More Jackson County Opinions...

JULY 14, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
July 14, 2004

Fed up with religion and politics?
If you think this is a pessimistic, negative, ugly, political, religious, mean-spirited diatribe, read on. It gets better at the end. In fact, it just may wind up an epistle with answers to all the nasty stuff that is about to overtake us.
First, a word of advice to all you cynics and skeptics out there. It is all right to be cynical and skeptical if you enjoy your cynicism and skepticism.
And I hope it’s all right to be satirical. Satirical: “fond of using satire.” Satire: “the use of sarcasm or irony to attack or ridicule a habit, idea, custom, etc., that is, or is considered to be, foolish, wrong, etc.”
Now that I have covered my backside, let us continue.
I used to think everything is spiritual or nothing is. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve about decided everything is political or nothing is.
It’s a war, folks. A veritable battle royal. Politics has infiltrated religion. Religion has infiltrated politics. Each has contaminated the other. It’s hard to tell which is which.
Worried about the separation of church and state? Forget it. As long as there’s no separation of religion and politics, there’ll never be separation of church and state.
Church politics and city, county, state and national politics: there’s not a whole lot of difference.
We’ve got church folks using politics to further their self-serving agendas in church, and we’ve got political folks using church to further their self-service agendas in politics.
We’ve got preachers acting like politicians, and politicians acting like preachers.
Pity the poor rank and file, ordinary, everyday members of churches and political parties. One day their deacon is a liberal Democrat; the next day he is a conservative Republican.
Trying to follow your leaders is chaos, sort of like a Chinese fire drill. It’s fruit basket turnover all over.
One church’s hierarchy chooses to go with candidate A, a long-haired, radical, leftist, hippie-type, tree-hugging, bed-wetting, liberal Democrat.
Another church’s ruling body picks candidate B, an old-line, hard-shell, rigid, uncompromising, die-hard, fundamental, conservative Republican.
Not everybody agrees. That’s one reason churches split. And it’s the cause of the great migration: members of congregations and citizens of cities, counties and states searching hither, thither and yon for. . . .
For what? A church that agrees with their idea of God and morality and makes them happy? A political party that agrees with their idea of government and ethics and promises them security?
They may be looking in all the wrong places.
We’ve got Methodists becoming Baptists because the Methodists are too liberal. We’ve got Baptists becoming Methodists because the Baptists are too conservative.
It’s not just the Methodists and Baptists. Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, independents, agnostics, atheists, heathens and infidels are confused, too.
We hear a lot about dysfunctional families. How about dysfunctional churches and political parties?
The tragedy is that a lot of people are fed up with both. They are fed up with church and drop out. They don’t go anymore. They are fed up with politics and drop out. They don’t vote anymore.
But the longing won’t go away. The search continues. For what? Where?
Consequently, denominational and non-denominational churches proliferate, and newspapers have to add another page to cover all the religious news.
Disgusted Democrats and Republicans, feeling they are disfranchised, look for new political parties. They check out the Libertarians, the Anarchists, the Greens, the Peaceniks, the Socialists, the Communists and anybody else who agrees with them and just knows, somehow, what’s best for the country.
The search continues.
Some become so disgusted and disillusioned that they contemplate leaving America. For what? Haiti? Russia? China? Iraq?
The answer may be closer to home than you think. The way may be easier than you ever imagined.
I told you in the beginning of this negative diatribe that it might be an epistle with a positive ending.
There are four things we all need to do to get rid of this nasty religious and political stuff that is about to overtake us.
One, go to church Sunday to worship God, not some politician or political party.
Two, vote Tuesday.
Three, thank God every day that you live in a country where you are free to do both, or neither.
Four, forget about moving to Haiti, Russia, China, or Iraq and do something constructive for your own family and community.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
July 14, 2004

Provisioning A Place Of Peace
Perhaps you recall the famous Oakland Fire that roared through the hills and canyons above Berkeley, CA, 15 years ago. My friends Frederick and Greta, who lived there in a hard-won and much-prized old home, assumed that their house would burn to the ground, but it didn’t. It stood alone at the end of that terrible inferno, the only house on the block that didn’t go down.
My friends Carol and Dick were not so fortunate. Well, they were fortunate to be alive, and they knew it. But they lost everything except the clothes they were wearing. It was kind of hard to take in. Once we were all past our sobbing relief at their survival, we started asking – inanely, I realize – “What do you need? What can we bring?” To which Dick replied, “Anything.”
And of course that’s how it is when you have nothing. They had managed to find a little partially furnished apartment, and Dick had gone out to buy underwear for both of them. I remember standing in my suddenly opulent-seeming flat and thinking about what it meant to have nothing. I remember taking earrings for Carol (who was a teacher), soap, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, books – once I had started, it was hard to stop. Dishes, towels, toothbrushes ... and on and on.
That’s how it is for the women who manage to escape from physically abusive relationships and arrive at Peace Place, our local shelter for battered women: they have made it out alive, but they typically have nothing – except, perhaps, their children, who also have nothing.
“I am in my thirties and so is my husband,” writes one woman in the book “Battered Wives.” “I have a high school diploma and am presently attending a local college ... My husband is a college graduate and a professional in his field. We are both attractive and, for the most part, respected and well-liked. We have four children and live in a middle-class home with all the comforts we could possibly want. I have everything – except life without fear.” She then goes on to describe the most appalling abuse, and her efforts to get help, to escape, to survive.
The dark wing of this evil has brushed my life twice. On the lovely, tree-lined street outside of Boston where I lived with my husband and children some 30 years ago, our Asian neighbor beat his Asian wife. I am ashamed to say that my husband and I wondered what to do. Should we interfere? Was this the way of their culture? Should we perhaps explain to him that Americans don’t do these things? (I was pretty innocent in those days.)
Years later, in San Francisco, I knew exactly what to do when my upstairs neighbor went after his pregnant wife. I called the police. But I did it with trembling hands, aware that I too might become an object of his wrath – an insight that helped me understand how hard it might be for his wife to escape.
Peace Place, supported by a bright wing and a lot of prayer, gives our local victims of domestic violence a place to go. But they need, well, everything. The Commerce Library is collecting things for them this month: shampoo, soap, books (including children’s books), and life’s many other necessities. You are invited to bring what you can, and we promise to see that it arrives at a very special place of peace.
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.


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