An “Olympia Snowe for Senate” sign bounced off my hood as I waited at an intersection in Portland, Maine. Blustery winds blew leaves and campaign signs all around the city. I ran over one declaring “Baldacci for Governor” as the wind skittered it across the road and under my tires. A “Curley for Congress” sign twisted on one of its two wire legs after a gust tore the other from the earth. Weather and politics were in tumult.
A huge maple uprooted and crashed through the roof of a house next to my daughter’s on Wellington Street. I was there for the christening of Alexander John Kimble, my second grandson. The Kimbles and the McLaughlins gathered to witness the oldest Christian rite for this newest member of both our families. I remembered learning in catechism class a half century ago that Baptism cleansed us from original sin - that stain left on us after Adam and Eve disobeyed God. It seemed fitting that our purpose was to acknowledge our place and Alex’s in the spiritual world - that realm older than electoral politics and even nature itself, both of which were in turmoil that day.
How will it be for Alex as he grows up in his world, I wondered, and how will his be different from the world I’ve known? Will he be challenged as a Catholic American? Will he have to defend his heritage against Islamic onslaught? Will his generation fight to preserve it?
Entering the church later, I saw dead leaves which had blown into the narthex and were strewn around the floor. My son-in-law, Nate, had chosen his brother, Michael Kimble, as Alex’s Godfather and I recalled the Baptism scene in Coppola’s film “The Godfather.” Michael Corleone was asked “Do you renounce Satan? And all his works?” Coppola cut away after each question to scenes of Corleone’s rivals being violently slain. I remembered the brittle clouds of leaves blowing and swirling through the streets outside, and thought of the way directors used such scenes to portend evil forces prowling about. Are there sinister forces lurking in our world? President Bush claims an “Axis of Evil” threatens us and he’s ridiculed by “progressive” Democrats like those who dominate politics in Portland, Maine and in the rest of the red states. They consider such talk unenlightened at best and the president himself a simpleton. They see this election as a referendum on Bush’s vision of what threatens us.
If Republicans retain Congress next week, President Bush may take it as a vote of confidence and be more aggressive against the jihadists ordered to “kill Americans - anywhere, anyhow.” If Democrats win control, they could cut off funding for the war as they did in Vietnam thirty years ago. The Democratic left believes President Bush’s aggressive policies have not reduced terrorism but produced more. They would pull out and “Give Peace a Chance,” because, as their bumper stickers say, “War is Not The Answer.” They don’t realize that war is only the extension of politics when diplomacy fails. You either win or you lose - and we cannot afford to lose. It may not seem like a holy war for blue state “progressives” who snicker at such talk, but there can be no doubt that our enemies see it that way. They’re on a mission from God, to quote from another movie - the “Blues Brothers” - but their mission isn’t the least bit funny.
I’ve been surprised recently by how many otherwise intelligent people speculate that the World Trade Center towers were not brought down by Muslim terrorists, but by controlled demolition charges planted in the buildings by US government officials. They’re ready to believe the Bush Administration knew in advance about the attacks and allowed them as a reason to go to war. I thought only the lunatic fringe could conceive of such things, but I’ve been wrong. Such notions are more widespread than I would ever have believed possible. It’s sad to realize how divided we are in the face of our enemies. I fear sometimes the “United States” is becoming a misnomer and it may take a nuclear attack next time to make us realize the danger we face.
The storms of war will likely intensify whatever the outcome next week. If we pull out of Iraq, Islamofascists will see it as yet another victory over the infidels, the “Great Satan.” That’s how they see us by the way, in case you haven’t heard.
It’s fitting that my grandson’s Baptism prepares him for the next world as well as this one. I fear the political signs I saw flying around on that stormy Sunday could well be an omen of upheaval, political and religious. The world Alex Kimble was christened into will be not likely be peaceful.