Tuesday, July 5, 2016


With Daughter Youngest and Grand Daughter still in Siesta Key, the crew of Kintala deemed it okay to rent one of those motorized four wheel coaches for a couple of more days. It even seemed reasonable to tempt the fates and join them in Siesta Key...on the Fourth of July weekend. Such a visit is the social antithesis of our current mode of living, dwelling on a boat as the near lone residents in a boatyard, occasional bike rides into a non-tourist town, with most of our off time spent hiding from the heat in our modest – but still air conditioned – salon.

Siesta Key on the Fourth of July weekend is 10,000 cars trying to fit into 8,000 parking places. It is hoards of pale skinned visitors laid out on the beach like so many lobsters at a bar-b-cue, slow roasting in the near tropical sun. It is also adorable little kids splashing around in the shallow surf, enthralled by an ocean many of them are seeing for the first time. It is families having fun and people taking a break from their work-a-day lives. It is THE BEACH, that mythical place of bikinis and brews, a touch of heaven that can often be pretty close to the mecca all the vacation advertising makes it out to be.

One of my favorite parts of this beach is the Drum circle, the every-Sunday celebration of the Sun Going Down. It is a good thing to celebrate in that the Belenus (as the sun is known as in Celtic mythology) is, in these parts, a bit of an overbearing god. Oh, he brings light and life, makes the plants grow lush, warms the sea to temperatures that sea life and swimmers find agreeable, all that good stuff. But he gets a bit enthusiastic about it all during the summer, lashing anyone who has reason to dare direct exposure with a heat and humidity that will make a long day of work seem nothing short of day of punishment. Watching him settle behind the horizon for a few hours break is a relief.

Besides, it is as good an excuse as any for a bunch of people to gather around and pound some drums, for people young and not so young to laugh and dance in the sand, for people to enjoy being people without anyone getting hurt or offended. It is a big beach with lots of room, so anyone who finds the whole thing a bit too primal or ancient can find their own place to watch the sun set, worshiping (or not) any kind of god they like in the process.

It is, after all, part of what the Fourth of July is supposed to celebrate, the birth of a nation where choice and individual liberty rule.

And then this jack-ass and some friends showed up.

It was easy to ignore the wanker from my place in the midst of the assembled. He was, after all, trying to shout down 30 or 40 drummers using a little, battery powered, megaphone; clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. And though I, given my general lack of faith in all things requiring faith, would certainly qualify as hell-fodder for this guy's god, demographics suggest most of the people surrounding me would self-identify as Christians of one sect or another. (Well, maybe not the guy wearing the gorilla mask and pounding out – with a good amount of talent I might add – a riff probably never heard in any cathedral.) It isn't clear to me what the wanker with the megaphone thought he was accomplishing. Most of the people around him likely shared, at least in some part, a belief in his religion. Exactly who was he trying to impress?

Unfortunately, just a few yards from the drums, at least on that guy's side of the circle, his megaphone was enough. His doctrine was judgmental and hate filled, his rhetoric arrogant and insulting. Police mounted on horses had to force their way in to break up confrontations since, it appeared, some of the celebrants' doctrine surrounding primal sun-god celebrations include kicking a wanker's ass. I'm not sure that's what the megaphone preacher wanted, but it is likely he went back to his church all proud of being persecuted. (According to Christian mythology such persecution will garner him some extra credit when he gets to heaven. Which is one of the many reasons I prefer ancient Celtic mythology, or pretty much any kind of mythology that is openly recognized as mythology, to modern Christian mythology.)

My first thought was that ignoring him or, better yet, laughing at him, would be the best response, that anything even remotely indicating that he was being taken seriously would only make his affliction worse. But then I got to thinking. In today's world, maybe that isn't the case anymore.

How many steps is it between this guy and any of the young white guys who have made the news by shooting people in a church or opening fire in a theater? How many steps is it between this guy and any religious fundamentalist who takes to violence? He worships a god he believes is going to torture, forever and ever in the most barbaric and sadistic way imaginable, most of the people on the planet for the sin of not worshiping in the approved manor. (A doctrine many Muslims share with many Christians.) How bad could it be to shoot a few of them to maybe “save” some of the others? This is a mind already twisted, how much more twist will it take to make him actually dangerous?

And, mind you, this guy could have legally been carrying a concealed weapon. This is, after all, Florida. Had he been carrying such a weapon, “standing his ground” would be more than enough of an excuse for a twisted mind to open fire. Something I suspect, given the speed at which they moved in, the police had in mind as well.

How can you not take such a person as seriously deranged and, potentially, seriously dangerous? Maybe kicking his ass, stripping him naked to make sure his isn't armed, and then throwing him, his megaphone, his signs, and his buddies into the surf to cool off, is the seriously right thing to do these days?

Thus is celebrated the Fourth of July in America, 2016.


LittleCunningPlan.com said...

The word 'wanker' doesn't really do him justice. It's just too mild a word for his ilk. But I get it, and yeah. Pretty sad state of affairs.

Steve Rennier said...

So if one such siting brands all Christianity as a "myth", does the sighting of one low-life on the docks discredit the entire cruising community? Better to overlook these "individuals" unless, of course, one harbors deep-seeded personal biases.

TJ said...

Steve, I don't regard all of Christianity as myth based on an extremist harassing people on a beach. It is precisely because he thinks his religion is “real” that he gives himself the authority to threaten and harass people who don't believe in his god exactly the same what he does. His Christian religion is making him what he is. If he had even the little bit of wisdom needed to admit that he might not know what he thinks he knows about god, he wouldn't be any kind of a threat to anyone. Wisdom he would be much more likely to discover if he regarded religion as mythology rather than fact. But, as it is, he is a wanker of a Christian.

Since I make no claim to follow the Christian religion and have no faith in any god, how else would I regard any religion except as mythology? This guy is making the religion of Christianity look bad, something you seem to understand as well as I. What motivation would those of us who are not Christians have to “overlook” that fact? Indeed, what motivation do you have to “overlook” it? It is your religious house he is trashing.

Religion as mythology loses none of its ability to provoke introspection, to invoke a deeper world view, to spark awe and wonder. It is at that very core of mythology that all religions find their common ancestry, their common humanity, their real value. Mythology, storytelling if you will, is the way that human kind has always shared what little wisdom it has gained from one generation to the next. I love mythology, and I find that the mystics of many different religions have all spoken to my own experience of being a self aware consciousness adrift in the wonder of the cosmos.

What religion as mythology does lose it much of its ability to provoke violence, hatred, oppression, war; its dependence on ideology, doctrine, and brutal authoritarianism. Outside of religious doctrine, Christian in the US and parts of Africa, Islam in the Middle East and other parts of Africa, there is no reason to continue to condemn gay people or justification for treating women as second class citizens. Outside of religious doctrine there is no reason to claim that anyone is going to hell for growing up in a different culture. Outside of religious doctrine there is no reason to think that the world is going to end soon making it “ungodly” to protect the environment or think about a deep future for human kind. Outside of religious doctrine there is no reason to think that a woman should stay in an abusive relationship or that children should be beaten in order to be godly. Outside of religious doctrine there is no reason to kill someone who follows a different religion. (Yes, I'm sure people would still find reasons to kill. But at least there would be one less reason.)

This is not to say that all religious followers are responsible for all of the doctrines, but it would be hard to argue that the doctrines would exist without the religions, or that the religions would exist without the followers. But the doctrines would be much easier to dismiss or change if they were understood to be human mythologies about gods (which they surely are) rather than dictates from the gods themselves.

Robert Sapp said...

Friend TJ, you say “Thus is celebrated the 4th of July in America, 2016.”

I believe you should pause to consider the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who in "The Friends Of Voltaire" wrote the phrase, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

The first amendment to the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law that restricts freedom of expression. In America an individual is free to speak his or her mind openly without fear of retaliation, retribution, or physical abuse (in theory, at least. Come out too strongly against something that leftists believe, and your results may vary). I feel that embracing that philosophy and simply agreeing to disagree with the individual’s viewpoint, while respecting his or her right to civilly express them, is a much greater act of celebrating the uniqueness that is America on its birthday than eating a hotdog and watching some fireworks. If you feel the individual’s manner of expression is uncivil, then you are certainly free to disagree with his methods. But to imply that due to such expression, the person should be subjected to physical violence is extremely alarming. You basically draw a straight line from the fact that you do not agree with the individual to believing that he is therefore deranged, and concluding with the statement that maybe he should have his ass kicked.

That is not the America I want to live in. That is tyranny, as practiced in most of the world.

By the way, you’ve expressed a specific lack of understanding of Christian philosophy that is so egregious that I feel I need to comment. You said, “He worships a god he believes is going to torture, forever and ever in the most barbaric and sadistic way imaginable, most of the people on the planet for the sin of not worshiping in the approved manor.” He most certainly does not. Or if he does, he’s not a Christian. The God of the New Testament is a loving God. This is a God who loves us so much, he sent his only son to die for our salvation. He doesn’t torture, abuse, berate, or even look sternly at those who refuse to believe. He merely and with much sadness allows the individual to choose to deny himself or herself entry into Heaven. Unfortunately, this means the individual in question then ends up in that other place, where there will indeed be quite a bit of eternal torment. But that’s not God. That’s the other guy, the one called Satan. Regardless of whether you embrace the belief or not, please don’t grossly mischaracterize it and then attack the mischaracterization.

After the downer of a post you wrote for Memorial Day, I awaited your 4th of July post with some interest, curious to see what tone you would take. It looks like Labor Day is next up in the rotation. If you’re taking requests, perhaps you can mix it up a little and find some little thing about America to feel uplifted, inspired, and yes, maybe even a little grateful for?

Or do all holidays just leave you feeling grumpy?

With regards,

Robert & Rhonda
S/V Eagle Too
Pensacola, Florida

Steve said...

Chances are, your guy is not a Christian ... Just someone exercising his individuality. No broad-brush conclusions needed.

Carl said...

Hey TJ
Thanks for your observations and thoughts. I like your logic train.

Alex Rooker said...

My personal search for truth has lead me to create www.BoatCaptainMinistries.net
It is a wikipedia driven summary of the world's primary religions. My belief is that the common threads will reveal true spirituality. All else is dogma. Extremism is usually from a narrow insecure mind.

Hugh said...

Keep at it TJ!

TJ said...

Steven, Robert and Alex, your comments are appreciated and could have provoked an interesting discussion, sorry I didn't see them sooner. But we had family visiting which overwhelmed "blog time" and, frankly, working this summer has bet me up a little bit. My energy level at the end of the day is often just enough to shower, eat, and zone out for a while before heading to bed. Still...

I don't think bringing a megaphone to a drum circle is a "free expression of religion". It is crass, deliberately invasive, and ignorant. I listened to him for a bit last weekend (yes, he was back). "Verbal Assault" would be an accurate description of his rhetoric. In any other context one would conclude he was deliberately provoking a fight. Of course he would whine like a coward if he got one, but he wouldn't have any reason to complain. And I wonder, would it be okay for me to take an air horn to him? Would that be considered a "free expression" on my part?

Robert, I can find my way around Christian Philosophy pretty well. Yours is a popular, understandable, and somewhat liberal interpretation of hell. It is, however, not the only interpretation (Calvinism and the various Reformed doctrines) nor is it particularly faithful to the actual texts of the bible. We could have a fun debate if you like, though this is probably not the best forum.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts. I will try to get back into the swing of things as the summer wears on.