Sunday, May 29, 2011

Legion: Working on telling you about my Family of Demons

I'm going to have to do this backwards. I actually prayed first, and often, before typing the initial sentences; perhaps that's the only reason you should even entertain serious engagement with what I'm about to say:

I think I know what's wrong with Democracy, or at least American Democracy: Demons.

OK, the 80% of you who didn't just click off are the ones I need, because the argument that follows is entirely Christian. It will take years to translate the ethics to humanism, and I don't have that kind of time.

I started with a thought experiment while talking with Abbey Grace, who had called in to arrange a volunteer experience for six of her bible study compatriots at UCI.

I was trying to explain normal American preoccupation versus demonic "possession" and I had begun to focus upon the energy involved, about the inhuman quality of it's intensity.

When I was slightly older than Abbey, I had styled myself the King of Sandpaper. Not surprisingly, others had as well, including the 3M Company, which makes just over half the sandpaper in the world. When I was 31, I was selling more sandpaper for a higher margin than anyone else at 3M. Even now I find it hard to get over myself.

And therein we find the problem with Demons.

A multi-billion dollar organization was lauding me for moving their most profitable product - paper with dirt glued on it! Even now I cannot help but spin the story to allude to my greatness. Knowing I'll die here wrestling with this beast - I must digress:

Starting over after revealing myself to be all too human...

I need to find some lynchpins of sanity. Something to explain why Jesus installed the legion of demons into a herd of swine and drove them into the sea.

The incarnation provides the most important guideline, and our first clue. Demons are not human, but they pretend to be. This is the blasphemy at the core of both our existence and Satan's greatest advantage in dealing with us: Familiarity breeds contempt, and there is nothing more familiar than humans. Even the name bears inspection.

Recently the S.C. Johnson Corporation has been going to great lengths to insist that it is a "family" company. Fiske Johnson tells us he's "working" on telling us what's in his bottles and boxes, while all the while hoping we don't notice the present perfect tense. "Working" on telling someone sounds like the protestations of a guilty child, or an addict. Obviously production knows exactly what's in those containers - that's how they fill them. Since Fiske Johnson is going to spend about one million times more energy telling us about how he's working on telling us than it would take to merely release the ingredient list in a press release, we now have some modern day definitions of the word used by Christ to name the demons: Legion.

In this case they represent the supernumerary quantity and quality of Fiske Johnson's obvious mis-directions; the numerous ways he strays from the straightahead truth. How like a family, Fiske. Only it's the kind of dysfunctional, meretricious family we Irish Catholic Alcoholics are all too used to.

Again, this isn't God's family, like the real Johnson's, born of flesh and blood. This is the unholy creation of Fiske Johnson, and his staff of professional liars and spinners, his risk-averse brood of corporate lawyers and risk managers, his murder of management crows all screeching about secret formulas and long-term health risks.

We've seen this play before, for much higher stakes, and the outcome, although attenuated, is predictable as hell, because there are no real human souls involved, only the shadows they cast upon the walls of our cave. Like the cigarette companies preceding him, Fiske is "working" at hiding the evidence. He might have a staff far more articulate than the poor author of the foul screed before you, but then, I'm not "working" on anything. I'm just saying that the list of what the production people put in the bottles last shift is evidence, and Fiske Johnson is hiding it.

And I can know the plain truth because I know Fiske Johnson. Now it is true that I cannot know, really know another human being, but the Fiske Johnson before us is merely a shadow. That which was born of woman and raised by our American village has been reduced to a risk averse pitchman who wishes to reveal almost nothing of himself, and certainly nothing that could help us critically assess our need for his lies. They're not going into the bottle, are they Fiske? Of course not. Having reached the far-flung edges of everything NASA science and the quest for the human genome could bring to window cleaning, Fiske's family has run out of ways to make ammonia somehow more special than it was 100 years ago. He's reduced to implying that Windex and Glade will have children that, unlike real children, will always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, just like PaterFiske and his brood, captured in disingenuous snapshots, warts and all, alongside an splay of product shots arrayed like just another family, just another commodity.

Two Demon rules thus far uncovered: They're not human, and they lie, even when they're telling the truth, because they're "working" on telling the truth. Like a broken clock, they are associated with a factually accurate display of the time twice each day, but that is far from the truth. Fiske is right in saying the truth is something we need to "work" on, but quite unlike the broken clock, waiting for the precise instant to take the snapshot we'll use to hock the wreck on Ebay is a far piece from telling the truth.

So another rule about Demons: since no other inhuman thing is more ubiquitous, it could be said that nothing could teach us more about God and humans than the actions of demons.

They have been hidden among us for a longtime, and they only reveal themselves infrequently, perhaps only twice a day, and then only for an infinitesimal Zeno's paradoxical fraction of a second. It is only when they are cast out that their span is revealed, and God shows us their broad reach, their legion.

The one they were "working" on telling us about.

How like a family.

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