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The Long Lost Vestments of American Reason


Totally Awesome Picture of the Week 68


In the dark corner of a far away forlorn church stand these three forgotten souls. Bruised, dirty, chipped and abandoned they doze like wallflowers in the shadows as patrons play hooky for every reason but lack of sin.

In their bright vestments creased with dust the saints and saviors of yesteryear dream of the good’ol days when esteem was high and church donations flowed like golden glacier runoffs in the eternal spring of global warming.

Now, though. Now there are ten such derelict churches in a 50 kilometer radius. Ten churches to share one imported minister of faith. A foreigner preaching right and wrong to a small audience every tenth Sunday. Some may say:

“What a glorious mockery of organized religion! How I yearn to be a member of this society!”

But no, not here. Not in the land of my recent ancestors. The land where in theory freedom rings from every mountain top and mysterious inalienable rights exist for all. A land where even corporations are considered people. How wonderful in theory! But truthfully, how likely is it that in a culture so diverse as to house both same-sex marriage and religious fundamentalism that everyone will hear the same tones in that ringing bell?

Here in America 78.5% of people grasp that opportunity to be FREE!, to separate Church and State, with both hands and carefully, skillfully origami it into Christianity. It’s almost as though we have no choice.

Take for example that mangled love child of faith and freedom: the Superbowl. Though worshipping sports fits nicely into the religious category of Christianity the fact is that more than half the 40% of Americans who watched the Big Game yesterday watched it mainly for the ads. Remember, corporations are people too. How neighborly to support them so valiantly! Maybe we should let the corporations decide for us which freedom bell tone to acknowledge. Their advocacy is bound to be objective. But how to interpret their signals? An anti abortion ad and the rejection of a gay dating site ad? Is this some sort of code? I’m just an average Joe America. Can you make it plainer? Touch down pro-teen-pregnancy?

Adding to the confusion are glimpses caught amid the scattered light shed by the scary-because-these-people-may-actually-be-serious Tea Party “movement” (direct association with religion here: “We must obey God rather than men!“) Glimpses of a grander scheme of blanket ignorance. A large crack in their pot reveals the message clearly. With 79% Christianity America is left with only 21% other and agonistic or atheist. What to do with these lost souls who chose to choose? A few dirty sticks mussing up the teabag of true freedom. Was it always this way?

I think it was Bob Dylan who said:
“…the history books tell it, they tell it so well,
the cavalries charged, the indians fell
The cavalries chugged, the Indians died
Oh the country was young, with God on its side.”

And more recently and elequently Ice Cube:
“If you a scared mother f*$#er go to church.”

Back to these statues collecting dust. Watching passively from afar. Perhaps they’d be better fit in America. Their country used to be just like ours. But it changed and these sad creatures missed the boat. If you look closely you can just see a glare of light coming off a pair of knuckles locked in begging prayer. He kneels behind these icons pleading like a little brother who just doesn’t understand. Can you read his dusty jersey? New Orleans Saints? No. Close, though; this young forgotten soul wears the Long Lost Vestments of American Reason.

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