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  • Reverend James Squire

Frankenstein




Frankenstein was one of the first horror movies that I saw as a kid with my girl and boy friends on a Saturday night visit to the local theater, the Riant. We were very excited to see the movie based on the book by Mary Shelley. We couldn’t wait to get to the theater and prove our adolescent courage. We swaggered into the theater, picked up our popcorn and sat in to a row of seats near the screen.


We were fine when the mad scientist created a human being, Frankenstein, played by Boris Karloff. It turned out initially to be a great experience as we looked at one another leaning forward so we all could participate in our common thrill and joy. But then the lightning struck the coils in the laboratory, the monster came alive. We looked at the screen with the mad scientist in a state of glee until the monster sat up. Boys swallowed their screams but the girls eventually let out screams of horror which bounced off the theater walls. Today we would proclaim that it seemed like a good idea at the time.


Frankenstein didn’t become the person we thought he should be. We wanted low key horror so that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves. We were forced to live with what was on the screen periodically hiding behind the seats, both the girls and the guys. Victor Frankenstein, the mad doctor, is horrified by his creation and attempts to kill it. He himself dies in attempting to kill the monster. I will never forget the scene at the end where the monster is trapped in a windmill which is burned down by the town people. My friends and I ran from the theater with images of the monster firmly planted in our minds. All of us confessed to nightmares.


The complete title of the book and movie is Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. The Greek story of Prometheus is a story of hubris where man attempts to create another man. This was the origin of Mary Shelley’s horror story.


I have been watching CNN with the sound on mute occasionally looking up at the screen at the election ballots for the Speaker of the House. It is a horror story based in a Greek tale of hubris. The only thing different from that Saturday night viewing of Frankenstein is I haven’t been eating popcorn and I am not hiding my eyes with my hands covering a horror show. But there are the same important comparisons to the parable of Frankenstein. Like Prometheus, we learn that McCarthy moved his things into the Speakers office before the election even occurred. McCarthy thinks that he is in this election process “until the cows come home.” He has to be the one. What’s best for the nation seems to be lost in his process. It is clear that he has offered the Maga group everything they wanted, and they still won’t vote for him.” Gang, this isn’t about policy. They don’t like him.” Perhaps that is because he is a tragic figure who will do anything to get the role. Even Maga has standards.


Call it karma! Call it hubris! Call it what did you think would happen? Republicans, you got what you deserved! You wheeled and practice the old Machiavellian Notion that the ends justify the means. Can you imagine how great it must feel to those 20 Maga holdouts to be running the show? Dr. Frankenstein himself, aka Trump, has no control over the monster that he has created. He is irrelevant so he has to figure out how to kill the monster by calls to people who will no longer listen. Trump called Marjorie Taylor Green to be put on the phone with a certain member of the house. She handed the represented how phone. He simply waved her and the phone away. Trump’s irrelevance is very much alive and well with his former followers.


Frankenstein is a cautionary tale. Boy, did those Greeks have a keen understanding of human nature including Prometheus and Sisyphus who was condemned to the hell of rolling a boulder to the top of the hill and having it just roll back down the hill before it ever reaches the summit. He must roll it back up the hill again and again for eternity. Hubris has been the heart of what has caused our nation so much misery. Watching McCarthy be humiliated on successive votes continues to climb that hill. Sisyphus causes the rest of us to be empathetic to him as he makes his climb and push. McCarthy doesn’t elicit that kind of response because it is all about what he wants.


Remember how Frankenstein ends. He is in the windmill with him in a complete state of resignation as to his fate. The people burn it down. Let’s hope and pray that is not the fate of our democracy. McCarthy became The Speaker House on the 15th vote in the early morning hours after giving the right-wing politicos concessions that will make the power of his office meaningless. Jon Meacham, an historian and author, wrote last evening, “We are going from the best Speaker of the House to the worst.” Put on your political seatbelts!

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