Author Archive | Daniele Bolelli

Incredibly Shrinking Camels And Zen Moons: Wealth In The Eyes Of World Religions

[The following is an excerpt from Daniele Bolelli's new book Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book without Instructions.]

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. — Janis Joplin

God and Gold

Nothing in the world can excite the minds of men quite like the two G’s—God and Gold. (The third G that boys dream about—Girls—ranks much higher than either of those on my personal priority list, but it has nothing to do with the subject of this chapter, so I’ll try to keep my hormones in check and not get sidetracked.) If it is certainly true that religion is one of the most powerful forces driving our collective psyche, cold, hard cash is not far behind. God and gold are the objects of worship most revered by humanity. Countless people obsess about them, want them, crave them, and center their lives around them. For them, we fight, cry, and struggle.… Read the rest

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The Godfather of Christianity

ConstantineThe Roman emperor Constantine is one of the great heroes of Christian history. As legend would have it, he singlehandedly put an end to religious persecution and became the first Christian emperor. His impact was nothing short of miraculous, and this is why his name is often adorned with superlatives: he is Constantine “the Great,” or as some branches of Christianity regard him “Saint” Constantine. More than any other figure, he is the true Godfather of Christianity, who helped it turn from a small troubled sect into the dominant religion of the empire.

But the word godfather applies to Constantine in more ways than one. Think Don Vito Corleone kind of Godfather (actually, I like Don Vito Corleone, so more like Michael Corleone). The historical reality is that Constantine was a brutal dictator who used Christianity for his own self-aggrandizing means and probably never even converted (some say he converted on his death bed, while others say he never did).… Read the rest

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Thank You God for Killing My Enemies’ Children

Death Firstborn[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the recent Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Often, the stories at the origin of many religious holidays sound like sweet fairy tales.

Think of Christmas, for example, with the shooting star, the three wise men bringing gifts, and baby Jesus being born in the midst of all the happy barn animals. It has a “God meets Old-MacDonald-Had-a-Farm” feel to it.

The story at the roots of the Jewish holiday of Passover, on the other hand, doesn’t sound quite like a fairy tale—unless perhaps one created by Stephen King. What exactly is celebrated during Passover? Our tale begins in Egypt over 3,000 years ago—or at least so we are told, since there is less historical evidence for the authenticity of this story than for the existence of the Yeti and the Loch Ness monster.… Read the rest

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Believe It Or Not: 7 Facts You’re Not Supposed To Know About Religion

Disinfo Halo[Site editor's note: the Huffington Post recently published some excerpts from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Religion is one of those big taboo topics that many people are terrified to touch: too afraid that others will question their religious loyalties and just as afraid to step on the minefield that is the overhyped sensitivity of some believers.

And this is precisely why it is so much fun to talk about it.

People, after all, live and die in the names of religious values, so the stakes of what we are playing with couldn’t be any higher. And yet, few fields can make many human beings as unwilling to face the evidence as religion. It is exactly because these ideas are so central to their lives that they don’t want anyone to plant doubts in their minds.

If this is you—if you are afraid of tackling contradictions, if you believe that without blind faith you would be prey to senselessness and desperation, if dealing with complexity sends you running for the reassuring arms of dogma—then do not read any further.… Read the rest

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The Filthy Little Atheist … Founding Father

[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Thomas PaineThe story of his life is richer and weirder than any fiction. Among his close friends were visionary poets such as William Blake as well as political icons like Benjamin Franklin. Napoleon slept with his books by his pillow, and told him statues of gold should be erected to him in every city in the universe (but the admiration was not reciprocated). Thomas Edison believed him to be one of the most brilliant minds in human history. Some of his writings rank among the greatest bestsellers of the 18th century. He participated in the two revolutions (the American and the French) that changed the political face of the modern world.

During the American Revolution, George Washington used his writings to inspire his troops to remember what they were fighting for, and even suggested that no other individual had done more for the cause of American independence.… Read the rest

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Sex, Sake and Zen

Portrait o fIkkyū By Bokusai[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Most Westerners who become fascinated with Zen Buddhism are intrigued with its reputation as an anti-authoritarian, freedom-loving, individualistic tradition. Books by excellent writers like Alan Watts popularized an image of Zen as a very relaxed, go-with-the-flow type of religion. But even a brief visit to a typical Zen temple is enough to make us painfully aware of the difference between hype and reality. Life in real Zen temples, in fact, is often so structured, regimented and heavily regulated as to quickly dispel the romanticism created by much of the literature about it. Far from being a hippie rendition of Buddhism, Zen discipleship can be demanding and severe.

But sometimes even misguided stereotypes are born from seeds of truth. Enter 15th century Japanese monk Ikkyu Sojun, who was truly as free, wild and allergic to authorities as advertised.… Read the rest

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If You Are Poor, It’s Because God Hates Your Guts

God & Money[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

The history of Christianity is like a treasure chest for anyone who is fond of contradictions. The Gospels bicker with each other by relating similar tales in very different ways. But even more obviously, Christianity has often so dramatically departed from the words attributed to Jesus as to make you wonder how these glaring contradictions can be justified. Jesus tells you to “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek”? So let’s show how much we love Jesus by waging crusades, inquisitions, witch-hunts, and brutal campaigns of repression against anyone who doesn’t love Him as much as we do. Jesus’s pacifism has drowned in the hyper-violence that has characterized much of Christian history.

But—we may object—most Christians alive today seem to have lost the bloodthirsty enthusiasm of their ancestors, and are no longer inclined to exterminate non-Christians.… Read the rest

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Orgies for Jesus

Orgy[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

What if Christian theology dismissed the virgin birth and other miracles as fairy tales? What if your pastor/priest told you to flush the Ten Commandments down the toilet and instead live life to the fullest? What if Sunday service at your local church consisted in a juicy orgy? All of this could have happened had Carpocrates had his way.

Carpo … who? The lead character in our story was the leader of a second century Christian community based in the Greek islands. Back in those days, early Christians couldn’t agree on just about anything. Official Christian doctrine hadn’t been fully established yet, so an extremely wide range of opinions and teachings fell under the label of “Christianity.” The only thing they had in common was that they all thought Jesus was a cool guy.… Read the rest

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God’s Hit Man

Inquisition[Site editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new Disinformation title 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Since the dawn of time, God’s faithful followers have been locked in a war without mercy against the forces of evil. Christian theology (and Muslim too, for that matter) is clear on this matter. This is a fight that can’t stop until the final showdown at the end of times, when God’s partisans will drown their enemies once and for all in rivers of blood. Until then, the battle rages on, and the entire earth is divided in opposing armies. Neutrality is just not an option. Much like rust, Evil never sleeps, and its agents are constantly busy trying to hurt the followers of the one true faith. Given this outlook, it then logically follows that it is wise for God’s people to strike down the devil’s minions wherever they are found: heretics, witches, pagans and other fans of the devil simply have to be stopped.… Read the rest

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