Drowning in echo amid the stained glass towers

Drowning in echo amid the stained glass towers April 9, 2014

• This is America. The post office stays open until midnight on April 15 so that we can file our income taxes (or our requests for an extension) before the deadline. We pull all-nighters in college the day before final exams. If the rent is due on the first of the month with a five-day “grace period,” then the rent is due on the fifth of the month. This is how we operate.

Yeah, sure, there was that one weird kid in every class who turned in big research papers early. Good for them. That was admirable but still … weird. The rest of us — most of us — finished that paper just in time to hand it in right at the deadline.

So I’m still confused as to why anyone would be surprised that this is also how Americans go about signing up for health insurance. The deadline was March 31. Those of us who signed up on March 30 were proud that we did it “early.” We’re Americans. This is how we operate.

• “Church is boring” is a common complaint. I don’t think anyone could say that about the Rev. Danny Chance’s Christian Life Church in West Monroe, Louisiana, where a few parishioners who also happen to be Republican state senators are keeping things pretty lively. That church could use a big dose of boring about now.

• News item: Old white guy from South Carolina misrepresents the Civil War. Shocking.

• I haven’t seen the Aronofsky/Crowe Noah yet, but I’m pleased the movie has sparked lots of discussion of this wild, strange biblical story. Some of that discussion has centered around the story’s vengeful portrayal of God. That’s in there, certainly, but this is another point at which it’s helpful and necessary to read the Noah story in the context of all the other flood stories of the ancient world.

The plethora of such stories shouldn’t be surprising — most ancient civilizations are, after all, identified by the rivers that served as their lifeblood. These were stories told by and to and for people who were acquainted with deadly floods. So the story of Noah likely wasn’t told to introduce the idea of a killer flood, but rather to make sense of a world that included such calamities. The story doesn’t invent the flood, but rather attempts to divine what it means — to account for it. That suggests we might do better viewing ancient flood stories the way G.K. Chesterton viewed fairy stories: “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

• Regarding Chesterton, let me second this, from Mallory Ortberg: “I don’t always agree with Chesterton, but he wrote The Man Who Was Thursday and I didn’t, so I’m willing to let him say a few words before I have my piece.” Yes. If you haven’t read The Man Who Was Thursday, do so now. I’m not sure of what it means. I’m not sure that Chesterton was sure of what it means. But I am sure that Terry Gilliam really needs to make this his next movie project. (Anybody know who’s behind this? No names attached yet. I’m thinking Martin Freeman as Syme. Maybe John Goodman as Sunday?)

• “I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism.” That’s always good to hear, although if you’re ever in a position to have to say it, you’re probably having a bad week.

• “As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act. … To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA. You have to have a participating mechanism, you have to have a mechanism to fund it, you have to have a mechanism to fix parts of the market.”

That’s a Republican congressional aide, explaining the dilemma his party faces with its “repeal and replace” slogan for the ACA. There’s a solution, though, another approach that would ensure all the benefits the ACA is designed to provide while offering even more cost-saving efficiency: Single-payer Medicare for all. Somehow, though, I doubt that’s what the GOP has in mind when they talk about “repeal and replace.”


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