Andre Gide said it: “Believe those who are seeking the truth: doubt those who find it.”
Sorry to have to do this, but some things deserve a rant and who do I rant to but you?
OK, OK, there are a few others on the roster, but you generally get it first.
The older I get, and the more aware I am of the things that are wrong in the world, the less I am enraged by them. However, if there is one group who can still dumbfound me with their captious lunacy is has to be some of the Christians.
I am at this point reminded to state that of course there are some people who are undoubtedly good folk as well as being Christian, but I would postulate these are the kind who would be good folk regardless.
The cooking club had a barbecue last night and because it was the last get-together till October, we’d made it a bigger party than usual, everyone inviting a few non member guests.
It was our largest gathering, and our noisiest, plentiful quantities of sangria making for a vociferous crowd. The following anecdotes came from this grouping and caused me to get up early this morning, make a big pot of coffee and write to you while they are still fresh in my memory.
Picture a secondary school Kaska class of 17-year-olds, most of whom have lived in Watson Lake since they were born. In this class is a Kaska elder whose role it is to speak the language and tell the stories of the culture.
One afternoon a member of the class asked the elder about unusual visions or experiences; the elder obligingly responded with a story about an unknown dog which would appear in the village just before some misfortune occurred.
This led, quite naturally, to other stories of the inexplicable: some were movie themes and others personal experiences or stories heard. Harmless enough, you think?
Uh uh. This teacher is later told she is not to allow such talk while a certain student is in the room!
The student, a young woman, outwardly no different from any other kid in the class, is from a Christian family and such discussions are verboten.
“Who knew?” was my first question.
The kid in question doesn’t wear a sign around her neck warning people what can be said in her presence.
The teacher was not informed beforehand that any classroom deliberations were to be screened and edited.
According to the teacher, the kid herself appeared to participate, listening with as much interest as anyone else in the class; at no time did she herself suggest the discussion must cease.
A student in the secondary school was talking about having headaches; nothing medical had so far worked in stopping the recurrence of this discomfort.
Another student suggested trying yoga classes.
The girl with the aching head was quite startled at the notion; she’d been told that the chanting of “om” in a yoga class was the calling up of Satan! It was pointed out to her that the practice of yoga was much, much older than the concept of Satan, but she couldn’t imagine another thought outside these Christian teachings.
When the teacher inquired as to her Christian practice, the girl said she didn’t go to church but she had been raised a Christian. No wonder she couldn’t imagine anything else, given this school’s crackdown on any sort of talk that could be overheard, construed and reported to be anti-God.
This is the same school where a substitute teacher was barred (informally, meaning nothing in writing that could be legally answered; she simply was not asked back) because she used some cards during a class.
Again, a class of high school kids, and the cards have been used in Europe and other parts of the world, including the USA and Canada, as counselling tools for many years.
Then, at the elementary school, a teacher sprinkles glitter on the head of the birthday girl of the day, after first asking the girl if she would like the sparkles.
The girl accedes, and other kids also want to be sprinkled. Much later — in fact weeks and weeks later — the principal tells the teacher the (Christian) parents of one of the sprinkled children had issues with the act.
Does not the mind boggle at imagining what nefarious purpose could have been served by sprinkling children with glitter?
It seems odd to me these incidents would cause any argument at all from a group whose behaviour in drinking symbolic blood and eating the anatomy of their saviour is considered appropriate.
A case in which the imagination is boggled by the facts, as Churchill so famously said.
Why are they allowed to have so much influence, those groups of festering moralists who plague the decency of every town with their puritanical fervours?
It’s not as though Watson Lake is chock-a-block with followers of this one God who claims all the truth there is; I would suggest the opposite.
If the church parking lots on Sunday morning are an accurate indicator of the number of worshippers within, this is a village of unsaved sinners.
When the Rapture happens, Watson Lake’s population will not be noticeably diminished.
Are the unrighteous too busy with lives of anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, lust, pride and sloth to pay attention to this sort of foolishness in the schools?
Where else in the community are these pernicious efforts being directed, and to what end?
I am not ascribing evil intent on the part of those engaged in attempts to make the town what they consider a better place to live, although such intent might make their efforts more interesting and less banal.
I would guess their belief in the inherent goodness of their actions is unshakeable, absolute certainty being a prerequisite for membership in the club.
My concern is on behalf of young people, hungry for knowledge of a world outside this place, being fed idiocies.
Imagine these kids trying to sort out the glitter issue: it is OK to use as an arts and crafts item, it may be worn on T-shirts and other apparel, but being sprinkled with it is an act of evil on the part of the sprinkler.
Chanting in church is good, and the chanting in teen music (listen closely to that sometime for a whiff of the dark side) seems allowable, but chanting for meditation, or in ancient ritual, is to invite the Bad Guy in.
Stories of other cultures are edifying, necessary to our understanding of the world and are often featured on high school examinations in the form of questions testing this understanding, but exemplary Christian kids are not allowed to participate in the discussion of any stories in which other deities or “forces” are mentioned?
Cards take many forms; some Christian sects allow playing cards and most allow greeting cards, but they are apparently united in decreeing cards in any other form are a no-no.
I am going to assume flash cards are OK; most elementary school classes still use them.
It must be exhausting to maintain a level of alertness to the multitude of ways in which this God’s No. 1 opponent can infiltrate and lay waste to the Christian mind.
Second cup of coffee and I am done with this; the sun is shining and the birds are singing.
I am working on my own issues, the “bodies of water” being this summer’s project.
Eight years is long enough to allow this terror to shape my life; the memory of the Accident no longer causes nightmares, and the physical results have been accommodated to the point where I don’t really notice them so much any more.
And now, living in the Yukon, with water everywhere in wild and glorious forms, it feels like a good time to finish with this particular phobia.
You will be pleased and proud, I know, to hear that I have already reached the wading stage.
There is a place at the lake where the water is in a sort of shallow bay; one can wade out a fair distance without getting one’s knees wet and this is what I have been doing.
Next time I visit you, there will be no getting me out of the pool!
Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.