No Peace in the Pantheon
I needed to get to the bottom of this. Truth be told, I was freaking out! Most everyone in town knew I worked with Local 10:34, a Roman Catholic union named after the now-famous sword-text in St. Matthew's gospel. If fundamentalists were scary, then we were every child's nightmare!
We said some pretty crazy stuff, I guess. We were pretty bold, saying things like "outside the Church there is no salvation" and that the modern ecumenical movement is tantamount to institutionalized religious whoredom. Many fundies had backpedaled over the years, but not us. Benedict XVI apologized to his "Muslim brothers and sisters" after quoting Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos during his now-famous Regensburg lecture. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell both apologized for connecting the obvious dots between national immorality and national disaster. Billy Graham and Mel Gibson wept before the bright lights after being busted bad-mouthing Jewry and its Lobby. These fellas were diminished to bootlicker status. We weren't like them. We said what we meant, sure. But we went further and meant what we said. The audacity of conviction!
But yesterday's boon is today's bust, or so it appears. And if Dr. "Scary" Gary North was in hot water, then members of Local 10:34 were in hellfire!
A few days later I found myself talking to someone who appeared to be part of the opposition. I don't recall what it was that gave her away. Was it the fact that she had "COEXIST" detailed across the hood of her car? Maybe it was her "I Luv thePrayer Summit of Assisi" T-shirt. No, it was probably the "Got Questions? Ask me!" button. I guess it really doesn't matter. What did matter was that I spoke to someone in "the know" about this.
"These fascists are so intolerant," she said. "They are so full of hatred."
"Who are they?" I asked.
"Them!" she shouted. "All the fundamentalists. Not just Muslims."
Not just the Muslims? What??? This terrifying group of foaming-at-the-mouth "Islamofascists" who tear their beards out every time someone mentioned voting machines in their presence?
The entire conversation was quite confusing. It all appeared to be so hypocritical. We needed to hate hatred. We had to be intolerant of all intolerance. Freedom of religion for everyone but not for everyone. Freedom of speech protects blasphemy and porn, but "fundie talk" must be forbidden. Confusing to say the least.
But the Tolerance Tyrants are a pretty complex herd.
The more radical libertines advocated playing arm-chair eisegesis, finding in every religion and sacred text some super-secret hidden proof of hyper-inclusivism. Reading between the lines would result in discrediting the plain-as-day exegesis of yesteryear. These folks have mastered the arts of reading between the lines and the invisible writing on walls.
The "Agree with us or die" handbook from the First Church of Americanism is quite helpful for those exclusivists trying to understand the ecclesiastical structure for this unpleasant tribe of New Worlders. A woman at the gas station up the road from my home gave it to me along with a pack of American Gold cigarettes and handful of peanut gallery cashews. It appears that America's founding fathers are high priests who had magical insight into the way things ought to be. Thomas Jefferson, who penned "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," a gospel gutted of supernaturalism, is the chief guru. Jefferson is accompanied by George Washington, the Grand Master of the Freemason's Alexandria Lodge 22, whose own pastor at Christ's Church questioned the legitimacy of his confession after years of Washington's refusal to take part in communion services. The works of Mr. "The bloody Christian faith" Thomas Paine are prominent, with Common Sense and Rights of Man being treated like Chick tracts. Apologists for this "second Israel" see in the Bill of Rights what Paul VI saw in the United Nations: the last hope for mankind and for world peace. It's even ready-made with its own Magisterium, the Supreme Court of the United States. The devil couldn't have penned a better catechism!
A few hours ago, right before penning this, I noticed a number of city folk parking in front of the house. I wasn't exactly sure what it was all about, so I went to the door. Bad idea! Turns out that one of their more vocal apologists, a certain Jay Batman, wrote a piece entitled "The Problem of Violent Fundamentalism: Religious Freedom and Responsibilities Thereof." A harmless little blog, really... or at least it was until it got into the hands of radical inclusivists. Now they are chanting outside my home! Some even have signs reading, "Peer pressure him into submission!" They went so far as to hire a negotiator. "Mr. Bannister," he said, "fundamentalists can't hug their children with nuclear arms." I tried convincing him that I wasn't down with nukes and that I'm not a fan of the war hawks, but there was no convincing him. Mass hysteria set in strong, and it couldn't even wait until I was done with my evening walk.
I'm not sure how all of this will turn out. There is no saying, really. We are dealing with a strange breed; the type of person that will demand you hug your neighbor while aiming a gun at your head. There seems to be no exits, so I'm stuck having to fight my way out of this nonsense. I'll leave you, then, with my favorite line from my favorite propaganda film, Flight 93: "Let's roll..."