Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Going to church is like going to court. You sit in a pew and the minister is on a platform, elevated above the crowd just as though he is a little bit closer to Heaven than you are. Then he speaks....and he speaks...and the problem I have always had in going to church is the fact that the speeches are so long and so dull. Now, we all know that the subject of Life After Death isn't dull. It's filled with excitement and crammed with faith, but I have never heard a minister that couldn't take an exciting subject and make it as monotonous as reading six chapters of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The message is clear. You will eventually face a judge, a very Wrathful judge who is mighty angry about the way you have botched up your life, you ignoble sinner, you dreadful dunce! If you don't comply with what I say, you will spend eternity screaming in pain, burning like a dried leaf in a bonfire, not just for a visit, a nudge to make you behave better, but forever and ever, with no hope whatsoever of redemption!

Courtrooms are similar, in that the judge is elevated above you, as you wait so tremulously in your chair. Not only that, but the judge is surrounded by an assortment of flags, just as though he or she is backed by the anger of the entire nation, while you are defenseless and at the mercy of the court. Even the paper in your hand says that the nation, the state, the county are accusing you of whatever it is you did! You are a mouse and the judge is a giant jungle cat, with the claws to snatch you up, rip you apart, swallow you whole. The judge is so powerful that all must stand when he or she enters the room, but you are a nonentity in your chair, waiting your turn to be clutched by the arms of justice.

When I was a girl, I would occasionally listen to the speeches of Winston Churchill on the radio. This man could give a speech that would make you want to rip off an arm of the chair you were seated in and march off to battle. His words were uplifting, stirring, beautiful! He put courage and determination into the heart of his listeners and took them into a soaring, wonderful world where victory is assured for the brave of heart and the pure of soul.

A few nights ago, I listened to Barack Obama as he made a speech at a huge auditorium. The seats were filled and I could see people standing at the back of the cavernous room. Obama stood there, a rather ordinary looking black man, not imposing, not extraordinary, looking similar to any young man you might see in a drug store or on the street.

Then he began to talk and, the more he talked, the more I listened. The hairs on my arms began to bristle excitedly, as these soaring words of hope and promise filled the air. I was transported back to my younger years when I had listened to Churchill; I was lifted by this young man's words into a new land of opportunity for the future, for a country that was filled with hopeful young people working for others, far away from the bleak vision given them today.

Obama's speeches are, to me, "Chicken Soup for Politics!" However, the Ugliness has already begun. Muslim! Inexperienced! Black! The collection of character assassination and misery that makes up politics in our world today! We have heard it throughout elections, receive in our e-mails and in those pesky phone calls that arrive at the most inconvenient times! Here is a young man who has managed to inspired hope in the hearts of young and old alike and our political process feels dutybound to tear him down in order to keep another political party in power.

Barack Obama is not Muslim. If he were, who cares? What is it in this country that was formed to allow freedom of religion that it has become so narrow and limited? Do we believe that every Muslim in the world would like to cut off our heads? Are we nuts? Do they not live peacefully here in our country and salute our flag like the rest of us?

I did not plan on voting for Barack Obama, but I have decided that the young people of our country deserve a voice. I will accede to them, to their hopeful young faces, for they are our future and deserve a little more than a huge college loan, an insurmountable National Debt, and a perpetual war. Yes, they deserve their moment of hope, their yearning for a better tomorrow, a day when they will run this disastrous course we follow. Let's hope they can do a better job of it than we have done, with our corrupt politicians, our constant harping on Fear and Terror, our boggle of expenses that are going everywhere but where they are needed.

You probably won't hear the inspirational words spoken by Barack Obama in a church or a courtroom. They do not give out messages of hope, but rather messages of fear. George Bush has followed the same pattern. Fear terror, and agree with me, or you'll end up being blown up by a terrorist explosion! Keep on being afraid, it could happen, if you don't agree with me, because no one else can handle this precarious situation, only Republicans can do it. Everyone else is a coward, wanting to Cut and Run!

So, our leader promotes fear in order to promote his cause, just as the minister promotes fear in order to reach Heaven and the courts promote fear in order to keep you in line with society's rules. But why not reach for Hope? Why not combine watchfulness with the promise of a better tomorrow? Why not stamp out the Ugliness in exchange for a better world? Why not listen to that soaring speech and believe that a better world is possible? Why not push away the fear that all of us occasionally feel and reach for the glory that Winston Churchill inspired? Why not exchange Fear for Hope?