|PDY Blog for 11-19-04|
Moral Seasons come and Go
“In a book entitled, The Devil in Massachusetts, published at the height of the investigations [in the 1950s] of alleged Communist infiltration of Hollywood, Marian L. Starkey, a descendant of a Mayflower passenger, concluded her history of the Salem witch trials on a note of hope. ‘Moral seasons come and go. Late in the nineteenth century, when it was much the fashion to memorialize the witchcraft delusion, honest men discussed it with wondering pity as something wholly gone from the world and no longer quite comprehensible. But such condescension is not for the twentieth century…
“One would like to believe that leaders of the modern world can in the end deal with delusion as sanely and courageously as the men of old Massachusetts dealt with theirs…What one feels now for deluded Salem Village is less pity than admiration and hope—admiration for men whose sanity in the end proved stronger than madness, hope that “enlightenment” too is a phenomenon that may recur.” ---God’s Bullies
NOTE: To those unaware of the fine details, the excesses of the witch trials eventually led to the lifting of the excommunications by the church and the paying of reparations to the victims’ families by the commonwealth. A much larger and more important result was the liberalization of the church of the Pilgrims to the point the Unitarians would gain control of many of the old congregations in and around Boston. In 1805, a Unitarian was named dean of the Harvard Divinity School.
Funny how Billy’s friends all seemed to be right wing Republicans.
THE MORALITY OF SULTANS
In my book, God’s Bullies, I described it as a “sultan’s morality.” It is the ability to insist on all sorts of rigid rules of behavior and “morality” for others, meanwhile blissfully ignoring them in your own life.
In doing the research for that book, I found this attitude every way I turned. There were closeted homosexuals leading the insidious crusades against homosexuals; there were women who had had abortions themselves but were crusading against them for others; there were corrupt businessmen getting all the benefits of corporate welfare while raging on about “Cadillac welfare mothers.” In recent years, the most striking turn is that the most devout capitalists are propping up and helping sustain the last great Communist state by outsourcing billions and billions of dollars in jobs and other investments in China.
Now, we have the very first act of the Republicans with their newly entrenched control of all branches of our government. And it follows the very same pattern. Back in 1993, Rep. Tom DeLay had led the fight for an ethics rule that would force any Republican indicted on a felony to step down from any leadership post until proven innocent. This was designed to embarrass Democrats, whose Rep. Dan Rostenkowski had been indicted.
In a classic case of what goes around comes around, the Republicans are now faced with the possibility that their own leader, none other than DeLay himself, may be indicted by a Texas grand jury that has already indicted three of his close associates. The newly empowered neo-cons made swift work of this by changing the rules to protect their leader. And, you guessed it, they promptly switched the blame on “witch hunts” and “over zealous prosecutors.” It is significant that the Republicans’ very first action was to lower their own ethical standards.
Molly Ivins said it best: they have turned the phrase “Republican ethics” into an oxymoron.
Yep, I reckon you are.
The following has made the rounds in various forms on the web; this one was relayed by my 1960s friend Philip Perlman, who was briefly a part of the Chapel Hill scene but now lives on a farm in upstate New York. As with nearly everything else they propound, the fundies are remarkably selective in their use of the Holy Scriptures as the inerrant word of God. I mean, whaddaya expect them to do? Give up pork ribs????
Dear President Bush:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman. I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21 :7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3.1 know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1 :9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11: 1 0, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?
7. Lev.21 :20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11 :6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24: 10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a' private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan.
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