Yesterday Arkansas put up a ten commandments monument outside the state capitol building. Last night a man drove up to it and knocked it over. According to reports he also did this to a ten commandments monument in Oklahoma a few years ago. Apparently he suffers from some mental issues. But he also, it was reported, had posted before about being upset by these monuments. Not because he isn't religious but because he is.
And I feel that.
Driving home from the gym I pass a church. They had been setting up a tent earlier this week and I assumed it was for their VBS program. They have one every year and they set up the tent for it every year. Today I realized I was wrong. It's a fireworks display. So the fence of the church is lined with flags and the giant fireworks tent is set up and it's just brimming with patriotism. God Bless America...
And I could feel my face doing that thing my face does when I find something distasteful. And I wasn't sure what was bugging me for a little bit. I mean, I'm not a fan of fireworks. They are loud, they are annoying, I grew up in an area prone to fires so they always indicate fire danger for me, people start setting them off as soon as they go on sale and don't stop until they run out. There are people who think marking midnight of the 4th is a good idea who the fuck cares how many people are trying to sleep. It freaks out the dogs and it freaks out the vets. Go to a big display. We have a ton of them. You don't need to set off your own. And you especially don't need to set off the ones that are illegal here. But I know that's just me. Most people don't feel that way about them and I just deal with it every year. It annoys me but it doesn't usually make me mad.
So what was it?
And a voice in my head replied, it's a church. Ah...yeah, that's it.
And here is where I found myself nodding along a few hours later reading about the crazy guy knocking over the monument not because he wasn't religious but because he was.
In the church I was raised in you were not supposed to be political. God isn't a Republican. Not a Democrat either, by the way. He's God. He's above all of that nonsense. And you are supposed to be as well at least as far as mixing the two is concerned. Be in the world but not of it. Politicians and politics are small potatoes when you worship a king sort of thing. And even though I am not religious anymore there is the part of me that was raised that way that really hates when churches go political. Not because they can't but because they aren't supposed to.
And yes, I know that selling fireworks isn't really being political. It was more the row of flags surrounding the church that I found distasteful. American flags. Like God had chosen a favorite country. And that's part of what bugs me. That religious smugness that permeates so much of our politics. That invoking of a higher power who favors us. USA us. Like we are some sort of chosen people. Which, by the way, that's already taken and we already give enough money and clout to them that you would think we would understand that.
But it goes against what my religious teachings were and as much as I've rejected them growing up and leaving the church there is still a part of me that makes that face when I see a church wrap itself in the flag or a politician hide behind a bible. I find it distasteful. And usually dishonest. I mean look at Trump and his new found religion. Or Gingrich and his firmly held religious beliefs that he changes with each new wife. They are phonies and frauds and better hope that I'm right about the lack of a higher power because if the God they are pretending to believe in actually exists I have to think he won't look too kindly on hypocrites who use his name to advance their careers.
Which then reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother last year during our very contentious presidential elections. After debating the current candidates she suggested that I should run for office and that she would vote for me. (which I think was sweet of her to say, but my mother votes straight R tickets so we both know that wouldn't be likely) But anyway...I told her I could never get elected because I'm not religious. I would not end each speech with God Bless these United States.
And she replied...
You wouldn't be the first to say it that didn't believe it.
Yeah, but I wouldn't be able to keep my face from doing that my face thing...