Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

           In this Age of Coronavirus, as in other times that we were reintroduced to our sense of mortality, a cry is heard from sundry reverend voices, i.e. religious leaders, in solemn meetings and august journals: “Does God still speak?” and if so, “What is God saying to us today?”

          Back in my Missouri Ozarks, such daring remarks from pulpits brought lamentations that the preacher had stopped preaching and gone to meddling. When reporting on one such clergy-klatch a couple decades ago, I ventured a corollary that, to wit, when assuming one is privy to the mind of God, one had best be careful lest it be the Devil speaking to him.

          But the questions persist in these times, and as to whether the Almighty is trying to tell us something, I say, You tell me:

          When something good rather than ill happens to us modern Jobs (that’s a biblical reference, not a tech pioneer) we’re heard to say we’re blessed of God. When visited by woes, we say God has something good in mind for us if only we can figure it out. When a populace was beset by, e.g., a Nebuchadnezzar or other invading tyrant, it was declared in retrospect that God was using that person and his violent destructiveness to make the poor victims better people—a harsh means of doing so, to be sure. Why can’t we just say the sorry schmucks found that life is sometimes unfair and, yes, there may be lessons gained therefrom, but not always.

          To bring this line of reasoning up to date, just about the time the faithful had stopped tsk-tsk-ing over the grievous harm done by trusted Church leaders to children and youth, and decided it was time to forget about it all and go on with our lives, was it God or something else that burned down Notre Dame Cathedral—and on Holy Week, to boot?

          Or before even one presidential term is up, Who or what sent this Plague of biblical proportions that tries our souls and interrupts our precious lives? Where’s the blood supply to splash on our door lintels in hopes this whole damn thing will spare at least those of us who deem ourselves righteous, compared to all those we think deserve to be dope-slapped, big time, to show that we are right and they are wrong?

          I could go on, but no doubt you get the point.

          Still, news ink and air waves remind us that somebody still thinks they know what God is thinking, like leaders of certain mega-churches who despite science and whose experts continue to call their thousands of worshippers to gather in close quarters and be assured that they are washed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus to be exact, and immune to the kinds of things that have laid waste to populations throughout history. Much as I disagree with these gentry, I wish no such harm on anyone, but can’t help fear they are in for a heap o’ trouble. One can only wonder what J.C. is thinking about of all this, but after all these centuries he’s no doubt seen and heard everything and may be concerned mostly about his brand.

          If Trump can blame Wuhan, China and Barack Obama for our current fix, I take liberty to blame Plato for the kind of religion we bear on our weary backs. Had we listened to Aristotle, God would be a less pushy so-and-so and we would not be abused of the notion that there are two worlds and we’re not living in the real one. Religion would not be creedal and there’d be no sects competing for which is most favored by the Big Guy. 

          Our hallowed stories of national and religious righteousness would be important, but not absolute, truth. Plato has dominated not because his fantastical notions were so appealing but because he was a talented writer, and Aristotle’s are gleaned solely from his students’ notes—and you know how bad that tends to be.

          In truth, what we know and believe are mostly accidents of history, not unvarnished fact. Thus we are constantly assailed by the noise of snake-oil peddlers—including presidents who will endorse things based on his “hunch” that they might work.

          Science and scientists are not perfect but they are the front lines of our most enlightened investigations of the world we live in—and again we can thank Aristotle for that.

          Do I hear a real call to #DrainTheSwamp; i.e., of out-dated notions and of favoring would-be tyrants and dictators over that messy, time-consuming but beautiful thing—democracy–?

          Time to give it a go.

          (John Burciaga of writes on politics, pop culture and social issues and may be argued with at will at Ichabod142@gmail.com) 

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