Elmer Lach died yesterday at 97. Of course, readers of this blog in Russia and Germany and Ukraine and France will never have heard of him - and generations of readers even in Canada have never heard of him. But, long ago, in the great years of professional hockey in Canada, Elmer Lach at centre with Maurice Richard at right wing and Toe Blake at left were quite possibly the greatest forward line in the history of hockey, playing for the greatest team in the history of hockey, the Montreal Canadiens of the 1940s and 50s. Toward the end, they would be joined by another brilliant player, Jean Beliveau.
I actually met three of the four. Richard was a frequent guest at my uncle's house. (My uncle was his boxing coach.) Richard was a very pleasant man, very unassuming, very modest off the ice. Not at all the firebrand he was on ice.
I met Beliveau at Richard's funeral where we talked for an hour or so while we stood with the crowd outside the church. He was a thorough gentleman, and a very intelligent one. Then there was Lach.
I was twelve years old, and a caddy at a golf club. (seventy-five cents plus tip for 18 holes.) My client and I had stopped at the clubhouse when a man came over to speak to him. It was Elmer Lach. As they finished their talk, Lach turned to me with a big smile, a big wave, and a big voice, "Hi, kid."
I paused, searching for le mot juste........"hi", I mumbled.
Well, to the serious stuff.
This is Easter Sunday. Yesterday, Saturday's paper had an editorial all about Christ risen, and joy in heaven, and hope for mankind, all the sort of pseudo religious babble one can expect of an editor who works for owners who show no signs of any moral principles ever known to any religion in the history of the world.
Then I think of some of the greatest mass murderers in the history of the past 40 years or so.
President Johnson who killed millions, mostly civilians, in Vietnam and Cambodia for reasons that have never been explained belonged to a real, Hallelujah bunch called Disciples of Christ. George Bush Sr. who oversaw the killing of hundreds of thousands in Guatemala in order to keep costs down for the mining companies was Episcopalian (that is, Anglican, the same church that blessed British troops that slaughtered, enslaved and robbed China, India, and a good deal of the rest of the world.)
George Bush jr., who created the war that killed over a million Iraqis, destroyed the country, impoverished it, looted it in order to please oil billionaires, and who started the killing in Afghanistan is a devout member of the United Methodist Church. Obama, the man who created the civil war in Syria, who bombed Libya, who still fights in Afghanistan and who has overseen the mass redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich under one of the world's most corrupt government attends an Episcopalian church.
Harper belongs to a real, jump up and clap hands for Jesus and hate homosexuals and the world is ending any day now and you're all going to hell outfit called the Church and Missionary Alliance. But it's okay to send Canadians to kill people in foreign countries to help out oil billionaires.
All of the people listed above profess belief in the principle of the separation of church and state. I believe in that, too - sort of. (it's an oversimplification. If a church believes that murder is wrong, how can it ignore it when its own people are doing the murdering? How can it bless the soldiers? And the bombs? Were Lutheran and Catholic churches right to bless Nazi armies, and to tell people God was on their side?)
The reality, surely, is that we do not separate religion and state. We never have. We have simply made religions the servants of whoever it is that runs the state. Thus that church billboard on St. George St., "Pray for OUR soldiers in Afghanistan."
Of course our religions should have some effect on what sort of state we want. If not, then why the hell bother having a religion in the first place? I don't suggest that any church should tell the state what to do. I do suggest that religions should have an effect on what politicians decide to to, and should have an effect on what we vote for.
When Reverend Tommy Douglas introduced medicare, he was not interfering with the state. He based his politics on the principles of his faith. He convinced Canadians - not of his personal religious views - but of his opinions as a result of those views. He didn't force people to become Baptists. He didn't have Baptists take over the government. But he did put his religious principles on the line.
So I turned to yesterday's Faith Page.for illumination. Some bloody hope. In this, one of the most cruel and dangerous periods the world has even seen - quite possibly the worst one - with greed running wild to spread the poverty that we cutely call "the wage gap", with greed running wild to starve and murder all over the world, and with religious groups which should be encouraging us to think of how to deal with this in the light of our religious beliefs, all we get is a sermonette that's another chorus of "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam".
Mind you, it's safe. If Jesus had been as wimpy as our religious leaders, nobody would have bothered to crucify Him.
Again, I'm not suggesting that religion should take over the state. What I am suggesting is that religious groups should be leading their followers to see their faith in relation to decisions they take in the real world, because the real world is what most religions are about.
There is no great risk in that. Despite the fact that some people go into fits because some religious women wear a veil, almost all religions boil down to the same principles. We all have far more in common than we do in difference.
No. I don't think any religion should take over the state. But I also don't believe any religion should become just a suck for the billionaires who have taken over the state.
I also have an aversion to hypocrites of any faith.
Faith should have a meaning in daily life. If not, we might as well all attend the Irving Family Chapel.
As for the mess I made of yesterday's story on a woman in Peru, the easiest solution is to google SumOfUs. The title of the article should come up on the first page, "This is the woman who scared a 10 biillion dollar...."