Grateful . . . . and
I do not have a photo this time because the object of my gratitude is too modest and camera shy and she would kill me if I were to put one up. The gratitude is, however, in no way mitigated by this lack of pictoral representation! Janelle not only instigated this amazing contest, she has tirelessly and expertly steered it forward until it has taken on a scale and relevance that none of us predicted. I am so grateful for her support and work in all things “ Charlie”, but this one takes the cake!! Thanks, Janelle, I am so grateful.…and now on to something you know is also dear to me heart….
. . . . Orthodoxy
Hi y’all! Sorry it has been a while . . .
The trouble with an orthodoxy is that you can’t argue with it. Orthodoxy is about “facts” that are unshakeable, unquestionable and absolutely and fundamentally true. The trouble with the truth is that it can change. The world was once flat. That was the accepted truth. Anyone who disputed it was either crazy, ignorant or ungodly. Then science discovered that it was not flat but round, and the “truth” changed. The new truth was universally demonstrable as soon as a human sailed off to the east and came back from the west. When another “truth”, that the sun moved around the earth, was challenged by scientists, it was not so easily demonstrated for all to see. The Church found this new notion blasphemous and clung to its old “truth,” persecuting any who dared disagree. Even though we now know that the church’s stance was erroneous, at the time it was an unassailable orthodoxy. Science and human knowledge have always been the enemies of orthodoxy, because science is the means by which the curious human discovers new facts about his world, perpetually overturning the previous paradigm. This fits perfectly into the church’s story of Adam and Eve. Betrayed by their curiosity (and a snake,) they ate from the tree of knowledge and learnt stuff. Science was born in direct conflict with God’s word. Any fundamentalism is built on orthodoxy. By its very nature it must deny science and knowledge and instead cling to the old established truths that sprung originally from the mind, tongue or brain of some revered being, real or imagined. Thus the fundamental orthodoxies of the Christian Right, the Catholic Church, the Taliban or Al Quaeda are more or less the same. They are inspired by the teachings of a prophet or god and brook no argument, question or deviation. The orthodoxy is paramount and any intrusive “facts” that offer any counterpoint whatsoever must be denied, ignored or twisted to suit the original truth. To the fundamentalist, the 14th. century navigator must have gotten lost, lied or was borne along on the breath of the Devil. The fact that the earth was flat was indisputable.
We have the same kind of blind orthodoxies in our culture today. We hear orthodoxies that our President was not born on American soil, despite written, signed proof that he was. We hear that women’s bodies naturally reject the sperm of a rapist and that this country was founded as a Christian nation. Despite the evidence in front of their eyes and microscopes, the fundamentalists will not swerve from their beliefs. When a group of fundamentalists flew a plane into the twin towers on 9/ 11 they did so, convinced in their orthodoxy, that they were doing God’s work by destroying the unbeliever. When another group of fundamentalists blow up a women’s clinic they believe the same. In fact they both shout “God is great!” as they commit their ungodly acts of violence with the same clear-eyed, ecstasy of the fundamentalist martyr. What makes me very nervous at this point in our history is that a growing number of Americans, dulled by an inane addiction to mindless entertainment like Reality TV, too lazy to employ any critical thinking about anything and willing to let others do all their thinking and deciding for them, are happy to exchange scientifically supportable facts to be replaced by dogma, propaganda and rumor. We have stepped on the brakes of progress and seem determined to run the clock of our civilization back a few hundred years in terms of social justice, women’s and minority rights, religion and debate. The Tea Party, whose manifesto reads almost word for word like that of the Taliban in terms of a zealous adherence to an unshakeable orthodoxy have already dragged many reasonable Republicans into their madness and are intent on doing the same for the country. With an imagined history of America and perverted interpretation of the Constitution, these fundamentalists are taking advantage of the destabilizing forces at work in our economy and society to bring about an America as foreign and corrupted as the Taliban hope to do in Afghanistan. America has always been proud of its scientific, secular outlook. It was born out of the age of reason, not the Middle Ages.
In conclusion let me remind you all of what John Adams signed his name to in the preamble to the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. . . .”