Faith and Values

An alert Pigeon Poster brought to my attention a very interesting battle between art, religion, and those who take offense to one or the other, or both. The Sacramento County Public Law Library in Kali-forn-eeh-ah is exhibiting a mixed-media art presentation titled, Moral Values. The values issue gets cranked up by artist Jeri Wyrick’s piece where she shows the Bible with a strip going across the front that says, “Warning! May Impair Judgment.”

Discussing her piece on a note next to the artwork, Jeri says, “I came to the conclusion that there must be something about religious faith which renders people stupid.” This was an observation regarding the 2004 U.S. presidential election that you might recall re-elected George W. Bush. Maybe it’s the “warning” or maybe it’s the “stupid” that did it, but it has inflamed tempers. Imagine that!

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, is not happy. “The purpose of the message is to directly attack and demean the foundation of the Christian faith,” says sir Dacus. He goes on to say that, “If this were another faith, there would be outrage.” The library’s director, Coral Henning, says the artwork will stay and there has only been one complaint. I wonder if that was Brad? Anyway, she advises that the exhibit should be evaluated as a whole because other works provide balance. Not knowing what those other pieces are, do they support Christianity, attack other religions, or illustrate stupidity in politics, the Bush years in particular, or equally deragatory for all political parties. Tea, anyone?

Brad ought to pay attention to the craze that’s sweeping Europe: banning burkas. That has all the markings of a serious attack on one specific religion, the Muslim faith. France, Spain, and The Netherlands, are debating the idea to ban these female facial veils, even though it is an integral part of another culture and religion. The Brits, for their part, are refusing to ban them because it would be “un-British” in that they respect other cultures and belief-systems. How ’bout that! The three musketeer nations claim that they will be liberating these oppressed women, while others make a pretty good case that, in fact, these publicly “liberated” women will become prisoners of their own homes, not being able to be seen in public.

It’s not like it’s the first time that Christians and Muslims have warred. Anyone recall The Crusades? Starting in 1096 and lasting nearly 200 years, these two faiths battled over the control of Jerusalem. Sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, armies were sent to gain control over the Holy Lands while killing infidels. Sound vaguely familiar?

So let’s revisit, “Warning! May Impair Judgment.” The single biggest cardinal rule of business is 1) No PR – do not discuss politics or religion. Want to kill a business deal in the blink of an eye? Blurt out your opinions on politics/religion to a client who may have a differing viewpoint, (possibly dramatically), and say bye-bye cash flow. Impairing judgment goes hand-in-hand with both of these ideas because of emotion. Eliminate the emotional aspects of the ideas and you might have an interesting and educational discussion. But that’s not how it works, is it. Nein nein nein!

The Fox News (sic) Channel has built their entire cable operation on emotional opinion. As both Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly claim: Beck – I say on the air all time, “if you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.”; and O’Reilly saying on his on-air visit to The Colbert Report, “I’m just and act,” to which Stephen Colbert (a comedic satire show of Bill O’Reilly) replied, “If you’re just an act, then what am I?” Fox News, and other political opinion shows and Nets, are for all intents and purposes, simply people yelling at each other. You would think we could do better. But we don’t…our judgment seems to be impaired.

It’s not all religion’s fault. Other institutions have had their say in our global dilemma. Schools (grade, junior high, high [Paul Simon’s Kodachrome: When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, It’s a wonder I can think at all.] , and multiple levels of college), paired with movies, TV, books, propaganda, etc., we are deluged with walls of white noise and informational overload. The trick is to cut through the nonsense and separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Easier said than done. Nevertheless, it invariably centers on one’s own common sense. And that takes courage. Fear no art.  Having the courage to accept the responsibility of one’s beliefs and that the world is big and bulbous with lots and lots of equally fervently held faiths and values. And so it goes.

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