Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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How true this is. Its interesting to think about the fact that according to certain studies, American society has a level of religious permeation comparable to that of Pakistan. As a Secular American, I don't wear that as a badge of honor. Much of the support for our current international endevours is coming from the so-called faith-based community, i.e. people who don't use their brains, who selfishly believe in some apocalyptic drivel, and see developements in the middle east as signs of its progression. Since Christ supposedly rose, wackos have been predicting his second coming "any day now". Its a little narcissistic to say the least.

But my answer to those who trust in Bush's resolve to oversee the GWOT is this. We all know he's a highly religious man. We can never know to what extent his absolutist evangelical beliefs play a role in his decision making process. However, given the facts that his beliefs entail a fundamentalist approach to Revalations and the Rapture, can we fully trust a man to keep us safe, if he is in such a position of power as to further facillitate his apocolyptic beliefs? Where do his priorities lie? This is an important quetion to ask before voting for any man.

Is he fully committed in protecting America at all costs, or does some part of him, large or small, want to realize his religion's apocalyptic vision?

I know for a fact from reading solicitations that a large portion of the Republican Base thinks thats EXACTLY why God chose him for the White house.

This is indeed a struggle between the faith-based and the reality-based. you would think that, into the 21st century, reality would have won by now. Alas, medieval thinking is as persistant as ever.


There's religious and there's secular, and then there's a third category, to which I belong, weakly called "spiritual," who have some things in common with each of the others: like religious people, I'm convinced that this world is permeated with the intelligence and purpose of a higher power, and that we're here to serve something greater than ourselves; like secular people, I believe that we possess reason for a reason, and that our proper focus is life here on earth, not some fantasized afterlife that we can't possibly know anything about. And so I share Jordan's fear that there is a subliminal apocalyptic motive behind President Bush's insouciance about the fate of Iraq. As I wrote in a comment on The Belgravia Dispatch:

-- Scott says [the war on terror is about] "civilization vs. medievalism." But if you read Ron Suskind's article in today's Times Magazine (he's admittedly no objective source), you may see it more as two forms of medievalism duking it out. I worry a bit about the possible subliminal apocalyptic Christian strain in Bush's policy. If we succeed in planting a seedling of democracy in the Middle East, great. But if we fail, and the Middle East becomes a conflagration . . . hey, that's what the Bible said would happen, and it means Jesus is on the way. It's a fail-safe position that would indeed tend to make you less concerned about the consequences of mistakes.

And in my October 10 post "Kerry's Brain Revealed":

"Bush had continually cast himself as the optimist in the race," [Matt] Bai writes [in the New York Times Magazine], "asserting that he alone saw the liberating potential of American might, and yet his dark vision of unending war suddenly seemed far less hopeful than Kerry's". To what extent has this "dark vision" been influenced, subliminally or explicitly, by the Christian eschatology of the End Times and the Battle of Armageddon?

Which, to my mind, threatens to become the biggest and most catastrophic self-fulfilling prophecy in the history of human self-delusion.

- amba

UPDATE: This from the Divided Times Newsletter, e-mailed by the partisan Democratic organization Retro vs. Metro:

Like many Americans, we've been increasingly baffled by this administration's policies. Their environmental policy seems based on the belief that conservation of natural resources is irrelevant, that these resources will not be needed in the future. Likewise, their economic policy attaches no significance to the saddling of future generations with massive debt. They've also squandered long-term international alliances as if they'll never be needed again.

We're finally starting to understand . . . They don't believe in tomorrow! . . . Bush is Born Again and truly believes that these are the End Times of Revelations. What use will there be for forests and wetlands, budget surpluses and foreign allies . . . ? There is no tomorrow, and thus no consequences for any action other than failing to believe in Jesus Christ as one's personal savior".


Your description of the Judeo-Christian strand sounds more like Manicheism, which grew partly out of Platonistic philosophy. Actually, classical Greece apparently spawned quite a few ascetic cults thanks to its dualistic view of spirit and flesh. Judaism was not like that -- in fact still isn't like that, for the most part -- so ironically some people blame the rise of asceticism in Christianity partly on the Greeks.


This conversation with Camassia continued in e-mail but I think it belongs here:

AMBA: You're right of course . . . I'm taking the part for the whole. The two strands are very intertwined and have been swapping genes, as chromosomes will.

Manichaeism I thought was dualism of good and evil, a world with two centers rather than one (and therefore a heresy).

CAMASSIA: It was, and evil was identified with the material world and good with the spirit world. The early
Christian church rejected this view, although
obviously the concept has persisted in popular thought
(with help from more recent folks like Des Cartes).
Manicheism wasn't just a heresy, it was a separate
religion, and a serious competitor to Christianity for
a few centuries. It actually incorporated Jesus in its
theology, but it incorporated elements of most other
religions of the time -- it was kind of a Unified
Field Theory.

AMBA: I just edited a book an Orthodox rabbi wrote as a series of letters to my brother, who has practiced Zazen, explaining why everything Jews flee to Buddhism in search of can be found in real Judaism, and more. The book, which is fascinating, makes it clear that Judaism embraces the flesh AS A VEHICLE FOR THE SPIRIT. All the rituals (commandments) which many Christians dismiss as legalistic and lifeless are described there as bodies filled with soul. Most of them "uplift" basic functions such as eating and drinking, washing the hands, sex; I think there's even a blessing for going to the bathroom. (Having a cousin raised secular who's become Orthodox, I still think it's a religion for obsessive-compulsives, but the book gave me new appreciation and respect.)

CAMASSIA: Yeah, it's kind of the in thing among a lot of
Protestant thinkers these days (including my friend
Telford) to try to recover the original Jewish
Christianity from the layers of Greek and other
philosophies that have accumulated onto it over the
centuries. Rejection of body-spirit dualism is part of

AMBA: !!!

CAMASSIA: I know -- the casual observer (including myself,
formerly) would think that Christianity couldn't exist
without body-soul dualism, because we're going to
heaven as disembodied spirits, right? But actually,
no. Paul says clearly in Romans that at the Second
Coming our bodies will be raised, but they will be
transformed into immortal bodies of an unspecified
nature. In fact, there's been a line of thinking
starting with the Anabaptists (which Telford adheres
to) that our souls are never separated from our
bodies, so after death we'll be unconscious until
resurrection day.

I have been speaking of Protestants, but this basic
idea never left Catholicism, though the rank and file
often don't realize it. Joe Cecil explains this well

"First, the church teaches that dualism is a heresy.
Dualism is the belief that mind and body, or matter
and spirit are two separate realities. Many people,
including uninformed Catholics, mistakenly believe
that Catholicism teaches dualism, but Catholicism
teaches the exact opposite. Dualism among those who
profess to be Catholics is often expressed in views of
the afterlife. If we believe that we become
disembodied spirits, or ghosts after we die, we are
believing a doctrine that the Church does not teach!

What the Church teaches is that you are your body. The
body is spirit in the flesh. The soul is the
life-force of the body, and it cannot exist apart from
the body. Your body is good and holy, because it is
what you are.

When we say the Apostles Creed, we proclaim that we
believe in the resurrection of the body. We will not
be disembodied spirits in the next life. Our very
bodies will be raised to glory. It is true that our
bodies will be different in the next life, in a
similar manner that an adult body is different from
the body of a child. The glorified body probably will
not be physically larger, and it may have powers and
abilities that are unknown to the body on earth. Yet,
the body that dies will be the body that rises!"

I think he's overstating a bit because traditionally
Catholics do believe that your soul will separate from
your body at death, but they still believe that it
will be re-embodied at Judgment Day. Fr. Jim Tucker
did a good homily about this:

Well, this may be more than you needed to know, but I
find this stuff endlessly fascinating.


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