Monday, January 21, 2008


It is Americas unspoken promise to all who live here and the reason people from all over the world risk everything to get here. More is the promise America makes to any and all that will sit still long enough for the commercial. Everyone wants it. More money, more food, more sex, more love, more respect, more success, more understanding, more time. More.
It is what America is all about.
It is our greatest strength and our biggest flaw.
Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not the same thing as more. Trust me on this one. If more is on the table, then happiness is not. You will always chase after the next big thing, the new and improved product or that promised deeper high rather than be content with what you have. In the pursuit of more, we have also created some problems.
We have more crime than any other western industrialized nation. We have more pregnant teenagers, more people in prison, more bankruptcy's and more people without any health coverage.
We have more social problems than a lot of countries do yet about half of Americans say this is a Christian nation.
I always wonder how that squares with Christians. When I have asked, they blame our troubles on the fact that not everyone is a Christian. Iceland, Holland, Norway; all these countries are relatively agnostic and have almost none of the same problems on the scale we do.
How do you explain that?
I think I have part of the answer.
What makes us crazy is more. The pursuit of more. The idea, the dream of getting more of what you have. In some bizarre move, the Gospel of more is now being preached not in TV commercials, but in churches. Mega churches, they call them. Usually in the suburbs, mostly white middle class people attend them. The message they are getting; more is what Jesus wants you to have. Jesus wants you to be wealthy.
OK, lets forget for a moment that the only time Jesus lost his temper was at the money changers in the temple, but I can't seem to remember ever reading anything in the new testament where he said, turn the other cheek and get a Lexus. Do you?
These mega churches and the emphasis on worldly success is now the biggest growing religion in America. Of course it is! People are being told what they want to hear in a society that runs on plastic disposable income. If God wants me to be rich, who am I to disagree. And if you don't attain riches, it is because your faith is weak.
What a wonderful scam.
Jesus died for your sins. Not your investments.
How did this happen? How did religion and making money become the same thing?
Everyone not only wants more, but they want permission to have it too. I can't think of anyone better to say it's OK to buy that boat while kids starve in Africa than God.
It's Muzak.
You know those instrumental watered down versions of songs you hear? Thats what American Christians have done with the New testament. You can still pick out some of the original lyrics, like Jesus and sin and life after death, but they have put it into a new and dangerous context.
America is about to change. You can feel it as well as see the signs everywhere. Who ever becomes President next will preside over a nation in decline. We reached for more and because we thought God gave us the permission to do so, we have so overextended ourselves in the quest for more oil, more power, more control and more security that we have broken the bank.
How about that? Not only have we become morally bankrupt, but we have also become economically broke too.
The entire Iraq war is on credit. All of it. It doesn't even show up on the budget. Thats a little scary because the budget is already a Trillion dollars in debt without factoring in the expense of our little war of choice for more oil.
More More More.
We are the new Roman empire.
They, just like us, maintained military bases all over their world. They built roads to maintain control. We built the Internet. They were renown for their cruelty in sport. Do I need to keep listing the comparisons?
They too had temples and God's that demanded monetary sacrifices. They too had poor, war and the faith that their might derived from a supreme moral force that blessed them in all their endeavours.
They crumbled.
They crumbled because they too fell for the idea that more was their birth right. Rome became known as the first Christian empire too. All the legendary debauchery you see in movies didn't really come into the form we see until Rome became christian. There is an interesting phenomenon we fail to see here. When morality is made law it becomes the very thing that makes sin so damn appealing.
Remember buying beer before you were of legal age? You remember that thrill? It goes away after 21 doesn't it? Why? Because half the high of getting fucked up is in knowing that it's against the law.
More and wrong are the two biggest factors in bringing us down. We have laws for everything in this country. In the land of the free, nothing is. Now think of Amsterdam. You can legally buy and use drugs, look at prostitutes in windows and walk the streets with a beer in your hand.
Try any of that here and your busted, jack! You tell me who has more actual freedom. Amsterdam has a crime rate far bellow Americas. Yet, they are not a Christian nation with our superior morals. How do they offer sin so casually and suffer none of the social ills we do? I suspect it has more to do with a difference in philosophy. While we fill the next generation with promises of more, a selfish national philosophy, most of Europe grows up with a very different idea of society. We want more for ourselves. Everything about American society is about satisfying the desires of the individual. That is a very modern and what I believe to be accurate definition of capitalism. Then there is socialism. It's right there in the titles of our governing principles. Social-ism. They are a people who realize they are part of something greater than any one person. They realize they are stronger together than apart. They have more vacation time, more real personal freedom, and health care.
Capitalism is based on money. More money, more power. More money, more chances. More money, more control. Now that churches are getting into the act, capitalism is becoming more than just an economic system, it is being made into the model of how we should conduct out lives.
How can a system that is designed to enrich the individual first and maybe the rest of society second become a religion? The answer to that is simple. Like Atkins all meat diet, we are being told we can have it all. Not only can we have it all, but God wants us to become wealthy. I don't know about you, but if your sole reason for joining a church and attempting to communicate with God is to get rich, God might not be listening. You can't treat Heaven like an ATM machine and God as the supreme teller. If religion is to have any credibility in the spirit, then it can have nothing to do with money. They represent very different ways of living. But here in America, we have a special relationship with money and God. After all, his name is on our money. Maybe that confused some people.
In the 60's, people took to the street to fight for more rights, more education, more peace and more opportunity.
In the 70's, we all just wanted more. It was not so much a decade in American history so much as it was one long national black out. Our desire for more comfort gave birth to a plastic disposable culture.
The 80's came and more became the real word behind every advertisement and every song on MTV. people were waking up from the disco and cocaine 70's to find the corporations turning more into a boardroom mantra.
The 90's, at least the first half, were a little different I think. grunge music surprised everyone. It was a legitimate self made movement that the establishment didn't see coming. But at the height of the 90's Disney unleashed the mindless easy music of stars like Britney Spears.
If ever there was a poster child for the dangers of more, it is Britney Spears.
Today, we live in the 21st Century. A time that has long been dreamed about. Technology was to be almost indistinguishable from magic by now. We would all be going into space and the world would find balance. Thats what was imagined anyway. Instead, more has been raised from a selfish cry to a way of life that is to be admired. More is now a religion. The religion of America.
It is going to be interesting to see what happens to the idea of more in the next few years. economically speaking, we have nothing left. If our national spirit has become tied to closely with more, then we are indeed in a lot of trouble.

1 comment:

Marty Grimes said...

It's good to see some Zen in your Zen of Funny. You're thinking like a buddha. America is littered with Samudaya. Pretty subversive stuff, my friend.

Many Americans take pity on the poor persecuted Burmese monks, but Heaven forbid that a Buddhist should ever attempt to rise to a leadership position in America.

A U.S. politician professing he's a Buddhist is almost as bad as if he professed he's a Muslim.

Obama is busy scrambling to defend the fact that he is, in no way, a Muslim. Just as I was about to vote for him, I see he's got a mailer that describes him as a "committed Christian" who believes in the "power of prayer" and has been "called to Christ," whatever the hell that means. I'm starting to lose my erection for him.

In America, the only thing worse than being a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Mormon or a Scientologist, is to be an atheist. I'm screwed.