In case you were wondering, there’s rain coming. I know that because I’m made of pain today.
I’m getting quite worried about where we’re headed in America, what with all the fusses being made over things like health care and the fusses not being made over things like nutrition for the poor.
I had a very strange dream last night that involved being made to retake the SATs in a strange setting. We all had to sit in those tiny school chairs made for elementary students. I was pretzeled into a painful position and then forced to take the test at the same pace as everyone else, while the exam proctors read every question aloud. I told them I needed to work at my own pace because I was in too much pain to do the tests their way–one question every 10 minues, no moving or talking. One of the proctors insisted that they’d determined this method to be the most fair to all involved. I kept trying to explain that the one-size fits all solution was actually killing me and making me test worse but they didn’t believe me.
And you know what, I swear I’m not making this up–even though it sounds like one of those stories shady ministers pull off the internet and include in their sermons as illustrations while pretending that they either dreamed it or it really happened to them. (We had a pastor who did this. He once included a major plot from the movie Sandlot as the sermon illustration, telling the church that it had happened to him. I always thought building your sermon on a lie was a novel way to get the gospel across.)
Granted, the rest of my dream had more esoteric points to make, with me walking barefoot through a bank’s fountain and then escaping through the projects into the back door of a Baskin-Robbins during a robbery and then getting shot in the face.
Still, I’m left thinking about how things that seem like a good idea–working toward the lowest common denominator, dumbing processes down to the point of uselessness–are actually crippling society.
That said, I’m becoming fed up with the Tea Party folks. This weekend seemed to be a last straw for me in a lot of ways. Because while I believe in things like Revolution and the tree of liberty being watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants…I don’t think the current President is a tyrant and I don’t think many of those who call themselves ‘patriots’ are entirely clear on what that word actually means.
I have long considered myself a patriot, in that my allegience to America is not just to the land and government themselves but to the ideals upon which the government was founded. Liberty AND equality. For those reasons I take seemingly bizarre stands on social issues like the War on Drugs. Yet there are all these new folks calling themselves patriots and announcing that they are libertarians. But they still act like yellow dog Republicans and demand things no true libertarian would countenance. Prayer in schools is not a libertarian cause, my friends.
As a teenager I was an avid disciple of Francis Schaeffer, having read How Should We Then Live? many times. In many ways Schaeffer was the founder of what the rest of the world calls “The Religious Right”. His book made it okay to be a Christian and an intellectual; before Schaeffer many sectors of Evangelical Christianity prided themselves on worldly ignorance. His book reintroduced classical thought to the evangelical masses, and I read it young enough to take up philosophy and metaphysics in high school and college.
I became disenchanted with the politics of Schaeffer when his son Franky Schaeffer V spoke at a pro-life rally I attended. He was arrogant, rude and cruel when speaking about young women who had abortions. In his fervor to stir the blood he set aside basic tenets of Christianity to embrace a militaristic point of view. I understand Franky has taken his hot blood to the pro-choice side these days. I wonder if now he would like to go back to recordings of the speech he gave 26 years ago demanding that all ‘those’ people be tried as murderers. At that age I already knew one girl (not me) who had an abortion. She was torn up emotionally by her choice, and it was one of those no-win situations. While I didn’t then and still don’t like the idea of abortion I can’t ever see it as a black and white issue. I’ve cried with too many women, prayed with too many women. I also know how much grace I’ve been given.
I bring all of this up now because I need to explain why the Tea Party people are bothering me. It’s that same bloodlust fervor. That same naive staking of the high ground. That same disregard for the complexity of the human condition. That same willingness to compromise principles of the faith to obtain a temporal victory in the world of politics.
I think I’ve been pretty clear about not wanting government-funded health care or another single-payer solution. Yet I don’t want this America anymore, either. This America where the new God is hatred, the new hymnal is full of angry rhymes and the mission of liberty is misdirected.