Thursday, December 16, 2004

i had an interesting dream that i needed to retake the 5th grade. i woke within the dream with only 5 minutes to get ready for school. because the elementary school was so close, i could run over there for my shower. i ran there in yesterday's clothes and found the locker room. i had forgotten to bring soap or shampoo. i found a tipped-over bottle of pert plus on a ledge. i scooped up some of it and it made a thick lather on my head. i also found a thinned-down bar of dial soap. i put on yesterday's clothes again and realized i only had one minute until the bell. in the hall was a buffet of desserts, cupcakes, date bars, etc. i took a chocolate cupcake with amber colored gummies on it, needing some sort of sustenance to begin the day. the cupcake fell apart and i tried to shove as much of it into my mouth as possible to avoid making a mess. in the back of my mind I thought that it would be okay to be late on the first day of school, that little kids would be expected to get lost in the hall, therefore the same grace period would apply to me even thought I was an adult. (It always amazes me how logical one can be in a dream while carrying out absurd tasks.) The 5th grade class was mostly adult. I looked around for kids and saw a few of them, many with their fathers. I thought everyone in the class (except me) must have been very stupid to require such remediation. The teacher asked "who knows where World War I started." Nobody answered so I shouted out "Munich" feeling very smug and self-assured. The teacher didn't acknowledge my answer and I assumed that he was intimidated by my brilliance. Julie was sitting behind me, one row over. She admired my self-assured answer. Then the dream was over and I woke up.

My history book was on the shelf next to my bed. I turned to the WWI section and saw that Ferdinand was assasinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. I was thinking "Munich" because just before the outbreak of WWII, Neville Chamberlain thought he had successfully negotiated with Hitler in that city. The "Munich Analogy" was later applied by U.S. officials to the Soviet Union, justifying the cold war. I.e. Munich proved to them that the Soviets could not be bargained with.

Which leads me to the interesting interview on Fresh Air yesterday with Richard Viguerie, author of "America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power." Viguerie is the third disturbing fundamentalist right-winger I've heard on her show. Senator Rick Santorum (PA - anti-abortion crusader) freaked me out in August, and Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind novels, freaked me out in March. Viguerie's premise is that secular society is waging war on Christian society. He described the Bush White House as OK but not doing enough to "control the courts" or to reduce the size of government. When Gross asked him why it was necessary to frame the current state of politics as "war" he said that the war had already been started by secular society and that he was simply helping Christian America to defend itself.

Now, ask me if I like fundamentalist Christian America and my answer is no. I am not sure that means I am "at war" with anyone. I have watched Pat Robertson on television, and find him to be well-spoken but repugnant. Anyone who leads a mass prayer vigil asking God to "change" members of Supreme Court seems too biased to trust, and un-American. What is American about praying for the death of Supreme Court justices? But more to the point, Christian broadcast media is manipulative and in poor taste. Its goal is not to inform the masses but to convert them, to control them. Ultimately, its goal is to draw public discourse back towards scripture because that is where certain men exercise the greatest knowledge and authority. I think that this is a problem because many problems in the world are important even though they do not pertain to themes in the Bible. Global warming, the environment, human rights. I appreciate the wisdom of maintaining a secular society. I see self-discipline, tolerance, and creativity in secular society. Secular insight thrills me. Am I at war with Fundamentalist Christians? I don't think so. I just don't think their ideas and methods are helpful.

But this is not enough. Fundamentalist Christians are at war with ME. So if I am to speak out against it, I need to know things like "Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, not Munich." For that matter, it is helpful to know that WWII began partially in Spain where the right wingers under Franco defeated a newly formed leftist government, with backing from Hitler. America entered WWII as the new deal wound down. In america the role of government had expanded dramatically, to compensate for economic swings, and to assist the needs of people subjected to new forces of industrialization and urbanization. Americans loved FDR, and the fact that government could help.