Monday, February 21, 2011
What Would Jesus Do?
Giving up ground is not easy to do. As a youngster, I could argue any point to absolute exhaustion, and regardless of any debating success or failure, my views wouldn’t budge an inch. In the second grade I had one such debate with my good friend Maxwell. If parents ever stop naming their children Maxwell, Maxamillian, or any similar variation of the name, so help me, I’m moving to Canada. Our little exchange began when Maxwell inquired why I wasn’t eating my pork hot dog during our school lunch hour. I was raised to eat only kosher foods since my family was Seventh-day Adventist. I began to explain to Max that pork was an unclean food, and no matter how many times you washed it, it still would not be clean. Given that the basis for my argument was as intellectually sound as my rubbery hot dog, Maxwell remained unmoved and rebutted with some nutritional facts about other not-so kosher foods such as crab and lobster saying they were in fact good for you. After a few minutes, our teacher, Mrs. Rait joined the conversation and tried to enlighten me in the flaws of my argument. “Nope,” I’d say, “just try washing it. It still won’t be clean.” Illustrator and cartoonist Steve Brodner once said, “Orthodoxy of any kind is another word for learning disability.” Learning disability? Well, I have since discovered that washing hot dogs doesn’t make much sense no matter what your ideologies may be.
Though my misunderstanding of kosher foods isn’t a typical representation of Seventh-day Adventists’ intelligence, I do feel that on some level religious types get locked into their divine canons, slowing societal progress. For instance, when discussing curriculum for textbooks, the Texas school board members revised what would be taught in several subjects. In social studies they placed an emphasis on Christian aspects of the world and much less focus on Islam. Everyone knows that we have a better understanding of the Muslim community than our own Christian nation anyway, so what’s the big deal? Science also took a heavy blow when Christian, conservative, board members decided that the creation theory warranted just as much attention as evolution. A combination of the two would probably serve students well if presented in an entertaining fashion: “Jesus Smote the Dinosaurs with Five Loaves of Bread and Two Fish,” “Moses and the Ten Missing Links,” and of course “The Big Bang Theory: How a Virgin got Pregnant.” Any objection to the conservative Texan board has been seen as an attack on patriotic America, and wouldn’t be tolerated. The board even put a ban on Brown Bear, Brown Bear because the beloved children’s book’s author, Bill Martin, wrote a book on communism. In fact Ethical Marxism was written by a different Bill Martin who is a professor at DePaul University. When the error was discovered, Brown Bear, Brown Bear was rectified and put back in the curriculum.
Of course Texas isn’t the only place where American champions are vanquishing well-grounded science and treasonous liberal thinking (Red Bear, Red Bear). You can take a look at any public figure who loudly proclaims their Christian faith, and see exactly how it affects their ideologies. Most recently, gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino was put on the national spotlight with his anti-gay remarks. Using a Christian family model for comparison, Paladino divulged, “(homosexuality) isn’t an equally valid or successful option.” His remarks came as a shock to many, but even more surprising was how apathetic his supporters were. Apparently many share Paladino’s anti-gay sentiments. “It’s just disgusting,” Paladino said of Gay Pride Parades. Although one could argue uncompromising ignorance and intolerance are equally valid and successful options. Note most Tea Party candidates’ platforms.
It’s hard to say just how much weight these issues should hold when compared to other big-ticket items like unemployment, healthcare, Afghanistan, Nuclear North Korea, among others. But when we see religious ideologies creeping into topics like global warming, education, and civil rights, it might be good form to question our nation’s decision making, and who we want to make those decisions. We do have the freedom of religion, but in the same vein we have a separation of church and state. Is orthodoxy another word for learning disability? You won’t find the answer in the thesaurus. But after consulting my divine council, I was told, “Ask again later,” followed by, “Signs point to yes.” The Magic 8 Ball will never lead astray.