Monday, June 04, 2007

WHO KNOWS?

Over on Salon Gordy Slack reports on the new Creation Museum (“Inside the Creation Museum”, www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/05/31/creation_museum/print.html).

It’s the stuff that We now know exists in this country; stuff that We now know was loosed upon the country when the fundamentalistic mindset – thanks to the direct efforts of Atwater and Rove, of Falwell and Robertson and many like them – was sucked up into the center of the national consciousness – thanks to the indirect efforts of Advocacies whose revolutionistic modus operandi justified the subversion of Truth in the service of a ‘higher’ or at least more tangible ‘progress’.

And not only sucked up into the center of the national consciousness, but into the workings of the national mind.

And because nothing exists in a vacuum, and because all things human are interlocked, into the national soul.

All to Our great detriment.

Here are robotic reproductions of perfectly familiar human (and white) children playing among the dinosaurs (and T-Rex to boot). This is true, the museum staff assures us, because “the recent discovery of intact blood-vessels in T-Rex tissue suggests that they are only thousands of years old, not 65 million.” It’s all very scientific, although the museum is premised on the belief that “science” is not to be trusted unless it conforms to the ‘facts’ vouchsafed to us in a literal reading of the Book of Genesis. A ‘day’ was 24 hours, a year was 365 days – the Book of Genesis written, apparently, not for previous millennia of humans in civilizations with other methods of measuring time, but for the particular fundies of 20th-and-21st century America. A charming childlike presumption that it’s all about us … somehow tainted deeply by a childish ignorance and larded thickly with self-flattering arrogance.

Says one of the co-founders of the museum: “It is clearly written that they (the dinosaurs and humans) were alive at the same time”. “It is written” … one recalls Anthony Quinn’s sheikh in “Lawrence of Arabia”, embodying the backwardness of Arab culture in contrast to modern Western civilization when, reflecting upon the explanation for a man’s death, nods sagely and opines “Ah! It was written, then.”

And in that same film, Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia declaring on behalf of Western civilization: “Nothing is written!” … the implication being that Western civilization will not accept that History is fixed and cannot be changed and that humans have no alternative but to submit. ‘Submission’ to such large unknowns is not the Western genius. Indeed, the Founders’ Constitutional Convention demonstrates that it was enough for them to ‘submit’ to the ‘written’ instrument of the Constitution once they had hammered it out.

It was more an expression of the Western genius when Paul Scofield’s Thomas More reflected in “A Man For All Seasons” that in distinction from all the other creatures, God had created man to serve Him “in the tangle of his mind”. And a long torturous climb it has been, making that journey through the tangle of the human mind.

We have been pushed back … not to ‘fundamentals’ but to a new primitivism. New to Us, anyway. A primitivism as old as humanity, but beyond which this and that civilization, the West’s not the least of them, climbed, refining mastery of the higher human abilities, making available to all humans its discoveries and achievements, contributing to the common knowledge and wisdom. Though – who can deny it? – never perfectly and never purely.

In a recent Post, it was proposed that just as the late USSR was (sagely) referred to as “Upper Volta with rockets” so too this nation must now realize that its behavior qualifies for the characterization of “the seventh-grade with rockets”. Our national mind is functioning on a level far below that necessary for a great nation (let alone for the Sole Hyperpower). We have lost a huge amount of Our national maturity.

In the quest for a return to ‘fundamentals’ this nation has merely regressed to an old primitivism. Forty percent of Us wouldn’t object to the proposition that the planet is 6000 years old, give or take. And ‘science’ is now to be overridden by the fundamentalistic criterion of compatibility with the Bible: “Evolution … makes it far too easy not to believe the Bible … and that loss of belief is at the root of modern evil”.

And – ummmm – premodern evil? For a long long long time it seemed pretty clear that it was human refusal to follow the moral precepts propounded by the prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Hosea, and by Jesus. Long before there was ‘modern science’ there was evil, and lots of it. Whether the world is six thousand or six billion years old, folks have always been trying to screw their neighbors (of whatever age), and economically even more than sexually; and nations will always be looking to wage aggressive, pre-emptive war wherever they think they can get away with it. Nobody – individual or government – paid much attention to ‘the Bible’ in all the long centuries of human history before Darwin. And even when they did – them Kathliks and that Kathlik Church, for instance – they had a tough time trying to get it right. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat … much has been spilled … and so often by the weak and the innocent.

What good is having ‘God’ if that ‘having’ does not lead to Justice? Have the Bible-belt states found it practicable to disband their police departments and their courts? It would appear that they certainly still need their divorce courts. Surely, the Bible Bhagwans and their political colleagues have found it in their personal interest to keep a lot of high-powered criminal-defense attorneys on speed-dial.

Are there no starving and disenfranchised in the Bible-belt states? Was LBJ’s Great Society in place there before it was officially proclaimed in Washington, about the time that ‘the negro’ was finally granted the civil rights guaranteed by the monstrous and profound oceans of blood shed in the Civil War a full century before?

Will espousing ‘the Bible’ over ‘Darwin’ insure that one ‘gets right with God’? He is clearly on record in the Bible as desiring a ‘pure heart’ and that humans ‘do justice’. Will paying a few bucks to get a Creation Museum tee-shirt and looking at Adam and Eve with lily pads over their genitalia mend even the smallest rip in the tortured fabric of this world? Will it ensure that those who wear the tee-shirt will escape the wrath to come?

Nor can any honest adult claim that the Bible-olatry of the primitive fundies is not equaled in debauchery to un-Truth by the perversions of ‘science’ fostered on us by the Advocacies these past forty years. That there is no such thing as Truth? That in the service of a ‘good’ political goal morality and Truth can be dispensed with? That there is no ‘morality’ nor Virtue, but only small-minded oppression that keeps you from doing what you damned well please? That human beings and their civilizations need no Archimedean point outside … Beyond ... themselves in order to maintain their ethical and moral balance?

We are hugely at risk, as individuals and as citizens and as a nation and as The People. We are sliding back into the darkness of immaturity and primitivism in mind and in heart. The political darkness of tyranny will only follow upon the truly fundamental darkness of The People’s mind and heart and – let it be said with a capital – Soul. And that slide is gathering momentum.

Nor can most of the present political and cultural ‘elite’ muster the moral vision or moxie to help Us. The fear of losing votes, the indenture to political contributions and personal remuneration, the fear of changing a generation’s worth of pandering to increasingly primitive emotional demands … We can expect no help from those precincts of the monstrous Oz ‘inside the Beltway’.

Seventh-graders are a wonderful reality, in their way and in their proper place. The seventh-grade mentality out of its proper place – in adults, say – and in adults who are responsible for exercising the responsibilities of citizens and of The People, is even more dangerous to the safety and moral fabric of the world than automatic weapons in the hands of eleventh-graders. That’s how bad it is. That’s the situation We are in now.

Turn to the Bible? Excellent idea! Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea. Job, even. Maybe Jonah to begin with, because there’s a whale out there somewhere, and how many among the current generation can handle serving time in that belly – whatever shape it will take?

We must stretch forth Our hand for there is no doubt that a just God shall stretch forth His. Even now, the axe is laid to the roots of the tree. It’s in the Bible.

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