Tuesday, 3Nov09, I attended my first “town hall” meeting, which was a meeting of the Leavenworth County Republicans. The topic for the evening was a presentation on the religion of Islam titled “The Real Truth About Islam”, by Kirk Sours of Tonganoxie. Mr. Sours is a cattle rancher and a self described fundamentalist Christian, and the information on the local party website says that he is a published author on the subject of Islam. Another website stated that he has written numerous guides on religion. Yahoo!, Google and Amazon didn’t find me any of these writings in the two minutes or less that I searched, so I’m assuming they’re in-house writings, self published or were published in newspapers or magazines that didn’t archive them electronically.
I didn’t see anyone I recognized at the meeting when I got there, so I just found a seat toward the front and minded my own business. I expected I might see at least one person from my old parish from back when I was Catholic, but if they were there I didn’t recognize them. There were a handful of elected officials there, but no names I recognized, most of them being local ward representatives. I could have voted for one of them, for all I know. That’s one reason I want to get more involved in politics, because I want to be more informed about what’s going on and who’s doing it. Anyway, the chairman of the local party had folks who were attending their first meeting stand up and introduce themselves, and I was one of about a half a dozen or more folks who did so. There were a handful of people from out of the county, and I guess that surprised me. Most everybody there seemed to be in the “senior” category, and the only person I reckoned was younger than me was the chairman’s grandson, who he proudly (and rightly so) pointed out was the area’s newest Marine.
Mr. Sours was up front about the direction he was coming from with his presentation, declaring at the beginning that this was going to be a religious discussion, and since the majority of attendees were Christians he was going with the approach of one Christian to another. I only noted two overt displays of religious jewelry, one very large crucifix and one standard Star of David. But that’s just an observation, not a counter to his assumption. It was obvious to me that his assumption was safe, as it was my own upon walking into the place.
It is hard for me to imagine that this many years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that there are folks who don’t know the basic information Mr. Sours imparted to us, or at least the highlights of it. But then again, I knew a guy who thought that Islam predated Christianity who was educated in parochial schools, a miscalculation of just over six-hundred years. From what I’ve read on my own Mr. Sours presented a factual account of Islamic history, theory and practice. Where he lost the plot for me was in his analysis, the end of the lecture coming near to being, despite his pre-emptive objections to the contrary, a Christian revival meeting. But I’m a cynical individual, that is my nature, and I’m not writing this blog as counter-point to his lecture or his religion, only reporting my attendance and thoughts. I’m certainly not writing an objective, academic paper on it, anyway.
My journey is of a stranger in a strange land. I feel I have to engage the world around me, but don’t really fit in anywhere. It was a little surreal sitting there, feeling as if I were in a Christian church and listening to a preacher. “Politics makes strange bedfellows”, as they say. I belong to a religion that is in the extreme minority, so much so that it was against every statistical odd for me to even be there in the first place. It’s not going to get easier to be Asatruar and Republican at the same time, and I’m trying to prepare myself for when it becomes an open issue. I have no political aspirations myself, but the trials of Republican Heathens like Dan Halloran haven’t proved comforting. But, even were I not a member of a crazy cult, being a libertarian would be enough to make it an uphill battle for me in the GOP. Even when I was a Libertarian (big L then, little l now…) I never felt like I fit in there, I guess because the hard-liners of any movement tend to be the ones that do the most defining of the atmosphere. But I feel that what is happening in this country right now is a critical, defining moment in this nation’s history, and I don’t want to be a spectator to it, but rather a participant in some capacity.
Politics is a confusing and frustrating world, and all I want to do is make sure that America stays great and Americans stay free.