Went for a walk in my neighborhood last night. Past all the houses with their Christmas lights ablaze. Glittering strings everywhere along the eaves and down the sides and on the trees. One house with several fake palm trees with wide green-bulb leaves, and behind them a bright and empty manger. Another house with a twenty-foot Santa on the roof, rocking back and forth in his sleigh. Not to speak of the three wise men and assorted camels and all the other folderol associated with the Christian myth about how God was born at the same time (surprising!) as all the pagan myths about the earth’s rebirth, a time that the trend toward night ends each year and the days grow long again.
One house covered with lights from stem to stern, three stories of a mini-mansion occupied by a man who owns coal mines in Indonesia, strip mines. He strips thousands of acres of jungle every year, the last home of the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger and thousands of birds who live there and nowhere else, and all the many many thousands of other mammals and invertebrates and fish and an entire jungle magnificent trees that end up as furniture in some chain store in your everyday suburb.
He creates great disaster and sordid misery upon the earth and its people and multitudinous divine creatures, and with that money he builds himself a little palace and when our culture decrees it’s time to put up lights to celebrate the birth of God (as our culture imagines it), then he rigs out his little mansion like a four-master struck by St. Elmo’s Fire. So he who creates such misery and destruction – how can he celebrate the birth of God? Is he not evil? Supremely evil?
And the electricity that powers his little auto da fé, his egocentric puerile attempt to show himself wealthier than his neighbors – that’s coal-fired power from the strip mines of lands stolen from the Cheyenne in Wyoming, the Cheyenne who believe that any tearing up of the soil is a desecration of God. The Cheyenne who said to us, if he is your God, why did you kill him and hang him on a tree? And the mercury spewed by that power plant blows eastward on the prevailing winds and poisons the lakes of eastern states so that when you buy a fishing license there they warn you not to eat more than one trout a month to avoid mercury poisoning. And these lights celebrate the birth of God?
And the millions of tons of carbon dioxide emitted by that power plant rise into the atmosphere and form the ugly smear that holds in the sun’s heat and over the coming century will flood the world’s shorelines and turn much of the earth to desert. But no, that’s not totally proven, just because it’s happening now doesn’t mean it’s true, doesn’t mean that we should cease to pillage the earth and squander its resources, that he should stop strip mining the last jungles of Indonesia, killing the last of how many creatures – and can anyone wonder why it’s clear there is no God?
While the political “leaders” imposed on us by the companies that devastate our earth celebrate the birth of their God in the warmth and assurance of their families and their hundreds of well-paid fellow-fanatics, sycophants, and minions, and congratulate themselves on having once more outwitted the ingenuous and stupid.
And in a little country across the world our bombers run twenty-four hour shifts bringing down 10,000-degree Hellfire on villages and neighborhoods, on a people who wished us no wrong, enriching our “defense” industries by billions and killing many naïve or unlucky young Americans in the process, just like the Germans at Stalingrad. And where our soldiers now bring lawyers on their patrols to determine when it’s safe to kill civilians without risking an international sentence for war crimes.
And in our torture cells young men scream in vain, while widows, orphans and bereaved mothers wail to the God that if we had half a mind we could tell them we’ve proven could never have existed, and never will exist.