, already written down and ready to go however, and they will almost always prefer being told what to do rather than figuring out what to do for themselves.

Dictatorships work well at the expense of freedom. Decisions are made quickly because there is only one person making them and the state functions mostly out of fear. Fear is a very potent potion in the religious alchemists pot and it is a brew that dictators also carry in their belt. Through this method, people do not have to think for themselves and therefore cease being individuals. This means less crime, less uproar and a slick, functioning society. But what it sacrifices is much greater and that is freedom.

To be a Christian (and I mean a real Christian, not you wannabes that only go to church at Christmas) you give up yourself to your God and you trust that his decisions, his judgements and his rules are absolute, without question or correlation to yourself or the greater world. But to take someone else’s judgements, rules and decisions into your head and into your heart, you compromise your own and become a tool of someone else’s mind rather than a product of your own.

I leave you now (I’m sure you just punched the air with happiness at this terribly long mess coming to an end) with a proposition. I propose that you live your life as YOU would want to live it, without prior conceptions of how it should be done and certainly not in someone else’s shadow, political or religious. I propose that YOU choose which path you walk on and how YOU would deal with the hurt and happy along the way. I propose that you take each and every ounce of compassion, courage, wisdom and peace from the God and employ it in real time. I propose that you be a good person because YOU want to be and not because God or any other leader asks it of you. I propose that you consciously choose to love instead of hate, find solace in silence and beauty in distress because YOU were built, by the hand of a deity or by the book of Darwin, to be tolerant, intelligent and calm.

I propose that you lead yourself and as Jesus himself was said to have done, walk beside those on different paths, not behind them as a lesser being or in front of them as a greater one. I propose that you LIVE the life you were given and THINK with the brain that you possess. Thought and life are the bread and butter of peace and until you appreciate them for the magnificent, all be it intangible, things that they are you will never be your own leader and you my friend, will never be free whether you follow a dictator or a disciple.

Freedom does not come from the government, the Gods or the greats – it comes from inside of you and it is the only thing that separates those that live from those that survive.

Pillow of Stones

He found her when no one else was looking. He promised her dragons and delivered her glitter. Talking never of what he came to say his mind wandered as did her own, never quite meeting up at the meadow in the middle. She never really saw his face, the shadow cast from the bulb above her door stunning it into mystified brilliance. And he was always cold. So cold. And smiling. Always smiling.

Dressed in black and always standing his laughter filled her head and made her body want to crumple to the floor. How cruel to place two such likely souls within a fingers grasp only to place a plateau of indifference between them. And how cruel to spin such a yarn of unbridled adoration only to cut the tethers and free the fear. And he was smart. And she was sad.

They read the same books and watched the same films, their tastes invariably the same but miles apart. He spoke to her for a moment like she was a person, a real walking talking breathing living human person, not the drunken marionette she had come to see staring back at her from sun slicked puddles on blindingly hot but brutally damp days. And he laughed at her jokes.

A part of her, a very large and honest part of her, wanted to tell him to run from the others who wore black and trekked the streets in search of lost sheep and riddled cattle. This part of her begged her hands to find his to take off the gloves that perpetually clad them and throw them into the street, bringing him inside into the warmth where all the good things about life – food and art and love and laughter and sex and wine and incense and music – lay dormant waiting for his spirit to wake them.

And there was spirit there. He had labelled it one thing and she had come to know it as another. How strong could she have pulled before he snapped like a brittle twig beneath the boot of her tyrannical paranoia? And how far could she have gone to keep that smile near her, where she could coax it out at a moments notice to light the darkness that sometimes crept in and all around her whilst she lay unable to fully drift away, her head sinking into a pillow of stones?

And how long will he be there in her mind? This translucent dream of an encounter that as days pass becomes more like a dream, a chance meeting on a train platform, a strangled hello in a coffee shop, a burnt scaffold of what it is to be young and to be reckless and to have within you the power to change a person for your own warped and sometimes selfish realities?

Another time and another place come to the forefront of her mind and she recalls in solemn prayer an alternate plain where he wears white as bright as his teeth and she laughs as loud as the thunder.

And where he is available to adore.

When I Dream of Fire

It was dark and the house had no windows. Whether day light prevailed beyond the mortar that surrounded me I have no idea, but in the back of my mind I hoped it did. There was a rectangular glass case in front of my on a platform. As I approached it, the tank filled with water. I took a few steps back and inch by inch the water evaporated from the tank. I took a few steps forward and it returned, not falling from the ceiling or rising from the tank, but materialising as if from nothing.

With my nose practically touching the cool moist glass a key manifested within the water. It was larger than a normal key but no more ornate. As I watched it, it seemed to stand up, lifting itself with the help of the weightless water, until it stood on its narrow tip, the dull head now level with my eyes. The glass of the tank began to bulge and break, the water remaining shapeless and still.

As I brought my hand up to touch the glass the door behind me opened with a creak. I didn’t turn to see who it was. I couldn’t turn. The key was looking at me, begging me with all its heart to take it with me and not leave it trapped in the tank. My fingers grazed the glass,

“I wouldn’t do that. Not if you value that hand” The sound of his voice broke me and I fell to my knees. My eyes trained on the wooden floor below me, my finger tips digging into the soft, untreated oak. Tears started to speckle my view. I pulled my tired eyes from the floor and the tank was gone. The door behind me was closed. I felt as though the blood had stopped moving in my veins and the rhythm of my heart had been knocked off tempo.

I rose slowly, my ankles clicking. How long had I been on the floor? When I turned the door was still closed, its silence mocking me in the dark, damp room. I placed my hand tentatively on the handle, wincing slightly as if it were to burn. It didn’t burn. It levered evenly with a squeak and opened onto more darkness. I have never been afraid of the dark, but ran my entire life from the light. I slunk into the safety of the shadows, letting the door click closed behind me.

I could sense him everywhere. I could smell his body, the sweet, stale aroma of his sweat. I could hear his laugh, the beautiful sound of utter desperation masked with the bitter honesty of his smile. I saw his eyes in every nook of the corridor, glimmers of green and gold danced along the surface of the otherwise dull walls. Footsteps echoed and they were not my own, but for what felt like miles only the dimly corridor spanned my eye line.

Then a break in the hostile nothingness. An arch, not a doorway, now stood before me and resonating from beyond that arch way, a calm orange glow. As I drew closer to the arch way a burden of warmth engulfed my chest and tears once again broke out on my cold face. If I had tried to stop them, which I didn’t, I am sure I would have felt physical pain.

With one hand placed on each side of the arch way I hung my head and breathed from knees. The tears stopped momentarily but my face was still damp with their ghost as I stepped through the arch way. This room had a window but it was covered with boards, the ancestral slices of light cutting through the hot room and casting shadows upon the shadows.

A fire crackled neatly in the centre of the back wall. He was sitting with his body facing me but his head hung down as mine had been at the arch. I could feel his heart beat radiating through the room, clawing its way from the floor boards and up into my feet, then my legs and resting in my gut. The entire room smelt of him and as I searched for his face in the waltzing silhouettes the fire cast upon his body, I now saw that the fire did not glow orange, red or yellow, as one would suspect – but the palest shade of olive green and silken gold.

His face glanced up from the floor and his eyes met mine. He smiled and the whiteness of his teeth broke the air. We both knew our search had been killing us and the look in his eyes suggested that he was rather proud of the fact that once we had finished our hunt, we were both still breathing. He uncrossed his legs and stood, his boots in the fire. He held out his hand as one lock of thick hair wafted in front of his face.