In the newspaper "The Desert Sun" in Palm Springs , California , there was an article I read with interest about a writer's memories of time spent with Walter Annenberg, the famous philanthropist. The author, William Edelen, told of how he met Mr. Annenberg, and how the two of them spent quality time together on many different occasions and how Mr. Annenberg became his patron. The thing that I found disturbing about the article was the opinions and behavior of the two men during these meetings that dealt with what Mr. Annenberg called "religious literacy."
Mr. Edelen quipped that he and Mr. Annenberg would often enjoy "laughter and jokes about the religious and political quacks, phonies and hypocrites." Mr. Edelen added that he was sponsored by Mr. Annenberg, and was given free rein to "write and lecture with no dogmas, doctrines or creeds." No names of quacks, phonies or hypocrites were given nor were any specific doctrines or creeds named. It struck me that a man with the philanthropic and good-deed-doing history such as Mr. Annenberg, along with a pupil of his, would lower themselves to that kind of banter. No one would argue against their right of freedom to disagree and politely criticize, but it just seemed to me to be the kind of petty behavior you wouldn't suspect from a renowned international figure and mentor of Mr. Edelen.
I wouldn't argue that there aren't a large number of quacks, phonies and hypocrites around whose behavior begs to be insulted. Each of us could name a few. Maybe if Mr. Edelen would give us a name or two of people in this category, we could all join in the laughter over these people who disagree with our viewpoints. That's what bothers me. Do these two gentlemen really see their own philosophies as the inherent truth, and all those whose ideologies are different as being sadly misinformed. There is so much of this kind of self certainty displayed nowadays, in religion, politics, and in society in general. The "I'm right and since you disagree with me you must be wrong" approach, to me, is what's inherently wrong, if I may use an example of such a method of settling an argument.
In passing, Mr. Edelen recalled bringing a lawsuit against the U.S. Government for allowing a Billy Graham revival meeting on a government owned island and using naval stationery to publicize it. Since it was certainly a conflict of Church and state, the revival meeting was cancelled. Or as Mr. Edelen pathetically announced, Billy Graham was deleted. A rather pompous pronouncement towards someone who has certainly not deserved downgrading, by a man who seems to enjoy behaving that way.