O all ye exorcizers come and exorcize now, and ye clergymen draw nigh and clerge,
For I wish to be purged of an urge.
It is an irksome urge, compounded of nettles and glue, and great, delicious, dripping irony (with apologies to the late, great Ogden Nash). God bless my friend Mike Nunn. Week after week, like a lamb to the slaughter, this gentle man bears the Pecksniffian wrath of Hot Springs’ very own, and very peculiar fundamentalists, a veritable petite soirée d’enfants terrible.
He stands accused of what? Poking religious zealots just itching for Armageddon? Advocating for equality and justice? Suggesting that stewardship of this precious mudball we all find ourselves on together is somehow more important than endless war and the idolatry of flag-waving, bible-thumping patriotism?
His accusers are Luddites who demand nothing less than a backwards slide into the fiction they have invented, of a time when all was right with the world. Such a time never existed. The Luddites’ imaginary, lily-white world conveniently forgets it was built on slavery, on factories powered by child labor, on the extermination and ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations.
The Luddites’ imaginary, lily-white world conveniently forgets the horrors of disease and desperate poverty. It is a world where education is frivolous and where everyone is Christian or else – banished or killed. It is a world where men’s opinions trump women’s rights. It is a world where prosperity is a sign of divine favor and where the misfortunes of life are self-inflicted by sin and demons. It is a world where there is no science, no school, no medicine, and no mercy.
And it is against this false view of the world that my friend Mike Nunn stands his ground. God bless his exhortations to rally hearts and minds against a heartless, mindless assault on all that is reasonable and merciful. Do I always agree with this latter-days Jeremiah? Heck no! But I’d rather stand by his side than with the pagan high priests of a rebranded, born-again John Birch Society, desperately trying to call down strange fire with their lingering Eisenhower-was-a-commie paranoid blues.
Abraham Lincoln was retelling an Old Testament proverb when he said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” All you Mike-haters out there, trust me, you’ve been coming in loud and clear.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Woodcut illustration of Der Schalcksnarr (the jester), by Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger (1513 – 1568), around 1540. http://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com/2012/04/der-schalcksnarr-jester-fool.html or http://bit.ly/KqCXUD