Thank You Mr. Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was chief among the writers who provided a lifeline to me when I was a geeky Baptist high school kid. Vonnegut, along with Richard Brautigan and Ray Bradbury, broke open my mind and my heart and helped me see the greater world beyond the fundamentalist world in which I was raised. Some friends and I even formed a tongue-in-cheek club, the Kilgore Trout Literary Society, named after a recurring character in Vonnegut’s novels.
Many thanks to cyberfriend Trev Diesel for linking to the excellent obit from Time magazine: Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007.
My favorite essay by Vonnegut in recent years was Cold Turkey, which he wrote for the magazine In These Times and from which I now quote:
Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?
How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …
And so on.
Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!