b. tomlin, untitled
Did I ever give myself a tough assignment. I watched to completion a documentary, With God On Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right. Made in 2004 for television. I supposed it would be something on the order of investigative reporting. I suspected irony in the title. Not. Turned out it was an almost 2 hour long infomercial making the case that W was God's chosen candidate, that we finally had a born-again evangelical believer in the White House. It started with Billy Graham and Ike, then Billy Graham and Nixon, until Nixon bit him with the Watergate scandal. The film gave a history of fundamentalist religion moving in on politics in America with purpose, to take over and rule the nation and the world by their belief system.
Almost immediately I saw this was an infomercial for fundamentalist thinking and regretted ordering the thing. However, I pay so little attention to that mind, having grown up in it, the very way of thinking that made me want to be an atheist, made atheism desirable, I had to flush my mind of it over a period of 15 years. My issue was with religion, not God or Jesus, though I didn't know that for a long time. Rejecting the falsehoods of religion I took to be equivalent with and approved by God, I threw the baby out with the bath water.
I took God to be the hoax created by the human mind to advance power of the few over the many. Turns out, it was religion I found muddied with the false, hypocrisy created by the human mind. God is still here/ there/ everywhere. The sayings of Jesus continue to resonate with one's truth center. I had found religious expression largely hypocritical at the core, unable to see through it to the other side that's been obscured by all the smoke-blowing going on in religion. Smoke gone from my head, I was suddenly able to see that Jesus really did have the real thing; it's just that religion smeared it over with hypocrisy.
This made-for-tv infomercial on the religious right under the names of Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell and all the other evangelists who didn't fall so well, therefore left out of the film, like Jim & Tammy Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart, who liked to sniff without scratching. There was a moment of Jim Bakker telling he'd had an inappropriate relationship with a woman other than his wife for 20 minutes. All they needed to do to tell Swaggart's story was show his face, which they did for maybe a second. I felt revulsion all the time Pat Robertson talked about the Lord with Geo W Bush, and the other religion bureaucrats (evangelists) talking like W was next to the 2nd Coming, if not the thing itself. Every time I heard Jerry Fallwell's revolting mind expressed in his jabberings about moral majority, I felt a turning in my guts, the kind of feeling that I can understand where stomach cancer comes from---years of revulsion. I've felt that revulsion all through the last 40 years of the political rise of American fundamentalism.
My one hope where the political fundamentalists are concerned is that they will ally themselves so deeply with the political party that is only interested in their money and numbers, they will become identified with the party and bring it down under the weight of their own falsehood. Then again, falsehood does very well in the political arena. That's getting awfully close to sounding like preaching. I apologize if it appears that way. Maybe it is. Hearing a Rush Limbaugh parrot last night squawking corny jokes about liberals made me want to say to him, "I'm as liberal as Amnesty International." Only problem, he might not get it, so I'd have to edit before saying it, "I'm as liberal as the ACLU." Now, them's fighting words. Most of all, I just wanted him to go on talking to somebody else, not me, so I kept out of it.
Perhaps five minutes into the documentary I recognized it an infomercial and made the decision to go on watching it, already knowing where it was headed. I don't pay any attention to the "religious right," because I saw where they were coming from before they were political. I've come to see what the propagandists call the Terrorist war is more aptly called the Fundamentalist war. It's American fundies vs Islamic fundies. The people of Islam are saying their fundamentalist terrorists are not acting on the teachings of Islam, but a perversion of Islam. It's the same with American fundamentalists playing politics. It was notable that Rummy and Cheney were left out of the story. Sanitized. Lots of clips of W raving about the Evil ones, but never showing the evil ones with him, the birds of a feather.
From time to time I like to see something that goes totally against my grain. Like I know and like a lot of people who go against my grain politically. In the post-Reagan divide-and-conquer times we've become intolerant of each other politically. In the old ways when people didn't talk about politics, it was because a man's politics was his own. I've known a lot of old-time hillbillies in agreement that I differ from them politically. It's no problem. I don't push my way of seeing politically in their faces and they don't do it to me either. We get along very well. Today, if you disagree with somebody politically, it's the same as being of another color. It's something I've observed in myself and others.