Praying Away the Perfidy
The spring rains were not strong enough to wash away the smell of corruption. Here are several short takes on the news.
1. Congress doesn’t have a prayer. Speaker Paul Ryan demanded the resignation of Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th House Chaplain, apparently for offering a prayer questioning the tax-cut bill out of concern for the poor. Conroy pushed back and has kept his job. But this raises the question of why there should be chaplains at all. Indeed, James Madison opposed paying them with public funds. The chaplain’s job, judging by Ryan, is not to challenge legislators but to provide a thin veneer of piety to cover their rapacity, cruelty, and arrogance. Let them call Dial-a-Prayer and stop wasting our taxes.
2. Punching for patriarchy. Old comments keep coming back to haunt L. Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2000, at a conference of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, he boasted of having counseled a woman who was beaten by her husband to stay, submit to him, and pray for him. This stems from complementarity, which teaches that men and women were created for each other. It is a euphemism for male supremacy. Its true origin is not the Bible but Plato’s Symposium, which, unlike the SBC, recognized that some people’s “other half” is of the same gender. Pro tip: you can pray just as well from a place of safety.
3. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Bill Cosby’s money and past impersonation of “America’s Dad” finally failed to protect him. He was convicted on three counts related to drugging and raping Andrea Constand. In an unsealed deposition from 2005, he had admitted that he obtained drugs to sedate women he wanted to have sex with. Whether he is sentenced to 30 years or gets off on appeal, the entertainer and philanthropist will forever be remembered as a monster who used moral scolding of the poor to conceal his predations. One advance that may come from his case is the repeal of statutes of limitations for such crimes.
4. Grifter in the oil patch. Scott “Cone of Silence” Pruitt is so corrupt and destructive of the EPA that I believe he needs his bloated security detail. Like Paul Ryan saying the social safety net hurts the poor, Pruitt had the gall to say that killing pollution regs will help the environment. So go ahead, stay home on Election Day and choke.
5. Moon-Kim summit. The leaders of North and South Korea shook hands across their heavily armed border on April 26. This comes none too soon considering that America’s president surrounds himself with men slavering for war. Keep in mind that Congress paid for its tax cut with a massive increase in military spending, which is like balancing your béarnaise sauce with a crème brûlée for dessert. The result will not just be a spike in national debt, but countless more in foreign dead missing from our casualty lists and war memorials. Do not stray far from the bathroom.
6. Survivor: Knowhere. If you doubted that the next Marvel movie could be as good as Black Panther, congratulations. Avengers: Infinity War appears to be in a contest to see how many actors can be wasted in one movie. My favorite moment came when the ten-year-old next to me yelled “You idiot!” at Benedict Cumberbatch. Central to the plot are six “infinity stones” that together convey the power to kill half the universe, which the villain wants to do because of food shortages or some such brutal excuse. The stones are what Alfred Hitchcock called a MacGuffin, an object that drives the story. MacGuffins were parodied endlessly over the decades when TV’s Doctor Who worried about the Sash of Rassilon and other artifacts getting into the wrong hands. Infinity War got into the wrong (screenwriters’) hands, though it is breaking box-office records. It is capably made. Film lovers deserve more.
A grownup friend whispered, “We had a good run,” referring not to movie franchises but to America, which after 242 years is a theater full of hungry fans laughing at facile dialog.▼