Trump and the evangelicals focused on making converts in Israel

melania-trump-donald-trump-020380f2-6db7-4202-b16c-b737c623c9e2A December 2017 CNN story carried news about Donald Trump’s ‘promised’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving the US Embassy there. The article quoted evangelical leaders who were “ecstatic” about the decision.
The article outlined the reasons why: “Paula White, a Florida megachurch pastor who is close to Trump, likewise said the President has fulfilled a campaign promise. “Once again, President Trump has shown the world what I have always known — he is a leader who is willing to do what is right however loud the voices are of the skeptics and the critics. Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.”
Not a friendly faith
While calling the Jewish people “friends,” White ignores the fact that much of the evangelical world views the Jewish faith as a flawed and incomplete version of the Christian religion.
Don’t believe it? This excerpt from the iPost, a pro-Christian website, outlines it in rather stark detail. “Most evangelical Christians believe that the Bible teaches that the Jews will convert to Christianity by accepting Jesus as their Messiah when Christ returns at the end of the Great Tribulation. Well, it will come as a shock to you, but the Bible actually says in direct language, that they must convert before Christ will return. Yes, it really says it.There are actually three verses that make such a reference. The first one is Jesus himself saying, that before the Jews will see him again, they will say, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Here is the whole verse: “you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:39). This means they will not see Christ until they convert. The common belief is that they will not convert until they see Christ; this is the exact opposite of what Christ literally said. This is also seen in a prophecy by Hosea:

I [Jesus] will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15)”

Contingencies

So the supposed “friendship” between Christian evangelicals and the Jewish people is based on some contingencies. But it really comes down to a nihilistic belief that conservative evangelicals hold over the head of everyone they encounter: Either convert or die.

Thus the move by Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem is a latter-day brand of Christian Crusade. This is no different from the days of olde, when it was hoped that each new crusade would convert the Jews and sweep up a batch of Muslims in the process.

So we can be quite sure that the call to confess will be issued yet again to those targeted by Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem: “Either convert, or die.”

George W. Bush issued a similar ultimatum: “You’re either for us or against us.” And he was an evangelical too. Code language works best for zealots, mind you. The Book of Revelation is the ultimate guide to code language for revenge.

Not much of a Christian

Trump is not much of a Christian, if he is one at all. He’s never publicly admitted any flaw or humbly confessed any of his well-documented sins of lust, greed and murderous threats. In fact, he refuses to repent of anything. Thus he is no Christian.

But he is a conveniently powerful tool of the evangelical community with its militaristic desires to see the advent of Armageddon. Their hope is that something Trump does can force the return of Jesus who can make all the paybacks they’ve so eager to exact on those who question their perverse form of orthodox faith.

Yet it is the outright failure by Christian orthodoxy to convince rational people of its merits that makes the zealots so goddamned crazy to prove themselves. Thus it is the age-old tool of failing leadership that is now stoking up the winds of war because they’re feeling like the time is now or else the cause is nearly lost.

Wagging the Dog

It’s called Wagging the Dog, which is what Trump and the evangelical warmongers want to do right now across the board. Whether it’s war at home over saying Merry Christmas or war abroad to convert Jews and Muslim to bring on the apocalypse, it is a game of forced hands. Plus both parties are wanton opportunists who think like that zealot Oliver North that their personal interpretation of God’s Will trumps all other forms of law. It’s a sickness of mind, and an actual sociopathy, yet they pitch the storyline that they’re acting on behalf of God and Jesus. They are really good liars.

So it’s no surprise that Donald Trump is carrying out their orders. He was powerless to get elected without the evangelical vote. Now he’s bound by duty to suckle on the secretly anti-Semitic breasts of his sycophantic admirers. It’s what sadly fearful men do when threatened, cling to the bosom of their motherly protectors.

It’s a common theme. All bullies act the same. His current wife seems to fear him and his prior wives characterize him as a near-rapist. He seldom shows Melania any respect, much less affection. Yet he’s more than willing to sexually assault women he does not even know because, in his own words, that is where he draws comfort in this world.

  • “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”
  • “I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
  • “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
  • “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

These are the words of a man that feels patently rejected, yet feels entitled to abuse others to make himself feel better. He has suffered no consequences and has in fact been rewarded for his outright sins and aggressions by evangelicals claiming that he was installed by God in this position of power.

While Trump runs free, other politicians and high-ranking media people are being fired right and left on mere accusations that have not yet been proven. Yet America continues allowing Trump to operate with impunity.  This is what the twisted power of religious authority can do. King David once paid a price for his lust, and God denied him the right to build a temple in his honor because the onetime king “had too much blood on his hands.”

So we likely must be patient to see what God really thinks of Trump. But we should not be surprised if he were to be found dead on the floor in the Oval Office, smitten by the Lord himself in a fit of disgusted fury.

Ugly loyalties

But while he’s living high on the hog, Trump will claim he’s trying to make friends with Israel, but this is a man who trusts no one and truly seems to have no real friends. To be sure, he demands a certain brand of loyalty in exchange for his favor, but that does not constitute real friendship. Even that spotty partner Stephen Bannon got dumped by Trump. Anyone who refuses to fawn over him always does. Donald Trump is both vain and possessed by a pissed off brand of senility that borders on syphilitic rage.

Evangelicals are no different in their alternately pious claims and distinctly pissy rants of persecution and complaint that everyone is out to get them. So they project these fears on others. And it’s a perverse thing to claim people as friends (like the Jews) even as you secretly want to see them destroyed if they don’t abide by your philosophy or theology. That’s been the ebb and flaw of history for 2000 years, should we think it any different today?

So we can easily see why both Trump and the evangelical community are so severely aligned. It’s all about the power to persecute rather than be questioned over any aspect of the belief system. It’s better known as having it all because you’re supposedly on the side of Jesus. It’s a polite form of rape and pillage, with a bit of self flagellation thrown in for good measure.

The iPost story goes on to say:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, . . . and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you— even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20)

Did you see it? Peter urged the Jews to convert so that God will send the Messiah! Even though I read this verse while writing my book, Discoveries in Bible Prophecy, I did not see what it says until the book was nearly published. I had to add it in at the last minute. When it dawned on me what it says, it was like, “slap me in the face!” Whack! Whack!”

Like I said. They people are raw opportunists and thus the evangelicals and Trump deserve each other. The question is whether the rest of the world deserves the both of them working together on issues like these. Trump has stated that “he’s the only one that matters” when it comes to national security and diplomacy. He doesn’t think that he has to answer to anyone. His Tweets prove that. But philosophically invading Israel just as Bush invaded Iraq will prove just as disastrous. These are men with no sense of perspective or justice. They reek of ideology like the stench of death itself.

Let’s not forget that Jesus predicted that the end of the world would come much sooner than it turned out.

(Matthew 24:34) Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Whoops. That never happened. But the “Day of Judgment” mentality has since been handed down through generations along with the belief that the Jews are the lost generation holding everything up. That’s what evangelicals believe about biblical prophecy.

So we know full well that America is not going to Israel to make friends. Trump and the evangelicals are only interested in making converts. That’s what starts wars. History has proven it time and again.

 

 

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From kneeling to praying: why the NFL struggles with the beliefs of its players

TEBOW1-jumboA few years back in NFL history (around 2011) quarterback Tim Tebow got controversial for kneeling in prayer during gametime. Some supported his right to express his faith. Others found it distracting and annoying.

And the NFL, as it always does with controversies, just wished it would all go away. Despite seemingly solid status as a former Heisman Trophy winner and top-flight college athlete, Tebow eventually did go away. The typical career of an NFL player rarely exceeds three years anyway. The game is perpetual. The players, disposable.

K kneelingThen came Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the National Anthem in protest over civil rights abuses in America. The NFL”s fans again exploded in words of support and vitriol toward a quarterback. As kneeling in protest expanded throughout the NFL, even President Donald Trump got involved Tweeting nasty comments toward all those who participated.

So it appears that kneeling in either prayer or protest is controversial to some. But is there a direct divide among people who support one but not another?

That would be an interesting subject to study. If a majority of those who supported Tim Tebow’s public demonstration of Christian faith also disapproved of Colin Kaepernick’s secular complaint over treatment of black Americans, what would that say about the real values of those involved?

And if a majority of those who stand with Kaepernick earlier hated on Tebow for showing his belief in God, what does that say about the state of culture today?

Tim Tebow.jpegIn both cases, we are witnessing attempts to bring some sort of humanity and perspective to the game of professional football. Some have argued that employees of pro football sign away the right to personal expression in favor of team and corporate loyalty. Still others project the onus of national loyalty on the situation, claiming that players such as Kaepernick and others are disrespecting the flag and even the military who fought to defend it.

But what if Tebow had come out in favor of Christian pacifism, even to the point of protesting the wars that America so proudly claims as symbols of liberation and freedom?

It would seem that players now kneeling in protest are indeed standing up for a critical aspect of American freedoms. One might even argue that fighting for civil rights by definition includes freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion.

So the anger over Tebow and Kaepernick is equally confused at its source. This stems from the seemingly poor understanding of what constitutes both religious freedom and equal rights under the Constitution. Plenty of people who claim that America is a Christian nation seem to neglect the fact that the Constitution itself states that there shall be no establishment of a state religion.

It also states that the rights of citizenship apply to all Americans, not just those who abide by the Christian faith.

Which makes the cause of Colin Kaepernick somewhat more inclusive than the cause of Tim Tebow. Because when Tebow kneeled to pray, he might have represented the portion of the population who shared some aspect of his beliefs. But when Kaepernick and Company kneel in protest for civil rights in America, they truly stand for all according to law. And the Republic run by the United States government is a system of laws.

Whether they are applied equally and fairly is the question raised by Kaepernick and other NFL players using pro football as a mouthpiece for civil rights. One could argue that those kneeling are participating in a sort of secular brand of prayer.

Trump-golf-seatedRevealing such vulnerability and concern does not set well with the ethic of machismo associated with pro football or for that matter, with a certain sort of bully pulpit ideology that has emerged since the election of Donald Trump.

The “game” that thrives on domination and violence has little patience for softies. Its fans appreciate short attention span theater. It is gladiatorial players that earn the most kudos for theatric hits and displays of triumph. Shut up and hit someone.

That’s why kneeling players really stick in the craw of those who like their football pure and stupid. The game itself has shown little sympathy even for players whose minds and bodies have been destroyed by its force and madness.

Thus pro football is in the crux of its own contradictory nature. It struggles to reconcile its punishing brand of sport with its desire for sustainability in the face of cultural pressures that may not agree with its longstanding policies.

Thus America’s Game is a microcosm of America itself. The United States of America has a conflicted personality over these same issues. It’s history is often brutal and unforgiving. It was a continent-wide genocide that led to dominance of European settlers driven by a worldview known as Manifest Destiny. The same worldview drove a belief in the right to own slaves, and for a century after the Civil War, that raw brand of prejudice still dominated American culture.

Only in the last 40 years did real equality seem within the grasp of black Americans. The election of Barack Obama as President seemed to seal an element of that progress.

But an angry distortion of what constitutes civil rights is still alive in this country. The eruption of the Alt-Right into mainstream consciousness has alerted us that the Civil War was fought, but never finished. Those same instincts live on in people who might support the right to pray, but not the right to kneel in front of NFL crowds.

And that’s why the NFL struggles with the beliefs of its players, but also with its fans.

Simple proof that America is at war with itself

The Chicago Tribune news coverage following the Las Vegas mass shooting included a story quoting off-duty police officers trapped in the mayhem where 59 people were murdered and hundreds more were injured when the calculating gunman perched himself in a tall hotel to take aim with scopes and guns reconfigured as automatic weapons.

Some of the off-duty police officers had also served in the military. Those that had seen combat were still shocked by the scene of women shot through the head and people bleeding out as they lay on the ground wounded or dying from the effects of a man with plenty of ammo and deadly aim.

Combat statement.jpg“I have been in combat, but I have never seen this type of mass casualty,” said police Sgt. Michael Gonzalez.

The Las Vegas shooting may have been massive in scope, but it was just a bump in the pulse of bloody shootings taking place every day in America. There is no more denying the fact. The nation itself has become a combat zone. The United States of America is literally at war with itself.

The statistics of all the deaths caused by gun violence back this up. More Americans have now died from gun violence on home soil than all the soldiers ever killed in combat in foreign wars.

This is the direct product of the murderously blind activism of the conservative Supreme Court that wields its judgements like a weapon of the vigilante ideology favored by both the NRA and the politicians it has bought and sold. The inexcusable complaint that gun control measures are an infringement of the “right to bear arms” is disrespectful to the Constitution as a whole. When people own the right to steal the life of another human being in the blink of a trigger pull, there are no equal rights to that. There is no freedom in America.

Concealed Carry poison

The right to kill has bled into Concealed Carry laws that have poisoned the nature of freedom across the country. Think about it. The person standing next to you could well be packing the cold-hearted tool of your own demise. Say something wrong to them, or conduct some unintended slight that they judge to be a threat to their person, and they can claim the right to shoot you. Right in the head if they feel like it.

It is inconceivable that the Founding Fathers ever intended this to be the presiding scenario in America. In essence, we’ve been drawn back into an era when dueling was used to settle difference, or when gunman lined up in the street (supposedly) to draw weapons and fire. That’s what the NRA has promoted as the safest brand of citizenship in America.

Ignorant claims of so-called “responsible gun owners”

Don’t you see the ignorance of these claims? When laid bare, they have no constitutional foundation at all. They do have money behind them, and people selfish and angry enough at their plight in life to abide such foolishness. Meanwhile supposed “responsible” gun owners cower behind the controversy hoping the band of idiots at the forefront of the “more guns” debate will cover their fearful asses.

Because that’s what rampant gun ownership is all about. Fear. The United States is rife with chickenshits who feel like they can’t walk down the street or mingle with other human beings without carrying a gun on their person. This is the opposite of courageous. It is the parallel of insanity.

The bleeding and dying

That police officer who carried bleeding, dying people off the concert grounds knows now that America is a literal war zone. He saw it with his own eyes. He compared it to what he saw in actual combat, in real wars, and this was far worse.

The Second Amendment needs to be clarified. Re-balanced. We need a hard, strong definition of what a “well-regulated militia” looks like, and how it functions. We should no longer leave that to the addle-brained conservatives on the Supreme Court to decide. They have originalism blindness. They couldn’t muster their way out of a cardboard box if the writing on the inside mentioned guns in any way.

But our gutless Congress and Senate when run by Republicans is even worse. Their long term claim that government is the enemy of the people is the knife to the gut of common sense. If that’s the case, they should commit hari-kiri and get out of office. If you don’t believe in the merit of government, you have no right or ability to serve.

Cognitive dissonance

We live in a combat zone of cognitive dissonance. And innocent people are dying every day as a result. Screw the gun lobby. We don’t need any more evidence to re-write the Second Amendment, or repeal it altogether. The frightening reality is that we’ve seen  Presidents succumb to gun violence several times already. Even that conservative pet Ronald Reagan got blasted by a freeloading gunman back in the day. Gerald Ford was a target too. We lost JFK. His brother Bobby. We lost Martin Luther King, Jr. And we even lost John Lennon.

Imagine that. If Happiness is a Warm Gun, America has burn marks on its holster side.

What will it take for an admission of the combat zone that America has become? Does another President need to become a martyr for the nation to wise up? That might wake up the close-minded. The backwoods and front-office gun nuts, selfish and obsessed with weapons as a sub-culture.

It’s a sickness. An addiction. But like that soldier who comes home to find life at home too quiet, it seems the gun nuts of America fear the quietude they might face if they can’t wave a weapon in yours. That’s the worst angst they can imagine.

 

At least 50 dead, 400 wounded and what terrorist organization is to blame?

Spilled bloodThis Las Vegas shooting was massive. Death and destruction. A lone shooter armed like a soldier and able to shoot dozens of people in an extremely short amount of time. He killed 47 more innocent lives than the Boston Marathon bombing. He traumatized literally thousands present at the concert as well as millions of people reading about the massacre right now.

At this stage in America’s history, the motivations for shootings no longer matter. They are all part of a long line of public murders that terrorize the nation for a moment and then sink into the lexicon of ‘business as usual in America.’

There will be police reports filed, but to what avail? There were even off-duty police officers killed. It would not have mattered if every citizen at the concert was armed. They were outgunned from the start and mayhem would have ensued if people started opening fire if some sort of martial law shootout had taken place.

There is only one terrorist organization to blame for this state of existence in America. That is the NRA. The constant effort to loosen gun laws and proliferate access to powerful weapons across America is an act of terrorism from within the system. The NRA has twisted and inflated the meaning of the Second Amendment to suit the profit motives of the guns and ammo industry. Millions of people have bought this perverse logic and turned our nation into a corrupt from of government in which the selfish rights and acts of a few dictate the public safety of all.

While conservatives wring their hands over Muslim influence in America and worry about the potential for Sharia law, they simultaneously ignore the massive carnage being perpetrated in America by gun owners, legal and otherwise. On average more than three times the number of people who died during the 9/11 attacks are killed by guns in the United States each year. That’s 152,000 Americans since 2001 that have died at the hands of the NRA. The complicit politicians across this nation who refuse to take responsibility for the in-house are also to blame. The terror manufactured and carried out is almost treated with a sense of pride by the false patriots who cower behind the supposed power of the Second Amendment.

The reason nothing is done about rampant gun violence is simple. The real cowards in America are those who refuse to admit they are scared for their own lives based on racial fears, gross insecurity toward their neighbors and their own government. They also fear looking stupid in the eyes of the bullies who run the NRA and its insidious tentacles. Thus the aggressive gun components in America are like captives exhibiting the Stockholm Syndrome. Cultlike. Sick and confused.

It’s time to call it what it is: the NRA is a domestic terror organization. And all those who support it, abide it or live without conscience by the lax laws it has created are accomplices in a plot against the sovereignty of this nation.

What does it mean to be an Evangelical Christian?

ufcThe 2016 election was a doozy in terms of bringing strange bedfellows together into voting blocs for both presidential candidates. But one of the most confounding and in some aspects a disturbing conundrums was why a group of faith-oriented believers seemed so drawn to the likes of Donald Trump.

Here was a womanizing, money-worshipping television reality star who never met an insult he did not like. Yet Christian voters were flocking to support him.

What did the so-called “evangelical” community find so appealing about Donald Trump?

To answer that question, we can turn to a variety of sources. But one must first consider a definition of the term “Evangelical Christian” and where it comes from. So here’s a nice little description from a site titled GotAnswers.org, a Christian website.

Here’s how they answer the question: “What is an Evangelical Christian?”

Answer: To begin, let’s break down the two words. The term Christian essentially means “follower of Christ.” Christian is the term given to followers of Jesus Christ in the first century A.D. (Acts 11:26). The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.

In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some, the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to “right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.” For others, “evangelical Christian” is a title used to differentiate an individual from a Catholic Christian or an Orthodox Christian. Others use the term to indicate adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. In this sense, an evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone. However, none of these definitions are inherent in the description “evangelical Christian.”

In reality, all Christians should be evangelical Christians. The Bible is consistently instructing us to be witnesses of the good news (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 1 Peter 3:15). There is no better news than Jesus! There is no higher calling than evangelist. There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political belief. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation. An evangelical Christian is called to share the good news, to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of purity and integrity. If these callings require political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Putting faith to work

There are several things I found fascinating about that description. For one thing, I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA.) Our particular congregation contains both highly liberal and highly conservative Christians whose issues of concern are often addressed from the pulpit. But the central goal of the church the last few years has been to encourage discipleship, which among other things, means putting faith to work through action.

This is a most effective way to distil issues of theology. When people are called together to work in service to others, as the bible calls us to do, fine points of theology do not matter that much.

Faith matters

Yet there are times when theology matters a whole bunch. Throughout the history of the Judeo-Christian religion, sorting out the meaning of scripture and the right relationship of God has taken on highly controversial tones. One could argue that the entire ministry of St. Paul, for example, was spent helping people confront misunderstanding of this new religion that would come to call itself Christianity.

But before that, a long series of *prophets stood on the outskirts of civilization calling people to repentance. When John the Baptist started dunking people in the Jordan river, the rumor mill about his activities got all the way back to the chief priests. John had no patience for their prurient curiosity.

And neither did Jesus. When it came down to it, the Son of God was a sonofabitch to the people in charge of religion. He set out to make them feel the wrath of God.

Unpopular voices

This proves that it is sometimes the unfortunate work of true evangelicals to say things and do things that are not popular with the proponents of mainstream religion. True to this tradition, Pope Francis has been acting like a prophet for the Catholic Church. His claim that “all scripture that does not lead to the love of Christ” is a highly evangelical statement.

He is not a popular man in conservative quarters because more conservative Christians, both Catholic and Evangelical, are accustomed to enforcing the rules of faith and driving a confessional brand of involvement. In order to belong, one must speak and choose to reflect the words of God in a certain way. In other words, “talk the talk,” or get out. You obviously don’t belong.

Dog-whistle religion

The sad thing is that this brand of faith can also come to constitute a certain “dog-whistle” cliqueishness. The confessional brand of religion is like joining a club. And when a club is formed, it can be leveraged to political as well as religious purposes. This is the exact form of social construct to which Jesus most objected. He branded those d0g-whistle priests a “brood of vipers” for huddling together and lashing out at anyone that stood up to their supposed religious authority.

But there is great comfort to many people in a religion where the rules are clearly mapped out. Not having to think about what you believe or explain it to anyone else is a simple form of existence. And if by convenience it also simplifies the voting process, well that’s just dandy, isn’t it?

And so many evangelicals look to their religious authorities for direction. If those authorities communicate that the “greater good” will be served by supporting even as flawed a candidate as Donald Trump, then evangelicals will support the man through thick and through thin. And sure enough, many evangelical leaders and conservative political voices called for evangelical Christians to vote for the man because promises were made that he would work to ban abortion, or gay marriage, or any number of theo-political issues bandied about during an election cycle.

Challenging authority

Anyone that challenges this central authoritarian call to loyalty can be branded an outsider and not worthy of attention. Traditionally, this is manifested in statements such as “you can only test scripture with scripture.” That is, the bible is the only source of truth.

The problem with this approach to authority is that it can fail miserably in the face of legitimate theological challenges. The preferred method is to simply deny the possibility that scripture could in any way be wrong. This is a convenient tautology.

It is also the practical method of those that used to stand on top of the walls or before the city gates shouting at the seemingly crazed prophets calling people to account for the true voice of God. So it is no coincidence that when a man such as Donald Trump puts forth a call to “build a wall,” the concept has great appeal to conservatives accustomed to blocking out that which they don’t want to consider. It is the perfect symbol for an insular faith.

A prophet in his home town

The problem with this approach to belief is that it is not biblical at all. It stung the Lord Jesus, for example, to be mocked and disavowed in his hometown. Mark 6:4: “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”

Thus it is not unexpected that even today, any evangelical willing challenge the cliquish or dog-whistle signals of Christian faith should be similarly despised and mocked. People take great offense in being questioned about their faith, especially when they sense a vulnerability in themselves that they might not like to admit.

Interesting observations

As a writer who talks about religion quite a bit, and who is willing to challenge both the religion and politics of others based on what the Bible says, rather than what people say about it, I have bumped into plenty of anger and disappointment from friends, relatives and strangers. One confronted me with this interesting observation: “You make me feel shitty about things.”

And I suppose that is probably true. If one clings to beliefs that don’t stand up to rational or religious scrutiny, it surely can make you feel “shitty” about it.

Stiff-necked and hard-hearted

Being challenged on theological grounds can simply harden those beliefs even more. I can honestly attest to the fact that I have likely had that effect on more than one Christian believer. The risk of abandoning cherished beliefs is never easy. But neither does God appreciated stiff-necked or hard-hearted believers. Giving up the legalistic ways of hard-hearted faith has always frightened the shit out of people.

Some have accused me of having no heart at all, that I am more about the theoretical idea of faith than having  a trust in God. But they have not walked a single step in my shoes, or faced the same deaths in my family that I have faced. I have trust that God will play a role in how those lives will end, and what happens to the spirit of that person in the long run.

Thus I feel empowered to speak as honestly as I can about the deceptions created on foundations of biblical literalism and the relativism that evangelicals too readily accept in trading approval for political power. It’s disgusting, and it produces ugly and false compromises in support for leaders such as Donald Trump. There have been many other abusive figures in history that claimed to be a Christian and turned out only to be selfishly murderous bastards.

And so, to not challenge those trading in politicized religious beliefs… when the Bible clearly maps out the call to speak truth to power… is to abandon the heart of all Christian belief.

Pope Francis

That is what the Pope is talking about when he says that scripture that does not lead to the love of Christ is obsolete. That is the true and honest calling of all evangelicals. To trust that the love of God has meaning, significance and purpose in your life, and to feel the love of Christ and do your best to extend that grace and love to others. That is the mission of faith.

Yet the Evangelical Prophet must also suffer in the face of distrust when challenging others to consider how their authorities might be misleading them. Jesus set the example, it is for prophets of all levels and calling to follow that lead. His disciples did it, trusting that they would be greeted or else they dusted off their feet and left that town to the dog-whistle virtues it claimed for its own.

That’s what it means to be a Christian Evangelical.

*In religion, a prophet is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and to speak for them, serving as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

 

 

Advent of the Neocontrarians

 

despicable-me-advent-calendar

The Despicable Me Advent Calendar

 

This is the Advent season for people of Christian faith. Many children enjoy the process of opening windows on their Advent Calendars. Starting December 1st, the Advent Calendar marks with anticipation the arrival of the traditional day celebrating the Birth of Christ.

 

This year, Americans are experiencing a different kind of advent. With a new President about to be Born Again in January, the process of naming cabinet members has been taking place the last few weeks.

Against all reason

Almost without exception, each new cabinet member named by Donald Trump to head a government agency has preached beliefs that run contrary to the purpose for which the agency was originally designed. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was originally established by President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican in the year 1970. Those of us alive during that era recall the massive environmental problems our nation was experiencing. Air pollution was choking cities and acid rain had begun to sterilize lakes east of the Rust Belt. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons were dying off thanks to DDT poisoning that made their eggshells too weak to sustain normal brooding. Rivers were on fire in Ohio, and vicious levels of heavy metals, toxic chemicals and nuclear energy byproducts were regularly leaking into the ground, air and water.

Thus our nation saw fit, with bipartisan support, to fix the problems our industrial activity was causing. We passed laws to take the lead out of gasoline. And over the years since, the auto industry has been pushed to improve gas mileage in the vehicles it produces. Some said this was impossible, impractical and economically unfeasible. But they were wrong. Modern vehicles use less gas and emit less noxious fumes than they did forty years ago.

The other direction

All these improvements in protecting the environment have paid dividends in protection of human health. Still, the battle is never won. There are still many significant challenges in environmental pollution that remain threats to the human race and other living things on earth. At the top of this list is anthropogenic climate change, manmade global warming. Governments around the world recognize the dangers of this threat to human health and the stability of the world’s economy.

And yet, President Elect Donald Trump called on a fellow named Myron Ebell to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. Ebell prides himself on being a “climate skeptic,” one who does not believe that climate change is even occurring, or that it is manmade.

He is, in other words, a contrarian. Or more accurately, he is a Neocontrarian. This is the Post-Modern version of a contrarian. Armed with opinions that ostensibly trump facts, Ebell is the type of person who seeks to impose his ideological will on the world despite all evidence to the contrary. This is how the website Whatsupwiththat describes the appointment of Myron Ebell to head up the EPA:

Choosing Myron Ebell means Trump plans to drastically reshape climate policies.

Donald Trump has selected one of the best-known climate skeptics to lead his U.S. EPA transition team, according to two sources close to the campaign.

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading Trump’s transition plans for EPA, the sources said.

The Trump team has also lined up leaders for its Energy Department and Interior Department teams. Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna is heading the DOE team; former Interior Department solicitor David Bernhardt is leading the effort for that agency, according to sources close to the campaign.

Contrary opinions

This is the peak of his Myron Ebell’s supposed wisdom: that he holds an opinion contrary to 95% of established scientists around the world. He abides with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has proven itself over the years nothing more than a shill for whatever business feels threatened by any sort of regulation.

That means that no matter how much pollution or other dangers a company might choose to pump out, the Competitive Enterprise Institute will take their side and defend them to the death. This is the philosophy of Neocontrarians in a nutshell.

And as such, Myron Ebell chose a fellow Neocontrarian to run the EPA. This is what the Los Angeles Times had to say about the selection. “Donald Trump’s meeting earlier this week with Al Gore gave environmentalists a glimmer of hope. They’re feeling a lot less hopeful now that Trump has selected Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt disputes the scientific consensus on climate change, is an ally of the oil industry and has tried to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. If Pruitt is confirmed, here’s how it could play out in the states.”

Flattening public education

The EPA is not the only government agency that Trump’s new wave of Neocontrarians is assigned to run. Trump also chose billionaire Betsy DeVos, a strong believer in charter schools and for-profit education, to act as Education Secretary. She is a devoted Neocontrarian when it comes to the education of children, preferring to diversify against public schools than qualitatively seek to improve the existing public school education system. Hers is the Winner Take All, free-market philosophy in which vouchers are distributed to families left to find the right education opportunities for themselves.

In other words, she’s an advocate of “trickle-down education,” in which those most equipped to avail themselves of the best educational opportunities will profit while those less equipped to seek or make those choices will be left behind. That’s how the free market works when it is unregulated. It is positively Darwinian at its source, which is ironic given the typically strong resistance to the theory of evolution among those who typically advocate for “school choice” based on so-called values-based learning, or Christian home-schooling.

It has long galled such ideologues that public schools actually teach science rather than fanciful notions such as creationism or so-called “intelligent design theory.” Even the names of those ideologies are contrarian.

Nothing trickles down when education as a system is flattened like a pancake and public schools are deflated in both funding and philosophy. Yet this is the approach of Neocontrarians to all sorts of ethical standards in government, science, medicine and the environment. Ever since President Ronald Reagan spouted the Neocontrarian Mantra, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem,” Neocontrarians have rushed to dispel any notion that government has a positive role to play in our lives.

In and out of control

When that daft and devout Neocontrarian George W. Bush took office with his henchman and turgid Neontrarian Dick Cheney at his side,  the United States went for a wild ride of Neocontrarian speculation on the role, or dispensation, of governmental responsibility.

The Bush administration was exposed for its lack of attention on national security when the 9/11 attacks occurred. The Bushies wanted to run things their own way, and significantly ignored warning signs of terrorist attacks because they did not want to listen to any of their predecessors, or even their own internal source Richard Clarke.

And from there, the Neocontrarians took advantage of the fear rushing through the populace to contrive a war of choice in Iraq, which fit the documented ideology of Neoconservatives who wanted to reform the Middle East around their own ideas of free markets and Western democracy, only to have it blow up in their faces. Literally.

Then the floodgates of Neocontrarians opened even further with the sponsor of torture in the very same jail cells used by Saddam Hussein to torture his own people. This was the height of cognitive dissonance, torturing Iraqis under the guise of saving them from Saddam, yet Neocontrarians in the media sought to defend it at all costs.That mean little suckup Sean Hannity and his bludgeoning cohort Rush Limbaugh preached torture as truth seeking.

Think about the contrary nature of that philosophy for a moment. When Senator John McCain protested against use of torture because he was himself tortured during wartime, some Neocontrarians mocked him as weak. This is the problem with Neocontrarian philosophy. It quickly unhinges from fact in order to support beliefs that are typically devoid of proof or common sense.

Trumped by nonsense

Donald Trump is expanding this tradition of Neocontrarianism as if he invented it. But that’s not certainly not true. Trump is merely expanding the Neocontrarian tradition to suit his own lack of moral, political or ethical direction. The fact that he Tweets with anger at every criticism or perceived transgression is evidence of this massive insecurity. And as such, his choice to assign Neocontrarians to every single position in his cabinet is an indication of his boldly inferior, incurious approach to life.

His own misogyny and aggressive treatment of women is the direct product of his own Neocontrarian worldview. “No one respects women more than me!” he claims. And how contrary is that? In other words, he’s lying to himself in order to bolster his own lack of self-esteem.

And that’s what Neocontrarian is, and what it does to this world. By advocating views that are completely contrary to pure and visible evidence, it wrests power from those seeking to abide by fact, and make decisions based on reason, not ideology or wishful thinking.

Longstanding contrarianism

We see the effects of Neocontrarianism in the aggressive defense of ideologies such as creationism, the religious belief that scripture is a better foundation for science than experimentation and rational examination of physical evidence.

We have dealt with the consequences of Neocontrarianism time and again with the economy as it collapses under one Republican regime after another that advocates cutting taxes on the very rich, and allowing regulations to fall lax so that financial greed runs amok and crush the foundations of economic stability.

This is the Advent of an entire new level of Neocontrarianism. It is highly unlikely it will be any more successful than the ugly attempts in the past to ignore fact and foist opinion on the world. Every new day we’ve opened a new window in the Advent Calender of Neocontrarianism and it always a strange reveal. How else do you explain the appointment of Linda McMahon?

“U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will nominate professional wrestling magnate and former Senate candidate Linda McMahon as his choice to head the Small Business Administration.Trump’s announcement said McMahon would be a key player in his effort to generate stronger job growth and roll back federal regulations.McMahon, 68, is a co-founder and former CEO of the professional wrestling franchise WWE, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut. She ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010. She was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Questioning the fake world

I wrote this somewhat controversial piece a year or so back that disturbed many people. It played on the fact that conspiracy and suspicion often drive the Alt-Right view of the world. Hardly an event has taken place over the past five years, ranging from  mass shootings to terrorist attacks on American soil that has not been postulated by the Alt-Right as a government attempt to manipulate public opinion on issues ranging from gun rights to abortion.

Now we’re being led by a man whose entire political philosophy is based on Alt-Right contrarianism. Which is why he feels so confident naming a woman who helped run an entertainment franchise based on fake wrestling that makes millions off the false dramas created to cater to the lowbrow tastes of the flyover voters that put Trump in power.   with a combover and orange makeup into the Hall of Mirrors of

I’m not going to apologize for calling this all a big, fatass mistake. We’re being led by a Neocontrarian narcissist  with a horribly vain combover and a coat of orange makeup. It all feels like a bad, horrific dream from which American cannot wake up.

And so, we cannot possibly expect proponents of the Neocontrarian philosophy to be self-analytical and realize the disturbingly false core of their belief system. This is the Advent of fascism as an American value system. It will be up to all of us to call them on their lies disguised as policy. And it could be a strange, strange trip indeed.

 

 

 

 

We once had a prayer

urlThe hopes of so many American Christians seemed to have rested on the election of Donald Trump as President. His was the premise upon which Christian leadership so often depends. A man of conviction. Of strong words. A man who promised, along with his running mate Mike Pence, to ban the legal right to an abortion.

This was the centerpiece of the movement by the voting bloc known as evangelical Christians to elect Trump. There have been many other attempts over the years, with hopes pinned to men such as George W. Bush, who talked the talk but never even flirted with the idea of banning abortion.

Going way back to the likes of Ronald Reagan, fundamentalist Christians and biblical literalist have been leaning on presidents and politicians to make the case that America is indeed a Christian nation. If only some form of theocracy could take over the national narrative, everything would work out. America would again enjoy favor in God’s eyes, went the theory.

Instead, the nation leaned toward installing human rights to people that were not favored by the Christian Right. In particular, the notion that gay people deserved civil justice such as the right to marry has stuck in the collective craw of evangelicals and their ilk. It all sinks back to a literal interpretation of the bible and a selective view that some passages found within Holy Scripture are immutable even though others, such as outmoded laws in the Book of Leviticus or Deuteronomy can be conveniently ignored.

We might have had a prayer of progress on such issues if such claims were not at the heart of the cognitive dissonance behind what so many evangelical Christians claim as truth. The history of literalistic religion is anchored in such false beliefs that have also been used to make the contention that blacks are inferior, or should be kept as slaves. Or that women were not capable of working the same jobs as men, or to vote.

Such prejudices are not the product of honest biblical understanding. Instead, they have long been the product of stubborn, stiff-necked minds wrapped in fears of The Other. Most adherence to biblical literalism is the product of selfish aims. The fact that the Chief Priests in the days of Christ were legalists who turned scripture into law drew wrath from the Son of God. Yet to this day, so-called Christians behave the exact same way, exacting punishment and disbarment on all who do not agree to abide by harsh and strict forms of law derived from a literal interpretation of scripture.

Admissions

These are the sins of believers that they never like to admit. Indeed, they will not. And as a result, they must become ever more forceful in their endeavors to install their belief systems on the world. Deep within their conscience, they know that their selective beliefs are a house of the tallest order. A Tower of Babel, as it were, constructed of repeated errors in using scripture as a weapon, not a tool of understanding.

The same selectivity that supports the prejudice of so many Christians against gays or other supposed cultural opponents was also applied during the 2016 presidential election. Evangelicals lined up against Hillary Clinton on belief that her support for her husband in his transgressions actually constituted a character flaw of her own.

This contention was not a Christian instinct at all, but a political one for sure. It gave evangelical Christians an excuse to dismiss the very public demonstrations of misogyny and aggression toward women by Donald Trump. Evangelicals lined up to justify voting for the man by claiming that he stood for a “higher purpose.” That would be the vote against abortion and installation of a conservative Supreme Court that would do the religious will of the evangelical Christian community.

Silent Night, Holy might

We might have had a prayer of defeating this anti-Constitutional movement if the Christian church at large had attempted to call these gross interpretations of scriptural verity and political expedience to account. We might have had a prayer of calling Trump’s bluff in those moments when his claimed devotion to Christian faith proved so shallow and false that it bore not resemblance even to the casual Sunday worshipper who struggles through church just to get back to the couch and watch an NFL game, the other Sunday religion.

It did not help that the conservative media spent the past two years castigating the Catholic Pope Francis as a “liberal” who therefore did not deserve the attention of “real Christians” or conservative politicians. When Pope Francis explained that everything in the Bible that does not lead to the love of Christ is obsolete, he wittingly offended evangelicals whose very life support in faith depends on those passages that are interpreted to offend and isolate entire segments of society.

It is the opposite of what Jesus came to represent for the Christian faith. We might have had a prayer of respecting real Christian tradition by resisting the likes of Donald Trump. But the complicity of evangelicals in electing a man who is clearly a money-grubbing, selfish, sexist, racist, misogynistic and fascist jerk put all that to rest. That prayer of understanding and Christian leadership was exploded like a balloon the day that Donald Trump was elected. And to fulfill his role as the effective anti-Christ, Trump turned around and named Stephen Bannon as one of his chief advisors. Bannon subsequently praised Satan and the value of darkness as inspirations for political practice and cultural foundations.

Turning backs on God

We once had a prayer of doing the right thing. But Americans with narrow minds and fear in their hearts turned their back on God and elected a man with the heart of a wicked king that has installed heartless, clueless and faithless people as leaders of this country.

God will not be amused. Nor will Jesus Christ or all the saints of the past. Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever happen to America. And so-called Christians made it happen.

It makes you wonder if Stephen Bannon and all those Left Behind Christians haven’t been right about this place we call America all along. Perhaps it is the height of evil on the order of the Roman Empire in its worst moments. We had a prayer of proving that wrong. But we didn’t. And now the reincarnation of Caligula is in charge.

We once had a prayer. But we had better start praying all over again. And this time get it right.

Why the Christian church deserves a big kick in the ass, or at least a tweak on the nose

Gecko Toad Tweek.jpgA few years back, I considered signing up for seminary school. I filled out all the applications. Considered the financing. Even attended a class or two to see what seminary classes were like. And I remain intrigued. But I have not enrolled for a very simple reason. I don’t think the church is committed to change.

That is, I do not think the Christian church as a collective body is capable of challenging itself to arrive at some kind of comprehensive understanding of what Christianity is supposed to be.

My contention is based on a conversation I picked up during my travels in and out of those circles. The church to which I belong is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA.) And I love my local church. Love the pastors. Love their ministry to so many people. I have been a direct beneficiary, both financially and spiritually, of the service of my church to its members and the community.

So my complaint is not with what the church is, or what it does. I am concerned with what the church may never be.

As a member of Christian churches for all my life, my faith has gone through a long evolution of belief and purpose. Most recently, I have sensed that the church itself feels as if it is failing in its mission. In many places, church attendance is dropping. This is especially true with mainstream denominations. And churches like that are in a quiet panic. They don’t know what to do.

Meanwhile, megachurches keep growing. I have sat in those congregations as well. Listened to the sermons. Watched the stage show with the perfectly matched musicians playing their praise songs in perfect harmony.

But when I look behind the scenes, and it isn’t too hard to do, these megachurches are nothing more than Old Time Religion packaged in cereal boxes of modern trappings.

Because I played the same Praise songs they play at the Megachurches when I played my little guitar at the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church where our family belonged for 25 years. We attended that church because that’s the denomination in which my late wife was raised. She went through Lutheran parochial schools until high school. Then we met after she attended college and we got married by the wise and relatively liberal pastor who presided over our church in those days.

But when that pastor left, the theology of the church first careened around thanks to some pastor with a bad toupee and then a series of interim dudes took over. There are no women pastors in the Missouri Synod, so don’t ask any questions about that.

Finally, a nice man took over. But his backwoods Minnesota theology was the same as the dirt poor churches from sections in America where no one believes in evolution and gays are considered one of the great evils on the earth. So after 25 years we left that church for one that preaches tolerance, love and the mission of serving Christ without denying science or humanity.

And that should be enough for most of us. But there’s a problem in this world that needs to be addressed. We’ve previously mentioned the fact that Megachurches rely on highly conservative sources for their theology. Often this is anchored in a quite literal interpretation of the Bible. Secretly this theology hides all sorts of anti-intellectualism beneath its crinkled leather cover. Openly it preaches a Pro-Life attitude and often wrinkles its nose at the idea of evolution without really coming out and saying it in the open. This is Wink and Nod Christianity at its worst.

And that brand of close-minded faith bleeds out from the halls of quasi-conservative churches all over America. It holds hands with conservative beliefs in social, fiscal and political arenas as well. The dog-whistle secret of its power and force is evidenced in the most recent election, where a cabal of principally white people falling within all these stripes of conservatism got together and cast a protest vote against what they all consider the demise of American culture and Christian tradition. That would be liberalism.

And that’s why I blame the Christian Church for the election of a profane and incurious man in the likes of Donald Trump. This dog-whistle conservatism has to stop. It must be confronted for what it is. That is, a habitual and well-preached resistance toward modern and progressive thinking.

Christianity has been wrong on so many things in its history it hardly deserves credence as a source of knowledge. It has forced its ugly anger and prejudices based on confusingly literal interpretations of the bible for far too long.

But the worst part in all of this is that no one within the Christian community save the current Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic church, for God’s sake, has any balls to challenge this mega-stupidity being preached in the most popular churches in the land.

Where is the theological challenge to the brand of dumbed-down theology being pumped out at he Moody Bible Institute? And why doesn’t the mainstream ELCA aggressively confront the doomsayer traditions that threaten society with predictions of the apocalypse, and by proxy preach the dog-whistle belief that it doesn’t matter what we do to the earth because Jesus is coming back any day now?

The church has not got to guts apparently to force these issues. It ought to be engaged in a vicious wrestling match for the narrative of Christ. These TV preachers stealing money from old ladies ought to be tarred and feathered and dragged through the streets as examples of heresy. Yet we sit back and let them rip off the world in Jesus’ name.

I say fuck all that. For too long the church has been acting like a lazy teenager that does not want to get off the sofa on a Sunday. It needs a big old kick in the ass to get moving. Jesus would puke if he came back now to find the brand of conservatives (he called them a ‘brood of vipers’) now running the show. He kicked their asses with his sacrificial Passion Play two millennium ago, and yet the latter-day Pharisees have been allowed to waltz back in and shove legalism down everyone’s throat as if Jesus never existed.

Grow some balls, you Christian leaders. Challenge the goddamned conservatives that have perversely stolen the mantle of Christ and turned it into a spiked Iron Crown used to torture the minds of all those who attempt to uphold the true and liberal ministry of Jesus Christ.

We’re sick of you, and not surprised that numbers are falling at mainstream churches. It’s because you show no guts, have a bad habit of dampening down real initiative and dun your innovative members. These are the people who actually want to change, and hold those accountable who do not. Would the church die if it risked these types of changes? Which is more important in the mind of Jesus, to push the envelope and test the faith of others or to wrap our arms around them and pretend we’re all not dying off?

It’s time to stand up and be real leaders. Stop worrying about organization and start thinking about action. The world needs you. Get off your ass. That couch is no place for anyone on a Sunday, much less the rest of the week.

The final answer to conservative problems is Donald Trump

Monarch scales

Ever since 1998, when I wrote an essay titled How the Earth Was Forgotten Since Creation, I’ve been conducting a personal campaign against less-than-compassionate conservatism and how it damages the world of politics, religion and the environment.

That initial essay about the effects of biblical literalism on environmental policies was expanded into a book that took seven years to research and write. I never thought it would take that long, but it did. When it was finished, I titled it “The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age.”

The book expanded in scale to cover politics as well as religion, focusing on how authoritarian minds in both sectors of human activity collaborate (for better or worse) on civil rights, science and cultural issues.

To analyze these processes, I deconstructed the manner in which people arrive at their worldviews, and why. Predictably, people who support biblical literalism also tend to align with conservatives who interpret the United States Constitution the same way, through originalism. And that is what has taken place over the course of thirty years.

Simple minds

It’s that simple, which is why it is also so common and dangerous to find authoritarians of both political and religious persuasions lining up to do battle with their perceived common enemies. That would be anyone who dares interpret the bible or Constitution any other way than a generally literal or original form of understanding. This has its limits, as we shall see.

IMG_3180Because there’s are major problems with all this literalism and originalism. Both sources of thought ignore the fact that our material and cultural understanding of the world has advanced incredibly since the Bible was written down and codified. And since the United States Constitution was written, slavery has been banned, and women were actually given the right to vote. But it nearly 200 years to accomplish these things because people clung to the letter of the law on both fronts. That is not just sad, it is immoral.

And there still seem to be some people who claim to like things the old-fashioned way. They do not give up easily on the notion that things were somehow better in the Good Old Days. In fact, they will fight to the death in some cases to prove their martyrlike devotion to literalism and originalism.

Conservatism

It’s all a product of what we colloquially call conservatism, which is defined as “adhering to original standards and traditions.” But the problem with old-line conservatism is that it often clings to traditions that deliver advantage to one sector of society while excluding another. This was certainly the case with slavery and this imbalanced dynamic has persisted to this day through discrimination and persecution of black people and other minorities in America. The same certainly holds true for attitudes toward women, on whom conservative men project patriarchal standards of behavior.

These beliefs often conveniently stem from anachronistic habits of mind taken literally from the Bible. For example, the idea that a man is inherently superior to a woman can be drawn from the idea that Eve was supposedly formed second in order, and from the rib of a man. It sounds so stupid when you say it out loud, yet some people insist this is the natural order of things.

This is what I wrote about the dangers of anachronism in my book The Genesis Fix:

This perspective is known as anachronism, defined as “(one) from a former age that is incongruous in the present.” Anachronistic beliefs are based on a refusal to accept or comprehend change. It is inevitable that anachronism begets asceticism, defined as “a life of strict self-denial, especially for religious purposes.” Both anachronism and asceticism depend on the idea that all worthwhile wisdom comes to us from the past. This attitude may serve the purpose of encouraging reverence for the wisdom of the ages but fails as a device to reconcile faith with knowledge in the modern age.

It’s all storytelling pap run amok, yet arch conservatives tend want to own the religious and cultural narrative so badly they can become obsessed with this rigid form of doctrine. This is also convenient, for it imbues them with a supposed authority over all other elements of society. This became an actual movement in American, when 40 years ago, thanks to the efforts of men like Jerry Falwell, groups of Americans decided that a rigid form of conservatism needed to be imposed on American culture. This movement ultimately attracted other authoritarian thinkers from the political, social and fiscal realms, and came to be known collectively as neo-conservatism, an oxymoron if there ever was one. It is also ironically known as “neo-liberalism.”

Chronology of neoconservatism

Back when I started writing my book The Genesis Fix in 2000, the Republican Party had just finished grabbing the Presidency through the workings of a cooperative Supreme Court. From watching the actions of both Ronald Reagan and George Bush the First, I had become highly suspicious of the behind-the-scenes workings of the GOP. I knew too well how the double-speak of arch conservatism worked on the environmental front. I’d seen how some political organizations and companies used “greenwashing” to cynically make themselves seem like environmental advocates. The same practice of grabbing a positive narrative to hide ulterior motives of greed or despoilation spread into politics as well. This was combined with a winner-take-all approach that led to what is called “scorched earth politics.” That is no coincidence of terminology.

But I sensed an entirely new level of hypocrisy in the actions and words of the people embracing neo-conservatism on many issues. Their Holier Than Thou actions and words resembled those of the Chief Priests who maligned Jesus in his day. And that raised real alarm bells in my head. We all now how that turned out, with the good of the world turned “inside out” in favor of political power and control.

Unleashed

And once Bush II took power with his claims that God was telling him to be President, the neoconservative ideology was unleashed in all new ways. At that point, suspicions about neoconservatism were confirmed and it had one thing in mind: wiping out the political opponents to install a long term reign.

But then came the negligence on the terrorist watch with the tragedy of 9/11 despite warnings issued well in advance. But by the time America had come to grips with the fact that we’d been attacked, the Bush administration was already floating the notion that we needed to attack Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the events on 9/11. That’s when it struck me that all the predictions I’d made in my book The Genesis Fix were about to come true. These were delusional, radically motivated people in charge.

Eight years of hell

The radical actions of neoconservatism continued throughout the eight years Bush held office. We even heard tales that some Zionists wanted Bush to take over the Middle East and bring on Armageddon. In some respects, we succeeded in bringing on a Holy War by attacking Iraq when that country had nothing to do with the foreseen attacks committed on American soil on 9/11.

Then Bush and his conservative cronies in the financial sector ran the economy into the ground as well. No one would admit it on the conservative side of the equation, but it looked like God really had it in for the Good Old USA.

That didn’t stop arch-conservatives like Pat Robertson from blaming natural disasters on the fact that gays were still allowed to live in the United States. The radicalization of conservatism has many such prophets. Most of them had Big Money and maintained little contact or concern for how the Middle Class and the Real People got by in America. When the economy crashed and millions of middle managers were cast aside in the fray and unable to find work, some in the corporate world responded by saying that they would not hire anyone that had been out of work for more than six months. This was evidence of the “I’ve got mine” brand of independence lacking in both compassion and understanding of how the nation’s economy works in the first place.

In fact, neo-conservatism has engaged in something of a war on the middle class as a rule, busting up unions and suppressing the minimum wage at every turn. It’s no surprise that this faction of society should go looking for a hero to Make America Great Again on promise of restored jobs and hope of a future. But there’s a cognitive dissonance at work in the thought that the people whose policies led to the economic crisis in the first place would be the ones to fix it. And Donald Trump is no exception.

Racism arises

The shrill cries of neoconservatives only got louder when Barack Obama won the Presidency. The sector of the Republican Party that is backed by folks who believe white people should rule the world rose up to fight the President on every front. The dog-whistle racism of men like Mitch McConnell was obvious, but no one likes to speak of such things in public if they can help it. Democrats are typically more polite than that, and Republicans just don’t want to admit its true. Somehow Obama made it through eight years of heck dealing with obfuscation and resistance, and accomplished some good things along the way. It could have been better perhaps, but simply fixing the nation after the crash of 2007 was enough of a challenge to start out, and getting change to work in an atmosphere of so much resistance made it difficult to get anything done.

Which sets the stage for the 2016 election. The GOP threw sixteen people on the stage who wanted to run for President, and all of them appeared to want to run against the tenure of Barack Obama. Yet the only one who stood out to bloodthirsty neoconservatives was a loudmouthed white guy with orange hair and a lot of money. In classic style, he fit all the worst aspects of neoconservative ideas. He was pronouncedly white with his awful combover hairstyle and peach-colored rouge all over his face. His snarling lips and manner of speaking had all the class and patience of a slavedriver, and his openly racist statements laid bare the naked intentions of a political party short on ideas but long on the lust for power. Whether they liked him or not, neoconservatives had their man. It was Donald Trump, all the way.

The Trump Factor

So Donald Trump roared through the primaries and became the Republican nominee for President. At first, supposedly principled men such as Ted Cruz refused to support Trump as the part nominee. After all, Trump’s bitter campaign tactics included personal attacks not only on the other candidates, but on their wives as well. This was new and fertile ground for the seeds of hate, and they began to sprout across the land. Trump supporters felt their man had unshackled the world from the binds of political correctness.

But Trump didn’t stop there. He openly maligned women in public, acting like an angry pimp toward any woman that stood in his way. He lined them up and knocked them around. Carly Fiorina. Megyn Kelly. And finally Hillary Clinton, whom he stalked like a physical abuser during their October debate.

The entire process has been a surly spectacle on the order of a coup by a psychotic Emperor aching to take over the Roman Empire. What the Republican Party needs to do now is get back to its roots.

As I wrote in my book The Genesis Fix:

The admirable goals of political conservatism; keeping the powers of government in check, protecting citizens from excessive taxation, maintaining moral certitude as a principle of government, and encouraging free trade and commerce are all noble ideals. 20  And at a values level, conservatism prides itself on support of tradition, liberty and love of God and country. Despite its reputation as a staid element of social structure, conservatism has at times been quite progressive in the manner with which it has pursued its goals, particularly as it set about using media outlets to communicate its message in from the 1980s to the present. Conservatism’s doctrinal approach to seeking power, influencing culture and leading government has attracted many followers.

The one lacking element in neoconservatism (versus true conservatism) is compassion. This is what I wrote in The Genesis Fix:

If you are looking for a single factor in the success of conservatism with the American public, convictions22 are the political capital of conservatism. Any discussion of politics, social policy or human welfare must contain a healthy dose of “convictions” to be taken seriously by members of the conservative alliance. People with strong convictions tend to love clarity, but the desire for absolute moral clarity among conservatives can lead to intolerance for other viewpoints and cultural prejudice. This may be one of the principle points at which conservatism contradicts the true message of the Bible. It is difficult for people to have compassion and tolerance for others if they are blinded by a discriminatory fixation on the competing interests of a material, political or personal priority. The missing component of doctrinal conservatism as it relates to Christian beliefs is therefore unqualified compassion.

And that is the heart of the matter with Donald Trump. He is the perfect expression of the lack of compassion in neoconservatism. One could argue that he took it a major step further than any neoconservative even dared. Even the likes of Newt Gingrich, arch-conservative that he is, have backed off the Trump Train because The Donald is the beast that neoconservatism created, yet cannot tame.

And that is why, from now on, whenever I am asked why neoconservatism or any brand of conservatism lacking compassion is such a contradiction to American values, I will calmly say the name of Donald Trump. He is the ultimate expression of everything wrong with what conservatism has become in its long arc from Ronald Reagan––who started this “hate the government” mess––all the way to now.

Government is not the problem as President Ronald Reagan once claimed. It’s the lack of belief that people can do good that is the problem in America. It is also a lack of concern for fellow human beings that is the vexation of this nation.

Conservatism has one thing right, and it is tried and true. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions. But that does not mean finding ways to exclude others as equal stakeholders in the American Dream. That is where neoconservatism has led real conservatives astray.

Hopefully something can be learned by all this, and the Bad Example that emerged in the figure of Donald Trump. We need to get back to our belief in America for sure, but not at the cost of tossing people over the side of the ship, or blocking our borders, or dissing them in public if they don’t look like you, act like you, or go along with mad schemes of in religion, politics and culture.

 

American politics are just a gas

IMG_3180.jpgFor a long time, I’ve searched for a symbol that can describe American politics in simple terms. And yesterday at the gas station, I found it. It all breaks down to types of gasoline.

 

Liberals are Unleaded Gasoline. 

With the environment in mind, liberals long ago pushed to have the lead removed from the gasoline we use in cars.  Lead is a serious environment toxin that can cause illness through polluted air and water. It even gets into our food. And against resistance from the oil and gas industry, and friends in conservative places, liberals fought and won to have gas cleaned up. The liberal movement also pushed for higher MPG standards. The auto industry said for years it could not be done. But now it has. Cars,

And against resistance from the oil and gas industry, and friends in conservative places, liberals fought and won to have gas cleaned up. The liberal movement also pushed for higher MPG standards. The auto industry said for years it could not be done. But now it has. Cars, trucks and minivans are now more fuel-efficient. Liberals also pushed for higher safety standards. Sure, all these changes took effort, but they’re worth it.

So it can be fairly said that liberals, Progressives and Green Party supporters are like the unleaded gasolines grades and the vehicles we use today. A little cleaner, more efficient and worth the extra trouble to make sure people don’t get sick or die.

Conservatives are Leaded gasoline. 

Conservatives don’t like to be bothered about things like lead in gasoline or pansy-ass safety standards. Those things cost money to implement. And let’s just say conservatives hate regulations wherever they occur. The Big Oil folks would have been happy to continue pumping out gasoline with the lead still in it. That’s one less step toward making profits.

And let’s be honest: conservatives would have been perfectly happy to stick with the gas guzzling vehicles of America’s past. The romance of the road was sufficient for the American conscience for many years. Why change?

Well, the answer is twofold. Leaded gasoline was poisoning and killing people, plants and animals. So there’s that. Then the gas shortages came along in the 1970s, and more fuel-efficient foreign cars entered the American market. Automakers took a long, long time to change. Meanwhile, they got their asses kicked by Toyota, Honda and others.

Then came the big economic collapse of 2008, and American automakers were stuck on side of the road again. The government had to step in, jump-start the industry (to the chagrin of conservatives everywhere) and shake the lead out of the American auto industry’s ass. And it has largely worked.

Of course, conservatives are frustrated by the idea that they were forced to accept all this change. They be happy to Take Back America to its “glory” days of gas-guzzling, pollution spewing muscle cars. Because they fit right in with the hom0-hating, women-baiting, unpolitically correct attitudes when people were free to be radically consumptive assholes and pollute the environment without anyone questioning them about it.

Sorry, folks. It’s the truth.

Libertarians are Diesel.

You gotta love the Libertarian Party in America. For the most part, it chugs along hardly making a sound except for that weird ticking noise it makes whenever it senses the word “government” in the air. Then the engine roars into action, spewing weird purple smoke and acting not-quite-like the other vehicles on the road.

To Libertarians, this is a point of pride, as it would be driving a shiny silver Delorean fixed up like that Time Machine in Back to the Future. Never mind the fact that the funding for the company that manufactured Delorean cars came from backroom cocaine deals. The Dirty Money got the job done, right? What’s a few snorts of coke if the world becomes a better place?

One might argue that the counterculture Tesla road machine is instead the perfect Libertarian vehicle. But that would be stretching it.

And there you have it. An accurate and perfect categorization of American politics according to gasoline types and the cars that drive them.

My search is over. It turns out that American politics really is a gas.