Religion and social justice; or, spirituality and politics (various)

“Privilege”, “cultural appropriation”, “bullying”, “social justice”…

Social Media is teaching very sophisticated ways to be offended.

And that’s a good thing – victims of oppression need better tools and language to resolve injustices. Lets give a megaphone to the systemically silenced. Let’s crowd-source a better world!

But that same defensive language is constantly deployed in lesser battles. There are so many false alarms being sounded. This ultimately diminishes the power of that language.

The same pattern happened during the spiritual awakening of the 60s. Some cracks had developed in the white christian patriarchal hegemony, and hundreds of little religions were born. Being “pagan” was finally okay. Wiccans and Neodruids and flower children embraced alternativespirituality.

But the movement had no immune system. There were multiple people claiming to be the reincarnation of Cleopatra. There were UFO religions.Breatharians. And a lot of people became very deluded. I mean, we’ve all met the guy who considers himself an extremely powerful sorcerer, but in reality, his life is a mess?

The embrace of these alternative spiritual concepts needed to be coupled with a way of separating a useful belief from a useless belief. It’s great that we’re experimenting, but some of these people are objectively wrong, right? Let’s be honest with ourselves: Not every belief is equal.

((As a historical aside, this is where Discordianism came in. Mal and Omar hoped that a religion which was explicitly false, to an obvious and laughable degree would cause the neopagan movement to say “Wait a minute, some of this is bullshit.” ——which would make the movement grow stronger as a whole.))

Internet social justice needs to develop a similar immune system.

Rev Ladymal put it well: “a very bizarre hivemind emerges on social networking sites like these…” Certain groups legitimately endure hatred, and the magic of social media creates an atmosphere where that language of resistance can be shared. And applied to anything. Even when it isn’t appropriate.

“Therefore,” (Rev LadyMal continues) “anyone expressing an opinion (i.e. ‘I don’t like liver.’) becomes an oppressor to liverphiles.”

“The folks hurt by this the most are those who live with being a legitimate oppressed group. This nonsense of couching an unpopular opinion into social justice rhetoric are indeed diminishing the power of real social justice.”

— source: fractalcult

“It is no coincidence that the cultural currents of Zen and Anarchism immediately joined when Zen came to the West. For nowhere in recent Western history is the life of the Eastern renunciate more closely paralleled than in that of the dedicated revolutionary, forsaking all attachments for a single goal. And no Eastern sage comes closer to the zestful life sense of the Anarchist than the Zen Master. But Anarchism, on it’s own, always breaks down as it’s applied. Postmodern jargon-junkies call ideologies (aka, “isms”) like anarchism “emancipatory metanarratives” (do you believe that?) What does that mean? It means systems of belief no different from what came before: BELIEVE IN X, AND YOU WILL BE FREE. YOU WILL REACH PARADISE. Revolutionaries seek salvation in THE CAUSE — this is similar to the way the religious operate — THE CAUSE takes over your life, becoming more important than you are… more important than THEY are. The vision of the anarchist then, will not manifest if applied directly to socety. It must be achieved indirectly as a sociological incidental resulting from the collective synergy of individuals living freely. If Anarchism, however, is about the individual and how their actions relate to society, how is it possible to work/slack without knowledge of who you are and what you are capable of? Self-knowledge grows only from challenge, and challenge brings growth. Challenge yourself, and you come to know yourself. And in doing this, you derive meaning for yourself.”

— Part II: Zenarchy Nutshell, Book 5, “The Zenarchist’s Cookbook”

“Another kind of transcendence myth has been dramatization of human life in terms of conflict and vindication. This focuses upon the situation of oppression and the struggle for liberation. It is a short-circuited transcendence when the struggle against oppression becomes an end in itself, the focal point of all meaning. There is an inherent contradiction in the idea that those devoted to a cause have found their whole meaning in the struggle, so that the desired victory becomes implicitly an undesirable meaninglessness. Such a truncated vision is one of the pitfalls of theologies of the oppressed. Sometimes black theology, for example that of James Cone, resounds with a cry for vengeance and is fiercely biblical and patriarchal. It transcends religion as a crutch (the separation and return of much old-fashioned Negro spirituality) but tends to settle for being religion as a gun. Tailored to fit only the situation of racial oppression, it inspires a will to vindication but leaves unexplored other dimensions of liberation. It does not get beyond the sexist models internalized by the self and controlling society — models that are at the root of racism and that perpetuate it. The Black God and the Black Messiah apparently are merely the same patriarchs after a pigmentation operation — their behavior unaltered.”

— p. 25, excerpt from “The Struggle Toward Self-Transcendence,” chapter 1 (After the Death of God the Father), Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly

“Conservatives, radical leftists and other groups with passionate political viewpoints have commented on the emergence of post-modernism within universities and in the culture in general. Though few people label themselves as post-modernists, phrases which promote post-modernist ideas such as “everyone has their own reality” and “everyone’s ideas are valid” seem to be everywhere. In short, post-modernism is the belief that there is no real, objective world and that people who try to convince you that they have a correct understanding of reality are dictatorial monsters who are persecuting you for having different beliefs to them. Post-modernists despise anyone who has a political ideology, moral system, philosophical worldview or a belief in the value of science and who dares to try to change people’s minds because of it.”

— The Top Five Misrepresentations of those who Reject Post-Modernism

“The corporate world sees that it can make its workers more self-reliant, balanced and focused. What could be better? Take your medicine, because the mindfulness movement is symptomatic of what late capitalism requires of us. A contemplative space opens up where religion used to be. We learn techniques to make us more efficient. This neutered, apolitical approach is to help us personally – it has nothing to say on the structural difficulties that we live with. It lets go of the idea that we can change the world; it merely helps us function better in it.”

— Mindfulness is all about self-help; it does nothing to change an unjust world

“Spiritual people, especially those of a new age bent, tend to be reluctant to watch televised news or read news articles (excepting things like the Wild Hunt or a variety of Patheos blogs), and even more reluctant to even get involved with politics or current events.  They see it as beneath them, considering the news to be “a set up to keep us from manifesting the best reality for us”, and that “spiritual people know better than to get caught up in the illusions” (courtesy of Ernesto Mercer for that quote from one of his own conversations with someone he didn’t think highly of).  And you know what?  Some people aren’t meant to be worldly or get involved in worldly affairs.  Some people are meant to be hermits or monks or recluses that shut themselves out from the world, whose arms are no longer fit for the work of the world, who are here for purely spiritual experiences.  That’s okay.

You, dear reader, aren’t one of them.”

Get off your ass and work: magic and politics


About Cammy

Self-employed freelance writer
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