I went to church last night for the first time in decades. For reasons too complex to explain, I had come to the conclusion that religion might well be the Anti-Christ, and that if Jesus were here in the flesh once more, He would surely cast out those latter-day money changers in the God-wants-you-to-be rich temples. But recently, Sandra and I have been wondering about a humble little church up the road. It seems so inoffensive, eschewing the glitz and glamor of the ostentatious neighborhood temples, and we thought it might be comforting to spend a quiet hour or two sometime contemplating the mysteries of the spirit.
We didn’t know that last night was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the religions in which we were raised (you know, the observance of the forty days and forty nights that Jesus fasted in the wilderness). But for some unknown reason Sandra decided to drive by the church, and she noticed a small sign announcing there would be a 7 p.m. service. We decided to go and check it out.
I’m glad we did. Indeed, we will probably go back on Sunday, and we might even become members of that little church. We like its style. The young pastor is warm, personable – and reasonable. His sermon last night was metaphysical but believable – a discourse on the power of words and their special place in the teachings of the Bible.
I came away feeling a little more optimistic about the state of the world. Harsh as recent reality has been, dismal as the prospects for peace and decency seem to be, the word persists, and its power has been demonstrated through the centuries.
It may be totally unrelated, but to me it seemed an affirmation of this optimism when I read a news item this morning about the public’s reaction to that incredible ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (photo at right) – you now, the one giving corporations the right to spend as much as they want in presidential and congressional races. The ruling was based on such obvious nonsense that I despaired of the future of democracy in the United States. How could the American people put up with such twisted justice?
The reassuring answer, as I discovered this morning, is that they won’t.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that the vast majority of Americans are vehemently opposed to the ruling.
Some 80 percent of Americans say they’re against the decision. And that includes Republicans! I have to be careful when I write about Republicans. The negativity that my words might project would not be in keeping with the young pastor’s message. So I will just say that I am surprised to find that many Republicans are as aware and logical as normal people (at least, on this issue).
Like Democrats and Independents, Republicans in the poll were overwhelmingly opposed to the ruling.
Public reaction to the perverse ruling is so bipartisan that Congress should have little difficulty in passing legislation to counteract it. Even “the party of no” could not be so politically obtuse as to block the laws being prepared in the House and Senate to mitigate the impact of the court’s disastrous ruling.
For example, there’s a law being drafted that would ban campaign expenditures by recipients of federal bailout money — until the money is repaid — and by government contractors. It would also ban expenditures by foreign-controlled corporations (including companies incorporated in the United States that are 20 percent or more foreign-owned).
Under that bill, corporations would have to disclose the sources and amounts of money that they use to pay for broadcast campaign ads, making it easier to monitor. They also would have to disclose all campaign spending within 24 hours on their Web sites and notify their shareholders on a regular basis. And chief executives would have to appear in broadcast ads paid by their corporations, the way candidates already are required to endorse their own ads.
What is legislation but words? I know that’s not exactly what you were talking about, Pastor, but I see a relationship. Used correctly, words can empower humanity and protect democracy. Used to bamboozle the public and pervert the truth, they can corrode the foundations of society and degrade the spirit of humanity.
We should pay more attention to words. And, although I’m still not sure what this quotation (from the Gospel according to St. John) means, it’s a thought well worth pondering:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.