Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Of Politics, Dracula and Joseph Smith

I knew I was in trouble the moment this straggly haired woman chose to shift her legs to the side a bit instead of simply rising for the spit second it would take me to plop into the window seat. She had stuff on the floor I nearly tripped over and I almost clocked the person in the seat in front of me in the head with my $3 bottle of water. I hadn't even stuffed my bag under the seat in front of me when she began the interrogation as to my final destination, the historic significance of said destination (Philadelphia or home as I like to call it) and where it is that I currently attend school. I replied in the shortest sentences possible, barely attempting to hide my utter lack of interest in her existence. There was something about this 40 something granny glasses wearing lady that rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was the way her sandwich smelled and how she ate it with two cupped hands cramming it into her face pausing to offer a bit of her "delicious!" sandwich to her husband on the other side of the aisle. I could be nice and offer to switch with him, I thought, but I hate the aisle - elbows and beverage carts do not mix well.

I quickly became purposefully engaged in Bram Stoker's Dracula (I was right at the part where it's clear that Lucy is having an unholy visitor in the night - how deliciously horrid!) and hoped that would deter my eager neighbor. And for the most part my intense concentrations kept her silent, but alas she did not have an equally as enthralling piece of trashy literature to keep her occupied. No sooner had the seat belt sign shut off did the she whip out a Book of Mormon workbook for adults and what I can only presume to be the Book of Mormon. This would have been fine if it were not for the fact that a good portion of said workbook was encroaching onto my tray table which I had just lowered in preparation for a post-vacation $6 mini bottle of white wine. I proceeded to read the heck out of my unholy book and drink the crap out of what tasted a little like pinot grigio, but also a tad like chalk. I thought I was in the clear as she knew where I stood - I just want to read this scary book, get tipsy and not talk to anyone. But my lifestyle choices called out to her and her mission and just as the wheels were returning to the tarmac she made her move.

Lady: I know you love reading.
Me: OK. (funny how you're able to know anything about me from the 7 sentences we've exchanged over the last 2hrs 40min.)
Lady: And I just wanted to give you a gift.
Me: (confused look)
Lady: I want to give you a book that's meant a lot to me.
Me: (0h, no, here it comes.)
Lady: Do you like books about American history?
Me: (Wow, OK this is throwing me off a bit. American history? Oh - wait - I got it.) No. No, I don't like books about American history. (Especially totally made up history. As she flips over a post card with a very dramatic illustration reminding me somehow of a pornographic Little House on the Prairie.)
Lady: OK, well it's good to be honest.
Me: Yeah, well that's how I was raised. (And then I actually bit my tongue, fuming inside, angry at my eerie attack of politeness. I was also raised Agnostic.)

So, what is the purpose of this travel tale and what, like everything lately, does it have to do with Sarah Palin? Here's the thing - people that want to give "meaningful" gifts to strangers with the intent of conversion show a complete disregard for that stranger's current beliefs or their chosen organized religion. There is a reason that not every Joe Six-pack who goes to church on Sundays actively seeks to convert strangers - it's weird and creepy and normal people (often moral god-fearing people) just don't do it. People that think "Climate Change" is not our responsibility as humans to fix or just figure out how to keep our pollution to a minimum and folks that would prefer bringing religion into public schools in the form of creationism or its wacky cousin "Intelligent Design" are just not thinking things through. I'm as "tolerant" of extremists as Mrs. Palin is of those super fun homos she hangs with all the time, but there's a place where one can pontificate their hearts out about the presence of a higher power while exchanging ideas with their peers in a safe haven of non-judgement or as some prefer a place to be judged and punished - it's called church (or temple, or mosque, you know what I'm getting at). It's not called a Cabinet Meeting, the campaign trail or Jeebus help us - The White House.

When those old white dudes wrote the Constitution (in a Quaker state mind you) there just wasn't a whole lot of religious diversity. I truly believe they used the word "God" in its most general sense. But, there were 7 Quakers and 3 Unitarians at the table so I'm sure their views didn't exactly mesh with the 80 or so Anglicans and 30 Presbyterians. But, they made it work for the most part because it was their job to do so. So, I'd really appreciate it if politicians would just keep their religions in their metaphorical pants and get on with making questionable decisions that directly affect my wages, reproductive rights, national pride and my own personal need to refrain from occupation in general and make them free of the rules and regulations of exceptional restrictive religious views. It seems only fair. And it is so sad that Presidential campaigns think Americans prefer to watch these people fling poop at each other instead of hearing about actual policy proposals and plans, especially given the current financial end of days (or not). It's even sadder that they're probably right.

Fey's Palin is just plain scary at this point.