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SUNDAY REVELATIONS: A story of belief

from HorsesAss, by  Liberal Scientist wonders when Republicans will be done with the charade and finally just start using the Hitler Salute spews:

My paternal grandmother, bless her, was not a well educated woman. The youngest of 11 children and the only one born in the U.S., she might have finished grade school, but certainly no more. School was tough, as she and her siblings and parents were essentially migrant farm workers, moving between various midwestern states with a calendar dictated by the crops they picked.

My grandfather was a bit better educated, having finished high school in St. Louis after having made the journey in steerage class from Trieste to New York at the age of 10, accompanied by his 15 year old brother. He did have family already here, a number of older brothers who had variously settled in St. Louis and Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Early in their marriage, my grandparents were doing well: he was a journeyman sheet metal worker, they owned a house and a car. They also ran with a fast crowd – they maintained a speakeasy where my grandmother tended bar, and my grandfather was involved in production and distribution of whiskey to others. They were apparently making a LOT of money, though the details about that time in their lives were very hard to pry out of them by us grandchildren in later years.

Well, they invested all that money in various avenues that were popular at the time – like the Stock Market. They were of course highly leveraged and owed money to various people for their house, legitimately, and to others for the various capital requirements of the ‘business’. Well, you see where this is going – the Crash of 1929 wiped them out. Gone was the money invested in stocks, gone was the house with the mortgage they couldn’t pay on anymore, gone was the legitimate construction job – because no one had a job then. Somehow the booze business – which I always thought should have been thriving – went by the wayside too.

They moved into a tiny house with one of my grandfather’s brothers and his entire family – my grandparents had my dad by that point, and one of his sisters. While we as grandchildren much later heard about the Depression in great detail, and saw its indelible effects in the way my grandparents stocked food and lived very frugally to the day they died in the 1970s, we couldn’t never, as I said, get much out of them about the wild years prior.

The point of this tale is that with this upheaval in their lives came another dramatic change – one they embraced whole-heartedly, and which would remain a focal point for their lives forever.

They found ‘God’.

Grandpa was a Catholic by heritage back in the old country, and I’m not sure about Grandma’s family – but with the loss of everything, came embrace of not just religion, oh no, but full-on ‘Born Again’, Assembly of God Pentecostalism, speaking-in-tongues and tent revivals and all.

My grandmother in particular embraced the infallibility of the ‘Word of God’, the KJV Bible, of course.

She has a lapel pin reading “God said it, I believe it, That settles it.” – This perfectly captured her worldview. The “God said it” part, of course, relied on her understanding of the Bible, and the the understanding transmitted to her by the cadre of in-person and radio preachers she followed ‘religiously’.

For her, these impossibilities like those in the Bible quote above were not impossible. She believed – much like Puddy does, it seems – in the literal truth of Noah’s Ark, and the literal creation of Adam and Eve, and in Young Earth Creationism, though I don’t think that that term was coined by the time she died in 1976 – it is what she believed. And this belief was unshakable, and certainly impervious to any influence that didn’t come from either her own reading of the Bible, or an appropriately pious preacher. The belief had to be unshakable – this was the lifeline that saved her from the maelstrom of a life upside down, that left her open to a salvation that would subsequently shape her life.

Impervious is the operative word here – this worldview was constructed, in a diabolic genius, to be indestructibly circular. No amount of reason, of scientific observation, of rational though could breach the walls a faith. There were no inconsistencies in believing Adam and Eve gave rise to humanity 6000 years ago, that Noah took two of everything on the planet on his Chris Craft and that the planet was entirely flooded, that Noah and his offspring lived to the incredible ages described in the passage above. (As I write this, another question arises – how did terrestrial plant survive a cataclysmic flood? Noah didn’t have greenhouses, a la “Silent Running” did he?)

Dinosaur fossils? Birth defects from consanguinity, or the source of Cain and Abel’s wives? Multiple creation accounts in ther own Bible? Jericho’s walls dated to 6000BC? All these and similar questions were the work of the Devil, trying to lead us astray.

Evolution? Impossible. The Big Bang? More devilry. Rocks independently verified to be billions of years old? God works in mysterious ways.

The point, of course, is that there are people, some complex, many more quite a bit simpler, who are perfectly willing to believe to be true what cannot be true, and the more fantastical the claim, the more they cling to such ‘truth’ as a measure of their faith, and by extension, a measure of their worthiness in their deity’s estimation.

Absolutely irrational.


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