Thursday, October 31, 2013

¡Que viva FSLN!

Oh how hilarious is the God I serve.

Here I sit, on my ass wrapped up in a blanket since I now get cold so easily. I am writing this on my laptop MacBook Pro, and I love my life. There are some very dire not-good-things about my life right now -- mostly of a financial nature -- but overall I am grateful beyond words for God's still-speaking breath-of-life and I know now, perhaps more than ever, that God is not only a transcendent eternal entity but that God is also immanently present in my life and God cares about me personally, to the point that God gave me Jesus so that I might know God as a human can know another human.

By now it should be obvious that I am taking my core theology class requirement this semester, n'est-ce pas? But back to the point: God is one hilarious μοθερφυκερ. Or, perhaps a better -- and less R-rated way -- of stating it is thus... what is old is new again.

Next January will mark 25 years since I moved to California. That in itself is worth a full chapter in my autobiography; however, right now I am focusing on the Fall semester of 1989, my sophomore year at Cal-Berkeley. So many things happened that fall which are foundational to my sense of self as a person who is California-by-adoption. Or a Bay-Area-by-adoption. Or, perhaps most accurately, East-Bay-by-adoption. I'm a little bit 925 and a whole lotta 510. (To my readers from outside the Bay Area: 510 and 925 are the two area codes for the greater East Bay subregion of the SF Bay Area.)

Fall 1989 was the fall of the earthquake, of course, and I could devote an entire other chapter of my autobiography to that experience. But Fall 1989 was also the semester when I took a life-changing class. Introduction To Cultural Anthropology. Anthro 3. It was a survey class, designed to introduce the student to the principles and methods of the sub-discipline of anthropology known as Cultural Anthropology. It is fascinating and wonderful, and it is very-much the way I tend to see the world. But more importantly it was taught by an absolutely wonderful academic giant named Jack Potter. He was a very good lecturer and he knew his material quite well. But more importantly, he was an avowed Marxist. He announced that in the first class meeting. And I was like... oooooookay, I'm a bit scared but whatever... Berkeley, yaknow.

And then, he rocked my world. Professor Potter introduced me to what Marxism actually is. And, as it turns out, God laughed audibly at this point in my life. Of course, I didn't know what I was hearing at the time since I was totally "over that God shit" having run away from the homophobic xenophobic ickiness of my ancestral homeland. But the more I learned, the more I realized just how totally I had been lied to about the Marxist tradition.

But Professor Potter was not just a screaming-left radical Berkeleyite. He was a deeply passionate, deeply compassionate, and deeply loving man who exposed for me the evil at the heart of the military-industrial complex and who showed me how the blueprint for true liberation given to the world by Marx was so evilly sodomized by those who followed him -- Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Min, Castro, the North Korean Kim dynasty, and any number of other "Marxist revolutionaries" through time. What I learned from this professor has stayed with me ever since. Even when I was worshipping the dollar in the software and biotech industries, I could not ignore the greater truth I had glimpsed. And most importantly, Professor Potter didn't just study Marx... he saw for himself how Marxism could blend with religion to truly liberate the poor under the banner of Liberation Theology as it existed in Nicaragua before the Reagan-era Contra death-squads destroyed it in the name of "American liberation from Communism." It was at the hands of Professor Potter that some seeds were planted all those years ago.

And this fall, the seeds have sprouted into a vine. Liberation Theology has come back to me. Thank the God of Liberation, and my comrade Jesus The Christ. As for how this resurgence of Liberation Theology into my life will inform my politics, and my religious convictions, going forward... well, who can say but God. But I can say the following, as an example.

Today in the mainstream press there was a huge story about how the NSA apparently hacked into the backbones of major corporate entities such as Yahoo, Google, and perhaps even Facebook (while also spying on the leaders of our allies such as Germany), in order to mine data about personal behaviors of private citizens using the services of these mega-corporations. Well, with my newly rediscovered Liberation Theology speaking fiercely into my heart, here is my response:

At the risk of offending some of my dearly valued friends in & near Silicon Valley, I must ask: are you surprised? No, really, are you? Beyond that, though, what really gets me hot under the (clerical) collar is the way these companies are reacting to the news. Maybe I missed something fundamental here, but it seems to me that Google, Yahoo, and any other such companies are guilty of the most vile of hypocrisies when they choose to whine to the media regarding how pissed off they are that the NSA might have hacked their backbones to spy on their users. Can we take a minute to review your damn business plans? YOUR BUSINESS MODEL IS PREDICATED ON THE SAME CONCEPT! Companies like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook make their money via targeted advertising. Targeted advertising is a nice neat term invented by capitalists. It's a neat way of describing how companies SPY ON YOUR INTERNET USAGE IN ORDER TO COERCE YOU TO GIVE AWAY YOUR MONEY. Let's not kid ourselves. Such companies do not give a rat's fat ass about our privacy beyond their ability to control how they invade it. That's right. Such companies only care about CONTROLLING our privacy. These companies are bourgeois capitalist entities and their only function is to generate profit from the slave-labor of the proletariat. These companies make money by mining & selling data about what we look at on the Internet to other bourgeois powers that are coercing us into buying shit that overall we do not need. These companies are just pissed off that the NSA is better at stealing our data than they are.

Hello world. Philip Tanner, the revolutionary thinker, has returned to the building. And yes, I am fully aware that I am posting this entry on a cloud-based service controlled by one of my bourgeois masters, the Google Lord itself. The irony of this is not lost on me.

Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
-Matthew 23:31-35 NRSVA

 ¡Que viva el Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional!

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