What Would that Carpenter Do?
by Noah Mann-Engel
Have you ever had an argument with a Christian?
Don’t worry! This essay is not about specific opinions held by believers and nonbelievers, but an examination of how believers choose to view and argue matters with the latter. I, unfortunately, have and let me tell you it is not a fun experience. First of all one needs to understand that for the Christian (or Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu or Satanist, etc.) an argument with a nonbeliever is in actuality not an argument at all, but a TEACHING opportunity. Their thought process is as follows; if, a nonbeliever, [you] have the temerity to approach [me] a Christian then you must be seeking the truth of [our] Lord. Why would they want anything else from [me]? This is the first, or, “Jesus be praised a soul to save!” stage.
They have already disregarded and ignored your actually intentions and views before you even share them. They now move on to the “sharing the truth of our Lord” stage where they let you talk for a bit while they stare, smile, and nod pleasantly. This is the second, or, “I am your Christian friend and I listen” stage of the argument. This is where you quote Nietzsche, talk about the logical loopholes in Pascal’s Wager, wield Occam’s Razor like a katana, and just generally use your reasoning skills. You start to feel a little good yourself for holding up so well against this Christian fellow. I mean come one! The guy is even smiling in response to your argument! Little do you know that you are now entering the third stage of the Christian argument process: the “that is nice, but why are you so deluded?” stage.
You see, while he/she was standing there nodding like a hula dancer bobble-head doll, your Christian was actually puzzling over the strange noises you were making about something or another… Why isn’t the nonbeliever shutting up and getting excited about hearing the word of our Lord? Your Christian friend begins his/her argument by praising your intellect.. Example, he/she might try to disarm you with kindness by saying something like this: “Wow! You sure are a smart fellow. I wasn’t quite prepared for THAT (chuckles in a self deprecating way). But (and THIS is where the fun really begins), why don’t you believe in god?” This is where you sit in stunned silence for a moment or two. Did this whack-job really just ask you that? YOU JUST TOLD HIM WHY you didn’t believe, you think to yourself. You politely remind the Christian of this fact, and he/she chuckles again before suddenly entering the fourth stage, the “I would be a hooker/drug addict/homeless person without Christ” stage.
This stage is rather boring, and consists of the Christian telling you how he thinks his belief in a dead carpenter saved him from his raging meth addiction. After relating this riveting story to you the Christian poses a question that he/she thinks will really get you in a bind! He/she asks “So, how would I get over all of these terrible problems if their wasn’t a god? eh, eh, EH?” This is when you smile and say to yourself “oh I’ve got him/her now”. But, sadly, your optimism is grossly misplaced. You begin by saying that all the good things that happened to the Christian could also be explained by personal strength, the help of friends and family, and perseverance. God need not enter the equation at all! Now feeling very good about yourself you unwittingly enter the deadly fifth stage of the Christian’s argument: the “But the Love and the Heart” stage.
It starts when you ask your Christian friend “isn’t it true what I said? You DID get through your troubles by yourself. You only added god because you WANTED him to be involved”. But alas, you have just sprung the trap. Your Christian friend grins and replies with a question of his/her own; “But, what about the Love and the Heart?” You pause. You think that maybe you misheard your Christian friend. So ask them to repeat him/herself. He/she gladly complies. “All I meant was there has to be a god because of the Love, and the HEART! (chuckles)” This is the point where you realized that you just wasted 15 minutes of your precious time. You feign a smile and say “we just have to agree to disagree” and that it was nice talking. Your Christian friend thus enters the sixth and final stage of the argument: the “That’s great! Hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you come down to our church sometime?” stage. The Christian gives you some colorful literature on their church, their beliefs, and of course an anti-abortion pamphlet. The Christian then shakes your hand, and walks away to find his/her next soul to save. You are left feeling a little used, a little amused, and very hungry. You get up, and head over to the vending machine to get a Milky Way bar.
(this essay is based on a real conversation I had with a evangelical Christian in my sophomore year at Northern Illinois University)
(Noah Mann-Engel is a poet and writer from Dekalb Illinois. He is a life long atheist who with aspergers, an autistic spectrum disorder. You can see some of his writing in the upcoming summer editions of Fighting Chance magazine, Love’s Chance magazine, and in the American Scholastic Press Association honored spring 2007 edition of The Prairie Light Review. He is also in the process of writing his first novel.)
I recently had the displeasure of reading some essays by the revered G.K. Chesterton, a man whom only very nice things are typically said about — which is a troublesome circumstance that I’d like to do my part in mitigating. Chesterton makes an irritating habit of writing entirely too much in defense of the truth of Christianity, while forgetting to actually address the matter of the truth in Christianity. He occasionally seems like he is going to say something related to this weighty issue, but instead prates endlessly on topics that require the affected proposition to have already been settled. The overall effect seems to be that several of his readers, maybe more, forget that he never addressed the issue of truth, and in silent befuddlement, follow Chesterton to the conclusions of his baseless chatter; rather than insist he start from the beginning like an ordinary person.
Though it would be fun to go through all of his essays that I have here and rebuke each of the nasty things he says about scientists, naturalists, people living before Christianity, Pagans, philosophers, Orientals, and well, pretty much anyone who isn’t a Christian — I’m instead going to select one essay from the bunch, by virtue of it being as bad as any other, and look at it more closely than one would ordinarily want to; which is to say, from a moderate distance.
In “The Paradoxes of Christianity” Chesterton gives a heartwarming account of how he, too, was once a dirty agnostic who read atheistic pamphlets and really, just gave the whole anti-Christianity thing his best. All was going well, torches and fuel had been collected for his first midnight church burning, and it seemed as if Night’s sordid chores would be brought unto completion; until he began to realize that everything he had read against Christianity contradicted itself: “Now I found that I was to hate Christianity not for fighting too little, but for fighting too much. Christianity, it seemed, was the mother of wars. Christianity had deluged the world with blood. I had got thoroughly angry with the Christian, because he never was angry. And now I was told to be angry with him because his anger had been the most huge and horrible thing in human history; because his anger had soaked the earth and smoked to the sun. . . . It was the fault of poor old Christianity (somehow or other) both that Edward the Confessor did not fight and that Richard Coeur de Lion did.”
I believe this was the first point in this particular essay at which I had to stop and reflect: “Hmm, this guy is supposed to be brilliant? Well, he’s certainly not that; unless he’s dishonest — well, at least maybe he’s just dishonest. I mean, the writing itself is pretty, would be a shame if its author were a dullard. Maybe he’s just dishonest.” It doesn’t seem very difficult to me to conceive of Christianity being both at once overly violent and overly meek. Actually, it seems the simplest thing to conceive of — I had a very similar experience the other day: I held one hand to a block of ice and another to a flame, and both at once I became too hot and too cold. I didn’t even pause to think about the inherent paradox in the situation; for if something is too cold and too hot at once, it must be a cozy 72 degrees Fahrenheit in total. Nope, instead, like a sensible person, I quit trying to freeze part of me while burning the other and withdrew from flame and ice alike.
Rather than concern himself with the fact that he’s not actually saying anything here, Chesterton continues by giving lots and lots of other examples which function in exactly the same manner and are thereby completely devoid of content, though very poetic. “Or again, Christianity was reproached with its naked and hungry habits; with its sackcloth and dried peas. But the next minute Christianity was being reproached with its pomp and its ritualism; its shrines of porphyry and its robes of gold.” He apparently is capable of tiring of this, and at some point moves on to find a superficial hypocrisy in the anti-Christians: “But I found that anti-Christians themselves had a contempt for woman’s intellect; for it was their great sneer at the Church on the continent that ‘only women’ went to it.” I would put it beyond even Chesterton to make the mistake of interpreting “women” literally here. I doubt that he even interpreted it wrongly at all, as he appears to. Why, assuming the term “women” isn’t being used literally, should it be a reference to someone’s lack of intelligence rather than lack of manliness? Probably it’s just another case of dishonesty on the part of our morally superior (I bet he’d agree with this illative qualifier) Christian author.
Let me offer one more solution to Chesterton’s paradoxes and then move on. Perhaps, Christianity is capable of promoting violence along side meekness and wealth with poverty because it is a stratified institution. Those couched in shrines of porphyry and robes of gold at the high echelons may repose on the broken backs of their lesser brothers; their brothers who, from this dominated position, have become servile, and who at the whim of their betters may also become fierce or feeble.
All of these contradictions cause Chesterton to withdraw some from his church burning, not give it up completely mind you, but withdraw some, to think about things: “I wished to be quite fair then, and I wish to be quite fair now; and I did not conclude that the attack on Christianity was all wrong. I only concluded that if Christianity was wrong, it was very wrong indeed.” However, as he didn’t conclude that it was very wrong indeed but very right indeed instead, he must also have concluded that there was something to these illusive contradictions. Which leads me to conclude that he is simple. No, he didn’t give in to Christianity at this point, rather he was just disturbed by the implied “odd shape of the Christian religion” by the anti-Christian attackers.
Eventually Chesterton progresses from finding Christianity oddly shaped to, unexpectedly, finding its attackers themselves contorted. Now the apparent contradictions may not be contradictions after all (never mind that they never were); perhaps those describing conflicting errors were using relative terms to describe them. Christianity wasn’t ‘rich’, those who said it was were just too poor; it wasn’t ‘poor’, those who said it was were just too rich. “The modern man found the Church too simple exactly where modern life is too complex; he found the Church too gorgeous exactly where modern life is too dingy.” It would have been interesting if he’d tried this philosophy on some of the contradictions which it was supposed to sort out. For example, is the Church found too violent exactly where modern life is too peaceful? Let’s also witness here further dishonesty by our author: he acquits the anti-Christian attacks of their contradictions through his subsequent attack on the anti-Christians themselves; however, the acquittal is only implicit, and his reader is left feeling that the anti-Christians should still be mocked for what they have been forgiven.
Interestingly, Chesterton’s next move is to disregard what he’d said about the relative language of Christianity’s attackers to, instead, embrace their contradictions in a new cast: “Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard to hold simultaneously.” He starts with an earnest search for truth that leads him away from Christianity, then closer back to it when its opponents ‘contradict’ each other, then closer still when the contradictions are found to be false, and then back securely home when the contradictions are termed otherwise: “Anyone might say, ‘Niether swaggor nor grovel’; and it would have been a limit. But to say, ‘Here you can swagger and there you can grovel’ — that was an emancipation.” Now the contradictions are the mother of balance and the Church’s greatest gift.
The whole journey is incoherent, and his description of it is dishonest if he actually possessed a tithe of the brilliance credited to him. I think he probably had the means for discovering the falsity of Christianity, but he was too emotionally attached. In his careless youth, he must have impetuously decided to consider his beliefs and ended up losing them. Only through much subsequent self-delusion was he able to construct elaborate enough excuses for a return to Christianity endorsed by his repressed rational mind. This is of course fine, and expected; it is in fact the only way faith could operate. The problem I see with the whole thing is that, aside from maybe C.S. Lewis, Chesterton is supposed to make the best arguments for Christianity. Instead, he makes a profound disappointment, and his attitude toward non-Christians is anything but exemplary.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise. – James Madison
This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it. – John Adams
Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies. – Thomas Jefferson
Man is a marvelous curiosity…he thinks he is the Creator’s pet…he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea. – Mark Twain
All thinking men are atheists. – Ernest Hemingway
It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him. – Arthur C. Clarke
A man is not moral because he is obedient through fear or ignorance. Morality lives in the realm of perceived obligation… – Robert Ingersoll
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. – Karl Marx
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. – George Bernard Shaw
Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. – Isaac Asimov
We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. – Richard Dawkins
“The time for respecting religous beliefs of that sort has long past”-Sam Harris at Idea City 05
“Thou shalt not take anything on faith”-Penn Jillette
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
— Stephen Roberts
“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”
“Only Sheep need a shepherd!”
“God is not dead. He is alive and working on a much less ambitious project.”
— graffito (1975), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations
“Appraise the Lord: Tax church property.”
— bumper sticker
“Humanity without religion is like a serial killer without a chainsaw.”
“Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.”
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”
“The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.”
— Denis Diderot
“the trouble with theocracy is that everyone wants to be Theo.”
— James Dunn
“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”
–Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor (1769-1821).
“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”
–Ferdinand Magellan, (1480–1521), Portuguese navigator: discoverer of the Straits of Magellan 1520 and the Philippines 1521.
“Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.”
— Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Roman Catholic philosopher
“Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.”
— Tom Waits
“An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.”
— John Buchan
“The atheist does not say ‘there is no God,’ but he says ‘I know not what you mean by God; I am without idea of God’; the word ‘God’ is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. … The Bible God I deny; the Christian God I disbelieve in; but I am not rash enough to say there is no God as long as you tell me you are unprepared to define God to me.”
— Charles Bradlaugh, ‘Plea for Atheism’
Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
— Annie Dillard, ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’
“I give money for church organs in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation’s attention from the rest of the service.”
— Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
“Gods always behave like the people who created them”
— Zora Neale Hurston
“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.”
— Chapman Cohen
“Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”
— Ambrose Bierce
“I still say a church steeple with a lightening rod on top shows a lack of confidence.”
— Doug McLeod
“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
— H. L. Mencken
“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfuly as when they do it for religious convictions”
— Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
“Man has never been the same since God died. He has taken it very hard.”
“The world holds two classes of men – intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.”
— Abu Ala Al-Ma’arri (???? – 1059)
“No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.”
–Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)
“Hey, let’s get serious… God knows what he’s doin’ He wrote this book here And the book says: ‘He made us all to be just like Him’, So… If we’re dumb… Then God is dumb… (And maybe even a little ugly on the side)”
– -Frank Zappa
“God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”
“You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do.”
“Atheism is a non-prophet organization”
“Organizing atheists is like hurding cats”
— Madalyn Murray O’Hair
“In the absence of fear there is little faith.”
— Michael Pain
“If atheists are deaf to the word of God, then theists are blind to the ways of man.”
— Michael Pain
“You’ll never find a dead Christian in a foxhole who didn’t pray.”
“On the sixth day, God created man. On the seventh day, man returned the favor.”
“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”
“For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever would believe in him would believe in anything.”
“Theists think all gods but theirs are false. Atheists simply don’t make an exception for the last one.”
“Fundamentalism means never having to say ‘I’m wrong.'”
“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day;
Give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish”
“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”
— Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith
“To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But a heresy it certainly is. Jesus told us indeed that ‘God is a spirit,’ but he has not defined what a spirit is, nor said that it is not matter. And the ancient fathers generally, if not universally, held it to be matter: light and thin indeed, an etherial gas; but still matter.” August 15, 1820 in a letter to John Adams
Ah, just hearing Sarah Palin talk about good-old, small town values just warms the very cockles of my heart. I can see it now, a return to those idyllic days of small town idealization: the 1950s, when America was at its greatest. “Leave it to Beaver” ruled the airwaves, entering every middle-class home delivering the very fundamental values embodied by Mrs. Palin, her church, and the current Republican party. Nostalgic tears flood my cheeks—Ah yes, those were the days—and I most heartily look forward to reinstalling them.
Yes, the memories overwhelm me . . . . time spent watching those wise TV fathers instructing their raptly attentive wives fresh from doing their domestic chores dressed impeccably, high heels and tastefully coordinated jewelry, while happy children with perfect manners played harmoniously, then said their Christian prayers before meekly popping off to bed. The good old nuclear family.
Sure was dreamy baby, though it didn’t have an iota of similarity to any family I knew—families where fathers beat their children and mothers called them stupid morons. Disgruntled housewives and single women who’d gotten a taste for working during the war “let go” because the men needed the jobs more. The mommies on my block drug around unintended, unwanted children. Effective birth control wasn’t available and those who perhaps aborted, well, given the morality of the times, that would stay buried in the closet, so how would we know? Unless they died, of course. Even then, it’s amazing the secrets behind closed doors. Don’t know why they were so unhappy; after all, research back then showed that only 7% of Americans thought a single woman could ever be happy. Maybe they just didn’t know enough to know what was best for them.
And as for single moms? Why, I knew of one….but she was obviously immoral, so the entire community blackballed her, and everyone had someone they could gossip about. That’s always good for keeping cohesion in a small town. Yep, nothing like being the outcast, looked down on, unable to find work, having your child laughed at and called names to let everyone else know what they better not do. That went for divorce as well, rightfully scandalous among us average folk, a good cause for a lot of tongue wagging.
The home was a man’s undisputed castle, and his word ruled—we learned that from TV, from our teachers, from, well, from everywhere. Boy oh boy, my best friend’s dad knew that. Punishment meted out in the basement with PVC pipe against bare arms and legs, metal belt buckles across the butt till she couldn’t sit. One time, she got it so bad, she had to sleep on her stomach for a week. Of course I knew, but as far as I could figure, that’s what went on in every home. Even in “Father Knows Best” or “My Three Sons” or “Ozzie and Harriet.” Children were supposed to keep their mouths shut and show proper respect for grownups, and, well, basically, do everything they were told. Now how those parents got their kids to mind themt was the fuzzy part to us as w didn’t know any kid or parent that acted like those on TV. We couldn’t figure it out: were they just being mean like our parents were in private, or were we the only ones in America whose families didn’t look like theirs?
What with all the evidence—TV, Uncle Sam, our teachers and what they had to say about us….my best friend and I guessed we just had to be the sinful little boogers, the deviants, deserving of a good beating or some other torture. If I misbehaved, I got sent to my room without dinner—zip, nothing, even if I hadn’t gotten lunch either because some school bully had taken it. My own fault my parents said. And they never did explain what I’d done to not get dinner. I remember once going a whole week without. That time I collapsed, but no doctor visit; we couldn’t afford a doctor back then. They say we got what we deserved, and I guess we turned out the better for it.
Strict rules were all part of family values back then. And it was the Dad’s job to enforce them. Men had it tough, for sure. You had to give them slack, coming back from the war and all, starting life again. So what if husbands cheated? Good, dutiful wives put up with it. Come to think of it, they never showed any of that on The Family Hour….but hard to believe it was only going on in our small town; whatever, we kept our mouths shut when it came to the men; what could you expect from men? It was in their nature after all; everyone said so. And those women still trying to keep their places in the workforce certainly didn’t help a man’s morale; they were just giving ‘em a reason to wander.
Uppity women. Selfish. Got a taste for working and now couldn’t let go, do the right thing for the country. Their place was in the home having babies—whether they wanted to or not. Uncle Sam knew best; the government made it very clear women owed it to our future to give the jobs back to the men, stay home and raise children—White children that is. I understood that some of my moms acquaintances were doing their civic duty when they told my mom she should give up the job she got during the war . . . . even . . . even if my dad wasn’t bringing home enough money to pay all the bills. I agreed with what they said behind her back, that by working my mom was undermining my dad’s ego, ‘cause her actions were making him think he couldn’t do it by himself; she was making him look bad in front of his buddies and, and, and . . . . that’s why he was running around. Yup. It was my mom’s fault for, now what was the word they used. . . for. . . for . . .I know—emasculating him.
She was white and Uncle Sam had said we needed white babies; he hadn’t said anything about the minority women that’d been working before, through, and after the war cleaning up after the rest; of course they were supposed to continue working, and be thankful they got paid at all. They needed to prove they deserved the American Dream—just like we already had.
And we had that dream, almost all that dream: we got a government loan to buy a home on Dad’s GI bill; he got a new Cadillac every year he never paid for thanks to bank credit; he was a salesman with a fine diamond pinkie ring—and it didn’t even matter that he never sold anything! We had the look of prosperity; that’s what mattered. That’s all that mattered when it came to the money game. And best of all back in the 1950s, we had the Cold War.
Now that pulled us together. A strong common enemy sure brings out true blue American patriotism, do or die, no questioning authority, no sir. Why, just like the beginning of the war in Iraq. It was that same thrill of fear, terror, panic, lashing out, and squashing anyone who spoke out against our government all rolled into one—and it lasted for years and years longer than the crap war we got going on now. Just nothing beat it for getting people all gung-ho and rah, rah, rah for the principles of the USA. I definitely know why folks want to go back to those simpler, halcyon days of yore.
We lived in the bosom of great faith we did, positive that could survive a direct nuclear attack. At my school we faithfully practiced duck and cover under our desks while those of us that lived within 20 minutes walking distance were sent home, the alarm sirens blaring from every corner, to take refuge in our basements, our storage bins, or if we had the dough, newly installed bomb shelters. With fear and pride mingling in our devoted hearts, we banded together behind the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and Senator Joseph McCarthy—that fierce fighter of Godless Communism and minority groups trying to undermine us from within.
With our government’s encouragement, we spied on our neighbors, anonymously reported anything that looked suspicious to the authorities, rooted when the Rosenbergs were put to death, and couldn’t wait for the next round of so-called traitors to be thrown in jail or lose their jobs [sorry you were framed Ethel, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and there’s nothing like catching bad guys to keep morale up]. We felt awe and empowerment as Cold War bands of thugs channeled our fears for us, demanding blind loyalty tests from government employees, kicking out any who disagreed with any policy of President Truman and then Eisenhower, ruining careers and lives with a snap of their fingers. With total impunity, knowing what this country needed, they ignored the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, planted forged documents, leaked fake information to the press, accused and declared people enemies of the state in private trials.
They fueled the public’s rage and fear, and with pit bull McCarthy at the helm, we got to not only watch, but be co-conspirators in one of the greatest dramatic plays in America. Even though McCarthy was muzzled, we weren’t done expressing our unleashed passion; we stuck to our duty and joined The John Birch Society. Yes, we were the best Americans, finally able to overcome any family troubles and, instead, turn our righteous anger and suspicions on Semites, Blacks and any other minority that wanted to invade WASP America. Boy, oh, boy, those were the days of strong, single-minded conservative values alright.
We surged in patriotism and fear thanks to the Cold War and, naturally, we surged with Christianity to emotionally bond Americans together to save us from hellfire and Godless Communism as well. Making an official Pledge of Allegiance, still itself brand new out of 1942, overtly religious by adding “under God” in 1954 sure helped send a message to any deviants here. And then adding “In God We Trust” onto all our paper money, thanks to an act of Congress in 1955, we magically became that Christian church-going nation the family values people always thought right.
Again we turned to our trusty TVs for the right message, adding Televangelists to our favorite family programs, eagerly soaking up Oral Roberts of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches who offered fake, I mean faith healing of the blind and crippled in front of thousands and directly into our living rooms through the TV screen, and the nation sure was in need of that to keep us strong in the face of our enemies. God spoke directly to him. Imagine how thrilling that was for us watching this movie star preacher getting divine revelations at the same time he spoke to us. Of course we sent him our money—isn’t that the American way? Don’t we get rich through the grace of God just like anyone can grow up to be President? You won’t find me faulting him for his $100 shoes or $500 suits or the $9 million we sent to save his life. He and so many others have taught us the true American virtues of capitalism, which he simply followed.
And we just had to watch Billy Graham as well with his own fiery fundamentalist/evangelical rhetoric. He explained it in terms we could all understand: war with Russia being the millennial Biblical showdown, God’s test of our goodness and strength. Like the great prophet Moses appearing before us on the Universal stage, God compelled us to follow him….we embraced him especially.
Blessed by God and Eisenhower, backed by Standard Oil and the precursor of Haliburton, he, like McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover—his personal friend—focused our rage on the correct targets, the unions, the traitor liberals in government, and anyone who was anti-big business. Yes, he showed us whose side God was on There we stood, the proud towns, nay, the proud nation composed of small towns and our small town American values.
“Gimme them old time values,
“Gimme them old time values,
“Gimme them old time values,
“They were good enough for my growing years, they’re good enough for me now
“They were good enough for my growing years, they’re good enough for me now
…..ah, actually, the more I think about it…. you know, they, they, you know, they look a lot like what we’ve had for the last eight years…..
By riki mathews: The Trickster