Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Roman with masks of his ancestors: Leading Romans were identified with exemplary ancestors; ancestors were worshipped, therefore the Emperors were eventually worshipped as living ancestors. Worship was an oath of loyalty to the values cherished by Romans. Right: The icon of Anna, the "virgin" Mary's mother, and Jesus's grandmother. Human tradition requires that gods have a family tree, because the gods are ancestors who have passed into collective memory, where over time their personal qualities merge into one compact identity.
Ancestor worship is an essential human trait.
The Chinese and Ancient Romans were classic ancestor worshippers, as are nearly all humans. The ancestors become caretakers of knowledge necessary for survival; they are honored as those to whom we owe a great debt, and we want to keep them close to us and happy. The ancestors are the "big parents" that watch over us from a place in the mind called eternity, which is simply where things and events go that when they pass out of the human time frame. In truth, they are enshrined in the mind - an instinctinctive treasure trove of species information that must be accessed carefully. Special humans, such as shamans and poets, venture into a primitive part of the brain to rescue archaic knowledge. Language and symbols are the tools that describe this knowledge.
Words are believed to have magic power; whatever is spoken or written becomes important, regardless of fact. This belief in the power of words causes severe problems.
Texts are part of ancestor worship: texts are the "word" of gods. The Old Testament describes a dysfunctional family with Jehovah as the progenitor, but families require both male and female ancestors. In order to progress, humans need to update their ancestors to include people who have helped us to survive in complex environments. We do this to some extent by honoring individuals who make intellectual and humanitarian contributions.
The reading of texts for prophecy is an act of magic.
The belief that certain words are powered by magic drives people to look for secret messages within religious texts and other documents. The recitation of passages and prayers, with the expectation of supernatural results, is to performing a magic spell; this belief pervades culture today and makes adaptation to change (which is nature) difficult. No new ideas can enter a belief system that denies change. The use of words becomes a deception that those who control words own the truth, regardless of physical reality. Politicians use slogans that are obvious lies, and get elected. This works because voters believe that words represent truth. They don't.