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January 16, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-16

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_OPINION
Friday, January 16, 1981 Te icanDal

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

Thoughts on Christ and

Constitution'

Several years ago I was born again.
Though the experiment never really took, its
instructional value was immense. My conver-
sion occurred not in a Baptist dunking pool or a
Holy Roller Group, but in a small apartment
in New York City. A female acquaintance of
mine, newly and rather confoundingly
betrothed to an active Jesus freak, had invited
me to a Sunday prayer meeting at a friend's
fourth-floor dwelling.
Coming
Apart,
By Christopher Potter
It was hardly a bumpkin's affair. The
diminutive gathering-not more than a dozen
persons-radiated intellectuality over bald
evangelism, big-city chic over small-town
credulity. Yet the group's vocalized, apparen-
tly unaffected commitment to Christ served to
cut through its hauteur like a righteous laser.
Upwardly-mobile swank was fascinatingly
neutralized by pious egalitarianism.
CLEARLY, THESE unlikely crusaders felt
they were on to something-some inscrutable
catalyst which might, they hoped, get under the
skin of a confirmed agnostic like myself. Cer-

tainly the conditions were right: Feeling down,
out, and venomous toward the world in general,
I was ripe for metamorphosis, hungry for love
and tranquility of any form amidst the aridity
of this cruelest of all cities.
Near the end of the meeting, the assembled
worshippers were asked to bow their heads in
silent meditation, to pray for guidance regar-
ding some specific problem in their respective
lives that was deeply troubling them. Respon-
ding to the peer group, I bowed with the
rest. Through every molecule in my ingrained'
sophistication yelled bullshit, I abruptly
decided what the hell did I have to lose? For the
first time in my conscious life, I prayed.
Almost at once, I felt better. The combination
of atmosphere, companionship and my rather
desperate accessibility had triggered a star-
tling but hardly unpleasurable change: I sen-
sed an aura settling around me, protecting
me-a miracle, the pious would proclaim. It
was an astonishing sensation. I had silently
yelled for help, and an unseen something or
somebody appeared to have actually respon-
ded.
I SNAPPED OUT of my meditation in a gid-
dy, self-ordained state of grace. I en-
thusiastically confessed my experience to my
fellow worshippers, who just as en-
thusiastically congratulated and prayed for
me. I departed the conclave bubbling, bustling,
jubilantly determined to dedicate'the remain-
der of my life to Jesus. It was so easy.
My ecclesiastical euphoria didn't last long.
The reality of a less than heavenly world swif-

tly reasserted itself; lacking the en-
couragement of my spiritual support group,(I
had returned to Michigan), I reverted to the
teachings of a lifetime: I could not then or now
rationalize a just and loving God ruling a world
filled with agony. One photograph of a starving
Ugandan child or one stroll through the U
Hospital 'burn unit (where I once worked
cleaning beds) remains sufficient proof to me
that if a deity exists, he is either a sadist, an
imbecile, or an entity so cosmically distanced
from us that he does not even know we exist.
Still, my transient discipleship provided an
invaluable lesson: It is simple, so incredibly
simple, given the right circumstances, to
gleefully abandon the principles you have
followed for most of a lifetime. For a brief
period I saw the world through a glass
darkly-a world where old values were not so
much lent an evil taint as they were simply
rendered meaningless in one's new,
ecumenical scheme of things.
IT AMUSES ME when my fellow liberals ex-
press shock and incredulity over the righteous
thunderings of the Moral Majority, whose
ideological assaults are so calculatingly geared
to gut the individual liberties we take for gran-
ted. "Haven't they ever heard of the Con-
stitution?" my friends wail. Alas, intellec-
tuality and logic bear little relationship to the
gut existence of the true believer.
Ever so briefly, I believed. And during that
time, secular concepts of freedom of speech, of
individual expression, of free assembly,
even-ironically but most pointedly-of

religion, inapplicable to the real world. I knew
what was true and right beyond all possible
doubt; I now answered to a higher power.
What possible use was the notion of free ex-.
pression when the only true expression was
God's own? Freedom? Freedom for what, from
what? The whole idea seemed silly, frivolous.
True freedom lay only in service of Christ, and
those who practiced otherwise were kidding
themselves and hurting others.
WHY SHOULD a pro-Communist weekly be
allowed to publish? It certainly wasn't God's
word. What right did a theater have to show a
pornographic movie, a library have to shelve a
salacious novel? Blasphemy was just not in
Jesus' scheme of things. Such license wasn't
just immoral, it was illogical. Why on earth
would anyone,-anywhere, think otherwise?
It was all so simple, so neatly pre-packaged,
so exquisitely comforting. I could bask in my
womb of superiority, gazing sternly yet com-
passionately down at the Philistines playing
their dreadful, meaningless little games below
me.
Thankfully, I managed to descend my moun-
taintop before the sanctimony habit took roo.
Yet millions remain up there, zestful and eager
to prescribe precisely the remedies needed to
deliver us from the arms of Satan and his
disguised minions: If Senator Jones favors Salt
II, then he is obviously The Devil's henchman
and must be punished for it. God smites in-
fidels.
Such is the rhetoric of the Jesus politics of
our time. Its excesses by no means afflict all or

even a majority of the pious: Born-againers
like Jimmy Carter and John Anderson exem-
plify the tradition of dichotomizing one's faith,
however passionate, from one's secular
pronouncements. Yet for others, like Sen. Jesse
Helms, such a dichotomy is not only immoral
but impractical: Only in unity under Christ willE
America conquer her amassed adversaries,
only then will we come into our predestined
heritage-and nasty nuisances like the Bill of
Rights be damned.
IT'S NOW BECOME respectable, even vogue
to voice such sentiments; at its current pace,
righteousness may shortly replace valium as
our current national narcotic. Does this mean
that our church-state heritage is crumbling,
that theocracy lurks just around the corner?
Unlikely-the very cumbersomeness of our
governmental process would seem to preclude
any swift, radical shift of structure or tradition.
Yet who would dare underestimate the power
of public sentiment in an era that seems bent on
ferreting out scapegoats and villains?
Americans in alarming numbers remain
frightened, angry, lonely. And in time of stress
it's so very easy for anyone-whether an oc-
cupant of an Alabama farmhouse or a Big Ap-
ple brownstone-to believe.
Take it from an ex-member of the club.
Christopher Potter is a Daily staff
writer. His column appears every Friday.

~5 -Tise

li stditganrty tig
Edited and managed by students at The University 'of Michigan

Feiffer

Vol. XCI, No. 91

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

More subsidy for failure
T HE AILING Chrysler corporation next $400 million, Chrysler officials
has won another $400 million in said. Yet when November came, the
federal loan guarantees. Once again, surge was just barely emergent. The
vast sums of taxpayers' money are on thought that K-car sales might raise
the line. the company out of its slump has
' In recent years the company has become a pipe dream. So, in fact, has
failed to meet the demands of the the likelihood that the company can
American public. As a result, its sales continue to exist at all, many analysts
have slackened to a point where it no believe. The question now seems to be
longer can meet its operation costs. not whether Chrysler will fold, but
But thanks to effective lobbying by the when it will fold.
"UAW and other special interest The thought of Chrysler folding is
groups; the number three automaker'i unsettling to most Michigan residen-
'got $1 billion in federal loan guarantees ts-especially those who feel they are
this summer. dependent on the automaker for their
These loan guarantees pose a very economic existence. But bankruptcy
difficult problem-primarily that they for Chrysler will not necessarily kill
: are backed by taxpayers' dollars. If the desire for American-made cars.
,ythere is no place for Chrysler in the The demand will be transferred to
domestic auto market, then the gover- other auto companies, which will hire
:ment should not create artificial more workers to keep up with in-
:stimuli at the expense of the tax- creased production.
ayers. It's unfortunate to see any cor-
Last summer, when the company got poration fall apart. But if such a poor
its initial billion, Chrysler analysts economic situation exists, it is not the
.predicted a tremendous surge in sales responsibility of the government to
nonce K-cars hit the showrooms. This risk millions of taxpayers' dollars with
Svould provide the incentive for the only a slim hope of helping it survive.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Daily blindly created a major story

s t'

To the Daily:,
The Michigan Daily has again
incorrectly reported a story.
Again a slandered member of the
University community must
resort to writing a letter to the
editor to explain the actual cour-
se of events. a
For two reasons, I authored the
motion to postpone-NOT
REJECT-until next week the
recognition of the Student
Association of the United Friends
of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
First, it has been alleged by the
FBI that Iranian student
associations in the United States
have formal ties with the
Khomeini government. It is
believed that Iranian student
associations are taking money
and orders from Iran. If this is

the case with the local
association, then it is not a
legitimate student organization
and under the MSA constitution
can be denied recognition.
Second, what is the purpose of
this group? I do not feel that
MSA should recognize a group
whose major purpose may be to
promote the views of a gover-
nment that has taken 52
Americans as hostages and has
repeatedly said that it is at war
with the United States.
After Tuesday's MSA meeting I
spoke with a member of the
group. He explained that his
association was entirely cultural
and non-political. Moreover, he
understood the problems with the
"Islamic Republic of Iran" part
of the name. People tend to

associate it with the Islamic
Republican Party, the ruling par-
ty in Iran.
I immediately called the
Michigan Daily and explained
that my questions were answered
and that I did not object to the
group's recognition. Clearly I
was not acting irrationally or in-
decisively as your paper

suggested in a front page story
and in an editorial.
You claim I "blindly lashed
out" at this group. On the con-
trary, you blindly created - a-
major story. In the future, I hope
your paper, will show greater:
judgment on sensitive issues.
-Bruce Brumberg
January 15

Begin has served well

- , ,

4,
r 'I

Something to laugh about

To the Daily:
As a woman who has spent
nearly 15 years of her life typing,
filing, and "gophering," I would
like to address a question posed
by Anne Gadon in her review of
Nine to Five-"It's funny, but
what's the point?" (Daily,
January 10). It is certainly true
that seeing Nine to Five won't
change the behavior of "asspat-
ting" chauvinistic bosses, but
what mere movie would? In my
opinion a story of three female of-
fice workers who, by working
through appropriate "channels"

and not negotiating with ad-
ministration, achieve massive
gains in status for the lower level
employees of a multi-million-
dollar company would also be a
romp through fantasyland.
Although I have not experien-
ced the "fantasy" segments of
the movie, I have certainly en-
dured the reality. Nine to Five
gives secretaries something to
laugh about, and we need all the
laughs we can get.
-Kathleen Malley,
Secretary, University
of Michigan
January 9

To the Daily:
I would like to comment on
your editorial "Begin's Final
Days at Last" (Daily, January
13). In your zeal to have Begin
prematurely ousted from office,
you have misconstrued several
important facts and left 'out
several others altogether. First,
you totally downplay Begin's
major accomplishment, the
Camp David agreements. You
call it a "singular triumph." Do
you not realize the significance of
the Camp David accords? Never
before has an Arab country been
at peace with Israel. In fact,
before Begin and the Likud party
came to power in May, 1977, no
single Arab leader had ever even
offered to negotiate peace with
Israel since its independence in
1948.
In those twenty nine years, only
one Arab leader, a prince from
Jordan, had the integrity to speak
out publicly for peace with Israel.
He was promptly assassinated.
Second, you condemn Begin's
support of the religious right
wing and, consequently, Israel's
control over Judea and Samaria
(more commonly referred to as
the West Bank). You do not,
however, mention that since
Israel took control of the area,

the holy sites in the Old City of
Jerusalem are available to all
Third, you claim that Begin ha$
"allowed the military to clamp
repressive measures on Arab
residents of the West Bank." You
attempt to equate Israel's
military with the Gestapo. You
forget, however, that theso
"repressive measures," as you
call them were in direct respon.
se to violence on the West Bank
including attacks on Jewis
students in Hebron, riots after the
car bombings of three West Bank
mayors, and the assassinations of
pro-peace Arabs in the West Bank
and in Gaza. You also fail to note
that when the mayors returned to
a clearly pro-PLO welcome;
Israel's military did not inter-
vene.
Finally, you hail Shimon Peres
as the savior of the Middle East
peace talks. Yet, Peres, too, has
had his share of problems. If he
and Labor are returned to power;
it will be interesting to see how
long they hold power before in-
curring the public's wrath.
Thus, I would like to reassert
my point that Begin has been a
fine prime minister for Israel and
regardless of how much you try
to efface that fact, history will
prove otherwise.

/i , /
/ '' 3 )
?/
'
'_

pm,

Redirection discussion set

To the Daily:
The letter on redirection which

discussion is planned is in the
Senate Assembly. Starting next

i

- K~

I

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