Cooties- It’s worse than you think!

I had them when I was a child; maybe you did, too. I’ve always felt too ashamed to admit it publicly, but now I must.

We all must.

For the children..

Fundamentalism: Jesus is "One of Us"

“Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us!” (chant from closing scene of “Freaks”, the 1932 Ted Browning film)

Separation plays well in fundamentalist circles. The drawing of doctrinal lines in the shifting sands of culture, and the interpretation of those lines’ widths and exclusionary powers, makes the “them and us” game an especially appealing fundamentalist pastime.

Fundamentalist Characteristic #3: There is a “Them” and There is an “Us.”

I just read an article from last week’s Wall Street Journal about various Christian churches who have become re-involved with something they call “church discipline.” Church discipline involves privately confronting congregants with their perceived sinful behaviors, and then castigating, then shunning them publicly if they fail to repent. Sinful behavior, in the article, ranges from drunkenness to gossip about the pastor, with an emphasis, it seems, on the latter.

Unfortunately, local church separating practices only reflect larger, institutional blinders that are gleefully worn by those who know, without a doubt, that Jesus is on their side, and that they will have ringside seats in heaven when the bloodbath of Armageddon begins here on Earth.* It is so easy to hate others  from the center of the In Crowd, or to be absurdly defensive when one perceives the Out Crowd being discriminatory (Happy Holidays!).

It’s easy for US to declare war on Them. (irony noted) It’s easy to pass laws favoring US, protecting US, and institutionalizing US into a semi-permanence that cultural evolution would eventually destroy without the safeguards of law.

It makes those who are at the bottom of the economic and education barrel feel good to know that they are spiritually “better than” those high-falutin’, girl-getting, nice car-driving, good job-having, rich guys who are headed to hell in a handbasket! (heh, heh, heh, heh)

Listen to their selfish prayers for the Rapture to come quickly, even as they decry the millions of folks who are “unsaved.” What they are really saying with their “Come quickly, Lord Jesus” prayers is “the hell with them sinners. I’ve got mine; too bad you didn’t get yours!”

John 3:17 (from The Message, which I am purposely using because the fundies hate it!) “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”

That, of course- actually helping someone– involves a little work. It might even involve sharing money, time, and- OMG!- love. But that’s more difficult than circling the wagons and singing self-congratulatory songs about the sweet by and by. Bottom line: it’s easier to follow church rules and doctrines than it is to move around the edges of society where Jesus said he would be most easily found. (Matthew 25)

Out there at the edges, you know, where there’s a lot of gray areas and where the US’s and THEM’s are not so easily discerned.

*actual scenario, which I heard salivatingly prophesied by John Hagee, one of the primo experts on who is them, and who is us.

Fundamentalism: The ‘Good Old Days’ of Jesus

Fundamentalist Characteristic #2: A Belief in the Supremacy of a Bygone Era

Question: How do you know you’re talking to a fundamentalist?

Answer: His mouth is pointing toward 1955.

Of course, if you’d have been talking to that same fellow in 1955, he would have been extolling the virtues of some pre-Roosevelt time frame-  before Big Government took over and the Welfare State had taken root, etc., etc., on back to whatever set of days upon which he could most comfortably project his own historical fantasies.

As Modernism began to push at the borders of ancient Israel, in the form of Babylonian hordes, the time and person of King David began to be touted as the pinnacle period of Jewish history. Everything good and worth preserving about Judaism was located in the reign of David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Oh yeah, Moses was still important, but King David was a fighter, a military man, a defender of the faith. And when encroachment is perceived at the borders, that’s the kind of leader who takes center stage in the hearts and memories of those who believe they are being encroached upon. 

The desire for America to “go back” to a time when prayers were rammed down the throats of schoolchildren, before Roe v’ed Wade, and when everyone went to church in real Sunday clothes, is one of the most prominent themes in fundamentalist preaching and political activity. The 1950s seems to be the magic time that those fearful of today’s perceived Modernism are pining for, although it’s easy to see that they really are speaking of a mythological time when you try to pin them down to specific years of their supposed Golden Era.

But, oh! The glorious memories of those days in the 1950s when we were still a Christian nation! Back when:

* African Americans still had to drink at special fountains, eat in the kitchens at restaurants, pay a poll tax, pass a literacy test to vote, go to separate and woefully unequal schools, and sit in the back seats of public transportation in most of the South.

*Women were at fault when their husbands beat them, had no control over their man’s urges to procreate, and were fed amphetamines  by family doctors to lose weight while they stayed at home working and waiting for their allowances.

*Men were not men unless they looked like every other man in gray flannel suits.

*Girls could look forward to being wives, nurses, or teachers.

*Boys had better be able to play football or baseball, or find a dark and lonely closet to hide in.

*J. Edgar Hoover could wear his tu-tu while he was ripping apart the careers and lives of countless thousands of people and casting aspersions and suspicions on hundreds of thousands more, while his Senatorial counterpart Joe McCarthy, was preparing the way of the Lord with sneering, drunken vengeance. 

Such a fat underbelly exists on any body of time, no matter how glorious the memory of that time may be. It is human, not prophetic or divinely inspired, to wax nostalgic. But it is evil to pretend that for one brief, shining moment Camelot was anywhere, or real , and then to legislatively, shamefully, and coercively force others into that fictional fantasy land.

The primary motivation of fundamentalists in this regard seems to me to hinge on their overuse, and blatant misuse of the word Christian. They love the adjective itself, while merely putting up with him from whom the word was derived. They have made Jesus, the Christ, into a caricature of their own dark selves: he is an Islam hating, W Bush supporting, moralizing, tight-assed and uptight prig in his present adjectival incarnation who is concerned above all else that is wrong with the world, that two people of the same gender might possibly be able to enjoy the legal benefits of a state-sanctioned, contractual marriage.

“Follow me,” Jesus said. When he said that, he could not have imagined the eventual transformation of his life into a set of rules, regulations, dogma, and doctrines preceded by the institutionally mandated imprimatur Christian. If he were here physically right now, I think he might even be looking about for a whip to drive the profit-loving, status-lusting, power-wanting, people-separating, science-ignorant, lust-suppressing , 1955 time travelers  from the portico of his Daddy’s Temple.

Which is what I think as many of us as possible to should be willing to help him do. You know- follow him for a while, instead of his self-appointed, self-righteous, self-perpetuating spokesmen.

Texas Youth Livestock Auction

This could be called “Yet Another Reason I Love Texas.”

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The local livestock auction for young people of this county is being held today. The winners in the various categories (swine, beef, and goats) get to auction their animals off to local banks, car dealerships, oil drilling companies, and other companies which bid BIG for the winning animals.

Now livestock auctions are being held somewhere in America every day of the week. And, yes, I know (and even agree with) some of the criticism of the livestock and meat-packing industry. But this auction has a whole different flavor (pun intended) than many of those other ones. This auction is one of those places where the spotlights and attention are young people doing well. And, while there is a difficult reality to be faced by these young men and women as they say “good-bye” to their animals, they are also learning about relationships in life, and being an integral part of a community that is vital to this area.

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These animals have been raised for meat production since they were calves, kids, and piglets. They have been tended to daily by their young owners, and handled often so that they would “show” well when their time in the ring finally came. The animals are as clean and spiffy as their owners.

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You’ll note that there’s not a lot of jubilation evident in these faces of these youngsters, despite the fact that they are walking away with a whole lot more money than they spent on the raising of their animals. They’ve experienced that it is possible- impossible not to– love an animal. But they are also learning about the purpose and hard work involved in raising their livestock. The ones who continue in ranching will never lose that tension between the care of their animals and the purpose of their being raised in the first place. Some of the gentlest, kindest people I know are ranchers who discovered that dilemma early on, and continue to face it daily.

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Another thing I love about this Youth Auction is that the organizers realize that people really do like to eat other foods besides meat! So the opportunity exists for cookies, cakes, and pies to be a part of the judging and auctioning process, too. This little boy just sold a $750 cake to a local bank!

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These are the kids who ride horses, have dogs and cats, grow up understanding and respecting the land, and who get to spend part of each day hoping for rain or shading their eyes against a sunset. They will never eat a hamburg in blissful ignorance of where it came from or be able to tolerate the intentional abuse of any animal.

Or any other person. Just watch them as they grow up and you’ll see what I mean. The lessons you see being learned in these pictures don’t end today. They are part of lives now and those lessons will will benefit all of us.

My Brother Is Dead- A Good Cause

I know a lot of visitors to this blog have found Miranda’s blog (My Brother Is Dead) via my page, and are fans of hers. This is a way of saying “thank you” to her and her family for sharing their grief (and Miranda’s writing skills) publicly, in such moving ways..

A scholarship fund, in her brother Kyle’s name, has been set up at San Francisco State University for students in Latin American history. My check is in the mail. Act fast, and it is still tax-deductible for 2007, too!

Connections

I wrote recently about my lack of enthusiasm for chicken-fried steaks.  I’ve gotten comments and emails from people in Alabama, Utah, Washington D.C., Louisiana, California, and- of course- Texas (El Paso, Dallas, Arlington, and just down the street), who all say that their CFS would change my mind.

So, besides the point I am leading up to, let me say this: have at it, you optimistic CFSers. I will take up you on your offers anytime we are in approximate vicinity to each other. Except don’t ask me to slather anything with white gravy. I just can’t do it.

OK, now to the main point. As I thought about those who made this offer to overturn my CFS bias, I realized that I am looking at a group of people who would, in the same room at the same time, enjoy each other to no end and come away from such an encounter with their circles of consciousness made wider, thus better.

What they all have in common, right now, is a love for good CFS (is that possible?) and some knowledge of me. They could bounce those two subjects back and forth for a few minutes as a dialectical means of establishing some community, but then..I know this is true..one of them would say something which would cause another one to say “Aha!”. The rest would lean in to hear what followed (because all of them know- I also know- how to listen), and a human explosion of thought would begin that would leave everyone there reluctant at evening’s end to go home. But everyone would leave nourished and grateful for another community of which they were a part, but which had also taken them beyond themselves.

Evolution

We all have the opportunity to make connections with people: between ourselves and others, and between others and others. In doing so, we advance humanity. I’ll go ahead and say it this way, so you know how important I think that work is: By bringing certain people together, we can change the world.

And, of course, that can be for good or for bad. At some point, in the late 1920s, someone said, “Adolph, I’d like introduce Hermann to you.” But for those of us with genuine concern for the world and all of its creatures, for those of us who feel the circles of our love straining for larger diameters, the opportunities to affect the ideas that could affect goodness in the world, are present almost daily. We all know people who don’t know each other who should know each other. We all know of synergy which is waiting to sizzle if only two or more special minds whom we also know, could be brought together.

At that’s all we really have to do. If we trust that our instincts and forethought are correct ones, the natural desire for creativity on the part of others will take over.  We, then, can sit back and be a part of the synergy instead feeling like we must lead, form, and guide it according to our own personal expectations. My group of CFS aficionados might not come from their evening together with a solution to end of world hunger in hand, but they might be ready to get together for a CFS cook off, from which there might emerge, in a generation a two, an idea for the speedy transportation of surplus foodstuffs from one nation to another. Who knows?

Which is the real point, I guess to all of this wondering: nobody will know what the potential results of such a meeting of like-minded individuals will be if it never happens. Each of us can be the estuary where new relationships, new community, and new ideas evolve from their present forms.

And there is no way to make white gravy palatable. That’s the only thing I will not allow on the agenda.

Update: 12-18-07

Here’s a picture of white gravy from a breakfast I attended this morning. The breakfast was wonderful. But I didn’t try the gravy..

white gravy