This week Pat was talking about how America is sick. He started off, as he so often does, with a line that was unintentionally hilarious.
Friend, I hope you'll bear with me; today, I feel the need to think out loud, in broad and general terms.
Because it's not like you've ever done that before.
In business, the emphasis seems more and more to be on the "bottom line," profits and compensations – some of which are absolutely obscene – and less on actual service and benefits to consumers. In education, a vitally important area of our national life, there are also very disturbing trends, with national test scores in almost every subject dropping, often alarmingly, in spite of programs like "No Child Left Behind" and other well intentioned efforts. Liberal professors and teachers unions seem intent on reshaping America's history, traditions and moral guidelines.
Moral guidelines? Exactly which classes should those be inserted into? Shakespeare?Algebra? And here's a clue, Pat- NCLB isn't all you think it's cracked up to be. And if you don't like big business raping everyone up the butt, you might want to let the Republican Party know, since they're like, sleeping with them.
Meanwhile, the halls and school rooms have been invaded with drug use, sex "education," cheating, violence and disrespect, to an alarming degree – creating an environment Cotton Mather and our early teachers would consider an impossible nightmare.
Because Cotton Mather, he's relevant to the discussion. You know who also would have been pissed off by kids cheating on tests? Nat King Cole. That man took the SATs seriously, dammit.
Society at large has begun to resemble a biopsy of a cancerous liver. The protective boundaries are breaking down, the circulation of health-giving nutrients is clogging, the cells that are designed to work together effectively are becoming rebellious and even destructive, and the prognosis for recovery isn't hopeful.
Why stop there? There's also illegal immigrants, which we could say are like, say, HIV that some deranged escaped prison convict are injecting directly into the liver, and then they're multiplying while inviting other HIV cells in, and then before you know it they're hanging out with baggy pants and refuse to learn how to speak English... our liver was not meant to be bilingual!
But don't worry, because Pat has a plan. You see, he once visited a magical place called a "hospital" where people named doctors and scientists actually tried to fight things like cancer. And what was Pat's reaction? Did it give him a better understanding of the nobility of the medical profession? Did it make him understand that science and medicine are more complicated than the life/choice binary we so often hear? Did it leave him with an appreciation for the development of the European Enlightenment which led to an increase in medical knowledge upon which we all benefit every day?
Well, not quite. It seems it made Pat think of church... and Star Wars.
As we walked down one of the halls, Dr. Fred introduced me to a patient passing by in his hospital gown, a charming older man named Nels. When Nels moved on by, I was told that he didn't have long to live … that the cancer had progressed too far for him to beat it.
And then, in the lab, I was shown living cancer cells from Nels' body under a microscope. I saw, progressively, how these evil-looking, black, almost iridescent, Darth Vader-resembling rebel cells moved in among healthy cells and began to destroy the organs they invaded. Like other, healthy cells, the renegades reproduce – by employing a broken, alien DNA. I asked Dr. Fred, "Is there anything that can combat these evil things?" He said, "Yes. Let me show you." He produced other slides that showed, again progressively, how other cells, lymphocytes, that to me looked like the comic character Little Orphan Annie's eyes (harmless, blank white circles), surrounded and enveloped the Darth Vader cancer cells and slowly absorbed them out of existence! It seemed like a Disney movie, and in my mind's eye I saw a subtitled line underneath scenes in the slides: "Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good!"
Little Orphan Annie cells? Darth Vader cells? Geez, Pat. You've got ADD written all over you.
[Shiska Girlfriend adds: "Also, it's totally ok to share private medical information about patients as long as it's with Pat Fucking Boone."]
So, Pat sees biology in action and thinks it's just like the Bible. Ok, fair enough. Sometimes weird things go through my head, too. Then again, I don't usually take them as a sign that I should go harass cancer patients.
I was so impacted by what I'd seen that I felt compelled to call my new friend Nels later, after I'd returned to L.A., and tell him what I'd seen. And then I urged him, as a Christian believer, to spiritually take charge of his own body and order, literally, his white blood cells to confront and dissolve the renegade cancer in his body. He said he would. And we agreed we'd both pray that God would underscore Nels' authority over his own body and every part of it.
Um, excuse me! I believe you need a licensed faith healer to do this sort of thing over the television airwaves for it to work. Also, you have to send them money for their telethon.
Also, if you're praying for GOD to "OK" Nels' authority over his body, then it's not really Nels doing anything, now is it?
The next year, when I went back to Seattle for the tournament, I saw Dr. Fred and hesitantly asked him about Nels. He looked startled, and said, "You know, it's amazing. Nels went into total remission some time after you saw him, and we sent him home. He's apparently cancer-free!"
Three years later, his wife wrote me a sweet letter, informing me her husband had "… gone to be with the Lord. But these last three years have been the happiest of our lives. Nels felt wonderful; we've spent time with kids and grandkids, and loved every minute. Just thought you'd want to know."
Question: What did Nels die of? I suspect this might be relevant. It wasn't, say, cancer, was it?
This experience is still so vivid to me. And I see our society plagued and corrupted in much the same way – infiltrated on so many levels by fellow citizens who work, and teach, and represent us in government and in the courts, perhaps unaware that they are carriers of a broken, alien DNA. They're often militant, angry that their views are opposed and determined to almost violently reshape our mores and attitudes in their own mold.
Yeah, not at all like those super-individualistic and oh-so tolerant evangelical Conservatives. Silly me. Also, "alien DNA" sounds super-bad-ass.
So what are we to do? At the risk of sounding simplistically religious, I propose that we all get back into our churches, our synagogues; that we dust off our Bibles and read them devoutly; and that we sit our kids down and share Bible truth with them, as if our individual and collective destiny is hanging in the balance. I believe it is.
So... reading is the answer. Specifically reading the Bible. Well, thanks so much for playing. We'll have to do this again sometime.
Edit: Check out Sam's post about an authentically Jewish attempt at faith-healing. At least this one involves actual ingredients.