In my town of Sandy Eggo, we have this cross on top of the local high elevation point, Mt. Soledad. It was built in the 50s as a memorial to Korean war vets. Since then is has been regarded as some oppressive symbol of the city’s recognition of Christianity over other faiths. Attempts have been made to get it taken down, or to have the land sold to private parties. It has been quite a circus, and I don’t really know what side to fall on it, and almost don’t care. As a Sandy Eggo landmark, it should stay. As a memorial, it should stay. But it's just so ridiculous how it has been the child in the middle of the bitter custody battle.
But let's strip Christianity away for a minute and reflect on what the official state religion has become. It's not Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any of the name brand faiths. It's commercialism. It's the E-CON-O-MEEEEEEE. Some, like me, are offended that the symbols of this national religion have been erected in every conceivable place. Do you think I have a case? Could I go to a court and demand that whoever is responsible for all that advertising and crap be forced to take it out of the public realm? Of course not! I’d be laughed out of the room.
I know the cross is a symbol that evokes visceral reactions from people, and it should. It should elicit a reaction, else it has lost its meaning. The real meaning is significant of sacrifice for the good of others, and a blood contract showing utmost commitment to a path of justice and love. Of course, I know the practitioners of the faith have done more to skew the original message than anyone else, and for that, there is cause to be saddened and disgusted into action. But the original cross stood for advancing the cause of humanity, I believe. But what is the cause being advanced by the billboards and bus bench ads, and all the other commercial gunk out there? Consume, consume, consume with no care in the world! Sorry, but consumerism is a destructive religion that I think has already outstripped the damage done by all the failures of the Christian church over the eons. That is not to let the church off the hook, but even the church in its darkest hour of apostacy during Hitler’s era did not destroy the inner workings of the earth itself. Rampant consumerism and the corporate structure that facilitates it has done some tremendous damage to populations, land, and all else that constitutes creation, no matter who or what you think made this world what it is.
But where is the public outcry against the symbols of this religion? It is the state religion. George Bush himself is the high priest. After 9/11, the directive to the nation was to keep on shopping to show those terrorists who was boss. We listened with rapt attention as he encouraged us to do what we do best; to do what makes America strong. Rah! Rah! Rah! Actually, it's what is killing America, but why let a little thing like that get in the way?
In Sandy Eggo, the Qualcomm stadium has become the corporate name for the former Jack Murphy stadium. No one ever really takes a swipe at that place being a huge symbol of corporate capitalism. Likewise, the new baseball field is named Petco Park. One of the last genuine icons of local color in Sandy Eggo was a little section of our Old Town park named Bazaar Del Mundo. It was sold off to a Delaware based firm, not to protect the charm and historicity of the area, but to be a money-rake. Sea World, originally a research driven park has been owned by Anheuser Busch for years, and is a ridiculously crass commercial extravaganza now that seems to have relegated research and protection to a side business. Could I ban Shamu’s likeness from appearing in public places? Of course not. If once upon a time a man of God were to be counsel to a politician, now we have corporations providing counsel, if not outright control of our government institutions. If the state religion is commerce and economic development, forget about the separation of the two. They’re in bed fucking each other’s brains out!
Joseph Campbell has noted that society reflects its priorities in its monumental buildings and structures. For ages, the largest buildings were built as places to worship and praise God in whatever form. A church tower would be the tallest building in the city. A ziggurat would stand above all else. In the Enlightenment, designs celebrating the advancement of reason and political philosophy were made to be the dominant structures that reflected the local priorities.
These days, we have Wal Mart SuperCenters and the Mall of America.
I won’t make a big fuss about all that. It's all gonna fail before long anyway.