Illustrating The Joys Of Theocracy
All of the talk lately about the religious preferences of the presidential candidates or their lack of them has me concerned for the direction of the current campaign and the fact that religion has any place in this discussion at all.
Yesterday, while drinking my second cup of coffee and mentally preparing for the second week of moving to a new residence, a letter to the editor of USA Today caught my attention.
One Harold Burnett of Palmdale, California seems to have gotten his evangelical shorts in a wad over an op-ed piece titled “What is a ‘real’ Christian?” written by Dan Gilgoff in USA Today on May 21. Mr Burnett writes:
Memorial Day, 2007
I remember being twenty one in August of 65, the week of my birthday, and standing alone on a hill near Chu Lai, looking out over the only road and admiring the low angle textures of the light on the South China Sea. The gulls circling above the villager’s fishing boats, pulled high on the beach beyond reach of the tides, the last of the fishermen in the distance walking in twos, returning to their homes for the night.
I stood there alone with the breeze slowly drying my sweat soaked uniform, alone with the taste and smell of the ocean and it’s limitless life, alone with the eternal sound of the surf as it stretched its’ fingers toward the ancient boats.
Off to my left, up the coast a few hundred yards was a mess area, tents and equipment sandbagged against the madness of the day, and a bit nearer to me, two large walk in coolers
I could hear the low humming sound of their generators almost hidden below the steady music of the sea.
From my right on the road below I heard the sound of a six-by coming up from the south where we had been that morning. It passed in front of me and I could see the sweat stained faces of the two Marines in the front seat, and as it went by to my left I could see others in the back.
Jerry Falwell, self appointed mouthpiece of God. August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007
Jerry Falwell, sadly, didn’t live long enough to experience the Grand Opening on May 28 of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.
I’m sure that he would have jumped at the chance to view animatronic exhibits depicting humans and dinosaurs living together on the Earth and the planetarium, which presents to the astronomically curious Christian a selection of “creationist cosmologies” all unfolding within the approved Biblical time span of six thousand years.
An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 people lined up naked in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square in response to a call from U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick. Photo by Claudio Cruz Associated Press
In a time such as this and in a world such as ours, amid all the insanity, the madness, the violence and greed, the struggles and wars for domination and control of wealth and resources there appeared yesterday a brief shining moment of sanity and humor, of trust and beauty and just possibly an enormous expression of plain, simple, human love and freedom.
My favorite bookie, second favorite bartender, conspiracy theorist par excellence, and local Zen master “Benny the Blade” and I were playing golf several years ago at a public golf course on the day that I achieved Satori.
Perhaps it was merely Kensho but the moment had such lasting clarity, has remained in the foreground of my consciousness for so long that I choose to think of it as the moment when I found enlightenment.
We were halfway through the back nine on a beautiful late spring day and I had played better rounds of golf. I had just hacked my way through fourteen maddening holes, and was frustrated and angry at myself for my inability to stay focused on simple things like keeping my head down. I had already consumed about 94 strokes and was experiencing the realities of a frustrating game that Mark Twain once called “a good walk ruined.” The only hole I was sure to enjoy on this day would be 19.
Riding in the cart between holes, Blade had been keeping up a steady stream of wit and wisdom peppered with secret government plots and conspiracies and tips and insights on upcoming sports events, two subjects in which he is incredibly well versed and able to segue between with the practiced smoothness of a snake oil salesman.
Blade is one of the most Runyonesque characters I’ve run across, a voracious reader, a creature of the pool halls and race tracks, kind of an urban oddball, possessed of an incredible mix of formal knowledge and street smarts, with a great, if sometimes painfully corn ball, sense of humor. Short of stature but solid and athletic, with a voice like parking lot gravel, I often think that he is a kind of mystical gnome. He is never boring.
Anyway, we were on the 15th hole, I had duffed my drive, taken a mulligan, and hit a driver about 120 yards into the left rough. Next shot I caught one on the sweet spot and drove it 130 yards into the rough on the right where it came to a stop 6 feet from a tree that was directly in line with the green.
Without the damn tree I had a good chance to double bogey the hole but as it lay I’d be lucky to get out in 9 or 10 as there was a trap to the left of the green and water to the right. The narrow avenue of approach to the green was almost completely hidden by the stupid tree and as we pulled up in the cart Blade was chuckling sagely over my plight and enjoying himself, I felt, overmuch.
I dismounted and got out a seven iron and a fresh beer which I thought would be the right tools for the nasty job ahead. I stood and sipped my beer studying the bleak potentialities of the situation and said to Blade that I’d have to lay up short of the bunker on the left.
“Go for the green,” he said as I looked at him in disbelief.
“I can only see about two inches of the green on either side of this tree.” I whined, “How in the hell do you expect me to go for the green?”
“Higgins, aim for the center of the tree, you can’t hit a damn thing you aim at, aim for the tree,” came his throaty reply.
Now, thoroughly pissed, I put my beer down on the ground, walked to the ball, briefly looked the shot over thinking that the damn ball would hit the tree and come right back in my face. No longer caring, I aimed directly at the center of the tree, hauled off and smacked the damn ball. In the next moment I beheld the power and beauty of the universe, experienced the vast expanse of time and life and my place in it as that stupid ball missed the tree by the smallest fraction of an inch to the right, hooked back to the left and landed on the green three feet from the hole.
“Nice shot,” said the Blade as I boarded the cart and we headed for the hole, “I knew you couldn’t hit that tree.” I looked at him and in that moment, in the bemused and slightly smirking look he wore I saw that my friend had taken on the look of something that resembled Yoda in Star Wars, and I realized that what I had just learned, had just witnessed, would stay with me for all my days.
Watching congress do whatever it is that they do is like watching my screen saver, a lot of movement, a bit of color, a little cheap entertainment but ultimately a waste of time.
I would like to have 10 percent of the monetary value of the man hours expended by members of the House, the Senate, and their respective staffs that was piled atop the redolent heap of history’s wasted gestures in the recent exercise in futility that was the fight over the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill.
Republicans joined with Democrats in making a spectacle of themselves as ineffectual windbags without a cause, proving publicly, once again, that most of them have no respect for this republic, it’s people or the business they are paid so handsomely to conduct.
Knowing that the eminently hardheaded little man who occupies the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue would veto any bill which included deadlines for troop withdrawals, and knowing that the same cynical little man would use the pork content of the bill against them, they made him a gift of a bill that he could veto and look “presidential” while doing it. They gave Bush exactly what he wanted.
Suppliers in China have admitted to adding melamine to animal feed. The FDA
is trying to screen out the additive, which is now blamed for many pet deaths
Associated Press Photo
“A lot of animal food companies buy melamine from us to add in the animal feed,” said Ji Denghui, manager of Sanming Dinghui Chemical Trading Co. based in the eastern province of Fujian. “This can lower the production cost and increase nitrogen levels.”
“As far as I know, there are no rules or regulations that make this illegal. As to whether melamine is toxic or not, I believe it won’t do any harm if there is only very small amount,” Ji said. “Otherwise, those companies could not do that.”
Ji Denghui, quoted in yesterdays morning’s Washington Post article titled “Chemical Common in Chinese Animal Feed” by Christopher Bodeen
A few weeks ago while surfing the net to find out which pet food brands were killing America’s Garfields and Fidos and learning about wheat gluten, melamine, seitan, and the intricacies of the international trade in food additives, I was mildly surprised to find that we import wheat gluten from China and found myself wondering if someone had sold America’s heartland while I wasn’t looking. Did a foreign country buy up all of Illinois’ farmland as part of the Chicago Skyway deal? Did the current batch of incompetent boobs who pass themselves off as our government manage to misplace Kansas and Nebraska along with our national integrity, respect for humanity and the Bill of Rights while making America safe for Laissez-faire capitalism?