Thursday, May 8, 2008

Keeping the Religious Right Right

Dear George,

Your handling of moral wedge issues is like the mixing of a dry martini by a master bartender. It clouds the mind and impairs the vision. But like gin and vermouth, such issues must be handled with care. Both martinis and moral issues are carriers of a time bomb that could blow up in your face if mishandled.

The purpose of a moral wedge issue, be it gay marriage or abortion, is to enflame the pious. And that is where the danger lies. Piety comes in two contradictory forms. The piety with which you energize the religious right is a self-centered piety that is obsessed with protecting the soul by constructing a sanitary bubble around it. This type wants the air purified, the water filtered, the milk pasteurized and the poor bathed. The fecundity and chaos of life endangers their sterility, and when this sterility is threatened by life, they turn on it with all the savagery of an antibody attacking an antigen.

But, beware of the man whose piety takes him into the favela, who dirties his fingernails by plunging his hands into the pulsating mass of the unwashed and the unlettered. For it is he who would pop the sanitary bubble of the moral majority and let life pour in.

Instead, let him shower and clean his fingernails; let him speak in a church basement as he collects pennies in his alms box. Never allow pious respectability to get any closer to suffering than a slideshow. Let the respectable believe that by dropping their pennies in the alms box they are easing the suffering of the world, even though the very structure that created this suffering remains unchanged.

Should pious respectability ever have a direct experience with life’s flawed and tragic condition, the results would be disastrous. Those opposed to gay marriage because of its threat to family values would realize that supporting family values includes demanding that every child in America be well fed and have access to medical insurance. Those opposed to abortion would realize that their dedication to the sanctity of life applies across the board and this requires them to become peace activists and to fight tooth and nail against your doctrine of preemptive war.

This cannot be allowed to happen! Let their pastors continue to hold angry news conferences calling for God’s wrath to descend on gays and abortionists. Rage is what keeps the religious right on message.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

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