Saturday, August 6, 2011

Future

Tin Foil Hats May Not Be Required

A Cartoon By Mr Fish (Image: Fish)
Want to know how much God loves the 'Bible Belt' and what all these evangelicals are preaching? Just look at the change in weather patterns over the South -- and Texas now has over one hundred days a year, with temperatures at or over 100 degrees? He loves them so much He's going to bake them first. Good eatin' that way.

-- El Rog The Magnificent
Governor Rick Perry of the independent nation state of Texas held a rally in Houston's Astrodome today; temperature inside the covered sports arena was approximately 70 degrees, and outside a partly cloudy 97. The New York Times reported that in the arena (capacity 71,500) approximately 20,000 people appeared for the Prayvagaza:
Mr. Perry came up with the idea for the event in December but did not make an announcement about it until June. In letters to his fellow governors and in other statements, Mr. Perry used Bible verses to describe the rally’s purpose: He wanted to humbly ask God to intervene on behalf of the troubled nation, to provide spiritual solutions to the country’s problems and to bless and transform the lives of Americans. The governor repeatedly stressed that the gathering would be apolitical and “open to any member of the public who wants to join with us in prayer,” as his letter to Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama stated.
The rally was promoted and entitled "The Response" -- to what, exactly, wasn't said. Perry and the organizers of the event -- all evangelical christian leaders, some with their own money-making megachurches in the South and Midwest -- claimed it was for "people of all faiths" to attend.
But Christianity dominated the tone of the prayer service and the religious affiliations of the crowd. The event is shaping up to be one of the biggest tests of Mr. Perry’s political career, coming on the cusp of his decision about whether to seek the Republican nomination for president...

In addition to Mr. Perry, several influential Christian conservatives were scheduled to either lead prayers or read from the Bible, including Dr. James C. Dobson, a psychologist who founded Focus on the Family; Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council in Washington; and Dr. Richard Land, the conservative president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Preach It: Jesus Loves The Tea Partei (Julian Beck In Poltergeist II)

It's just one Dog's opinion, but since the intrusion of christian evangelism in American politics (beginning in the early 1980's with the so-called Moral Majority that became the 'Christian Coalition'), the push by these groups to eliminate any lines between church and state have increased.

The goals of these groups are no different from any other revolutionary organization in a quest for political domination of a society. It doesn't matter whether it's Marx, Lenin, Jesus, Mohammed, or some invented psycho-social theory -- each group demands their beliefs should shape, control and drive the world and the lives of individuals.

Personally, I believe in a multiplicity of views and opinions, beliefs and their free expression -- so long as no others are harmed in any way in the process. It's called "Democracy". I believe in observable facts, in the truth of data, and in scientific methodology.

I do not know what the Universe is. I do not know where it came from. I do not know what happens to us when we die. I do not know whether "God" as two of the three major religions of the world (i.e., Christianity; Islam; Buddhism) define that, exists or not.

The one thing I do know is that no other human being knows the answer to any of these questions, either. The ones who claim they do know, that faith and belief are superior to skepticism or doubt, are not being honest with themselves or anyone else. Case in point.

But the Robertsons, the Reeds, Fallwells, Swaggarts and Warrens, the Dobsons and Perkins and the Terrys, do claim to know. They know what is best for the United States and every person in it -- because, they claim, god has told them. They have faith and a structure of belief which, if everyone would just live from it and in it, all the Bad would go away -- and the Bad is Sin, which can only be removed by believing as they do.

Of course, along the way, these white men become wealthy. Churches are tax-exempt. They become powerful within the christian community -- only, now these groups are politically organized, and they want policy and political decisions to reflect their, uh, values. They want one belief leading the nation and all its people -- and because they believe a deity speaks through them, they will make the decisions for all.

Jonestown, Guyana; November 1978 (Photo: TIME.com)

This, incidentally, is not Democracy. It's Theocracy.

I don't know if these people will ever-- as Margaret Atwood saw in her 1984 novel, The Handmaid's Tale -- see the United States as so awash in sin, so 'in rebellion against god' that they will believe god (somebody's god, anyway) has directed them to overthrow the government in some fashion and purge the sin and the Bad from the country. In order to save it, and lead it in righteousness.

And in the process, the evil, personified in specific groups and individuals, must be purged and punished. And in human history, any truly radical shift from one social order to another is always, always, backed up by the threat of imprisonment or execution.

Where Revolutionary Intolerance Always Ends: UN War Crimes
Commission Investigators At Mass Grave Of Muslims Near
Sbrenicia, Serbia, 2007 (Photo: Dalje.com)

I don't know. But with the increasingly fractured and stalled nature of our two-and-a-half political-party process, the continuing deterioration of the global economy as Trillions of dollars in CDO and Credit-Default-Swap debt can no longer be swept under the carpet, the future looks more and more unstable. It's why I keep saying it could look more like the 1930's than we realize.

There have been ideas of coup d'etat in Ameica before -- during the Civil War, when Lincoln was looked upon as a virtual dictator; in 1933 and 34, when a group of our wealthiest citizens decided Franklin D. Roosevelt was destroying the country through New Deal economic policies that would lead to communism. There is some opinion that JFK's assassination (and later, RFK's) changed the political direction of America, abruptly.

There was a phrase people used to use in the 1930's, when discussing the rise of Fascism in Italy, then Germany, and Japan: It Can't Happen Here, the title of a book by Sinclair Lewis about an America where a Fascist ideology and leader does appear -- except, Lewis' novel was about politics.

He didn't envision the possibility that the deeply conservative, babbling-in-tongues, tent-revival religious leaders of Lewis' day could become the slick, well-dressed and organized religious leaders of air-conditioned megachurches -- or that they would begin to hunger after political power to lead all people toward god (well, somebody's god, anyway) -- whether they might want to or not.

'Dangerous' Not To Believe? (Screencapture: CNN online)

Lewis didn't see these same clever men of faith (someone's faith, anyway) might receive serious financial contributions from wealthy, non-religious conservatives, at the same time they raked in the donations of the faithful: Harold Camping's Oakland, California-based organization pulled in over $80 Million with the claim that god Camping had predicted the christian 'Rapture' and end of the world. Politics, now -- like so much else -- is about money, and 'christian' evangelical leaders are awash in it.

Can "It Happen Here"? I don't know. It depends upon how desperate our times become; on how delusional some people may be. It really depends upon how much we take for granted the freedom to act as wish under law, and to think and believe as we will; how much we cherish our individual selves and respect the same rights for others. This is the America I live in, and believe in.

Ultimately, Rick Perry's little roadshow probably says more about his "redefining his brand", about keeping his political viability alive among extremely conservative and evangelical christians. Texas -- or Oklahoma, or other parts of the American South -- is not the United States, and people like Perry or the other so-called christian leaders he invited to join him this morning are not a majority in this country.

My point is that we don't know what the future holds -- and history is full of difficult times, in which a very focused and organized minority has often taken political control of a society in turmoil.

The Tea Partei very much see themselves in the role of outsiders, bringing America back to fiscal sanity, to 'Greatness'; and it's most visible spokespeople are Little Sarah Palin, and Grand Turtlebear Michele Bachmann, both of whom are very open about leading America to -- somebody's god, anyway.

For our own good; of course.