Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Trouble With People.... that far too many of them (of us) are assholes.  Inevitable?  Perhaps.  After all, there are billions and billions of us participating in this great celestial time-share.  Statistically speaking, at least some of us are going to suck. 

Perhaps it is the realization that a not insignificant percentage of the people with whom we share space here on Earth are asshats that drives an inordinately high number of us to seek solace in things such as religion.  I was born an Irish Catholic.  I lapsed years and years ago.  If I had a soul I would claim to feel badly about the path onto which I have strayed.  I do not.  Therefore I shall not.  And to ensure that my sleep patterns are never disturbed by visions of pitchfork-wielding maniacs in pointed hats and capes - unless of course I have been watching CMT's Top 20 Video Countdown shortly before bed time - I simply think of those who represent "the other side".  Archbishop John Myers of the Diocese of Newark leaps to the forefront of my mind.  I sleep like a baby.  Actually, I sleep better than a baby.  I sleep like a drunk:  soundly and through the night.

While neither God nor the institutions that construct designated meeting places to delight the assembled masses with their particular fables of the reconstruction occupy any measurable time in my day-to-day, I am aware of the fact that not everyone shares my opinion.  I run past the local catholic church, OLMV, every Sunday morning.  There always seems as if most of the spaces in the parking lot are filled.  Well, except for the early mass, which I think is either 7:00 or 7:30.  That appears to be as well attended as an 8:00 Humanities class at CU-Boulder.  Or a Mets game. 

I tell anyone who will listen that I approach the notion of God in this way:  the Lord and I have an understanding.  I spend little time in his home and he returns the favor.  While I have zero patience for those who attach God's name to everything - if one more athlete thanks "God", "Jesus Christ" or "My Savior" in response to catching a pass, hitting a home run or sinking an off-balance corner jumper over the outstretched arm of a defender I am going to vomit in my own mouth.  Apparently the Creator - much like Vegas - has an active Sports Book.  I am not quite sure how one reconciles one's belief that he/she has a hand in the outcome of sporting events with the ass-kicking Notre Dame took at the hands of Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. 

Among the things I do hold near and dear to the little lump of coal pretending to be a heart is the preservation of the memory of those who were murdered by terrorists on September 11, 2001.  I subscribe fully to the "NEVER FORGET" school of thought.  In spite of my own lack of a belief in a "higher power" I not only understand but I appreciate the manner in which those directly impacted by the events of that day may have sought comfort, solace or whatever you want to call it in their faith.  When Life knocks you on your ass, needing something to get your legs back underneath is understandable. 

People have become very attached to symbols of that day.  Although not a religious man, I consider one of the greatest presents I have ever received to be a framed photograph of the World Trade Center Cross, which the great Ron Quinlan gave me for Christmas one year.  It is now where it has been since Mr. Q. bestowed it upon me:  prominently displayed on a wall in my office.

When I look at it, which I do every day it does not make me think of the four horrible years I spent attending Catholic grammar school or the seemingly endless number of Sundays I spent sitting in church as a boy.  It makes me think of those who perished in that place, including those who rushed into harm's way in an effort to save people they did not know and had never met. 

Princeton, New Jersey sustained the loss of nine of its residents on September 11, 2001.  For the past three years, Roy James, the Deputy Chief of the Princeton Fire Department, has spearheaded the town's efforts to construct a 09/11 Memorial.  Finally, last year, after having tried for some time do to so, Deputy Chief James was able to secure a piece of the World Trade Center to be utilized as part of Princeton's memorial.  It is a single beam, approximately ten feet long and weighing two tons.  At some point prior to Deputy Chief James being able to procure it for the people of Princeton, someone cut a hole in the beam.  Were not the hole in the shape of a cross, its presence would be of no moment whatsoever.  If only....

While the presence of the hole in the beam in the immediate proximity of the cross has not prompted outrage from fans of crullers or danishes - arguing that the beam contains an obvious pro-doughnut message, the presence of a cross cut into it has sent the American Atheists into a tizzy.  In a story that aired on the local news Friday night on the CBS affiliate in New York, American Atheists spokesman Dave Silverman promised/threatened/whined like a little bitch that his organization will do "everything it can" to stop Princeton from constructing a 9/11 Memorial in which the cross in the beam is visible.  Silverman pointed out that the town's erection of a Memorial on public property in which the cross was visible to the public would "Place a religious symbol on public land and exclude others [which] is clearly illegal and unconstitutional." 

To date, no ground has been broken on the Memorial and whether the project, of which Deputy Chief James is clearly the driving force, ever shall come to fruition remains to be seen.  I did chuckle when I saw Deputy Chief James being interviewed during the CBS 2 story that aired Friday night.  Apropos of nothing, all of the concerns raised over the cross and what it means and what religions it allegedly excludes appear to be totally lost on the Deputy Chief.  Why?  Perhaps because he, himself, is Jewish....

....or perhaps he - much like the rest of the Twitterverse - is far too consumed by the big issues of the day.  Ben Affleck as Batman?  What will Hollywood think of next....


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