WHEN THERE ARE NO DEFINITES, ONLY MAYBES

by David Sisler

The two articles were very dissimilar, but perhaps not dissimilar at all. One was a straight news story, the other, an opinion piece.

First, from The Augusta Chronicle, is a story by Faith Johnson, headlined, "Some Hephzibah parents want band to rein in dancers."

Hephzibah High School's marching band has a dance team whose members wear red and black outfits which resemble nothing so much as swimsuits with sequins. During a recent half-time routine, the Rebelettes performed to "Another One Bites The Dust" and selected rhythm and blues tunes. Those routines caused some members of the audience to complain to the Richmond County School Board about the bumps and grinds they saw on the gridiron which were not connected to the football contest.

Board Trustee Jeff Annis said, "It always happens during football season. Band directors are warned to hold down on the hoochie-cooch. We ... try to snuff out hoochie-cooch wherever it's found."

Rebelette Sonja Blue said, "The way we dress and dance attracts people to the game. We still look like ladies."

Maybe that explains why some people, in that same gallery, booed the opposing team's band as they performed to "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "Amazing Grace." Their dance team wore long-sleeved, ankle length dresses. That was a tough crowd, booing dresses and hymns. (It reminds me of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, where it is reputed the citizens boo Santa Claus on Christmas Eve).

One parent said, "[The Rebelettes] are not trying to overexpose anything. They have on tights and nylons. It's the 90s. People who are complaining need to change with the times."

Well, there you go, Mr. Annis. It could not have been hoochie-cooch. The girls were wearing panty hose.

And now for your listening and dancing pleasure, a column from The Washington Post by Richard Cohen, entitled, "Rules of Engagement."

"When I was a younger man," Mr. Cohen wrote, "I had rules. They were hard-and-fast rules, rules that could not be broken and that I thought would see me through life. One of them was that if a girlfriend cheated on me, I would stop seeing her instantly. Then one of them did and I didn't. It turned out I loved her more than I loved my rule."

Mr. Cohen's memory was stirred by watching "One True Thing," a movie about how a family deals with the dying mother. At first glance, Kate seems to be a big screen version of June Cleaver, oblivious to life in general and her husband's infidelity in particular. The movie reveals that she knows her husband and knows about his adultery, but she loves him anyway.

"It's a deal she's cut with herself one she would have found inconceivable when she was first married," Cohen writes. "She did it to hold her marriage together."

Then Cohen reflects on President Clinton's adulterous affairs. "While some politicians screamed about rules, the rest wondered what those rules should be and, really, whether there should be any at all.

"This is something my old girlfriend taught me so many years ago," Cohen continued. "She cheated on me, but I loved her. So I took my rule about infidelity and substituted another to which I have adhered, without exception, ever since: It depends."

I have not seen the Rebelettes perform. This is, therefore, not a commentary about their routines. It is, however, a rejection, in the strongest possible terms, of the perpetually repeated philosophy which says, "These are the 90s, therefore any behavior is acceptable." If we continue to "accept the times" what is next? Being afraid to offend, we have accepted "no standards" as our standards. We have accepted lies as the truth.

Truth has no expiration date. Our understanding of scientific disciplines may change because of new discoveries. But moral principles are just that axioms, canon, doctrine, fundamental, foundational. Moral principles have not changed, only our adherence to them. As a society, we are accepting standards of behavior and practice today, that a generation ago would have been roundly, soundly, and loudly condemned. Does that mean the truth of morality has changed, or that we simply no longer practice morality?

I understand Richard's Cohen's rule for fidelity: "It depends." I understand it because of the weaknesses in humankind, because of the weaknesses in me. But God's Law was written not on newsprint that could be smudged nor on a computer where it could easily be modified, but on stone because He meant that His Word will stand forever.

If we reject the solid foundation of unchanging rules as written by the Lord God Almighty, when our lives lurch and wobble and they will where will we go to find stability? When we break God's Commandments, we do not really break them. They break us. We cannot build a life, either for time or for eternity, on "It depends."

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Published in the Augusta Chronicle 10/31/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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