SAINTS PRESERVE US
Pass the Lord and Praise the Ammunition
A few months ago a Canada Post carrier delivered a paper-thin edition of the Yellow Pages business directory to the Crooked 9. “How quaint,” I thought as I dropped it into the blue recycling bag. I was reminded that certain venerable documents must be reconsidered in modern times as artefacts. Some tenets have lost their leases in the twenty-first century.
The cornerstone of Great Britain’s unwritten constitution is Magna Carta, a contract signed by King John in 1215. Nobody in fair Albion gives a toss about the rights of feudal barons any longer. Canada’s patiently and peacefully assembled Constitution is an amalgamation of the British North America Act (1867), the Statute of Westminster (1931) and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982). While the whole is as imperfect as any human construct, it was assembled step by step, each one building upon the other, and nobody’s up in arms about it. The key here is that the governing principles of these two democratic countries have gently evolved. Progress was not hindered by sacred stone etchings.
A piece of unaddressed admail delivered last week, a 62-page digest, intrigued and then infuriated me. Bearing Precious Seed Canada seems to be the Ontario branch office of the First Baptist Church/Bearing Precious Seed of rustbelt Ohio. The glossy front cover reads: CANADA GOD KEEP OUR LAND. The back cover quotes the justifiably obscure fourth stanza of “O Canada” which reads about as “Onward Christian Soldiers” as a mediocre English Canadian lyricist could ever hope to get.
Now, I get very fucking annoyed when I perceive fragments of nationalist or patriotic sentiment, viper pit entwined with fragments of scripture. My math adds up to a holy rolling trucker convoy dog whistle. Half of Americans need not evangelize their intolerant Christian, conservative, Republican Party fuckheadedness in my country when “pop” culture spillover is slang for a gunman doing his work. You hypocritical prim-lipped fucks are in no position to preach salvation or freedom to me. Fuck off.
“We have chosen The Gospel according to John & the Book of Romans, the two books of the Bible that most clearly define the Gospel or Good News of God for mankind to help you on this journey. They are from the King James Bible. The trusted Word of God in English since 1611.”
Now, you know that last sentence amused me. I’m certain those British scholars working with imprecise Greek and Latin translations of the original Aramaic and, wait for it, God knows what other tongues, nailed it; the King James version couldn’t be a tome of babble, Babel, could it? Should you take that book of fantastical stories literally, well, why not British poet Robert Graves’s elegant translation and retelling of The Greek Myths (1955)? True, there were more gods in the pantheon than elements in the periodic table (air, earth, fire and water), but still, it was all so real at the time.
There’s no saving grace for the most contentious and infamous afterthought ever penned in a brave new world: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America dates from 1791. It really wasn’t meant for these times.
According to reliably sourced statistics printed in The Globe and Mail last week, the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers as of 2020 was firearms. Guns kick car accident and covid ass. Cancer can be beaten.
The Second Amendment was an entirely sensible addendum to the mission statement of a new country just 11 years into its great experiment. General George Washington had disbanded the Continental Army in 1783. Some of its legions were minutemen - armed civilian volunteers or “Militia.” The Great Powers of Europe still had various toeholds in the New World. Flintlock possession allayed two fears residing within the expanding republic too, those of “Indian” uprisings or slave rebellions.
Now, I figure those Founding Fathers, more concerned about checks and balances vis-à-vis states’ rights versus the overarching concerns of an outward-looking federal government, believed they nailed a pretty straightforward item on their agenda. I can almost hear the Staples office supply chain advertising slogan: “That was easy.”
The Globe last week published a Top 20 list of mass shootings in the USA since 1982. They are ranked by body count, like bullets on a Billboard music chart. Should you wish to slay and compete, you’ve got to beat 11, the lowest bar. Five double digit slaughters have occurred in Texas, an open-carry state whose legislature sits for 140 days every other year as per the Texas Constitution. This is state government as prostate exam. There’s not a lot to mess with in Texas excepting women’s and voters’ rights. Worth noting too is that the rate of carnage across the entire United States has accelerated since 1999, a year that loosely corresponds with the rise of social media. I am not suggesting a direct correlation of cause and effect, though I suspect a well-armed psychopath, whatever his motives, doesn’t have to search very hard to find a like-minded soul who will offer nothing but encouragement and a convenient conspiracy theory to pair nicely with the planned rampage.
A close friend of mine recently decided to sell his glider bicycle, one of those gearless machines with reverse pedal brakes. He placed an ad in Facebook’s Marketplace field. In 1999 he would have bought a half inch in our local newspaper’s classified ads section. I have always believed a free and independent press is a key pillar of democracy. Those grey pages were the original speakers of truth to power because their main source of revenue was derived from people like my friend selling a bike, readers, subscribers and small businesses engaging one another in the classifieds. Splashy corporate and government advertising campaigns were gravy.
You, my dear reader, probably haven’t had newspaper ink offset onto your fingertips in years. Newsstand copies are skimpy considering their cost and, anyway, the news, fact-checked, edited and presented in a coherent manner, is 15 hours old. You’ve got an app (I hope). Still, you do not dismiss traditional journalism as “legacy media” and comb the internet (internets maybe, fuck if I know any more) for more agreeable “alternative facts.” When newspapers were fat and universally accepted to be quite objective, there was always a Catholic column in the classifieds.
Thoughts and prayers, and, oh, deliver us from evil: Saint Jude is the patron of lost causes. The messages in the classifieds were always the size of that slip of paper you find in a fortune cookie. And they always read the same: “Thanks for favours received.” They have gone the way of the Yellow Pages. Man, I pray a few other reams of paper will curl into irrelevance. And their toxic social media equivalents too. I’m not advocating censorship in any form. I’m pleading for an understanding of various screeds within their contexts, the knowledge of what they were, and then moving on, upward and forward into the great beyond.
meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of irony and neighbourly contempt since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is my latest book. Visit www.megeoff.com to find your preferred format and retailer.