Week Four: God Only Knows

I’m considering writing to Apple to market my latest invention – the iGod. It’s just like the iPod but specifically built for religious purposes – it’s cross-shaped (useful when you meet vampires and heathens), contains over five hundred Christian rock songs, and is perfect for downloading the latest sermon, or Godcast, from any Church in the world. Furthermore you can use it to automatically register your vote for George W Bush or any other leading Republican, as well as convert other people’s votes for them. I can’t see it being a big seller in Europe, but it might make me my million over here.

God is everywhere in America – you are reminded of this daily. ‘God Bless America’, ‘In God We Trust’, ‘One Nation Under God’ – these are drills every American has embedded in them from a very young age. Ok, the British National Anthem is ‘God Save The Queen’, but God is no more important to most Brits than the Queen is these days. In the US, faith in religion is still a make or break issue – the Religious Right currently holds much political sway. Now I am basing this on my initial observations only, I am not trying to paint an unrealistic picture, but where in England it is usually fairly embarassing to admit your religious bent, people here wear it on their sleeves (and on their bumpers). You would not find a two-minute commercial advertising the new ‘Bible on DVD’, featuring scenes of whole Ned Flanders-like families sitting around the TV grinning inanely as passages from Corinthians are read to them by a soothing mid-western voice, over saccharine vomit-inducing lift-music. But you do here; I saw one last night (right after the Gary Coleman loan advert). Diaries often contain such passages as ‘when I realised God loved me’ and ‘Bible passages that inspire my family’ (I found these in a regular diary in Barnes and Noble that was advertised as a Father’s journal – I don’t think it meant a priest). TV shows hardly ever insult God, even if they insult organised religion. It is almost as if God is American, and to be an unbeliever is to be unpatriotic.

Of course, America was settled by Europeans fleeing religious intolerance. In the case of the Puritans, this meant they were free to cross the Atlantic and be as intolerant as they liked. Nevertheless, the Founding Fathers knew that the power of the Church must never infringe upon State affairs, as was still the case in many older European countries. People who still chant ‘One Nation Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance at school still enforce the mantra of Seperation of Church and State. In a nation in which some states have all but reduced the teaching of Darwinian Evolution in favour of Creationism, it is still unacceptable to teach religious education in schools. I find this unbelievable – how are children to learn about Hinduism and Islam and other cultures’ belief systems if not at school? The Discovery Channel? Yet Christianity is still allowed to get in the way of Science. Museums trying to promote Darwinism are up against an education system whose textbooks regularly feature disclaimers concerning the ‘e-word’, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Christianity pervades popular culture here. A new film out soon is being premiered in churches across the land. Called ‘Left Behind: World At War’ it features an Antichrist created by the ‘Global Community’ which burns the White House down and reaks general havoc upon the planet and its environment (pretty much as the White House itself does, I think). Only those who believe in Jesus are saved, “and you don’t want to be left behind”, as a local Santa Rosa priest said in the Press Democrat. Christian Rock is all over the airwaves (and I have noticed something – when you hear a black person sing the praises of Jesus, it sounds good, it sounds cool, but when you hear a white person sing for God with a guitar it just sounds creepy). Political books always bring up God, linking it to this mythical concept called ‘values’, and using God as the ultimate patriotic symbol, like Superman. That cretinous right-wing spokesperson Ann Coulter for one says, on the back of her latest book ‘How To Talk To Liberals (If You Have To)’, that not only is invading other countries and converting them to Christianity admirable, but should be done ‘now more than ever’. Any bookstore will find ten other new books saying the same thing (with another ten accusing the Republicans of stealing God, and even Christmas, from the Left).

However, I’m starting to wonder whether my iGod gadget would be such a good idea. I mean, should we be promoting Apples in America? Remember the bollocking God gave Eve when she chose an Apple over a PC in the Garden of Eden? You should do, if you went to an American school. Let’s learn from our mistakes. Call it Eve-olution.

 

Originally posted 10/25/2005.

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