All We Like Sheep - Ash Wednesday
It is no secret that I am not a fan of organized religions. I understand that people need to feel that there is something bigger than themselves and take comfort in the God & Heaven concepts. I just think that the majority of the world's ills and corruptions have been brought to us by the letter "G" and too many folks lose sight of their rational brilliant brains and substitute blind faith for logic and reason.
Christianity is among the worst of the repeat offenders, especially these days. Don't even get me started on the hypocritical Catholics. This is all my opinion, mind you. Although I do have some "evidence" to support my claim - Ash Wednesday.
It is my belief that Catholicism and a few other denominations of Christianity are more about adversely controlling your life and issuing guilt as opposed to bringing you the miraculous enlightenment that comes from a divine being and an afterlife. Ash Wednesday is a perfect example. One look at this ridiculous event and you have to see that they are just fucking with you to see how much they can get away with.
Seriously, I read the Bible. I can recall no passage that reads, "Thou shall wear shit on your forehead all fucking day." I mean even in the original Latin there's no way to find a sentence that can even remotely be translated to mean that one.
Here's how I envision the original Ash Wednesday going down.
The Catholic church needed money, likely to start a war or murder someone special. The best way to solicit cash and loyalty from their flock has always been their tried and true weapons of choice; guilt, fear, & shame. I call it the Catholic Hat Trick. You push any or all of those on someone too afraid to think for themselves and you'll have the donations flowing and the masses growing in no time.
Ahh, but how to go about it this time?
One day, high on incense fumes and drunk from sacramental wine, three priests were laughing their asses off trying to come up with ways to fuck with us. Picture one of the many basement table scenes from "That 70's Show" only with funny robes, big hats, & Italian accents.
Before too long the priests were realizing that their private collection of porn had grown to an embarrassing number of volumes and they had to dispose of it before someone noticed and busted them. Being stoned as all get-out they were very paranoid.
Now I've no idea what their porn was like back then. I can only assume it involved an oil painting of one naked breast on one fat woman, painted by one of the Ninja Turtles. Today, of course they have multiple copies of magazines guaranteed to get a Priests hot. Hustler, Swank, Boy's Life - it's all there.
They saw their porn collection and had to get rid of it so, using the unclear thought that comes with stoner paranoia, set fire to the lot. It made quite a mess. It didn't help that once the fire was started, the drunk fuckers tossed on damn near anything that would burn. Robes, furniture, it all went on the fire. When they got around to tossing in the leftover palms from Palm Sunday things went south. See, the palms were still too fresh and wet and all they did was make more smoke and helped put out the fire, harshing their holy mellow.
However, it did give them THE idea that would change everything. Stuck with a pile of ashes they had to account for once sober, they promptly made up some bullshit story about God's word and to help prove their point, they stuck their fingers in the ashes and drew crosses on their foreheads. Well, one guy wrote, "Clapton is God" but that guy was still buzzed.
They presented their ashen foreheads to their public and explained that they must do the same or, like all Catholic punishments, would suffer an eternity in Purgatory and then an eternity in Hell for blah, blah, fucking blah.
But would the people fall for it? Of course they would. GOD TOLD THEM THEY HAD TO DO IT. O.K., some stoned priests told the flock that God told THEM they had to tell the congregation to do it, but logic and reason is all gone in religion ya know. The first Ash Wednesday found the priests covered in soot and the faithful kneeling before the altar hoping to be saved by the magic porno dust.
As each one received their messy faces and ran off, each priest was having a harder time concealing his hysteria. "They BOUGHT IT! Oh, shit! That's awesome! We should be able to parlay this into enough guilt-induced cash to fund the Corleone family one day!"
All power corrupts.
Priest #1: "Hey, my brother is a fish monger and he owes a lot of money to his bookie. Too many people eating meat to make up for the loss. Can we have 'God' tell these fools to only eat fish on Friday or something? They've already got a great Friday Night Fish Fry at the Forum, but this would surely increase profits for my brother. He'll pay us our tribute."
Priest #2: "Oh man, we should have these morons get into a darkened wooden box and tell us EVERY naughty thing they've ever done. We can get dirt on enough people that they'll never try to buck the church for fear of us spilling the beans. We'll make them chant some silly prayers over and over like asylum inmates. OH! Wait, make them pray for forgiveness, no -ATONEMENT- and , now this is the best part, we'll ask for another donation to the 'Poor Box'. We'll be eating steak at our poker games in no time!"
Priest #1: "Fish on Fridays!"
Priest #2: "Oh right. Fish on Fridays. Can we move our poker games to Thursdays? I hate fish."
DONE & DONE!
Once the last of the congregation was gone and people were walking around the town covered in crap, the priests refined this a bit. They still gathered and burned porn. After all if they got caught with the porn they could claim that they were doing the right thing by destroying it. They retained leftover palms for a full year so they'd be good and dry (and they helped cover up all the porn in the closets nicely).
Realizing just how easy the people were to fool and control they decided to take it one step further.
Priest #3" "Next, let's tell them they can ONLY have sex in order to have kids! They'll NEVER fall for that."
Enjoy your Ash Wednesday. Oh wait, that's not the point. You're supposed to start suffering and depriving yourselves of cherished things for about a month. That must have been one more little caveat the stoned porn-loving men of God added on. Well, enjoy your pointless suffering.
By the way, you've got something on your forehead.