Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: III

So it would have been in the late 50's or so when my Grandfather, a rather devout, even dogmatic sort of Mennonite farmer--plowed up a nest of dinosaur eggs preparing some new farm ground. The eggs are at a natural history museum in Spokane now. I've got half of one, cut and polished. I wasn't there, but I can imagine the scene a bit. It would have been the era, of course, where the whole creation vs. evolution(fight, you can't call it a debate) was probably hitting the mainstream in rural America. My grandfather wouldn't have been the kind of guy who would have spent a lot of time worrying about it, as wheat farming gave him all the worrying he needed--as he would have figured that if he was supposed to care, he'd probably be "encouraged" to do so. Well, here was encouragement to think about it--in the form of a half dozen perfect, oddly shaped eggs.

Now I can very much imagine his thought process. He was not particularly educated, but was a experienced and keen observer of nature. He would have known for sure that the size of the eggs were far too large for birds, and the shape was all wrong anyway, having seen plenty of snake eggs. He might have heard some of the hyperbolic explanations from the more evangelical sorts: explanations of how the dinosaurs were created on day one and the extinguished, or died in the "flood" or some crap like that, but I'm sure the fact that these were eggs would have held some sway, and a nest, which spoke of creatures living their lives rather than some exhibitory divine freakshow. He would have known also that it wasn't unusual to find other sorts of fossils either, stuff that couldn't possibly co-exist with big lizards, like mastodon tusks or dire wolves--and if anything to try to believe that all this stuff had happened in a week just a few thousand years ago was simply implausible. He wouldn't have needed to be a research scientist to known this, he was a natural scientist who had enough life experience and eyes in his head to think that a bit of a stretch. Creation was a revelation of God, after all, and it wouldn't lie to you. Besides, while he was familiar with his bible, for sure, he was familiar enough to understand that the "word of God must be read with guidance by the small, still voice of the Holy Spirit"-- meaning, that you just can't take everything in there verbatim, but you must practice a certain amount of cautious, thinking discernment. Jeez, how sensible. . .

See, being a bit of a bible scholar myself, having studied the thing cover to cover in my youth, I can promise you in there no-where is a commandment that one must be a dumb-ass. Science was encouraged in our household, for sure, as much as bible reading, as both, with guidance by that that "small, still voice" were was of understanding God. Ultimately, for me, I was far more persuaded by the likes of Issac Asimov or Carl Sagan-- perhaps also Hegel, Schopenhauer, Jung, on and on--Marcus Aurelius and Gung Fu Tze: these satisfied the answers of my "small, still voice" than did the various zealots from the dark ages. . .that's the path of growth, and how it happens. Does that "small, still voice" still speak to this atheist? Sure.

Contrasting now for a moment. . .just for giggles. Nervous ones.

Michele Bachmann?  This woman probably hears voices, but I doubt they're "small, still ones." For fuck sakes, she's running for president and getting somewhere trying. Mind you, she believes 1) The earth was created in a week some 8000 years ago 2) Climate change not just not happening, but is a hoax 3) Her homophobic husband is actually straight.

Some video fun. There's much more along this line if you follow the links. Be careful, if you haven't heard this kind of stuff be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor.

So just how do people get to be this stupid? It's really worth a question, and education or lack of it isn't the issue. What it is, as far as I see it, the causal element is privilege, mostly the privilege to live your life in evasion of any facts or details that might challenge your selfish preconceived opinions. It gives one the option of being removed from the details that make up what most of us call "reality." But that's good old Michele and to a large degree describes the overfed pin-heads that support her. Privilege? That's not my background, for sure, nor my family, and so we have a tendency to adopt a critical eye especially towards things we want to believe. One can find oneself in a position where one cannot afford the luxury to believe foolish things for comfort, nor the risk of being wrong. Lack of privilege demands pragmatism, and objectivity--not dogma or idealism-- it might surprise people that that my Grandfather sold his farm in 1976, because of climate change. He would have been unaware of the research, but he was wholly aware of the level of the water in his well and the dates he had planted and harvested over the previous 50 years-- that would have convinced him far more than any scholarly study.  But we that work with our hands can't have our head, ahem, in the clouds.

Hand that stupid fool a shovel-- she might learn something.

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