Kids played at war when I was a kid. Hell, the whole world was at war.
One kid would jump another, pound his head against the sidewalk, and scream at him to “Say Uncle!” “Uncle, Uncle,” the smashed kid would choke.
Meant Uncle Sam! Meant Uncle Sam, US, was beating the shit out of the Japs! out of the krauts!
It meant we were a big deal. We.
Oh, not me. I wasn’t the kid pounding heads, I was the kid whose head got pounded.
In graduate school NYU had a professor on loan, a Renaissance guy, I liked him, he was very good. But he was a priest, an RC. (A Jesuit!) That made me very uncomfortable: a university was supposed to be a place where you could, in the US anyway, get away from that old world, with its churches, its bullshit hierarchies. Ordinarily, you want to say something to the professor, you could go, “Um, er …” and start talking. Or you could say, “Um, Professor …” or “Er, Doctor …” Well, with this priest you could say, “Um, er,” or “Professor,” or “Doctor,” but what a lot of people pointedy said was, “Father …”
Father? This bozo wasn’t her father! He certainly wasn’t my father!
I went out of my way to say to him that I was uncomfortable calling him “father”: and that I wasn’t going to do it! He said fine, but mistook it for an individual thing; I didn’t want a special dispensation for deviance; I wantd the world to grow up, to cease imposing literalized metaphors on non-participants in a set of rituals. I didn’t want any non-Catholic bullied into pretending to Church-prescribed pseudo-relations.
Calling God the Father among monotheists is fine, but to generalize the practice is to bully atheists: wrongly.
Let the atheist find the father in God, don’t shove it up his nose.
I could never be a diplomat: I couldn’t say “Your Highness,” “Your Grace” … No, I was ready for the lion’s den. I wouldn’t bow down to Baal.
I’d say Uncle as a child, to save my skull. But I never did understand, and I still don’t understand, how Christians who grew up studying the martyrs, could quick-bend the knee to every false god that tripped in front of us.
(I don’t mind the Brothers. I’d mind them like hell though if they were in charge.)