May You Live in Interesting Times

By: Erik Rush

In It’s the Devil, Stupid!: Our Real Enemy and Why We Don’t Talk About Him, I open one of the chapters with the (reportedly) Chinese proverb: “‘May you live in interesting times’ – a blessing or a curse, depending on who you talk to.” A shameless plug for my new book (released last week) to be sure, but then, as my ten-year-old would say: “Everybody does it, Dad..!”

I use the quote as one of those between-the-chapter-heading and chapter proper blerbs (a word my junior high ex-nun English teacher Miss Barry would have just loved). It’s one of those things we authors utilize to set the tone for the chapter ahead – or, more often when we’re just trying to be stylish or clever.

But back to the proverb. In a fantasy novel I once read, at one point the protagonist was complaining to one of his compatriots that he’d rather have lived during a quiet age when nothing much happened as opposed to the time of social upheaval the world was currently experiencing and in which he was thoroughly embroiled. His older, insightful friend assured him that this was not true. Well, who can say? I’ve certainly had the same feeling, as the world is definitely experiencing a time of great social upheaval and my sense of adventure waxes and wanes. If I didn’t have my faith, I’d have laid down drunk on the train tracks a long time ago, in any case.

The descriptor that most readily comes to mind for the social upheaval our world is currently experiencing is “craziness” – so forgive me ahead of time if I’m all over the place in this column. Or don’t forgive me. What do I care?

Our nation is very evidently at war right now, one of the fiercest and most unconventional struggles we’ve ever been in, yet one can find all sorts of arguments from one’s countrymen that we aren’t at war at all, despite 9/11, the vast number of pledges to destroy us all, and the conspiracies being uncovered on an almost bi-weekly basis. People (never mind that some are journalists) publish treasonous revelations regarding our government’s war strategy, and discussions ensue over whether or not it was a prudent move, when physically traveling into enemy territory and handing over the same information would likely result in one being tried for treason and shot.

Armchair oligarchs in the press with no frame of reference for hardship, let alone combat, go on atrocity hunts, seizing upon any use of force (in war, God forbid) against the enemy as immoral, yet 7th-Century savages can slaughter two of our soldiers like cattle and no one calls for the razing of their land and the salting of their earth.

There a culture war going on as well, in short, a campaign to transform the behavior of our populace into that of a starving, hormone-crazed pack of barnyard animals cursed with prefrontal lobes. Many deny this as well, despite the evidence. One of the institutions under attack is the Christian Church, to which the majority of Americans belong. One work of fiction concerning the history of Jesus Christ becomes a bestseller and Christians, agnostics and atheists alike reach heightened states of apoplectic religious (pun intended) fervor. Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code has already spawned such refutations as:

The Da Vinci Delusion

Cracking Da Vinci’s Code

Cracking Da Vinci’s Code Student Edition book

The Da Vinci Codebreaker

The Da Vinci Deception

The Da Vinci Code – Separating Fact from Fiction

Now, leaving aside the underlying objective some in the media no doubt have that the book would somehow “end this stupid Jesus nonsense once and for all”, there is plenty of knee-jerk reactive stupidity to go around on all sides. Broadcast discussions of the work as though it was factual and the secret societies that did exist and which might actually give credence to the work as factual have become far more than tedious. To people secure in their faith, books like The DaVinci Code are no threat to Christianity, nor are they likely to “explode the myth” as secularists would like them to.

Many Christians who go on the attack, believing such phenomena are indeed a real threat to the Church are, I think, more interested in consigning others to hell than being Christlike anyway. The few crazies I personally wouldn’t call “Christians” at all (such as the Westboro Baptist Church folks, who have taken to picketing military funerals because they believe U.S. casualties in Iraq are a sign of God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality) are far more of a danger to our society than The DaVinci Code is to the Church.

There’s definitely some kind of cognitive deficiency at work here; it’s my belief that if every bit of The DaVinci Code could be proven, in the end it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference to Christendom. So Christ had descendants – so what? So there may still be some running around. Okay. So there were secret societies that dedicated themselves to protecting the bloodline. Big deal. Does it change the Man, the Message or who He was? Not one skinny little bit. There are a myriad of things people like to believe about Jesus Christ in which there is no scriptural basis, and there are already enough historical controversies and cross-denominational contradictions of dogma to keep the Church busy for the next two thousand years. To His followers, it’s all just smoke.

Our government, though one of its principal duties is to secure and protect our borders, will not do so due to greed, lack of will and fear – despite the majority of Americans being desirous of their fulfilling that particular duty and the fact that the first salvos of the War on Terror (some say World War III) were fired neatly through the holes in our pathetically enfeebled border policy.

For “crazy”, Merriam-Webster refers us to the word “insane: mentally disordered, exhibiting insanity.” There’s an axiom that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Take your pick.

Erik Rush is a New York-born Black columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at His new book, “It’s the Devil, Stupid!” is ON SALE NOW!!!

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