Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Playing with Fire


I have a cat who plays with fire.

Being mostly hairless she suffers from a certain vulnerability to the cold which makes her somewhat fearless in approaching sources of heat. As winter creeps up on us here in the great north-south east-midwest (and the cost of LP gas keeps furnace derived heat a longed for but as yet unattained luxury), we have once again begun creating the nightly conflagrations in the living room fireplace to which the cat is drawn like -- well -- a hairless cat to the flame.

So great is the cat's love of fire that I've seen her put her tiny paws on the sizzling hot fire screen as if she were praying to the god of fire and offering her little body as a sacrifice, that she might curl up in the embers if only she could. Her deep longing to experience the fullness of the heat within the magic cave of the fireplace seems to overcome whatever instinct she should have, as a small animal, to avoid immolation.

Her lusty devotion to fire finally came to its inevitable disastrous result last week. While sitting on the hearth, rotating like a chicken on a rotisserie, she flipped the tip of her tail into the fireplace and left it there. In the few seconds it took for the "ahhhhhhhhh, warm!" message to travel up her tail, spread hotly along her little spine and reach, in screaming decibels, the ganglia of her walnut-sized brain, she burned the shit out of her tail. She has carried it in a gingerly fashion since then. As I watch her relationship to the fireplace now, it appears that even a hairless old cat with a walnut-sized brain can learn. She avoids the hearth now, content to remain on the carpet in front of it. She has learned that, while fire can be your comforting friend, a cat must not underestimate its potential for harm. One must keep a safe distance. Heat is one thing and self-immolation is quite another.

People do not seem to learn this kind of lesson as quickly as a hairless old cat with a walnut-sized brain.

One would think that, having been burned by the fire of religious zealotry on more than one historic occasion, human beings would have learned that religion, like fire, is best kept at a safe working distance. While it might feel wonderful to come close to it and curl up in the warmth of its message, its best not to lay one's tail in the molten heart of it.

We should have learned that with the lesson of the Crusades -- 300 years of Holy Wars, during which soldiers and laypersons "took up the cross" in a bloody march across Europe to rid the world of evil in the form of Muslims, Jews, Slavs, Mongols, Prussians, Greek Orthodox Christians, pagans and heretics.

We should have learned it during the Spanish Inquisition -- 400 years of heterodoxy, during which priests sought to root out heresy by torturing and murdering some 50,000 Jews, Muslims, Protestants, bigamists, homosexuals, sodomites, Freemasons, blasphemers and heretics, including (but not limited to) witches.

We should have learned it in the late 1600's when 60,000 people in Europe were murdered for the crime of "witchcraft" -- or in our own country, when our Puritan ancestors established the rule of theocracy in Massachusetts that led to the witch hunts in Salem, Ipswich, Boston, Andover and Charlestown.

We should have learned it every time religion has been co-opted by zealots to persecute and demonize other human beings, but apparently we haven't. We still approach religion like a warm fire in the fireplace, forgetting that it can also decimate a forest or destroy a city ... or burn your tail.

Proposition 8 is merely another go-round. It's hate and fear and demonization wrapped in the cloak of godliness, and just like the Crusades and the Inquisition and the witch trials ... and the Taliban and the Holocaust and a hundred other examples of zealotry showing its true face ... it is narrow-minded fear-mongering craziness.

Spirituality is a good thing. Faith-based persecution and religious craziness are not.

Pull your tails out of the fire.







8 comments:

Pat said...

I have to say that I am still reeling with the CA thing. And, I am also glad that you said "Fuck you, Solomon Brown."
I wish that I could say "Fuck you, Solomon Brown" out loud, but, alas, I am in school and even though we have gay marriage in this state, it was recommended to me by two medical professional friends that I not come out until I am established in a job. It makes me so sad to know that I am still the target of discrimination by so many people.
Even in my classroom situation, it has been conjectured that I am a lesbian. I have not responded in any way to that. My private life is not up for discussion, no more than anyone elses. I am, however, still ostracized, however, for what MAY be true.
Just because we are given the right to marry does not guarantee equality.

xup said...

Aaarrgghhhh.This is all so unbelievable to me. How can two neighbouring countries have such radically different attitudes? And I want to respond to Pat. My daughter has had gay and lesbian teachers and in Jr. High a principal and rather than hiding this, they are very open about it. Because they feel it's important for young people who may have questions or anxieties about their own sexuality to have adults in their lives to whom they can relate -- especially if their parents aren't too comfortable discussing the subject. Also they feel it's important to educate by example to the diversity of human beings whether race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. A teacher is so much more in a child's life that someone who spews out facts from a textbook. As a result, the idea that people aren't allowed to get married just because they're 2 females or 2 males is completely confounding to my daughter. She couldn't understand why strangers got to vote on who someone could marry.

Kwach said...

Pat, I feel for you. Ev and I have the advantage of being able to be out in our professional and personal lives. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to hide the simplest truth of my life whenever I leave my house. Who could be expected to live like that?

The idea that gay equates to perversion, child molestation, bestiality, sexual promiscuity and all the rest is simply specious. It is no more logical to say that heterosexual teachers are there to molest opposite gendered students.

I'm a firm believer that sexual misbehaviour is tied strongly to sexual repression. If we'd stop repressing people they might not need to act out in inappropriate ways.

I have a feeling I'll be blogging about this for awhile.

Next up: "You there! Yes, you ... the topless dyke on you Harley and the gay guy marching down the street in the assless chaps and bandolier ... you aren't helping!"

xup said...

What I'm saying is that it's appalling that Pat is unable to be the mentor and teacher children need and so the school system will continue to raise narrow-minded little Americans

Kwach said...

X-UP ... I totally agree with you. I had gay teachers clear back in the late 1960's. They didn't talk about it, but everyone knew who they were. They were some of my favorites.

I'll tell you what shocks me. It's gay Republicans. What the hell?

innkeeper said...

I know your commentary was aimed at Proposition 8, but I looked at it in a more general perspective. I think you really hit the nail on the head about "keeping religion at a safe working distance...." and the issues when religion is co-opted by zealots who use it to persecute and demonize others. We belonged to a church for nearly 15 years, and I have to admit to some unease with the intensity or zeal of others. I've decided that I'm pretty much done with organized religion. I had a difficult time putting my finger on exactly what it was. You just did.

Jazz said...

Amen! Though all things considered that might not be the best word to use...

Religion and real life should never ever be mixed. Organized religion is a plague on society in my opinion.

It never fails to amaze me how these people preach love and reaching out to others, but as soon as the other isn't their clone, they lash out.

I've already been told by one of these nutjobs that since I was an atheist I had no morality, ferchrissake! WTF!

Ev said...

Jazz, I have the samething happen all the time. And people tell me that atheists have no morality like it's obvious...like it's an agreed-on common point from which to start a discussion.

I avoid the word moral in general, but I've replaced it with "ethical", which has less religious implications for me.