ver the years, many of you have written to tell me how much
Bibliolatry has meant to you, how much joy it has brought to your
humdrum, middle American lives. For one reader it has been a "ballast
in rocky seas," for another a "touchstone of truth in
a world gone mad." I would like to take this opportunity
to thank you, dear readers, for all your support, and to let you
know that it has meant no less to me bringing this column to you
every other week, or every month (or whenever the hell I have
managed to get the damn thing done). That said, you can imagine
how difficult it is for me today to inform all of you that this
will be my last column.
Now please don't send me tear-drenched letters attempting to
dissuade me. This is difficult enough as it is. And, frankly,
it won't make any difference. I've made up my mind. I'm quitting
my job, and I'm leaving Portland. Yes, it's a great job, and Portland
is a marvelous town. But for once I've found a place I truly belong,
a community I can truly believe in. And it's high time I gave
myself permission to follow my heart which is telling me
loud and clear to move to Cobb County, Georgia.
At a time when the US is demanding democratic reforms around
the globe (except, of course, from our allies), Cobb County may
be the only community in our own country that is actually
interested in genuine democracy. For what is more fundamental
to a healthy democracy than an educational system based on democratic
principles. Duh! And last week, when a group of Cobb County citizen
activists succeeded in persuading the school board to include
creationism alongside evolution in the high school curriculum,
they demonstrated a commitment to the democratic spirit that is
supposed to be the backbone of this county.
As one parent explained: "Separation of church and state is a fallacy promoted by the liberal press. We're a Christian nation." By "Christian nation" I can only assume he meant inclusive, open-minded, and tolerant for as the school board chairman explained, "the point is, we want free and open discussion in the classroom."
That's why this year Cobb County biology teachers will follow
their traditional lessons about the "survival of the fittest"
and those mutating turtles with a second lesson discussing the
biblical theory of the origins of life. The proponents of this
view believe the evidence actually suggests that God created human
beings shortly after creating the universe. He made the first
man, Adam, by blowing life into a pile of dust. Then he ripped
a rib from Adam and created Eve (not Steve), the first
woman. Unfortunately, Eve (not Steve) immediately made
life hell for everyone else for all eternity. But that's another
In most school districts in the country, biology teachers are
required to teach one, and only one, theory about human origins.
In other words, science teachers are limited to teaching science.
How narrow. In Cobb County, the school board has a stated "philosophy
of teaching a wide and objective range of ideas, particularly
in discussing disputed views of academic subjects, including the
origin of species." Therefore, after the lesson about Adam
and Eve, Cobb County students will be taught a few more theories
about the origins of human life.
For example, in the opinion of many Sioux, the first human was created when
a rambunctious little rabbit was wandering around the plains and
found a little clot of blood. Like a boy with a coke bottle, he
began to kick the blood clot around. But as he did, the blood
clot began to grow. And as it got bigger, it grew arms, legs,
a head and all the other parts necessary to make a little boy.
For that's what the blood clot became, the first human. Everyone
called him "rabbit boy."
For the Bushongo of the Congo Basin it seems less plausible that human beings
were created by the impersonal mechanisms of evolution, by the
Judeo-Christian God, or by a foot-fancy rabbit than by a god named
Bumba. Now before the world was created, Bumba was all alone in
the universe. To make matters worse, one day he began to get sick
to his stomach. It was pretty unpleasant. The rumbling in his
tummy continued to get worse until he finally became violently
ill and threw up the sun. Now that he'd started, he couldn't stop
and retched again. This time he puked up the moon, and right after
that the stars. Still not finished, he vomited up a series of
creatures: a leopard, an eagle, a crocodile, a fish, a tortoise,
a heron, a beetle, a goat, and finally the first
man. After that it was just dry heaves.
Still another theory is promoted by the Experiencers. After being
abducted into alien spaceships over and over, these privileged
few have had a chance to look around and formulate their own informed
opinion on where human beings come from. Though there is some
disagreement within the group, the basic idea is clear. The human
race has been purposefully bred, and continues to be genetically
altered, by lizard-like aliens looking for an alternative food
The Eskimos insist that the first man was born from the pod
of a beach pea. The Mayans believed that the Gucumatz made the
first men out of beans and corn. The list goes on. It's as if
every culture and subculture has a completely different
idea of where we came from.
A wise man once said that truth is the intersection of many lies.
It follows, then, that if you want to find some answers, even
false or contradictory points of view are useful. The people of
Cobb County seem to understand this better than any other place
in the country. It therefore stands to reason that graduates of
the Cobb County school system will be better equipped to arrive
at an informed, intelligent opinion about the origins of human
But Cobb County doesn't plan to stop at biology. In future years,
the school district will also allow democratic principles to shape
the curriculum of a variety of subjects. In math, for instance,
a panel of corporate CEOs will be brought in to explain why, in
their opinion, 4 minus 2 equals 6. Cher will visit physics classes
to demonstrate that gravity doesn't actually have to exist. And
that guy down the street with the tin foil on his windows will
visit the district's chemistry classes to explain to students
what the teacher won't.
While Bobos everywhere have been whining about alleged threats
to democratic values "stolen" elections, "erosion"
of civil liberties, and that sort of thing the citizens
of Cobb County, by "responding to the community's demand
to teach a broader range of views," have been actually doing
something about it.
Some Cobb Countians may get angry at me for spreading the word.
Lord knows, if word gets out, malcontents everywhere will start
migrating to this enlightened little oasis. But I don't truck
with isolationists. I like to think that for each person I've
told about Cobb County, I've planted a little seed. By canceling
this column, I may be silencing one voice in the wilderness. However,
I hope that by telling you about the efforts of one modest county
to consciously broaden the parameters of community dialogue, I
am drawing your attention to the possibilities inherent in every
American community, perhaps even your own. Au revoir.
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