Wednesday, April 04, 2007

gospel truth beyond the garbage

ALL IT TAKES for a hellish experience in the heat of the Lenten season is to shiver through the spine while listening to the litter in the air stirred up by the elocution contest among election-starved candidates. Hear how they hope for us to believe their words were holy writ. That's the crux of my column in the opinion page of Sun.Star Cebu (27 March 2007):

Of politics and penitence

Even the devil knows how to quote the Bible, and so it’s not really farfetched for some politicians to wax penitential in the heat of Lent. You bet, religious frenzy would be a fashionable excuse for self-anointed saviors to wear holiness like oil in their hair.

Donning sackcloth and ash, as hypocrites in biblical times used to do, would be a tad unphotogenic for those born to be vainglorious. Aber, can you cite any candidate who doesn’t take the extra mile, with hell’s bells ringing up the road to popularity, just to stay high profile?
In the name of fame and fortune, yes, doing a Faust wouldn’t be futile.

Because they’ve got the flair for fizzing up their spit in the face of an audience, it’s likely they’d even give an arm in exchange for the chance to flail their hands to high heavens for the traditional staging of the Siete Palabras.

Or, if the less voluble of them would opt out of that public display of piety, there’s no fuss as long as it’s never overlooked and ought to be put on record that all that oratory comes courtesy of his generosity, thank you.

Then again, I wouldn’t mind, if their knack for sheer showmanship—preferably with full media coverage— would compel them to whip their backs with a stingray’s tail while walking on their knees under a spitfire sky. Cool, if the self-flagellant would also invite the voters to vent off their loathing and join in the lynching.

Hateful, I confess. Utterly un-Christian if we reckon our Catechism teacher in kindergarten who taught us “to love our enemies” even if she couldn’t stop herself from pinching us in the nape for not listening.

How to look at our politicians in a new light? That, whoa, is no less uphill than retracing the skull-littered path to Golgotha.

Instead of seeing any vote-starved pervert with a pyromaniac’s glower, the Dilaab Foundation ("a volunteer-driven, Church-based movement for a transformed Filipino nation through heroic Christian citizenship”) has offered a suggestion to “challenge the notion that elections are useless because many candidates have dubious motives in running for office.”

Instigated by Fr. Carmelo Diola, the foundation has urged the public not to vote for undesirable candidates by using a decision-making guide called LASER (Lifestyle. Action. Support. Election conduct. Reputation.) Beware of “anti-life” candidates with unexplained wealth or with campaign machinery oiled with money from illegal drugs by beaming up your LASER vision.

Or if you’re still rolling your eyeballs, thank God for this scrap of humor:

“An old couple had a son who was still living with them. They were a little worried owing to their son’s lack of career plans. Thus they decided to do a small test.

They took a wad of money, a Bible and a bottle of whiskey, and put these on the dining table. Then they hid, pretending they were not at home.

If the son took the money, he would be a businessman, if he took the Bible, he would be a priest; but if he took the bottle of whiskey, he would be a drunk.

In the nearby closet and peeping through the keyhole, they saw their son arrive at last. He read the note they had left him. He took the money, looked at it against the light, and slid it in his pocket. But after that, he took the Bible, flicked through it, and took it. Finally he grabbed the bottle, opened it, and took an appreciative whiff to check the quality. Then he left for his room, carrying all three items.
The father slapped his forehead and said, “Darn, it’s even worse than I could ever have imagined. Our son is going to be a politician!”

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