Tuesday, June 28, 2005

 
I grew up in a repressive, fundamentalist theocracy. Every aspect of what I did, what I learned and how I was taught was controlled by ultra-conservative religious women and men. They distorted both American and World History and controlled us through fear. Religion pervaded every subject in school, including even arithmetic in which the set-up for written problems dealt with situations that made knowledge of the number of religious holy days in a year, etc. essential to solving the problem. This wasn’t in the Middle East somewhere but in one of the five boroughs of New York City at Resurrection-Ascension Parish and Catholic School, Rego Park in Queens.

I had meticulously researched history papers given failing grades as being “not Scriptural.” We were urged not to play or have anything to do with protestant or jewish children. A moment of revelation came when a comic book-style tract on the evils of “godless, atheistic Communism” was distributed, illustrating the evil tactics of party indoctrination behind the Iron curtain, and it looked EXACTLY like the way we were being indoctrinated, er, taught. I was not allowed to be Valedictorian at my high school graduation because I had chosen to attend a non-Catholic university. All this was supported by my parents.

It’s all coming back, all of it that I had walked (run) away from as soon as I could get away from home and be on my own. Only now it’s being imposed at the national level and on the entire population, adults as well as children--catholic, muslim, protestant, agnostic, jewish, athiest—-everyone. The fundamentalism headquartered in Topeka, Salt Lake City or Crawford, Texas is no less dangerous than that in Teheran, Damascus or Baghdad.

Last weekend, there was a funeral in Marblehead on the coast north of Boston for young Chris Piper who had died while serving in Afghanistan. Piper left a wife and children. His family and friends wanted nothing more than to face the tragedy of his loss in the strength of a loving community. But they arrived at the service to discover the fanatical crew from the Fred Phelps church in Topeka, Kansas in place and waiting to harangue them all on the evils of homosexuality. Have these people any common decency? No, nothing remotely like. The community mobilized to shield the family from the fundamentalist goons as much as possible, but they held their ground. After the service, one of Piper’s siblings commented in public that Chris had died trying to protect the right of ALL Americans to think and live as they wished.

The news yesterday morning on the Today show discussed Bush’s having already begun the 2008 Presidential Campaign, mobilizing Republican money and political networks to locate and get commitments from potential candidates to run for the range of public offices across the country. There were no Supreme Court resignations on Monday but they, or deaths among members of the court, will surely happen and give Bush a golden opportunity to pack the court in a way that can guarantee oppressive decisions for a generation or more.

Jess (Splenda in the Grass) posted a particularly lucid comment on the meaning and implications of the Supreme Court ruling on bringing religious monuments into judicial areas. Jess is a bit more optimistic than I think I am about the decree that apparently has both conservatives and liberals scratching their heads (and that is expected to spawn more cases before the Supreme Court) but he rightly points out that coming struggles are going to require a lot more effort than just signing and passing on an email petition or two. There was more complacency in the last election than is healthy for “traditional American freedoms.” We have to make it different next time.


The Danube near Vienna

In preparation for our trip that begins this Friday, Hans aka Castor was kind enough to send this lovely sunset view of the Danube, up which we will be sailing in just two weeks.

Comments:
Dearest WILL~~I hope that you and Fritz have a remarkable trip. May the Danube fill you both with love and peace. (I can't wait to hear about it.) x. A.
 
Happy belated birthday, Will! I'm sorry but I was to busy for reading the blogs this week! Have a good journey! I am looking forward to meet you in Vienna!

Best wishes,

Hans
 
Right now, I'm studying the work of Paulo Friere- a Brazilian philospher/educator. He spends a great deal of time talking about educational designs similar to the one you experienced. It's a shame how backwards we are sometimes!
 
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