A few weeks ago, an active-duty serviceman currently serving in the United States Air Force was forbidden from re-enlisting.
Because he refused to take to the official oath required of all American servicemen and servicewomen, which includes (for many) the quarrelsome expression, “so help me god.” [SEE FOOTNOTE 1]
The Air Force sergeant, who’s name has not been released to the public, is an avowed atheist. For him, pledging an oath to what he believes is a false deity would be brazenly dishonest. What’s the point of raising one’s right hand in a ceremony, and then taking a bogus vow? Wouldn’t that make the oath meaningless and render the entire process a farce? It would be like pledging to obey commands from the Easter Bunny.
When I first read the news story about this brave American serviceman who was denied the opportunity to proudly serve his country for no other reason than not professing a belief in a god — I was dumbfounded. Yet again, we secularists were caught off guard. I asked myself — is this 1914 or 2014? Haven’t we yet reached the ambitious plateau of reason in American governance and society where religious litmus tests are no longer required to serve in the armed forces?
A very long time ago, something called “the big bang” happened.
A galaxy formed.
Planet earth was born.
At first, planet earth was a smoldering ball of fire and smoke. Then, it gradually cooled off — except for Arizona.
Temperatures stabilized. Microcosmic cells were born and began evolving. Cells began bonding. Tiny living creatures gradually turned into giant dinosaurs. Then for some reason, all the dinosaurs died out. No one knows how or why.
After that, other animals evolved. Early primates were born. They eventually became monkeys. Next, these hairy beasts started walking upright and turned into what we know today as “human beings.” Except for the slimeballs who work for collection agencies.
The early humans hunted. They fished. They eventually learned how to grow food. Then, they got fatter because they started eating fast food. The first fast food was called “MacRabbit.”
Istanbul, Turkey in 1996
Between 1993 and 1999, most of my workdays were spent inside the Turkish Embassy, in Washington, D.C.
Typical duties consisted of writing and editing official correspondance. To this day, most foreign missions along Embassy Row hire at least one native-English speaker. This is because the language used in diplomatic communications must be positively precise. The wrong word in the wrong place at the wrong time can be misunderstood, triggering unintended consequences.
I was also fortunate enough to be assigned to the public information office during that time. This put me into direct contact with many of Americans who needed assistance with something or someone in the Republic of Turkey. You can’t even imagine some of the inquiries we received.
Reminiscing now, I look back fondly on those six years. What a wonderful experience that was. The Turkish diplomatic corps and embassy staff were always kind to me. Not only were they thoroughly professional at all times, they were also lots of fun to be around. I shall always have a soft spot in my heart for the Turks.
Dollar Store bookshelf in Las Vegas
So, I take it from this that Cardoza is more popular than all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, who can’t put Jesus back together again. You know, sort of like when John Lennon said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
The Dollar Store is the graveyard of literature.
A book ending up here is just a step away from the recycle bin. As in scrap paper.
But Dollar Stores are also a bargain hunter’s dream. They’re great for buying things like cleaning products and other no-frills essentials. Comet. Mouse traps. Birthday cards (anyone who receives a birthday card for me now knows the secret).
They’re also the last stop off for books before being shipped away to a papermill to be gound into pulp. The sad fact is, if a book can’t fetch even a buck at the local Dollar Store, it’s pretty much reached the worthless stage. I wonder, if the book cost a penny, would it sell any better? Probably not.
Several months ago, I went to the nearby Dollar Store located near Rainbow and Spring Mountain. I was stunned to see so many new Holy Bibles packing the shelves. I also noticed that a book on Seven-Card Stud was stuffed into the same bin. There’s a tisted irony to two dead dinosaurs of thought gathering dust side by side on a buck-store bookshelf.
I want you to think about something.
Aside from your family and friends, who are the people who have meant the most to you in your life?
Take some time on this question. Think about it seriously for a moment.
Try and name those special people. Your answer will reveal a lot about the person you are, and what you value most.
Are the people who have impacted you the most profoundly — writers, artists, and musicians? Are they business leaders? Are they politicians? Are they courageous people who made personal sacrifices so that we could all live better lives? Who precisely has meant the most to you, and more important — why?