Friday, April 08, 2005

Lines of Demarcation

1 Corinthians 14:7-11 (New International Version)

7 “Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.”

Nancy and I spent the day in Kansas City yesterday painting her mother’s living room, cleaning gutters, and just visiting. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

When we got back we got the news that the Kansas marriage amendment had passed by an overwhelming margin. Seventy percent voted in favor of a change to the Kansas constitution defining marriage as a union of one man to one woman, thirty percent voted against it.

Here in Lyon county the measure passed by a sixty-three to thirty-seven percent margin. Gwendolynne Larson at the Gazette filed an interesting report on the vote, letting the good citizens of Emporia know, block by block, who was and who was not enlightened. My precinct voted against it, 251 to 220. Gwendolynne, not content to let us know that the raw numbers alone, then proceeded to let us all know that Emporia’s enlightened few reside in a precinct which:

“Included voters living in an area bounded by 18th Avenue on the north and Sixth Avenue on the south, West and Rural streets on the west and Merchant and Commercial streets on the east.”

The “safe zone” included downtown Emporia, the university, Newman Regional Medical Center, and an area of older homes close to the city center. Providentially, Nancy and I live in the middle of that “zone,” in a hundred year old prairie Victorian we’ve come to know and love as the nicest old money pit money can buy.

This morning I decided to venture out to the part of town the Gazette apparently believes is inhabited by Neanderthals. I left my comfortable nest in precinct one at about 7:30 AM and headed west. At the corner of 10th and West I took a deep breath before moving on. “Well, Dillon,” I said to myself. “This is it. You’re now leaving the safety of Emporia’s cocoon.” My first few steps were uneasy, but then when nothing alarming happened I picked up my pace and made my way west past the hospital and into real enemy territory. To my utter amazement I found that the further I went, the more peaceful things seemed to be. Oh, I had a bit of a problem with a mocking bird near Birch Telecom, but I survived that by sprinting down to 15th Street.

The rest of my walk was uneventful. I never did notice any gallows being erected, no men in hairy suits carrying clubs. It was just a quiet walk, watching the forsythia, the redbuds, and the Bradford pears blooming.

I got back home at about quarter to nine, much to Nancy’s relief.

I then sat down, fixed myself a cup of tea, and read yesterday’s Gazette in more depth. On the editorial page there was a letter from a fella’ named Brian Protheroe, a former Emporian now living in San Francisco. He was, as the Gazette put it, “Disgusted!”

“NATIONAL HEADLINES have announced the citizens of Kansas voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment limiting government-recognized marriage to one man and one woman.”

“I want to personally congratulate the citizens of my native home upon the publicity. For the world to witness, you have loudly defended and clearly defined the morals embraced by the state’s majority: ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry.”

“Kansas is nationally recognized as the butt of all jokes, and is it any wonder? Ask any American what characterizes the Sunflower State, and the response will horrify you: the BTK killer, the Melvern woman who invented the do-it-yourself abortion kit, the hate-mongering Rev. Fred Phelps, tax-fund deficient public schools that favor creationism over evolution, Dorothy, fanatic abortion protesters in Wichita, meth labs, trailer parks and tornadoes, guys named “Gomer,” hicks, sticks, and a barrel of monkeys.”

“After this election, you may now add “discrimination” to your list of bragging rights.”

“Kansans should be more concerned with attracting large employers to the state and retaining the best and brightest young minds that are currently leaving the state in droves. For once, I would be comforted if the citizens of Kansas would do something worthy of national news headlines that is not an embarrassment.”

Brian is an angry young man, wouldn’t you say?

I thought to write a response, but I’ve found that the Gazette, that paragon of open-mindedness, tends to shy away from folks who have dissenting opinions, especially those who can reason their way through the slough of despond at 517 Merchant. So, I’ve decided to just talk to myself for a while and publish those stray thoughts on the blogosphere.

Brian was right about a lot of things. Kansas has had some real reprobates making news over the years. But then so has California, the state he now calls home. Why it’s the home of Charles Manson, a reprobate if ever there was one. The Bay Area, where he resides, is also the home turf of the Zodiac Killer. Yes, it seems there are plenty of reprobates in this country to go around, even in enlightened California.

I think I know what Brian was talking about when he mentioned “deficient public schools.” It meant that, in California terms, you need to throw lots of money at the schoolhouse in order to get the desired outcome. It’s interesting to note that, even with the funding deficiencies he mentioned, that Kansas had the same composite ACT score that California did in 2004, 21.6. What’s even more, seventy-five percent of Kansas high school graduates took the test, compared to California’s fourteen percent. Imagine how much better we could have done out here in the wilderness if we’d really thrown some filthy lucre at it. Why we’d be graduating kids fit not only to run the universe, but also to invent new ones.

And so I guess we Kansans, hicks, sticks, Bills, Nancys, Mikes, Phils, and Gomers will just have to continue being the butt of enlightenment jokes. Yessiree Bob, enlightened folks will just have to keep flying over, and that’s okay with us.

As Bob Dylan put it back in 1979, we here in Kansas are gonna’ put our best foot forward and steer clear of the thinking that’s taking a good part of this country right down the old rat hole. We’ll just continue to be stubborn and obstinate and refuse the social hemlock folks like Brian are dispensing. We’re going to run our lives by a different set of rules:

“Gonna change my way of thinking,
Make myself a different set of rules.
Gonna change my way of thinking,
Make myself a different set of rules.
Gonna put my good foot forward,
And stop being influenced by fools.”


James Fletcher Baxter said...

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However,
as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater
than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance
and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason
to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the
rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot
invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks
a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent
criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight
and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight,
man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly
committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and
worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship.


Thank God for Kansas! jfb

+ + +

Pastor Mike said...

Another great blog! I am tired of the very few who claim to speak for the whole 29% of Kansans who didn't win the vote. The very few - a guy from San Francisco, a woman from Maine, and our newspaper editor - don't seem to really value democracy and do themselves seem out-of-step with the mainstream.

Anonymous said...

This is Douglas from Belief Seeking Understanding. In my mind, this is more than a vote on same-sex marriage. It is a vote against an activist judiciary that has overstepped its bounds.