Analogy is going to demand an assault charge after this one

“Tell them Osama’s dead without proof of a body & they celebrate. Tell them Jesus died & rose without proof of a body & they speculate.”

This was the recent Facebook status of someone a friend of mine has been close to since childhood. That this is a logical Hindenburg is self-evident, but I’ll address it anyway.

My friend is conflicted about her relationships with most the people she’s known the longest, and understandably so. One hand, she grew up flitting at all times on the edges of being a ward of the state thanks to one of those chaotic rural Southern upbringings that seems too stereotypical to be real, a life extracted from a Harry Crews novel. She has few surviving close family members, and her chief allies in life besides her husband are cousins and childhood pals who together from an unofficial united front against progressive politics, exercise, sobriety, and godlessness. It’s more a little hard to take for my friend, who graduated second in her class in a prominent law school, is a dedicated runner, despises most Republicans, and has a Facebook feed that looks like the ass end of an all-you-can-eat tent revival sponsored jointly by NASCAR and Pabst Blue Ribbon. These people have been mainstays in a tumultuous life and she would never turn her back on them, but at times she either has to mentally mute their serial cognitive recklessness or check into the Crazy Inn herself.

The quoted status update elicited a flurry of “likes” and yee-haws of affirmation from various pockets of the local swamp country. More than being just moronic on its face, it typifies the mentality of low-wattage Christopaths everywhere: They take it as axiomatic that Jesus not only lived and died as described in a popular work of Fertile Crescent mythology, but rose from the dead and went into permanent hiding, and to politely demand evidence of this is simply off limits. To people who think like this, there’s no such thing as special pleading, because when it comes to Jesus, well, he is special enough to overturn his own gruesome execution, duh!

Yet at the same time, the status update ostensibly places a premium on physical evidence. Without, I assume, photographic evidence of a dead bin Laden (within hours of the announcement of his demise, at that), there’s no reason to believe that it actually happened, unless you put stock in reports of DNA confirmation. So in theory, the same person writing (or borrowing) this status update would want to see evidence of Jesus Christ ascending to Heaven — not merely a swab of his genetic material — before she can accept it as fact. Now I grant that “they speculate” is unclear as written, as I don’t know who “they” are or whether the poster knows what “speculate” means. But viewing the words in context and armed with my friend’s description of the writer, I am going to guess that the writer is declaring that it is hypocritical to refute Jesus’ resurrection yet accept the news about Osama as truth. I suppose I could protest at this point that two thousand years have passed without a single reason to believe that the resurrection fable is any more than just that, while evidence of Osama’s transition from a sickly-looking scumbag with a gnarly beard to a corpse is undoubtedly on the way. But I suspect that any such conversation in real life would rapidly lead to an explosion of birther comments, diatribes about the iniquities of same-sex marriage and abortion, and raves about the intellectual vigor of Sarah Palin, all fueled by unrestrained consumption of cheap beer, unfiltered cigarettes, and baby back ribs. And again, I am not kidding. I almost went to an Easter eat-a-thon with my friend and her husband and the leftovers and anecdotes they came back with both lay waste to the notion that anything I have related here in any way approaches caricature.

I guess I’ll quit bitching about how so many of my friends never seem to shut up about running, fitness, and proper nutrition. It’s easy to take allies for granted and to come down on them too hard for being overbearing at times.

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  1. #1 by heironymous on May 3, 2011 - 11:53 am

    What’s your take on the “It’s wrong to celebrate this” crowd? I mean, the “This is Bush’s victory crowd” are clearly in some cognitive dissonant alternate universe with your friend’s facebook buddies..;.

  2. #2 by kemibe on May 3, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    I don’t blame anyone who felt a tremendous measure of savage satisfaction. So I’m not surprised that people reacted to the news by chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” about it at places like Yankee Stadium, So I wouldn’t say it’s wrong to celebrate, but I would also say that it’s both short-sighted for a number of reasons (bin Laden died knowing he’s done his job well, short of destroying western traditions and culture outright) and if I were at a baseball game with my hypothetical kid and people started in with that shit, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that people were cheering because some guy had been shot in the head. But this hasn’t been a citizenry favoring reason over emotion in as long as I’ve been old enough to contemplate it. Even people’s little attempts at nuggets of bastardized logic, like that of our Jesus fan here, are swaddled in hubris.

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