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America the Terrifying - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
America the Terrifying
Last night we had a meeting of our homeowner's association's Board of Directors in which we once again discussed the difficulty of getting our money's worth from landscaping firms and also decided upon a course of action to take with a homeowner who refuses to remove the weeds from his front yard. It sounds awful, but was actually a pretty friendly meeting by our standards. There was a surreal moment when I was asked to explain my book project. Humor was had at my expense, but I also had some at others' expense. And I pushed through a resolution to buy a $25 welcome gift basket for newcomers to the community.

My fundamentalist neighbor across the street was in a good mood, brightening when his wife walked in to observe the meeting. I almost deluded myself into thinking that the worst of our interactions were over. So what does he do this morning? He forwards me this apparently genuine, but totally insane "poem" by the "Ten Commandments Judge," Roy Moore:
American the Beautiful

America the Beautiful or so you used to be,
Land of the Pilgrims' pride, I'm glad they'll never see.
Babies piled in dumpsters, Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand.
Our children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine,
Choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain.
From sea to shining sea, our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love and a need to always pray.
So many worldly pastors tell lies about our Rock,
Saying God is going broke so they can fleece the flock.
We've kept God in our temples, how callous we have grown,
When earth is but His footstool and Heaven is His throne.
We've voted in a government that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges who throw reason out the door,
Too soft to place a killer in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby before he leaves the womb.
You think that God's not angry that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait before His judgment comes?
How are we to face our God from Whom we cannot hide?
What then is left for us to do, but stem this evil tide?
If we who are His children will humbly turn and pray,
Seek His holy face and mend our evil way,
Then God will hear from Heaven and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land and those who live within.
But America the Beautiful if you don't then you will see,
A sad but Holy God withdraw His hand from thee.

-- Judge Roy Moore
I used to think that big-time corporate malfeasance was the world's most pressing problem. Now, though, I'm starting to wonder whether the Left should ally with the secular free-market zealots in a war against fundamentalism of all stripes. I know that most believers come from the poor and downtrodden and that they turn to religion because it provides the only cognitive map that makes them feel secure in an era of unprecedented insecurity. I'm down with the argument, eloquently expressed by my friend Joel Schalit in his book Jerusalem Calling, that we need to recognize fundamentalism as a social theory, however misdirected. But when I look around the world and see all the horrors being wrought in the name of religious conviction, most of them undertaken without a trace of cynicism, I can't help but feel that we will not make progress towards greater global stability until we find a way of recontaining the energy unleashed when religious groups not only exist outside the state's aegis, but are expressly seeking to perform a coup-de-tat. Maybe the European solution -- make religion bland by making it official -- has merits after all. Clearly, the American approach is in dire need of revision.

Mode: chastened
Muse: Folsom Prison Blues - Bob Dylan - The Genuine Basement Tapes

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 12th, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have well-developed tolerance for awful poetry, so Roy Moore's poem is actually interesting. It bears a strong resemblance to various apocalyptic abolitionist poems that promise national damnation for the sin of slavery. This is a type of poetic expression whose themes trace back to Wigglesworth and before, poetry where religious outrage inhabits the narrative voice. But it is also a voice of social impotence that realizes its current marginality and adopts moral purity in order to claim a future centrality. If Roy Moore is writing verse like this, it's a good sign. He could be writing judicial opinions.

Cheers,


Joe
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