What if Jesus had been a liberal? What's wrong with beams in your eye?
Doing It My Way, with Justice for All
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There was once a man who had a beam in his eye. This was no ordinary beam. It was a great beam made out of Douglas fir from the vast forests of Oregon, from a tall, majestic tree that had once housed a nest for a spotted owl.
People looked on the beam as a great inconvenience. It protruded from his eye exactly fifty-three and one-fourth inches, and was constantly poking into things. It was an especial nuisance in elevators and in church. There were people who absolutely refused to ride in the car pool with him, and he was seldom invited to parties.
Everywhere he went he was inconvenienced. “This world has absolutely no regard for people like me," he complained. “They do not build cars for us; elevators are designed without any regard at all. Even the public schools are callous to our pain. I have quit going to church. Something has really got to be done.”
Once when he was going on and on about it, his little daughter said, “Daddy, why don't you have the beam removed?” His reaction was so violent that she never mentioned it again.
The climax of his anger came when he was refused entrance to medical school. “There is no reason why I should be denied a license to practice medicine. I know about eye problems, and I want to specialize in ophthalmology. You cannot refuse me.” But they did.
Most men would have given up at this point, but our friend was made of sterner stuff. He founded Beamology, a newsletter designed to promote “sensitivity toward Beamists,” as the masthead said. Soon he had inquiries from all parts of the country. “The pain people are feeling in this country cannot be described,” he said. “I am absolutely amazed at how our people are victimized by the cruelty of others. People just can't see it.”
After several months of publishing Beamology, a convention was held in Philadelphia. Delegates came from all over the country and from several foreign countries. Our friend appeared on the Tonight Show, and Oprah and Charlie Rose were looking into inviting him. “People have no idea of the way our people are treated,” he told Jay.
“As a result we are organizing the National Organization of Beamists. There will be N.O.B. chapters in every state in the Union, and we are organizing a great march on Washington next year to present our case to the United States Congress. We need people of vision there.” The most dramatic moment of the show was a call from a member of the United States Senate, saying that his daughter was a Beamist. “You cannot imagine the shame and pain I have felt all these years. You have given me courage and hope,” he said.
Soon N.O.B. buttons were seen on the lapels and blouses of Hollywood celebrities. Some went so far as to go to doctors to have beams installed in their eyes to show that they cared. This led to a increased demand for Douglas fir, the wood of choice, and this almost led to a confrontation with environmental groups. Conflict was avoided when the founder said that it was not necessary to have a beam in the eye. “Many of you have beams in your heart, and we know that you care,” he said. There was no empty eye in the auditorium that night.
In the presidential election, a new president was elected. “It was the vision thing,” the defeated incumbent said. Congress could see what was happening, and soon came through. Legislation was passed to provide special rights for Beamists in school, public buildings, elevators. There was great resistance from the auto industry, but when a Beamist ran into a school bus in Alabama, because he had to sit sideways in his car, the industry caved in, and made holes in the windshields. This caused other problems, but N.O.B. was happy.
N.O.B. provided curriculum guides to school teachers everywhere. “If we can teach children that a beam is normal, then we will have achieved the goals of our organization,” their spokesperson said. The break through came in Michigan. The state organization (M.O.B.) was the first to see legislation through the state house to provide special rights in school. For a time the governor threatened to veto the act, but under the threat of a boycott of the state from national groups, he saw the light and signed. Before long high school students in California thought it chic to have beams in their eyes, and those who didn't have them lost status. “Visualize Beams" appeared on bumper stickers.
Under pressure from N.O.B. and groups with similar agendas, preachers no longer mentioned beams. There was a lawsuit in Texas when a Sunday School class sang, “I'll Be a Sun-beam for Jesus.” “My client has no sun-beams. What is wrong with wooden beams?” the lawyer for the plaintiff asked. The jury awarded one million dollars in punitive damages.
“What is normal, after all,” said our friend the night he was honored for a lifetime of warfare against the forces of reaction. “We have our people everywhere. Last year a Beamist was elected to Congress for the first time. We dominate the arts and the more enlightened denominations are ordaining Beamists to the ministry. Next year we are publishing a vision-neutral version of the New Testament and a vision-neutral hymnal. And I have been made an honorary member of the American Society of Ophthalmology.”
Across man's kingdom, some people wondered why it seemed so dark all the time. Most people couldn't tell the difference, though. (See Matthew 7:1-5).
[This article first appeared in Basket of Figs, in August, 1993.
Updated, September 13, 2006. Copyright, 1993, 2006. All rights reserved.]
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