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VOL 3. NO. 28 Monday, July 23 - Sunday, July 29, 2001
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Scamming For God
Lately, we've had to face a score of God issues. This has been most prevalent since a self-professed Jesus groupie acquired that plush, White residence on Pennsylvania Avenue.

God issues range from President Bush's agonizing, constipated grimace over federal funding for stem cell research of human embryos to the House battle over his proposed "faith-based initiative" funneling tax dollars to religious organizations servicing the poverty-stricken. That's a scam for another conversation: at the end of the day, "Houses of Worship" are like everyone else: they too need loot for electricity bills, too. Complimenting those costs are carvings in wooden pews, larger murals, and bigger "churches" spanning whole blocks or plots of acreage (mosques, synagogues and temples always seem conveniently left out of the "faith-based" equation). Hence, the God-pimp for our federal dollars is "Fast and Furious," upon realization that the slippery slope defining the split between Church and State is now thinner than ice. Once catching on to the tremendous sums of cash stewing in the federal pot, even the usually anti-Republican Black clergy has become unusually warm and fuzzy in the presence of conservative agenda pistol-whippers. Opposition to use of tax money for "faith" is blocked by a wall of sturdy arrogance and organized guilt tripping, to make the more sensible lot of us feel as though we've personally insulted the Almighty perched atop the heavens. It then filters into a thorny batch of other busted, uncomfortable topics: abortion; school-choice; homosexuality, etc.

Most prominent on the political landscape is the electorate's capacity to play God. The need to play God; be like God ... a desire to be as God as God is - or is thought of. Detected is an excruciatingly painful fancy for importance when nobody is really that important. The want for significance beyond simple man-made laws and legislative legacies - that's not enough for some claiming the cloth on their sleeve. Rather than win "the hearts and minds of the people," religion is utilized to overwhelm, improperly influence and conquer the souls. The human comedy in this being that God-play in politics really isn't a game; it's a serious, sinuous stupor of transformed truths suspiciously wrapped in lofty Western text and sophistic mold. Some of us call them "Jesus Freaks" or "The Witnesses" anxiously tapping your worn door, prostituting doctrine at picket fences regardless of how low your body dropped to the floor behind your front window curtain. Get the point?

The same applies to everyday political and social theme. Complicated and twisted rhetorical firestorms raging over the "ethics" of stem cell research place us in a position to get barraged with a surge of verse, scripture, ecumenical rant and sermon on publicly financed platforms. At the base of each argument we find a series of disturbing questions as intrinsically funky, yet obvious, as "Are We Alone In the Universe?"

It's not that religion doesn't hold a significant amount of my attention. What has happened is that many of us prefer our distinction between the man-driven interpretations of religion and the universal, infinite, but inexplicable truths of spirituality. Both are vastly different. The former is humankind's determination to understand and make sense of what we're probably not supposed to really understand in the first place: God. Spirituality is the understanding that there are things beyond any conceivable understanding: just pure, simple faith in the existence of a reigning Supreme Being. Thus, for me, the more acceptable conviction is that people need to search for the common ground currently less sought in each respective faith. Just because I was raised in a house filled with Christians, Muslims or Jews doesn't mean the world should know. And, if the world doesn't know it, so be it, since I shouldn't be in the business of imposing it upon those who have their own set of beliefs.

Religion is an extremely personal subject, potentially dangerous to those sensitive and merely offending to those strong enough to simply accept they have a faith to tell, but are aware of growing differences. Hence, religion grows into politics, politics into economics, and economics into society within an infinite cycle of arguments. The debate rages on, endless, the lines between humanity and spirituality blurred with each legislative take on what's right and what's wrong.

There is the school of thought that holds, in some way, we are all under one tiny roof and are somehow from the same Godly essence. Who God is or what doctrine that Supreme Being should represent is of no consequence or concern when we all sit at the same table ... only a dream to toy with, of course. However, each religion or doctrine deserves respect, as they exist.

Problems arise when they are being tailored for the throat.

C.D. Ellison is Contributing Writer to Metro Connection. He can be reached at againstthegrain@metroconnection.info.

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