foolish faith

Monday night and I finally gave into this sickness I’ve been trying to shake the past week or so, coming home after noon to try and get some rest (didn’t work, ended up on the phone or e-mail the entire time). Monday night and Neon Bible still hasn’t leaked (the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! did though, so that helps a little). I really though it’d be soon after those five tracks dribbled out last week… I think they’re just messing with me now. Hurry! Up! Arcade! Fire! Let’s write now.

I wanted to start these next few paragraphs with an impactful, attention-grabbing sentence: In this day and age in America, religion, Christianity in particular, I fear, is headed for the same fate as the Southern accent.

If you haven’t noticed, in recent times the Southern accent has, quite unfairly, been associated with ignorance. I’m not sure where this stereotype actually came from, but you can pick up on it from just about any piece of pop culture from the last 70 years or so: look at Gomer Pyle, who was famous for his idiocy, and had the most pronounced twang in Mayberry; there’s Cleetus, the “slack-jawed” yokel from the Simpsons; the entire premise of the backwoods hillbilly Clampett family being misplaced in the modern world. Yeah sure, those shows are serving to foster the image, and maybe it’s unfair to use them as examples – but for more proof you don’t have to look much further than Saturday Night Live’s President Bush caricature. When did having a Southerly drawl automatically lower your perceived IQ? I’m not claiming it’s ubiquitous, not everyone is shallow enough to pigeonhole someone by their accent, but still – it’s there.

When I was a kid, we used to this incredibly mean and insensitive thing when we wanted to ape an idiot. We’d let our hand hang limp at the wrist, and then repeatedly thump it against our breast while making “Der, der, duh, der” sounds. This was an imitation of a “Jerry’s Kid.” Crazy thing was, as a kid I really didn’t even know what I was doing. I mean, I knew I was somehow making fun of retarded kids, who apparently beat their own broken wrists against their chests on the Jerry Lewis Telethon – but I had no idea how mean it really was. We were just calling each other stupid. Make a dumbass comment, and I’m gonna tease you by thumping my chest and doing my best “Uhhh, derrr, oohhhuhh.” See, I didn’t really know any retarded kids (that’s not entirely true, but mostly so) – but I assumed they were all stupid (OK, strict definition of “retarded” aside) and therefore a good point of reference when calling out someone else as such. Hicks, yokels, Okies, hillbillies, rednecks, Johnny Rebs. And I think Christians are headed the same way. Instead of tomorrow’s kids beating their chests with limp wrists, maybe they’ll thump and imaginary Bible or fold their hands in mock prayer.

Being religious is is turning into being stupid, and it’s happening fast. Oh sure, throughout history people have always been “too smart” to have faith, the whole science vs. faith thing has been around for eons, but I think it’s different these days. Today, the loudest voice is not longer the church and it’s various supporters installed as kings and queens. Today, the voice heard above the most is that of media and celebrity. And that is, more often than not, not the church’s voice (some might say it’s the voice of reason, others the voice of Satan). Regardless, if the believing collective don’t get their act together soon and do a major PR campaign, they risk being forever viewed as the Flat Earth Society – the new Jerry’s Kids, the new Cleetuses. Plenty of smart people believe in God, right? Doesn’t matter – who’s going to willingly join a organization of dinosaurs futilely holding onto the old ways? You may think that, as everyone gets dumber, everything will balance out – but I disagree. Everyone being dumb just means it’s easier for those who aren’t to convince the masses their way is correct.

I’m rambling now. Let’s sum it up: Christians in danger of being recast as simpletons, need to come up with plan of action before this fate unfairly befalls them. Stereotypes are bad, but they’re also powerful as hell and take centuries to overcome.

I wrote fast, probably full of typos, omissions, and things I didn’t mean. Goodnight bitches.

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