A wise comedian once wrote, forget baseball, delusion is the American pastime; when we pagans talk of sight, we don’t just mean seeing the unseen world that surrounds us, we also mean seeing the world that exists with unbiased clarity, trying to rid ourselves of presumptions and prejudices. Some stories breaking in yesterday’s Daily News demonstrate that delusion mentioned above, a belief that is false, but protects you from facing an unpleasant truth; that unpleasant truth is that people are responsible for their actions.
The first and most unfortunate was the shooting death of an 18 year old girl, made all the more tragic by her apparent promise, being ranked as one of the nation’s top high school basketball players. Her mother immediately told police it was “mistaken identity”, and that she was never involved in anything, the usual thing that mothers say, and I’m sure they believe. But today, the police say it was definitely not a mistake, and her killers may have had a grudge against her and her brothers because of some feud between two housing projects. Now, did this girl deserve to die for some foolish behavior? Of course not, but let’s not pretend that these days, youths responding to the littlest provocation with gunfire is unheard of.
In the second case, an odd one for sure, a 59 year old Cowboys fan was arrested at the Meadowlands after he got into an argument with some Jets fans, one of whom was a Marine, after the man allegedly failed to stand or remove his hat during the National Anthem. Words were exchanged, and the man pulled out a stun gun and fired it at them; he was charged with aggravated assault and illegal possession of a weapon. Aside from the mildly amusing note that security at the stadium was supposedly increased due to it being 9/11 and that former fuhrer George W was there, and the guy still walked in with the weapon, the barrage of excuses from the man’s son, a DJ here in NYC, was a laugh riot. His dad’s “not a violent man”…sure, everyone carries a stun gun to a football game; he didn’t stand for the anthem because he’s a Jehovah’s Witness…no excuse, chuckles, because simple respect for people’s feelings and for the flag transcend any religion. Don’t want to say the Pledge, not a problem, but standing is just good manners, and everybody knows it. It’s (get ready for it) the fault of the Jets coach, who said nobody should wear Cowboys gear in the stadium, which our stunner was. Well, certainly the trash talking of a sports team is grounds to assault somebody!
Lastly, and most insulting to all of us, a Baptist church in Woodhaven wants to quash a next door hookah lounge selling beer and wine; why? Because alcohol is “unacceptable in God’s sight”! Oh, absolutely, Reverend Himmler! While we’re at it, let’s forbid any restaurants nearby from serving it, close down the liquor stores and the corner stores, and remove all possible temptation so the church’s obviously weak minded flock won’t be corrupted! What’s even worse is how seriously the City Council and State Liquor Authority are taking this request; if a synagogue requested that every store near it stop selling bacon because they object to it, everyone would be up in arms, but when some frightened Christians want to tell you how to run your life, that is a serious matter. When did it become the responsibility of the government, and of the rest of us as citizens, to see to it that your religious rules are followed? When are people like this going to take the responsibility for their own lives?
In Matthew Gregory Lewis’ The Monk, a classic of Gothic literature, a witch in disguise confronts the almost saint like Father Ambrosius; he claims to be a paragon of virtue, having resisted every temptation. The witch laughs, knowing that since Ambrosius was raised in a cloistered monastery since childhood, he has never actually faced any temptations. But soon you’ll see what real temptation is, she promise, and when you do, you’ll fall from a greater height than any man before you. The people who race to blame everyone for their faults but themselves are just like the pompous Ambrosius, who pretend that they are virtuous while the world is to blame, and like him, they invariably come to a bad end.