Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pre-empting God's Comic

Law school was my salvation - the pathway to a career for one eternally challenged by mathematics and the sciences. Bill Nye and I shall never be mistaken for twins; not even fraternal ones. However, I do know how to read.

Tuesday afternoon, Haiti was struck by an earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Courtesy of the bright minds at the US Geological Survey, all of the whats, whys and wherefores of the quake are set forth for the rest of us to read. Two admissions need to be inserted right here. First, since the USGS is comprised of really bright folks who happen to be scientists, a considerable portion of what they have written is technical. Second, a lot of it is beyond my ability to comprehend.

However I was able to discern it clearly enough to grasp the fact that Lucifer's conduct was not among the causes of this most recent flex of Mother Nature's muscle. Apparently however no one ever checked to ensure that the detestable pr*ck of a human being Pat Robertson had access to the USGS data before going on air the other night. Mr. Robertson, whose utter lack of relevancy these past several years had led me to think (OK, to hope) that he was dead, used the pulpit afforded to him by his show, The 700 Club (an homage to the collective intellect of all of the well-intended but misguided sheep he has fleeced for money over the years), on his (yes he owns it) Christian Broadcasting Network to offer his own opinion on the point of origin for this monster quake. Sadly, but not surprisingly, his source material was not to be found on the USGS web site. According to Robertson, "They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal." His comments seem no less detached from reality when you see them as opposed to read them.

I understand that Robertson was not the only source of inane, insensitive and hateful comments regarding the earthquake in Haiti. From my selfish perspective, his trump those made by anyone else. Why? Because Rush Limbaugh does not hide the fact that he is a ratings-driven, ignorant horse's ass who sought a career refuge in the swamps of professional punditry shortly after the Kansas City Royals told him his career as a bat boy was over. Limbaugh's carnival ride is well-advertised. He does not for a second pretend to be something other than what he is: a professional pot-stirrer. Stoking the flames of the fire of perpetual outrage ensures Limbaugh will receive the ratings he craves; hell, the ratings he probably needs to continue to finance his "My doctor said I can consume up to my body weight a day" prescription drug habit.

Limbaugh tells his audience that he is God. Robertson drops a "Rev." in front of his name and pretends to be "A Man of God", which I would submit is significantly more dangerous and disingenuous. Limbaugh is a cartoon. He spends most of his time "preaching" to his legion of Dittoheads who already accept his position on all things political the same way that the 19,419 nationwide who watch the equally self-impressed Keith Olbermann pontificate on all things political from the other edge of the political spectrum turn his program on every night knowing before he begins to speak that they shall agree with all that he says.

Not so with Robertson. He and the rest of the television preachers who dot the Direct TV landscape are far sneakier and far more nefarious than Limbaugh or Olbermann could ever hope to be. Robertson is the scariest type of societal predator: the white-collar, well-spoken type. Hidden behind his nicely tailored suits and his soft-spoken delivery of "The Lord's Word" is a genuinely creepy dude. One who learned years ago that he could easily separate the earnest folks who watch his television show or listen to his radio show from the money that they - unlike him - actually worked hard to earn if he delivered his message in just the right tone of voice and with the appropriate mix of faux sincerity and quotes from the Bible. Years ago he perfected the con of getting his audience to believe that by sending him money they were purchasing salvation in $10.00 and $20.00 increments. Crack for the soul as it were.

The global fascination with religion and spirituality never ceases to amaze me or to amuse me. The amount of time, money and effort devoted to the promotion of the idea that there is a higher power in the ether somewhere over all of us makes my hair hurt. I have friends who consider my take on the subject to be foolhardy, warning of what awaits me when I die. I get it, "Next stop Eternal Damnation!" I shall take my chances - thank you very much - rather than to have to spend a moment of any day from this one forward to whenever my last one pops up on the calendar worrying about the possibility of sharing a seat in the celestial lifeboat with a "religious man" like Robertson. If he is on God's team, then give me a moment will you to jog to the other end of the field.

Presuming that there is some higher power looking down at the mess we have made out of all he created, wondering why he did not simply give the world to the monkeys, one wonders if he has a Rolodex on his massive oak desk in Heaven. If he does, then here is to hoping that he has all of the fraud television evangelists' names, numbers and expiration dates in it. And that he is working his way down the list alphabetically.

Or maybe - at the very least - working on revamping the programming on CBN. As luck would have it, there is a marginally funny, appropriately pasty-skinned television host who is about to come on the market after first separating his present employer from $30 Million, which if nothing else proves that he already has the whole fleecing of the flock bit down pat.

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