The General sat upon the stand
Medaled, scarred, and lame
While lawyers layered in Harvard threads
Ascribed a baseless claim
He had to smile, amid the din
At liberty’s wayward sons
Proclaiming freedoms learned by rote
That he, by blood…had won
Thrilling, titillating, alluring, smooth. The gathering of the faithful, already intoxicated by the visual aura of the cathedral--glorious murals, towering stained glass proclamations, magnificent marble statues, all illuminated by massive gold and crystal chandeliers--these listened intently to…the preacher. Like a skilled conductor the famed orator directed the music--his words--to waft and weave among the people like the gentle wisps of burning frankincense that arose from the many brass censers and intermarried with every molecule of air in the place and, as the eager listeners breathed in, and out the fragrance, so these also “breathed” the words. They joyously received them, cherished them, and absorbed them into their very being. Yes, the preacher, using the carefully crafted words of the “faith” continued to soothe and massage and sculpt the scripture to suit his whim, to suit his…goals. However, far in the back, shorter than most and, afflicted with the sniffles, an aging, disheveled elder simply looked to the Book. Oblivious to the “show” he--pausing every minute or so to dab his sore nose--carefully followed the references and examined the context of the “message.” After a half hour, even as the crowd around him swayed and nearly swooned from the cadence of the hypnotic voice, the elder, his eyes burning with rage, slammed shut the ancient text and, as all (even the preacher) turned towards the interrupter, He nearly shouted, “If any man preaches unto you a gospel other than what you have received…let him be accursed!” For a moment there was silence but, as many dismissed the “old fool” with a wave, others, the true believers, let the words germinate in their heart and, even as the preacher continued to peddle his wares; the spell had been broken. Soon, one by one the great hall emptied until only the lifeless words reverberated midst the lifeless relics.
What utter boobs. What buffoons. What naive numskulls we be. Oh, I like a Hollywood production as much as the next guy. But really, must we always, always! give sway to all the carefully crafted cues and catch phrases that are the product of psychology and focus groups? Must we always lower our defenses when words like “values” and “American ideals” are effortlessly thrown out and linked to sacred American texts as if they somehow belonged (HA!) Perhaps it’s because we “are” the “Hollywood” generation, the consumers of confection, the believers of bologna. Whatever the cause, eventually the “works” will overshadow the words and, when that happens, perhaps then…the words will begin to have meaning…once more.