2012—Year of The Bible

Yes, folks, this is officially the Year of The Bible. That is, at least here in Pennsylvania, courtesy of a State House bill passed on Jan. 24…by a vote of 193-0. As reported in the Phila. Inquirer yesterday, the bill says there is “a national need to study and apply” scripture.

Well, you know how I always like to heed our state Republican overlords, so I dusted off the scripture and selected a couple passages to “study and apply.” Surely this will help me to achieve the proper Republican attitude—since the bill was sponsored by House representative, Republican Rick Saccone, R. Allegheny and given “non-controversial status” by House Speaker, Republican Sam Smith .

Proverbs 22:16, “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” Wait, I thought this was a good thing?? Maybe it just means that the poor don’t have enough money to be worth stealing. Yeah, that’s right. And of course they never heard of lobbyists back then—you’ve gotta give a little to get a little.

 Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 29:7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”     

What’s with the darn poor people, already? They’re just the takers, not the makers.

Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

Matthew 19:21-22: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young [Republican] man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Jesus, WTF, man? Must be a typo or something. That sounds like some kind of socialist-commie welfare state.

 James 5:1-4, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”     Of course those illegals who mow the lawns are crying. We’re sending their sorry butts back home! Ha.

 1 Timothy 6:4-11, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”      I think this must just be addressed to the Hollywood elites, not the job creators. I mean, you can be godly and rich, right?

 Matthew 19:23-24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Uh-oh. Maybe camels were smaller back then. Like, a whole lot smaller.

 Matthew 25:41-45, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'”    Hey, Jesus, wasn’t me, man.

 Ezekiel 16:49, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Newt, Newt, is that you? But you’re a holy man. I’m confused.

Boy, these Bible passages aren’t helping me feel very Republican at all. Isn’t there something in there that’s a little more right wing? Oh, ok, here we go…

 Matthew 25:14-30, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”     Yeah man! Now the Bible’s talkin’ ! Cut taxes for the rich, fewer benefits (like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) for everyone else. And throw those foreign workers out into the darkness!

 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” Hoo boy, this is great! We should seek after the other guy’s money! I bet this is on the boardroom wall of Bain Capital. All right! That is what it means, isn’t it?

 Ecclesiastes 10:19, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.” At last! True Wisdom for the Republicans! The Bible clearly sums up the Republican platform in one line! Thanks, Bible.

Oh, and just forget about all those other passages about helping the poor. Those were all written long ago, way before there were such fine social safety nets as we have now. But in any case, just to be safe, maybe next year should be the year of Atlas Shrugged, rather than the Bible.

 What scripture passages do you suggest we study and apply?

No Blood for You

During my years as an ER doc, I had many occasions to take care of Jehovah’s Witness patients. These folks, of course, have a religious belief that getting a blood transfusion is an awful sin, and they would always make sure to tell me this whenever they came in. Most of the time it wasn’t an issue, because they just had the usual non-blood-requiring ER problems like heart attacks, sprained ankles, crabs, etc. But every once in a while, somebody would really need some blood, and they just weren’t going to go for it. They’d rather die, it was such a sin. Well, whatever. I’d explain why they needed a transfusion and what might happen if they didn’t get one, and move on with plan B—that’s plan B as in “give IV saline and cross my fingers” as opposed to Plan B the contraceptive product.

Yeah, contraception. This week the Catholics are all up in arms because apparently the businesses they run (such as hospitals, like St. Agnes, where I had my first ER job) have to make sure that the health insurance they provide employees meets certain basic requirements. Requirements that the government only has because sneaky CEOs would otherwise provide health “plans” with $$ saving limitations like, say, covering only one lung, or only diseases that were acquired from the Amish…within 12 hours of filing your claim…which must be handwritten in triplicate…in Urdu. One of the multitude of such government requirements is that the health plan cover contraception. Holy Water, Batman! Non-Catholic employees must be permitted to disobey Catholic dogma? What will the evil government think of next!?! (we know the Catholic employees would never avail themselves of contraceptive services, so it’s only the non-Catholics that are a concern).

But isn’t this impinging on the Catholic employers’ religious freedom? God, I hope so. But that’s just me—the right wingers and bible thumpers went nuts. They’ve been shouting “Freedom!” like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart. Got me to thinking, though. What if your CEO was a Jehovah’s Witness? Should he be able to forbid health insurance that covered blood transfusions? What if you worked for a Christian Scientist? They don’t believe in any medical treatment. Your health plan would be real cheap—say two prayers and call me in the morning (if you can).

But Rob, you want to make Catholic businesses provide health care that goes against their beliefs!

Actually, I don’t. Not for a moment. What I want is to get business out of the business of health insurance. It’s absurd that our health coverage (and all too often, lack thereof) depends on where we work and who we work for. Medicare for all.

I kind of see a win-win here, don’t you?

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Charity and Health Care

Well, the Komen Foundation, that darling of the gifting class and people who like pink, let out quite a loud, smelly one this week with their decision to stop donating to Planned Parenthood. The odor wafted quickly through the social media and rightly drew major attention to their leaders’ conservative agenda to keep women away from anyone who might at some time have spoken to someone about abortion.

The resultant shitstorm, and Komen’s turn-about have been amply documented, and I have nothing to add to the immediate story—beyond mentioning that most seem not to have noticed that Komen hasn’t said they will continue funding PP past their current pledge, just that they will let PP “apply” for further grants.

Here’s what nobody’s raised so far: This is what happens when you depend on private charities to provide basic human services! Private groups (eg, Komen, Planned Parenthood) by definition are not accountable to the public. Their aid can shift at the whim of the directors, members and donors of the group (case in point), and often comes with strings—religious ones with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Salvation Army. And even with the most even-handed, right-minded (not right-winged), ecumenical groups, their ability to keep operating depends completely on their ability to continually attract voluntary donations. Hey—this is how you put on a community arts show or send the high-school band to march at Disney World. But it’s a completely bogus, finger-in-the-dike approach to providing fundamental human needs. Conservatives like to recount the all-too-numerous “success” stories of private charity, how somebody had cancer and lost their job and all their neighbors pitched in and had a bake sale or something to pay for the person’s chemo. Yaay. What happens if the neighbors don’t like you very much, or even know you at all? What if your neighbors are poor? If they’re tapped out from donating money to care for the 3 other people on the block who have cancer? These aren’t success stories, these are failure stories. Failure of our society as a whole to face up to its responsibilities and instead hope that somebody else will take care of the problem. Sick and can’t afford care? You can always beg on the street.