The Democratic Convention brought out the flowery idealist in me this week. Not because Eva Longoria or Scarlett Johansson touted Barack Obama as the best guy for the job of overseeing our inert economy. Not because of the President’s tepid speech, either. He seemed distant and professorial, which pretty much sums up his leadership so far. No, I was jazzed by the guest list. Specifically, by one name that was not on it.
You know who I’m talking about.
The Democrats’ official party platform for this election did not include mention of God. At least until there was a last-minute ruckus about it, but that had more to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than religion. So they ended up sticking old Yahweh back in for now. But that’s all right. You’ve got to walk before you can run.
When it comes to the things a president is supposed to directly influence, not a whole lot has changed in the U.S. since the last election: The economy still sucks. The military/industrial complex still dictates foreign policy. Network TV still can’t come up with a decent sitcom. But on a social scale, holy crap! We have flesh-ripping zombies on TV, and people lap up the gore. The kid from Transformers is doing porn, and no one is shocked. And gay marriage support is so trendy I’m thinking of marrying a gay guy just so I can up my cool factor.
Just busting your balls, conservatives. You were about to shout, “See, I told you that would happen!” weren’t you?
So anyway, not including God in the platform was a sign, finally, that many Americans are beginning to accept we are a secular nation. It’s as if sometime in the past four years, unbelief has quietly let itself out of the closet. Statistics on atheism and agnosticism vary widely, from 15 million to 40 million U.S. citizens living without religion. However, I know a whole lot of people who would identify as Christian on a survey but don’t go to church, read the Bible, or, if pressed, admit to taking any of it literally. The fact that an organization as vast and inclusive as the Democratic Party went into this convention thinking, “Eh, let’s not waste ink on this God character,” indicates that secularism is here to stay.
In regard to the Israel-Palestine issue, I’ll refrain from opining on whether Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel, mainly because I’m one of those lily-livered types who thinks it’s possible that both sides have a point. I know it’s disgusting to right wingers when a person is empathetic and sees nuance – hell, the very concept causes cognitive dissonance in the brain of Sean Hannity – but when two groups of people have fought over the same patch of land for thousands of years, who am I to say which of them has the right of way? After all, I’m old enough to have watched new episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter and Soul Train, yet I still rent an apartment because I’m not sure owning a house is for me. In other words, I just can’t commit!
Many people are freaking out because, by omitting the words “God” and “Jerusalem” from the platform, the Democrats are clearly, unequivocally saying that they hate God with every shred of their beings and that they hope Israel drowns in a sea of sulfuric acid, gets nuked by a 500-megaton doomsday warhead, and is then hit by a magnitude-57 earthquake that sends it plunging into a vast abyss, where its remains are devoured by rabid mole people.
Or, you know, the Democrats still support Israel but don’t think it’s necessary to put the status of a foreign city into a policy document, since, under President Obama, the U.S. provides about 3 billion dollars of military aid every year. As long as they don’t demand Natalie Portman back, I think U.S.-Israel relations will be fine.
I mean, some things are just so obvious that your position is simply implied. Rodent blood sports aren’t mentioned in the DNC platform, but I’d bet most Democrats think illegal chinchilla fighting should be banned. Prince doesn’t show up in there either, but everyone knows that Controversy and 1999 are better albums than anything he did after that, including, yes, Purple Rain and the overrated Sign of the Times.
In others words, does not talking about something mean you hate it? To hear the pundits tell it, yes. The Democrats hate God. If that worries you, here’s a little parable to put your mind at ease:
A man’s life is represented by two sets of footprints on a beach. One set belongs to him, the other to the Lord. The man notices that, in the lowest points of his life (like when Lost ended without explaining all this things they said they would explain), one set of footprints is missing.
“Lord,” the man says. “You blew me off. What up with that?”
The Lord replies, “My son, I did not abandon you. I carried you.”
Then the man pulls out his iPad. “Hmmm. That’s not what the security footage I downloaded shows. It shows you making several trips up the beach to the boardwalk. First you bought a spicy Italian sausage with a Coke. Then you got steamed clams. Then you went back later and got fried Oreos.”
“I was hungry.”
The man thinks for a moment and says, “Lord?”
“If I don’t believe in you, will America collapse into a miasma of socialism and welfare checks for lazy minorities and oppressive banking regulations that stifle innovation?”
The Lord says, “Eh. Not really.”