This article was originally slated by founding editor Roger Steffens to be the centerpiece of BEAT magazine's Annual Bob Marley issue in 2005. It was severely edited by BEAT's publisher and voluntarily withdrawn by the author. It is published exclusively here so it can be revealed in the fullness. It was slightly updated to reflect recent events in time for Bob Marley's 61st birthday on February 6th, 2006.
WHO LET THE DOGMA IN?
by Doug Wendt
(A special 47 minute WHO LET THE DOGMA IN songtrack loads on this page.
It features songs the article quotes and makes reference to.)
Jerry Falwell awoke in a hot sweat Easter morning 2005 after a moist dream in which Jesus came unto him declaring "I shoulda stayed dead". The Savior apparently thought the spawn of his disciples leave a lot to be desired. Their desire and predilection for boners has drained the blood from their heads. Jer was soon rushed to Intensive Care, the second time in about a month. Later Easter week the Pope passed. Bob Marley's dragon-slaying moment depicted on the cover of his CONFRONTATION lp finally came to be. Clarity was in the air. Rationality had risen from the dread. The immaculate deception was violated, sullied, testified and signified. It smelled like freedom in the mourning.
"I'm gonna stare in the sun, let the rays shine in my eyes
I'm a gonna take a just one step more,
Cause I feel like bombing a church
now that you know that the preacher is lying,
So who's gonna stay at home,
when the freedom fighters are fighting?"
-Bob Marley in "Talkin' Blues" off his debut solo album NATTY DREAD
As Rastas say "Come we go reason now".
Lord knows the Bible is a great work of literature. It contains some amazing stories and kernels of wisdom, even though it has obviously been assembled from multiple makers and spin-meisters. Still, the real source of everything is a Lord known as The Muse, a deep well of inspiration folks like Bob Marley and The Wailers regularly tap into. Call it string-theory or the force if you'd like. Thank god and thanks to God, it all comes out decipherable when it's filtered through the minds of humble men and women who harbor no pretensions.
Marley and The Wailers often use lines from the Bible in their songs to stunning effect. Yet a strong strain of radical resistance to organized religion runs through all The Wailers' works. The real lyrics to "Get Up Stand Up", for instance, have never been printed correctly in any of the liner notes accompanying the many releases of their landmark 1973 album on which the song made its debut. Do most people actually absorb exactly what they are being prodded to get and stand up for?
Many believe creations' intent/design is often best revealed through science and art, both areas the current U.S. administration seems to actively disdain. BushCoAnity's access to evil is really tricky. It disguises itself as pro-life when it's against the very scientific progress that would enhance, elongate and protect it. Bush puppet-masterbaiter Karl Rove sets an agenda described as being apart from "the reality-based community". Objectivity is obsolete in their self-centered pud-pounding craniums. It¹s all version. In their "ownership society" the poor are on their own.
Over 2 billion dollars of taxpayers' funds have been diverted in Bush's "faith-based initiatives". These charitable contributions make a mockery of the very foundations of America's unique take on democracy let alone charity. Look it up. Charity means giving without expecting anything in return and giving without passing judgment. "Judge not" sang Marley in his very first record.
Many Americans awoke November 3rd, 2004 and immediately went into toxic shock when faced with another four horrific years under G. 'Dubya' Bush. Rub-a-Dubya. He's screwin' us alright. Each day it goes from bad to worst. No accountability for the boneheads, just promotions. The Katrina & Miers' fiascos underscored the omnipotent incompetence. It's not, as the anti-herb cliché says, "what they're smoking". It is, however, what they're drinking. 4,000 years of alcoholic culture is now randomly mixed with pollutants and prescription drugs into a wicked cocktail that even includes erection disclaimers. This modern takeover of the ancient reptilian brain stem impairs humanity and higher consciousness like never before. Judgment kinda cloudy. "Animal mind, human body" sang Foundation.
On that bleak Wednesday November morn last year I looked at churches with a new sense of dread. I used to think most of them were somewhat benign. Were they just trying to spread a little love amongst a cold cruel world or pickpockets? Now I saw them again as Marley did in "Talkin' Blues", steeples covering deceit, diocese enshrining displacement activity, and stained-glass shining on superstition. With their ceremonies of wine and their crucifix-ation organized religion is at odds with the Age of Reason. Rousseau helped turn back the darkness of the middle-ages in the 1700s, giving birth to North America's special independence. Now the throwbacks want a rematch and it's up to us to fight them by any means necessary. The Wailers' lasting musical legacy helps inspire us to get the job done.
In Montana the '04 election approved medicinal herb by an historic nearly 2/3rds majority and installed a Democratic slate at a higher percentage than even Massachusetts boasts yet Bush still won easily. Apparently the universal truth about ganja and local control has taken hold with the masses before most folks have adequately penetrated the systematic devolution that Dubya represents. Truth will eventually win out there too. The seasoned ad-men and media in-bed inbreds who have perpetuated this fraud will be exposed for what they are, the refined descendants of the hidden persuaders Nixon used when he gave us "plausible deniability". The PR mongers make us wanty, wanty, what we don't needy, needy, and can't getty, John Paul Getty. Now most get it.
In order to seize power repugnant ones have used religion in a most cynical fashion. They secretly despise their citizens, their military. By blurring the lines between church and state Dubya decimates both "freedom FROM religion" and "the PURSUIT of happiness". Bush's inherent devaluation of secularism and pluralism is really an attack on the very essence of what makes the American experiment in democracy relevant and healthy. An attack on pluralism is also an attack on the diversity and multi-culturalism that reggae and world music promote. "One step forward, two steps backward, down inna Babylon" sang Max Romeo.
A few years ago my teenaged daughter Cat, out of curiosity, checked out some local churches. What she found killed her attraction. A nearby mega-church, that has been devouring land for parking like a cancer, proved to be yet another temple claiming everyone but them are going to hell. There is nothing remotely neighborly, loving or golden rule about that.
Exactly which congregations were told to vote for Bush? Their tax-exempt status should be yanked. Dubya's "faith based initiatives" are nothing but a way to buy votes. That's part of how the presidential election was rigged. That's how they corrupt themselves and spirituality all at the same time. That's how they, as Marley sings, "colt the game" by playing the wrong domino. That's how they've sealed their fate.
Sam Harris, author of THE END OF FAITH: Religion, Terror and The Future of Reason, writes that reason infers an open-ended conversation while religion is a conversation stopper. He goes on to argue that religious moderation is most problematic. There is no middle road to mediate an
unsolvable incompatibility. As Carl Bernstein said "The evangelicals are unconstitutionalists".
"This is the age of reality
but some of we a deal with me-cology
This is the age of science and technology
but some of we a check fe antiquity
when we can't face reality
we leggo the clarity
and some latch onto vanity
and some hold insanity
some get vision
start preach religion
but them can't make decision when it come to the fight
them can't make decision when it come to mi rights
Then when them gone out of line
them no livin' for them time
for them said them get sign
and them blind dem eye
to the light of the world
and go search within
and them talk about doom
and them shout 'bout sin
instead of fight to win!
This is the age of decision
so mek we leggo religion
This is the age of decision
so mek we leggo division
This is the age of reality
so mek we leggo me-cology
This is the age of science and technology
so mek we hold the clarity."
-(Linton Kwesi Johnson in his "Reality Poem" off FORCES OF VICTORY)
Many framers of the U.S. Constitution often expressed how deeply they thought about the separation of church and state. They made government free from religion for a very important purpose. Thomas Jefferson said in a 1808 speech: "Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the 'wall of separation between church and state,' therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society." Paraphrasing Harris again: 'Once you get old enough to give up the belief in Santa Claus you don't get to keep the flying reindeer and elves'.
Dubya switched "Jesus Juice" for Jesus without bothering to first break from the anti-social patterns at the root of his problems. Religious hubris is as anti-social as you can get. Churches become corrupted when they take money from the state. They also voluntarily step into the line of fire. Now that they've butted themselves into our public squares and elections we can finally let go of the political correctness that keeps one from questioning another's faith. The Wailers' "Get Up, Stand Up" doesn't acquiesce when it came to this taboo. Freedom of speech guarantees it's open season for analysis.
If you want to prostrate yourself in front of a symbol of torture then keep that spectacle in your place of worship. Just make damn sure that torture gets no currency in our government's bag of tactics. Don't foist your anti-lucidity litmus-test on me.
If conservatives would actually let freedom reign the US could finally get off the ground and take flight. Only when America soars will the world genuinely want to emulate us. The Iraqis sought a parliamentary system since they saw our set-up as too corruptible. Unencumbered Art and Science will lead the way. We had to go through the Enlightenment so the founding fathers could even create the unique US Constitution. The Beatles attracted the USSR to freedom, not Reagan's repellant bullying. Bob Marley's use of the muse undermines the modern form of fascism which combines government with both corporations and religion.
Music's power trumps government and religion. It even soothes the savage sociopaths who run our psychopathic corporations. Religions are based on empathy yet we live in an age where there is little. Music softens hard pills of truth while inducing mutual overstanding.
Listen closely to The Wailers' "Get Up Stand Up" and its strident attack on the overbearing dominant dogma. It's an anthem for freedom from organized religion. It's a call for making a better life, right here, right now. Later for the pie in the sky, the purgatory, and the 72 virgins. That's so November 2nd.
"Preacher man don't tell me
Heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know
what life is really worth
Is not all that glitters is gold
and half the story has never been told
so now you see the light
you stand up for your life
Most people think
a great God will come from the sky
take away everything
and make everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
you will look for yours on earth
and now you see the light
I want you to stand up for your rights
We're sick and tired of your ism schism game
to die and go to heaven inna Jesus name
we know and we understand
almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometimes
but you can't fool all the people all the time
so now we've seen the light, we're gonna stand up for our rights"
(transcribed by combining parts of all 3 versions on BURNIN's Deluxe Edition from 2004 where, thanks to its slower alternate and sinister single versions, the incendiary words written by Peter Tosh and Bob Marley Tosh and Marley appear even more clear and striking. How ironic that the printed lyric misstates "we're sick and tired of your easing kissing game" and "great good will come from the sky." What were they drinking?)
It's interesting how Tosh echoes Abe Lincoln with his riff on Abe's "can't fool some" lines while Marley's later "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery" lyric in "Redemption Song" takes Lincoln's emancipation proclamation to its logical conclusion. Freedom is not mob rule and it isn't based on faith. It is self-evident. We weren't born into this world to be wage-slaves or cult-slaves either.
Meanwhile Marley and The Wailers' own spiritual influences are best represented by Rastafari, a stubbornly non-orthodox philosophy in its inception if there ever was one. It is based on a prophesy by Marcus Garvey which is impossible to pinpoint only 70 odd years after it is alleged to have taken place. One wonders what 2,000 years of distorted dissemination have done to Jesus' actual words and to whose benefit they were twisted.
"Now they change history
some King rewrote the Bible
they lay down their laws
to protect their own survival,
well they're down on their knees
begging their God please
to forgive them so
in their own Ground Zero
I'm as holy as I want to be
here at Ground Zero
no one prays if not for me
I see God in every set of eyes I see
windows to the soul my connection
with your own Ground Zero."
-(Caroline Aiken in her prescient tune "Ground Zero" written before 9/11 & on her UNSHAKEN cd)
In the 1950s it was just a few wackos in big cities that walked around with signboards on their bodies declaring "The End Is Nigh". Everybody thought they were insane. Cartoons made fun of them. Now those freaky folks 'in rapture' run the government and populate vast areas of the whole country. They want to shove their beliefs down others throats. Their end is nigh.
We will fight for our right to "the pursuit of happiness". And our happiness is to be free from religious fanatics who want to cut down the last tree so Jesus will come back.
Liberals think like conservatives will 400 years from now. Or to put it in musical terms, today's experimental sounds will be tomorrow's folk music. Conservatives say it's all their money. Rousseau says it's not. Anybody else around here ever hear about "the social contract" that even allows government to exist in the reasonable era?
Taxes help unite the spiritual impulse to care for the less fortunate. Yet conservatives hate taxes as much as they hate communism and socialism. Still they talk about community and the anti-socialism of drugs while alcohol, a known poison and depressant, is called a social lubricant. They'll bust you for driving under its influence but the real problem is drinkers are legislating and living under its influence 24/7. No wonder society is so mean-spirited. If you drink more than a couple times a week you're always depressed. It's worse and more pervasive than second-hand smoke. It stunts everyone's reality.
"Hey, Jesus, hey it's me
well I've gone international
and become very rational
as you decree
We'll make them see international
we'll make them be international
like you & me
Hey Jesus it's OK
now we have common interests
and we can help along the rest
to be like we
We'll make them see international
we'll make them be international
like you & me
Hey Jesus you'll agree
they're going downhill very fast
and it don't look as though they'll last
'til Judgement Day."
-(Mary Hopkin in her 1972 Apple Records' release EARTH SONG / OCEAN SONG)
The so-called blue state centers of education and culture should keep their wealth and advancements and let the red state farmer/rancher welfare queens and their church huggin' cousins go broke because then they'll "deserve to be poor". That's how many hardcore compassionate Christian conservatives rationalize their chronic neglect of the needy. You know who can "love it or leave it" this time around? Those who want to wipe freedom from religion and the pursuit of happiness from our Constitution.
Politics and religion don't mix well. Who would Jesus bomb? Would he support dropping huge munitions from thousands of feet in the air hoping they 'find' the right guys? How did that ever become a 'manly' thing to do? Apparently as long as you state you are against abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research and pullin' feedin' tubes you can get away with anything.
CEOs now get 350-500 times the salary of their lowest paid workers, not the 20-30 times that was barely acceptable not that long ago. Public utilities and services have been privatized, endangered and deregulated in order to enrich the few at the expense of the many. The deregulation of radio and the end of the "fairness doctrine" allows the public owned media to run rampant with falsehoods and false equivalencies that are rarely, if ever challenged, corrected or counter-balanced.
Bush took his 'Total Insecurity Lie-a-Palooza' tour on its first leg on the road in February 2005, touching down in Montana. "Saving Social Security" by not fixing its solvency problem was the ruse he laid on the unsuspecting rubes. Meanwhile known Democrats on the local police force were apparently kept off any Presidential detail. Members of the public who applied to go to Dubya's local Town Hall meeting had to reveal their religious affiliation on their free ticket forms. If you didn't mark 'Christian' you didn't get in. This is an America teetering on the edge of another Civil War thanks to the divide and conquer crusadin' crowd.
Yep, they thought they could get away with anything. Plant stories in the press and then reference those as independent sources. 10 billion dollars unaccounted for in Iraq. Ill-prepared cronies in charge of homeland security. Spying on all Americans. Shills in the media and White House press corps. Government propaganda paid for and distributed as news. Media so embedded Pravda would be proud. A pollster's playbook revealing the Republican talking points purposefully misrepresents everything always. The English language is focus-grouped into Orwellian gibberish. So much things to say that are never said. When expressed the intent is concealed, the meaning opposite, the proper coverage non-existant.
What else does the Bush posse do that's harmful to democracy, free enterprise and our children? They block healthcare to millions. They defend insurance companies that cherry-pick and traffic in fear and paranoia. They allow hospitals to charge poor people ten times what those with insurance get billed. They think corporations, that have rights like a person but no individual responsibility, know best. They get rid of overtime and bankruptcy for the most vulnerable. Deregulate Goliath while regulating David is their aim. They cut programs for the poor. A lot of what BushCoAnity has been up to has been slyly hidden as they game the system through back-door methods designed to stay off the radar. Did you know water rights were taken from the public domain and given to the owners of dams? Didn't hear about that one either did you. But you DO know all about that girl lost in Aruba and Desperate Housewives don't you now.
Under Dubya all we get is their freedom to bully, gouge and shirk responsibility. Prey on the weak, excuse the privileged. For the rest of us: no savings, no healthcare, no sleep, no vacations or time-off, no mercy, no profit, no chance to recoup even the basic costs of what it costs to present ourselves to work, and no damper on the harmful effects of runaway capitalism that demands corporations act like the definition of a psychotic mental illness. Incorporated self-interest puts profit predominant above ethics, morality, and religion. They choose to bow before their Altar of Job Security.
In a world at risk of religious extremism we need to restore our secular, open society to be truly safe and an example to the world. We live in a liberal democracy, raised with a liberal education, while looking for liberal servings whenever hungry, liberal odds when making any kind of gamble. At least we used to. "Conservative" connotes to hoard, "liberal" connotes to share. Let's side with those who share. Maybe we were born into heaven and evil veils it.
The Wailers BURNIN' came out in 1973 followed by Marley's NATTY DREAD, his first solo lp, in 1974. It's in the next to last song on that album that Bob "feels like bombing a church, now that you know that the preacher is lying." Then next, on the album's closing tune, in a magnificent magnum opus entitled "Revolution", Marley sings "Never make a politician grant you a favour, they will always want to control you forever."
Is this why we have to continually refight battles already won so we never get enough traction to get out of the rut? The middle ages were bad enough the first time around. Take your anchor off our legs and let us rise. Our rapture will uplift humanity and leave no one behind.
first written on April 4th, 2005
(the day Martin Luther King Jr. was slain nearly 38 years ago)
by Doug Wendt
Copyright 2005-2006 - All Rights Reserved
Please ask permission to reprint in part or whole.
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