Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut and Me

How do humanists feel about Jesus? I say of Jesus, as all humanists do, "If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?"

But if Christ hadn't delivered the Sermon on the Mount with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn't want to be a human being.

I'd just as soon be a rattlesnake.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

So I finally read some KV and turns out I kind of like the guy. I can't say I am more wise for some profound A-Ha! moment, but I do feel a little richer for it.

I particularly like the passage above. I am not a humanist, though for a long time I guess that's what I might have called myself had I the word.

But what it says to me is people with different deeply-held beliefs can value many of the same things. Can appreciate. Can be community if we simply take our eye off ourselves and see what is good instead of fretting about who is right.

Or as Oscar Hammerstein II put it--
Territory folks should stick together,
Territory folks should all be pals.
Cowboys dance with the farmers' daughters,
Farmers dance with the ranchers' gals!

-- The Farmer and the Cowman, Oklahoma

Basic solution to global conflict - when nations and organizations are removed to their place far above the concerns of our everyday pursuit of happiness, individuals can relate to each other as human beings. For while our rituals and expressions differ, those are by far the smaller part than that which we share- the need for love and community, the caring for family and the hope for children, yearning for a little plot of land...

If we could but get those pesky governments and institutions out of the way...maybe occupy them with moon-races or something else that can do no harm.


At 3:57 PM, Blogger brent c. airey said...

I'm still to read the latest KV offering. Not being in the USA I wonder if it's relevance may be too much lost to me.

I have to say though I felt considerably effected by 'Slaughterhouse 5' and loved 'Timequake' as well as all the older usual suspects. His ability to make you feel humbled and empowered all at the same time is quite a feat. Truely he makes me feel a small part of the giant machine yet big enough to make a difference, no matter how small, which can make the whole that much better.

If nothing else he certainly promotes acceptance in all things not 'you' without sounding like he's got some life-improving bullshit (cult, book or self-improvement dvd set - take your pick) which in itself is a powerful thing.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Spot on, B.

I'm picking up Slaughterhouse 5 next. I can't fathom being in Dresden during the firebombing. Geez...

Wasn't Darwin bombed to hell during wII?

Man w/out a Country does a fair amount of railing at things American, though I doubt it's very hard-to-access. It's very much a reflective ramble more than a novel.

Probably not his greatest work, but some nice chewey thoughts from the man on several fronts.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I think it is essential that He is God. We don't need another person to come around and tell us all to play nice. We know that from kindergarten. We still don't do it. That's why we need a Saviour. :o)


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