The Talking Monkeys and The Home for Wayward Souls: The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Earlier that afternoon, Ash and his band, The ArchAngels were rehearsing in the amphitheater  at the Sanctuary for Saturday night‘s performance, as well as Sunday’s, which was much the same as Saturday’s, except for the fact that on Sunday, the content and material were less intense, and more family-oriented. Ash believed that he could still present the same message on Sunday as he did on Saturday night, but make it shorter, more concise, and more accessible to children, as well as some of the adults.

Ash had very successfully managed to combine the formats of Christian Televangelism and a Vegas-Style nightclub act featuring a band that played in the Rock and Jazz idiom, along with Late-Night Television-styled interviews with everyone from Buddhist monks, Islamic leaders, New-Age religious zealots, notable literary Atheists, Philosophers, Taoist and  Vedic Gurus, experts on health, fitness, and nutrition, Martial Artists, and other musicians, to just about anybody that Ash found to be interesting who was also interested in being interviewed by Ash, who was gaining a reputation as an intelligent and perceptive vehicle for getting more obscure or less-than Mainstream opinions and points of view into the public eye without pandering to stupidity or ridicule. Although he often opened with a monologue like a late-night TV show, he always saved the best part for the finale, (which most would usually regard as The Sermon), which he used to launch into a song that would be written especially for that week’s message. He often tried to engage the audience/congregation in the song in a Gospel-styled kind of halleluiah chorus to give them something to take away with them that might stick in their minds, like an earworm; something to shut out the commercial jingles and TV theme songs, maybe even remind them of the message.

He took all his chances on Saturday night, which was usually a three to five hour show, so that he could do a sort of “Best Of” performance that ran about an hour on Sundays. Almost all of the interviews were conducted during the Saturday night show, and videotaped, so they could be edited and even projected onto a large video flat screen that flew above the Stage/Altar for the live audience.  The Sunday performances were being picked up by a local-access cable television channel, although they ran it late at night, in order to avoid the wrath of the Moral Majority, and other Protectors of Childhood Ignorance and Superstition. Ash had been very careful to make sure that his congregation was prepared to accept the fact that parents should not be embarrassed about healthy sexuality or afraid to address complex intellectual or philosophical questions with their children. Ash also believed that everyone has to figure out what is true, or meaningful for themselves.

Given his vast knowledge of belief systems, although he was compelled to present all the information and knowledge he had acquired to his congregation, he was adamantly opposed to issuing dogma about what was right or true for anyone else. He was merely the messenger. He did a great deal of family and personal counseling to help them make their own decisions, but ultimately, it was up to them. So much information has been suppressed by one church or another, that it is often difficult to even know where to look for answers, or even information to make a conscious choice, and you are sure as hell are not likely to find it on TV, except maybe Ash’s show.

Ash was the son of a Lutheran Minister with a congregation in a wealthy suburb in Wisconsin, but he no longer considered himself to be a Christian, because he no longer considered himself to be exclusively Christian, and that was apparently not good enough for most Christians who did. He had gone through what most people would call a crisis of faith while he was still  in college, studying for the seminary, and so it was that Ashton Mueller ended up with a Doctor of Divinity, a pseudo-Nazi surname, and  little hope of finding either a specific religious affiliation, or a congregation…until Merle provided the inspiration (also by way of Kali)  to provide a means for his followers to seek a path of higher consciousness not dependent upon the interlocking series of lies and manipulations that supported the religious and political Zeitgeist of Modern Man, and in the process, Ashtar was born.

He was tall and had a very Nordic-Viking sort of look about him. His hair was long, straight and dirty blonde. He was lantern-jawed, and his chiseled features were darkly tanned by the South Florida sunshine, which he worshiped religiously. He was long-boned, muscular, and very tastefully tattooed with a number of religious icons or talismans. It often seemed like every woman, young or old wanted to fuck him, and every man wanted to be his friend. He and Kali liked to go to Haulover Beach, a nudist-friendly section of oceanfront located on the Northern most edge of Dade County, just south of Fort Lauderdale, where they were usually accompanied by an entourage of members of his congregation. He was often quoted as having said that he felt much so more relaxed standing in front of his congregation clothed after having stood naked in front of many of them at the beach, that he began offering Sunrise Services right there at Haulover.

Ash stood in the center of the stage as he listened to the last echoes of the band bounce off the walls of the empty amphitheater staring out into the blackness. The band was tight, and this week’s material was well-suited for his sermon, entitled The Willing Suspension of Disbelief. He had been a big fan of Coleridge’s work since high school, and the theme of his message was about not only about lost faith and hope, but also how that fit into maintaining the Majik that allowed couples to stay in love for a lifetime.

Samuel Coleridge of course was writing about what it takes to make literature alive and connected to the reader, and how the story transported the reader out of his analytical mind into a state of being that became one with the story. In much the same way, Ash wanted to transport his congregation out of their mundane, analytical, rational, marginal existences into a world that embraced a Joy that continued to unfold, blossom, and bear fruit. There are all kinds of reality, and not all of them are mean or minimalist.

Ash always preferred to rehearse his sermons in the amphitheater, with the PA system and the assistance of his soundman, Lothar. The volume gave him what he called Big Balls, and an entire rack of digital special effects gave it the Ambience he liked to provide his own particular version of The Willing Suspension of Disbelief, including, surprisingly, “ canned laughter”, which helped him rehearse, which he also liked to consider “seed laughter” to help keep up the pace during the live performances, including signs that prompted Applause, or Moan that also flew above the stage. The rehearsals were more casual, and were generally improvised, but when he put on the headset to practice the sermon, he did it like The Whole World was Watching, and Ash always said, If God really is watching…let’s give him a good fucking show…Today was no exception. He had high hopes for later tonight, and he really projected that hope and enthusiasm into his delivery to his favorite audience…his band. He loved playing to the ArchAngels, because although they always got his most obscure and offbeat references, they also gave him the feedback he needed to keep it real…He took a moment to get in character, and to wind up for the pitch. He considered his voice to be an instrument, just like his guitar…only more like a baritone sax…

The Archangels broke into You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here (well so am I) by Frank Zappa, playing only the first eight bars, then abruptly stopping. (This was a fairly common theme that they employed to open Ash’s sermon that Ash and the band often referred to as Introductus Interruptus.)

There’s something I’d like to share with you all tonight, because it suddenly came to me as something of a revelation I experienced while I was in the Shower this morning. (Laughter)…No I’m serious…I’ve shared that with many of you before, that I get some of my best ideas in the shower (More laughter)…I can see where your minds are going tonight…And good for you! That means you’re still Alive, and Playful, but to move on, last night I had been reading about The Palace of Kubla Khan, both the unfinished poem, and many things written about it over the years…(Loud Snoring sound bite blares out over the PA)…(Laughter)…but to get to the point…Samuel Taylor Coleridge once wrote how part of what constituted good literature, in his opinion, required the Willing Suspension of Disbelief,  whereby the reader is given sufficient provocation to suspend the mind’s analytical tendencies long enough to accept and assimilate the story, transporting the reader to a place outside the common mind, Where Anything is Possible, and freely accepted as real and true, at least for that moment, The Ever-Present-Never-Present Moment, which is where we all come in…You can take your analytical brain far enough into Quantum Mechanics to find reasons to believe in many different versions of what we call Reality that closely mimic any number of belief systems based upon Faith.

There is a symbol that has been a trademark of more than a few movements (…and an unknown number of tattoos) that involves the image of a Snake Eating its own Tail, called the Uroboros. It has been used to symbolize the conversion of matter into energy, and even the conversion of energy into matter, rebirth, and even the spiral verbal presentation style of the Aboriginal Fireside Talks.

Another way to look at it is this: If All Things Return to the One, to Where Does the One Return?

Ash touched the tip of his thumb to first the index, then middle, and finally both middle and ring fingers of his right hand, with the thumb on the bottom, palm facing down…he watched his hand perform the pantomime like it was a puppet performing there for everyone, smiled, and shrugged, dropping his hand beside him as he returned his focus to the “audience” not due to arrive until tomorrow night…

Funny how each of those hand gestures form a Zero, even though each one has a different possible implication of its own…but the answer would still appear to be Zero…even the One returns to Zero. Hmmmmmmm! But as always I digress…

In most belief systems, everything leads back not only to its origin, but its polar opposite, like Yin encircling Yang. Scientific research can lead us away from our faith in one form of Religion as well as toward faith in Something Else. Even Science presupposes to ascribe to dogmatic and axiomatic beliefs that cannot be empirically proven outside of itself…Faith in Science…. Sometime later, I will share a rant or two about how Physics, especially Astrophysics, Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics lead me from Despair to Rapture or if you will, how the road of Excess lead me to the Palace of Wisdom. But just for now, digressions and all, I would like to present an idea that may give you pleasure to pursue all the way back to your own palaces.

It is this; To Be the Hero of One’s Own Hero is to Steal Fire from the Gods. (This slogan appears on the flat-screen projection above the stage, quoting the source, a Navajo wedding vow). Think about it. When two people enter into a marriage, if both are equally committed to the other to ensure that whatever that significant other of yours wants or believes, you will do everything within your power to help them achieve, it does not matter if that world that you two create within and between yourselves is something the rest of the world considers to be a delusional fantasy, as long as you both can continue to maintain that reinforcement of Reality as you see it.

About a year ago, I was discovered by a member of the self-proclaimed, self-righteous Moral Majority and pronounced as be the Man Farthest Outside of the Religious Mainstream in All of America…and my career skyrocketed. His attack included my wife, Kali, whom he described as a witch: “The Pornographic Priestess of the New Sodom and Gomorra”, and as a direct result, her website went viral.  He never bothered to explain how he found her website in the first place, by the way, since she had purposefully tried to obscure it from the Ignorant, the Superstitious, and the Salacious or Malevolent. Business was never so good before that, and so Kali and I decided to donate ten thousand dollars of our own money to the Church of my self-proclaimed enemy, which proves that whatever you focus your energies upon, you strengthen and energize it, even with hatred or anger, and we were most grateful for his support. In My world, the louder he denounces me, the more of his flock that are driven to me. Of course there is more than enough room in this world for both of us to prosper, so I wish him every good fortune. The more he attempts to draw attention to himself, the more my congregation increases.

It appears that there are a lot of people who crave the fellowship of others in search of not only earthly happiness, but also Communion with some sort of Higher Consciousness or Higher Power, who doesn’t try to convince them that God somehow does not want them to enjoy oral or anal sex, or even share that love with others who love them as well. We seek Union with Something Larger than Just Ourselves, as well as each other. We already know that there are no shortage of swingers’ clubs around here in South Florida, but there are also a lot of people who would also attend some kind of church as long as it didn’t mean you had to get up early on Sunday morning, just to be damned and berated for what you did on Saturday night…tends to make me believe Poor Mr. Preacher ain’t getting No Satisfaction, either from Mrs. Preacher, or anyone else…Nothing like Envy or Jealousy to bring out the moral prick in almost anyone. (Band launches into eight bars of The Stones’ Satisfaction and pulls out hard…Musicas Interruptus…)

Now just in case you find yourself asking ‘Brother Ash, are you suggesting…

are you saying…

that a lot of the self-proclaimed Modern Holy Fathers need to get laid?’

(Snare shot, kick drum and crash cymbal, damped)

Hell Yes! That’s exactly what I am saying! 

When I look at most of those people, I think to myself…Shit! I can’t imagine any of those people Fucking Anybody…even each other. (Laughter as the Band break into eight bars of The Apocalypso, an original piece.)

Hey! Thanks, I’ll be here all night, and don’t forget to tip your waitress…

(Camera slowly zooms in for Extreme Close-up)

No, seriously, that’s what The Home for Wayward Souls is all about…a Sanctuary for Lost Souls of Common Mind. I’m not saying you have to be either a Sodomite or a Swinger…or even both…but if you are, we will still love you, because We Like the Way You Think…and it’s a great way to hook up with other people who do too. (Another rim shot on the snare, kick drum and damped cymbal crash, but no laughter.)

(Camera switches to Head and Shoulders shot.)

We often talk about ‘Communities’, like Swingers, The Gay Community, or the BDSM, or GLBT as if we all lived in the same neighborhood (although sometimes we do, and never know about it…), but here, no matter who you are, or where you live, this is Your Home.

(Band launches into The Apocalypso again, and plays it through the first chorus. The flying flat screen starts to project the final lyrics for the evening, which first Ash, then the rest of the band began to sing.)

First, I want for all the men to sing along with me:

“I woke up this morning and I said to myself,

I must be the luckiest man on the planet,

And every day, my Spouse and my family

Wake up and do everything

They can

To prove me right,

And I do the same for them.”

(Ash claps his hands as he lets his electric guitar slide around to his back, still suspended by its wide leather strap.)

Now I want all the women in the audience to sing along with my Soul Chorus, Ladies Please:

“I woke up this morning

And I thought to myself

That I must be the luckiest woman

In all the world,

And every day,

My Spouse and my family

Do everything they can to prove me right,

And I do just the same for them.” 

Now I want the children in the audience to sing along with the Archangels:

“I woke up this morning

And I thought to myself,

I must be the luckiest person

In All the Universe,

And every day

My parents do everything they can

To prove me right,

And I do exactly the same for them.”

Now everyone (in Ash’s mind, at least) is standing, clapping their hands and doing a dance that Darcy had shown him earlier, that she called the ‘Bandaloop’, or something that sounded like that…and the Archangels did everything they could to make him look good, and sound good, and prove him right, because he did everything he knew how to return the Love right back to Everyone.

3 Responses to “The Talking Monkeys and The Home for Wayward Souls: The Willing Suspension of Disbelief”

  1. Dear Dreamlanddancing,
    I Really Really Enjoyed this post. BTW Where and When can I attend the next Sermon?

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