The holidays are approaching, but events are making it hard to get in the festive spirit. Not only is a friend spamming me with polls showing that Obama is finished (I answer by agreeing that he’ll never win a second term); not only is Speaker John Boehner providing meeting space to a group that promotes anti-gay persecution overseas; and not only is global warming suspected of causing murderous superstorms. What kills me is that Alec Baldwin keeps hurling homophobic threats at the paparazzi.
It will not do, my dear lackey to the coming socialist hegemony, to say, “But Alec is pro-gay, so he gets to talk trash,” or, “How would you fancy being followed by frightening photographers?” The problem is not just that Baldwin thinks he can embrace liberal causes and then talk as if cocksucking were a bad thing. It is that he seems to be pro-gay only so long as he gets to be the top. How sporting is that?
Another big downer is the resurgence of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists using the 50th anniversary to tout their pet theories. I simply put on my pink pillbox hat and ignore them. There’s plenty else to look at. For example, conservative columnist Cal Thomas notes that author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis died on the same day as JFK 50 years ago.
Thomas approvingly quotes Lewis declaring that one cannot embrace Jesus as a moral teacher while denying his divinity. Lewis wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.”
I rise from my poached eggs in protest: I must do no such thing. To paraphrase an old joke, the fact that Jesus thought his mother was a virgin and she thought he was God only proves that he was Jewish.
With apologies to fans of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I couldn’t get past the talking lion and the wicked queen. (I did make it through Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials despite the talking polar bears, but in those books the big evil organization is the Magisterium.)
Don’t get me wrong. I am a great admirer of Pope Francis, who was recently scolded by famous Catholic Pat Buchanan for surrendering in the culture war. A friend brought me back a pope keychain from Rome, so when the War on Christmas gets me down I can take it out and be comforted by the Holy Father’s gentle face reassuring me, “Who am I to judge a cocksucking fag?” (Sorry, I get my celebrities confused.)
The trick is to banish unpleasantries. The world may be out of joint, but the servicemembers at Bagram Airfield will get their Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings. There is no disputing in matters of taste. So do not argue with your right-wing brother-in-law, just pass the Viognier.
Similarly, the gospel according to the Christian right may seem boorish and lacking in charity, but it suits them. Theirs is a world without science, without porn or birth control, where canceling crappy health insurance plans is an outrage, but denying coverage altogether to tens of millions is fine. American exceptionalism means accepting God’s gift of other people’s sacrifices.
Just as we make excuses for those in our circle of warmth, we rationalize our disregard for the wretches outside. If they merited our concern, they would have been born privileged like us. Didn’t Jesus say the poor will always be with us? Drown your guilt in eggnog.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.