The pastor who put this sign up apparently did not know of its political incorrectness and once he did he took the signs down. Perhaps he thinks the only book worth reading is the Bible. The old testament teaches you how to be a cruel slaver and the new how to put women and homos in their place. But as every A|N reader of the offensive words well knows, Hitler was right: the pastor's shorn sheep began as suckling lambs. Inter-generational religiosity is the primary problem confronting all who refuse to believe in the supernatural, but our numbers among Millenials are strong, suggesting we have less to worry about.
Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. [underscore mine]
-- Jean Brodie, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"
This doesn't surprise me. In my 65 years some of the most ignorant, stupid and mentally ill people I've met are ministers.
Some are eaten up with guilt. Deep down, they doubt what they preach, but they cannot admit it to themselves. Some know that urging people to pray for this or that means that if nature takes a course that favors the believer, other persons are equally and oppositely harmed. Joel Osteen tells congregants a story of a farmer who prays that his crops will survive a coming storm, and sure enough the hail and cyclines actually leave his crops unharmed but destroy all the other farmers'. They tell him, "Next time I will pray, too." Joel doesn't see that all of his stuff has another side,one that makes his argument ridiculous. And how many times has the preacher prayed with or for this or that congregant and witnessed flubbed requests? By the time they realize they are selling a con, they also realize they're not trained to do anything else and, hey, the money's not bad. Voltaire said as much.
Maybe this guy knew a little too much about Hitler.
Using the sheep analogy, my step father always sang the old song "Bringing In The Sheep." It was a church favorite and he just knew that was the title of the song. Jebus was a shepherd, right? I talked to him about this one day. The real name of the song is "Bringing In The Sheaves."
Should I have asked him if he is able to read?
That old hymn is used in lots of corny Westerns beginning with John Ford. And I think Charles Laughton used it in Night of the Hunter, about a deranged, homicidal itinerant preacher who does a bang up job of pitting his left hand against his right, the fingers spelling in tattoos "Love" and "Hate." It's during the Depresssion and the pastor, played with great relish by Robert Mitchum, is looking for a hidden stash of stolen money he learned about while in prison. The song Mitchum sings all through the movie is not "Sheaves," however, it is "Leaning." It goes: "Leaning, leaning / On the everlasting God...." I suspect these old hymns were used because the score was by a well known American symphonist, William Schuman (not to be confused with the great Robert Schumann -- with two "n's"). The movie is really terrific, too.
It is a terrific movie. One my faves. Especially the character played by Lilian Gish, who ends up (spoiler alert) putting a load of buckshot in Mitchum's ass.
When Mitchum gets angry with a woman, he hurls the ultimate backwoods America insult, calling them "whores of Babylon!" Clearly he gets his misogyny from the "good book."
I saw the movie James and was terrific.
Curiously, Laughton never made another movie, but he continued acting, memorably as a southern senator in Advise and Consent, and even more memorably as the advocate with heart disease and a bossy nurse in Witness for the Prosecution. I am certain Laughton was a non-believer. He labored for years trying to interest the studios in adapting Berthold Brecht's Galileo but failed. An anti-clerical, anti-Roman Catholic play depicting the horrible treatment of the Italian scientist by the Vatican, it is too preachy to be genuinely effective, but both Brecht and Laughton could have taken paths of least resistence and did not. The 70s movie version of Laughton's stage production was made by Joseph Losey, one of the American directors who moved to London and Europe during the McCarthy nightmare. Socialists, communists, and atheists run in the same families. Too bad the post hoc reasoning of some conservatives allows the conclusion that these groups have much in common, but many atheists also are secularists, who today best define, with great irony, the message of Reb Yeshua (my Jesus). John Gielgud was brilliant as a cardinal.
What a coincidence, I was telling a co-worker yesterday how Christianity in this country reminds me of how Hitler gained power: He convinced the Germans that the Jews were to blame for their bad economy and all the problems.
A couple of my born again co-workers were talking the other day about how this world is in terrible shape due to the decline of religion. One of these was the woman who said I must've been "very scarred" when I called her out on her bigotry toward atheists.
Told my co-worker that with this attitude, which is so prevalent in this country (see Jessica Alquist's story), I fully expect to end up with an "A" sewn into my clothing, and eventually be marched into a gas chamber or something.
So I'm afraid this billboard is spot-on accurate. Here we have a declining economy, an undereducated populace, and all we'll need is a Christian president to re-visit the Holocaust.
I remember baptism as an indocrination device. It had to happen again every time my parents switched churches. Maybe the other one didn't take? I was starting to be prepared and bring along a bar of soap.
In my case, the church or my parents or both arranged for a professional photographer to be on hand. My grinning Dad and smiling Mom looking at me and I, if memory of the picture serves, frowning up at the Episcopal pastor dribbling font water over my forehead. (Like Leon Russell, memory for me is just some photographs of people I have met.) But therein lies the problem: family photos take on an iconic quality (in both senses of that word), with a lot more detail than might be recalled years later. I recall the minister as bald, elderly (to me?) and aquiline in appearance. The significance of the event, when later explained to the inquiring child leaves one with the impression of having been branded; tattooed with "PROPERTY OF _______ [name your Christian church]." I should think it is worse for Jewish children, who must await their teens to have such induction. However, at least in the case of the male, a far more serious -- and long-lasting -- rite has taken place. Loss of a foreskin is not only traumatic for the child, it robs him of a lifetime of long, leisurely sexual congress, a glans perhaps 75-90% more sensitive than that of an uncircumcised male, a prepuce meant to ride with each thrust and parry until such time as both male and female can enjoy detachment from all worries and concerns of this world, divided for the sake of union.