Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

The Big Boss

This was the title of one of my favorite essays by Lenin.   The title itself is a powerful comment on the human condition.   I can imagine early humans taking two steps forward as they left the canopy of the never-ending forest to see the clear blue sky overhead.   Then they took one step back because the unfamiliar is frightening.   Then they took two more steps forward.  Then another step backwards.   Eventually the bolder amongst them took three steps forward and one step back.  Then four steps forward as the more timid fell behind.   Soon the tribe broke up as the bolder went on to explore the savanna and the rest returned to the familiar gloom of the forests.

The more things change the more they stay the same.   To this day we still have the explorers and the chickens.   The explorers go forward into uncharted territory while the chickens huddle in the familiar as they are determined to fight change at any cost.  The problem is that change is the only guarantee in life.  The more the chickens fight change and huddle together for warmth and security, the more change happens.  Back in the old days, the tribe that stayed in the forest was forced backwards as the forest receded to changing climate.   The tribe that went forward founded the modern civilizations.  The tribes who stayed in the forests tried to keep civilizations from happening.

Of course this is an oversimplification.  Dynamics are rarely black and white. Absolutes do not occur in nature, but two steps forward and one step back describes life as we know it.   Take Christianity for instance.  I know Christians who are very progressive, yet Christianity as a whole is regressive institution.   While Dr. King was leading the civil rights movement, Christianity as an institution was doing everything it could to hold him back.   White preachers condemned him outright, or begged him to hold off until society was “ready” to accept African Americans as equals.  There were many African American preachers who condemned him as a dangerous radical.

Today there are Christians who welcome gays into their congregations.   There are Christians who will support a “separate but equal” condition for gays (“why do they have to call it marriage?”), and Christians who actively discriminate against gays.   There are even Christians who will murder gays. Yet there are Christians who deny that there is any correlation between gay rights and Dr. King’s civil rights movement.   Oh, how I remember the Southern Crackers who trotted out the Bible to tell us why civil rights were a sin!   Gays are facing the same religious resistance today.

The few exceptions do not justify the whole.  The fact that there are a few progressive Christians does not justify Christians resenting being classed together with other Christians.  Very few progressive Christians do anything to protect their good names from being lumped together with Fred Phelps.   Most progressive Christians are not doing anything to stop discrimination in the name of Christ.   There are no Christians suing Pat Robertson for hate speech. At the very least I will say that progressive Christians are not active abusers. A very few are making a token attempt to improve their own ranks. The remainder are enablers who are allowing abuse to happen by trusting God to stop it rather than changing their lifestyles and stopping it itself.

Just so Christians don’t feel as if I am picking on them exclusively, I can toss in other religions as well.   Walk through San Francisco’s Chinatown and you will see Buddhist Temples as ridiculous and bigoted as anything Pat Robertson could think up.   The Islamic countries are famous for their discrimination against people outside of the tribe.   Over the last twenty five years I have watched the Pagan movement become more and more like the Christians to the point where the Goddess looks like Jesus in drag (except in one notable instance where she was Joseph Smith in drag, but that’s another story.)  My attempts to talk CAW into acknowledging the rapes and sexual assaults that happened amongst them have fallen on deaf ears.  That’s the thing about religions, they think they can get away with anything because some make-believe higher power loves them.

I think that Starhawk made a huge mistake when she tried to graft anarchism onto religion.   What she created was the social equivalent of a nuclear reactor.   What is a nuke plant but a giant steam engine powered by the most unstable energy source on Earth?  Religion is as reactionary as a steam engine, and anarchism is certainly a very unstable political system.   The two have been in the middle of a meltdown where many branches of Paganism are taking on the most unsavory aspects of mainline religion: arrogance, intolerance, and the Protestant Work Ethic.   Any religious movement, no matter how well meaning, eventually becomes a social anchor, and limits the believers to events that happened in the past rather than that which is to come.   Be it Paganism or Christianity, religion is the force that makes us take one step backwards for every step forward.

Christian Government at its Finest.

Christian Government at its Finest.

7 Comments on “Two Steps Forward and One Step Back”

  1. Eric says:

    Sigh. Bill, am I the deaf ear you speak of? You gave me your information, which is still held in strictest confidence, and I told you what we know about what you said. We are talking about someone who had the most cursory contact with the CAW, in that they hung around people who used to be in CAW. The family in questions came to some of our open activities.

    What do you want from us? You said that you had additional “evidence” and that you would not provide it. What actions can we take?

    You presented your word about a specific individual, specific to your experience with the words that she spoke. I told you I believed that she was abused, by her family.

    What deaf ears? Mine were wide open to you? I heard everything you said to me. I heard you express hearsay evidence AFTER several, and I mean SEVERAL official agencies conducted an investigation and THEY never felt that CAW’s name had ever come up.

    IF every single thing you heard happen, had happened in every detail you expressed to me, that was some fucked up shit! But not even YOU have shown any evidence that CAW had anything to do with it, except that the family in question once spent some time around us.

    What other things did they do in their lives that had as much or more time spent by them? I’m sure they spent more time at the local grocery store then they did around CAW. Shouldn’t you be blaming the grocery store, too?

    I am still willing to listen, anytime, anyplace. My ears are open to you.

  2. billdunlap says:

    As I told you in our telephone conversation, Eric, my wife and I are in contact with over a half dozen women who had been sexually assaulted during CAW events and then driven out and driven away by people whom they had thought were their friends. During our telephone conversation my wife and I had offered you resources in dealing with rape and assaulted in a better and more healthy way than just silencing and threatening the victims.

    Part of our agreement was that CAW would add a victim’s bill of rights to their charter and accept the training and resources that we offered. I kept my end of the bargain. I am still waiting to hear about yours.

  3. Eric says:

    I dispute the part about “adding a victim’s bill of rights” to our charter, as that was not discussed. Your offer to help was forwarded. No action has been taken, because no action has been taken.

    To put it bluntly, Bil, YOU, as an individual have little to no creditability. I took a giant leap to listen to you, and most members of CAW are now saying “I told you so” because you have not changed.

    No, I’m sorry, we cannot take: “Because Bill Said So” as evidence.

    Also, and more to the point, CAW blew the fuck up over so MANY things in the last eight years. The CAW you are talking about no longer exists. I think this is something that would make you happy.

    And *NO* I can not recommend that we change the course of our own path based on the actions of folks that none of us liked, nor would allow within our ranks today, anyway, based on YOUR word.

    The people to whom you are talking about would not even get the time of day from me right now, and not because of what YOU said, but because I could never stand them, anyway.

    The things you have said have not fallen on DEAF EARS, just ears that don’t like YOU, nor want your influence on us. We’re not going to do what YOU want, just because you say so.

    And this is me being nice.

  4. billdunlap says:

    Let me put it this way, Eric. My wife and I are sick and fucking tired of cleaning up your messes. I feel that now that I have done what you want, you don’t have to follow through on your end of the deal.

    Because you, Eric Hebert, did me a huge favor, I am giving you a chance to do the right thing and follow through on your part of the agreement. Otherwise, my blog and other posts go back up as originally written. If you are not going to provide for the inevitable victims of religion and sex, then it is my duty as a human being to warn people about the mess I had observed in CAW.

    I might start with reminding everybody about a certain person with the initials LL.

  5. Eric says:

    “LL”???? Is this another person you didn’t tell me about? Those do not match the initials of the person’s name you gave me.

  6. billdunlap says:

    Ask your Grand Primate about LL. I am not so subtly referring to one of the more spectacular debacles attached to CAW.

    Now to refresh your memory, I agreed to self censor my blogs in return for your agreement for further talks regarding establishing a victim’s bill of rights in your charter. To further refresh your memory, a victim’s bill of rights includes:

    1. Clear and defined lines of communication between the victim and the leaders of your church.

    2. Support and therapy for the victim.

    3. A church assigned advocate for the victim.

    4. Support for the victim should the victim decide to press charges.

    5. Protection for the victim’s rights and dignity whether she decides to press charges or not.

    My wife very kindly offered to provide you with the resources and hook you up with the training.

    For the record, I did not censor myself for fear of being sued. Go ahead and sue me. I wish you the best of luck collecting. I censored myself because I felt I could achieve a higher good by doing so. Was I wrong?

  7. billdunlap says:

    Obviously I was

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s