Rife With Contradiction

We live in a time of dichotomies. While scientists develop cloning technology and astrophysicists design our next space vehicle for interplanetary launch, tribal chiefs in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu toss a boar’s tusk into a lake atop 4,920 foot Mt. Manaro in an effort to appease the volcano god, Tagaro. Yes, this really happened in December, 2005.

Right here in the US, events in our own heartland seem almost as alien. Take the recent Missouri public-school flap over a stage production of Grease; a longtime high school favorite for its killer score, abundance of juicy roles for young people and irresistible infusion of teen energy and angst. However, even though the drama teacher at Fulton High “softened” the language in the school’s production, complaints ensued from several members of the local Callaway Christian Church who objected to “immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play.” Despite statistics to the contrary, apparently none of these parents believe their teen offspring engage in drinking, smoking or kissing. Now the school is in a tizzy and the teacher has been warned her contract may not be renewed. Equally devastating, the superintendent of schools has banned the scheduled spring production of Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible, a fictionalized play about a confused 17th century teen who accuses the wife of her ex-lover of being a witch.

Ironically, The Crucible was written by Miller in the 1950s in response to the McCarthy era witch-hunt of suspected Communists. Here’s a play with an obvious subtext about a wretched period of American history in which an environment of hysteria left people fearful of expressing themselves, and it’s being banned because an environment of hysteria has left people fearful of expressing themselves.

Lest we hasten to pin hysteria entirely on one group of religious fanatics, it’s important to note no one group has the corner on irrational fanaticism, just as no one group can lay sole claim to progressive thought. Take the 86 Evangelical leaders who backed an initiative to fight global warming after the National Association of Evangelicals refused to take a stand on the issue. Knowing how much influence Evangelicals have in the White House, it’s encouraging to see these courageous leaders make such a bold and decisive move. It’s foolish not to. The US—wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet, at least for the moment—scored way down at 28th place in environmental performance by country in a recent study by Yale and Columbia Universities. That’s pathetic! The environmental goals tested for aren’t impossible; six nations have achieved 85 percent or better success in meeting them already. Happily the state of California is making some progress, so perhaps we’ll stand as inspiration for the rest of the nation.

I give Al Franken credit. Al hosted one of the aforementioned Evangelicals on his 1150AM KTLK talk show. Imagine my surprise at tuning in to his usually delightfully-irreverent program one morning and hearing a chat about what Jesus would do. Environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill (pg. 26) would have fit right in. She posits basically the same question.

Here’s another good question, this one pertaining to the spirituality of the body: If Jesus hoisted a beer to honor St. Paddy’s Day, would he want it to be made with GMO grain? Fortunately there’s a growing market in organic brew (pg. 34), so we all can enjoy a hearty toast.

If you’d like a tasty meal to go with it, check out our food section starting on pg. 31.

And if you’d like something that nourishes your mind, keep reading.

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

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