Parishioners, kindly open your hymnals to No. 475, “Rock of Ages.”
Ahem. Make that No. 457.
Sigh. Never mind.
Lots to share upon my return from all the spiritual retreating that Mt. Athos has to offer. No, there’s nothing quite like hanging ten with holy persons on the peninsula of Chalkidiki in northern Greece. Seriously, it’s not a bad life; one eventually gets used to exchanging all the worries and cares of socialized media for a fierce game of dominoes with Brother Seraphim of the Camel Cloak.
Yet I have to admit that while I enjoyed the endless starry nights of shooting the breeze and nipping ouzos with monks and hermits and herds of sacred sheep, I never could get used to the constant onslaught of spiritual visions.
For instance: one evening, I was swept away by the Spirit and in my state of preternatural ecstasy—which I swear wasn’t induced by being nibbled by a goat as I slept upon my earthen cot—I saw a father and young daughter driving across the frozen tundra of Ohio, Cincinnati-bound, in a sterling silver Jeep Liberty, its hub caps encrusted with chalcedony and chodchod. As the vehicle passed the nuclear power plants of the Ohio River Basin, the father discussed religious tolerance with his daughter.
The daughter explained to her father that she had met a young lad who did not believe in Pope Francis’ religious authority, yet did in fact believe in the devil and also that one’s soul, after death, begins life anew as a fresh organism, be it beaver, bacterium or Bolshevik.
The father explained that while this young man did not share the same beliefs that he or she did, it was incumbent upon them both to respect and not discount his beliefs. It was not anyone’s business to judge the spiritual assents of someone else save God alone.
Several miles on, the father and daughter passed a billboard announcing that the Creation Museum was just around the bend.
The father explained vociferously to his daughter, spittle spewing from his mouth, that there were people called Evangelicals and Conservative Christians who were adamant in their belief that Adam and Eve walked the Earth with tyrannosaurus and pterodactyl—in fact, that our Little Blue Planet and all the Myriad Galaxies of the Universe were no older than some of the planet’s oldest olive trees. These people, he explained, interpreted the Genesis Account of Creation literally and were enemies of science and a blight upon human reasonability.
The girl and father drove in silence for some time, observing the wintry Midwestern landscape of red barns and stoic cows, when finally the daughter mustered the courage to say, “Papa, why should I respect my friend’s religious beliefs when you seem to hate these Creation Museum people so?”
The father grabbed a kerchief and wiped his spit from the windshield, “Because, my dear, they will spend their every last dollar and breath trying to push their foolishness down your throat.”
Then a giant silver screen descended from the sky and played Inherit the Wind. And a host of angels handed out buttery popcorn to all who tarried upon that interstate and beheld that cinematic “Age of Rocks” tale.
To those who follow the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up” regularly, I took off a few weeks because I wanted to examine my conscience to make sure that my regular critique of Radical Right media headlines wasn’t becoming a mere bloggish version of the Muppet Critics, Statler and Waldorf. (Actually, that last clip is about the funniest five minutes television ever produced.)
Umberto Eco once wrote that “portraying deviation…is very easy.” And he was right.
For any reasonable, educated person (who doesn’t think that Satan aligned geological strata across the world in order to deceive us), pointing fingers at the hypocrisy and ludicrousness of every Pat Robertson, Rick Warren and Wisconsin Christian News wannabe is practically child’s play.
In fact, if you’ve read any one of these columns in the past year, you may well have an idea of what the rest are like—and what the rest evermore may likely resemble.
But my vision on Mt. Athos reaffirmed my belief to keep plugging along each week and pointing out the schools of Evangelical suckerfish that lurk beneath the surface of mainstream media. The fact of the matter is: these fundamentalists haven’t contented themselves to hole up with buggies, bundling and bungled misinterpretations in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. If given their druthers, they would create (and are indeed creating!) a political manifestation of their religion that impacts you, your children, your loved ones, your neighbors—hell, your world!
I firmly believe that the Radical Right is the American Taliban, and were its members not bloated by the American-Empire-fatted-calf trappings of pigskin, NASCAR and Duck Dynasty, we would likely see daily headlines about fundie terrorist acts rather than stories about Kentucky municipalities building Noah’s Ark replicas.
Their insistence that you and I kowtow to their religious political vision requires war with the mightier-than-sword pen. (And picketing and rallies if ever we could muster the troops of enlightenment.)
The simple fact of the matter is:
We all have sinned.
We are all fallen human beings, stuck together on this small orb hurtling through space.
And we must figure out a way to get along.
Yet the answer is not suicide bombings or cutting off unemployment benefits or drone wedding strikes or bearing munitions in the name of a god.
The answer is LOVE. ONENESS.
Francis. Mandela. Gandhi. King. Malala. Christ.
2014 is an epic moment for Civilization.
I confided such to Brother Seraphim halfway through a bottle of ouzo one night after I kicked his ass in dominoes. I don’t even need a vision to make my point, I explained. Last year I read one million words of Facebook political news feeds. And it’s clear that we are on the brink.
Somewhere in the near future, either fundamentalism or reasonableness is going to prevail. HOMOGENEITY OR HETEROGENEITY. Science or madhattery.
And this future will be determined not with prayers, but with ballots and political will.
To my mind, it all begins on February 4, when Bill Nye the Science Guy debates cosmological origins with Creation Museum founder, Ken Ham.
Round Earth or Flat Earth. Buy your tickets now for the Battle of Causality & Reality.
Then things will truly reach a head on November 4, 2014, when Americans of all shapes and sizes head to the polls to decide who will hold:
- All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
- 33 seats in the U.S. Senate
- 46 State Legislatures
- And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.
Originally with this column I had planned to provide a “2013 Best Of” recap. Then I recalled that even during the holidays in the midst of World War I, soldiers from both foxholes exchanged gifts. So I decided to give people like the Floating Fundie Gastonguays a break. (Yeah, that doozy really is my favorite from last year.)
Really, though, what do I have to worry? Not a week goes by that fundamentalists don’t show their Balaam’s asses. Seven days from now I’ll be sitting here at my desk with a bottle of Cabernet, struggling to determine which of the five most idiotic Christian Media stories of the previous week to share with readers.
Until then, there’s only one thing left to say:
Fuck fundamentalism. And let heterogeneity reign.
Pastor Pillow is a survivor of Evangelical cultism. He never again wants to hear about the biblical resourcefulness of the mosquito from Bill Gothard’s Character Sketches, nor from Kenneth Copland how faith alone can stave off the common cold. Instead he would be quite content if Christians of all sects simply started abiding by the Golden Rule. And, yeah, that includes the owner of Home Depot.
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