Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When God Gives You Big Buboes



I'm working on a lawsuit against the Catholic Church. It's going to be a class-action kind of thing, in case you want to get in on the ground floor. Most of us should be eligible, but special dispensation, as it were, could be in the works if you have ever personally had a bubo, which is a swelling, typically in the groin area, that you didn't engineer yourself.

This is occasioned by a few recent news items, particularly the case of the man in Crook County, Oregon, who has spent the summer battling a nasty case of the bubonic plague. It always startles me when someone comes down with The Plague. The Plague always seems so plural. It seems like you shouldn't be able to have the plague without a lot of company, like, for instance, Europe. For one single guy to have The Plague sounds as odd to me as someone going down to the bakery to pick up a loaf of Kansas. Nevertheless, The Plague is what he got. You can tell by the buboes.

Whenever there has been a plague in the past, people tended to believe it was God punishing them for their sins. Back in the middle ages, a bunch of folks called the Flagellants smote themselves with sticks and whips and what-have-you to punish themselves for their sins before God could get around to it. It's weak. It's like the little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar who runs off to sit himself in the corner. He's trying to head off Mom, who's going to give him a lot worse.

An earlier epidemic of what might have been The Plague managed to peel off about a fifth of the population of the world, proving that if God had been trying to punish the sinners, he didn't get them all. But people persist in that correlation. They take this kind of thing very personally. A guy gets the plague, and next thing you know people are lining up trying to get God's finger on the thing. Either he's being punished by God, or it's God who's going to save him. Because God is merciful and really prefers his handiwork to perish later after decades of wasting and dementia.

And so this fellow in Crook County was treated with massive antibiotics and his heart was resuscitated and tubes were running in and out of him and in general he was being held back from the grave by the very finest in medical attention, but he never really turned it around until the priest came in and made the sign of the cross on his forehead, hands, and feet, and then lo! He started to improve. It's a miracle, his family says. He is still recovering, with his Certificate Of Baptism on his nightstand, in case St. Peter doesn't keep good records.

In other Oregon news items, we've recently had several sets of parents convicted of criminal neglect in the deaths of their children, who had easily treatable illnesses, but were prevented from seeing a doctor for religious reasons. So there's my lawsuit. If a priest can stop the plague in its tracks with a well-placed fingering, isn't it criminally negligent of him to fail to cure everyone else? The defense will claim the priest didn't cure anything--he just persuaded God to make intercession. But God made the plague in the first place. And I can't afford that lawsuit.

I'm not really buying it, anyway. God didn't make the plague to punish us. God is a lot bigger than that, or so they say. He is the god of us, cats, rats, and fleas. And also the bacterium Yersinia pestis. That's a lot of constituencies. It ain't always about us.

I wonder if the priests could cure narcissism?

68 comments:

  1. "It ain't always about us." You'll never convince most people of that. That's a big part of what's wrong with the world.

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    1. I usually feel like it must be about someone else.

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    2. That's most of what's wrong with the world. That "Go forth and multiply" order didn't have a sunset clause. And then we put the icing on the cake by ignoring the stewardship thing. Serves us right.

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  2. Once you finish with that loaf of Kansas, could you see about picking up California? It should last longer. Oh I laughed darkly at this one, Murr...

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  3. I wonder about people who are sure that God is on their side. Aren't we supposed to try to be on God's side?

    And the complaint, "Why would God let this happen to us?" I always have to answer (at least in my head) "Why not?" Where do we get the notion that WE should be exempt from the ills and suffering that afflict all of mankind? Where did we get that, "Get out of trouble, go straight to bliss." pass? You are so right - It Ain't Always About Us! Get over your bad self.

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    1. Well for sure they are operating on a sense of Justice for which there is no evidence.

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  4. Not being a Catholic -- or even a Christian -- I don't try to tell them what to do. When it comes to people I don't trust, however, Catholic clergy are pretty close to the top of the list.

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    1. You might want to keep one in your corner in case you get the buboes.

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  5. You're right, the plague is a group thing, not something you go out and do alone. That's just wrong.

    As for the priest curing him? Can you see me rolling my eyes? I thank the catholic church for one thing - turning me into an atheist.

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    1. I don't think that's what they had in mind!

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  6. What I don't understand is giving God credit if something positive happens - but if something awful happens, it must be part of God's plan. God seems rather inconsistent in his rewards and punishments. And, really? Ya think God cares if you win a race, an Oscar, or the lottery? Really? :)

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    1. Definitely the Grammys. She's seriously into the Grammys.

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    2. What gets me is saying out of one side of your mouth that it's "God's plan," and then praying for Her to change it. Sounds fairly egotistical to me. (Psst. Hey God. You got this one wrong. Listen to me for a minute, will ya?)

      Better we should say thanks for not messing with us all those other times.

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  7. In Paul's epistle to the Corinthians (the first and oft quoted one at weddings) he says 'now we see through a glass darkly...' sometimes I think that glass just keeps getting darker. A five minute cruise of Facebook convinces me that most of my fellow Christians attempt to affirm how much they love their own community by routinely crapping on the lawn....and flinging it at passersby.

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  8. As a Catholic, albeit a renegade one, I don't think we're to blame. We believe in doctors -- St. Luke was a doctor -- and most of us long ago joined the real world and mostly ignore what the hierarchy says.

    And thanks for your kind comment and action this morning -- you made my day!!!!!!

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    1. So far, all of our convicted parents are members of some odd group of the type that likes to wear hankies on their heads and call themselves something like the Old Rumpled Brothers of Light. Or something.

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  9. I remember as a child saying to my Catechism teacher, "If God created all things, then God created all the evil in the world, which would make God inherently evil." I got rapped on the knuckles with a ruler and was voted the kid in class most likely to burn in hell.

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  10. Love this. Congrats on another good read. That is why we have religion...it makes us special as nothing else can. We are more than just another organism on a planet filled with organisms.

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    1. We are da biggest baddest organism. Boo-yah.

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  11. I wonder how they got that Yersinia pestis on the ark. Maybe on the fleas hitchin' a ride on the rats?

    Speaking of Hitchens, his razor helps cut through the ontological viscera: "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence". Kind of makes me all tingly inside.

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  12. The Plague? Seriously? I thought it was weird when a doctor told me I had a touch of the grippe. It happened years ago, but even by then the term was pretty outdated. I think.

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    1. Is it "feed the consumption, starve the grippe" or the other way around?

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  13. Seems like we have a few of these every year in the inter-mountain west. In many years every coyote caught and tested has happy fleas that are positive for plague. Put a couple of Mogollon Rim prairie dogs into your favorite urban area and that should be sufficient to make the plague victims more plural.

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    1. It's endemic in the Western bat populations, too. (Don't, for God's sake, tell Julie.)

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    2. But they would wreck our lawns. Think, man.

      Bill, wait--shouldn't we tell Julie? She's only got a rabies vaccination.

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    3. Wreck our lawns? Then how can we mandate a pair or more on every lawn?

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  14. You're suing the wrong people Brewster. The Catholics don't have any money. They're still paying off the last lawsuit. You have to sue the hospital for criminal negligence for not having a witch doctor handy for those other poor children. Outright slanderish, religious favoritism showing no respect for the oppressed minorities. There, that ought to do it.

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    1. I'm putting you in charge. I don't like dealing with the details. Please send me my cut when you get it all wrapped up.

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  15. Thank you for the comment on my blog.

    I think that you need too give some credit to the antibiotics.

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    1. And then there's the placebo effect, which has been proven to work wonders.

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    2. In the backs of certain magazines, you can find ads for "genuine" placebos. Don't settle for less.

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  16. Plague is ...well a plague down here in New Mexico. Every year a couple of folks get it from messing with dead rodents or messing with their cats who have been messing with dead rodents. The fleas from the rodents are the vector (similar to a vicar, I believe). It is quite treatable if you get to some tetracycline in time. The dangerous part is when it's a tourist who fondles the rodetns then goes back to New York or Portland. None of their doctors are expecting them to have plague so they treat them for the flu or leprosy or hangnails instead.
    Anyway, as the T-shirts they sell on the Plaza in Santa Fe say,
    Visit New Mexico, land of the flea, home of the plague.

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    1. Holy bloated cow. Another reason (AMONG MANY) to keep your cat indoors. I swear I never fondled a rodent while I was down there visiting you. We were just friends.

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    2. Ouch! Good one....

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  17. At the moment I have incredible buboes all over my face and God didn't do it; global warming did. Still, I'm thinking about self- flagellation just to take my mind off this mess.

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    1. I'm right behind you. Just got an Ointment to put on my face to make it burn up. I'm hoping to get a new face out of it. I'll take Isabella Rosselini's.

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  18. I'm way down in sweltering Texas, Murr. We're too busy fighting off the swarming crickets to worry too much about bubos in our armpits. But now that I think about it, those crickets were probably part of the great Oregonian exodus as a result of the Plague that ate Portland. So thanks a lot, Duck lovers. For that, we will send a great exodus of rednecks your way. I think that's fair. A bunch of bubos for a bunch of bubbas.

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    1. And the Great Bubba Bubo Exchange begins! A plague either way.

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  19. I have to admit that I do believe in the 'power of prayer'... not sure how it works, but it seems to.

    But I also believe in the country and western song lyrics: "God is great, beer is good, people are crazy..."

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    1. You just have wider beliefs than most people.

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  20. Hahaha - your story made me remember a former co-worker in South Carolina, where people are hard-prayin', God-fearin', and bible-thumpin'. He was looking for a new doctor, and in the process of "interviewing" his new medical provider, told him: "Now remember, I want you to treat me like they taught you in medical school, not like they taught you in Sunday school!"

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    1. I could at least hope for the Lazarus treatment.

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  21. I read about this case at this website>
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/jul/20/man-recovers-from-rare-case-of-plague/
    It is scary! He will probably lose his fingers and toes.
    It is amazing he lived but so far the 5 cases in Oregon since 1995 have all survived.

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    1. I recommend you not look at Google images of blackened hands.

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  22. Well God knows they've been trying to cure me for most of my life and here I am still gay as the day I was born. I'm in on your class action suit, Murr.

    But the thing is? I really don't want to be cured. So let's keep that between us...

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    1. Nothing shall come between you and me, Bill.

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  23. My DIY program for curing narcissism is a big stick and a whack to the head.

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  24. 'I wonder if the priests could cure narcissism?' in short, no. If they could/would they would have no time for anything else. And would assuredly have to start within their own ranks which makes the assumption of superiority a tad suspect.

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    1. But there's something to be said for their not having time for anything else.

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  25. We have met the plague and it is us.

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    1. That's "Saint Pogo" to you. (The Murr Pantheon may be a little different than the standard.)

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  26. Doesn't God know we're the Center of the Known Universe?

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    1. Oh Hell, he's got to. With the sun revolving around us, and all.

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  27. You've completely tapped into one of my pet peeves here: priests who use their powers selectively. Like, if they're going to cure the buboes, why not ingrown toenails? and lice? and the headache we get from eating ice cream too fast?

    My other pet peeve, because I know you're wondering, is women who stand in front of the mirror naked in the locker room at the gym and apply their make-up.

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    1. Now, you see, that I've never seen. Oh! Could it be that I'm never in a locker room? Exactly what parts are they applying makeup TO? At any rate, slap a leaf-blower on those nymphets and I'm right there with you.

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  28. Oh man--this is my kind of blog. Consider me a follower. Thanks for stopping by.

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    1. Uh-oh, now the pressure's on. Can we keep Susan? Tune in tomorrow!

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    2. My money's on you, dear!

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  29. What? No self-flatulence comments?

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  30. I think the priests called it off due to the trouble they've been in lately for performing well-placed fingerings on the wrong people.

    P.S. Isabella Rossellini lives in the next town over from me. I'll pop in and see if she's ready to relinquish her face, and let you know.

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    1. You know, she's been into some weird stuff lately. I'll still take her face.

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