April 9th, 2004


Getting away for the weekend ...

The Wife has convinced me that we needed to get away for a bit. Things have been so damn stressful between my Mom's death (and all the stuff that goes with that), my still-sputtering job search, etc., etc., etc. ... so we're taking The Girls up to the Wisconsin Dells this weekend to do the "Bay of Dreams" indoor water park. The water park is part of the Treasure Island resort up there, which also has the huge outdoor "Family Land" water park during the summer. While the hotel costs are pretty brutal (we're staying at a Days Inn tonight for 1/5 of what we're paying on Saturday!), if you stay at the Treasure Island, you get free admission to Bay of Dreams, which is something like $23/day/person on the weekends ... plus you get access to the waterparks from the morning of the day you check in through the night of the day you check out, so (at 3 days admission x $92) it's almost a wash (but it does keep us just at that one place).
Last year we went up there in-between The Girls' birthdays (so I'm guessing it was in January), and they liked it a lot. Bay of Dreams is pretty cool, in that it's done up like Mayan ruins ... except for the kids' pool pirate ship, of course. I'm hoping the food options in mid-April will be better than they were in mid-January ... the only decent place to eat we found was this one Jamaican restaurant ... everything else was over-priced "Wisconsin Grease" cuisine ... bleh.

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God Is RedThis was a truly amazing book ... one that I wish everybody would pick up. Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian activist, takes a look at the conflict between "western culture" and "tribal culture" and basically distills the issue down to Christianity. While I am a long-time ardent "anti-Christian", I have rarely seen the case made so calmly, and so directly. The Christian apologists often brush aside folks like me a "still rebelling against their upbringing", as though there was nothing within the dominant paradigm which was worth opposing. This is one of the unique points of God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, the author stands OUTSIDE of the Christian tradition and is able to dissect its history without the encumbrances of being a part of that. Here are some sweet quotes:
"Where the Cross goes, there is ... only death, destruction, and ultimately betrayal."

"Average Christians when hearing of the disaster wreaked ... by their religion and its adherents are quick to state, 'But the people who did this were not really Christians.' In point of fact, they really were Christians. In their day they enjoyed all the benefits and prestige that Christendom could confer. They were cheered as heroes of the faith, ... that a Christian society might be build on the ruin of pagan villages."

"It is interesting to note that [leading researchers] have determined that monotheism was almost always a product of the political arrangement of a society and not not the natural product of religious activities or experiences."

"It is my opinion that popular American Christianity is the greatest of all blasphemies in world history."
Now, not everything in this book was as agreeable to me as the author's views on Christianity ... he is somewhat dismissive of Whites like myself who have sought within the Native teachings pathways to the divine. I am, perhaps, closer to understanding the radical Native stance that this is "theft" of their beliefs, but it still seems to me a bit askew, considering that some tribes and traditions are explicit in their mythologies of the need to spread their knowledge to the other races. Deloria favors the re-establishment of "homeland" faiths for those of us of European stock, noting the Druidic and Nordic faiths reappearing despite millennia of Christian suppression (although he also cautions on this, given the way the Germanic faith expressed itself in the Nazi movement).

Anyway ... anybody who feels "uncomfortable" with Christianity and can't quite put their finger on the reason why should READ THIS BOOK ... also, anybody who can't understand WHY folks like me hate Christianity so deeply should also read this book. It is a bright revealing spotlight shining in the dark recesses of Christianity (and Western Culture), tracking the historic bases and failings of the Major Monotheisms (Judaism and Islam also get a once-over, but they weren't the engines for obliteration of the Native American culture the way Christianity was ... although Islam is doing a pretty good imitation of the "destroying Church" these days!). And, heck ... you can get it for as little as $8 though Amazon's "used" (although "like new") links!

I was having a hard time deciding what to slot into the "religion/spirituality" reading niche after this ... I've opted to try to plow through the rather formidable-looking Voices of the First Day, which appears to be a look at how Australian aboriginal culture and faith has struggled in its conflict with the Western Christian paradigm.

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