Kung Fu was a bad dude. Although his name wasn’t Kung Fu. I just call him that. His actual moniker was Kwai Chang Caine, the fictional protagonist from the original Kung Fu TV series that ran from 1972- 1976. Caine (David Carradine), a half Chinese half White Shaolin Buddhist priest and martial arts expert, wanders the old American Wild West as a wanted fugitive. He’s on the run for a justifiable homicide he committed in China.
As you can imagine, the old West racial scene ran a bit tense. While not as abused as Native Americans, and African Americans, the Chinese get their share of the sharp end of the spur. A typical Kung Fu teleplay usually involved at least one tussle between Caine and a bunch of redneck cowboys. The cowboys generally wound up on the losing end of the argument.
Martial arts experts may criticize David Carradine for his lack of authentic fighting skills, but the screenwriters create enough suspension of disbelief for most viewers to overlook his Kung Fu deficiencies. Some might also consider it cultural appropriation for a White guy to play a half Chinese/ half White cat, but actor Brandon Lee (Bruce Lee’s Asian/White son) was just a kid when the show came out. I’m kidding about the late Brandon. The casting director made the right choice with the late David Carradine.
What makes this show brilliant are the flashback scenes. From boyhood until he becomes a young adult, Grasshopper (Caine’s temple nickname) lives in a Shaolin Buddhist temple, where he receives martial arts and spiritual training from the priests and monks. When Kane faces a conflict in America, his mind wanders back to the lessons he received from his self actualized and transcendent masters.
The temple flashback dialogue draws from a Buddhist philosophy that is universal enough to resonate with both the spiritually inclined, and the atheist. Delivered by talented actors, the teachings compete with anything I’ve come across in the Bible (both Old and New Testament), While I acknowledge the super powerful archetypes and symbolism contained within the Judeo-Christian mythologies, I think it’s time we considered upgrading.
Hallelujah and praise the Chi, welcome to the Kung Fu Church, or “Temple” for Jews and Asians. I’m not suggesting this idea for Muslims, Many of those cats get sensitive about their faith, and they have bigger issues to deal with, namely getting bombed by USA inc, and mass contamination by Saudi Wahhabi Lobby theocratic fascism. Although I do think moderate Shia and Sufi sects, as well as chilled out individual Sunnis could groove on an old time Kung Fu spiritual revival. To be fair to the Muslims, Holocaust Zionism has replaced mainstream Judaism, and Christian Evangelical theology is fascistic, literalist, and dumb. Happy? Now sects from all three Abrahamic faiths have been blasphemed. And yes, I know some Asians are Muslim, and Asian is a race not a religion. Breathe.
Ok, back to our hypothetical Kung Fu Church. Each sermon begins with a Kung Fu episode. Afterwards the minister discusses the show’s deeper meaning with the congregation. Instead of Sunday or Saturday Bible school, kids practice Kung Fu. Reruns would eventually grow tiresome, so new episodes would have to be filmed. The old episodes with David Carradine would be Old Testament Kung Fu, and ones with the new actor would be New Testament Kung Fu. In addition, the Caine protagonist makes an excellent Christ archetype. He’s lean, a vegetarian, gentle, humble, celibate, protects the weak, and only kicks ass as a last resort. Not quite turn the other cheek, but close enough.
Kung Fu Church sound crazy? Maybe. However literal interpretation of symbolical religious scripture by the three Abrahamic cults isn’t exactly sane. Those myths end with the world blowing up, and their adherents are subconsciously pushing us in that direction. Throw in corporate bankster greed, the military industrial complex, and cynical opportunism, and Armageddon is one nuclear mushroom cloud away.
To successfully transition from a Type Zero to a Type 1 Civilization, we need a major paradigm shift in the collective consciousness, something current mainstream religion can’t achieve. What’s the alternative? While I respect ethical atheists, many folks are hardwired for spirituality.
Dogmatic religion needs to be replaced with spiritual philosophy. Obviously the cornerstone of any such belief system would entail treating people and the planet in a decent manner. Beyond that, I’d choose something in the theoretical physics meets Carl Jung department. When you factor in the potential for conscious energy (The Force from Star Wars), multiverses, alternate dimensions, exponentially evolving artificial intelligence, and simulated realities, a big door opens for new heavens, hells, symbols, and archetypal heroes and villains. And don’t forget the space aliens. Kirk to Enterprise.