Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

So, apostropher has up this post
doing a great job of ripping wingnuts a new one.  In this case,
he’s specifically talking about Orson Scott Card’s unbelievable horror
over the idea that the Jedi seem to be quasi-religious and yet not
Mormon, or at least not Christian.  Alluding to apostropher’s own
wording, and to reference one of my own favorite turns of phrase, I
expect any day now to see a headline that reads:  AMERICA’S PEARL

The Jedi may claim to be in favor of democracy, but in fact
they function as a ruling elite, making their decisions among
themselves. They occasionally submit to the authority of the
legislature, and they seem to respect the rule of law, though whose
law itís hard to say. By and large, however, they decide among
themselves what theyíre going to do and when itís OK to break the law
and defy the civilian authority.

Now, let’s take that and substitute “Religious Right” for “The Jedi.” 

  • Claim to be in favor of democracy?  Check.
  • Function as a ruling elite, making their decisions among themselves?  Check and check.
  • Occasionally submit to the authority of the legislature?  Check,
    especially the “occasionally.”  See the recent history of East
    Waynesville Baptist and the IRS’ rules on tax-exempt status of
    religious organizations for a brief refresher, will you?  Don’t
    make me link to it, bitches.
  • Seem to respect the rule of law, though whose law it’s hard to say?  Check.  See any church that has a different interpretation of the Bible from any other church.  Oh yeah, that’s all of them.
  • Decide amongst themselves what they’re going to do and when it’s OK to break the law and defy the civilian authority?  Check, check, check
    and… gosh, where do we start checking on this one?  More shades
    of Chan Chandler, Eric Rudolph, the history of polygamy amongst Mormon
    splinter groups – I can’t link to that much shit myself.  Discover
    Google if you want references.

Heck, let’s hit some other gems from Card’s piece:

Itís one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a
real person who claimed divine revelation, but itís something else
entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that
you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being.

An instant classic!

In other words, despite whatever political message Lucas
might or might not have intended, the Jedi are the smug orthodoxy,
always congratulating themselves on their rectitude. No wonder the
whole senate seems thrilled when the new Emperor announces the fall of
the Jedi. They donít know yet how evil the Emperor will be, but they
know they donít mind having the meddlesome Jedi out of the way.

Good thing the religious right is here to save us from the smug
orthodoxy, always congratulating itself on its rectitude!  Uh, I
think?  Fuck, at this point the hypocrisy-swallowing-its-own-tail
routine has me fucked up in the brain.  I think I’m dizzy.

Even the afterlife is reserved for the few, the proud, the
Jedi. As we learned at the end of Return of the Jedi, even the most
dark-side-serving of ex-Jedi mass murderers can, with a single ďgoodĒ
act like refusing to murder his own son (which even the most evil men
generally avoid), earn the right to eternal life as the equal of true
saints like Yoda and Obi-Wan.

You mean there are people who think with a single act of contrition
even a murderer can undo their past wrongs and gain entrance into
Happily Ever After Land?  The one up there in the sky?  That’s crazy talk!  Get George Lucas a prescription for lithium and some thought police, stat!

I put the rest of this in the comments over at apostropher’s post, but
I have to reprint it here because, goddamn, I cannot get this out of my
brain in one go.  For fuck’s sake, I’m not even a real Star Wars
geek!  I mean, I’ve seen the movies (haven’t seen III yet), I’ve
played some of the videogames, but when it comes right down to it I’m
far nerdier over things like World of Darkness games and Star Trek
(and even there I’ve long since left the fold – I stopped watching
halfway through season 1 of Voyager, and think Rick Berman is basically
the Devil in a cheap suit).  My point here is, it’s not that I
feel like I need to defend Star Wars – Lucas is in no danger, and no
one is going to stop me from buying a ticket if I want it. 
Rather, I feel it is necessary to point out what an idiot it takes to
miss the hypocrisy and nelly hand-wringing of Card’s take on the
terrible crime that is The Force:

And, of course, Lucas is the only person to have ever imagined a
universal, um, “force” that ties together and perhaps oversees all
living things and with proper training can be sensed, accessed,
influenced, felt and/or manipulated by adherents to the religion.

Holy Ghost much, Orson?

From where I’m sitting, The Force is a pretty generic summation of the points largely in common among all world religions. Hello, it’s called making the story accessible. Name one person you know who doesn’t get
the idea of The Force. Every culture has somewhere in its present or
its past a mystic tradition. It’s all part of Lucas’ ability (gift?) to
boil down his setting to the bare essentials: Good vs. Evil, the Light
Side and the Dark Side, Dudes With Swords & Dudes With Guns, The
Force, etc. Orson Scott Card looks at the Jedi and sees atheistic
elites, but The Force itself is obviously a product of reducing many
(if not all) world religions into their base essence: the magic juice
that comes from Beyond. Card’s problem with the whole deal smells an
awful lot like that tape I’ve got laying around somewhere of selections
from Python’s Holy Grail dubbed into Japanese and then subtitled back
into English, you know? The framework is left intact but the jokes just
don’t fly.

Jesus H. in Sith armor. What a jackass.

I should note that I say all this as someone whose religion is
considered by many to be among the “fruitier” varieties, and that Card
would almost certainly find me an unbelievably effete liberal heathen
and that’s long before he got around to the gay sex.

That has nothing to do with his own being an asshole, though. When
Card looks at the Jedi, I suspect, he sees a band of (short term,
anyway) doomed mystics whose adherence to their rules and standards has
left them out-of-step with the rest of society. Their effort to
re-assert control and maintain their definition of “order” is what, in
the end, seals their own death sentences. I wonder what on Earth he could find bothersome about that idea?


I’m a fan of Scotch eggs (you can get a great one in Raleigh but I’ll
never remember the name of the place – Greenshield’s?  something
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Today I made it happen – pictures of all the new plants (minus the salix because I forgot them – but they’re growing!).

I have to show off a couple of them, though:  first the red hydrangea, then the red asiatic lily:


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