The Art of Enticement

The lightning-rods salesman, dressed in storm-colored clothes jangling and clanking with his peculiar bag of rods approached the two young boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, laying on the front lawn:

“Halloway. Nightshade. No money, you say?”

The man, grieved by his own conscientiousness, rummaged in his leather bag and seized forth an iron contraption.

“Take this, free! Why? One of those houses will be struck by lightning! Without this rod, bang! Fire and ash, roast pork and cinders! Grab!”

The salesman released the rod. Jim did not move. But Will caught the iron and gasped.

“Boy, it’s heavy! And funny-looking. Never seen a lightning-rod like this. Look, Jim!”

And Jim, at last, stretched like a cat, and turned his head. His green eyes got big and then very narrow. But Will was staring beyond the man now.

“Which,” he said. “Which house will it strike?”

“Which? Hold on. Wait.” The salesman searched deep in their faces. Some folks draw lightning, suck it like cats suck babies’ breath. Some folks’ polarities are negative, some positive. Some glow in the dark. Some snuff out. You now, the two… I–“

“What makes you so sure lightning will strike anywhere around here?” said Jim suddenly, his eyes bright.

Fury-Halloway-Nightshade

The salesman almost flinched. “Why, I got a nose, an eye, an ear. Both those houses, their timbers! Listen!”

They listened. Maybe their houses leaned under the cool afternoon wind. Maybe not.

“Lightning needs channels, like rivers, to run in. One of those attics is a dry river bottom, itching to let lightning pour through! Tonight!”

“Tonight?” Jim sat up happily.

“No ordinary storm!” said the salesman. Tom Fury tells you. Fury, ain’t that a fine name for one who sells lightning-rods? Did I take the name? No! Did the name fire me to my occupations? Yes! Grown up, I saw cloudy fires jumping the world, making men hop and hide. Thought: I’ll chart hurricanes, map storms, then run ahead shaking my iron cudgels, my miraculous defenders, in my fists! I’ve shielded and made snug-safe one hundred thousand, count ’em, God-fearing homes. So when I tell you, boys, you’re in dire need, listen! Climb that roof, nail this rod high, ground it in the good earth before nightfall!”
Ray Bradbury from his novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

There are a few different motifs and themes in this classic Bradbury novel, but the one I want to touch on here is belief, the psychological power and influence of what a group’s ideology can accomplish, for better or worse, when the right components are all in play.

The characters in Something Wicked This Way Comes are amazed and puzzled by “Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show,” a strange carnival that has unexpectedly arrived in their small town. Word soon spreads that because it caters to people’s deepest desires and fears, it is viewed by the town as evil. Yet, Mr. Dark claims they did not arrive unannounced, or unwelcomed. Indeed, the people of the town invited them, ah, wanted them:

Mr. Dark:  “Your torments call us like dogs in the night. And we do feed, and feed well. To stuff ourselves on other people’s torments. And butter our plain bread with delicious pain … Funerals, marriages, lost loves, lonely beds that is our diet. We suck that misery and find it sweet. We can smell the young ulcerating to be men a thousand miles off. And hear a middle-aged fool like yourself groaning with midnight despairs from halfway round the world.”

The good people of Green Town handed over the power and will for Mr. Dark’s visit. Whether taught, or inherited, or both, they had long believed their lives were incomplete, intolerable, in the balance, and in grave danger. It wasn’t until Will Halloway’s father, Charles Halloway, embraced his age, occupation as a janitor, the paradox of life and death, and his gifted humanity that any “power” the Pandemonium Shadow Show could have wielded was gone, like a mist in the wind.

david-green-hobby-lobby

NeoConservative & owner Steve Green

When a story is told well, as was Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, mountains can be moved and lives changed forever. Whether that canard is true or not often makes little difference. And when a captivating story is well performed, immersing its audience with spectacular effects, marketing tools, and endless millions of dollars, the spellbinding dopamine avalanche is near impossible to stop. Or can it?

With all the same dramatic components and controversy in play with the creation, development, and intent, the recent opening of the Museum of the Bible is no different.

“At the center of this [drama] is the word “non-sectarian,” which the Museum of the Bible uses often in its messaging. The term has a long history in the evangelist community dating back to the early 19th century. As Steven K. Green (no relation), the director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at Willamette University College, explains, for the faith tradition, the concept is rooted in the belief that there are fundamentals of the Bible that are non-disputable and non-debatable. “It’s hard for you to realize it is representing a particular perspective,” says Green of the often well-meaning evangelical Protestants who clashed with Catholics firm in their own religious tradition in the 1800s.”

Museum-of-the-Bible

The museum opened its doors to the public today. Here is one article from Smithsonian.com magazine which elaborates on the museum’s promises, its biased funding, and the far-reaching controversy over its artifacts and narrative-slant all wrapped in an enticing Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.

I’m very curious to read what all of you have to say about “The Greatest Show Ever Told” and whether museum visitors are well-versed, or should be, in the much broader less known (untold?) stories, artifacts, and narratives of the Bible. What are your thoughts?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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“The One” Myth

Western culture is commonly known throughout the world as the freedom hemisphere.  Recent history shows this title well deserved.  Because of our vast individual and collective freedoms we enjoy an above global average lifestyle, right?  We are consumers of means.  We are seekers of luxury.  If we need or want a newer better wireless phone, we are afforded several methods of obtaining it.  If we need or want a newer better automobile, we are given a plethora of methods to get it.  If we  need or want a newer better home, or improved home, we are again afforded the means.  If we need or want a newer better partner/spouse, or the BEST, voilá, this too can be ultimately satisfied a number of ways.  Western society gladly embraces and perpetuates the motto “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  In Western culture, there is nothing we cannot do or get, right?

Before you answer that question, pause a moment.  What are the consequences and rewards of material or sensory buffets?  More to the point, are their consequences or rewards to a “love” buffet?  Match.com, eHarmony.com, and all the other love-buffet providers certainly say, your wish is our command.  Many would claim that choices are good — it is the responsibility of the chooser to decide what is best.  Still others would claim that the chooser is not always responsible and doesn’t always know what is best.  Hence, there must be limits.  Who is correct?

If you haven’t noticed, in the journey for love and The One, your world IS a buffet.  And here’s another kicker:  the buffet is never closed, never with just one choice, and never ever the same tomorrow, next month, or next year.  I find something very peculiar with this gorilla sitting in the room.  In every aspect of our Western society we strive for, we fight for and defend our right to freedom, even die for it to have our buffets!  We embody the success of a free market buffet society!  Yet, strangely we do not allow it within the institution of marriage.  How very odd.  How very… unfree.

Furthermore, I believe there is not just a huge gorilla in the room.  There is a partly covered mirror in the room.  How did it get covered?  Why is it covered?  More importantly WHO covered it and why?  Perhaps as importantly, are you willing to uncover that mirror and gaze into it during the best of times and worst of times?  Most choose not only to keep the mirror ‘covered’, but to also pretend the gorilla isn’t there in this particular room of love.

Would you like for me to decipher the symbolism?  I am more than happy to, but first I want you to think about these points.

  1. Even though the Renaissance brought us out of the Dark Ages, we still implicitly or explicitly cling to barbaric myths about human nature that presently stifle the real human spirit.
  2. Our free market mentality, for good or for worse, that we have so achieved and bought with blood and life over the centuries, is still not truly free at all.
  3. Is a society or person that limits love in all of its forms, really a free society or fully free person?

Look at the picture to the right.  What does it show you?  It reveals plenty without any words at all.  The obvious observation is dishonor, but what else does the picture tell?  Who do you think invited the buffet in and who do you think allowed it?  Or did the buffet line just happen?  Who is in the room of love with their mirror covered?

Over the next several months I would like to explore all these questions as well as examine the gripping myths that Western society holds on to in light of a growing divorce rate, a growing obesity rate, a growing goods and material consumption (buffets) rate, and more critically their sources.

As any rehab center and staff will tell you, it is not the chemicals that are the insurmountable problems or source; certainly not at the start.  And for the record, and always, it is NEVER the Devil — never has a mythological external figure ever been given so much power as it was during the post-325 CE Dark Ages.  No, the responsibility falls squarely on each person’s self-controlled or sacrificed other-controlled will and spirit.  It is a question of whether your internal spirit is yours, or whether external experiences, myths, or people guide your will and desires.  One is easier, but confining on ambition and self-empowerment.  The other is harder, but rewards abundantly if honorably managed.  Or maybe you disagree or are not sure.  If so, let me know.  Bon appetit!

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This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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