If Only Rainwater Was Beer
My college roommate Bubba used to say, "I wish rainwater was beer, but it ain't." Happily, it is a free country, and we have every personal right to believe anything we wish. We can believe that rainwater is beer - or that God created the earth from nothing in 144 hours - but there is a dear price to pay for believing in things that aren't true.
In America you can form a Rainwater Beer Drinkers Society, freely assemble and enjoy fellowship together while sharing communion enjoying your favorite rainwater. You can create and publish books that compare the various beer qualities of different types of rain. You can encourage your followers to learn more about beer-rain, and even fund chemical researchers to publish non-peer-evaluated academic papers listing the chemical properties that prove rainwater is beer. You can fund long lists of experts who testify to the glories of rain-beer.
You can spread those “scientific” findings through any open communication means you wish and quash any critique on your own website. You can call real science “junk” and redefine what science means to allow your own scholars to redefine rainwater as beer.
You can start your own schools and teach your children your truth about rainwater. As long as you can keep your children isolated from the rest of the world you can control their minds. You can build a museum to display the glorious beer qualities of rain. You might even get the Discovery Channel to run something glitzy about your findings. You can grow an industry to promote your theories, create hundreds of " proofs" about rainwater and so flood the argument that the average person will be so overwhelmed that they can't tell rainwater from beer. And whenever you are challenged, you can say you are being persecuted. Say that those people who believe in non-beer-rainwater are all atheists, and they are attacking everyone's religious convictions.
Whenever those pesky scientists try to assert that rainwater is just rainwater, you can demand equal time. After all, saying that rainwater is only rainwater is just a theory. You've got a theory too. The media believes they must report both sides of every issue, so if you can make it an issue they'll give you good quotes. Create a big controversy - “ New Findings Suggest the Presence of Hops and Barley in Rainwater.” If any pointy-nosed university academicians challenge you, sic Bill O'Reilly on them. He'll shout ' em down.
In a free country, you've got every God-given right to believe and to express your belief that rainwater is beer. I'll defend your rights, and so will the American Civil Liberties Union. But I don't have to agree with you. We have such a tolerant society that you won't run into too much complaint until you begin to cross lines and try to force others to swallow your beer unwillingly. If your motivated, well-organized minority takes advantage of low-turnout public races like school board elections and gains a majority of rainwater beer candidates on the school board, and if they then require public school teachers to teach the rainwater-is-beer theory alongside the rainwater-is-rainwater theory, you'll wake some people up.
By all means avoid going to court. If you ever go to court you face a substantial obstacle. Courts base their judgments on evidence. You're gonna lose, just like 100 percent of the creationist-intelligent design cases that have made it to trial. Even conservative beer-rain drinking judges will apply the law to the evidence.
The problem with any organization, especially a religious one, attaching itself to a scientific untruth is that the organization loses credibility. It risks losing its children as they grow up and taste rainwater and discover for themselves it is not beer. Unless they are kept in controlled religious isolation, all Christian children will discover one day that evolution is true. If their parents and churches have taught them otherwise, the children are either going to move courageously toward a more progressive faith or fearfully conform to untruth to get along with their authorities or throw religion out entirely. Ferdinand Magellan famously mused, “ The Church says the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church. ”
For churches and religious people to be afraid of science and its noble search for truth is a betrayal of our witness that God is truth. Truth is continually unfolding. All new discovery of truth reflects God and adds to our understanding of God. Enjoy the wondrous journey. And have a mug of rainwater on Bubba.
Lowell Grisham is an Episcopal priest from Fayetteville.
This article originally appeared in the "Northwest Arkansas Times" of Fayetteville,
Arkansas and is reprinted with their permission. It was submitted by Art Hobson.
Reflections on Being a Second Wife
My husband remembers that he felt some attraction while in high school, but certainly nothing serious. In college, the contact intensified and a deep affection developed. He left college for a year in the Navy, but kept in touch. Returning, he threw himself into the relationship with enthusiasm, spending a great deal of time developing it even further. He was committed.
There came a cooling off period, however. They parted for almost three years while he tried farming. Being apart was too painful, so he returned. He spent the next year earning a master’s degree. That year of the master’s degree process cemented whatever hadn’t been cemented in the affair before. It was during this year that I met him. He thought he could handle two loves.
He and I married, but I found out soon enough that he was still committed to that prior relationship. He couldn’t give it up. His devotion seemed to be greater to the other one than to me. I tried to be understanding and patient, waiting to attain my rightful place. After all, he had married me.
She, the other woman, was and is Physics. The man is absolutely devoted to her. He swore allegiance to me, but in this bigamous marriage, who really comes first?
A clear answer to that question came while we were at the University of Missouri where Dean was pursuing his doctorate in physics. I went to school, too. For five years we both worked hard. The children came; Kristin when I was a junior, John when I was a senior, and Bill when I was in graduate school. We lived in flimsy converted barracks that stretched in long ragged lines in the veterans’ housing area.
Late one afternoon a car drove up and down the streets with a loudspeaker blaring. All residents of the area must move immediately to the basement of the new university hospital, which was about a mile away. A tornado warning! One was coming in our direction. We were instructed to take needed supplies for up to 48 hours.
Bill was an infant. He needed a lot of things, especially diapers. The other children were 2 and 3-1/2 years old. They needed a change of clothes and favorite toys. We would need to take some food, not knowing what would be available at the hospital for the large crowd of people that would be converging there.
I called Dean, who was in the physics building, Stewart Hall, in the middle of the large campus. He had driven, so our car was near him. He had heard nothing about any tornado. He said he couldn’t possibly come home right then because he was in the midst of a terrific physics discussion with his advisor. Don, one of my fellow graduate students and a neighbor, took his family to the shelter and then came back for our three children, all our “stuff” and me.
It couldn’t be clearer that physics came first. I’ve read that J. Robert Oppenheimer used the phrase “physics and the life it brings” in a letter to his brother. Jeremy Bernstein uses that to fashion the title of his book, The Life it Brings: One Physicist’s Beginnings. Perhaps someone ought to write a book about what life brings to the spouses of physicists.
Not all physicists are alike in all respects, but I’ve had some fun discussions on the topic of physicists with others who have married them. I started telling my tornado tale to one physicist’s wife the other day. She stopped me part way through, “You don’t have to tell me the ending. I know what will happen!” She noted that homes of physicists need to be fairly quiet because the physicist spends a lot of time thinking. Wives need to self-sufficient and very patient. I agreed with her totally.
It is true that physics brings a good life for the family. There are sometimes opportunities to travel to foreign countries for study or conferences. During some meetings of physicists, spouse programs for accompanying wives sometimes take up the topic of living with physicists. We compare observations and nod sagely. No male spouse has ever been part of such groups. I wonder if they have the same experiences in living with female physicists.
Judy Blume, the well-known author was part of our group at a meeting in Europe. She was then married to a physicist. Her book, Tiger Eyes, is set in Los Alamos, New Mexico. That marriage didn’t last long, as I recall. Actually divorce is relatively rare among physicists of my acquaintance, and we’ve been married over 53 years.
In talking with a hotel staffer during a convention of physicists, I learned that this particular group is not well favored. They sit or stand around and talk, shunning the bars and thus providing less revenue for the hotel.
The bottom line is that we wives all love our physicists dearly. They all dearly love physics and us—in that order.