Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's a Festivus Miracle!

Paradise is just up the ridge from Chico, so this story has jammed up the local news, especially since it went national. As the time the family remained lost progressed, certainly people here were getting more and more concerned, so it's great that they were found safe and sound.

And of course they're giving credit where credit is due:

"I'm glad I'm home. Praise God," Dominguez told reporters after exiting a chopper at the search command post. "It was awful."

Asked how he survived, he replied, "Jesus Christ."

Butte County Search and Rescue dispatcher Madde Watts said, "They had angels with them, for sure."

Oy. Sure, "angels" in uniforms and helicopters and such. Look, you want to go through life with your warm blanky, knock yerself out. But I recall one local news blurb where the mother's boyfriend said something to the effect that God briefly lightened the snowfall to enable the search team. Come on, we're getting into Marion Robertson territory here.

You know why these people were found in the nick of time? Because we have a solid taxpayer-funded infrastructure of trained people with good equipment who can mobilize quickly for these things, and a lot of good people who volunteered their time and effort to help. That and they were resourceful enough to find a culvert for shelter and help each other stay warm enough to avoid frostbite until they were found.

Just last week in Paradise, an elderly woman (who apparently had early-stage Alzheimer's, so someone should have been driving her) left church and got lost en route to a church social function. They found her body next to her car on a side road a few days later. Then there was the software executive who got lost on a side road up in Oregon last winter; after a huge search and national coverage, his body was found just a couple hundred yards from the road. He had traversed essentially in circles for days, trying to find help to save his family, before exposure and hypothermia did him in. I always think of the classic Deep Purple song Pictures of Home (whoever transcribed the lyrics there fucked it up, but you get the idea) when these stories come up.

There should be some sort of objective, empirical way of figuring out why these poor people apparently didn't believe hard enough or whatever to appeal to this capricious deity who seemingly flips a celestial coin to decide whom to save. Lost Christmas tree hunters in Northern California, and He's all over that; emaciated, brutally ravaged Christians in Darfur, not so much. Truly, the mind wobbles.

I know people can't just admit to themselves that shit happens, so they need to find a reason for things, and when they can't find one, they invent one, and ignore the objective implications. But it's still a little strange, this subtle narcissism that develops, even if they're not really thinking it through to that extent. You know, if Tom Cruise got lost in the woods and was rescued, and started going on and on about how he was miraculously rescued because he prayed to L. Ron and got clear?

This insatiable need to attribute job performance, individual resourcefulness, and a small bit of luck to divine intervention seems connected to the voguish obnoxiousness of the "war on Christmas". For what it's worth, I say "Merry Christmas", mostly just out of habit. I don't really think about it one way or the other. But incessant coverage of this fictional "war" (which really, when the country is caught up in two actual wars, trivializes the meaning of the word) has seeped into their little sponge-brains, and so now the simple phrase "Merry Christmas" has become a code, a cultural signifier.

Speaking of local media, I saw a commercial the other night where the local merchant basically used the entire segment to affirm his cultural righteousness in his preferred coded phrase, whilst he pimped his product. "Buy from me, I say 'Merry Christmas', dammit!" Well, whoopdee-fuckin'-doo, pal. This idea that everybody should share the same superstitions and anxieties is now a ploy for cultural niche marketing. Sweet.

So I've decided to make the jump over to "Season's Beatings" instead. I want no part of these people's secret handshake, nor their insistence on attributing the easily explainable to the supernatural.


woodguy said...

You have heard Hucksterbee's response to a question put to him of why his campaign has gained momemtum in these last few weeks, no? He claims that all the prayers his supporters have offered up have resulted in divine intervention that has boosted his poll numbers. Can Frank Luntz's analysis of God's motivation for blessing us with the Huckster be far behind?

Personally, I'd give thanks for a miracle restoring Luntz's hairline so we wouldn't have to suffer the sight of his laughable hairpiece.

ThePoliticalCat said...

Or "Season's Gleetings," if you're speaking to the Ann Coulterish types.