Let's imagine we've all been invited to a party. Some friends are getting together and each spontaneously phones others to come along and so on, until the party becomes something of an event. The host doesn't mind keeping an open door because the gathering is really a reunion: everyone attending, whether they know each other or not, shares a seminal experience in their past—perhaps they were the first burners when Burning Man was still held on the beach, or Deadheads who trouped after the band for an entire year, back before Jerry Garcia died and was reincarnated as an ice cream flavor. It doesn't matter. The thing is everyone shows up and someone starts to share their war stories. Others naturally join in. Even when the stories are sad they're tinged with a certain esprit de corps—a black humor when recounting a shared history that is both beloved and reviled, present and long gone. Everyone laughs at themselves when someone confesses her own gullibility. "Let's drink to our lost innocence!" A bottle of Rumi's wine is produced and poured out. That prompts someone to light up and pass that along too, and suddenly everyone is digging out their own high to share—like certain liberal Jesuits think Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes—by being the first to pass his lunch around he moved everyone else to do the same, until there was more than enough food to feed the crowd on the Mount of Olives.
The discussion becomes more impassioned even as it fragments into individual conversations. Someone brings up Zen, naturally. Someone else keeps floating metaphors and spinning them out until they get unwieldy. A couple in the corner are gossiping about whether or not one of the guests is secretly gay, or worse, a former swami. It's all still good. We're flush with the warmth of remembering things that we can't tell just anyone—if you weren't there you just wouldn't understand. And then an argument breaks out. Maybe there's a difference of opinion, or of the way things get remembered. The host intervenes as gently as he knows how; hey, hey there, no need for anger. We're all equally right and wrong. Let's all be One, OK? But this is misinterpreted too, and someone takes offense; overturning a table they start shouting: "Only a NAVY MAN can tell a Navy man when he's had too much to drink!" or something equally stupid. Quarrels break out and suddenly everyone is shouting at once, and whether they're appealing to order or fueling the fire it all just adds to the din.
What to do?
Here's what happened. The host turned up the lights and said "You don't have to go home folks, but you can't stay here." Party over.
The fact is, everything in civilized life is bound by societal norms—except an unmoderated blog. By giving voice to a minority who wanted to drag the discussion into the gutter, I created a free-for-all on this site. When I saw what I had created my only response was to shut it down.
But. The discussion we've had here does not deserve to be terminated because of some trolls. Rude guests who abuse the tolerance of others who are seeking open discourse on something that is tremendously meaningful to them, and puzzling, and unsettling and maddening and... so on.
So, Rituals of Disenchantment is open again. I will make the commitment to moderate comments. I think you'll find that I'm about as liberal as those good Jesuits who are eager to explain away Christ's miracles. Which is to say--you'll have to really be a flaming asshole not to get your comment posted. But if you are, you won't. Without explanation or response. Whoever is the viciously angry person(s) who flame the posts and comments here, I have a suggestion. Forget meditation and try upping your meds instead. You just might find the world a bearable place.