Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trust the Rich

Pastors say all kinds of things. At one time, they'd raise hell and curse damnation on anyone not . . . what, accepting the love of god? Not belonging to their loving church? Not loving the right neighbors? Oh, the irony.

Today, pastors are more likely to say things that support the plutocracy.

Isn't that the party line? For which party? Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Evangelical party, Right-to-Life party. You name it. Even atheists toe that line, the one that says "Trust the rich. The rich people know what's best for all of us."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sleep: Another Offering to Mammon

One of the research stories highlighted in Discover Magazine this month was about "Social Jet Lag," a fancy name for the irregular sleep pattern common among young adults who work hard and lack for sleep all week, then stay up late and sleep late on weekends. The story reports that irregular sleep patterns are associated with obesity and higher rates of diabetes. Shift work is another culprit, but even slightly shifted sleep patterns can impact your pancreatic function.

My mom didn't need any scientific study to know that a good night's sleep was essential to my health and well being. Regular sleep patterns are natural for humans. Why not go to bed with the darkness and wake with the light? Don't you feel better after a good night's sleep? More alert, more energetic? You catch fewer colds when you get regular sleep. You do better on tests.

But Americans are getting less sleep than ever and a majority say they don't get the sleep they know they need. An active social life and work demands reduce available sleep time. The 24-7 world in which we live is constantly stimulating, ever-present stress encourages sleep-impacting drug use (for example alcohol and coffee), and always-on electric lights create irregular sleep patterns. The alarm clock wakes us before we're ready. The TV special lures us to stay up late.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: Wake up and produce! Get going and consume! There's no time for a social life in between those demands, so we take our social time out of our sleep time and we shop and work and watch screens when we could be eating, or relaxing, or lovemaking, or music playing, or running around chasing a ball with the family dog.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: The Fiscal Times reports that sleeplessness is a 32.4 billion dollar business. They've got us coming and going.

Sleep. One more sacrifice at the altar of Mammon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Which God?

The monotheists have been bickering for quite a while now over which one is the real one, the only real and true mono-god. The Big "G." He [sic]-Who-is-Everything. They still haven't figured out that the very fact of their bickering shows that there exists more than one god.

The great earth pantheon is home to more gods than are written about in the monotheists' various sacred books. When we celebrate Christmas in an orgy of consumption, we are performing the ritual of Mammon, God of Money and Greed. When we tune in faithfully to American Idol and do exegesis on OK! magazine, we are participating in the Cult of Celebrity. Our screens are altars to the Techno-Deity. Our politics a peon to Power.

I don't give a shit how many gods there are in this little piece of universe, or whether some churches think they hold the monopoly on the god-thing. What I care about is which gods a person chooses to love and follow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What have the Christians been up to for 2000 years?

What? No healing the sick? What have these Christians been up to for the past 2000 years? Not following Jesus, that's for sure because Jesus told us specifically to heal the sick in his name.

Universal health care is a topic of particular importance to me, because my husband and I have no health insurance and neither do two of our three adult children. That's not because we can be labeled as no-good trailer trash free-loaders. My husband and I are both professional people with 20 + years of experience, but we took a sabbatical, time off from work to serve god, and we were left high and dry. Our children all work, and the one who has health care gets it from a campus clinic where she goes to school.

Meanwhile, my relatives in Canada receive the care they need when they need it. When my dad was in his last years, Canada took care of his medical needs and gave my stepmom caregiver respite time. Yes, for free. Yes, high quality. Yes, from their taxes. What better thing to spend our taxes on than health care? Would you rather the government spent it bailing out the banks? Dropping bombs? My stepmom was able to carry on after my dad died without being burdened by huge medical debt.

Some people say that universal health care would lower standards and we'd get lousy doctoring. Why? Do they think doctors are only in it for the money and that paying them less would mean they'd stop caring and do a bad job? Do we think so little of our doctors? And would I want a man or woman who was only in it for the money to even touch my body?

Current medical training, the profit-based health care system, and the focus on technology all conspire to lower the quality of health care in the United States. Just look at what a mess our bodies are, with obesity and related diseases skyrocketing, infant mortality at a shameful 6 per 1000 (making us number 50 among the nations and well below the countries with universal health care), depression and anxiety rampant, death from cigarettes and alcohol still high . . . More to the point, iatrogenic (doctor caused) mortality is listed as 225,000 yearly in the U.S. (To compare, in the U.S. per year: all cancers 567,000; alcohol related deaths, 75,000; marijuana related deaths, 0.)

For-profit medical care is not the best. Not by a long shot. And it seems to me that healing the sick for free is what Jesus would do. In fact, that's exactly what he did.