One of my friends recently said he wasn’t interested in following this blog because, “I’m way done with God.” I’d like to be, but I can’t, not least of all because God’s my main character, Lester, the bungling ex-god of Earth who was banished to live among us in human form. While I’m just about certain a physical entity called “God,” does not exist, the concept of God and the religions it spawns permeate all human endeavors and institutions. We can’t ignore God whether He exists or not. When I write about, think about, OK, obsess over, God, it’s not primarily about God. He’s a symbol, an abstraction, a highly complex and emotionally charged mental construction that is universally relevant to believers and non-believers alike. The fly in the ointment is that the abstraction is reified into a concrete entity by the majority of people. Organized religion plays on this to control their thinking and dictate their politics. Religion, paradoxical in all ways, has equal ability to open the mind to deep philosophical insights or to snap a lid on it so tight that no facts are able to permeate. In any case, there’s no escaping the ubiquitous influence of religion. As Lester says, the human mind is gaited to experience a transcendent state based in spirituality arising from our wonder at the mysteries of the universe and our quest to invest life with some kind of absolute meaning. In its best form, spirituality is an abstract concept. Sadly, abstract thinking is all too lacking in a large number of people. Concrete thinkers cannot wrap their minds around complexity nor abide ambiguity. They demand simple and absolute answers to every mystery. That’s why they invent gods and make up stories to explain things that science, at least so far, cannot, or that science has already explained but they can’t grasp. This brings us to the real subject of this blog: politics and the evangelical Christians.
You may remember my chapter, “The Jury is Out” in “The Brief Long-term Therapy of A. Lester Lord.” It featured a character named “Percy.” The guy who inspired Percy was one of my closest high school friends despite the fact he was a born-again and kept trying to save me from the flames of eternal damnation. I enjoyed spending time with Percy and took this annoying little quirk in good humor. I understood his attempts to save me were well intended, required of him by the the tenets of his faith. We lost contact once we graduated high school, but when the book was published, I hunted him down and gave him the Good News. Now he would truly achieve immortality— in the pages of my novel and the hearts of its countless (😂) readers. Percy loved the chapter. Then, against my admonition to skip the rest, he proceeded to purchase the entire trilogy and, like a modern day Adam, ate from the Tree of Knowledge. But instead of him, it was I who got punished. After receiving a flurry of attacks on my flawed biblical scholarship, which, as a satirist, I made no claims to, I was treated to a number of articles and videos taken from extreme religious and right wing political sources that are the red meat of the red hatted.
When we were kids, I considered his religious ardor amusing but harmless, but when we reconnected as adults, I was mortified, but not surprised, to learn he had, along with most of his ilk, helped foist Trump on the nation. I, and I assume most of my readers, believe no rational person could be but horrified by the havoc the republicans and Trump have unleashed. Alarmingly, incredibly, a huge number of republican voters (and white evangelicals make up a huge segment of them,) approve of it all. If the evangelicals were to abandon Trump, he’d be toast. Some are coming to their senses, but most of them hang on to him like a hand in rigor mortis. Why should it surprise us, though, that those who blindly follow and throw their hard earned dollars at flimflam artists calling themselves men of God, who believe dinosaurs roamed the earth with the first humans, who literally believe every word in the allegories called Genesis, Revelations and the Gospels, also follow, equally blindly, the Flimflam-Artist-in-Chief? At least some of them must realize he’s a miserable excuse for a human being, but rationalize supporting him as necessary for promoting their single minded effort to advance their political agenda. As an example of how gullible these folks can be, Percy told me he actually believes in the physical existence of Satan ( I kid you not.) Lest you laugh too hard, remember that Lester told us that the evangelicals are the unwitting allies of Luce in his endeavors to cause the human race to extinguish itself.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Percy. He’s a very decent guy. Just about all the evangelicals I’ve met are nice people. But their main flaw, a rigid, irrational devotion to a myth that borders on delusion and impairs their judgement in matters of extreme importance to us all, has become a dire danger to the nation and the world. Only people who have so perfected the ability to suspend the rational part of their brains could be blind to the fact that America, largely owing to their misguided support of a sociopathic moron, is on the brink of self-destruction.
Ever the optimist, though, and knowing Percy is plenty intelligent, having graduated from a good university and risen to high rank in the military, I offered him a gift subscription to the Washington Post whose logo is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” My guess is he elected to remain in the dark. I understand why. To someone convinced they already know The Truth, whose whole cause d’être is contained in that “truth,” the actual truth is too terrifying to consider. When a person’s whole identity hinges on a belief system, to deprive them of that system amounts to pulling out the rug from under their psyche. It leads to a loss of their core identity, their very sense of self. Plunged into a psychic abyss, they experience the abject terror of annihilation. Take it from a shrink. I’ve seen it and it ain’t pretty.
I have no idea how Percy plans to vote in November and won’t ask. My strategy for keeping any possible continuing correspondence tolerable is to disengage from meaty topics. Rational arguments would only fall on deaf ears. But, God (oops, there He is again) forbid, if Percy and his tribe succeed in pushing Trump over the top again, the second term will surely ring the death knell for America and democracy. As for the heavenly reward they are all counting on, I firmly hope if there were such a thing as an afterlife, and if Jesus were truly the dispenser of “get out of hell free” cards, he would not emulate Trump by pardoning those sinners who are his most loyal supporters.