Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's Clearly Fundamental

We were in Los Angeles when the attacks happened.  And the first thing I thought was, "Who the hell hates NORWAY??"  I was sitting in the cafeteria at St. Vincent's Hospital and saw TERROR ATTACKS IN NORWAY!!  I was interested (wouldn't find out the specific horrendous details for quite some time because even though it was a big monumental event - I was sitting in a hospital because my kid has a brain tumor so everything's relative and Norway is Really Far Away).  But I was puzzled by it.  Who would attack Norway?  I just couldn't see a Big Operative Plan involving Norway.  I'm an American, after all.  So I consider other countries, especially physically small ones, to be rather unworthy of Big Attacks. 

So, who attacked Norway?  Was it a Muslim Extremist Group?  I mean, they used the word TERROR and everything. So it must be a Muslim Extremist Group.  It was a Norwegian Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist.  Now before you think I'm going to go all Liberalie Hippie Dippie on you (which I kind of am), let me just say I'm One Of You.  If you're a hypocrite, that is.  If you're not a hypocrite...good for you.  I'd prefer most people be Just Like Me, which is just one of the ways in which I'm a hypocrite.  Anyway - let me 'fess up.  While standing in the security line at LAX, Jules and I were looking around.  And over against the wall, a Very Angry Looking Middle-Eastern Sort of Individual, in Full Middle-Eastern Sort of Garb, was being held up, detained, whatever you want to call it.  He had been pulled to the side and they were calling for other Security Personnel, etc. and everyone was kind of glancing back at him repeatedly.  Now I felt all indignant and outraged for this fellow. That's racial profiling!! I thought.  And immediately following that thought was this one: Jesus Christ, I hope he doesn't get on my plane.  **He did...last guy on...having been detained and all...and we didn't blow up.

The Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist Terrorist Suspect (yes! I said it again! 'cause that's what he is!) looks like a movie star.  Seriously, have you seen his picture?  Why does he have an Actual Head Shot?  Do all Norwegians have Glamour Shots Photos of themselves if they're not teenage girls or members of the Actors Guild?  Is that a Norwegian thing?  I know so little of Norway.  As I said, I'm American and I'm not much concerned with places that are Not America. Anyway, the Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist Terrorist Suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is perfect for the part.  I mean, if you were going to cast a Bad Guy in a 007 Movie, and this guy's head shot turned up on your desk, you'd be like, "This is our bad guy! I don't even care if he can act!"  Seriously.  He is the Icy Cold Sharp-Shooting Norwegian Bad Guy.  Only, this wasn't a movie.  This was for real.  And my heart is breaking for that country, and especially for the families of the slain teenagers.  Because in the end, it all comes down to individual tragedies.  I got that as I sat in the cafeteria of St. Vincent's Hospital, looking at my own teenager, who was sound asleep with his head resting in his arms on the table, his hospital bracelet peeking out from under his cheek.

It is hard to understand why a crazy person does something.  It is nonsensical.  But whenever the words Extreme and Fundamentalist are in the equation, you have the potential for Extreme and Fundamental Nastiness.  Now then, I know that this attack was politically motivated, but part of his political problem is that his religion doesn't allow for the Muslim immigration that is going on in his country.  Or his view of his religion, anyway. I bet that every time I say Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist, all my Christian buddies are cringing.  I don't blame you one bit.  And you're (rightfully so) wanting to yell at me through the blog and say,  Hey! We're not all like that!  In fact, VERY FEW of us are like that!  He is EXTREME!!  He is crazy! He doesn't represent the rest of us and our peaceful beliefs and our good deeds!!

And you'd be right if you're wanting to yell that at me.  And most people are going to agree with you.  Even non-religious people, for the most part, are going to readily admit that terrorism isn't what Christianity is all about.  This guy is clearly a fringe-nutter who totally doesn't "get" Christianity. 

Now then, what if this guy weren't a good-looking blond with icy hard eyes?  What if he were Middle Eastern, and was identified as an Extreme Muslim Fundamentalist?  And what if the Muslim Community in...oh, I don't know....let's say New York....were to say, Hey! We're not all like that! In fact, VERY FEW of us are like that! He is EXTREME!! He is crazy! He doesn't represent the rest of us and our peaceful beliefs and our good deeds!!  He clearly doesn't "get" Islam.

Would most people readily agree and nod their heads, much as we're all doing in the case of this latest Christian Fundamentalist Terror Attack, or would we maybe boycott the building of new mosques within a certain distance of the attack? 

Now don't go all crazy on me.  I understand that we haven't had any Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christian Terrorist Attacks here in the US except for Timothy McVeigh, a self-proclaimed Christian who was convicted and executed for the Oklahoma City Bombings. Oh well, actually, after a brief google I've discovered that presumption is wrong.  The Southern Poverty Law Center lists over 90 attacks or planned attacks by Right Wing Extremists, and if you begin to individually google the perpetrators and accused perpetrators you quickly see a Christian trend developing.  Yet, nobody is afraid of Christians.  Even though the KKK wasn't out burning Stars of David and McVeigh wasn't carrying a copy of the Koran. Nobody is boycotting the building of new churches.  Including me. 

Because that would be wrong. 

But it wouldn't be wrong because this is a Christian nation.  It would be wrong because this is a democratic nation. Now then, I hear some of you starting up about this being a Christian nation founded on Christian principles and let me just say this: If this IS a Christian nation, what are we to do with all the non-Christians currently living, voting, serving in office, and serving in the military?  Where are we going to bury this guy?

What are we to do with these people?  Just let them continue living, voting, serving in office, and serving in the military out of Christian Charity??  Or should we do as some Christians wish?  Ever heard of DominionismJust sayin'. 

And seriously.  If we got rid of the non-Christians, wouldn't you guys miss the hell out of me?  And Steven Spielberg?  And the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Because founding guitarist Hillel Slovak was also known affectionately as the Israeli Cowboy. Don't you love it how I can slip RHCP factoids in on basically Any Discussion? And don't you just want to say to the Dominionists....Come on, people.  THINK.  Your cardiologist is probably Jewish. As was/is JESUS HIMSELF.   

While we're speaking of Religious Extremism and Fundamentalism and its Propensity to Lead to Violence Within and Among the Three Monotheistic Faiths ('cause that is what we're speaking of), can I just say that the Big 3 seem to be the most troublesome?  The 3 Monotheistic Faiths seem to be the ones In The News.  When is the last time Pagans attacked anybody?

I think it is that whole One God Idea that is the problem.  It seems great in theory.  But if there's Just The One, (I love this title for God, by the way.  I picture a Jewish God...much like that picture I have of my great-grandfather rabbi in Russia...long-bearded and God-like...and he's waving his hand and smiling modestly and saying...I'm Just The One...) Anyway, He's Just The One and He's got to divide His attention among this case, among the Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and if you're a warm and fuzzy religious person you're even thinking he is paying attention to The Others, as well, like little old Sardine Mama over here.  And I can totally relate to His predicament.  I most surely can.  Because even Sardine Mama is overwhelmed by her children and accused of playing favorites from time to time.  But so far, no Actual Explosions have resulted.  You get my drift, though, don't you?

It seems we have a fundamental (scary word) problem.  And it is simply this:  We can't all be right.  And if we are all right (like the feel-good tree-hugging type of hippie Christians say we are) - then what does being right even mean? It means that we can all choose our own Truth and believe in it, and at the same time, acknowledge everyone else's right to their own Truth.  But that idea, while very lovely and sweet and warm and fuzzy - doesn't really make much sense.  Believing in All Truths pretty much negates Any Truth.  Which is why most religious people reject that idea and stick with the I'm Right and You're Wrong idea.  And then?  A very small percentage of them....a minuscule percentage, actually....begin stockpiling explosives and weapons. 

It's a problem.  And I certainly don't know the solution.  But might I ask that while you pray for the victims of Norway and their families, that you also consider...just for a moment...the fact that some of the folks praying with you are Crazier Than Hell?

Be Aware.  They tend to look perfectly normal. 

I promise not to blog about religion for awhile.  I realize it can be considered rude in some circles.  And blogging, the word itself, sounds rather rude, doesn't it?  Like something you should say Excuse me after.  So if you combine blogging with a religious discussion, it could be misconstrued as doubly rude. And I'm just a Southern Girl, after all.  Sipping on a Mint Julip and gently fanning myself in this Effing Triple Digit Heat that is part of a Natural Warming Trend and not Anything To Be Alarmed About.

And now I'd like to end with this.  Because another tragedy occurred over the weekend - having nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the demon of addiction. God, how I'll miss Amy Winehouse. This isn't my favorite Winehouse song - but I love the video because it shows many sides of Amy.


  1. Um...actually I am afraid of the Christians. Just sayin'.

  2. beautifully written. I shared this with some of my family and friends.

  3. Okay..I'll bite..being of the tree-hugging, hippie Christian type. Why do all truths work? Because in my Christian view I read that God (Allah, YHWY..) sent his only begotten Son (or prophet as the case may be) for all the WORLD. Not for all the Christians. Not for all the Jews. Not for all the Muslims. Not for all the pagans. You get the picture. For All. The. World. Because what causes divisions/violence/ is fear and atmosphere. Fear leads to defensiveness, which leads to an atmosphere of persecution..which leads to violence, etc. Doesn't matter if this atmosphere is real or imagined. It's the cycle of violence in our world. Just sayin'. Thanks for the post. Love reading your thoughts.

  4. Thanks for biting, Cheesy. I do love me some hippie tree-hugging Christians because they are very nice to me :). I know where you're coming from because I was in the same place once. But then the place ceased to make sense to me and I've moved to a new place...not quite sure where I am but it isn't Kansas anymore - that's for sure. So much of what you said doesn't make sense to me at all - like, why would God send his son to save the world instead of just saving the world himself? And if I don't acknowledge this act, then how did it save me? And what did it save me from? And if I do acknowledge this act, then again, how did it save me? And save me from what? And what about the whole part about spreading The Good News? I still don't see how the Good News relates to me. I was never under the impression I needed saving or that I was going to burn in hell. Because on most days, I'm a pretty decent sort. Of my own accord. I don't believe in hell. I'm sure you have answers to these questions and I'm also sure they won't make any sense to me and I'm not trying to be contrary, believe me. Nobody has tried harder to make sense of this and just join the club...but it never made sense and then the club didn't really want me unless I was willing to pretend it made sense. I'm sure it makes perfect sense to you, and that's all that matters, really. That - and how you live your life (my personal religion if you want to call it that). And in that regard Cheesy is hereby announced SAFE! 'Cause she is a Good Chick. The rest of it simply doesn't matter to me.

  5. Oh, and if anyone would care to take on the task of explaining to me how I'm saved, please do so via e-mail. And if anyone would care to take on the task of explaining to me how I'm eternally damned, please do so via e-mail. Good luck. Some of the best have tried and failed.

  6. I, too, was struck by what a nice looking blond haired blue eyed guy he looked like. Shouldn't evil people look evil?

  7. JS - I totally felt guilty for thinking, "Well, there's a nice-looking young guy!" when I saw his pic. But you gotta admit he's evil-looking in that cool, crisp, evil way...

  8. To make a long story short, I couldn't agree with you more.

  9. Hey, I wasn't ignoring you. But you shouldn't be blogging while I'm at the beach working on my tan. That's right, I spent the past week at my parent's camp ground with the Confederate Flag flying all around me. Good times! I know, you're jealous.
    Anyway, "ditto" on everything you said. I mean, how can I disagree with you? Although, yeah, RHCP in every post? Okay, I like their sock outfit that one time but that was pretty much it for me.
    Poor Amy. What a mess. Really didn't listen to her but I liked to stare at her and admire her coolness. At 27? So sad.
    Your Friend, m.

  10. Mostly, religious fear/profiling/et al is perpetuated by not knowing, a.k.a. ignorance, about the religion itself and its’ beliefs. Like (most) Americans after 9-11, I harbored a secret fear & loathing of Muslim, Middle Eastern looking people. While I knew FUNDAMENTALLY that this was probably wrong I couldn’t help it, thinking to myself, “They are all American-hating crazies who want to kill us and/or blow us up”. I couldn’t see past the stereotype that the media had put out for me to grasp. After my daughter & I visited a mosque in Houston and met one-on-one with the Imam, I feel much differently now. He showed us his beautiful building and gave a short overview of the centuries old rituals that took place there. People came and went for prayers (peacefully, I might add) during our visit. Not one person pulled out a gun or grenade or threatened to kill us despite our stereotypical, generally American, Caucasian looking appearances. This kind, soft-spoken Imam encouraged us to ask him ‘anything we wanted’ about his religion. We were both extremely candid and blunt & asked him some pointed and sensitive questions along the lines of: ‘what’s the deal with suicide bombers?’ and, by the way, ‘why do the followers of the Muslim religion hate Americans?’, just to name a few. Basically, just laid it all out there and took advantage of this rare opportunity to find out FROM THE SOURCE what we wanted to clear in our minds about all the hoopla surrounding the Muslims. We left there enlightened and with a much better understanding of this sometimes mysterious religion. This fact finding mission could basically carry over to any subject we aren’t particularly knowledgeable about. Religion is such a personal and often misunderstood issue that taking the time to find out a little more about the ones ‘we are supposed to be afraid of’ is one way to cut thru some of the hype & BS with a smidgen of knowledge about what we are fearful of. While I can’t say that I’m completely cured of my inner feelings….I do find myself being able to separate the propaganda from my fears and see others in a more Universal way than before. I realize I’m rambling on about my own personal experience in this one example. This post wasn’t intended to try to rationalize religion or make one better or worse than any other. Mainly….KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. And that’s all I’m gonna say ‘bout that <3

  11. Mark - I am jealous. We haven't even been to the confederate flag trailer park this year!

    Dee - thanks for sharing your experience and thanks for being the kind of person who actually freaking went to an actual real freaking mosque and talked to an actual real freaking Imam (sp?). For a non-religious person, I really do love to learn about the world's religions. Also? I'm easily influenced - which is how I became Catholic. Met a Catholic priest I LOVED (and who I'm still good friends with) and that was it!! I was all for Catholicism. Of course, later I met a priest who denied the Holocaust ever happened - so that's when I realized that people are people...unfortunately. Anyway, we participated a few years ago in a celebration of Gandhi's Satiagraha and I'm SO CERTAIN that is spelled wrong....but it was very ecumenical and there was a Black Baptist Minister who spoke with a voice like thunder and music all rolled into one and I was SO ON BOARD and ready to be Baptist, then the Iman (sp?) spoke and he was delightful and awesome and made me cry and I was ready to be Muslim, and then the rabbi talked - ditto - back on the Jewish train...I visited with a Quaker at the reception and she made a lot of sense and so get the picture. But for every one of those folks I listened to and connected with - they have a counterpart in the same religion preaching the opposite.

  12. Oh, and Mark - you did an awful lot of reading in one day!!

  13. I've been thinking on this post for days. I didn't even KNOW what had happened in Norway until I read your post. How did I miss it???????

    So the moment I read these words, I went and found out what happened. It made me sad, sad, sad. I've been carrying the sad now for days, while at the same time living, laughing with my kids, talking, living, planning, eating, living, patting dogs, etc, living (LIVING! Getting to be ALIVE!) etc. And then I come back to This and I think: I feel Lost.

    Because a human did this. To CHILDREN. And many humans will use it as an excuse to sit on their sides of the fences and judge. And more fences will rise, will rise. As will hate. And hurt.

    All I can do, I suppose, is hope. And "be the change I want to see in the world" (thank you, Ghandi) And take my children, to mosques, and temples, and churches, and the Land (which pulses), and help them be Open. Be two without fences.

  14. I'm hopelessly behind on reading your posts, once again!

    I completely agree with your main point here. Complete certainty breeds terrorism.

    I also think that we are, in some ways, all "right" -- those of us who are trying our best to do the right things; it's just hard to see this within a human framework. It requires a much larger perspective, which is difficult to achieve.

    I try to always remember that others may, in fact, be more right than I am, even when I disagree with them. Or at least, maybe they have a point and a reason for their views, which I can't always see!