Here I sit in my old rocking chair watching the ACLU, tricked out with regulation hard hat and pickax, still doggedly whacking away to separate yet another etched-in-granite Ten Commandments from yet another wall of yet another small town colonnaded court house, in its self-assigned struggle to separate church from state. I shake my head sadly. The struggle is over, my dear ACLU, and all the secularism which you represent in this parable, and you lost. Church and state are now joined together like – who would have guessed it! -- man with man and woman with woman, and the twain shall not be put asunder, at penalty of some new law or executive order. Obliviously, the ACLU fights on, like Hiroo Onoda fighting WWII in the jungles of the Philippines for 20 years after Japan capitulated.
Chiseling away at those Commandments as if they were still engraved into granite chained and welded to the marble wall, the ACLU hasn’t noticed that the old icon is now just a blanched husk with no insides, liquefied and sucked out by wasp larva, or dissolved by evil chthonic vapors seeping up from the earth, or by a toxic zeitgeist blowing in from the four corners of the earth because the constraining angels have unleashed it, a prophesied sign of the end, if one has eyes to see with. Even so, it happened stealthily, just beneath the radar screen, while the ACLU was otherwise preoccupied. Don’t feel bad, nobody else was wise to exactly what was happening either.
But that’s understandable, for it was an exquisitely complex if covert process, like the evolution of paramecium in the swamp, only quicker, within my lifetime. Like Evolution, it happened through multiple bad mutations that seem to have targeted religion, philosophy, and politics. Postmodernism, deconstructionism, and whimsy smeared with scatology all grew legs and waddled out of the swamp.
Mediating enzymes in the process were befouled humanism, hermeneutics, and compassion; theology, theodicy, theosophy, and theurgy; meditation, yogi, ahimsa, dharma, creativity and spirituality; regulation, law, executive order; art, film, and dance, debates and dialectics; charisma and cannabis. Decisive were the downgrading of the Bible as bad science, bad history, bad morals, outmoded allegory at best, and the casting down of Jesus Christ from being the Son of God and Creator and Redeemer of the world to a pop game-changer, like Plato, Buddha, or Donald Trump.
To the greatest whoopla that pop culture and technology can devise, but with commensurate misunderstanding of, I’d have to say stupidity towards, the reality of what was happening, it happened. From sea to shining sea, from Boston purring with sensitivity to Hollywood flowing with special effects blood, to the robed-up Supreme Court, to the “Change you can believe in” Oval Office. On PowerPoint screens and teleprompters, at seminars and seminaries, forums and festivals; among the pews and pulpits and lecterns; in the academy and cloister, pop culture and haute culture, textbooks and blogs, online and outhouse, rap, rock, hip-hop, and Christian concerts; at Oscar awards and small talk.
And thus there was a loud coming out of the closet and a big fat wedding, man to man and woman to woman and church to state. They are not just living together, like hippies. They’re married, with the secularized religion as maid of honor and simple secularism as best man and flower boy, no other medium of solemnization being required, or even thought of. Not made in heaven, it may not be a happy marriage, but that’s the American way, and there were lots of dancing and loud music and raised glasses at the wedding, and the cake, adorned with roses and gardenias, ascended into the heavens like the tower of Babel. All rise, or salute, or kneel, pop corks and throw old shoes.
Through it all Marxism, at first just a junior varsity player, to use a famous phrase, burgeoned like a Biblical beast or a Darwinian T. Rex, king of the swamp, the planet. Atheists were apotheosized, and Jesus Christ rendered extinct (and revered all the more for it). Mountains were moved and the Sermon on it.
Thus the three species, religion, philosophy, and politics, once serviceably if not magnificently independent, were rendered not more separated as good Darwinism is expected to accomplish, but less, coalescing rather than proliferating, just a single batch of pure clones.
As collateral damage the process mutated our values, moralities, holidays, the media TV and social, our galas and awards, and all criteria for professorial tenure, and elevated the movies and novels to the new only true expression of the human soul and the guide for Presidents. And, for good measure, after turning the Constitution into a palimpsest overwritten with academic graffiti, shredded it -- only parchment anyway, not granite. Chuckling all the way, this new creature has spun logic on its ear and gender on its implants, deposed CEOs, and sent senators into circus flip-flops.
Offended and affronted like a foolish virgin in the parable because it missed out on the big fat church-state wedding, the ACLU, in a huff, throws its hard hat on the ground and sulks in a corner and demands to know just how all this spin and whoopla joins church and state.
Ridden with lawyers, the ACLU doesn’t know? Spun candy and whoopla is the new pop sacrament that solemnizes sexual unions or sexual transings, or transubstantiates anything, nowadays. The ACLU frowns -- and when the ACLU frowns it's fearsome -- and fumes that that's not the American Way. No, not the founding American Way, but that's outdated. A fast run around right end, and cute fibs Good ole Fred Astaire flipped off in ever movie he ever made, or POTUS seems prone to, that's become the new and cool American way.
Seriously, though, what is the State today if not pure pop politics, now that the tattered Constitution has been displaced from its thermostatically controlled hermetically sealed hardened glass display by marijuana manifestos and protest signs, and the Capital dome enshrouded by scaffolding? What is the Church if not pope and emergent theologian and poll-driven politician marching arm in arm for freedom from global warming, poverty, abuse, and victimhood; for deconstruction of the scripture and commandments; for global justice, social or civil or economic or gender or racial, and more? With my eyes closed, even with fresh batteries in my hearing aids, I can’t tell whether I’m hearing POTUS or Pope Francis, Pastor-doctor Walter Brueggemann or Professor-Dr. Richard Dawkins, Darwin or Derrida. Priests may still have full-ring collars while politicians unbutton theirs, but that seems the only difference. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered the heart of man what things will be revered and reviled, aborted or exalted, next.
The bigger and fatter the government gets, the more it overlaps and absorbs everything, not excluding, perhaps especially, the church’s ordained and patented beneficence, its message, and beatitudes, its vocabulary, it’s limbo, perdition, and indulgences, even it’s mission of redemption, plus a good slice of its rituals, right under the eyes of the ACLU and all allied secularism.
At the end of the day -- what a glorious sunset! -- there has been no official, formal, archivable declaration of recension of the original duly whoopeed proclamation of church-state separation in the Bill of Rights, many strange eons ago. The President, so profligate with executive orders, hasn't even bothered to issue one. Yet, the marriage has occurred, by default and by evolution, they eloped, but all the more irrevocable, and worth a big fat wedding at least as big and fat, and apt, as the one celebrated in the movie ("Big Fat Greek Wedding"). Pop the cork!
At this, ACLU perks, grins, picks up its pickax, and, resettling upon its head its hard hat newly adorned with daisies and glitter, says, “Ah! So that’s why those tables of stone came off the wall so easy – they were Styrofoam attached by Velcro!”
The Big Fat Church-State Wedding
Self-evidently a parable
updated Thursday, November 26, 2015
You are at IesSAYTHERE.com, a cache (not a blog) of mostly essays.
Start clicking here