pfiore8 writes this morning in her essay God loves you and, btw, sex is filthy… about the dangerous disease-like spread of religious fundamentalist fanaticism through evangelical christianity (uncapitalized purposely, btw) in the body politic, the government and the military since the wackjobs installed George Bush in the WH.
…the crises we face in this country and the world are symptoms of a power structure gone wrong. Way wrong.
Theocrats are foot soldiers of the corporatists, a relationship that delivers a one-two punch. Social control satiates theocrats, while corporatists run everything else. And they all want it run brutally. Until the only thing left for us is the desperate hope that God will save us in the next life… as long as we subscribe to certain behaviors in this one. What a fucking set up.
But this is a problem that has been growing for much longer. Last April 2007, one of the most prolific and insightful social commentators I’ve ever had the pleasure to read passed away, and the world lost one of it’s great literary masters and treasures, in my opinion.
Kurt Vonnegut had much to say about religious fanaticism and it’s power to corrupt and pervert in his writings.
Up in the sky with Philip K. Dick, another of my favorite authors, the two of them – Vonnegut and Dick – have all eternity now to come up with the ultimate novel. The one that explains everything. It’ll be nice to have some good books waiting when I get there.
I’ve only read Slaughterhouse Five. Time to read the rest.
Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks for being you.
“I know of very few people,” Vonnegut writes, “who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren.” Later he writes this epitaph for the Earth: “The good Earth – we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”
“How do humanists feel about Jesus? I say of Jesus, as all humanists do, ‘If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?’
“But if Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.
“I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake.”
“…I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened instead is that it was taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable.”
Kurt blames many of our problems on a drug:
“Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t the TV news is it? Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.”
(Hat tip to David Swanson)
Rosewater was on the next bed, reading, and Billy drew him into the conversation, asked him what he was reading this time.
So Rosewater told him. It was The Gospel from Outer Space, by Kilgore Trout. It was about a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian, by the way. The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.
But the Gospels actually taught this:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. So it goes.
The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again:
Oh boy – they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!
And that thought had a brother: “There are right people to lynch.” Who? People not well connected. So it goes.
The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels.
So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn’t possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. The reader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was.
And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son, giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this: From this moment on, He will punish horribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections!
Billy’s fiancee had finished her Three Musketeers candy bar. Now she was eating a Milky Way.
“Forget books,” said Rosewater, throwing that particular book under his bed. “The hell with ’em.”
“That sounded like an interesting one,” said Valencia.
“Jesus-if Kilgore Trout could only write!” Rosewater exclaimed. He had a point: Kilgore Trout’s unpopularity was deserved. His prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good.