Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pure Michigan



Look, if push comes to shove, I'll admit it--I've got more pro-life Michigan Republican in me than pro-choice Democrat.  What's more, I'm quite sure, given my own heritage, that what really sparked the ire of those righteous Wolverines, what pushed them into the muzzling, was Rep. Lisa Brown saying. . .well, I can't say the word myself, right there on the floor of the State House--the v-word! That's right, the v-word.

The truth is, growing up in a Dutch Calvinist enclave myself, I knew a whole string of dirty words for the particular body part Rep. Brown named in so public a way but, oddly enough, I don't think I knew the word she used--which is, by the way, the only textbook way to describe that, ahem! particular place on the female anatomy.  

In banning her from speaking, they created a martyr.  Last night, Rep. Brown participated in a demonstration on the capitol steps that featured a performance--and she herself played a role--of a well-known stage play whose title features the very v-word Ms. Brown used to gain her ten minutes (or more) of fame--(sorry, I still can't say the word, but I'm trying). Not only that, the performance drew the California playwright herself and a couple thousand outraged women and men to the steps of the capital, where they made a much, much greater splash than Ms. Brown would have when banned from speaking for saying, well, that word.

(I'm trying.  And I'll get there, so beware.)

There's a lot about America's Puritan past that I treasure.  The Puritans stuck it out, after all, with other expeditions to this land folded up their tents and went back or died trying. The Puritans' mutual sense of mission, created by their fierce faith, was the difference.  They were die-hard believers in education, too--after all, everyone had to learn to read the Word. Many called them--they called themselves--the "people of the book."  Good night, they were Calvinists--I've got to like them somehow.

But Salem is a deep, black hole--all that rigid public piety, fomented by fear, building gallows.  Fear and hysteria and self-righteousness created murderers who, without a second thought, considered their cause to be Christ's own.

And then there's the garden-variety Calvinism in whose neighborhood I was raised.  Not until my parents got to be 60 did I ever hear them mention some body parts; then, in Florida, in a colony of elderly, suddenly no holes were bared (sorry).  I'll never forget my uncle the Dominie telling me a dirty joke when he was 80, laughing uproariously as if unshackled from some aching girdle.   

When I was in college, the mere thought of any male of the species gaining access to a female dorm room simply meant unthinkable carnality.  Just imagine, after all, what might happen!  So we did.  


Lord knows that level of Puritanism isn't Dutch. Anyone who's ever visited the Netherlands knows that.  I remember watching an old Dutch PR film about how ingenious Hollanders turned the sea into productive farmland--included in the presentation was a little boy doing his part, peeing behind the dyke.  That's Dutch.  So are nude beaches.  

A Dutch Reformed Republican legislator named Lisa Posthumus Lyons claimed that Ms. Brown's muzzling was created by the association Ms. Brown drew between the anti-abortion legislation they were debating and rape, not her mentioning the v-word.  Ms. Lyons knows far better than I do, but politics is all about perception, and it's pretty clear to me that Michigan puritans took a much more palpable hit on this one than did Ms. Brown.  

Will it hurt the Republican cause?  Who knows? It certainly won't help.



Oh, yeah, the word?  It's, well, v-a-g-i-n-a.

There, I said it. Well, spelled it.  Something a bit more than half of us have one, according to the latest census, and the only alternative words are those found on bathroom walls--at least in men's rooms.

Like it or not, admit it or not, the Michigan Republicans created a martyr, and as all good Christians should know from their own history with lions, martyrs lose battles but win wars.  
Besides, anyone named Posthumus--given the hilarious history of that Dutch name--should understand something about protest and the power of language.  

1 comment:

dutchoven said...

Wow...never thought of "posthumus" as it is defined, only that a Rev. Posthumous baptized me with my parents some 50+ years ago, only to have my father & mother die shortly thereafter; so I guess in some ways I too was "born after the death of my father"...interesting.