Monday, April 30, 2007

Bush's Beatitudes

It's been nearly twenty years since I traveled to Israel with an ecumenical collection of pilgrims from Tennessee. The varied influences in my youth enabled me to appreciate all sides of the Biblical story. One afternoon, we found ourselves about five miles outside of Jerusalem on a grassy hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. A little church at the top of the hill commemorates the spot many archaeologists believe to be the location of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. One of our Christian travelers produced a New Testament and read the opening portion of the Sermon known as the "Beatitudes," a description of the blessed. As a Jew in Catholic school, I was very familiar with these verses from Catholic liturgy, but their significance seemed as basic to Catholicism as to mainstream Protestantism, and became, in my eyes, the Bill of Rights for Christianity. These sentiments, expressed by Jesus to His disciples and the gathering crowd, laid the groundwork for the common bonds of humankind and the duties of His followers toward the suffering and the poor. On that hilltop, hearing the words spoken from a Jesus eye-view, was moving to Christians and Jews alike. Lately, however, a sect of Charismatic Evangelicals, who must account for the 29% of the population who still think Bush is doing a good job, has had to provide a new translation for the Sermon on the Mount to accommodate their Faith-Based President in the troubling days of His spiritual wilderness. I offer first a quote from the actual Sermon, and then the translation; known as Bush's Beatitudes

"'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
BB: Blessed are the wealthy campaign donors to the Republican Party, who by giving generously to the Party of God, help to insure themselves a reserved seat at the right hand of the Lord.

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
BB: Not by me, of course. I don't attend the funerals of our soldiers, but I talk to families who die. Better to let the military deal with that sort of thing. I make sure the flags are folded correctly.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
BB: Those hippies can have the damn thing as soon as my deregulations allow my corporate friends to drain the earth's remaining natural resources and sell them back to you at steep prices for gargantuan profits.

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
BB: Unless the righteousness for which you hunger includes government assistance, in which case, you ain't fillin' nothin' around here except forms in triplicate. We're working hard to put food on your family. The righteousness is free, but the food's gonna' cost ya.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
BB: Maybe I should have rethought that express lane in the Texas death chamber.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
BB: Just take my word for it. God wants me to be president and rise up against Babylon. God's busy; He'll see you later.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
BB: Just as soon as we win this war.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
BB: Alberto Gonzales died for your sins.

"Blessed are ye, when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
BB: Ronald Reagan was John the Baptist; Republicans equal life, Democrats equal death; Stay the course; I 'preciate your sacrifice; God bless America.


Anonymous said...

You are right...politics is a dirty, rotten, stinking business regardless of who is running the show. The choice is always between Teedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum (in Jesus' day, they were known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees, now it is Democrat and Republican...the names and faces change, but the people don't). No truly honest person would enter that foul arena. It corrupts all who enter therein. The subculture is the only viable option. Live the political reality that you want to see manifest and screw the rest of it. You may say that I live in a world of my own making...but that's allright, they know me here and it works for me. Heck, pot is even legal in my world and I don't have to campaign to make it so.

Anonymous said...

Very very cleverly thought out and rewritten. Congratulations, Senor Haspel.

Anonymous said...

R.J. You will find reading Amy-Jill Levine's book, "The Misunderstood Jew" very interesting. It talks about the realities in the time of Jesus and how the church has re-branded Him from Jew to Judean to Nazarine. Does this kind of "spin" remind you of anybody? Unc. G.

Anonymous said...

I am 60+ years of age and this is what I have seen of the nature of the game of politics during my life... Unless it is played with the utmost of integrity (which it never, ever will be), it descends into a figurative scrapping of so many coyotes over a morsel of carrion. Even on the most basic level, such as the place of one's employment...what have you, the basic nature of the game is the same. There are those who jockey for position and power, by hook or crook, and those who curry favor with those who are in power(the lap dogs). Duplicity, back-stabbing, lying, and all kinds of hypocritical game-playing are the order of the day. And the game gets more bogus as the stakes become higher...and this is particularly true of government at all levels. Do you read the local newspaper? Ha-ha-ha-ha!! The thing that blows my mind is that so many people take this game seriously. It is like so many dogs barking at night or howling at the moon. How can anyone be so serious about something that is so inherently bogus. It is worthy only of universal loathing...or at the very least ignoring. On the other hand, all game playing is irrational. Maybe it's just a way of passing the time of day. In that case...rave on. May the strongest and most vicious coyote get the biggest piece of carrion, and the most obsequious lapdog get a portion of it. I'll settle for a veggie buger and a glass of carrot juice, thank you. All games will come to an end when the sun burns out and the universe implodes, so forget what I just said.

Anonymous said...

Well, here are my thoughts. I think that we need more inner cosmonauts, like Thoreau suggested. The inner world is at least as interesting to explore as the outer, but we seem to have forgotten that as we recede from the hippie era. The inner world can be incredibly fascinating, even psychedelic to use an old word. We suffer from a dearth of depth of thought and perception...a sort of spiritual poverty. My prescription is to lay off of the alcohol and to set aside some time to take a few hits of some fine Columbian (to use Donald Fagen's words),and then to kick back and see what swims through your mind... maybe the solution to some of the problems that you people constantly bitch about. You might even see through the illusory Republican/Democrat duality that you are hung up on to a truer perception of reality. The only other alternative is to stay hung up in the constipated strata of consciousness that you offense. I'm just trying to be helpful. Sort of like a concerned mother trying to pop an unsightly zit on the face of her adolescent child.

Anonymous said...

The following is an astute political comment by Willie Nelson: 'It doesn't matter whether pot is legal or not, as long as you can get it'. Willie doesn't need no steeenking politics...his life is his politics.

randy said...

How in the world did an irreverent translation of the Sermon on the Mount to justify the actions of Bush, turn into a forum on pot?

Anonymous said...

Just went down a rabbit trail, I guess...sorry. Your blog sets me to thinking about all sorts of things...some of them unrelated to the topic at hand. Maybe that is good.

Anonymous said...

P.S....I don't agree with you on very many things, because I am an apolitical, Thoreauian bohemian with strong libertarian (if I have to use political lingo) inclinations.Government is something that lawyers created so that they can fleece the rest of us. Politics is just the scamming and b.s. that goes on between the coyotes who enjoy playing the game. But, I have always liked and admired you. Your fascination with politics is akin to a zit on your face...I would never reject someone because they had a zit on their face...I would just ignore the zit and appreciate the rest of them.