At Mother’s breakfast table we were always encouraged to talk about stuff. That was a given. It was how families operated in the 60’s and 70’s. Mom and Dad not only listened to the mindless drivel coming out of the childish mouths of me, my two sisters, and my stinky little brother, but they also tended to hold forth about things they wished to teach us. We learned Methodist-Church-flavored Christianity and Eisenhower-Republican values. Ike had been president when I was born and got most of the credit for the post-war boom in the economy. We were middle-class people with solid middle-class values.
And then I had the bad sense to grow up and start thinking for myself. Nixon had let me down big-time when I was in high school. I had defended him against my McGovern-leaning loony liberal friends. My best friend was a preacher’s kid, a Methodist preacher’s kid. His father actually believed in progressive nonsense about sex-education for children and helping to feed the poor. And then Nixon turned out to be a liar, a coverer-upper, a cheat, and a bad-word-user. I suspect, though my Dad never admitted it, that he may have voted for Carter over Ford. It was my first time voting, and it actually felt good to use my vote to strike back at the party that betrayed my trust.
Religion, too. In the late seventies a man named Carl Sagan put on a TV show called Cosmos. The man bedazzled my father and I with Science. He taught us that every molecule of us was composed of atoms that could only have been forged in the cosmic furnaces in the centers of stars. He showed us how spectroscopy of the stars could show us what they were made of. He showed us the meaning of Einstein’s special Theory of Relativity. He pulled the universe together for us in a way that could not be undone. And he did it without calling upon the name and blessings of God. But he pointed out that we are connected to everything in the universe and everything is connected to us. To me, that seemed to define God. My religion was changing from Christianity to Saganism. Of course, Mom heard that as “paganism”. Breakfast table talking changed into early morning arguments. We didn’t exactly throw chairs at each other, but some pretty heated and pretty large ideas went flying through the air. Religion and politics became the banned topics at the breakfast table.
So that brings me to the Paffooney points for today. This blog has turned into a place where a disobedient son, a horrible sort of “free-thinker” type of radical hippie pinko goofball, can talk about the loony-liberal progressive ideas that have taken over his good-little Eisenhower-Republican little-boy mind. I spent the last post talking existentially about my religious beliefs. My conservative, old-fashioned friends and family call me an atheist now, but I truly believe in God. It’s just, I recognize the factors behind Christian myths. I bow to the wisdom of Scientists like Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Stephen Hawking… as well as hippie psychologists like Alan Watts… and literary heroes like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S, Lewis.
I am proud to be an Iowegian (a Mickian word for being from Iowa), yet my birth-State produces gawd-awful Tea Party politicians like Steve King and Joni Ernst. The stuff that comes out of their mouths doesn’t even make good fertilizer. But they are comedy gold. Will Rogers would have pointed out that the jokes will write themselves. All the humorist would have to do is consult the front page of the newspaper. I also live in Texas where the debate over secession from the United States still goes on with new Governor Greg Abbott, a man who is a Rick Perry clone, except that he hasn’t bothered to put on glasses as much to make him smarter. And Texans are looking forward to the next Republican president in 2016. Both Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are running. That doubles Texas’ chances, right? With Global Warming not being accepted as a real thing, the need for giving all our money to the Koch brothers and the Walton family being recognized by both parties in Congress, and looming war with foreign nations that have the bad sense to be “Muslim in nature”, the future looks kinda bleak. But it is a great time to be a humorist, and I am guessing I won’t be doing very much talking at the breakfast table for a while.