Sam keeps going to the doctor with a persistent cold which he cannot seem to shake. The doctor examines him and sees one solution: “Go home right now, take a hot shower, and then open all the windows to let the freezing winter air come in.”
“But, Doctor, if I do that I’ll catch pneumonia!”
“Yes, Sam. You will. And pneumonia I can cure.”
The liberals of the world, the cognoscenti seculari, the intelligentsia irreligiosa, the academia irreverentia, have examined the wars of the world and they have diagnosed the problem: religion. Because religion is one ailment the baccalauriat bacchanaliat think they can cure. Good wine, bad women and mediocre song may be all it takes. And then we will live happily ever after, fighting only acid indigestion, gonorrhea and premature deafness. As my grandmother and John Lennon would say: “Imagine!”
The network of defenders against these crusades is thankfully already in place. It is known as Conglomerated Nattering Nabobs, or CNN. They have a program ready: it is called God’s Warriors. This is a documentary purporting to catalogue the proliferation of conflicts around the globe which are founded in faith. And all of this is presented by Ms. Amanpour, who is getting back with a vengeance at the parents who dared to saddle her with the freighted handle of Christiane.
Just when you thought moral equivalency had reached its apex, or perhaps its nadir, this monstrosity comes along to up the ante down the hatch. It divides the bellicose classes into three helpful subgroups: Jewish Warriors, Muslim Warriors, Christian Warriors. These three pillaging hordes are out to sack you with their sacraments, and they are no takin’ no prisoners. The next time you see an observant Jew brandishing a ram’s horn, or a Catholic priest handing out wafers, make sure your weapons are loaded. The Moslems are less worrisome, I should think, what with those bulky garments impeding their mobility.
When I encountered this unholy trinity, I saw red and stars. (I may give up my dogma, but never my zeugma.) Yes, the Hebrew Hammer, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, broke into baseball with a bang this year and, yes, Christian Dior is slashing prices across the globe, but only one congregation is slamming commandeered aircraft into office buildings.
I did take the time to read their report (the CNN website offers print versions of the documentary’s features) on one of these Jewish firebrands roiling the waters of our otherwise peaceable planet. She is a homey woman of middling age, wearing a demure hat, and speaking on behalf of West Bank settlers. She gave up a sizable salary as a Wall Street attorney, hearing the call to resettle the Holy Land. Now she lectures at fundamentalist churches, soliciting funds to assist those Israeli communities. If that’s not scary I don’t know what is: no one should have to wear a hat like that.
These are real gut-check moments in our society. The objectionable purveyors of this tripe pose as surveyors of an objective stripe, but they merely deliver repackaged preconceptions. This is not a hopeful sign in the direction of a self-preserving culture. The courage to distinguish between good guy and bad guy, friend and foe, is a desperate necessity in the battle for survival. If I might quote a religious guy, the prophet Jeremiah (41:9) was unsparing in blaming the victim of assassination (Gedaliahu, governor of Israel after the monarchy had been routed by Babylon) for downplaying the warnings of his intelligence officers about the impending coup. And eying evangelists askance for helping Israel is not the eternal vigilance that Jefferson identified as the price of liberty.
It is true, incidentally, that an occasional spell of strife is caused by religious differences. This phenomenon represents a small fraction of the mischief done in the name of national aspirations, territorial expansion and economic interests. And even some of the nominally religious division is just the same old tribal disaffection masquerading as a higher cause.
The teachings of religion have substantially improved the lot of humanity. The whole idea of peace as a virtue traces back to that source. In Judaism, Peace (Shalom) is actually one of the names of God, as Itzhak Shamir pointed out in his address to the Madrid Peace Conference. To see martial stirrings in the Bible’s message to mankind is to perpetrate a stark perversion of truth, a corruption of history. When will we CNN to this sort of rhetoric?
All of this is getting me mad enough to go pick up my ram’s horn. In fact, I am about ready to man all the ram parts.