Monday, September 11, 2006

The Anti-Cloning Rally: I'm told it was worth it.

I just got the following report from someone who attended the Kansas City anti-cloning rally which was put on by the evangelical organization Vision America tonight in Raytown:

I attended the anti-cloning rally in Raytown tonight. Wow. Some of it was hard to take, but it was worth it. Being in a Baptist mega-church (complete with hybrid half-pew/half theatre flip-up seating and the little racks to put your thimble-thingy in after you've had your grape juice/wine) was really strange. I haven't been in such a place since, well, I guess, ever. At the start of the rally, there was a video by the sponsoring organization that was hard to watch for due to over-the-top patriotism: it stated--among other things--that America had been founded on Christian principles, when in fact it was founded on the unchristian principles of the French Englightment and English Freemasonry. Later, in the video, I heard that the Soviet Union was the first state that tried to utterly destroy all religion (um, does the year 1789 ring a bell? What about revolutionary France?).

There were several musical breaks, which they called "Worship and Celebration," that was emotional, happy-clappy contemporary stuff--they didn't have a Schola Cantorum and the music was .... well ... not exactly Pallestrina. Not even old protestant standards, for that matter. Not even St. Louis Jesuit songs, for that matter.

But, all and all, it was worth it. The difficulties I had with the evening were more than compensated for in the highlights: Bishop Finn and Alan Keyes.

There were a number of men in clerical suits present, and one guy in a white monastic robe--but not knowing anyone by sight except Bishop Finn and the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel, I wasn't sure I could tell the priests from the protestant ministers. Bishop Finn gave a great talk in his quiet style, bluntly calling on--among others--businessmen to stand up and demand that their chambers of commerce promoting the economic good of the community without sacrificing human life.

Rick Scarborough, a Baptist preacher from Dallas (who's the principal in the organization that sponsored the evening) was okay, from what I could tell (I was a little distracted at this point by a rowdy child and by a man behind me who appeared to be a mole for the other side, looking disinterested, lternating between notetaking and a crossword puzzle, and certainly not standing, clapping or shouting halleluiahs (but then again, neither was I doing any of the last three things).

And the treat of the evening is what made sitting through the music and the video and such worthwhile--Alan Keyes, who was introduced by the evangelicals as "the best Baptist preacher the Catholics have." Sure, Keyes is, in this venue, a bit of a Maryland mercenary, but he's worth his wages. If you've seen Alan Keyes speak on any topic over the TV, you've seen half the show. In person, he puts on an amazing performance. Without even getting into the substance of the matter, or the words he uses, the way he uses cadence and volume, moving back and forth from streaming passion to quiet, profound statements is brilliant.

But to the substance of what he said was: He started by invoking the events of five years before, September 11, 2001, but in so doing dismissed the neo-con rhetoric about "Islamo-Fascism," and he avoided the smalzy, surreal sort of patriotism that we saw in the opening video. He managed to weave two different ideas together from that invocation; the first being a comparison of our situation to that of Sodom and Gomorrah in which our Lord was giving our society chance after chance to repent and seek his mercy, even as the angels were passing through the gates to carry out His just sentence, and the second being a description of the 9/11 highjackers' regard for the lives of those they were using as instruments to pursue their agenda.

I can't really describe how he held these two threads together for what must have been twenty minutes, but he did, ending the first part of his speech with the idea that perhaps, in some way, the Judgment had begun, and that the instruments of that judgment, the 9/11 hijackers, were at their heart the same as those who would sacrifice human beings for medical research--they each
embodied the same evil principle.

The second part of Keyes' talk went head-on against Sen. Danforth, who is the Stowers' puppet Christian statesman. Keyes, turning the trite question "What would Jesus do?," to his purpose well, quoted or alluded to, and commented on, just about every statement our Saviour made against greed and power and ambition and self-preservation (or so it seemed). He, of course, talked about slavery and greed, and how racism was the instrument, ultimately, of greed. He invoked Abraham Lincoln only once (thank God; I despise Lincoln as much as you do, Curmudgeon). He pointed out that just as Christ was crucified for us once, he would most certainly allow himself to be crucified again rather than abandon those who Danforth's handlers want to kill for their experiments. He ended by discussing the relative value of all those promises offered by the Stowers clan compared to the loss of human dignity, and our souls, as a consequence of exploiting other human beings.

All and all, a great speech, which I couldn't capture the essence of, even if my notes were better. Hopefully the folks that put this one will webcast it or something. It was a great speech. Keyes has a great gift; if only we had several dozen more Catholic laymen who could speak like him, and several thousand more priests who could preach (at least on occasion) like him, huh?

And so was the event. I should have gone after all, eh? I just hope that the correspondent who's covering the progressive quasi-Catholic "Topics to Go" speech for me on Saturday doesn't stand out quite so obviously as the mole my correspondent spotted tonight. I would be interested to hear from others who may have attended this event. Please email me.

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