Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fear and Loathing ... and the Storm a-Coming

photo of street art in san francisco featuring underwear on a clothesline
So to set the scene ... beautiful Sunday afternoon. I am preparing to add 4 koi to the pond in the back yard. Skipping a meal each of yesterday and today because I have slipped above the limit of what I am prepared to tolerate ... not that I am technically overweight, but I do have a limit and I am not going over it! Wee Timmie Lincecum looking merely mortal pitching against the Padres ... the stuff is there but the killer instinct seems a little soft. I figure he needs a bit of time to get over the off-season celebrity and get back into the desperation for winning that undergirds every great athlete. Went through my closet and tossed a pile of clothing roughly three feet high to Community Thrift. And I am preparing to devote a few of these declining hours of the weekend to The Company, as I sometimes like to call MRU, the major research university where I stuff m&m's into tiny boxes in exchange for enough candy to support my heathen lifestyle.

So life goes on ... even as our christian friends are dressing in strange colors and weird fruity hats in order to celebrate this high holiday of their death cult. Yes, death cult. One does not have to be a historian these days to understand how much this religion is a death cult ... one need only review the ludicrous and bizarrely amateurish new ad that the curiously named NOM has created ... A Storm is Coming.

First off, har-dee-har, we have the bizarre experience of a week in which the extremist fundies start a campaign called 2M4M (2 Million 4 Marriage) AND the extremist wingnuts start a campaign called teabagging. Do these people live in some cellar somewhere immune to everyday life? But ya gotta laugh!

So, there are plenty of critiques of the ad ... for reference, a bunch of actors mouth short lines in front of a montage of the dark clouds of a gathering storm replete with lightning. The actors look fearful, almost weak. You can search for it on YouTube ... I don't want them to count my site as a link.

Or you can watch all the parodies here. I think this is the coolest one:

So much has been written about the dishonesty of the ad ... that the performers are actors, many of whom tried out for multiple parts. That the ad primarily addresses civil rights cases in which church organizations and religious individuals offering public accommodations were required to offer those accommodations to all comers. Yawn ... it is such a problem for bigots living in a free country.

But I think the darker side of the psychology of this ad has received insufficient attention. The storm predicted gets us coming and going. It is a direct reference to the apocalyptic vision of end times, the gathering storm of all these evils terrifying the good souls faithful in Christ. But the storm is also a direct call for action against gay people. This is a longtime subtext in christian homophobia ... the love the sinner, hate the sin is a giant lie, and those of us who suffer from these bigots know it in our bones. This ad gives cover to those who would physically attack us, and it is an unmistakable call for violence.

The bigots make much of their being a rainbow coalition founded in love to protect traditional marriage. What a crock. We do not want their love ... history is replete with how painful their love has been.

History, too, plays a role here. I think this is yet another attempt by the extremist fundies to put the medieval back into christianity. And by that I mean the superstition and the fear and the death.

photo of streetart in San Francisco on 16th Street featuring an eye and thornsThe regular reader of my musings will know that I am a voracious history reader, and that the Middle Ages is a favorite period. Among the fascinations of history is the idea of trying to imagine the mindset of an era who assumptions and modera operandi are, at bottom, utterly alien to our own. So ... not to put too fine a point on this ... the medieval mind accepted the notion of an active god and an active devil who intervened directly and personally in all affairs. Evil was incarnate, in the flesh. Now, the Middle Ages were not a monolith, and as the church developed its power to command souls, it did so in large part by augmenting its role in direct intervention in personal life. The church always railed against a rising tide of evil, and blamed all reverses upon the sordid nature of human error.

But it was only in the 11th century that the Church changed its mind about the meaning of the Sodom myth. It never liked homosexuality ... it never liked sexuality ... but there are few homosexual purges before the Crusades. That said, the entire era groans under the mindset that human affairs are the active battlefield between the divine and the diabolic incarnate.

We ... rational, secular society ... find that nonsensical. Most of the religious see God as vastly further away, more ethereal, less corporeal than did our medieval predecessors. Heaven may still be for the righteous, but righteousness for most of us is honesty and hard work and goodness. We just do not believe to the same degree in the notion of incarnate evil ... pope Ratzinger's handwringing fulminations notwithstanding.

Now, that may not be as true for the fundies ... but I would argue that even fundies, and especially the young, share in this notion of the distant God. Their nearly erotic love of Jesus as personal intercessor is a way of bridging the distance between an ethereal God and everyday life. (As an aside, this is not what Constantine had in mind when he signed off on the Trinity in 325.) But there is a danger here, because the personal relationship with Jesus is fungible, individual. It threatens to allow individuals to decide for themselves what Jesus means to them. It might even allow homos to decide that Jesus thinks that gay is okay.

So these ads are an attempt to put the Jehovian God ... and the fear and the superstition ... back into the conversation. I think it is a feeble attempt ... but that is the subtext. Jesus may love you, but Jehovah of the flaming sword and gathering storm is an angry God who slays and brings torments and plagues. Love Jesus, but fear God.

Fear God ... fear the homos ... fear the government.

Fear. There is a storm coming, and it is a storm of fear. The righteous will fear god ... and the faggots will fear the righteous.

Yes, the campaign is laughable and it has fallen on its face. But we must remember what it meant to mean, and what it speaks to and about our implacable enemies who still actively fantasize our corporeal destruction.

photo of some easter eggs in a basket
Happy Easter ... in the strictly pagan sense of that greeting. And long live the multicolored egg-laying Easter Bunnie ... the perfect riposte to the death cult that still threatens our lives and happiness.

Photos by Arod, the first two are street art on or near 16th Street in San Francisco, the last is a pic of Easter Eggs at Le Zinc Café on 24th, one of my favorite eateries.

... p.s., here's another riposte, a kick to the ribs ... with all due deference to Genesis ...

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