Imagine no Religion
"Revelation" becomes ongoing, open-ended, and collaborative
Over the last weeks, I have been trying, yet again, to read The Quran. I find it very hard to concentrate on The Quran. There are a few texts — anything by Ayn Rand falls into this category for me — that make me feel like I am wrestling with a totally alien consciousness. The Quran is one of those.
Apparently if you read Arabic, The Quran is an incomparable, poetic masterpiece. That doesn’t necessarily come through in English translations. A major focus seems to be the horrible punishments — in this world and the next — to be dealt out to unbelievers. Allah, Gabriel, Muhammad— whoever is responsible — won’t stop talking about how bad it is going to be:
Quran 2:191: "Kill them (the unbelievers) wherever you find them, and drive them out.... Such is the reward of the disbelievers. … And kill them wherever you catch them, and drive them out from where they drove you out…
Quran 3:56: "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
Quran 5:33: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement."
Apparently, a significant proportion of 2.2 billion Muslims still believe the Prophet was infallible and The Quran, dictated to him by the angel Gabriel over 23 years, is a direct transmission of divine intelligence whose words and precepts should be followed exactly. I find this collective faith or hypnosis just as implausible — as incredible — as I would find an extraterrestrial spaceship landing today in Times Square. In fact, that billions of human beings are still in thrall to this capricious ancient text seems more incredible and implausible to me than an alien landing in the middle of Manhattan.
To be fair, I have also been reviewing sections of the Old Testament of The Bible. I find it equally unfathomable – utterly bizarre that billions still fixate on it. Let’s take a cursory glance at some passages from these “holy books,” and then consider what can be done about this situation — mass psychosis or Archonic possession-trance — if anything can.
As readers here know, I expressed sympathy for Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks. However I was put off — naggingly bothered — by Netanyahu‘s October 28 comment about the forgotten Biblical people of Amalek. Speaking in Hebrew, Netanyahu said Israelis “are committed to completely eliminating this evil from the world. You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. And we do remember.”
Amalek was, apparently, a neighboring people that the Jews brutally conquered in retaliation for some evil — murderous raids — that the nasty Amalekites inflicted upon them. Through his prophet Samuel, Yahweh gave his “Chosen People” a big Thumb’s Up (the Divine “Like” button) to wiping out the Amalekite people, which the Jews proceeded to do. According to the Lord Almighty, as transmitted via Samuel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” So they did. The Bible records many such massacres. The Jewish festival of Purim, for instance, commemorates a mass slaughter of 75,000 Persian enemies of the Jews.
Netanyahu’s Amalek comment is proving to be, for me, something like a thread that, as I tug on it, threatens to pull apart the whole Israeli garment. Of course, there is a lot stuff like it in the Old Testament, such as this passage from Deuteronomy:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you — 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. … 16 You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Yahweh, in the Old Testament, seems, often, less a wise, elevated deity than a jealous, threatening warlord – a psychopathic Archon – who needs to be appeased by blind devotion, mass violence, and convoluted laws, rituals, and practices. While Yahweh behaves like an atavistic tribal God, He pretends to be the God, the only divine being, the “Almighty,” at the same time. The Quranic God continues along this trajectory:
“Whenever We intend to destroy a society, We command its elite ˹to obey Allah˺ but they act rebelliously in it. So the decree of punishment is justified, and We destroy it utterly.”
People who believe this kind of stuff obviously shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near nuclear weapons. The Orthodox Jews in Israel have a birth rate of 6.6, compared to a little over 3 for Reformists. Religious zealots are quickly becoming the majority of the population, pulling the country further toward the Far Right, with zany ideas of Messianic righteousness. In a few decades if not sooner, they will have their holy, twitchy fingers on the nuclear trigger.
When you step back to think about it, the power that a few ancient, prophetic texts continue to hold over so many human minds is absolutely astounding. This is a glitch in our neuro-cognitive wiring as a species. How do we even understand it?
I think about it in a few different ways. Obviously, there is great power in tradition, community inheritance, and continuity. In developing his thesis of morphic resonance, Rupert Sheldrake talks about “the pattern of the past,” which leaves an invisible imprint, shaping the present. Carl Jung developed a theory of “archetypes” embedded in the collective Psyche.
There are, I believe, charged historical moments when certain individuals or avatars receive high-voltage energy transmissions from other levels or dimensions of reality. The holy books, the sacred texts, are the record of past high-voltage transmissions, and hold a psychological imprint of that original force and charisma. They are, also, primordial acts of signification, often signaling or recording a transformation of language, civilization, and consciousness at a historic juncture.
I directly experienced this myself, as I wrote about in Quetzalcoatl Returns.