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The apple
is not knowledge, it is
neglect of knowledge.


 


JUST BRIEFS



by Jerry Murley

EXHAUSTED

I did not intend to engage so soon again in political debate. Possessing both a soft-spoken voice and a forum, one is obliged to utter objections to treachery and attend to overlooked truths. Though but a tiny conduit for rapid response to the bountiful muck produced every day, this is yet another contribution to the cumulative cloud of methane. Better to release than to explode; better to cast than to be cast upon.

CLIMATOSE

(July 1, 2012)

"Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according our likeness....'"

What part of the parable of the talents do the faithful who doubt man's influence on climate not get? God is a long-game player. Is that not the basis of intelligent design? He gave man the capacity for knowledge and understanding in order to enable man to better exercise His other risky gift: dominion "over all the wild animals of the earth." His Word demands responsibility. He expects man to husband His creation – to help manage a complex environment over millennia for generation after generation. Man at any one period of time is forbidden from despoiling creation, whether from personal curiosity, exploitative greed, sloth, or nationalistic assertions of supremacy.

Science is but an extension of the intelligent and poetic insights that God granted to the transcribers of the Bible. Science is a handmaiden – a latter-day addendum – to the Word. It can be wielded by abusers and aggrandizers as well as by men and women of strong scruples. But God provided for both good use and attempted misuse by allowing man methods to question and test assumptions about the natural order.

Rapaciousness and gluttony are not attributes exemplified by the man of fishes on the mount. So why do believers support dominion over themselves by any party whose policies embody the opposite intent and effect of Scripture and thwart the spirit of the Gospels. Beware of false witnesses, they are the foxes unwisely permitted to guard the house. God has allowed man the power to subvert mankind – to even wound creation.

There is a twist in the Eden story that reveals God's longer view. The harm symbolized in the apple is not knowledge, it is neglect of knowledge – neglect to apprehend the bounty that has been given – the lazy habit of a reckless steward.

DIVIDED SPOILS & GOOEY REMAINS

(June 28, 2012)

Black-robed vultures, wrinkled judges at the bar, oversee dismemberment – of cares, of careers, of causes. Dour priests on high scrutinize their prey. Nothing eludes their watchful gaze, their hypnotic grasp. They stave off endings to prolong command.

At times they service. At times they harm. At times they impinge on ground and call it their own.

Healing delays reckoning but does not avert it: it fattens the host with decay. Dark decline stays long enough to pick the rancid bits, slowly snipping eyes and guts – tearing hearts away.

All submit to putrid survey; all bow to the paltry wisdom of side-winding struggle and survival. None are saved but salvaged.

Behold savage law in combat with itself and its masters.

LIVE RECKONING

The gaseous debate weighing religious conscience against family planning is both phony and simple-minded. It is a fomentation of the base to manufacture another sex-related division among voters. It has the grimy fingerprints of political black-ops all over it. Just consider when culture-war breeders hatched the separation of Catholics from the other side of the political spectrum during the Nixon days by waving the hyperbolic banner of outrage against emerging recognition of reproductive rights. (I refer you to a freely accessible article in The New Yorker by Jill Lepore [November 14, 2011]. [1])

This is not a religious freedom versus birth control debate. It is, however, an extension of the Citizens United "twistification" of justice, claiming the equality of corporate with individual rights. Since when have individuals been equally protected from powerful corporations? The debate boils down to one of fundamental logic rather than religion or party. What we hear, in the debate about all insurers providing standard birth-control options to employees, is the assertion that an institution's "conscience" is superior to an individual's conscience. This comes from the same people who rail against government suppression of individual rights. Yet, here, in this selective instance, the "conscience" of the institution (or, now, even small business owners) is presumed to preclude the expression of the individual conscience of people insured by high-minded organizations. No conscience can be exercised if it is preempted by a subsuming institution. In such a world, conscience is lobotomized by boards of directors and petty office tyrants.

The argument that institutional "conscience" is being trampled and that it should be made dominant over individuals also issues from the ever-inconsistent and contorting tongues of those who would assert that personhood begins when a microscopic sperm and an egg conjoin in possibility. This teleological person also, it is asserted, has rights that trump those of the person who bears it. Every form of theoretical conscience is presumed to take precedence over the conscience of the individual living, breathing, thinking human being.

Let individuals decide. Is that not the cant of conservative strategists? For others, that is the actual founding principle constituted in real policy intended to honor existing people over those merely conceivable or solely pretend.

FAUX WARE

Surveying concocted controversy, I should, in contrast, commend National Public Radio (NPR to those who balance matters, Radio Moscow to others) for standing up again and again to the subversion of truth and reason that has crept into daily life, worming its way through media into the minds of once practical people. NPR correspondents have actually intensified research of topics before conducting interviews with political spokespeople. With admirable tact and humility, NPR now challenges bold-faced disinformation and politely shows it for what it is: incivility and manipulation. In the past months, I have heard highly civil policy discussions between well-briefed correspondents and intelligent, articulate conservative leaders. Typically, the discussions did not permit facile deceit but rather presented counterarguments clearly and respectfully, even acknowledging agreement on key facts and goals.

NPR finally learned that radical conservatives have ever attended to the demise of public discussion. And now as a body, it dares to speak truth to blatant propaganda and condescension. It makes for a more informative, and pleasant, presentation of the otherwise distasteful news of the day. From this experience, I, too, have now relearned that there are able conservatives out there who know how to speak reasonably and acknowledge where rational minds and good hearts can agree and disagree but endeavor to reach a compromise for practical solutions to real problems. Once the majority of media outlets do the same, the insanity will dissipate and our public lives will change markedly as problems are addressed and solved rather than shouted at and dismissed. We will find that more people are of good will than hitherto recognized. If conservatives want to win converts, they can with honesty, by stopping scams, abandoning duplicity, not inciting screams, and starting to exercise their God-given rationality to muster the warmth to embrace living and breathing people – even those who are not their duplicates.


FOOTNOTE:

1. In an article in The New Yorker on Planned Parenthood, Jill Lepore wrote the following: In 1969, in "The Emerging Republican Majority," the Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips offered a blueprint for crushing the Democrats' New Deal coalition by recruiting Southerners and Catholics to the G.O.P. At the time, prominent Democrats, including Edward Kennedy, were vocally opposed to abortion. Nixon's advisers urged him to reconsider his position on abortion and family planning. [November 14, 2011]

 

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