Mom's mail was interesting today.
Mom is in a nursing home and has been since mid-2002. At her request, I had taken over the management of her financial and medical affairs a year or so before that. As a consequence, I've been getting her mail, of which the vast majority for several years was either from conservative political (read: GOP) groups asking for money, or fundamentalist Christian (read: religious snake oil salesmen) groups asking for money.
I never sent money, which will hardly come as news to anyone who knows me even a little bit. So there are considerably fewer solicitations of funds coming Mom's way these days, given a good five years of thoroughly unresponsive behavior on her/our part.
But every now and then, we get one. A live one. Some sucker who bought an obviously outdated mailing list based on something fiduciary that Mom did back in the days when she was enthralled by Rush Limbaugh and/or Pat Robertson, and donated to various of their copious, ideologically mercenary ilk.
In any case, those two wings of the American Eagle model 2007 came a-flapping in a recent mail, in the form of a large and softly bulgy manila envelope from the American Bible Society. The envelope had two messages, or maxims, or slogans, or statements of principle, printed on its front.
One of them was "One Nation, Under God, Indivisible; With Liberty And Justice For All."
The other was "Free Gift Enclosed."
Those two declarations, or quotes, or what have you, seem to pretty much sum up the twin underlying sentiments of the Patriotic American circa 2007. Number One: Freedom, Justice, God, all good things, that's us. Number Two: Free stuff! Can't beat that!
Given the bulge, and the return address, I reckoned that the American Bible Society had sent my formerly financially participatory Christian mom something on the order of, well, say, a Bible.
Ha. Bob, you idiot.
Inside, there was an American flag.
There was also a form letter. It was essentially not unlike at least 100 letters of financial solicitation Mom has gotten since I've been intercepting her mail. Here is just a taste. (The parenthetical comments, of course, are mine.)
"My dear friend in Christ,
What would you most likely want in your backpack if you were fighting in Iraq?"
(Well, Rumsfeld's head in a plastic bag sounds about right, or maybe Cheney's balls, or, well, there must be some part of Condy Rice that would fill the bill, although nothing comes quickly to mind.)
"What would you most likely want at your bedside if your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter was deployed in Iraq?"
(Shouldn't that "was" be a "were"? Sorry, I'm not thinking straight. Imagining that a beloved family member is enmeshed in the ghastliness of the Iraq war has me a bit rattled. At my bedside? Let's see...I've already used up 'Rumsfeld's head in a plastic bag,' right? Geez, this is a toughie. I suspect what I'd most like would be someone from the government with a blank check for whatever emotional or physical damage my relative might sustain over there. No, wait, what the hell, I'm going with Bush's head in a bag.)
In any case, the gist of the mailing was that the American Bible Society -- "Sharing God's Word with the World," a motto that reveals an astonishing unawareness of seven centuries of vigorous Christian proselytizing worldwide -- wants to send Bibles to our troops overseas. Again, to cite the mailer:
"Our goal is to raise $300,000 so that we can distribute Scriptures in the next 12 months to our military. Please send $25 today, to distribute 25 New Testaments to 25 brave Americans."
Which just raises so MANY theological and ideological and otherogical questions. Such as...
What about fearful or even cowardly (as opposed to brave) Americans? No Bibles, or appropriately invigorated faith, for them? Is that the harsh verdict of the ABS?
New Testaments? What happened to the Old Testaments? Is more emphasis on Christian vs. non-Christian theology really what our involvement in the middle east needs right now?
If it costs $1 per Bible to send the Word to the Warriors, and there are only about 140,000 US troops in target battlefield Iraq, what are the other 160,000 or so Bibles for? Does the American Bible Society know something about future troop increases that we don't?
I'm not going to drag this out any further--although there are other elements of the ABS mailer, such as it's Call To Action, that I may want to sink my teeth into at a later time--but I do feel compelled to make one more observation. The flag, a nice, ersatz-nylon type about 56 inches by 34 inches, is quite lovely, and I would be delighted to wave or fly or otherwise display it on some occasion which I truly considered a milestone in the advancement of American freedom and justice for all, such as the day that it was announced that Antonin Scalia had been eaten by sows.
In the meantime, however, I am left to mull over the fact that the flag, even if produced in some Myanmar sweat shop, probably cost the ABS around 50 cents a pop. So, every two flags they send out on spec equals one less Bible sent to G.I.Joe, to guarantee the entree of his immortal soul into the joy and grace of...oops, too late, just got his ass blown away by one of them Improvised Explosive Devices.
And no Bible. Damn.