My Friday evening sensibility is tickled by a tacky little story shared in the latest GQ magazine, a publication that purports to reflect an elevated style, but usually ends up rolling around in the tawdry. The story is shared by Billy Ray Cyrus, a tale of his family’s emigration to Los Angeles.
Cyrus relates how he knew that his family would be under attack by Satan himself for as long as they were in Los Angeles because of a sign – a literal sign, by the side of the road. It read,
In this story, there are two main characters:
1st, there’s a group of atheists who offer service to their community, walking along the highway, picking up garbage tossed away by other people.
2nd, there’s a father taking his young daughter to become a child star in Los Angeles, a city that the father believes to be wicked.
Guess which Billy Ray Cyrus tells us is evil – the 1st, or the 2nd?
You guessed it – the evil ones to blame for his family’s problems are the atheists who clean up after others. Billy Ray Cyrus explains that he was just trying to do good, to “bring families together” – by encouraging those families to sit on the couch watch and watch commercial television instead of talking to each other.
This shallow tale of family woe is a useful fable of the dangerous moral convenience found in taking all the twisted temptation in one’s own heart and ascribing it to an invisible, external, mythological character. Getting dunked in holy water to ward off this “Satan”, one avoids having to look within and face one’s own darkness.