[Author’s Note—this is a hastily-written substitute for the article I had already written for this month entitled “On March Madness,” which, to paraphrase Al Gore, I am putting in a lockbox to be opened only upon the expiration of lives in being of certain individuals mentioned therein plus 21 years, or upon someone bribing me with a case of good craft beer, whichever first occurs.]
As your Bar president, I hear a lot of complaints. I’m not complaining about that—it’s part of the job. It indicates that folks are engaged enough to care about what we are doing. Heavens to Betsy, I’ve even gotten a few complaints about my columns! That doesn’t bother me either—at least it confirms that there are some readers out there.
What I can’t abide, however, are anonymous complaints. Several years ago, when I was the “at-large” member of the Executive Committee (I really like the connotation of “at-large” characterizing an escaped fugitive of some sort), someone wrote a long and impassioned complaint under a nom de plume to Executive Director Nancy Roberson about the invocation given at an MCB event, particularly as it pertained to the use of the word Lord. For some reason, this was deemed important enough to be put on as an agenda item for discussion at the next EC meeting.
While I have as much regard for the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment as anybody, it struck me as just plain silly to take such a complaint seriously. It was an occasion to heed the words of Otter in “Animal House: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.” And I was just the guy to do it.
As I was not going to be able to attend the meeting in person, I sent in my two cents worth by email. (Speaking of cents, I guess this complainant gets really torqued over the fact that pennies are engraved with the phrase “In God We Trust.”)
Herewith a recap of some portions of my smart-alecky response to the MCB Executive Committee:
I unfortunately need to go to an out of state funeral and will not be able to attend the meeting tomorrow. I have, however, reviewed the handouts from Nancy’s email. The only topic upon which I wish to comment is the letter.
First of all, anyone who deigns to express an opinion anonymously is a pusillanimous weenie unworthy of our consideration. Having said that, I feel compelled to note that the letter is theologically flawed to the extent that the writer equates the term “Lord” with a “hybridized Judeo-Christian faith.” On the contrary, the word “Lord” is recognized as an expression of the divine in all of the world’s great religions. To elaborate:
In Islam, the 85th of 99 names for God (Allah if you will) is “The Lord of Majesty and Generosity.”
In Hinduism, the Sanskrit word for God, Ishvara, is linguistically derived from the root word for a title comparable to “Lord.”
Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, is often called “Lord Buddha.”
The name of God in Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda, translates as “Wise Lord.”
A quote from a hymn authored by the Fifth Guru of Sikhism, Arjun Jev Di—“All say the same Word for the One Lord.”
Neo-pagan Wiccans, a dualistic religion, recognize the “Lord and Lady” as the “God and Goddess” who together express the oneness of all creation.
Even atheists have lots of options; e.g., “The Lord of the Rings,” “the Dark Lord of the Sith” from “Star Wars, the band “Lords of Metal” and for true materialists, “Lord and Taylor.”
As for the use of the invocation in general or the word “Lord” in particular, I really don’t have a position. My only point is that we should ignore this ignoramus. As a side note, the first use of the word “ignoramus” appears in a play by George Ruggle circa 1616. The character “Ignoramus” was an ignorant lawyer (like our own [anonymous writer] here). The word “ignoramus” in Latin literally means “we are ignorant of.”
Please keep in mind that while we want all MCB members to feel like they are being heard, the MCB Executive Committee and Board of Directors have no way to respond to anonymous complaints. If you want your concerns acknowledged or better yet, responded to, sign your name. That’s just my two cents.