Sister Death


We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

We praise and bless You, Lord,
and give You thanks, and serve You in all humility.

(from Canticle of the Sun, by St. Francis of Assisi)

I think about Death, because I think deeply (as deeply as I can) about Life. It is in honor of Life, in a very real way, that I pay homage to Death by wondering, thinking, studying, talking about and now writing about Death. Sister Death, St. Francis called it, in perhaps the most comfortable evocation of its nearness and familiarity. And Sister Death I will often call it as well, with a nod of gratitude toward Francis and an opening of the door to my- our- oft neglected (or shunned) sibling.

In writing about Sister Death, I am not unaware that some will leave this blog, perhaps never to return.
It is easy in a culture which is afraid of Death- and that’s what we are, largely- to regard talk about it as a talisman or as a conduit. “I don’t want to think about it,” he/she/we says because thinking about means facing its inevitabilities, its finalities, and all of its inherent Mystery, if only for a few moments. The trouble is, like a Sister, once Death has been acknowledged, it cannot be unacknowledged. Poking at the dead fly on the windowsill as a toddler, is the first of a lifetime of questions about the Sister’s nature, followed by greater questions about her immanence, and then even greater wonderings about her permanence.

Death is not a crazy Sister, though, that we can keep locked in the basement no matter how much we may want to! It’s appearance, more frequent in some locales and personal decades than others, is a relentless reminder that we do not live in a static universe. We are always in the midst of change, in the throes of Creation, and caught in the chaos of many dimensions . The deaths of solar systems play out over light years while the deaths of mayflies begin and end in a single day, making the evidence of our existential similarities to either, difficult to observe. Culturally, we can ignore the Sun’s cataclysmic metamorphosis into a cold, ashen meteor and laugh nervously at the mayfly’s short and fragile grasp of life. And we can institutionally further close our eyes and minds to Death’s omnipresence by grasping at the testimonial straws offered by hustlers on the sanctuary circuit: “I died on the operating table and saw the third heaven!.” (more- much more- about that religious vocation in a later article.)

In short, I want to to dance with Death. But I want to do it here, in digital space- not at the edge of a canyon or in high stakes game of Russian Roulette! By exploring here, I am looking down in the dark basement myself, where we know our Sister stirs. We have relegated her there, most of the time, and I think it has been to our detriment. We’ve missed her songs; we’re missing her symphony. No matter how darkly we have been taught to hang the curtains around Death and regardless of how sonorous the basso-profundo chords are being played as we allow Death to stand in the Light of our Inquiry, we must know Death better. We must. In honesty, I tell you that I feel the desire already to retreat, to chicken-shit shut this door and go play somewhere else. But I think- I suspect and I am almost sure- that we are missing a great deal about Life by treating Death in this way. I think we must put our hand out and hold Sister’s hand in ours as we look her in the face and see the reflection of ourselves in her eyes. And then, because she will embrace us in her everlasting love one day, perhaps we can come to feel comfortable enough to allow her to sit closer, talk more often, and even- from time to time- put our arm around her shoulders and feel her heart beat with our own.

Each day, I will be building my thoughts and also deconstructing some of them, with the help of some great writers and thinkers who have challenged me. There are others reasons I write about this subject, too, and I will be sharing those as well.

If I die before I wake.. (you know the rest..)

What’s good for General Motors, is good for the U.S.A.

That’s how America used to work. And it’s exactly how America must never work again. 

Automobiles, television, and a grid of roads going everywhere. That was the holy trinity of both 20th century economics and modern civil religion. That was the three-headed god which we genuflected to with our financing plans, sacrificed to through an international oil industry, and the imagio dei into which we allowed ourselves to be born again. For some persons this morning, GM’s bankruptcy filing is like hearing that Jesus’ bones have been unearthed in Jerusalem. The foundations of their lives, as they knew them, are crumbling.

Nothing is permanent; that’s the primary lesson from this which must be embraced again and again. Just because a few generations of Americans grew up with Chevys, aspired to Cadillacs, lusted for awhile over GTOs, then settled for their father’s Oldsmobile, didn’t mean- it turns out- that GM was the end all and be all of the American GNP. And because GM was so familiar to all of us, we all have the ability (we think) to figure out what went wrong.

Why did Americans by the millions go sneaking off to trysts with Toyota, Datsun, and Honda? The answers we have are all- in part- valid ones. Because GM (and the other American automakers) held such sway in America, and because we were all its willing victims and supplicants for almost a hundred years, we all have the right to have answers, too. We are all kind-of experts on the auto industry. 

So, here’s what I think: Hummers didn’t kill GM, but they were the final tumor. Like the smoker who won’t stop smoking and then pours the family fortune into a final two years of chemo-drenched half-life, GMs arrogance toward the American consumer finally caught up with it. They claimed car and truck buyers wanted big muscle cars. And when a company controls huge advertising dollars, it can make its misbegotten notions seem true, for awhile. Scare enough men into believing their virility is dependent on massive horsepower, and corporate wishful thinking will prevail, for awhile. Kill off the 1st American electric car- the EV1- because of narrower profit margins, while forcibly inserting Hummers onto the roads by making them the internal combustive equivalent of Viagra, and sales projections will maintain the illusion of an erection, for awhile.

And the kind of dull, but harmonic and dependable music of Toyota, Nissan (now), and Honda played on. And plays on, still.

I still want a Cadillac SUV. I do. That’s a desire I have learned; it is not a desire I was born with. The idea that such a vehicle will enhance my life is a false one, I know that- I really, really do. But GM had psychologists, behaviorists, and -who knows?- maybe even spiritual advisors all figuring out ways to get their vehicular seeds into the soil of my very American, very consumer-oriented mind and soul. And they were successful.

That’s the part of American business which must be re-examined. Have we been brainwashed, or taught? Are we cajoled, or informed? Are we being pushed, or led? Advertising is much, much more than something which interrupts reruns of ‘Seinfeld.’ It has redefined who we, as humans, understand ourselves to be and, because that image in recent decades has been a false one, it was inevitable that we would run into a brick wall.

GM’s bankruptcy is one of those brick walls. There have been others, of course. And there must be more.

Speaking of heroes, how about that pizza delivery guy?..

As something of a follow-up to the comments below, I note what may be the most..interesting..designation of “hero” to have been made- so far- this year. I don’t remember the particulars- where, who, and specifically when- nor will I spend even 30 seconds retrieving that info; it is irrelevant! If you had the TV on during the last few days, you’ve probably heard the story anyway and I do you no service by re-heaping the details onto your already creaking-with-overload memory.

A pizza was delivered to a home way outside of town, in some state, near some medium-sized town. While inside, the deliveryman saw a woman with her hands tied who was mouthing the words “Call 911.” Now, I’m not going to quibble about the likelihood of understanding someone’s mimed plea to call 911; try it, you’ll see the words are not easily seen. And, it would seem to me that the tied up hands and wrists would probably be a sign, adequate unto itself, that something was amiss.

All of this non-verbal information was being passed, by the way, while the client had his back turned to the deliveryman and his victim, WHILE HE WAS SIGNING THE CREDIT CARD SLIP for the pizza! One must ask, if you’re going to be a kidnapper, and if you’re going to feed the victim, wouldn’t it be a good idea to meet the delivery guy outside the house, with cash? That’s not relevant, really, except that it goes to show why the status of “hero” is deserved even less than it may have been deemed to be deserved at first glance. Stick around, it gets even less deserving.

The pizza guy left the house, got in his car, and called 911. That’s no big deal; if you’ve done it, you know what I mean. I’ve called 911 twice; the first time was the day after 9-11-01, 9-12-01, if I must spell it out. It was evening and I was sitting in the backyard. I was home alone when a transformer on the telephone pole behind my house exploded. Being 9-12-01, it crossed my mind- I’ll admit- that the 9100 block of Clemson Drive in Garland, Texas was under attack. The second time I called was when I was trying to help a man stand up who was trying to faint. He wanted to sit down, but we were outside and all I could aim him toward was a riding lawn mower. He had a bowel movement before he was seated and while I was trying to tell the operator the address. As difficult as the circumstances were in both cases, the dialing of the numbers, the placing of the call, was easy.

The pizza guy had none of those extenuating circumstances. He simply called 911. And then he waited for the police to arrive so he could provide- his words- “back-up” ! What, one must ask, might the back-up have been which he could have provided? Good intentions aside- and I’m sure they were good- but what could he have done? What might have been needed to be done? Face it, I say..the guy hung around- as I would, as you would- to see what was going to happen. In fact, the police would have had to forcibly remove me from the scene for me to have left such a scene of interesting potential!   (When I was in college, I delivered pizza for a year; not much that is exciting happens while delivering pizza. An event like this would have been regarded by most of us drivers at the time as a gift from an almighty and loving God.)

The woman was rescued- hallelujah!- from the cashless kidnapper. He will probably be able to kick himself in prison for quite a few years for not stopping at an ATM machine on the way home from  his criminal activity. Adding further insult to injury, I’m guessing  his story will take on mythical dimensions of stupidity and ineptitude after a few years of being embellished by  various cell mates. I refuse to imagine anything else that may befall him beyond this point.

But I continue to wonder about the pizza delivery guy, as I wonder about all persons like him who seem to hang around long enough to talk to a news reporter. What would he have said to enquiring minds who need to know? “Well, I held the phone firmly with my left hand, and dialed with the second finger of my right hand because I had previously injured my first finger- the one I would normally dial with.” I’m not- no way, no how- demeaning what this guy did; I’m just saying, who wouldn’t have done the same thing? A person is in trouble- it’s easy to make a contribution toward the solution; do it.

Hero? Again, the guy who falls on a grenade is a hero. The woman who runs into a burning house to save children or pets is a hero. The employee who blows the whistle on a criminal employer, and risks their job to do so, is a hero. Calling 911 is not heroic. It is practical. It is the proper thing to do.

OK. I’m not only sliding this soapbox back out of the way, I’m taking an ax to it. You might want to hang around in case the ax head flies off. You can call 911, and tell whoever asks, about what might have happened. Shoot, some would say you’re already a hero since you’re willing to take on such a job. In fact, you ARE a hero! You are!

You are. Really. You and the pizza guy.

Hero- overused word of the hour..

 

“…be thankful for new young heroes.”

Those are the final words of an article by Gil LeBreton, in the sports section of today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram, regarding last Saturday’s collapse of a large fabric and metal practice facility. The article is his contribution to the new pastime of American media-types: find the hero! LeBreton continues,
“These weren’t firemen or policemen. These were players who, within seconds after the collapse, were courageously kicking in a window to free a team scout, lifting heavy steel supports to free a sports writer or ripping apart vinyl with their bare hands to free others.”
 

My God- can you believe it- “Shredding vinyl with their bare hands” ? And, “courageously kicking in a window” ? These are young football players who have turned around and gone back into a vinyl and metal building that has fallen down. It was not a burning building, and it was not about to explode. There were no known or suspected I.E.D.s anywhere near the facility. There were people yelling for assistance, who had been trapped by the metal beams, one of whom- Rich Behm- was permanently paralyzed.
Is it wrong for me to think that these men who went back to help others are not heroes? What they did was not in the least dangerous to themselves- the players were, in fact, still wearing their pads. They helped lift metal that they were very capable of lifting. They tore vinyl to get at people caught underneath it. They responded as humans for a million years have responded to other friendly humans in trouble, and with very little possible risk to themselves in this case. They were good guys, as almost anyone in their positions at the time would be.

I find the rush to call anyone heroic who does something well, rather silly and very diluting of those few very real heroic efforts which do happen from to time. I personally don’t even call Sully Sullenberger a hero for doing what he did very very well when he landed his aircraft on the Hudson River. A fine, and very cool, and extremely competent pilot? Yes! Give the man a raise, a fine cigar, and a book deal! But he did what he was supposed to do: he landed the plane. He’d trained for such an emergency, hoped he’d never have to use that training, but did use it very well when called upon to do so.
A heroic effort is that which involves entering a conflict when not doing so would be advisable and understandable, in order to ease the burden or danger of another person (or other living being). Heroic efforts do not include-ever- a sports person working to win a game. We have seen some ballplayers recently who forfeited games by doing altruistic things for the other team. That’s heroism. Cutting left, then right, then lowering one’s head as the touchdown is run toward- is not. They do not include little children calling 9-1-1 because their mommy’s unconscious. A terrific kid, well-trained, smart, cute, savvy, etc..absolultely! But there was not a choice involved; he/she did the only they could do.

Heroes (and heroines- it’s a word I’m not using here because it is awkward to do so; understand, though, that there is no gender implied within ‘heroism.’) are not people who offer help at no risk to themselves just because there are people who are paid and the way to do so (EMTs and police or fireman). There is nothing heroic about a 275 offensive tackle in pads helping lift a metal bar off someone who is trapped by that bar. He’d be an absolute ass if he didn’t help!

The absurb overuse of hero designation is a phenomenon of the media, primarily. I do not hear, in normal conversation, the word ever being used. I think there is an intrinsic understanding among most people that there is a hallowedness implicit in the word and that the use of the word hero should be spare. But that is not true of the news-spitters on Channels 4,5,6,7, or 11. Watch them tonight and you WILL see one or more of them succumb to the apparently always-audible sirens’ song of invitation to sing of the great Ulysses’ glorious deeds. The fireman climbing the tree for a cat, the 7’3″ mega-rich forward going in for a layup, and the clerk who ran out of the store and up the street to return a forgotten purse to a customer: sorry, but I’ve seen the pictures of firemen heading up stair cases that are about to come tumbling down. You have, too. And they are my benchmark now for defining heroism.

 
That may be an impossible high standard, but so be it. Those firemen (and other genuine and real heroes) do not deserve to have the memory of what they did sullied by a local newsman’s desire to inspire and be memorable to his viewing audience. Nor do we deserve to have our own standards lessened.

I’m almost 60..

I’ll be 60 this year. That’s a sentence that leaves me aghast and amuses me at the same time. Sometimes I will think for a moment that it would be fun to still have more years in front of me than behind me. But then I remind myself of the people I have- because of my age- been privileged to share this planet with. People like the following whose pictures I just happened onto at oliverwillis.com, a site worth perusing.

Wow! Just look. We know the names of some of these people and not others. But all of these men and women are reminders of what real heroism looks like. Real heroism is about taking action, when retreat would be both excusable and safer. Real heroism happens in silence and isolation, in the presence of real enemies. Real heroism is about focusing not on what you can see in front of you, but what you hope others will be able to see, someday.

These men and women are among my heroes; and I am thankful that I was in this place and in this country at the same time they were. Theirs was an extraordinary humanity and their willingness to share it has made the rest of us, better.

We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For..*

*From Alice Walker’s blog, on the occasion of the events of November 4, 2008

We not only are the ones we have
been waiting for, we’re all we’ve got. Pray all day and all night for the next month, send your miracle-seed donations to whatever shyster television evangelist you choose, or otherwise passively wait for something supernatural from the sky to occur to solve your financial problems. Write angry letters to the editor of your shrinking daily newspaper, call the offices of your congressional representative weekly, go on strike, organize a boycott, find somebody to sue, or sit around the cafe and make jokes about people who for whatever reason- color, age, gender, sexual preference, nationality- are not as good as you and bring their financial problems on themselves and it’s just not fair because now they’re going to be helped and you’re not and God knows you’ve worked hard and you really are a victim: of bankers, Jews, Socialists, Obama, William Ayers, that guy who kills turkeys in Alaska, the CEO of GM, Affirmative Action, and/or global warming, Big Oil, gay guys who want to get married, gay women who believe in evolution, et.al., et.al., etc., and so forth . Do those things; hand the responsibility for your individual fix and our collective predicament over to some thing or some one outside yourself and begin the long slow descent into madness then death, while watching TV and waiting waiting waiting for what once was to be again..

Or..

We can start new philosophical, spiritual, and even legal balls rolling that will culminate one day in a very different set of economic attitudes. And those new attitudes are not an option; they are a necessity. An economic system based on perpetual growth is a Ponzi Scheme Supreme. It will fall, as all top-heavy things do. (read Genesis 11, about the Tower of Babel..it’s an old, old too oft-ignored story.) The American economic system of 2006 was bound to fail!! The fact that it is so amazingly easy to see that now is exactly the reason we can’t be tempted to return to it.

We need new thinking. It probably won’t be fun as we have been prone for too many myopic years to define fun: i.e., “Hey kids, let’s go the mall!” or, “Wow! Look how much our house is worth! We can retire early!” or “Just put it on the credit card.”

Nor will the new thinking we must undertake be able to have the old assumptions of unlimited natural resources, unlimited and willing labor, and an always expandable world market to be constructed upon. In fact, if we hear ideas based on those presumptions, we can know- even without being an economist- that they are wrong.

Here are some things I think MUST be thought about, reconsidered, redacted, discussed, argued about, and then allowed to evolve. These are just a few things and I’ll write more about each and add to the list as well. I hope you’ll talk about things like these in your circles of influence, too- in honest and open ways and in full knowledge that this is a New Creation we are part of..which is both scary AND exciting, isn’t it?

1. We must focus locally and in smaller ways, in every way we can. Interestingly, building “up” is a way to do both (think Manhattan). Walking more, sharing tasks, making do with 1 car instead of 2 or 2 instead of 3 won’t be options one day. The ‘New Marketplace’ will be the hub of the New Community, and for the sake of local employment we should not listen to any proposals by Walmart or any other large corporation to run those Marketplaces!

2. Speaking of Corporations, let’s not, as much as possible. Theirs is a legal status which must be redefined as we move this country from Corporate Socialism with their attendant strangleholds to something far more humane- something really strange and wonderful and new: small businesses, in real competition. (wow, what a concept!)

3. Everything I say about Corporations I say about Big Unions, too. It’s time to rethink everything no matter what color your collar is. Blue collars don’t automatically make you into a working class saint, and white ones don’t mean you’re a bourgeois sonofabitch.

Bottom line: Big has proven to be a hazardous concept, generally speaking. Small must b demonstrated to be the cool new kid on the block that everyone wants to be friends with, because small can give life. Big sucks life away. As someone’s grandpa used to say, “Put that it in your pipe and smoke it.” Really.

4. Here’s something else we should be allowed, if we choose to, to put in our pipes and smoke: hemp. Marijuana. There is a huge industry waiting to be begun in the growing, processing, transportation, selling, and taxing of hemp. Marijuana. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that exists already but doesn’t raise a single taxable nickel while most of the proceeds flow south. Legalizing hemp (marijuana) would ease our prison costs, allow huge fiber industries to begin (Rule: If you’re going to buy hemp fiber, you’re going to process it in the USofA, ok? Good. We understand each other.)

Are you shocked? At a preacher saying this- at any good American saying such a thing? Well, get over it. I’d much rather have my kids (or your kids) passing a pipe around a circle of munchie-hungry friends, than slamming down Dos Equus and Grey Goose in a bar 10 miles from home, while some guy in the corner over there is getting alcohol-angry and is about to rage on the girl who is about to vomit on the kid who is dying alone and silently under the table of alcohol poisoning.

And anyway, it’s the prison building corporations and the alcohol distribution corporations who really don’t want the hemp industry to take off in the U.S. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it? (Ok, now..pass the Cheetohs, wouldja, and the chips and the bean dip, and where’s that cake? [Just Kidddiiinnnggg!!!])

5. Barter, trading. I’ll mow your yard this year for you if you’ll allow us to pick from your apple and pecan trees. I’ll paint your house in return for piano lessons for my kid. I’ll keep your pickup running if you’ll help replace my furnace. I’ll trade you my TV for your extra lawnmower. I’ll give you 2 pickups of wood for a calf. I’ll trade my extra room to you for janitorial work at the store.

You see what I’m saying. I know you do. It’s how people all over the world lived for tens of thousands of years but it’s a way of life most Westerners have put behind them. It became easier to hand people money rather than friendship or time. Behind the security fences there are people who need you. And you need them. Don’t wait until you or they are hungry to make introductions. (Ask the elders among us- the veterans of the Depression- if that last statement makes any sense; they will assure you it does.)

6. Death. No, I don’t want to talk about it. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it, so we continue to treat it as if it’s something that can be denied, put off, or foiled. We make absolute fools of ourselves with the massive amounts of money we spend to gain a few years of uncomfortable life at the end of our life. This is a huge subject that is very much a part of any discussion of a new economy, a New Community. And I’ll have more to say.

OK, that’s a start. Discuss amongst yourselves. Just don’t spend a moment humming “The Way We Were” or wishing you could have a conversation with your stockbroker like you used to have in the late 90’s. Those days really are gone. Kaput. Fini. The saviors we were hoping for never arrived. We really are all we’ve got; we really are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Cool, yes?

(and yes, there are a myriad of other subjects in the new economy- all things green, for instance, cottage industries, family and community gardens, and on and on. But w’ve all got to start somewhere. These are the places I chose to begin.)

The Body of Christ, Redux

A response from Lyndon (here) to what I wrote a few days ago about Religion, caused me to go back and look at a piece of art and Christian history that I have loved: The Isenheim Altarpiece: 

111Jesus isenheim

Painted in about 1515 by Matthias Grunewald, the three part work sits on top of a painted altar. There is much to learn and understand about the painter and this  piece and Wikipedia is a far better place to begin more research than here. But, I want to look specifically at the middle section and even more specifically at the body of Christ, as Grunewald depicted it.

           isenheimaltarpiecedetail

The Isenheim Altarpiece was to be placed in the chapel of a sanitarium where patients with skin diseases were hospitalized. Grunewald painted this Christ as a suffering, contorted being with terrible lesions all over his body. Here was a Christ with whom the people of Isenheim could relate. This was a Jesus who was like them, suffered like them, and- they believed- died for them.

This was a Jesus with scars. This was a Jesus who died alone, unappreciated, unloved, shunned. This was a Jesus who who screamed in pain before he died. And amazingly, John the Baptist was painted to the right of the cross, pointing to Jesus and saying, “He must increase: I must decrease.” This was a suffering Christ, but a Christ who, according to the Baptist, should, could, and must be emulated.

So who is looking for this sacrificing Jesus today? Who is following this injured,bleeding, lashed and slashed Jesus anywhere? I turn the TV on and hear preachers talking about gay marriage and supporting Israel’s onslaught of Palestine. I read sermons extolling the virtues of teenage abstinence, the necessity of keeping “God” on coins, and laments about some clerk at Walmart who says “Happy Holiday.”

I watch “Christians” fussing at each other over the age of the earth, and the importance of using the right language regarding abortion (while doing nothing about it). I see clean, unbruised, never scarred church goers tsk-tsking over Sally’s bare shoulders, Timmy’s cruddy-looking tennis shoes, and..”Have you seen Bob with that new friend of his-Bill?”

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are being pummeled by Israel with nary a whisper of protest from American Christians. Most of the world’s children end each day hungry. There are more slaves in the world than at any time in history. We (US) are spending $12 billion a month to fight a war over..what? I’ve forgotten. The high school drop out rate is higher than ever. We are the most incarcerating country on earth. And we (Christians) actually send money- lots of it!- to scriptural pimps who promise if we send more money to them, we can have bigger houses, shinier cars, better clothes, no cancer, great kids, vacations on Christian cruise ships, to Christian hotels, near Christian theme parks, after stopping at the mall to buy Christian CDs, Christian knick-knacks, bumper stickers, and jewelry, so that atheists and Muslims and Democrats and lesbians will know- without a doubt!- where we stand on the issues!

Unless the church begins to bleed, it will die. He must increase; we, fat and healthy and happy and lazy, must decrease.

The World is a "Dirty Gas Station Restroom.."

In October, I was banished (their word) from one of  the fundamentalist Christian,  Rapture-obsessed forums. This particular one is billed as “your prophecy resource for the end times.”

It was the end of October, 2008. I was banished for daring to ask in one of the forums, the following question: “Can we assume that the president we elect on November 4 is God’s answer to our prayers?” It seems an innocuous sort of question, doesn’t it? Actually, I knew these folks would have a hard time with it, which is why I asked. They overwhelmingly, of course, wanted McCain/Palin to win- they’re the Republicans and they used kind of language that would appeal to these fundamentalist, literalist “Christians.” There were many, many written prayers in the forums there pleading with God to make their victory happen. But the polls showed Obama/Biden ahead; thus, their dilemma. To answer my question affirmatively, and in the face of a possible Obama win, it would be evident that God was different than this Rapture-obsessed crowd had understood God to be. They knew, after all, that God (He) was conservative, Republican, against Muslims, for war, for capitalism, against gays, against illegal immigration, for McCain, and against everything that Obama stood for, including his middle name. So if Obama would win, it would mean their fundamentalist and oh-so-narrow view of everything, would be in the spiritual toilet.

Thus, my banishment, and this segue..

In 2005, I lifted this particular quote from one of their forums. I lifted and kept it because it captures so well the attitude of so many fundamentalists regarding our world, our planet, this great and shared part of Creation upon which we are all utterly dependent:

I think we Christians should look at this world as being a filthy restroom at a roadside gas station. Fate has brought us here, we try to touch as little of it as possible while doing our business, we hope to leave quickly, and we don’t ever plan on coming here again until it’s under better management.”

bathroom

Welcome to their world!

That’s not an isolated attitude; in fact, it’s pretty common. They feel separate from the world, not a part of it, not responsible for it:  in it, but not of it. The world, they will tell you, and most persons in it, belong to Satan, the bad guy to whom they ascribe almost-God-like powers. “This world is not my home,” is one of those phrases heard every Sunday in most of their churches, and the focus of their lives becomes the end of their lives. They will only live when they die. Only when they die will they be able to leave the filthy gas station restroom they are trapped inside of; only in death will they be able to walk out the door, across the street, and down the hill to the river where, if they look closely, they will see tiny little wild violets in the spring, hundreds of tadpoles in early summer, the gold/red/orange/burgundy blanket of fallen leaves in the autumn, and the diamond sun-reflections in the whiteness of a wintertime snowfall.

I mean, I guess that’s their back-asswards, crypto-eschatological, FUBAR-brained thinking. No wonder they pray every day for the Rapture to happen! They’re getting tired of the stink!

I am, too.

God Damn Dog Fighting (Again)

Dogfighting Subculture Is Taking Hold in Texas

from today’s New York Times:

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.

HOUSTON — The two undercover agents were miles from any town, deep in the East Texas countryside, following a car carrying three dogfighting fanatics and a female pit bull known for ripping off the genitals of other dogs. …….[etc.,etc.]

dog fighting

Somewhere, in some obscure lexicon of the Inquisition, or in the dictionaries of Bergen-Belsen or Treblinka, or perhaps in the indexes of Jonestown, My Lai, or Abu Ghraib- in some collection of heart-ripping words like those collections must represent, there might be found the right words to describe this despicable practice of that particular debris which postures in human form.

Go ahead, knee jerk reactionary, blame it on the breed. Swallow the media’s fear-mongering use of the sharply spit, so easily spoken description, pit bull. Make it easy on yourself to hate, to fear, to write off en masse a whole species by allowing those with a vested interest in making you afraid of everything outside the walls of your flat-screen television to tell you how, what, and with what degree of terror to think.

And above all, don’t dare look too hard or too long into the eyes of the dog pictured above. Because it’s impossible to not see the confused hunger for human attention and affection pouring from that dog’s one good eye, isn’t it? Deep within his/her genes the synchronistic and ancient communal relationship between humans and dogs is still pulsing, still resounding. Don’t you just know that dog’s tail is wagging at the photographer’s brief attention?

For the record, here’s the kind of pit bull our grand-parents and great grand-parents grew up with, and that many of us can remember watching on television, before the words “pit” and “bull” were twisted around the pricks of drug-addled thugs and  and turned into pornographic metaphors for manhood and virility:

petehomeimage

Yeah, it’s “Petey” of the Our Gang films. Petey– whose descendents would one day be hauled in the back of a pick up truck to obscure locations in Texas (and Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and..hell..wherever bloody handsful of hundred dollar bills are regarded as orgasmic) and starved  before being placed in a cage surrounded by sweating, screaming Michael Vick wannabes and then rewarded for tearing off the genitals or out the eyes of the other frightened scared dog in the same cage, or drowned or head-bashed the next morning for failing to do so.

Look at those eyes, go ahead..once more. One of them belongs to the dog. And one of them belongs to us..