(Part #3 of our Through The Eyes Of A Stoner Series)
Stoner Spirituality : Pass the Bong, not the Wine
I went to church with my folks a couple years ago. Not cool church either. (If church could even be described as being cool.) This was straight up, musty smelling, stained glass window, everyone stand when the priest says, everyone sit when the priest says, make me feel like a general shitty human being church.
I plonk down in probably the most uncomfortable wooden bench I've ever sat on. "Is there a rule that church seating has to be so goddamn uncomfortable?" I poke my dad in the ribs as I say it for effect.
He glares at me. Mental bitch slap taken, no swearing in the Lord's hizzy.
I look up for the lightning. Nothing yet, stay cool.
There's a hymnal in front of me. It seems just about as pleasant as this lovely wooden bench. The paper is old and turning yellow and I'm pretty sure I can see mold on the front cover. I don't bother picking it up, they don't even have a band.
You want me to sit here and pretend to be entertained and you don't even have tunes? I'm here for my family however and sometimes I guess you just have to endure pain for family. That's a fact of life.
We keep sitting and standing, everyone keeps repeating things. I'm sure it'd be so much easier if we did this whole thing sitting down.
We're standing again, I'm not sure why, I've been wondering why old book pages turn yellow but all of a sudden there's a chalice in front of me. It looks very Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail... and not the proper grail either, I'm talking the grail that turned that evil, greedy, Nazi treasure hunter into the keeper off of Tales from the Crypt.
Fear grips me. I can see a similar chalice being passed around the other side of the church.
I take the cup in my hands. I've seen enough movies to know what I'm supposed to do next. I'm panicking now. The priest must be in touch with his Jedi powers because he nods at me encouragingly.
I don't want to be rude. There's no turning back now. I raise the chalice. You think they'd get a bit better wine to remember someone who died for them... it's putrid.
"I'm coming back here to punch you in the face if I get sick Father," is what I should've said, but instead I give him this weird sort of headbob, nod combo. I dunno, it was pretty awkward but I was trying to muster up some fake gratitude.
He takes the chalice back and wipes it with a cloth. Thumbs up to you priest. Thanks for putting all my fears aside that I might get facial herpes or some terrible virus.
I frown as he walks away.
What I should have done is slapped that germ infested chalice out of the holy man's hands in protest that such a ritual is condoned. Luckily for Father Cleanliness, I am not an asshole. (Well not outrightly anyway.)
My mind wanders to the double standards our society holds in favor of the most popular, or maybe not even the most popular but widely accepted, point of view. So a room full of people can sit in a room, do some chanting to a dead guy who was born of a virgin, who is in fact three people in one and also God at the same time, then proceed to pass around a goblet of the worlds most poisonous substance and share it together and that doesn't seem a bit odd?
Picture this: you are the outsider sitting in a room full of stoners and we're all sitting there in this big chapel listening to hang music. There's tendrils of burning Nag Champa wafting over you, perhaps a few Bob Marley wall hangings about the place and next thing you know there's a hippie standing next to you holding a bong and a lighter. His hands, smelling faintly of tahini, are offering you the ritual without so much as a second thought.
You'd be weirded out of your skull and you'd probably inform the authorities, or at least neighborhood watch, that there's a cult operating in the area. You'd pull your children close each time you walked by the place in the future and you'd almost certainly take a mental snap shot of the faces surrounding you so as to avoid having to run into them in and amongst the general populace. Let's be real here, you would want my children taken from me if I went to a church service that condoned drug use, let alone shared drugs as part of the service...but you condone drug use every Sunday.
Oh you don't condone drug use, but as a religious mandate it's perfectly acceptable to consume alcohol, in front of your children no less?
Ok, I get that. I'm not even being a smart ass either. I get it. I consider myself very open to spirituality, in whatever form that presents itself in. Herb has a very spiritual element for me. It opens me to deeper understandings, it promotes peace in my life, it promotes patience. I'm an ordained priest in an order that teaches acceptance for all things, (that's legit, I'm not trying to be funny, but I am ordained,) so is it now acceptable to use drugs as a part of my religious order?
Now I understand that the first thing you're going to think is probably something along the lines of, " Well it's not like they're passing around Tequila shots!" And you're right, they're not. But in a war over ethics, over morals, over civil freedoms and governmental tyranny it's all about principles. It's about drawing a line in the sand and standing your ground when that line has been crossed.
The principle of the matter is that if I am not allowed to smoke a healing, life giving herb in the comfort of my own home, while my children are sleeping, you should not be able to pass around one of the most destructive, addictive substances on the planet in plain view of your children and then tell them that it's ok.
"But most of the time it's juice."
Even better, let's 'pretend' to pass around the most dangerous drug on planet earth, linked to more deaths than Jews to Hitler.
Check this out, who's to say Jesus never turned a withered up shrub into a glorious Cannabis Sativa strain? You can't tell me you don't know the tale? I mean, even if you're not particularly religious, who doesn't know about Jesus turning water into wine? Obviously this Jesus fellow liked to have a good time. And don't try and tell me he turned the water into juice. He was at a party for Christ's sake...no pun intended.
Jesus is all like, "No more wine? Check this out, I'm God!" Then, poof! A little abra cadabra and now he's the most popular guy at the party.
What would life be like now if Jesus hadn't turned water into wine, but rather a bush into the most majestic Cannabis plant you could ever lay your eyes upon?
What if, during the last supper, Jesus told his disciples to drink some Terp juice and hit the bong instead of the whole stale cracker and cheap wine? (Hey, for all we know he actually did!)
What a magical place this earth would be.
You know, it's getting late. (Or early, depends on your perspective really,) and I gotta jet, but think about this as you wander upon whatever path it is that you have chosen to travel today: There is no doubt that scribes in the early centuries "tweaked" the copies of original manuscripts to fit into the most popular church view at the time. One of my favorite examples is of a manuscript that Bart Ehrman, author of "Misquoting Jesus" stumbles upon in his unquenchable quest for truth. There's a reprimand from what must have been a head scribe in the side column, highlighting the danger of putting God-like power into mortal hands. The reprimand reads, "Fool and knave! Leave the old reading and do not change it!"
There's no doubt Mr. Christ set the bar high. The guy was like the humble superstar of magic tricks. Instead of chastising a group of party goers at a wedding for wanting more grog, he keeps the party crankin'.
So if you ask me, WWJD?
He'd puff, puff pass that shit. So why don't we all try to be a little bit more open minded and embrace our differences; after all, you just might like what you find.
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