Just Above Sunset
October 3, 2004 - The Paris-Atlanta Dialogs













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In Just Above Sunset here (and in the web log here) you will find a discussion of the graphic that seems to show the first three hurricanes that hit Florida this year walloped the counties that voted for Bush in the 2000 election and miraculously spared those counties where folks voted for Al Gore.  The title of the item was A Curious Map Reveals God's Politics.  Could this be true?  Or is this one more urban legend, as they say?  Or just political humor based on coincidence and a clever presentation of selected data?

Whichever it was, my friends got to talking about it.

Joseph – our Hollywood expatriate who chucked it all and moved to France – sent this from somewhere near Paris -

 

Okay, it's a tragedy, a disaster, but far be it from me to resist a bit of schadenfreude...

The map is pretty amusing in the context of the many comments made by yahoos interviewed on CNN. I heard many people say that they weren't worried about the approaching hurricane because God would protect them, or afterwards that they escaped damage because God did protect them.

Did these people think that they were the object of God's protection because they were special, or at least more righteous than those that God would not or did not protect? If they had been hit hard, would they have concluded that they weren't as righteous as those who escaped damage - or that God was displeased with them? Can they not see the deeply un-Christian impulse that lies beneath?  "I'm the best! Jesus loves ME!"

If one is ready to credit God when one escapes damage, it seems that one should be prepared to pass a little blame his way if the Big Guy doesn't come through. But the protection hypothesis is sadly a one-way affair. Sadder still, critical thought will end with "whoops" and they will suffer the same fallacy the next time around. I guess you really can't prove a negative. Not to a true believer, anyway.

 

Phillip, master mason and ace jazz musician near Atlanta rose to the occasion…

 

Not from around here (the South) are you JT?

Since God is everywhere (he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake), and especially has great cable reception, there is no doubt He will catch the sound bite of trailer trash interviewed beside rubble. Struggling for stature, holiness is about all a rube can cling to - to set them apart from really, really low class dumb asses, you know, booger eating glue sniffers aspiring to be meth heads. But just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trailer parks when a storm is spawning a dozen tornados a night. They may actually feel clever buying a house for fifteen grand and a spot to plop it for a hundred a month, even though it is framed with 2x2’s with a micron thick membrane of sheet metal as cladding. A lack of structural insight, no doubt. Now let’s talk about the guys in Canada who go ice fishing in March and stutter with dee-yas and ehs. Why would anyone live somewhere with a six month winter? No point in even bringing up God. Surely He doesn't even listen to people who lack the brains to migrate to warmer climes. Come on Joe, have a heart. I mean where on this continent would Jesus live?

 

Then Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds something more to the dialog…

 

Ironically, as I read these words, I am hearing NPR in the background running a news story about the family of an Oregon national guardsman who was killed driving his Humvee over a homemade bomb in Iraq.

His mom was stoical about it, saying she trusted in God to take care of her son, and although she had thought God would bring her son back to her, she said she knows God's plans are not her plans, and she's okay with that. She is also comforted by the fact that her son was a devout Christian who was upset with all our naysaying back home about Iraq, because he understood this war to be a spiritual war, one being waged by a devoutly Christian president who understands spiritual matters.

So does this or does this not point to the crux of our problem, not only in Iraq but also in record budget deficits back home designed to shrink the size of government small enough for some right-wing fanatic to drown it in a bathtub? [That would be Grover Norquist quoted here. -AP]

Let me come at this from another angle: If God really speaks to George W. Bush, as George W. Bush claims God does, wouldn't you think God could have clued him in ahead of time about those WMD's?

PS: Phillip, re Canada and moving south: I don't care what you say about people with brains moving here, I will argue that nobody with real brains DID move here before God invented air conditioning!

 

Joseph the shot back from Paris…

 

I mean where on this continent would Jesus live? Jesus? I picture him in Sedona.  ;)

Christians use that quote [there are no atheists in foxholes] to imply that atheists are detached from reality and that a good dose of it would make believers out of them, but they are missing the point: fear and desperation are a formula for faith. That inclination to reach out for God when one is being shot at is the philosophical equivalent of the involuntary "pucker" instinct, and ought to pass just as quickly.

Just as one wouldn't go "puckered" for the rest of one's days, that you called for God in your moment of desperation doesn't mean he's there.

 

And Phillip, master mason and ace jazz musician near Atlanta, had to comment on the whole concept of this God person…

 

Where is the quote from, oh, what movie? - "When I talk to God I find that I am talking to myself..." - played by Peter Sellers. Oh, whatever... The point is religion is comfort, possibly when intellect just isn't enough. My intellect can't really handle this unnecessary war, and so I look to the sky and say - "God, what are they doing?"

Recently God manifested to me as Charles Bukowski sitting beside me in a bar. A cigarette was smoking in the ashtray between us. His hand was on the side of his face and his elbow pivoted on the bar. "Fuck if I know," he said, "and if I did know I wouldn't tell you."

And so I'm left to figure out the madness, or not, on my own by what I observe and piece together. And I think there is a skewed madness to saying it's okay my son got killed like this because of God and Dubya talking to God and it's in book of Revelations somewhere. An understandable madness because the mother so beside herself with grief. It was surely as close as her intellect could get to figuring it out.

Intellect could be used to end the problem. A conservative drummer [remember, Phillip is a professional musician] said the WMDs are in Syria and we should go get 'em. Well the Republican domino theory to the Middle East doesn't much appeal to me. I think we win in Iraq when we leave, but our leader wants to kick sand in faces.

And the only thing I can figure out to do is vote.

PS: Rick - And absolutely about the air conditioning. The heat and humidity will, in fact, make you dumber.

 

I have nothing to add to this exchange. I simply report it.

When I think about awful things happening in this world, to others, to me, or about good things, I shrug.  Most of it all, good and bad, can be attributed to people with power, lots of it or a little, who do important, pivotal things without much thought.  It - the surprising good or bad out of the blue - is what one comes to expect.  As for natural disasters?  Chaos theory works for me.  The bad times that result from such things just happen.  If there is a God directing the path of each hurricane for arcane punitive reasons, She probably has reasons only She knows, if She has any reasons at all.  It could be just sadistic fun.  But I doubt that.  Why bother with us?  It's more likely there are no punitive reasons and no sadism - She is just bored and messing around, and idly curious to see what happens.  You know, like a dim kid with an anthill and a stick and too much time on his or her hands.  She'll get bored and move on - and hurricane season will end.

As for the postscripts, I have lived both in the South – few years in Durham, North Carolina – and in Canada – a few years in London, Ontario.  Even as far north as Durham, the oppressive long, deadly hot humid days in the South, and the vacant locals with their menacing grins and slightly sinister good manners (every Southerner’s weapon), could drive one to madness, and one could find oneself alone, wandering deep in the shadowy loblolly pine forest thinking murderous thoughts about Yankees, if one wasn’t careful, or one didn’t have sufficient air-conditioning.  London was fine – full of kind, polite and rather quiet good people.  But the weather after early October was brutal, and who can explain the sport of curling, or the appeal of long hours of ice fishing?  Now here in Hollywood….

 

   ____

 

Footnote on Good Manners in the South:

 

The item above comments that good manners are every southerner’s weapon.

 

Rick, living in Atlanta now, but born out here:

 

Astute!  While calling someone "sir" is, down here, considered proof of good breeding, imagine the chilling effect of the state trooper outside your car window, wearing a faint but tight smile as he tells you what he "needs" you to do, and all the time addressing you as "sir".  (Sorry to cast a dark shadow on your homeland, Phillip.)

 

Phillip, also in Atlanta, and a native:

 

A southerner's weapon is good manners?  So many southerners have weapons, it pays to have good manners.  And the thought of sweeping ice, well it cheers me up.

 

Living here in Hollywood will no for me.  No good manners anywhere nearby.































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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