Staying on theme.
Staying on theme.
Recently a good friend of mine was telling me about an old friend who had recently moved back to the area. Years back he had moved to a small town outside Bend, Oregon, and married an older woman with a teenage son, now grown. Like most people I know who move to the rural northwest, he eventually lost his job and had to move back to the Inland Empire. She doesn’t let you go easily.
Leaving his family to find work down in southern California, his wife and stepson fell into the local drug culture. I don’t know the details, but more than likely it was Meth, and a divorce is now on the way.
In an interesting twist, Val knew the town and area as where her uncle would go to pick up the loads of marijuana he would mule to the high desert. He did a good stint in jail when one of these runs went bad. His drug of choice was Meth. Again, unsurprising. This area has long been a center for Crystal. I remember, in 9th grade, when a friend in my FFA class told me how she decided that her new favorite drug was Meth. Riverside was always in the news for busted or blown up labs in those days.
Meth is one of those drugs that turns a good person bad and a bad person into a monster. Val’s uncle is a monster. He fits the stereotypes – desert trailer trash, meth addict, nazi. If you’re white and have gone to jail in California, you are probably aryan brotherhood, as that is the only way to survive. He’s a wife beater, a child abuser, and worse, according to family rumor. The aunt, also an addict, is hardly faithful, bearing five children by three fathers, often shacking up with husband’s best friend when husband is in jail. Getting clean from time to time, she accused her husband of forcibly reintroducing her to drugs whenever he gets out, but God only knows with the lies that family tells. The last time we saw her, she was coming down and that’s a sad way to see anyone.
One of Val’s cousins got the worst of it, being related by blood to stepdad in the talk show tradition (the aunt is Val’s blood relative). He died young, a troubled soul. The youngest daughter spent half her youth being passed around, after my mother in-law took custody. Whether she was better off for it is debatable. The family is full of the abused, abusers, the mentally ill and codependents. When she turned twelve and got difficult, she was dropped back off at the trailer with a head full of crap about a joyous family reunion. What that did to her sense of self worth is unimaginable to me. It wasn’t that long before she was hospitalized for the effects of huffing.
Lately it seems that she’s been changing, making plans for the future at seventeen, which is something in a family where the successful one is a grunt at a Walmart in Reno. Recently she turned her father in to the Law. He hadn’t been out for much more than six months and this time he is going away for years. I don’t know what he did, we don’t talk to the family anymore and only hear things from the periphery, but I’m proud of that girl. The only ones who seem to make it out of the cycle seem to be the ones who realize no one in the family gives a shit about them, and hopefully she makes it.
This is not the most enlightening article, the ending thoughts about multiple true truths and so forth is complete post-modern liberal bullshit, but in some ways I sympathize with the author’s aggravation with his religion being associated with proto-fascist politics. Still, it is no wonder that such Liberals so often lose ground in the religious realm, when they refuse to take a moral high ground. In the end, I suppose that even I might prefer a little Fr. Mussolini to some wishy-washy Fr. Identity-Politic.
Last Sunday, we made the trip to a Greek parish. This happened to be on Greek Independence Day. The priest sent around an offering basket for the Archdiocese’s work in helping the Greek people. One of the announced purposes that the money would be put to use for was to lobby the Greek government to do more for the poor. I almost had to get my hearing checked. It was in stark contrast to a recent circulating anecdote relating “do not feed the animals” policies and food stamps.
If there was one thing I liked about the article it was the thoughts on issues like this. When the proto-fascists and libertarians act as though theirs is the true faithful faith, in keeping with the Fathers, and so forth, yet make remarks comparing the poor to animals. How is that in keeping with the Fathers and being mindful of the image of Christ? “I fed you not, so that you might learn to feed yourself… Get a job, hippie!” We shall see how that works out for them.
In some ways it is strange how the ultra-right minority has come to dominate the “image” of Christianity in public discourse, along with the idea that the farther right one goes, the more faithful or orthodox one is.
Back in my college years I was taking an American History course. The professor spent a large amount of time on the Progressive Era. During one of these lectures, a student asked about the role of Christians and churches at the time, obviously expecting to hear tales mirroring today’s reactionaries (and this was pre-9/11). The professor then went on at some length about the important role many churches played in leading or assisting Progressive movements.
This isn’t to say that churches use to be largely on the left, but are now being dominated by the right. In general, when a church, or Church, becomes cozy with the elite it becomes a reactionary force. But it was not that, in public discourse, being a faithful Christian who takes the moral high ground decisively meant one was of the far-right.
One of my favorite songs for singing to the kids while changing diapers. For some reason this particular one always gets the Watson babies to stop crying.
I figured I’d post it up, since Planxty is always good for St. Patrick’s Day.
A dress Val made for Gwenny, as part of a set of St. Patrick’s Day themed outfits she is making for the three children. Though they are going to a silly St. Patty’s Day outfit party, Gwenny’s had to be pretty, since she is fashion conscious and refuses to wear anything she does not deem princess worthy. Luckily Val has an eye and talent for such things.
It is becoming more and more apparent that the US government’s project in the Arab world is an attempt at fusing religious fundamentalism and capital/neo-liberalism, on the American model. Don’t worry about your standard of living, power and clean water, we have some Christians, suspected homos and rebellious teens to stone. The only so called “freedom” they are concerned with is that of unrestricted bourgeois class power.
I think this just came about in the Iraqi context, but since has provided a model that we are exporting to “Arab Spring” states and our non-Arab Islamic neo-colonial state. One can see how it was imposed rather easily on Egypt, by forming a military-bourgeois-islamicist alliance and giving the islamicists enough time, prior to holding elections, to guarantee the defeat of the liberals and socialists who ran the popular revolution.
“Opiate of the masses” indeed.