Friday links! Systems of belief edition

Juggalos appropriate iconography of clown culture

Juggalos appropriate iconography from clown, gang, drunk culture

One of the best aspects of modern culture is that we are exposed to so many other people’s weird beliefs. Plenty of people in our daily lives hold different opinions and even core values from ours, but rarely are these ideas arranged into whole systems. To encounter an entirely alien worldview, you used to have to travel. But now you only need the internet, which will happily ship stories and images of Earth’s totalizing theories directly to your house. Today is Friday, and the world is a patchwork of non-overlapping magisteria. Won’t you deride the unfamiliar with me?

First, the good news: you can still live as a hermit on the fringes of American society, surviving by stealing candy in total ignorance of what year it is. That’s what I took away from this GQ story of “last true hermit” Christopher Knight, who lived in the woods of Maine and robbed vacation homes for the last three decades, until he got caught burglarizing a summer camp. When they asked him how long he had been in the woods, Knight asked when Chernobyl was. It was the last news event he remembered.

Then police told him the sky was patrolled by flying robots that allow people to incinerate other people via computer, and Knight was like, “what’s a computer?” Then everyone got quiet and sad, except for Texas megachurch pastor Ed Young. He made a joyful noise, because drones are just like God. Both live in the sky; both can see you all the time, and at the slightest whim both can bathe you in hellfire. Also, they both hate Muslims. “When it comes to God being everywhere,” Young says, “we have nothing to compare that with.” Except the awesome, benevolent and omnipresent power of unmanned aerial vehicles.Props to Komrade Karl for the link. To think that early Christian analogists had to settle for light.

You’d think that advances in military technology would make now a great time to be Christian, but it’s harder than ever. Just ask Fox News contributor Todd Starnes. In a piece that muddles the line between news and commentary, he reports on a Florida school district’s decision to replace football chaplains with life coaches. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link. They aren’t really replacing them; after a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the district agreed that it was unconstitutional to have explicitly Christian chaplains and re-titled them. It also forbade them from using Bible verses in school-sponsored materials. That’s a problem for chaplain life coach Troy Schmidt:

“That’s not me,” he said. “I don’t get any inspiration besides what I get in the Bible. My heroes come from the Bible and I think there is a lot of inspiration in there that can motivate a football player to get out on the field and play their best and be their best.”

This guy is obviously a born fucking orator and will be fine. Not so for The Onion’s John Kerry, who only avoided being eaten by cannibals by the timely intercession of an eclipse. Who says you need temporal movement to create a narrative? The American reader is sophisticated enough that you only need describe a familiar twist, and the causes and consequences play out in his mind. A little irony doesn’t hurt, either. “I bring the darkness!” Onion Kerry says. “I command the sun! I am a very powerful man!” Somewhere, real John Kerry is reading this article and experiencing a melancholy sense of what might have been.

He’s probably glad to be Secretary of State at a moment when American diplomacy is conducted through the Secretary of War. Heavy lies the head that wears the crown or, to paraphrase a more current auteur, with great power comes great responsibility:

Probably the best part of this sketch is that the Vice President is played by Bob Odenkirk in a non-speaking role.

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