Jesus, Gagged & Tethered

I read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich this summer…and it was FANtastic! I highly recommend it.

In one part, Barbara describes coming upon and attending an old-fashioned tent revival. By this point, she’s already experienced how difficult it is to simply get by in America as a member of the working class…and by that I mean held two jobs because she couldn’t survive on one. And survival doesn’t include healthcare, good healthy produce or other groceries, or even a “real” place to live (usually she was relegated to a hotel room–like so many others who don’t have enough money for the deposit and first month’s rent somewhere else…and doesn’t make enough to save enough).

Here’s what she says about the scene at the revival:

“The preaching goes on, interrupted by dutiful ‘amens.’ It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth. I would like to stay around for the speaking in tongues, should it occur, but the mosquitoes, worked into a frenzy by all this talk of His blood, are launching a full-scale attack. I get up to leave, timing my exit for when the preacher’s metronomic head movements have him looking the other way, and walk out to search for my car, half expecting to find Jesus out there in the dark, gagged and tethered to a tent pole” (pp.68-69).

We talk about how Jesus came to save us, and that he died on the cross for our sins, and how that’s enough for all of us. But what good is salvation when you struggle to put food on the table and fear taking even one day off work because the loss of one day’s pay might mean the loss of one day’s food for you and your family? What good is salvation when you have to work more than one job just to make ends meet, without the safety net of healthcare should something happen to you on the job? And if something does happen to you on the job, you are forced to suck it up and keep on working. What good is a dead Jesus at any time? What good is a dead Jesus to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status?

Drill Drill Drill

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and  activist
best known for “The Vagina Monologues”, wrote the
following about Sarah Palin.

Drill, Drill, Drill

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she
was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the
claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have
a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it’s their snowy
whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic
or that I have never seen one in person or touched one.  Maybe it
is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I
need the polar bears.

I don’t like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my
life trying to build community, help empower women and stop
violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This
is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and
cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and
solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is
antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story —
connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women,
giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance,
and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous
choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those
candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in
so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally
disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the
world.  Unfortunately, this is not a joke.  In my lifetime I have
seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the
presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a
metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing
changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global
warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying
our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of
God’s plan.  She is fighting to take the polar bears off   the
endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be
taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot
and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is
here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi
war, “It was a task from God.”

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe
women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will
should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist’s
baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I
imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many
babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather
she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to
dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate
an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who
could and might very well be the next president of the United
States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the
earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting
rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has
shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private
right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector,
when war is declared in God’s name, when the rights of women are
denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and
state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this
election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the
future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine
whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever
uninhabitable for humans. It w ill determine whether we move
towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate
violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will
determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or
invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency
and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education
and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of
killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant
society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your
power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the
hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, “Drill Drill Drill.” I think of
teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of
destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises
that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis,
doubt, ambiguity or dissent.  I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the
floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between
nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious
thing we call life?

Eve Ensler

September 5, 2008

The Party Faithful

That’s the title of a book I started reading and had to return to the library. I’m telling you. This book embargo is tough sometimes. But the subtitle is this: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap. And here’s a brief little ditty from it:

“The God of Abraham and Isaac, the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God I was taught to trust and obey, could not be squeezed into the narrow confines of partisan politics. He wasn’t anybody’s campaign surrogate, and He certainly didn’t do endorsements. Baptists believe in an active and engaged God. But there is a difference between believing that the hand of God occasionally intervenes in human events and that it pulls the lever for Republican candidates” (p. 3).

And fear not…another good bit of political thinking (with a splash of feminism) will be along shortly.