Topic: "Benny and the Jets"(5)
The Men of Gondor recently took a tour of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Initially, Frodo was surprised that tours are even available, since he had never met anyone who had ever participated in one, and he was even more surprised to learn that there is a small museum, open to the public, including a gift shop. It struck Frodo as a sign of our time that all of these public facilities are on the other side of a security check which is far more ornate than any airport this side of Kabul. The tour was, in truth, kind of "lame," in that it mostly consisted of topical views of the campus, passages through conference facilities, and a whirlwind passage through the museum. There were no glass-enclosed viewing areas of brilliant people mixing the contents of vial and beaker, and the tour guide was unable to tell Frodo if the "haz-mat suits" are destroyed or are somehow disinfected and used again.
Frodo had recently completed Ken Follett's tour through the Middle Ages, and was very mindful of the impact of the Black Death, the greatest plague known to Man or Hobbit. Topically, the current outbreak of the "Swine Flu" as a pandemic, has given even greater credence to the lessons learned, or ignored, by those susceptible to an ill-defined virus. It seems that the "Church" had almost as many ill-educated demagogues in the 14th Century as it does today. Perhaps, thinks Frodo, a little criticsm of those whose words are taken literally by millions is appropriate at this point.
During the time of the Black Death, the political influence of the clergy extended over the medical decisions made by practitioners and researchers. Such things as simple breathing masks were often forbidden, simply because no precedent existed in the texts viewed as blessed. In fact, many accepted treatments, such as bloodletting, were more damaging to the patient than if nothing at all had been done. It can be truthfully argued that these insular thought patterns contributed immensely to the death toll throughout Western Europe.
In our experience, the current Pope, whom we shall call "Benny," has argued, as previously discussed, that such simple things as condoms serve little purpose simply because their use may conflict with the dogma of those respecting literal translations of anything. Benny's influence, sadly, has been picked up by the curent leader of the African National Congress, who, in response to criticism of his multiple bastardizations, argued that he did not require a condom because he always showered completely after sex. Ignorance, it appears, spreads even more virulently than do the organisms responsible for our lamentation, past and present.
Those who believe, such as the dedicated scientists and researchers of the CDC, that disease is something more than the "will of God," are often defined as "secularists." Indeed, the label is extended by the presently limp philosophers of the Church to all of those who reject the literal instructions of the modern-day bloodletters. It is helpful to Frodo that, once again, the Church has helped Frodo to define himself. Again however, it is a reflection of the negative, as opposed to the potential influence that religion can have in one's life.
Frodo gives thanks everyday that there are people like those who serve all of humankind. He also can't help but hope that Benny develops some sort of rash on his butt that keeps him from sitting too long on the throne. Until that time, Frodo will continue to wear the button he picked up at the CDC gift shoppe, the one with a charicature of a polio cell with a diagonal red line slash across indicating its' total elimination, by the combined efforts of God and Man.