Okay, so it took me a little time, but I've decided to come 'round and write a couple of my obligatory "patriotic holiday" posts. It's just that whenever people burn incense before Caesar, my nose begins to get really itchy, and I gotta scratch it.
Because Roger likes to see me vexed in my righteous soul, he will sometimes send along to me the worst of the e-mail forwards he gets from patriots. Here's a recent schtick:
A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was a vowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.This is verbatim. Let's take it apart; feel free to chime in.
One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give! you exactly 15 minutes."
The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, "Here I am God. I'm still waiting." It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his Chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.
The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, "What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?" The Marine calmly replied, "God was too busy today protecting America 's soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid sh_t and act like an a__hole. So, He sent me."
A marine in class, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan? Clearly the man is meant to be a badass - I wonder if the people who pass this stuff on stop to question what use he had for book larnin' anyway? And what, boys and girls, is the antithesis of a patriotic American badass? A smarmy, simpering atheist academic who has an ACLU card in his manbag. I think, as a public service, I'm going to start blogging new stories I find in which the ACLU defends Christians' first amendment rights against the encroachment of government entities. They really are out there, kids.
How interesting that atheism should be shocking! The founding fathers of the US were deists (what do you expect from Episcopalians, wink wink), so at least atheism is honest. Clearly this took place in the South, but I'm surprised that nobody included the detail that the prof was a Yankee. Furthermore - and let's move now from the cultural aspects to the theological ones: it must be noted that the "God" supposed in this story has nothing in common with the Christian god.
The story assumes that the existence of a god could or should be confirmed or denied by that god's "intervention" into the Laws of Nature, and further, that this god would find this at all a desirable activity.
In the assault, we see a version of the myth of redemptive violence - that the right kind of coercive violence, exercised by the right people in the right ways, is going to yield a good result. In addition, it is supposed that there is a "god" who tells this story right along with the Empire's good citizens. This is a strange take on that bit in 1 Kings when Elijah faces down the prophets of Baal - when Baal cannot show himself to be a player in space/time, he teases them that their god is sleeping, while Yahweh is living and active. Strangely enough, when the professor challenges the class that their god is not a player in space/time, the Marine responds that his god is sleeping indeed, and that he will defend that god's honor by enacting the story of redemptive violence.
And of course in the closing remarks, we read the argument that an imperialist war halfway across the world is protecting the profs freedom of dissent even while the imperialist warrior has physically abused the prof for exercising it. One wonders if in a sequel, the Marine won't burn down the professor's house and perhaps rape his wife in order to encourage gratitude for the Marine's protection. It's just that kind of passionately vicious activity that this parable glorifies.