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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Theology and Gumball Terrorism

It was all the news in Northern New Jersey this week.

Swear to God.

Two town officials in Dover, NJ (understand, please, that even in the town of Dover, putting "official" in the same sentence with "Dover" will automatically induce giggles), were just trying to do their job.

The mayor and the aldermen said their goal was to ensure that any gumball dispensed in their town was safe to eat.

However, news that "town officials" thought al-Qaida was thinking about poisoning gumballs sold in town machines reverberated throughtout the state. That brought lots of attention - and ridicule (like they needed any more) - to Dover.

The controversey apparently began when one of those pesky "town officials" in Dover discovered some of the machines in town were unlicensed. That was all it took for someone to speculate that this was a perfect set up for terrorism to strike our most vulnerable citizens.

Soon, the battle cry went up. "Save the children!" Nothing - absolutely nothing - can be a better, more effective call to arms than any thing that has the words 'save' and 'children' in it.

Well, it simply spiraled down and absolutely out of control from there.

Actually, you have to commend the town officials for trying to ensure that candy sold in machines is safe. It takes a very strong parent (or grandparent) to be able to resist the universal childhood plea for a penny or nickel or dime or quarter (depending on the size of the gumball) for a sweet, sticky, chewy treat as a reward for good behavior.

I suspect just about every one of those grand/parents has wondered, at least once, about where the gum came from and how sanitary the machine was (As an official Nana, you can trust me on this one).

But this? To move from wondering about the sanitation of dispensers, to the need to license and regulate them to protect the general public, and then to the idea of al-Qaida terrorism in three short steps says something about the climate of fear in our culture today in general, and the town of Dover in particular.

As my grandmother always used to say, 'A little bit of power in the wrong hands can do great damage.'

It's not just our country. It's also our church. The saga of Gumball Terrorism in North Jersey reminds me of some of the arguments being trotted around by those on the Radical Fringe Right.

Why, the argument begins, if you start blessing same-sex relationships, what's next? Blessing animals? Well, actually, we already do that.

See? They say.

The argument continues: first, we bless animals, next, we start blessing same-sex relationships. Will we soon start blessing 'three-some's' or people who are having group sex if they but promise not to add any more people to their little love-fest?


Theology meets Gumball Terrorism.

Because, if you listen to the media long enough, you too will believe that no one is safe anywhere anymore - not even in church, but especially (if you read certain blogs and those who comment there) The Episcopal Church.

Swear to God!


PseudoPiskie said...

Had a friend from school who played the organ in a Dover church for a few months but didn't last long once they found out he was gay. The people in my choir in Mendham said Dover was in another world.



OK ... now you've gone too far. What next ... gay FLORISTS??????????? I mean REALLY!