Wires and penthouses, Atlanta
Penthouses From 14th Street

View On White

Despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage…

Music for the ride. Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings at You Tube.


The truth is the world really does look different from the penthouse, or the mountain top. And the ministers never tell their congregations the truth. I know that, having relatives who were ministers. The laymen leaders of congregations have their own agendas, certainly, which they also don’t disclose to the unwashed masses, and are often powerful enough to lord it over the clergy. Clergy which they choose to shepherd the flock. And the clergy? Whether they’re bitten or biting, they just don’t tell, and don’t tell what the penthouse view is. The congregation is as much an Other to them as the citizenry is to the police. They will smile and embrace you, and you will think you know them and that they serve you absolutely and are your friends, but they will never let on what transpires in the inner sanctum.

Systematic lying creates what communications scientists call a “disinformation situation,” in which everybody eventually begins to distrust, demonize and diabolize everybody else. Paul Watzlavik, among others, has performed classic experiments in which totally sane people will begin to behave with all the irrationality of hospitalized paranoids or schizophrenics–just because they have been lied to in a calculated and systematic way. This sort of “disinformation” matrix is so typical of many aspects of our society (e.g., advertising and organized religion, as well as government) that some psychiatrists, such as R.D. Laing, claim it is the principal cause of psychotic breakdowns. When the politics of lying becomes normal, paranoia and alienation become the “normality” of the day.

Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger Volume 1

Ah, you didn’t know that I have read RAW, did you? But of course I have. Certain interests of his like cryogenics and the reach for physical immortality, I never had much use for, but RAW dovetails nicely with Philip K. Dick.

A problem with the above quotation is that it’s expressed in such a way that it makes everyone sound like raving, isolated paranoids, which the normal mom or pop or teen isn’t going to recognize in themselves. Because people are imminently adaptable, whether rewarded with the occasional door prize or the threat of loss of something dear, like income, and succumb to the status quo, whatever is handed down by the paramount threat/god in their lives. They build community and personal nests at the base of the mountain from which the law is handed down so the news of what’s good/bad for the day is readily available, and the system becomes theirs, becomes normal, is the way to conduct your affairs, and the paranoia is directed against out-of-towners. Thus the horror flicks of vacationers happening on the town from hell.

But the problem with RAW also is that that the townies aren’t going to want to read RAW because he is the out-of-towner. If I handed RAW over to any of my conservative relations or friends, they would, at their best, take a glance at the Eye of Horus on the cover and knowing that the Eye of Horus is all superstitious myth they would promptly discount as without merit and laughable. At paranoid worst, they would see the Eye of Horus and the words “Final Secret of the Illuminati” and without a clue as to what is within the covers they would distrust, demonize, diabolize–all based on that Eye of Horus or Ra. The wdjet, wadjet, udjat. Which was/is a symbol of protection and a mathematical representation of the Egyptian Kingdom.

Curiously, we now have widgets (whether there’s a relationship, I don’t know) as nothing sort of whatevers, objects that are mute as to their value or meaning when not in direct context, and maybe even then. You just know that you don’t want to spend your life making widgets which are mysterious dark critters as compared to gadgets that are obviously not widgets. Except that widgets, if you know their function, may be just what the doctor ordered. Such as with different widgets I can install in my sidebar that make blogging more convenient.

So one way of describing most religions and governments is that they’re paranoid systems which make paranoid living a comfortable situation by giving people concrete somethings (everything outside the system) about which to be paranoid. The thing is that there are multiple paranoid systems that have every right to be paranoid of each other, and even if there weren’t multiple paranoid systems, just one is enough as everything exterior becomes adversarial by reason of its place in the paranoid system, which is the diabolical, free-wheeling Other that is out to corrupt the status quo. In other words, the paranoid system takes everything prisoner. Everything must have its reason and place in the system, even those things which are not remotely connected with it ideologically.

America was already paranoid before Bush, before 9/11. It just felt more in control and less worried about the Other, such as weary travelers who just happen to have a brief pit stop in Los Angeles and must fill out lengthy forms and be fingerprinted and photographed before heading on to that Not-A-United-States-Place where they plan to have some fun, because who wants to vacation in a police state?

What’s to be questioned is what the leaders are paranoid about, both Democrat and Republican. Do they buy the same fears they’re selling, which are used to justify the information gathering and over-the-top controls? Do they buy their hype?

I’m not saying that the overlords don’t fear. I just believe they’ve got their own set of fears, which they keep reserved for themselves, while feeding the general public a special set of fears, just like you have your skin cream products that are for the general masses and then you’ve got the specialty stuff which the general public doesn’t need as it’s just security camera time for them rather than High Definition TV. After all, the general public is part of the Other, the Adversary. And are the Priests of Fear going to take the General Public into their confidence and let them know what keeps their cogs oiled and the home fires burning with their own rarefied paranoid fuel?

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

9 thoughts on “THAT MOUNTAIN TOP HIGH”

  1. I leave for one weekend… go to my hometown, and as if that’s not disorienting enough, I come back to find idyllopus press looking completely different!

    I like it, as if it matters if I do or not, but find it’s adding to my sense of disorientation…

    I’m also dwelling on the fact that none of our fish are blinking.

  2. I did indeed notice the comments! I was thinking that my name had some new importance added to it which is odd considering I always return from my hometown feeling about 12.

    Is the more dignified look an attempt to disguise the fact that you and many of your readers eat plebeian cheeses??

  3. And here I am sitting eating a nice big slice of cream cheese off a knife. I have a habit of eating with steak knives, which drives Marty nuts.

    I’m so pleased that you noticed the high status air to the comments area. The other one percent of the blogosphere may look down their noses at us for our cheese eating habits, but not for our clean stying, content-oriented presentation.

  4. I like the new look of your blog, as well as the headliner on it, think it’s funny. I think this that you posted is interesting but don’t know quite how to comment on it. As you know, I’ve got my own relationship to clergy and though I think my own minister mother may have had personal reasons for going into ministry, as a way of sorting out and dealing with her own inner issues, it’s hard for me to think of her as having been someone who looked down on the congregation from the mountain top. I knew her to be a person who didn’t feel she had final answers, though I think I can see she had a body of thought that she tried to live by and hoped to share with others. I think she sometimes fell short. But perhaps you are speaking of some other religions. I have a harder time associating what you wrote with Unitarian Universalism.

  5. I was thinking about church politics mostly. Maybe in a smaller church, it’s less so. But what I’ve observed was a lot of church politics and personal politics and things going on that the congregation would never know about,which often directly affected the congregation. Everything was done to keep the congregation from knowing these things.

    Plus, yes, spiritual matters to the degree that some clergy feel that they must never display any sort of weakness or doubt, which is perhaps something that you’re just not going to have as much of in a UU church because issues concerning faith there are going to be different. You’re operating from a basis of inclusion rather than exclusion, of exploration rather than keeping to a dictated creed. If you’ve got a Christian minister, especially in an atmosphere that stresses positive material (physical, financial) etc. rewards as part and parcel of faithful living, then they’re not going to have much flexibility in questioning those beliefs over the decades that follow their initial decision to enter the ministry. They are supposed to have those final answers. If they go through a period of loss of faith, if they discuss it later, they are of course supposed to come out shining on the other side, with an increase in faith. These are people whose livelihoods depend on their ministry, it’s their career, and if they later question the beliefs they held as young twenty-somethings entering the ministry, well, how many are going to be willing to abandon their career–their income, their pension, their insurance? With the UU ministry it’s a somewhat different situation in that regard.

    I worked for a little while in an Episcopal church, on top of having relatives in Baptist and other churches in positions in the clergy, and in all those situations I saw an “us” and “them” split between the ministerial staff and the congregation. Part of it, I felt, was directly related to the secrecy as far as what really went on behind the scenes, the politics and strife. And part of it seemed to be in response to what were felt to be excessive and constant demands on the part of congregationers,and this has quite a bit to do with poor training in boundaries as concerning the ministerial staff. I saw that the congregation often became viewed as the adversary, which is what’s going to happen when they’re seen as people from whom the behind-the-scenes truth needs to be hidden (especially with a monied congregation with big building programs where you feel a big need to protect the contributions) and as relentless and demanding children.

  6. P.S. Nina, I’ve thought about it a little more and what could make the difference is whether a church/religion tends to attract ministers who feel they are serving God or the people. If individuals enter the ministry feeling they are serving the God of that faith, rather than serving the spiritual needs of people, then it seems right there a basis for an “us” versus “them” relationship with the congregation, the adults versus the children.

  7. I started to compose something at work and then got interrupted so many times that I lost what I was composing. Drat. Work sure can get in the way of things sometimes.

    I think your point is a good one, the distinction between serving the spiritual needs of people versus serving the God of that faith.

    And certainly Unitarian churches aren’t above petty congregational politics. My mother called it the “kitchen committee”, people who got together informally and sometimes created unhappiness or made plans to undermine this or that person.

    Unitarian congregations are often rather anti-clergy, probably because the members have come from other denominations and don’t want to invest that much power in a single person.

    I think you are right, that in a small church there may be less politics in part because everyone has to work hard just to keep things going.

    I guess I got so used to knowing that clergy can and do feel weakness and doubt that it doesn’t seem surprising nor does it destroy my own beliefs. They are people but of course it isn’t how some, or maybe even many, people view them. And I’ve no doubt that there are clergy that very much want to project themselves as the final authority.

    I know of several Unitarian ministers who started out in other faith communities and became disillusioned in some way and couldn’t stay within the fold of those other communities, as it were. I daresay it is difficult to leave and become something else. I think there are probably always people in any given religion that are questioning its tenets. Some probably do that quietly and may hold private beliefs that are different from those around them. Some question and then have to leave, because it causes them too much pain, too much inner conflict between what they believe and what the have to profess to believe.

    Sometimes I’ve thought about the responsibility there is in being a public person, particularly someone like a clergy person, that whatever you say will be heard in hundreds of different ways, that some people will misunderstand what you mean. I think there are some religious people who do understand that and feel that responsibility, consider the words they say as much as they can; and others who understand that they have power and relish that, without regard to the real life effects that they have, perhaps too dazzled by that power; and some who are probably just thoughtless people, who don’t think much about what they say, only parrot what they have heard and think must be so.

    I think I’m not being focused enough in what I want to say so I’ll stop here.

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