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Obsolescence

New Webpage - 9 September 2005

Obsolescence is that which is becoming obsolete, going out of use, fading, passé, extinct, dead. whatever. The fact that the word itself never really becomes obsolete is good news in that it suggests a continuing evolvement of human life and literature. When obsolete becomes obsolete, then there is no longer change.

The additional good news is that in general the march toward obsolescence of various ideas, concepts, and artifacts are often without fanfare or much ado about what is rapidly becoming nothing. Things which just don't make the grade anymore are quietly and mercifully forgotten -- except by weird historians (eccentric if they have a Ph.D.).

The bad news is that there are exceptions to deservedly obsolete ideas and concepts quietly fading away. It is these exceptions which often do more than most anything else in bringing pain, anguish, misery, and needless death to the world.

Obsolescence in the arenas of politics and religion, for example, involve those ideas and concepts which are virtually never allowed to simply and quietly fade away as their contribution to humanity would otherwise dictate. These antiquated notions are in fact blindly maintained at the cost of enormous expenditures of energy and human effort. Such efforts are wholly inappropriate, causing widespread suffering, and in general are archaic and antediluvian (i.e., of or belonging to the time before the Biblical flood).

Politics-as-usual with its adversarial, black and white, two-party (albeit one-agenda) nature, and the simultaneous elimination of moderation, cooperation, and fairness is one of the better examples of an obsolete system which simply can no longer expect to survive - much less flourish - in an age of virtually unlimited communications.

The same can be said of the idea of religious faith -- beliefs in fanciful imaginings which provide no benefit or aid to anyone, but which can and have been subverted by anal-retentives and other despicable creatures to control the masses at all costs. In fact, politics and religion are essentially kissing cousins: both superfluous except as means to control and manipulate large masses of innocents to the advantage of those doing the manipulation.

Franck [1] has suggested that the Halexandria website "contributes to the reader's ability to apprehend that which is obsolete." Whether or not the website accomplishes this laudable task is an open question. But the idea of apprehending that which is obsolete is likely a much better and smarter approach than to create a revolution. Indeed, "the human being system is more ready to accept the fact of something becoming obsolete - or having it "upgraded" - than to assume that it must somehow be destroyed." In effect, fading into obsolescence is preferable to active demolition.

Religions, for example, may require major upgrades -- and the elimination of nonuseful and/or detrimental concepts -- in order to avoid the creative revolutionary junk pile. And yet, religious faith by its very nature is the antithesis of evolution (pardon the obvious). Religon is also sorely opposed to progress, transformation, and/or any significant improvement in the human condition. This is readily manifested in the fact that for anyone following the fundamental dictates of a religion the first and foremost instruction is to staunchly defend what has gone before regardless of its questionable nature, indefensible conclusions, or inherent insanity. Such blind, kneejerk response is baed on the idea that once the fortifications of some idiotic concept is breeched, then other concepts may lose their appeal as well, and rather quickly the religious hierarchy may begin to hear the strains of "The Party's Over."

The point being made here is that in lieu of destroying religion in the name of humanity, it might be preferable to concentrate our attention on slowly dissolving the impact of those particular religious absurdities which tend to regularly wreck genocide on our lives. This includes fiddling with tradition -- the word, tradition, being somewhat less loaded for controversy than "blind faith". It means taking the time and energy to revisit decisions (typically made in childhood) upon which one is basing their life. Combating obsolescence is thus going away or against ("ob") that to which one has become accustomed. It is shaking up the paradigm, those basic assumptions which color (and often misrepresent) the various aspects of our lives. It is taking personal responsibility for our we live our lives.

Such assertiveness at making obsolescence synonmous with forgotten must, of course, use discrimination in choosing that which needs to be obsolete and that which does not. The philosophical underpinnings of compassion, for example, might be something of which we do not want to ever lose -- while a religious intolerance of homosexuals has long outlived any possible benefit to anyone. Politically, concepts such as allodial (freeholding of land without regard to any other sovereign) need to be revived, while the existence of "majority or minority whips" need to quickly fade away.

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong [2] has, for example, written that in scientific and academic circles, it is widely accepted that "homosexuality in gay men and lesbians is caused by biological factors" and is not something chosen are caught, like 'flu'. This reality of course flies in the face of "the chruches of the world that are increasingly seen as the bastions of an undying homophobia, which causes them to be at war over an issue that outside those churches has largely been settled." It also places in clear relief the ongoing ignorance of the embarrassing rhetoric from people like Pope Benny, Pat Robertson, Jerry falwell and their passionate acolytes of the Religious Right in America. "Negative words also come from Christian leaders in the third world who try to cover their obviously uninformed opinions with the charge of racism when those opinions are rejected as simply ignorant. The evidence is so clear. Homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is morally neutral. Both can be lived out in holiness or in degradation. Both are 'givens' not 'chosen'. The only 'sin' of homsexual people is that they are born with a sexual orientation different from the majority."

Separately [3], Bishop Spong has also taken on the myth of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. "I do not know of a reputable New Testament scholar in the world today, Catholic or Protestant, who treats the [virgin] birth storie about Jesus in Matthew and Luke as literal history. You might find one at Bob Jones University, Liberty Baptist College or Oral Roberts University. It also appears to be true that no Roman Catholic scholar will draw the proper conclusion from his or her scholarship and still be welcomed at the Vatican." Bishop Spong notes that: "I do not think that seeing the virgin birth as a mythological and symbolic way of saying we have met in this Jesus Christ a God presence that human life could never have produced in no way validates the claim we mak that God was in Christ. It does destroy the literalism in which we have bound him but I regard that as good riddance." [emphasis added]

The obsolence which may deserve to be encouraged are those associated with other "obs", such as obscene, obsequious ("servilely obedient"), obscurantism ("opposition to knowledge and enlightenment"), obsession ("preoccupation, haunting, filling the mind continually"), obstacle, obstruction, obstinate, obstreperous ("turbulent, unruly, noisy, vociferous"), et al. Obviously.

Concepts to be encouraged include fun, freedom, fidelity, frivolity, friends, and fried green tomatoes. And of course, sex. (But that's another story.)

In the end, it might be wise to remember E. H. White's words:

"I aware in the morning, torn between a desire to save the world, and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day."

On the other hand, it might make no difference at all.

____________________________

References:

[1] Franck , Private Communication, 24 August 2005.

[2] John Shelby Spong, A New Christianity for a New World, September 2005.

[3] John Shelby Spong, Bishop Spong Q&A, September 2005.

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Fiddling with Tradition

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