Saturday, April 29, 2006

What fresh hell is this?

I've had this expression rattling around in my head ever since I saw it recently in a diary on My Left Wing. I know I'd heard it before that--probably from my brother--but didn't know where it originated. Here's what I found on Everything2.Com

A line attributed many times to Shakespeare but actually it's from American author/critic/poet and wit Dorothy Parker. She is reported to have exclaimed "What fresh hell is this?" when her train of thought was interrupted by a telephone. She then started using it in place of "hello" when answering the phone or a knock at her door. In many ways she can be considered the patron saint of all tech support workers.
Well, now that I've gotten that little aside out of the way, here's what got that expression *back* in my head recently. The National Day of Prayer Task Force car, that is to be driven in an upcoming Nascar race.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Amazing how one picture can sum up so succinctly what troubles me about my country these day.

It's hard to believe it's time again for the National Day of Prayer, which will fall on May 4 this year. But, while I was checking out the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch yesterday, there it was.
Many people in central Ohio and the rest of the country will pause to observe the National Day of Prayer on Thursday.

Ohio's event will take place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Statehouse. A Bible-reading marathon will again be held at the Franklin County Courthouse, 373 S. High St., beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday and ending at 10 a.m. Thursday.
There is something disturbingly in-your-face about a Bible-reading marathon at a municipal building.

Of course, I am well aware that expressing any such concern about that blurring of the line between church and state is likely to get one attacked for being anti-religion, as we saw in some attack ads during the 2004 election:
In Franklin County, the battleground county in the battleground state, incumbent Democratic Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy was attacked for failing to support a resolution to create a national day of prayer.

"Public prayer would be outlawed if liberal Mary Jo Kilroy was in charge," said a campaign mailing from Sen. David Goodman, her unsuccessful opponent. Goodman, a Columbus Republican, is Jewish.
Of course, what I find ironic is that fact that I oppose any state "blessing" of one faith tradition over another *because* of my Christian values, not in spite of them. It's all about that "do unto others the way you would have them do unto you" thing. Why should that be hard to understand? And I'm hardly alone...

Many people already know this, but for anyone who doesn't--or just for people who might appreciate the reminder in case they are thinking of writing a letter to the editor on this topic, Francis Bellamy, the Baptist Minister who first wrote the Pledge, chose his words very carefully, and chose *not* to include any reference to religion.
In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.
Another Reverend weighs in...

Barry Lynn objects to National Day of Prayer
The executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says Congress never should have established the event, which is observed each year on the first Thursday in May.

Lynn says the National Day of Prayer has become a vehicle for Christian conservatives to promote their social agenda, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage. He notes that it's chaired by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family's Doctor James Dobson.

Mrs. Dobson says she would like people "to be praying about the institution of marriage, how God designed it." She also says she hopes Americans will repent and honor God.
Kinda proving his point, isn't she? You can read more of what Rev. Barry Lynn has to say about the National Day of Prayer here.

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