Saturday, April 03, 2010

Semana Santa: The Mayan ritual of Maximon

If little kids had never been taught about religion, would they develop this concept all by themselves? Raised in a vacuum of dogma, would they instinctively discover, invent or reveal the existence of Buddha or Mohammed or Jesus Christ all over again?

I think that, given no outside influences, children who were raised in kindness and love would develop a powerful spirituality -- based on the true essence of religion. "And just what IS the true essence of religion?" you might ask.

Well. It's not that brutal ritualized murder called war. Neither is it child-rape nor "separation" walls nor "Christian" militias nor suicide bombers.

The true essence of religion is LOVE. And love stands for "Looking For Good" -- in oneself and in others. So. Down here in the highlands of Guatemala, there's a spiritual practice among the Mayan that involves the veneration of a Santeria-type folk-saint named Maximon. Maximon is generally represented by a cedar-carved statue that is carried through the streets of Santiago Atitlan during Holy Week. Santiago is a Mayan town most known for having suffered the main brunt of Iran-Contra-financed government death squads in the 1980s. It is also the place where Father Stanley Rother was assassinated in 1981 by government death squads.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a Maximon ritual recently -- and here's the video to prove it:

Is the veneration of Maximon a true and valid religion? I think that it is. Why? Because it fits the criteria that I hold up to any legit religion, ergo, "Does this ideology promote peace and love?" And during the ritual that I attended in Santiago, the shaman prayed fervently for peace and love. You can't get much more religious than that!

PS: Meanwhile back in the US of A, I just got word that Barbara Streisand will be appearing at the 2010 Book Expo in New York City in May, to be interviewed regarding her new book, "My Passion for Design" (Viking, November 2010). And John Gresham (whose new book is tentatively entitled "The Confession"), Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York), William Peter Blatty (author of "The Exorcist") and Jon Stewart will also be touting their new books.

I'm there!

Also, here's the URL for a convenient new application form that will help Teabaggers to immediately stop receiving some of those nasty government benefits that they hate so much -- such as Social Security, MediCare and veterans' benefits. Teabaggers! Sign up right now! Then you can stop whining about government interference in your lives. Whew.

Now if we only had a form like this that would get us out of entangling ourselves in government's foreign wars!

Further, I just got an e-mail from my son Joe who is currently working on the set of "The Valley Girl Show" The show is about various movers and shakers in Silicon Valley and last week my son's job involved helping to film interviews with Levar Burton and M.C. Hammer. Here are the photos to prove it.