Where the devil is God?

November 4, 2009

Joe sent me “Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning – Ben Stein” These remarks are printed at the end of this rant . Thanks Joe!

The note Joe sent to me coincides with a a hotting-up issue in Italy about the Crucifix in schools – and in courtrooms.

Teacher Franco Coppoli took down a Crucifix in his classroom because he is of the belief (?) that education and religion do not mix. His students complained. He was then dismissed. One can say that dismissal is a tad harsh. I side with the school authorities. After all, a teacher needs all his faculties (sorry) to teach. It might be a good idea to keep him out of the school until an intrusion of psychoanalysts have had the time to measure the size of his ego – and measure his id too. But just to be sure there is no doubt, his head should be measured for its size (surely the Italians don’t want a fathead teaching their children). To ensure that he is no more nor less than who he claims to be, a biopsy should be performed, on his brain, to ensure his skull contains brain matter. Perhaps testing his CSC – Common Sense Quotient – may be necessary though I admit this is a tad tricky as it might reveal that he has some but it is just too shabby.

In another case, Judge Luigi Tosti, himself a Jew, refused to sit Court where the chamber had a hanging Cross. He was subsequently judged by his peers. Thumbs down for being a berk was the decision, however he appealed and the Italian Supreme Court ruled against his conviction which held a seven month jail sentence.

On Finnish radio yesterday, a short report caught my ear. YLE is charged to inform us about the to-ings and fro-ings of Finns on the international stage. One of these was about a Finnish-born mother of two, living in Italy (short and forgettable – the report not the woman) who has taken Italy to European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and won. Italy has appealed the landmark ECHR ruling against Crucifixes in Italian classrooms. 

I do not know this woman – just because I live in Finland – but the fact is that she too should have her ego and id and super-ego analyzed. It is a tad unusual though to hear of Finns in put under such a sharpish spotlight. More correctly put, Finns avoid the spotlight like a pagan avoids a missionary.

I judge Finns, on the whole, to be sensible gritty people; not that bothered by such matters as Crucifixes in classrooms – not especially if they reside in Italy, the home of Papist Satanism (sorry, I just had to get a dig in at the old and very avuncular  Ian Paisley). Indeed, even atheist Finns have their children baptized and then confirmed (a long, socializing process when children are between 13 and 15) because that is what is done, has been done since time God knows when and it does not scar the children. This Finnish mother of two, it was reported by YLE, took this action on behalf of her sons. What a load of twaddle! you must be thinking. Her sons are already adults. But then again, her sons may have been delicate babes who are/were traumatized by the sight of such a thing as a man hanging on a cross – dieing, as Christians claim – for them. It’s a bleeding scandal – the traumatizing of these children, not the Passion of the Christ.

According to the EHCR court, the rights (and sensibilities, no doubt) of Finnish immigrant Soile Lautsi and her children were violated. These rights were more important than the feelings of the thirty or more classmates of these two boys – who accepted the Crucifix in the classroom as part and parcel of the place in which they lived. This then is the essence of the argument. Which is: can a society be vigourous, healthy, if it allows its own traditions and rules of behaviour to be questioned and finally overturned to satisfy the whims of one person? Can the society survive if it allows itself to be reshaped by one person, no matter what station in life, regardless of the merit of their case and whether it contradicts common sense, public wisdom, tradition and cultural ethos? Does the single person for whatever motive demand social change to suit his own beliefs and lifestyle? The answer is yes and no and yes and no and …

The Renaissance brought to us the notion that the measure of the society is how it treats its citizens, individually. Furthermore, the society’s measure of sophistication is visible in how we treat dissenting voices. Ergo, if we can erase a tradition of the society, even if it has been embedded for thousands of years, to the benefit of one individual, then the society is healthy and fit to continue. These questions can be left to another day. When I am less annoyed but spritely Finnish matrons who take it upon themselves to criticize their hosts.

Back to our four musketeers. In all these cases one can ask the blatantly obvious question: if you knew that conspicuous hanging of the Cross (or any other object, for that matter) is part and parcel of ethos in the place you live, the profession you practice, in the places you and your family frequent, then why do you live there? Indeed, why would you emigrate to a country in which the likelihood of a Cross hanging in a classroom was as certain as night follows day. If you have been a judge in Italy most of your life and then shazzam it hits you that there is Crucifix attending your courtroom.

I would not be surprised if Soile next took the Italian State to court for teaching her children in Italian and not some other language. When asked why she took her actions against the Italian State she said (my translation from Finnish): “We have received threats all kinds, unsigned letters, death threats, scandalous telephone calls, shameful letters. This has not be very pleasant.” Lest your heart starts to bleed and betrays your common sense, remember that the threats were not the reason for her actions but a consequence. 

She makes the claim that her court action was taken because she believes that the religious symbols (statues?) may disturb some pupils. She asked, some eight years ago, that the Cross be removed from the classroom because it was disturbing to her children. She claims “the Crucifix may be important for believing pupils but may indeed disturb students of other religions and atheists.” Well then that’s alright. You can go to sleep with a clear conscience, Soile. I fear though that your children’s disturbed state was less due to the Cross in the classroom than you, their mother.

OK, you must thinking, Finns, what good are they when they go prancing about in lush Italian valleys cocking at snook at local traditions? Maybe they should be sent back to Finland, or better still, to northern Russian Carelia. Soile, Franco and Luigi have company though. A Muslim parent, Adel Smith, has also objected to the Cross in schools. What can one say: Missus Smith is an odd duck. I know many Muslim families who send their children to Catholic Schools (in England). Yes, I can hear your noggin ticking over. What if one of these parents …? Anyway, Missus Smith should be reminded that when you live in a glass house you should not throw stones, or, er, ah, more aptly; when in Rome do as the Romans.

Italy’s leader of centre-left block, the Democratic Party (PD), Italy’s largest opposition party – Pierluigi Bersani said, turgidly, that sometimes the Law didn’t have enough common sense. He is quoted as saying: ‘I think that on delicate issues like this, sometimes common sense falls victim to the law.’ He adds: ‘I think a longstanding tradition like the crucifix can’t be offensive to anyone. Mister Bersani is a former Communist.  

Not to worry. There is more to come. So just suck in your breath, like a tolerably good/bad/tolerant Christian that you are and do as the Vatican is doing – await development. What else can you do? I heave my shoulders in resignation. 

There are many who sympathize with the individuals offended by the Cross. There are those who do not. Ben Stein, in the light of what he writes below, does not.

————-  Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning – Ben Stein ————-
  I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late
The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS “Sunday  Morning  Commentary”.
My confession: 
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against.. That’s what they are, Christmas trees. 
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu .  If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. 
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period..  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. 
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to. 
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking. 
Billy Graham ‘s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina )..   Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’ 
In light of recent events…. terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.  The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK…
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem ( Dr. Spock ‘s son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he’s talking about.  And we said okay.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’ 
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. 
Are you laughing yet? 
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. 
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. 
Pass it on if you think it has merit. 
If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did..  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.  

My Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully, 
Ben Stein

– Olemme saaneet kaiken maailman uhkauksia, nimettömiä kirjeitä, tappouhkauksia, hävyttömiä puhelinsoittoja, hävyttömiä kirjeitä. Ei tämä kovin hauskaa ole ollut, Lautsi kertoi.

Hän perustelee asian viemistä EIT:n ratkaistavaksi sillä, että uskonnolliset veistokset voivat häiritä joitakin oppilaita.

Suomalaisnainen pyysi kahdeksan vuotta sitten, että hänen lastensa koulu poistaisi ristiinnaulittua Jeesusta esittävät krusifiksit luokkahuoneiden seinältä.

– Krusifiksit saattavat olla tärkeitä uskonnollisille oppilaille, mutta ne voivat olla häiritseviä muiden uskontokuntien edustajille ja ateisteille, Lautsi perusteli.

Nyt tuomioistuin määräsi Italian valtion maksamaan Lautsille 5000 euron korvaukset.

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