It's only day two of my vacation (do Saturdays even count?) and I have been in one fucker of a bad mood. Horrible, looking-for-a-face-to-kiss-my-fist kind of bad mood. I don't know if I felt like this when I woke up this morning, or if it began about an hour later when I checked my email.
I found one from my godfather's wife, a woman who's been a friend to me and my family for 32 years. I knew it was trouble from just looking at the subject line: “Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Very Interesting!!!!!!!” Nothing that's been passed along so many times, or hyper-forwarded, is ever all that good. And rarely am I ever interested in the same topics as this woman. Plus, if you use more than one exclamation point, it ticks me off. More than two, and I'm angry. So this electronic missive was off to a horrible start.
I read the rest of the email, called into the kitchen to my wife and said, “I got an email from M______ that calls for an even more religious government..... Delete!”
We shared a chuckle and I forgot about it. Until about an hour later, when it struck me how wrong it was. I startled S. when, seemingly apropos of nothing, I shouted “Goddamn! That is so fucking offensive!” My wife listened to me rant for a couple minutes, as she tenderly held a bottle for our baby.
The body of the email is composed of a variety of cartoon drawings, short lines or paragraphs of text, and copy/pasted photographs, all serving the purpose to convince me that God, Jesus, and government go hand in hand (in hand). Beginning at the top, there is (for some unexplained reason) a caricature of famed 60 Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney.
Then a big DID YOU KNOW? informs me that as I walk up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Building (on the email it's called “the building that houses the Supreme Court.” Silly rabbit, research is for kids!), etched in the facade is Moses holding the Ten Commandments.
This is partially untrue and certainly disingenuous. The main entrance to the SCB is on the west side, facing the U.S. Capitol. Capping the entrance are sculptures of Liberty Enthroned (guarded by Order and Authority), and figures depicting Council and Research. The artist based these on people concerned with the law or the creation of the SCB. They include a young Chief Justice Taft, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and the architect Cass Gilbert. Now, around the other side of the building, the eastern face, is your Moses. And Confucius. And Solon. They are there to represent lawgivers in general. This is not to imply that Moses carried the most sacred tablets from the Holy Land to D.C., so's our foundin' fathers had an idea on how t' carry out the 'merican law.
The email continues, asking me if I knew that the doors to the “Supreme Court Courtroom” have Ten Commandment tablets etched into them, and “DID YOU KNOW? As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall, right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments!”
Well, gosh. No, I didn't. But I do know that if you open those doors, and look up to your left, you'll see your man Moses again. He's up there on the wall alongside Menes, Hammurabi, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius, Augustus, Napoleon, John Marshall, William Blackstone, Hugo Grotius, Saint Louis, King John, Charlemagne, Mohammed, and Justinian. Lawgivers, both secular and non-.
The next “Did You Know” is as inexplicable as the Rooney cartoon. Under the question is the following graphic:
That's all. Is this a test? Is this the world's shittiest Rebus puzzle? Did you know bible + homeland security? Well... did you?
Moving on, I'm informed that “There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, D.C.”
I am learning that the Email Army of the Religious Right has serious problems understanding the rules of capitalization and Spacing. Not to mention specificity. Come on -- all over?
Next is this:
“DID YOU KNOW? James Madison, the fourth president, known as 'The Father of Our Constitution' made the following statement: 'We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.'”
Oh, awesome. One of the most famously debated “quotes” in American history. In truth, no such quote by James Madison has ever been found among his papers, memoirs, or epistolary writings, by any of his numerous biographers. [Source: Jim Allison; Separation of Church and State Homepage.]
Ditto for the next item on this email: “Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said: 'It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'” Here is another quote for which no researcher has ever been able to find the original source. And, before anyone gets all crazy about something that Patrick Henry “that patriot and Founding Father” did or didn't say, let's first remember that Henry was strongly opposed to the U.S. Constitution.
This piece of crap goes on and on. Point after point about how the government has always been intended to be for Christian people, by Christian people. Endless half-assed facts and goofy trivia about American history, shot through the prism of organized (Christian, dammit!) religion. There's a quotation from John Jay where he said, “Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.”
I am, even now -- a half day later, still angry enough to shit on a bible over this. But it's not, after all, the bible's fault. Self-righteousness, intolerance, and ignorance are to blame for this. No one can make you despise religion quite like a religious zealot can. But Christian fervor and imposition is nothing but the acrid stench of someone doubting their own conviction.
Next, the originator of this email asks a question: “How, then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?”
It's not entirely clear why he or she has drawn the conclusion that a holy government is suddenly unconstitutional, and further: Was this written in 1996? Or did the writer mean to say 229 years? But who the fuck is counting?
Lets [sic] put it around the world and let the world see and remember what this great country was built on.
Just what is “it,” you fuckwit? And, if I remember anything I was taught in AP American History (thanks to Father John Quinn) it was that this country was built on religious freedoms. The founders came here because, in part, they sailed away from the Church of England.
This is almost over, I promise. Just read a little further, because I'm getting to the part that really had me punching walls. First, the picture. Are you ready for the picture?
“It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, it is very hard to understand why there is such a mess about having the Ten Commandments on display or 'In God We Trust' on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the other 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!! If you agree, pass this on.”
Jumping Jesus on a motherfucking pogo stick! Add faith-based initiatives to my growing list of junkable spam. I had to wake up this morning and be assaulted by the rantings of an intolerant religious zealot, all because this woman, this friend of the family, couldn't keep her god in her pants. I was all set to sent a nasty reply all to unleash my anger. Then, I watered it down to a simple “reply,” but I thought better of that as well. Then I thought I'd just call her up and tell her how offended I was and to please take me off her mailing list for all future screeds.
I didn't do that either. I didn't think she'd understand, and figured it'd end up causing a rift between all the various family members who were certain to become involved. This woman was one of the kind people who wrote letters of recommendation on our behalf to our adoption agency, letters that helped us get approved as potential parents by the agencies here and in Korea. And M______'s husband is very ill, and I'm sure it is their faith that's providing them great comfort.
So, instead, I chose to be in a vile mood all day.
On iTunes right now: Days from the album The Kink Kronikles by Kinks, The
Faith is the voice in the back of your head that tells you to listen to the voice in the back of your head. As for me, I’ve selected bits and pieces of the standard religious menu served up during my formative years and tailored them to meet my own needs. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I really did believe that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so I was constantly beating off.
I guess if I ever do get to meet my maker, the first question I’ll probably ask is, Why did you give us animals that we have to pet, but no animals that pet us? I’m not talking about the dog licking the applesauce off my balls, because — no matter what I’ve convinced myself — the only reason he does that is because he wants the applesauce. I’m talking about an animal that pets us for the sole reason of seeing us smile.
The thing I find strange about my Catholic religion, and going to church, is the church itself. Doesn’t a lavish building decked out in gold trim and jewels go against the very foundation it’s supposed to be built on? I mean — why not gather under a tarp, and give the money you save on stained glass to building houses for poor people, feed the homeless, or raise the payroll of the Oakland A's?
I think faith is an awesome thing. If your faith helps you survive daily shitstorms with a little grace and humor, you are truly blessed. However, if having faith means that you spend your grocery money on high-speed internet access so you can chain-email the ravings of some patriotic fuckwad who wants the President to consult the Almighty on issues of state, well, you’re just being phenomenally stupid.
And trust me, the real God thinks you’re stupid, too.
On iTunes right now: Catch Me Now I'm Falling from the album Low Budget by Kinks, The
[posted with ecto]