UP UP AND AWAY

Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Suspended under a twilight canopy
We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us
If by some chance you find yourself loving me
We’ll find a cloud to hide us
We’ll keep the moon beside us
Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you’ll hold my hand we’ll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Balloon…
Up, up, and away…..
-Jimmy Webb

I find fundamentalisms to be amusing. They are so whether they are religious, Bright-minded and hyper rationalistic, or psychologically systematic. I have been fortunate (or cursed,) to have a lot of exposure to the weird and the wonderful and the unexplicable, yet, about absolute matters and both first and final things, I am agnostic. Any opinions I have are tentative, but my prejudice does favor a minimal capability enabled to understand what is demonstrably and reasonably widely applicable and what is, surely, not known to be certainly universal.

When I was 21 I had dinner with a friend and his wife and another couple. This second couple was literally led by the husband, a twenty-something Navy officer several years out of Annapolis. He worked as a weapons coordinator at Portsmouth naval shipyard. He also was a dominionist. He laid it all out how a Christian God stood, for him, firstly over everything including history itself, so-to-speak. I thought nothing of it except that the only proof he spoke of us was the truth of the bible. And, he told us it would end badly for the infidel and, just maybe, the US Navy might have to weigh in on the side of the about-to-return, sword bearing, Jesus. He sure hoped he might get a chance to rain some hellfire on the unsaved.

Scroll forward through many other encounters, each one characterized by the same “proof”. Such intellectual silliness is hardly worth challenging. For example, intelligent design proffers not even a single coherent contest of evolution. And it’s whole primary frame is supernaturalistic expicalicreationist. Heck, the other morning on the local NPR station a minister stated that evolution could not be true because nobody was around to observe it. I thought it was a delicious moment of solipsism, but the caller on the line fumbled the golden opportunity to shoot fish in the barrel.

I have friends and colleagues who are much more anxious about Jesusmanic religious fundamentalism, 21st century revival-style. Not me. The problem with the prospect for a theocracy is demographic and generational. A friend of mine is the son of pentacostals and he chose sex over snakes at 15. Doh.

This week I watched Jesus Camp, (official site,) a movie mostly about a crazed youth minister, Becky Fischer. Her game is to indoctrinate 5-15 year old kids and make them into Christian warriors in the Manichean war of saved Jesus peeps against unbelievers. Among many chilling sequences are two that leap out. The first is when she expresses envy of Islam because the Muslims, according to Fischer, have the kiddie indoctrination process down cold. The second is when she forthrightly admits that the end game of God’s design isn’t compatible with democracy.

But what the theocrats are up against is the increasing plural and cosmopolitan character of the U.S. As well, the generation galvanized to fearfulness by free love and freely chosen spirituality and freaks and, heck, the enlightenment, are aging. Ask any twenty-year-old about the counterculture of the sixties and how it has impacted them.

Sure, there is a wedge strategy to take over South Carolina, and, evidently, some of the suburbs of Colorado Springs have already ‘fallen,’ yet, over the next decade or so, the aging evangelical babyboomer, (see the red and blue political maps for 1972 and 2004,) and the generation X evangelical will go into fast decline. Fischer will not be able to create her warriors fast enough to war against culturally tolerant, hedonistic generations Y & Z.

Rapture gallery time.

Ask the aces question of any fundamentalist of any heuristic stripe: “Is your God, model, system, view, knowledge, required to also be my God (etc.)?” See if you’re forced to point out that something held to be truly universally applicable can only be true if it is truly universally applicable.

If my intuition is wrong and I end up in hell for eternity, so be it. If hell is good enough for Ronald Reagan and JFK –if there be a hellish there, there–it’s good enough for me.

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