RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Greatest Salesman in the World <

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Greatest Salesman in the World

--Seen in Tallahassee this week

--We just want you to be all you can be
--You want me to join the army?
--Let's try this again
--Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

There is an immeasurable distance

between late and too late

--The Greatest Salesman in the World,
Og Mandino

Other nations when victorious

on the battlefield dictate peace terms.
But when Israel is victorious
it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews
to be the only real Christians in this world
--Israel's Peculiar Position, Eric Hoffer

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?

And one of them shall not fall on the ground
without your Father
--Matthew 10-29

Homily: Confession as enablement.

Ranger recently found the book "The Prayer Warrior's Way" by Cindy Trimm in a North Florida restaurant. She also wrote The Art of War for Spiritual Warfare, co-opting both Sun-Tzu and Cameron with no evident credentials. (Her bio claims she is a "Doctor" and a former "Senator", but neither the academic nor the civic reference are found on her website.)

But it caused him to wonder whether he, too, could become a prayer warrior. He feels as misunderstood as Jesus, at times, and as they are both SOG, he decided to go into it. Taking a particular Ranger's perspective, he asked:

What if Jesus died not to atone for my (our) sins, but rather so that I (we) might continue to sin? Why else the various actions toward forgiveness, like confession and penance? Why get forgiven when the reality is, we will sin again? The confessional booth is a revolving door, and it is a form of repetitive atonement forestalling ... what? It is a fix, a nicotine patch -- your mileage may vary.

Is God a fool, or the Greatest Salesman in the World? What is this ephemeral snake oil of the sacraments that cures no one from his indwelling slant towards ignominy, from his ever-present, puerile Reptilian Brain? We pay for it, gnash our teeth and rent our garments, but to no avail: The sunrise brings another day of moral failings.

--Like Burma Shave signs,
on the way to Ranger's house

Why die to relieve us of the burden of sin when that dismissal is a sham, and the reality is that your empire is built on the necessity of man's moral lapses? Whatever the intention, sin is big business.

Why do we deify one single (unverified) Jew who forsook his religion and tooka spear for us, and then we proceed to pogromize and slaughter untold millions in abject degradation -- in the spirit of Christianity -- since that day? Is this good faith? Is it we who created Jesus to enable our millennial inequities?

--The end of the Burma Shave trail

Why is Jesus more sacred than his his murdered brethren? One could become even more catholic and extend that to every State murder of any vilified individual or group. If He died for a purpose, then why have millions been murdered hence as a result of racial hatred, if we are all brothers?

Simply put, why value and worship a Jewish God born of Jewish traditions, and then vilify Jews for the next 2,000 years?

Utterly flummoxed as to the answers, Ranger is content to ask humbly, "If there is a heaven, will God one day reunite him in eternity with all of the mismatched socks in his drawers?"

--Jim and Lisa

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Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Lisa and Jim,

"Is God a fool, or the Greatest Salesman in the World?"

I'd go with "fool". Remember, he made us in his image.


Monday, July 16, 2012 at 6:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger jo6pac said...

He is tax exempt so must be on to something just like corp. Amerika.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 8:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

At the risk of going off-topic, what if God is something that human beings came up with to help them mitigate an often random and usually frightening world?

I mean, it's kinda hard to just plunk down on the "God" number when you look at all the variations and permutations of "god", "gods", and "sorta-kinda-godlike-things" that hairless monkeys have come up with throughout the past couple of hundred thousand years or so.

You like gods? We got 'em. You like gods that look like people, gods that look like critters? Gods that look like fire, water, clouds? We got 'em.

You like your gods with breasts? We got 'em, too.

Majestic, foolish, creepy, supernatural, natural, powerful, weak, and downright whackadoodle, the concepts of Him What Sits In The Sky (or under the earth, or on top of a mountain...) come in so many flavors that it's hard to keep track of them all.

The commonality, though, is that these god-ideas are usually used either to a) explain something(s) otherwise inexplicable, or b) to give humans something to help them through times when mere humanity seems insufficient.

So I'd argue that "God"'s salesmen are nothing and nobody greater than our own hopes and fears. Sometimes we just need somebody bigger and stronger (or more foolish, or lustier, or more venal, or crazier...) than we are. And who better than an imaginary playmate that can also cheat death and control the weather?

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 2:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well Chief, that's about it: the God concept is an aid to mitigate and navigate a harsh and mysterious world.

As well, He gives us all mulligans and says he loves us even when we're bad. This all-good repository of wisdom has allowed us to be anything but.

IOW, we stay as children (the flock), and naughty ones at that. What need have we to actually rein in our desires when we know that forgiveness is an indulgence away. I see the impulse to god creation as the first step to becoming a truly moral person, but to achieve that would take some internalization and digestion of the things we instead offshore to Him.

I do not mean this in the New Agey sense of "we are all god"; no, that is too facile, correct only in the sense that we are the thing we are apprehending or projecting. No longer easy to study this god as a separate being, but knowing that he is a projection of our id-ego-superego and probably lots more besides those, we would have to examine our impulses honestly and without the schism into psychology (concrete) and theology (metaphysical).

We are rule-makers and have an inherent conception of fairness, and since we are also greedy and covetous, have a sense of guilt and shame. I do not say any of this is bad, it simply is, and I think we'd do much better if we took some responsibility rather than try (for the best of us) to understand hermeneutics and memorize catechism.

The problem with dogma as I see it is, it is an escape hatch, a cave and a clan which allows our worse selves free rein as we never fully understand these things we call our "demons". We just atone (or not), and call it a day.

It holds us back, IMHO, and we carry on like the proverbial bull in the china shop.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 4:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I think that - like most things that people have invented over the aeons, Lisa - that "God" is capable of being all-things-to-all-people. That's the fun part about having "gods".

So if you're a person who reeeeally needs an all-powerful Sky Daddy to make the world seem like a safer, saner place, there He is. If you want a warm, loving Allmother, there she is.

If you want an indulgent Uncle Buck In The Sky, you got 'im. If you prefer a ferocious Heavenly Tribal Chieftain, you can come up with one.

The hard way is to be stone-cold honest with yourself and make all your moral decisions without recourse to needing someone to nag you about not being a dick, or fucking someone else over, lying, cheating, stealing, being greedy and foolish...

So some people use their god(s) like a sticky note - it helps remind them of what they should do, and do it.

Some people use their god like a club, and beat others (and, often, themselves) with Him and that way they don't feel bad because they're doing all that beating for Him, not themselves.

Some people use their gods like a fuzzy security blanket. Or like a diet pill. Or like a road map.

Frankly, if you're a decent human being; strong, kind, loving, caring, giving and forgiving, merciful but just, enduring and consoling, I don't care really how you get there...if you want to call your daemon "God", well, knock yourself out.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a pantsload of people who use their "god" like the club mentioned above. Those people are right bastards and would be if sanctified by the loveliest star in Heaven, and that has nothing to do with God, or gods, or anything but the human tendency to be an utter shit whenever their baser instincts assert themselves.

So I'm not sure if the whole "god" thing holds us back so much as our own nature does; it's my belief that a whole lot of what "god" is has to do with who we are, and that swearing off gods and religious dogmas would simply substitute human shittiness for blaming-the-problems-on-God...

And I'm not sure if we can EVER get around the worse parts of our nature...

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 5:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

evangelical fundamentalists make a fetish of salesmanship. i call it the idolotry of the salesman. immigrants

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

Where e'er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies..

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I like god-as-sticky note or cudgel or Linus blanket -- he/she fills so many niches!

To my religious friends I concede that I may not have known how to behave were it not for my early and consistent exposure to faith systems, via all the usual conduits (family, culture, etc.) Were I to have grown up like Truffauts's Wild Child and then have been dropped into modernity, would I want to be a rapacious titan of industry, would I rape and pillage with abandon, or sans passion? Or would I be humble and meek, or maybe just scared?

I guess it boils down to our base impulses, and it appears for most of us we must be told not to covet others things, or rape, murder, etc. If so, then religion serves a needful purpose. But it seems to me it really is just an initial step, for after cataloging imperatives, the next logical step is to personally interact with them and internalize one's own beliefs; only then can one toss the sticky note, right?

So in solidarity, yes -- it is our nature what holds us back in this metronome zone of yielding to appetitive desires or following the dictates of one's church. We must go beyond that to arrive at the decent human being qualities you mention in any sort of consistent fashion.

I would hope that humans who would disabuse themselves of doctrine would not choose for Nietzche's Ubermensch, but there is really no telling. It seems for where we are, religion may be the best road map we have for the simulacrum of decent behavior, its main failing being its inherent divisiveness.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Hi :) Thanks for the excellent lyrics.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

it's easy to believe in a higher power. human beings have a spiritual dimension that points toward the incomprehensible and impossibly absurd nature of their existence anticipating an organizing principle that transcends their own existence.

however, religions are reifications of human spirituality and are always absolutely in error in the pursuit of absolute truth.

the only absolute truth about human understanding of God or gods for that matter resides confessions of absolute ignorance.

God is always that which is outside finite human existence; the infinite.

God is always that which is outside of finite human understanding; the omniscient

God is always that which is outside of human power; the all powerful.

God is always something human beings can understand only imperfectly.

Human beings always end up with a corporeal representation of God...

and maybe that is why "the only way to him is through me..." (paraphrasing Jesus)

there is God, and it ain't me... or you for that matter.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 8:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

G.D. says there is:

"an organizing principle that transcends their own existence." Ah, essence precedes existence. BUT, the existence of a spiritual dimension to the organism does not defacto implicate a disembodied higher spirit or, god.

To paraphrase St. Anselm, God's the greatest thing I can imagine; but, if I can imagine him, then he is actually the next best thing. So, as with Zeno's runner, we never quite arrive, do we?

As for Jesus's co-opting the mittleman position, I always wonder, why that? If God exists -- and I can have a personal relationship with him -- why need I go through an intercessory, making my apprehension of Truth twice removed? Why must we create mysteries, when we could have clarity?

To quote a comment I read at a doctor's site today:

I am far more interested in the study of neuroscience as perhaps someday, we will understand what makes the human brain need to believe in a supreme intelligence, a non-created creator, that cares how we live our lives.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

If there's any more philosophical discussions like this I'll be forced to move this blog to the top of my bookmark list. Right now, it's situated between Puranic Cosmology and Reality Sandwich.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 7:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I am very honored, Peter -- we have some deep thinkers here, present company included :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Podunk Paul said...

The impetus for this post was an address Fr. Alejandro Solalinde, a 66-year-old Catholic priest, gave at Ithaca College about his work with illegal immigrants in Mexico ( http://theithacan.org/21569).

These people, mostly fleeing starvation-level poverty in Central America, ride freight trains from Honduras, where they are routinely beaten, kidnapped, extorted and murdered. According to Fr. Solalinde six out of ten women are raped, often with the connivance and participation of the police.

The priest's account of how he was impelled to take responsibility follows,
“A few days before establishing the shelter, something happened to me that was very powerful. The train had gone, and about 12 or 16 people were left behind. There were some women, and there was a young couple. The wife was pregnant, and there were more people and even some children.

When I saw the train leave, I knew I could do nothing because I didn’t have money to take them to a hotel. I could not take them home with me because I was under surveillance by the police and immigration authorities. They were trying to surprise and catch me “red-handed” as an immigrant smuggler and put me in jail.

I had 200 pesos in my pocket, which is less than $20. Two brothers — who later on I found out were kidnappers — approached me and offered to help me find a place for the [immigrants] to stay. They asked me for money. The immigrants didn’t have any, and I told them I only had 200 pesos. They agreed to help.

Very early the next morning, I returned. I lived two towns away, but I wanted to know if [the immigrants] were alright. To my surprise, when I arrived, they were no longer there. When I asked about them, I was told they had left. When I asked where, they said they didn’t know. I looked for them all through town, but was unable to find them. About 20 days later, I realized that where they had stayed that night was a group of kidnappers’ house. But it was too late. I [knew I] had to open a shelter, and so I did. The day it opened, about 400 people came.”

I apologize for the length of this post. But the matter seems to put into perspective what religious conviction can do. It’s most probable that Fr. Solalinde believes in the virgin birth, the infallibility of the pope, and various other improbabilities. But he does act on the central message of his faith in ways that make the associated myths immaterial.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 2:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I guess the thing of it is that religious faith always seems to me to be like any other human emotion; it can lead to acts of tremendous kindness, love, and sacrifice. And it can lead to acts of indescribable brutality, violence, and hate.

Couple that with the innumerable ways that humans have come up with to described and define their "god", and to me it spells something that comes from within, not without.

A genuinely omnipotent, omniscient god or gods would surely arrange things more consistently.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 2:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Your first graph holds the key:

"[Religion] can lead to acts of tremendous kindness, love, and sacrifice. And it can lead to acts of indescribable brutality, violence, and hate."

So, is it religion per se which leads to these acts, or simply the human impulse -- guided or not -- which devises and executes them? I suppose the latter (since that is the thing that conceived of religion in the first place). I do not wish to give religion a pass; it is created in sync with our better and worst drives.

It really does all come down to us and our perceptions and how we implement our organizing principles.

Our faculty for reason and conceptualization of morality has certainly led s down some tortuous roads, no? I s'pose this is why some argue for amoralism, but it need not be so. IMHO we could be moral and have Truth if we were willing to do the heavy lifting.

Ah, the cross thing ... pretty heavy load; much easier to have a proxy step in for you, no?

Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Podunk Paul said...

It’s touchy stuff, religion, and probably best ignored until its excesses become intolerable. On the other hand, we would be a lot poorer without it. At their best, it seems to me that religious or pseudo-religious movements like early Communism, the IWW, or PETA speak out and act for the oppressed, the neglected, the victims of collateral damage that all societies create.

Just saw a re-run of “The Scent of a Woman.” Al Pacino, a self-admitted asshole, sums up the argument for absolutes, which in his case is a notion of manhood. In this life, we have to sometimes draw the line.

Friday, July 20, 2012 at 1:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


The impulse to religion fascinates me as it serves as repository for our most exalted and basest impulses. It is the box we label, "mystery".

I am disturbed by the schisms we live by, both internal and external. Religion reinforces that divide. Why must I be divorced from my imperatives, or ascribe them to an outside force? It seems we need directives. However, it seems disingenuous not to own our motivations, and then to integrate them into a workable schemata.

In that it plays on our inborn sense of guilt, religion often functions to inspire us (force us) to help the underdog. Again, religion per se is not a bad creation, but without self-reflection, it seems a hollow facsimile of morality; it is no wonder so many fall off the wagon, and no wonder that religion has such an ornate architecture built in to address our failings.

Interesting you mention "Scent of a Woman", which did offer a fundamental male truth. I think we'd do well to "draw those lines" more often. There would be many fewer sham relations/marriages if we could admit to ourselves what we want and need, and could express that.

Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 12:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


What was it you meant by this:

" ... sums up the argument for absolutes, which in his case is a notion of manhood. In this life, we have to sometimes draw the line."

I don't wish to make presumptions,



Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 10:44:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Podunk Paul said...


I wasn't saying anything very profound -- just that when people are pushed to the last millimeter, they generally grab on to something absolute.

Glad that you're looking out for the four-footed folks. Read a story once that put the animals in charge of the Last Judgement. They were a tough jury.


Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thanks for clarifying.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 1:13:00 PM GMT-5  

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