And I pretty much loved reading Holy Hullabaloos. Subtitled "a road trip to the battlegrounds of the church/state wars", it presents chapters based on Supreme Court decisions. I learned a lot, it was fascinating; however, the author set my expectations way too high in his prologue. He claimed to be inspired by Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, which is a brilliant book marked by the deft application of devastating humor. This guy, Jay Wexler, is some kind of humorist as well--at the end of the book he advised that I check out his humorous writing online but I can't make myself look. Throughout what is otherwise a fine book he has inserted the clumsiest jokes and stories. Here and there I did smile (his imaginary conversations held by Supreme Court justices in particular are really funny) but for the most part it was just annoying.
So I winced my way through the book and found myself agreeing with Professor Wexler often. In the final chapter he discusses teaching evolution in schools. Since each chapter also includes a road trip of some sort, he visits the Creation Museum and gives a thorough description of what he sees there on the tour. In a paragraph analyzing his reaction to creationists he says, "...what I think we should do is treat creationists with some teasing that occasionally creeps over to snarkiness, work as hard as we can to stop creationism from influencing our public policy ... but ultimately recognize that those who reject evolution are citizens just like us who are entitled to our respect, even if we disagree fundamentally with what they believe." That sounded fine to me when I read it on Sunday.
But when I was standing in someone's kitchen on Tuesday, listening to a mom talk about her upcoming trip to take her kids to the very same museum I was unable to treat her with teasing that crept into snarkiness. The best I could do was stare with what I hoped was more indulgence than horror. "What would Jay Wexler say?" I thought frantically. It probably would have been something super corny. I just kept quiet. I think I would have been more vocal if it had been someone else talking, but in the year or so that I've known her this mom hasn't given me any reason to believe that sort of conversation would be productive.