While some 30,000 (some counts go as low as 20,000) souls from throughout Texas and the South trickled into Houston's Reliant Stadium on Saturday for Governor Rick "The Coif" Perry's Dog and Pony Show of Righteousness, up at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas, David Villa, Andres Iniesta, and the boys of FC Barcelona drew 61,000 for their friendly match against Mexican side Club America which was arranged under the auspices of something called the "Herbal Life World Football Challenge". The European Champions saw off the team from the D.F. by a scoreline of 2-0 with goals by Villa in the 34th [See it Here] and youngster Seydou Keita in the 90th [See it Here] who converted a tremendous service from fellow young forward Gerard Deulofeu. Though the Spanish super team, who are arguably one of the best sides in soccer history, may not be twice as popular as Jesus in the State of Texas, by comparing crowds, it may be deemed more popular than a certain Governor who likes to exploit religion for political gain.
Despite the fact that it was a ghastly 110 degrees farenheit in Arlington [luckily, the game was played with the roof closed and the air conditioning cranked, much to the delight of the Catalonians who suffered an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Chivas de Guadalajara in the stifling humidity of Miami on Wednesday night], I would have much rather been at the latter event, but pecuniary shortcomings [ticket prices ranged from $35 to $200 plus service fees, not to mention $25 for parking and God knows how much for gas for the 500 mile round trip] kept me at home in Austin where I watched it on ESPN. I know a lot of people who had to do the same thing. Damn this economy!
At left, David Villa celebrates his goal against Club America. At
right, appropriately, Texas Governor Rick Perry plays up his
"Christianity" for potential voters.
While Perry is a nuisance and his event in Houston on Saturday, the Response, was pretty much a sham and mockery, and I will recount just a few of the reasons below, I tried to ignore both he and the event despite numerous invitations to a variety of events in Austin, Responses to the Response, so to speak, which ran counter to Perry's gig. "Sorry", I'd tell my inviters, "Soccer before protest. Baby, it's Barca!!! Mas Que un Club," and all that.
But I could not ignore the sheer volume of press coverage of Perry's Event that appeared on Sunday. Being Sunday and all, and me, feeling a bit Proustian, I reveled in remembrances of Sunday Schools past. Like Perry, I was raised by fundamentalist, or at least very conservative, Protestant parents on the plains of North Texas. I am anything but a practicer of religion now, yet, strangely enough, I can remember biblical passages that I heard or read more than 30 years ago and have followed me around like a specter since.
I have always tried to live by Matthew, Chapter 7, though what I'm saying about the Guv herein may be contradicting that:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
6 ¶ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Being in the Sunday School frame of mind, I decided to delve a little deeper into Perry's biblical justification for his participation in the Houston event. It appears that my version of Christianity tends to differ with his.
For one, he quotes the Book of Joel (verses 12-17) as giving him the authority to call his big Pow Wow.
12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, LORD.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Now, this "authorization" would be all fine and dandy if it were not for the Book of Joel being comfortably ensconced in the the Old Testament, a volume which a lot of crazed Protestants like me see as "old law" that was replaced by the New Testament when the Messiah showed up with his big bag of salvation and instilled a new order that freed the individual from the constraints of the old order. Basically, law was replaced by faith [See the Galations verses below.]. In fact, I know verse 14 would send my old preacher into hollering fits of "Blasphemy! Blasphemy!" The whole "offerings" thing gets a lot of Protestants bent out of shape. Anyway, the Old Testament is basically seen as an historical text where Christians study what happened before Christ was sent down to redeem the world.
Here are but a couple of the scriptures indicating the supremacy of the New Testament over the Old that I heard when growing up, along with a new one I found with a little help from Google:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Now, getting back to Perry's "Authorization" passage from the Old Testament's Book of Joel, it seems to contradict the following New Testament verses, ones I remember very well from the numerous Sunday Sermons I had to sit through:
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
How does Perry reconcile the contradictions between the Book of Joel and the Book of Matthew, especially in light of the New Testament's abrogation of a good deal, if not all, of the Old Testament? Honestly, I don't think he can. I hope this will raise the brow of at least one Christian Biblical scholar. It's funny, too, how the passage in Joel says nothing about prayer. It just says to get together and moan, and mourn, and fast, and the like. So maybe the two passages don't really contradict each other at all and Perry is a hypocrite free and clear.
I just wish he'd go to his room, and pray there. While, he's at it, he should clean it up. Texas is a bit of mess right now, no matter how many lies Perry tells about a "Texas Miracle."