Why the liberal doomsday never comes true

IMG_6707One of the strident complaints leveled by conservatives against liberals and progressives is that they constantly decry doomsday scenarios that never come true.

But there’s a good reason why the bad things about which liberals hew and cry never come about. Liberals actually do something about them to prevent doomsday from coming about.

Environmental doomsday averted

For example, in the 1970s the environmental movement began to make real traction in the public eye. Environmentalists warned about the dangers of industrial and chemical pollution. Liberals warned that air pollutions was not good for public health. So-called tree huggers and Save-the-Whalers and birdwatchers gathered forces and made their voices heard.

And even Republican President Richard Nixon got involved by signing the Environmental Protection Agency into being.

The nation’s liberals recognized that devastating levels of damage were being exacted on the world’s waters, land and air. Many species of wildlife were being treated with extinction. Only 60 years had passed since a species of bird known as the Passenger Pigeon had been literally hunted into extinction by mass harvesting. The American Bison was on the verge of blinking out of existence. Whooping cranes were down to the last 60 or so birds on the planet. Peregrine falcons were virtually an unknown species in the lower 48 states. The national symbol of the United States, the Bald Eagle, and its sister species the osprey were having successive years of nest failure due to the cracking of their eggshells from the trickle up effect of a pesticide known as DDT in the environment.

Yet rather than give in and let the doomsday scenario of mass extinctions take place, liberals dug in and fought for the banning of certain types of dangerous pesticides. In league with government agencies such as the EPA and backed by rulings such as the endangered species act, the harshest chemicals affecting our environment were regulating. Massive polluters were cited by law and punished. Billions of dollars were set aside in Superfund accounts to pay for the costs of environmental cleanup.

Rivers so polluted they once caught fire were able to recover from the effects of industrial dumping into streams and lakes. The blight on forests and lakes caused by acid rain from coal plants was arrested and cleaner forms of energy were investigated. The stunning fear caused by an event at Three Mile Island led to analysis of the role and safety of nuclear power in America.

Nuclear option

All the while, liberal protestors echoed by singer-songwriters such as Jackson Browne and Neil Young took aim at the ignorance and greed causing the near doomsday realities of nuclear meltdown and chemical pollution so thick and pervasive it caused the residents of entire towns to live under the threat of cancer and birth defects, sickness and death.

These were real doomsday events in the making. And had liberals not shown the temerity and wisdom to fight back against toxic pollution, habitat degradation and loss and wildlife extinction, the healthier environment we now have in America would certainly not exist.

All these efforts protected the health and safety of millions of people in America. Because as goes the environment, so goes the human race.

Civil rights doomsdays

Liberals saw the social justice in all that effort. Liberals and progressive have continued to push the nation deliver civil rights for all citizens. The “environment” of the nation is thus a healthier place for all its citizens to exist.

Without benefit of these civil rights efforts, black people and minorities would continue to live under segregation and persecution on many fronts. The many deaths of black people from lynching and torture are undeniable evidence of the fact that the conservative wing of America was incapable of controlling its most extreme wing. And without that control, prejudice loomed like a doomsday for centuries in America.

But that doomsday, while not entirely averted, has not fully arrived either. Through liberal political enterprise and the leadership of men such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the walls of segregation and prejudice have been razed.

However, we are still sorting through the rubble. And some Americans typically of a harshly conservative, often ignorant bent, would prefer to build the walls of prejudice back up. These racial zealots whine about legitimate civil rights as if they were the exception in a democratic republic, not the rule. They simultaneously claim their own civil rights are being infringed and that they are being restricted in their freedom of speech by so-called “political correctness” that seeks to prevent hate from being spewed through politics or social media.

Religious doomsday

Sadly, the name God is often evoked to justify the hateful actions and rhetoric of those whose ability to imagine a better world has been choked off by their own vision of doomsday. How ironic it is that the very same people who on religious grounds claim America is in moral decay and headed for doomsday are the very people who seek to deny civil rights to women, blacks, minorities, and gays. Their priorities have more to do with access to power and appeasing their notions of unswerving authority than anything akin to creating the Kingdom of God here on earth, which is what the Bible actually encourages.

Instead, the true doomsayers embrace an End Times theology that spatters like blood across the face of conservative theology. These are the real doomsday preachers. And their most common mode of offense (and defense) is to accuse liberals of their own worst flaw, which is not believing in the future.

This brand of self-doubt spills into politics, where conservatives claim to hate the very government they represent. This self-hatred is the self-fulfilling prophecy of doomsday conservatism, where everything is supposedly going downhill and always will, until the end of time. Yet there are many conservatives who claim to be the happiest people on earth. But as the Bible clearly points out in the tale of the Good Samaritan, when supposedly holy men walk past another soul in need and ignore that need, they are the very people God will choose to ignore on that day of judgment, if it ever comes.

A perversely fashioned zygote

ZygoteYet conservatives continue to claim the high ground. It’s as if they’re never read the many passages in the bible where Jesus chastises the chief priests for their moralizing, legalistic ways. Or the parts where Jesus points out that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Instead, we’re left with a perversely fashioned zygote made of political, social, fiscal and religious conservative cells. This unholy creature proclaims doomsday at every turn. Political conservatives have shut down the government. Social conservatives say that granting gays the right to marriage will be the end of America. Fiscal conservatives have already crashed the economy a couple times in American history and predict another crash while telling people to “buy gold” as if that would stave off an economic doomsday of their own making.

And finally, religious conservatives lay claim to the Doomsday of All Doomsday predictions. That would be the End Times, the Rapture, Armageddon and the Apocalypse. The End of the World is a favorite topic of the Christian Right. The subject crops up with even though the events predicted in Revelation already happened long, long ago. The Doomsday appeal of owning the bookends of Creation and Apocalypse are literally too good a story to relinquish.

No credit where credit is due

But it sounds pretty good to accuse liberals of being the naysayers and doomsday predictors in this world. That way anything bad that happens out of your own negativity, selfishness, neglect, prejudice, legalism and persecution can be blamed on people simply trying to make the world a little better place. And succeeding, for the large part.

Because many types of doomsdays have been averted through the heart, soul and humanism of liberalism. But you would never know it from listening to conservatives.

Of course, extreme conservatives also claim that global climate change is just another false liberal doomsday scenario. Perhaps it helps that so many Christian conservatives (between 30- 50% of the American population, some studies say) do not believe in evolution or even the basic science of geology. With that level of scientific ignorance at work, there is no wonder the world considers America such a pack of selfish dolts.

Maybe conservatives are right. Maybe there is a doomsday right around the corner. If so, it will be one of their own making through denial and unwillingness to work through practical means to make the world a better place.

And if they do cause the world to end, they will deny it until the day they day. 

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The true connection between liberal anxiety and conservative fear

It’s a constant debate: Liberals versus conservatives. And it all breaks down to simple beliefs.

This is how the sayings go when it comes to discussing politics in America.

Liberals are anxious about everything. They worry about global warming. Civil rights. And offending someone. God Forbid. 

Conservatives are fearful about everything. Terrorism striking close to home. Living without guns. Being politically correct. God Forbid. 

How fascinating it truly is that liberals worry about the world while conservatives fret that it is out to get them? How can two such similar traits drive people so far apart?

Worry warts

For starters, conservatives seem to believe that most liberal worries are made up. That’s the real nature of anxiety, right? It’s defined as imagining the worst when things are really not all that bad.

Fearmongers

Conservative policies are often not what they seem

In a similar way, liberals consider conservatives obsessive about their fears or prejudices. Conservatives are always bemoaning the decay of society or predicting the end of the world as we know it.

Thus, the two parties circle each other warily and angrily. Both claim they’re right about the other and seek to demean the corresponding anxieties and fears on the Left and the Right.

The End of the World

But there are connections. For example, liberals tend to think that if the world is coming to an end, it will be through environmental means. That’s why global warming is a concern, along with species extinction.

Meanwhile, religious conservatives (and by dint of Big Tent Politics, many other brands of Republican conservatives) tend to depict the end of the world through a theological lens. The coming Apocalypse. Armageddon. The End Times. Left Behind. The Rapture.

The Second Coming

That mindset colloquially embraces the idea of the Second Coming of Jesus and the idea that the Old World in which we now live will be replaced by an entirely better New World that will come about through some sort of heavenly means. Even Muslims believe that’s the fate of the world.

Armageddon

And of course, there is considerable speculation on where all that will start, and whether we should fear the day or bid it welcome news. The general thinking on the topic is that the Middle East will be the site of a great war between the forces of good and evil. For many years it was the Jews that were the potential focus of all this heavenly rage. Lately it appears to be the Muslims, whom many conservative religious thinkers blame for the woes of the world.

Muslim surprise

How ironic it is that the Muslim faith actually looks forward to the coming of Jesus Christ as well. They don’t buy the idea that Christ was ever crucified, but was instead zapped up to heaven by God outside the parameters of the Christian narrative. It’s a little vague of course, as most things in the Quran seem to be in terms of interpretive or predictive value, but this is what the Quran says:  “And there is none of the people of the Book but must believe in Him before his death, and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.”[Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 159] Allah also says about Jesus in the Qur’ân: “And he shall be a sign of the Hour. Therefore have no doubt about the Hour, but follow Me. That is the straight path.” [Sûrah al-Zukhruf: 61].

Judgement Day

If you stop and think about the fact that conservative Christians and conservative Muslims all look forward to the coming of Christ on the Judgement Day, it’s a pathetic fact that what people are fighting (or quibbling) about is what path this supposed course took in the path and how it will ostensibly transpire in the future.

Owning the narrative

All sides of this argument, including Sunni and Shi’a sects on the Muslim side, as well as Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and all other forms of conservative Christian faith oas well seem willing to fight to the death over which narrative is chosen to decide how the world will end, and who might survive.  Then we throw in the Jews, who get it from both sides of this great battle, and that pretty much explains fears over the Middle East “situation” in a nutshell. And it’s a fearful, angry, vicious batch of insanity.

And conservatives on every side just love it. Because it allows them to grab hold of all sorts of other controls in life. That includes social and political laws, and fiscal regulations. Everyone is afraid some other sect or religious worldview will get the upper hand.

Political zygotes

ZygoteOf course not all those who abide by conservative philosophy or identify as fiscal or political conservatives share these religious worldviews. But they can no longer escape the association because the conservative alliance initiated in the Falwell/Reagan era. That’s when the religious and economic “revolution” originally fused the language of triumph into a giant political zygote of social, political, religious and fiscal conservatives. Now the product of this marriage has emerged like a freak of nature, and his name is Donald Trump.

Liberals get their freak on

Like the tale of Benjamin Button, in which a man is born old and grows young over time, the Democratic side of freak births produced Bernie Sanders. His ardent gesticulations and socialist contentions have been discomfiting to those who just want a normal, somewhat liberal candidate to run for President. His supporters freak out at the idea of supporting Hillary Clinton if and when the Bern fizzles out. It’s a bit like a backcountry family feud, both ugly and beautiful in its unsophisticated way.

Emotional defense

it is interesting to note that both conservatives and Christians lay claim to the authority of scripture. Conservatives side with the traditions and triumphs of the church while liberals share the heart of scripture and the ministry of tolerance advocated by Jesus. These simple differences may be responsible for the entire liberal versus conservative divide. We only wish these differences could be determined through dialectic, a term described as “a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.” Instead all we seem to achieve is emotional arguments for one side or the other.

Back to the Future

Some of these debates over conservative versus liberal interpretations of scripture go back to the very formative years of what we now call Christianity. That’s when a Jew named Yeshua (better known as Jesus) debated vigorously with the Pharisees and others over their efforts to turn scripture into law. Jesus chastised the priests and tried to liberate the Jewish faith from its own strictures. But it didn’t really work. So the followers of Jesus started their own gig. And it’s been a Back to the Future movie ever since.

Some Christians never learned the lesson Jesus was trying to convey. They still behave like the priests Jesus tried to change. These are the conservatives of today. They side with political power because it feels like the best way to exact the philosophies of Christianity on the world. This is the Back to the Future plot we are now viewing.

The fortress of belief

Conservatism views the faith as a literal temple, a fortress of belief or a city to be defended or taken over by force if necessary. They Bible is one such fortress, and must be read as if it were a pile of stones placed one upon the other. Take out one stone and the entire structure may fall.

Portable faith

Liberalism takes a more modular view of what faith is about. Its interpretation of the bible is more about its transportable qualities. In that sense, liberalism is more like a nomadic tent community. It can wander the desert and be happy in the company of God. This is more like what Jesus professed. The structure of his ministry and how the disciples came to view the temple of God was centered on the idea that God is with you wherever you go.

Crusades

Now we can understand why conservatives consider the Crusades so important. Their objective to evict Muslims from Jerusalem was based on the belief that God needed (or deserved) a place to live. Tradition demanded that Jerusalem be under Christian guard. The Holy City and the Temple had been there. What more was there to understand?

In this day and age there are supporters of Israel who abide by these same standards. It’s still about the Holy City and the Holy State of Israel. This is called Zionism, “political support for the creation and development of a Jewish homeland in Israel.”

Mess of beliefs

Jerusalem_Dome_of_the_rock_BW_14.JPGIt’s a bit of an archaic notion, and a contradictory one at that, when Christians and Jews align to create and protect an Israeli homeland. The two faith traditions don’t even believe in the same thing. One accepts Jesus. The other does not. Meanwhile Muslims look forward to the return of Jesus while the Jews think the Messiah is yet to appear. It’s all a very confused mess if you really consider it. Yet the Crusades in the Middle East continue to this day and even the most informed people have lost track of what it is all about. The fighting now is about rallying the troops and never losing. Not at any cost.

Feeding worries and fears

The shared tactic of conservatism and liberalism is to consistently expound upon worries or fears about what is surely about to happen.

For conservatives, the list is long. The economy is about to collapse. Society is in moral decay. Terrorism is going to end our Way of Life. The Rapture is right around the corner. These are the go-to themes whenever conservatism fails on some, or many, fronts.

Meanwhile, liberals are busy wringing their hands in anxiety over environmental cataclysm and the collapse of civil rights due to prejudice and authoritarian rule by a select minority.

Beyond being afraid

The fact that both anxieties and fears align with the general belief that things could get far worse before they get better is telling. Isn’t there some way these two belief systems can come to a common ground?

The secret hides in how people on both sides of the philosophical debate define the idea of a “new world.”

For liberals or humanists, that would be world in which people actually collaborate to solve problems. This philosophy was effectively captured in the song Imagine by John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

There’s a lot of Jesus philosophy in that very humanist set of lyrics. But the opening lyrics to the song would be of great offense to those who view the temple of God as real place.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

But if we focus on the idea that Jesus wanted the Kingdom of God to be real here on earth, and that the Bible advocates the idea that a New World will someday be created on earth, there is a great source of convergence going on in those humanist lyrics by John Lennon and the soul of the ministry of Jesus.

That is, God wants us to create this New World for ourselves. In fact, the Second Coming of Christ may be our responsibility to initiate. Not through war and Armageddon, but through love and all the good works of respect and trust and ministry we extend to others.

That is the true convergence of conservative and liberal ideologies. It also assuages worries and removes fears. Because a world where people genuinely care about each other and dispel differences rather than turning them into definitions of “the other” truly is the Kingdom of God.

And that’s the point at which both conservatism and liberalism as social, political, fiscal and religious constructs will cease to be.

How biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environment

Christopher Cudworth is author of The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age. It centers on how biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environment. Originally published in 2007, it is being edited for re-release on Amazon.com. 

 

Are we fools for being liberal or Progressive?

angelsOne of the abiding themes of criticism leveraged at liberals by conservatives (and to some degree, libertarians as well) is that liberals are fools for believing in the things they do.

That’s an interesting contention. Because foolishness is defined as “lack of good sense or judgment; stupidity.”

So let’s take a look at a few of the big and small things conservatives––across a spectrum of religion, politics and culture––have stood for throughout history, and why.

The example of Jesus

First, we might consider that a certain Jesus Christ was highly frustrated by a group of conservative religious leaders in his day who turned faith into legalism by imposing all kinds of rules people had to follow. When Jesus questioned their authority, they paid to have him betrayed and killed.

And wasn’t that foolish?

The bad example of the church

Then when the church grew, it basically started asking people to buy favor with God. When Martin Luther questioned their authority in doing so, they threatened his life.

The same thing happened when men such as Copernicus and Galileo questioned the view of the Church that Earth was at the center of the universe. For hundreds of years the church persecuted and imprisoned all those dared make such a claim. Because the church was behaving like a pack of fools.

Foolish Crusades

It was conservatives on both sides of the Muslim and Christian religions who led the Crusades and engaged in wars over the City of Jerusalem and land claimed by the nation of Israel. These bloody fights were based on ancient claims to ownership of the so-called Holy Land. In the process, hundreds of thousands of people gave their lives for no real reason other than an attempt to prove that God was on their side.

And that is always foolish.

Wars of foolish greed

dscn9203.jpg Speaking of wars, it was conservatives from the Confederate South who wanted states to have all authority in all matters. These same conservatives favored slavery and used religious justification to impose their will on people captured and forced into slavery.

Conservatives then forced America into a Civil War over these issues that cost the nation 750,000 lives.

Even after they lost that war, conservatives still didn’t give up their angrily foolish ways. Conservative white racists imposed Jim Crow laws across the nation to further persecute and control black Americans even after an amendment was added to the Constitution guaranteeing them equal rights. Hundreds if not thousands of black Americans consequently were beaten, tortured, hung or burnt to death by angry white conservatives fearful that their “way of life” was at risk by granting black American’s equal social status.

Foolish societies

These conservatives even formed societies such as the Klu Klux Klan specifically to IMG_3847terrorize and persecute blacks and people of other races and religion apart from conservative white Christianity. This breed of conservatism raged full bore from the early 20th century all the way into the 1950s and 60s. The KKK persists to this day, euphemistically claiming they only favor “white rights” versus persecution of others.

But history proves we’d all be fools to believe such claims. Liberals to this day have a hard time convincing such people of the foolishness of their ways. Yet liberals are blamed by conservatives for “ruining the country.” This is a cynically contrary euphemism for providing equal rights to people that were formerly oppressed.

Foolish money

The same aggressive meme holds true for conservatives accusing liberals of ruinous economic policies. In the wake of the stock market crash where conservative bulls ran the economy right into the ground through deregulation and speculative investments, liberals acted to install programs to protect everyday citizens from the ugly vagaries of such behavior. The Social Security insurance program was set up to provide a common man’s return on investment through a government program that would be available to people no longer engaged the labor market. The program leverages the investment of society to build interest and provide for all those in need during their waning years.

IMG_3852Up until the 1960s, conservatives saw the safety and common sense of such an insurance program. Republicans supported and even expanded Social Security.

But then conservative stalwarts got greedy. It seems to drive them nuts to think they can’t get their hands on all that money through privatization. The wealthiest Americans don’t even pay into the program, and yet those are the same people who seem to be lobbying against the fact that a socialized insurance program works to protect the neediest in America.

And that is the logic of ignorant, greedy fools.

Hatred for common sense

It holds true also for Medicare, a social program set up to protect primarily the elderly from increasingly burdensome medical costs as they age. And Conservatives (note the Capital C) hate it. And so it goes with conservatives hating common sense for the very fact that it is both common, and sensible.

Instead the conservative faction in American seems to abide by contradictory logic as a rule of thumb. That is how, and why, they currently protest abortion while lobbying against organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide legal birth control to women to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Conservatives claim on supposedly moral grounds that only abstinence is a rightful method for avoiding pregnancy. The real goal it seems is to take away that decision-making capability from women, whom conservatives consistently persecute over all such decisions of sexual or personal freedom.

Rhythm nonsense

Even the Catholic Church looks like a fool on such issues because more than 90% of its own member base chooses by practical intuition to ignore the dictums of the church’s morality-based yet hypocritical bans on birth control. The so-called “rhythm method” so long advocated by the Vatican is nothing more than a falsely moral attempt to avoid pregnancy as well.

Pro-nothing

And when it comes to abortion, conservatives calling themselves “pro-life” who also protest distribution and use of birth control are not in favor of anything. They’re simply “anti” with no room for solutions on a practial scale. That’s not “pro-life.” It’s anti-living. Positions like that are aggressively foolish.

Naturally foolish

IMG_3854Equally foolish and equally aggressive are Christian conservatives claiming that science is out to kill religion simply by teaching the theory of evolution. That strange claim ignores the fact that Jesus himself taught using naturalistic parables to illustrate spiritual concepts. Men like the stalwartly foolish Ken Ham, a leading creationist, seem to have no ability to connect the organic fundamentalism of the Bible with modern science. As a result, they remain engaged in an increasingly Quixotic attempt to knock down the windmills of science. And when that fails, new labels such as Intelligent Design are invoked in an semantic battle for supremacy. But that too has failed in the face of plain and rational logic on the side of science.

Proving that creationalism is pure and unadulterated foolishness.

Fool for politics

It all spills into the realm of politics where the current band of conservative leaders is struggling to become ever more extreme in an attempt to prove themselves securely “sensible” in the eyes of their zealous and crazed base.

The height of this tomfoolery is now urlon full display in the cartoonish manner and statements of men such as Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee. who blather on like homeless and mentally ill individuals society on a street corner.

Adding to the manic display of such foolishness are women such as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, whose conservatively-driven rants split off like solar flares in the political universe. These particular women offer little more than conservative hot energy, yet people foolish enough to consider them bright stars don’t recognize the burnt out nature of their message. Like most conservative messengers, they are not prophets, but parrots. They repeat only what they’ve been able to learn from worn out ideals.

Fools for anger and fear

But their parrotism feeds on the same anger and fear that has driven conservatism for ages upon ages. From the religious conservatives who tormented Jesus to the Facebook fools who torment liberals for believing and acting on social justice, racial, gender and sexual equality, economic parity and environmental protection, conservatives keep believing they see fools where in fact what they are seeing is people committed to rational solutions.

IMG_0492Because it has been the liberal enterprise that has delivered on the promise of humanity and God.

Liberalism has led the way on all great scientific discoveries. It has fostered social revolutions in democracy and equality, because even when men like Ronald Reagan were lobbying against the Soviet Union, it was the liberal enterprise of America initiative for which he was a stalwart defender.

Our Founding Fathers authored a Constitution guaranteeing freedom and liberty, which simultaneously loosened the binds of religious authority where it constricted human understanding. America is a nation dependent on freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion. It is not, as some conservatives love to claim, a Christian nation by definition.

Throughout history it is liberalism that has built societies where human respect is paramount, yet God is quite welcome. But we recognize that all words are symbols, and all scripture is composed of words. That means metaphor should be welcome at the table of truth. Literalism can be the enemy of truth.

Disclaimers

So it is not liberals that are the fools. It has long been proven that conservatism with all its rigid and anachronistic tendencies are the bane of culture, government and the earth. The main thing we need to extract from these lessons is that it takes a strong will, a rational mind and a commitmen to liberal convictions to resist conservative foolishness at every turn.

And that, my friends, is no foolish exercise.

Why Donald Trump so perfectly represents today’s Republican Party

Donald Trump's proposed golf courseDonald Trump is leading the polls among Republican candidates for President of the United States. The man needs no introduction of course. His bloviating style and grandiose gestures are all too familiar in the public sphere. Which makes him the perfect Republican candidate by today’s standards in the ostensibly conservative political party in America.

Bankrupt ideology

There’s really nothing conservative about Donald Trump at all. Not if you analyze it. But that’s precisely aligned with today’s Republican Party, which is comprised of politicians whose claims of fiscal responsibility, profound religiosity and commitment to smaller government and individual freedoms have all proven to be lies over the last 30 years.

  • The Bush era fiscal policies nearly bankrupted America with an economic crash
  • Today’s conservative religious leaders primarily concern themselves with the role of faith in gaining votes and winning approval with single-issue voters on abortion, teaching of science and discrimination against gays
  • The vow of smaller government is belied by regular intrusions of conservative policies on individual freedoms pertaining to women’s rights, gender orientation, corporate versus individual citizenship and money in politics.

In other words, the supposed priorities of conservative policies are, at their very heart, a bankrupted ideology of hypocrisy, euphemism and bully politics disguised as friendly attempts to represent the interests of a supposed minority. That would be the 1% of richest Americans.

And into this void walks Donald Trump, who almost perfectly represents the shallow and bankrupted ideology of so-called conservative politics.

It makes perfect sense. Trump built his empire, if you want to call it that, on a series of business bankruptcies. So he’s rather a good symbol for Republican policymaking, which demands that you walk away from past mistakes and never admit they happened. That was the entire philosophy of the Republican policy in the wake of a disastrous eight years under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The economy was wrecked. Two Republican-led wars dragged on without a purpose or goal in the Middle East. Terrorism had spread and grown. The middle class was suffering. Policies of discrimination against women, minorities and Muslims, to name just a few, were being blindly rubber stamped by Republicans in both the House and Senate.

The country was a mess after Bush, but Republicans refused to accept any responsibility for their trashing of the economy or American foreign policy. Instead they flatly pledged to block or defeat any Obama initiative that came along. Once again, this was a morally and ethically bankrupt way for any political party to behave, but Republicans embraced the goal to make Obama a “one-term President,” to quote Mitch McConnell.

A mile wide and an inch deep

2016possiblegopcontenders101The Republican Party has proven itself to be a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to the flow of American life and commerce. That’s why there are so many candidates necessary to cover all the shallow concepts upon which Republicans are set to run. There appears to be no emotional, intellectual or spiritual depth among any of these candidates. Several have criticized the Pope for actually advocating the actual teachings of Christ. Others like Bobby Jindal are playing strange racial games with their personal brand. Claiming allegiance with the Confederacy despite the birth heritage of his parents in India, Jindal demonstrates the shallowness by which appeals to Republican voters are being made.

Bad reality

The GOP is like a bad reality show with its strange assortment of half-realized characters running for President. We have the sick repeats like Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. Then Chris-Christie-in-a-baseball-uniform-7there are the cartoon characters like Chris Christie (what a perfect reality show name…) and the timeworn specter of Jeb Bush, who doesn’t even use his family name in his campaign logo. It’s just Jeb! because using the Bush name is a blanket admission that his father and his brother were both royal screwups at the job of President.

In walks The Donald

Against this backdrop of fools and scoundrels, Donald Trump steps forward like the point guard on a perpetually losing basketball team that still has a fan base of diehards. And we mean that term to be taken literally. The Republican fan base of elderly white men, who typically tend to be very angry and threatened by change, is now dying fast.

But Donald Trump is the phoenix of all phoenixes. He represents the eternal flame of anger that has driven the party whose entire political approach has been to discriminate, divide and drive deals behind the scenes (anyone recall the 2000 election and the Supreme Court) in order to gain and keep power. This is the most deeply respected tradition among all for the GOP. Win first, and worry about the details later. That’s how Mitt Romney ran, and fortunately lost. He almost ran again in 2016, then thought better of it. Pretending you have depth gets old after a while.

Happy to be shallow

Donald doesn’t even think he needs all that. His tone deaf slams of Mexican people proves that he cares not who he offends. Even GOP caretaker Reince Preibus is freaked out that Trump is so blatantly exposing the understanding among Republicans that the tried and true method of Republican election appeal is to pit social groups against one another by posing the idea that one group is a threat to another. That’s how Republicans win. There can be no other explanation.

It’s the dog-whistle racism that calls Republican bigots to the voting booth. It’s the idea that women must be controlled and put in their place, and that gays cannot possibly be allowed to have a seat at the table that drives patriarchal voters and the fearfullly religious to the polls. That’s the Republican base, as it were. A mile wide and an inch deep.

Trump exposes all that ugly truth like it was bare wire exposed to the sun for the first time. And as such, he’s the perfectly imperfect candidate for the GOP at this time in history. It has the GOP absolutely freaked out that Trump walked in and took 15% of the polling, higher than any other shallow candidate on the block. He’s making waves in the shallow Republican River, in other words.

So let’s just hope they go with The Donald. At least that would be both entertaining and honest. The rest of them are liars and power mongers disguised as candidates, so why pay attention to their so-called “debates” which will actually be held on a level that an 8th grade political science class could top.

But if there fans in the room, The Donald’s hair will stand up like a flag of desperation amongst those otherwise racially airbrushed and economically strafed political candidates. The Donald for President. At least he’s honest about his dishonesties.

The Advent of Meta Christianity

IMG_8609META referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.

Somewhere in the long arc of its transformation from a religious belief system to a political movement, Christianity lost a big chunk of its soul to a social phenomenon more concerned with owning the public dialogue over proving its theological merits in actual practice.

This was the advent of Meta Christianity, in which confessional language and dog-whistle politics contrive to take over society. 

Big Dogs

It’s not hard to point out the cast of characters that borrowed the authority of a well-respected religion as a means to self-empowerment. They are all famous names with whom we are all familiar. The process was slow at first, with social and religious conservatives frustrated by democratic rulings on issues such as abortion. But then the movement toward a more political form of Christianity formed around the likes of Jerry Falwell, a televangelist who formed the so-called Moral Majority in collusion with equally conservative politicians that found it quite convenient to borrow the authority of Christianity for their personal objectives of getting elected. Again. And again.

Voting blocs

Courting the so-called Christian voting blog translated into power for conservatives willing to say all the right things to convince conservative voters their morals were in the right place. The power conferred by the Christian voting bloc further converted the forrmely faith-based ideals of Christianity into a brand focused on social and political authority. The word Christian came to mean something entirely different than it once did, taking on a form that willingly confused God with Country. To achieve this aim the new form of old-time Christianity needed to ignore the very plain language in the United States Constitution Establishment Clause which says  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”

And that was the advent of Meta Christianity. No longer was conservative Christianity going to bother abiding by its tradition of self-examinative remorse, repentance and reformation.Meta Christianity said the hell with that. The former introspective faith in the model of Christ would now be replaced by a self-referential new order focused on never admitting you’re wrong and asking people to join along because it’s the right thing to do. The Meta Christian takes a new vow: “We’re more interested in gaining power and getting our way than explaining ourselves to people who don’t get what we’re doing.”

Conventions

By these methods Meta Christians began by definition to refer to itself and its conventions as a genre outside the realm of normal social criticism. Using the age-old methods of requiring “proof texts” from the Bible to engage in any criticism of its objectives, Meta Christianity has endeavored to remove itself from any form of social criticism at all. It does the same with its politics, especially by claiming loudly and often that America was founded as a Christian nation. 

Manifestos

These tactics extend to the view of America both as a nation of destiny and as a tool for the End Times. Fundamental Christians love to claim the mantle of God’s Chosen people. The thin veil of the former worldview known as Manifest Destiny is thus torn away and worn all over again like a new garment. The Meta version of its racial overtones embrace age-old prejudicial values against people of color and origin, lambasting emigrants and Muslims and anyone that Meta Christians choose to see as an enemy. This is all based on the Meta-Christian’s perceived state of privilege by providence. 

End Times

Meanwhile some Meta Christians seem eager to hurry along the end of time any way they can. When George W. Bush first attacked Iraq in 2003, there was some hope in some deeply religious (but apparently not patriotic) quarters that a magical key was being turned in the Mideast that would bring on Armageddon and drag Christ back to earth for Judgment Day.

Even analysis from within the Christian faith has no effect on Meta Christians. Progressive Biblical scholars such as Marcus Borg, John Crossan and Rev.John Shelby Spong easily point out the contradictions inherent in Meta Fundamental Christianity by documenting the many ways in which the Bible is not infallibly composed. Bart D. Ehrman in his book Misquoting Jesus (Harper/San Francisco) documents how scribes who copied scripture sometimes changed it either intentionally or unintentionally. In so doing he points out the foibles of taking any section of scripture literally, and demonstrates the danger of those foibles at play in the modern context. Typically these include persecution of those who are made targets by literal interpretations of scripture. These include women, gays, Jews, blacks or anyone that gets casually or pointedly mentioned in the Bible as a transgressor of some sort. There is no distinctive virtue in these methods except that it provides a convenient way to define “the other” and thus give Meta Christianity the enemies it needs to rally troops to membership and shared power. 

Science of denial

But Meta Christianity turns a purposely deaf ear on such erudite analysis of its beliefs. It also lovingly ignores the findings of science, flirting happily instead with the science of denial constituted by contrived theories such as creationism and intelligent design. As a result, some 30% of Meta Christians in America claim not to trust science, especially the theory of evolution. That’s one out of two people under the influence of Meta Christianity, which uses its reputation as protectors of the truth to fuel doubts and fears of intellectual pursuits in its constituents.

Rightward ho!

Thus the advent of self-referential and self-evidencing religion of power over biblical substance continues to evolve. When challenged over this assumed position of authority in society, Meta Christianity has simply moved farther to the Right as a means to insulate itself from any brand of secular analysis. Of course Meta Christian politicians love that kind of voter. It saves them lots of work trying to convince people they are indeed “voting their values.”

Dead Ends

There’s just one problem with all this Meta Christianity. It’s a literal and physical dead end when it comes to addressing the problems of the present and future. The Meta Christian relationship with End Times theology is problem enough when considering what to do about foreign relations and plans for dealing with global climate change. Meta Christians are prone to the disturbing claim that the end is coming soon and there’s nothing we can do about it anyway. No wonder Meta Christians fall in line with the radical political right on the idea that government is the problem, not a solution to human problems or needs. If the most radical brands of Meta Christians had their way, America would simply dump its entire governmental system and trust God to solve all problems in the home of the brave and the land of the free.

F the Establishment Clause

That’s definitely not what the Founding Fathers set out to do in forming a more perfect union or writing the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause exists for a reason. It protects the freedoms of all citizens, not just those who claim to curry favor with God. Meta Christianity sees that as an obstacle, not the law of the land. We will be wise to keep an eye on protecting the Constitution from those who would redefine its purpose in a self-referential way.

Misquoting Jesus: http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060859512, Bart D. Ehrman, Harper San Francisco,

Why I refuse to hide my years, my liberalism or my political views despite the new censorship age

by Christopher Cudworth

A close and longtime friend pulled me aside the other day with a warning of sorts. “I love you man,” he told me. “But you’ve got to stop giving people reasons not to hire you.” 

His advice is so well-intentioned. In the age of social media, your personal brand is how you sell yourself to others. Mine is all over the Internet. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, Google+ to all the blogs I write. My views are out there. So is my age. Plus I effectively rank all top 10 spots on Google for the name Christopher Cudworth. 

But what people really worry about most when it comes to their personal reputation is their religious and/or political views being perceived as oppositional to all those who might want to do business with them. 

I’m not afraid of that. And here’s why. 

Nothing to fear

Who lays claim to the flag in America?My years have taught me there’s nothing to fear. Not if you truly believe in God and trust that your faith will show you the way. There is no consequence on this earth that you cannot spiritually survive. Your words and actions and beliefs may indeed cost you social or work advantages.

 

But still, people warn you not to reveal too much about your age, your viewpoints or your religion.

The Internet is full of advice on how to hide your age, as if doing so were some kind of actual job qualification.

And surely there are plenty of people who will tell you to avoid saying anything political on business social media such as LinkedIn. 

I am 57. I am a liberal. And a Christian. Or both.

Chicken to speak out?

Pretty much this brand of advice seems to be focused on connecting with people who make business choices based on religious or political views.

But it works both ways. Certainly the recent stories about Chick-Fil-A choosing to fund non-profit organizations aligned with its company views have impacted their reputation. Rightly or wrongly, consumers often choose to base their decisions on who to support based on liberal or conservative views. Then it came out that Chick-Fil-A even hires or chooses franchisees based on their core values. That seems like a pretty sound business principle. But again, they took flack for those practices because the social media flurry took off before the full breadth of the company’s policies was vetted. 

There was some debate that went on about this issue on LinkedIn and I commented about that. Advisable or not, I expressed concern that some companies might use policies like that to be exclusionary in their hiring. But it’s a gray area. According to Snopes.com, this is what actually appears on the Chick-Fil-A website as to company culture: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” 

Fair enough. That’s a fairly conservative enough statement about hiring practices. I mean that in the best way. It’s not Conservative in the sense that it is outlining some political view as necessary to employment. It is conservative in the sense that it advocates fair and reasonable hiring practices. There are other forms of conservative viewpoints at work in business as well. 

Creative creationist

For example, I once knew a geologist who was a devout creationist. The thought of his worldview at work in that field was astounding to me. Creationists typically view the earth as having a very limited time span. I asked the man specifically for his opinion about that. “All I care about in the job is the layers. I just need to know where things are. How old they are does not matter to me.”

I thought about those words for a long time. He’d been through all that geological education and processed it in his own fashion. He was not a man afraid to speak his mind either. At some point he likely spoke up about his beliefs. Surely some of his science education professors shouted him down if he brought up his religious views and the opinion that the earth’s geology was all the product of the Great Flood. Or whatever. Yet he’d kept true to his anachronistic worldview despite all contentions to the contrary. And he was successful in his profession. 

That’s a conservative, tried and true I suppose. He’d held his convictions and stuck to religious tradition despite all that liberal science stuff swirling around him.

Equivalence

In a similar way, I suppose, I have clung to my liberal views despite all the Conservative opinion dominating the business world. Am I, as a Liberal, the equivalent of a Creationist in the business world? Am I denying the science of economics and business. Are Harvard or Booth School MBAs gathering in coffee shops to snigger about my naive notions about business? 

Well, I can only speak from personal experience in my business dealings, where my conservative instincts have always controlled my actions.

Conservative actions

For example, when I was elected President of the Chamber of Commerce in Batavia, IL., my primary goal was to make the organization run more efficiently than it had been for years. I moved to cut the Board from 20 down to 11 members. Then I required that all events and activities of the Chamber have a budget. Surprisingly, that was a new policy to everyone. When it was all said and done, we’d also created all new marketing materials for the Chamber and provided a guarantee of a prescribed set of services to all members that helped increase the membership.

 All those could be characterized as policies indicative of a Conservative mindset. Cutting staff or representation to a manageable size, reducing waste and increasing accountability and finishing with a financial cushion, all are in line with a conservative approach to business. 

Fairness

My personal liberalism primarily enters business when it comes to issues of fairness. Because I believe, like the conservative entity known as Chick-Fil-A, that it is not just important but a requirement  “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

At one point during my career in marketing, the organization where I worked had built a reputation for sexual harassment. A few lawsuits had been filed and won against the company. One day while riding back from lunch with co-workers a young woman began relating to us that her boss had made multiple inquiries into what she wore under her work clothes, what type of relations she had with her boyfriend and other types of sexual innuendos. I took the step of networking through a friend in law who helped her find a lawyer to represent her interests with the company. She sued and won, then left the company. 

Was that a conservative or liberal action on my part? It was both. In truth I was protecting the company’s interests while protecting the interests of the young woman subject to the harassment. I did not take matters into my own hands but providing assistance to legally assist the young woman find a recourse for her situation. 

Culture clashes

PaversBut the real issue for me was not just that young woman’s situation. The company maintained a culture of harassment in many other ways. The President made frequent statements that were designed to intimidate and offend for purposes of control. “Bring in the Design Fairies,” he once blurted while meeting with a group of creative directors. Comments like that were not complimentary to the staff, as if they were magically endowed with the ability to solve creative issues. Instead he regularly issued statements devaluing the talents of design staff, intimating that their sexuality had much to do with their station in life as lowly designers.

That rankled my liberal instincts on so many fronts it was tough to keep composure sometimes. 

Religious blows

Even bosses trying to be the pillar of conservative values can blow it sometimes as well. One director at a media company issued a written statement titled The (Company) Way, The Truth and the Light. A number of employees raised concerns that he should be using a biblical construct in the context of company policy. There was enough rumbling among the ranks that as marketing manager I brought the concerns to light in a leadership meeting that week. The reception of this feedback was less than welcome, and when someone stapled a picture of Jesus to the company memo and sent it to the corporate headquarters, the director was determined that some heads should fall. He called me into his office accusing me of sending the memo. “No one can criticize my faith,” he blustered to me. “I go to church every week!”

Indeed he did. But it did not stop him from forcing me out of the company for bringing up the issue in the first place. My liberal instincts toward free dialog and problem-solving had gotten me into trouble once again. 

Public opinion

When I accepted a job as editorial writer for a major newspaper it was with joy and expectation that we debated issues on a weekly basis. My fellow staff writers were long-experienced journalists with a highly objective bent earned from years of street and business reporting. We criticized each other’s work, which ultimately had to pass muster with the Publisher and Editors, a strong mix of leadership with both liberal and conservative views. 

We also edited for space the writing of both conservative and liberal columnists including the likes of George Will and Ann Coulter. Tasks like that help you learn to appreciate the constructs of the arguments they make, and find ways to make sure their columns do not suffer for the editing. 

Balance

So it has been with a critical eye that I have proceeded in my career while examining the conservative and liberal facets of society. We need both. But we need a balance. 

Yin and yang symbol.

That much I learned as a member of the highly conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. For 25 years our family attended services and I served on the Board, taught Sunday School and led activities for that church including 5 years in the Praise Band translating music into theology. At one point I led a search committee for a new praise leader and set some parameters for the committee at which some members bristled. “We’ll meet one hour, once a week,” I told them. “And we’ll get our business done.” 

In 8 weeks we had vetted the criteria, interviewed candidates and made a selection from amongst 8 different praise musicians. And then we waited. And waited. It took the church another four months to approve the choice. The conservative opinion was that we’d actually proceeded too quickly in doing our business. “We need time to think,” I was told. And then the backroom meetings began. It was as if the entire search enterprise had to be done all over again. Finally the hiring of our candidate was accomplished. But the experience left a sour taste in the mouths of all on the committee including the Pastor Emeritus, a 60-year veteran of Missouri Synod pastoral duties who proclaimed, during one of the meetings, “This is the best committee on which I’ve ever served.” All were in agreement.

That success was undercut by a suspicious, highly conservative worldview that believed itself better able to do the job than the committee elected to perform its duties.

Pounding fists

I’d run into that kind of logic before at the same church. We’d gone to the congregation twice already with budgets that were approved for construction of an addition using money donated by a wealthy member who died and left her fortune to the church. The church board was worried the congregation needed to hear the whole story again. I pounded my fist on the table and barked, “It’s already approved. We need to move forward.” The Pastor pulled me aside the next Sunday and thanked me for having the courage to speak up. We built the new addition and moved forward. It wasn’t a risk to do all that. We’d already done all the work necessary to guide and improve the plans.

So that raises an interesting question: Was I too liberal for wanting to move forward rather than remain stuck in our cycle of constant equivocation? I’m not afraid to take risks. I’m not afraid to propose creative ideas. I’m not afraid to pound my fist on the table and demand progress, productivity and accountability. 

Consideration

photo (1)I do however respect and appreciate the need for review and consideration before action. That’s why I like the foreign and domestic policy of our current President, Barack Obama. He thinks about what he does before doing it. Our country has not embarked on any new ideological war games as a result. Supporting that kind of conservative, considerate approach makes me a liberal according to some. Some call it namby pamby wimpass liberal stuff. I call it intelligent reasoning and a moderate approach to international challenges. The forces we’re fighting in the Middle East have been there for 800 years or more. We’re not going to solve them overnight. That’s not conservative or liberal. Flailing around for quick solutions is just dumb. We’ve already tried that and look how Iraq turned out. 

So it disturbs me that some people might sit out there in judgment of my political views as too liberal when in fact they are much more conservative in nature than liberal. I think the same way about the environment and conservation. Protecting the earth is a conservative, not a liberal thing to do. 

Liberal faith

I also think that way about matters of faith, where social justice and working to provide equal rights to all comes first. That worldview aligns precisely with the biblical truth of Jesus Christ. From what I’ve read––and I’ve read the Bible cover to cover several time over, studied it groups and read hundreds of books on the topic o faith–– my liberalism aligns with the core truths of all religions except where conservative ideology steps in to make rules about how to live and who to tolerate. That’s an ugly form of conservatism that has led to Nazi Germany, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and the KKK. Not all conservatives are extreme of course. But it does makes me wonder why anyone is willing to call themselves conservative without first taking a close and studied look at what that means now and what it has meant in the past. Even the conservative wing of the Catholic Church has been repeatedly wrong about things, including the position of the earth in the solar system, for one notable mistake. 

Conservative consequences

When you examine what so-called modern conservatism has wrought the last ten years it makes you wonder why anyone would be proud to call themselves conservative at all. Or perhaps they’re not really getting their point across to the people in power. The Bush administration ran amok with wars and de-regulating the economy, reducing taxes and pushing constrictive policies on American education. Conservatives seemed to say nothing about all that. 

Yet when the economy tanked thanks to all that reckless behavior it was liberals who stepped in to mop up the mess and put things back in order. We’re not out of the woods by any measure. The economy could still tank. But that’s not a product of liberal policy. That’s a product of refusal to change or require accountability of organizations acting out of control in the financial world. That world is still run primarily by financial conservatives who bristle at governmental intrusion. 

Holdouts and bailouts

What was the first response of banks and lending institutions following the economic crash? They refused to lend money even to successful businesses. That was not some liberal scheme. In fact some wondered if it was a conservative punishment doled out in response to the election of a supposedly liberal president. 

That President bailed out the auto industry and put strict controls in place to restore and revitalize American auto companies. Those were highly disciplined, conservative measures to require accountability. 

Ageless principles

IMG_6475So I simply don’t buy the idea that it is my responsibility to apologize for my liberal background and beliefs. I also don’t buy that I’m too old at 57 years of age to be a contributing member of society or a business leader. Most of our Presidents and business leaders don’t become CEOs or leading politicians until their 50s and 60s. 

Yet we’re told all the time that we have to hide our age on our resumes lest a company be discouraged from hiring us. I say bullshit. It’s not my problem that my experience and my creativity are at an all-time peak. Some companies don’t want to hire people like me because they think people my age too expensive compared to hiring some younger candidate. I’m all for that too, if it fits the bill. But from an employee’s perspective you can’t buy experience or learn how to effectively apply creativity to creating business solutions. That comes with time. 

And do we actually think we can hide our age in this day and age? Do we think hiring managers and HR directors are so stupid they can’t do a simple Google search and find out when you graduated from college? Give. Me. A. Break. 

So-called “Age-Proofing” your resume is a game no one should play. The companies and hiring managers that use age as a determining factor in hiring are literally breaking the law. Do you want to work for a company that willingly breaks the law as a matter of its business practices? That’s the question and the challenge we should be putting to all businesses. Why do you think its okay to carry on with those practices when they are against the law? 

3C Creative Content

So I’m running my own little business now and it’s going okay especially because I’m able to purchase reasonably priced health insurance thanks to Obamacare. I’m even improving my policy some now that the company is moving forward. I wanted to do this years ago but couldn’t because my wife had ovarian cancer and we could not buy insurance on our own because her pre-existing condition precluded us from doing so. Obamacare changed all that. For now. 

Because we hear all kinds of conservative politicians threatening to “roll back Obamacare” if the Senate goes Red. But do they know what they’re really talking about? I don’t think so. The liberal convictions of that law are providing safety and security in health care to millions of people. Society has not collapsed since the law was installed. In fact millions of Americans including small business owners like me––and I employ my 24-year-old daughter as well––can now get health insurance and run their business without worrying that they can’t get insured. 

To me that sounds a lot like the American Dream and the American Way. Which is liberal. Defined as: 

  1. broad-minded: tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others
  2. progressive politically or socially: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual
  3. generous: freely giving money, time, or some other asset

Yet we hear advice all the time, “Don’t be too political” or “Don’t discuss religion” online or in public because people won’t hire you if you express your opinions. I say that’s an insidious form of new censorship. It’s not why I’m alive. Or you. Or anyone. This is America. Expressing opinions is healthy even if they’re wrong. That’s the only way you learn. 

Do you want an employee who just sits there in company meetings and refuses to contribute because they’re afraid something they say might appear stupid or be wrong? That doesn’t help anyone. And do you want an employee who kisses your ass simply to get ahead or do you want an associate who can challenge you to better things, better ideas and better profitability? All those are liberal, not conservative instincts. And they make better employees. 

Liberal lectures

So you can lecture me all you want about how liberals like me don’t fit into the business world. You can tell me I’m told old (though I can likely kick your ass on the bike and in a race…can you do a 12:00 two mile?) or getting slow or “too set in our ways. 

What a load of fucking crap. Never in the history of the human race has there been a generation of people more willing to experiment and redefine themselves, learn new technology and adapt to circumstances. That extends from the youngest kids in the workforce to the oldest. Everyone’s learning. The only ones unwilling to learn and change are those too conservative to try. That’s why I’m a liberal too. 

True Convictions

I believe that Jesus loved people like me for the willingness to take on injustice in the workplace, to respect the time of others and to make decisions with a conscience clear of political ramifications and conniving conservatism. Jesus hated all that rot and told the Pharisees to go choke on it. 

They hung him on a cross to try to shut him up. But somehow things didn’t work out that way. His liberal, radical message of spiritual creativity lives on to this day. It is ours to keep it alive in the face of those who think rules and power and control and money are more important than knowing love, and loving life. That includes loving what you do in the workplace. 

I’ve written a book about the process of loving life, and living it well in the face of considerable obstacles. It’s called The Right Kind of Pride. It focuses on what it’s like to get through cancer as patient and caregiver. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about the balance of conservative and liberal instincts that make it possible to thrive. 

I’m always going to be proud to be a liberal. Life has not made me more cynical or apt to hew conservatively as if being cranky and controlling is the sign of a more realistic outlook.

If being more open-minded yet practically focused exclude me from doing the job for you, then it’s your loss. I know for a fact that I can do a great job on anything I set out to do. I’m confident of that, and I’ve proven it, and no amount of supposed discouragement can keep me from moving ahead. 

The Genesis Fix.

Who are my mother and brothers?

Mark 3:33 New International Version (NIV) 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

By Christopher Cudworth

It is not often preached from the pulpit that Jesus so profoundly emphasized the isolation of the human condition. In 50 years of cognizant Christian worship, I have not heard this isolation emphasized with much clarity or conviction. It is too lonely a piece of scripture upon which to focus. It can frighten believers and frighten away possible converts.

The power to stand alone is important, but not the point of Christianity.

The power to stand alone is important, but not the point of Christianity.

Yet the Bible clearly shows that Jesus, and God especially, want us to know that to be human is ultimately to be alone.

Part of the plan?

Of course that is what Christian fellowship is designed to conquer. And the Kingdom of God is created here on earth to prevent this form of isolation. From others. Even from oneself.

Yet the undeniable message of Mark 3:33 is this: Even your family and friends can and will let you down. God alone is the ultimate solace.

This isolating message is likely ignored in the Christian church because it flies too near the methods used by cults to trap people into wicked devotion. The famously devious method of some network marketing organizations is to have you try to sell and recruit your friends into the organization. But people are repelled by such efforts. Those who see the folly and the scam are legitimately repulsed. Yet a desperate soul often tarries on, convinced perhaps of possible wealth if only friends and family really understood the potential in the scheme.

The ultimate effect of network marketing schemes is that they can divest people of their human network. Then the “organization” or whatever you want to call it (some call it “my business”) has you dead to rights. Because once you have scared off your friends and family, the network marketing organization (or a cult) sets out to replace that network with whatever they tell you is vital and true.

Who are my mother and my brothers? 

How does that compare to Christianity? To the example set by Jesus in saying, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

We can take another example from the Bible to examine the issue of isolation. Just before he was taken into captivity by a calculating band of priests from the very faith he had come to fulfill, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.

Mark 14:32
Gethsemane ] They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Of course we know how that segment of the story comes out. His disciples, who are depicted in the Bible as often failing in tasks of devotion and understanding, cannot stay awake while Jesus goes to pray. They fall asleep and when Jesus returns, having prayed to understand the very life he would soon give away as redemption for all, finds his devoted friends asleep on the job.

The deeper meaning of disappointment

It happens often to all of us. People disappoint us. We disappoint other people. And look at the word structure of that word, “disappoint.” To dis-appoint is to disassociate, or to send away either by intent or by mistake.

Jesus tries to warn us that disappointment is a big part of the human condition. Our failures are characterized by many as our sins, or our almost predestined capacity to sin.

Sin is the ultimate isolation from God. It is what separated the proverbial Adam and Eve from God in the Garden of Eden. Another garden. Another time. The garden is supposed to be a place of consideration and worship, our connection to stewardship and creation. And yet here we have two biting examples in the Bible where a garden is a rife example of disappointment. God disappointed in Adam and Eve. Jesus disappointed in his disciples.

And what are we to make of the idea that the world can be such a disappointing place?

Friendship and fellowship

This message seems to run counter from the idea that our fellowship here on earth can be a salve for the soul. Well, it is not wise to give up on friendship and love so easily, now is it? Our relationships are clearly of great value in this world. Love is built around and in them. Our families are designed, both in faith and through nature, to be a sustaining force in this world. The friends we gather around us and trust are people in whom we find joy and support.

None of those truths is undermined by the example Jesus makes in both his statement about his mother and brothers or his disappointment in his disciples. Jesus is master not only of this world in the spiritual sense, but also of necessary hyperbole. His teachings are full of striking examples that cut through our perceptions of what human relationships really are, and what they offer.

Salvation

Our disappointment is our salvation, you see. Friends and family can and do disappoint us, just as we sometimes disappoint them. It is the isolating nature of the human condition to disappoint those we need and love the most.

But the real message of disappointment and resultant isolation is that God provides a model of unifying faith. Because to love is to forgive, even when our friends and family doubt in us, and disappoint. We trust in God because God trusts in us to make choices that reach across that disappointment to heal and forgive. God even asks us to love our enemies. That is a potent message if you want to understand the true “way of the world” through the eyes of God. You cannot ultimately conquer disappointment and isolation if you do not choose to love. You will be alone if you choose not to forgive, or fail in your devotion to a friend.

Yet when hurt comes calling, our natural tendency is to withdraw, pull back, and feel disappointment. We feel it so keenly we can begin to hate. Then we begin to seek targets for our hate because it becomes part of our nature. We look for the disadvantaged and the weak because in our own weakness and fear we want only to feel superior to others, somehow, so that we do not feel put down or pushed away from life itself.

The dangers of prejudice

Those are the foundations of prejudice of course. And of economic inequality, and caring not for the poor. We find the wealthiest among us susceptible to this isolating force of the “other.” Often that sense of disgust toward those we consider inferior becomes magnifying the more life seems to dispense fortune upon us.

Jesus recognized all this potential for prejudice, power and loss of imagination. Because imagining ourselves to be superior to others in any way is the ultimate sin, at least in the eyes of God. That is why Jesus told the wealthy to give away their riches and follow him. That is why it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to gain entrance to heaven. Wealth can be an isolating force.

It can, of course, also be an instrument for good. We see many examples of people who use their wealth for good. Even the robber barons of the early 20th century, who built monopolies and wealth beyond imagination through industry did turn around and do great things with their money. Carnegie. Rockefeller. The list goes on, and continues to this day.

So it is not wealth alone that is a sin, but wealth in some way that combines with isolation that God does not appreciate. Jesus broke through social strata and perceptions that people who were disadvantaged or different were somehow victims of their own sin. He also forcefully resisted the practice by priests of his day (and ever after, it seems) to turn scripture into laws that trap and hurt others. Jesus did not tolerate using God’s word for punishment and isolation. He would definitely not approve of the manner in which so many supposed Christians  use scripture to create false social and economic strata today. The practice of using literalism to ostracize gays and women, for example, is abhorrent by nature to Jesus. The idea that the Bible is somehow a scientific text would also be absurd to Jesus, who taught in organic parables using examples from nature to teach spiritual concepts. Jesus was no literalist. He was no fool, in other words. Jesus disliked the actions of fools like that.

And what do we find as a result of such actions today? An increasingly divided faith, in Christianity. It has been that way since the start, it seems, where zealots who wanted a literal earthly kingdom ruled by Jesus were “disappointed” to find that his kingdom was one of spirit, not earthly wealth and power.

The many kinds of wealth, and corruption

Wealth is relative, of course. One of the catchiest devices of certain political parties is to figure out how to make people feel like they have ownership or a stake in the result of an election simply by making people feel like they will “win” somehow if they cast their vote in favor of the party making the promises. Of course, people can often be found voting against their best interests, be they economic or even spiritual, and voting on a one-issue platform that hands over power to people who pretend to care but really do not.

So we see that it is at times the power of isolating people from their best interests that is the most powerful political tool of all. Politics is the ultimate form of network marketing. It is the cult of all human cults.

Cutting through the lies

Jesus cut through the lies to make us understand that disappointment and fear of isolation is our worst enemy. Yet he calls us to stand alone first, to accept and understand that with the love of God, the grace of acceptance, we are never alone.

So have the courage to stand alone, and not be disappointed to the point of isolation when your friends or family fail you, or your work environment seems poison, or the very church that you attend turns out to be a flawed human enterprise. All these things are to be expected. Jesus and God want us not to be surprised by events like these.

Yes, we can still love the world, our friends and ourselves if we understand that the kingdom of God is made from the commitment to love and forgive. Then we will find and know our mother and our brothers, our sisters and our friends. They will be drawn to us by our humility and our example of faith. That is how it is all supposed to work.

Are abortion opponents blaming government for their own failures?

A Word Cloud formed from a National Review email on abortion legislation. Click to view large.

For 25 years our family held membership in a conservative branch of the Lutheran Church. My wife was raised in a family that had been longtime members of that denomination, so we continued our membership in a church of that background near our hometown.

We got married and the baptized our children at that church. The pastor was a wise, theologically astute man who once delivered a sermon titled “Jesus: The ultimate liberal, do-gooder and bleeding heart.” We loved that man for his spirited advocacy for the true heart of scripture. The congregation built around his ministry was full of compassionate people with concern for others and a truly generous worldview. We are still friends and socialize with many of those families, but we left the church more than a year ago to attend a church that better fits our mainstream evangelical Lutheran theology.

Back when the beloved pastor who married us retired to become pastor emeritus, the church went through a series of fitful adjustments to the interim leadership brought in by the synod. The result was that the ideology and theology delivered from the pulpit became increasingly conservative and rigid. Through it all my wife and I kept asking ourselves, and others, does it have to be like this? But we hung in there. For years. And years. Because we loved the people who attended the church. Served on the Board. Sang in the choir. Confirmed our two bright kids and set them off in life.

We had 6 different pastors during that period. The one who finally settled in for a series of years is a good man who ministers to everyone in the best way he can. But he is most definitely a died-in-the-wool product of the very conservative synod where he attended seminary.

For example:

  • This synod does not accrue leadership rights to women in the church. Women cannot serve communion or be elders.
  • The synod passes down opinions on social subjects such as evolution (they believe it’s false) homosexuality (a sin, no questions asked) and abortion.

Recently I was asked to return to our former church to help lead the Praise Service as two of the lay-leaders were out of town. I gladly accepted and rehearsed with the singers and band, and everything came off well. Someone even complimented my singing, which really surprised me. I know my limitations.

It was also Sanctity of Life Sunday, and I knew what that meant: A predictably intense lecture on the immoral consequences of abortion.

The service began with a video provided by Tony Perkins, here shown in a linked video challenging President Barack Obama on conception issues. Perkins is the same fellow who says that environmentalism can be directly linked to abortion as a conspiratorial attempt to control human population He views all these activities as signs that the Second Coming is imminent, and that worrying about the earth is frivolous compared to worrying about your soul. Perkins is a modern day zealot with a lot of axes to grind. His pre-service video was a testament to modern production values and a black-and-white position on abortion that Pro-Lifers love to embrace.

Following the video, the sermon called for church members to vote for politicians who support so-called “Pro-Life” issues and candidates. The service clearly skirted laws governing churches and politics. Basically the entire service from end to end was one long political ad.

The pastor concluded his sermon saying that he recognizes there are other issues of importance challenging America, including a $16 Trillion debt, a struggling economy and other issues. But he stood firm with his statement that abortion remains the most important of all political issues because it is a “matter of life and death.” And that, in a nutshell, is how so many conservatives become one-issue voters.

Pushing women aside to get to their wombs

The so-called Pro-Life argument seems to see no problem shoving women aside to accomplish one goal, and that is to ban abortions of all types.

The official Republican Platform is essentially unforgiving toward any form of abortion, even in pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Pro-Life advocates like Todd Akin have gone on record making absurd defenses of conceptions caused by rape and other unwanted pregnancies, insisting that women have natural defenses against pregnancies resulting from rape. No medical science has ever determined such capabilities. Yet the determined zealots of the anti-abortion lobby seem to feel no compunction in making up such miraculous tales to justify their ideology.

And as a result, the entire manner in which conservatives continue to pursue banning abortion turns out to be a miscarriage of faith, politics and common sense. Here’s why.

The reason why abortions must be and are now legal

The reason why abortions are legal is to provide safe access to medically-performed abortions to all women who may need that service. The right to determine the need for an abortion remains the province of a woman and her doctor. Anyone who believes in the limits of the power of government should agree that personal medical decisions of all kinds should be made by the individual, and the individual alone. Injecting various forms of moral codes, especially from the various religions in America, does not promise any sort of clear resolution. To choose one religion’s moral code over another is a clear case of establishment of state religion, which is clearly banned by the United States Constitution. It is remarkable therefore that the Republican party that claims to represent the rights of liberty for individual decision-making should choose to swing so far to the left on the abortion issue.

Relative to the law, however, the Pro-Life movement claims that millions of women are getting “abortions of convenience,” thereby flaunting the purpose a law designed to protect women from unsafe and medically unsupervised abortions, a practice that prior to the Roe vs. Wade case put many a woman’s health at risk.

But we certainly cannot count on the fact that banning abortion will prevent women from seeking them. That’s why the government acted to legalize abortions, to prevent harm to women.

Pro-Life proponents make the specious and notably non-conservative claim that government is actually responsible for the number of abortions now taking place in America. Conservatives love to claim on one hand that government is an ineffective method of managing culture and society, yet at the same time they blame government for its effectiveness in encouraging women to have abortions of choice.

Which is it? Is our government really responsible for the number of abortions in America, or has someone else abdicated their moral duties and turned around to blame government for their own failures? 

Let us consider an idea. How are Pro-Life conservatives doing at the job of convincing women not to get abortions? Pretty miserable, it seems. An estimated 22 million women now choose to get abortions each year. If the Pro-Life message is truly compelling and favored by God, it is evident that those who claim to represent the urgency of that message have to do a better job of reaching women.

Is Planned Parenthood more Pro-Life than the Catholic Church? 

As it turns out, the people who are helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies include organizations such as Planned Parenthood, who work closely with women across America to protect and manage their reproductive health. Planned Parenthood provides important services like birth control so that women are not put in a position of conceiving children they are not ready to have. That is a common sense approach to preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Yet this practical solution to cut down the number of abortions in America is notably resisted by conservative politicians and organizations such as the Catholic Church, who claim that birth control itself is immoral and against the teachings of the Bible.

It is telling that a reported 97% of Catholic women ignore the directives of their own church. So it appears the so-called moral authority of the Catholic church is a patristic anachronism to which women members really don’t pay attention.

And they shouldn’t. With the ready availability of functional, effective birth control that can easily prevent unwanted pregnancies, there is absolutely no moral justification for telling men and women they can’t use it. The even more disgusting alliance with conservative Republicans who have demonized women for wanting access to birth control is evidence of mysogyny, a literal hatred and fear of women and their bodies that is being legislated into the laws of America by people who ostensibly should know better.

What Would Jesus Do tell us to do about abortion?

The Christ of the Bible never relied on governmental authorities to do the work of his ministry and of God. He would find the prospect of blaming the government for the number of abortions in America an absurd idea.

Jesus called on his followers to use love and their own keen energies and talents to reach people in need of help and salvation. If today’s so-called conservatives came to Jesus with their complaints about law and the actions of government with relation to abortion, he would chastise them for failing to see the real source of the problem.

One can almost hear Jesus asking these modern-day Pharisees: “Is the government your God?”

“No!” the conservative politicians and religious believers would cry. “We answer only to God above!”

“Then serve your God, and go to the people in need. Reach the women of the world before they face the hard choices they are making. That is what God wants you to do.”

“But what of the law?” conservatives might answer. “If we have the law on our side, our job will be much easier!”

“What of the law, indeed?” Jesus would ask. “Are you not trying to use the law to make up for your own failures? Is that what God would have you do? Blaming government for your own failures is no path to heaven. Changing hearts rather than changing laws is your true calling.”

Do you live in the City of Sanitary?

By Christopher Cudworth

City of Batavia Sanitary

While walking the dog on a Sunday morning before the newspapers were even delivered and a low sun was casting long shadows on the street, I stopped to let the dog have a sniff of something in the neighbor’s yard and found myself standing directly over a manhole cover. I looked down at the circular metal object and read the words, which said: CITY OF SANITARY BATAVIA.

Of course what the manhole cover was supposed to read was CITY OF BATAVIA, SANITARY

Those two short phrases seem to convey exactly the same thing. But in practice and reality, they might not.

Either way you read the words on the manhole cover, it is intended to convey its function as an access point to the sanitary system under the streets of Batavia, a municipality of approximately 30,000 people in northern Illinois.

But let’s imagine that it is no longer 2012, but is instead the year 2812. Language and culture have changed significantly over the last 8 centuries. English is no longer the primary language on Earth, yet translators are being assigned to study the hardiest artifacts of the past. The manhole cover and its confusing words survived the nuclear holocaust that wiped out most of North America’s population and left an entire continent nearly uninhabitable for more than 800 years due to nuclear radiation poisoning and pursuant destruction of habitation and resources. Such a grim scene, and hard to imagine in a way. But really, the present and the possible future all comes down to the quality of our ability to communicate.

The natural tendency of that English language translator in the future is to read the words on the manhole cover in logical order, as it says: CITY OF SANITARY BATAVIA. The translators therefore struggle to understand the meaning of this lost language, and particularly of the meaning of the words on the manhole cover. Was it intended to convey some message about the place called SANITARY or was it designed to communicate some aspect of a function called BATAVIA?

You see, language is a funny thing. It can be used to improve understanding in rationally liberal way, in full context. Or, it can be used to intentionally constrain meaning in a conservative way, and limit the context. Both have their legitimate applications at times. We know that historians have struggled with this challenge for centuries. That is why we have so many translations of the Bible because ultimately not everyone can agree on what the holy texts are meant to say.

Beyond translation there are issues of interpretation. Should we take the Bible literally or figuratively? Did Jesus actually say the things for which he is credited, or were his quotes and activities reconstructed to line up with a constrained view of the Christian faith as written 80-200 years after his death?

We now know the books of the New Testament are not arranged by chronology, so a judgment has already been made to place the Gospels before the writings of Paul, arguably the first Christian author. In some respects, that forces us into a viewpoint about primacy that some people might now consider conflicted by the arrangement of the books in the New Testament. Yet this prioritization can in some ways be viewed as vital to the history and meaning of Christian faith. Liberals might contend that the Bible should be reordered to reflect its true chronology, while conservatives would likely place their trust in the judgment of the ages.

If something so historically relevant as an entire religious tradition can be dependent on liberal and conservative judgements such as these, then we are certainly at the mercy of many other sources of disagreement over what constitutes accuracy and truth.

The liberal vs. conservative debate

Liberals and conservatives argue over the use of language and its meaning on every front. So let us begin by examine what liberal and conservative language really means.

The liberal use of language is defined as follows:

liberal: favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression.

Liberalism is therefore the pursuit of all possible meanings with respect to the course of comprehension. The ultimate determination of meaning may therefore require considerable study, even consulting with outside sources before full understanding of a word or phrase in context can be ascertained. This is largely the foundation for all academics, science and other forms of inquiry.

By contrast, a conservative pursuit of meaning in a word or phrase is by definition constrained to existing or traditional understandings as a starting point, with the resultant findings to be measured against prior knowledge. To be conservative is therefore defined as follows:

con·serv·a·tive disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc.,or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

The full reach of conservative thought includes the right to limit not only the liberal or contextual understanding of a phrase or idea, but is also known to aggressively limit information deemed likely to change the meaning of and idea, word, phrase or a passage as it has been tested over time. This is judged acceptable in conservative thought because it places its highest values on traditional sources as primary virtues, and established principles as standards or qualifiers against which change must be measured.

This is known as a conservative viewpoint, and in America it bears influence on everything from standards in education to Constitutional interpretation of law by the Supreme Court. Ironically some of the so-called “conservative” interpretations of Constitutional law passed down by a conservatively dominated court have resulted in highly liberal interpretations of issues such as corporate personhood. Such is the confusion of liberalism versus conservatism. This raises the issue of whether our existing understanding of conservative and liberal thought is really accurate at all, a subject we will pursue further in a moment, in context of so-called media bias.

Still, conservatism can be largely defined as a preoccupation with the defense of the original or traditional understanding of an idea while liberalism is in a constant search for multiple or possible meanings.

Principle challenges

The challenge in this game of defining meaning according to conservatives and liberals is how the scope and scale of meaning is allowed to be either constrained or expanded. That is where ideology or intent enters the picture when it comes to defining the meaning of a thing or an idea.

For example, if the image of the manhole cover were cropped (or constrained) to show only the words CITY OF SANITARY we would be left with an entirely different understanding of the object, as show here:

THE CITY OF SANITARY

Now the word BATAVIA is invisible. We have lost the complete context of the manhole cover as an object, and are left with, or presented only, that information that supports the idea that the City of Sanitary is an actual place!

Of course it is not. But the conservative or constrained presentation of information is a real phenomenon. It happens every day in the news. Conservatives blame the general media for a ‘liberal bias’ in presenting only news that favors liberal political policies while liberal blame media outlets such as Fox News for serving up news that is highly constrained to a conservative point of view.

We must further consider the definitions of liberal and conservative news to consider who is telling the truth in this situation, and why.

Liberal Media Bias

If only news stories that favor liberal politics are being shown or discussed on so-called ‘liberal media outlets’ that is very different than pursuing a truly liberal understanding of the news. All news, politics and government is democratic and fair only if it is transparent and provides full context for its constituents. The accusation of a “liberal bias” is most difficult to justify, however, if the problem is simply that the general media is indeed providing full information to support a story.

The selective fact that a conservative viewpoint considers the truth an objectionable deterrence to their cause is not, therefore, a truly liberal bias in the media. It is simply reporting the truth and letting the public decide what to think about what they hear. But the claim that the ‘liberal media’ may be choosing news stories that favor liberal politicians or policies can be determined through analysis, and in some cases this has produced contentions with merit.

It is a very subtle argument, however, because like a so-called liberal media bias, the dividing line between truly “conservative news” and conservative opinion are highly difficult to determine. If a plot to bomb an abortion clinic is reported on the general news but an act of eco-terrorism against a chemical company goes unreported by the general media, then that may indicate a choice based on politically liberal objectives. News editors make decisions every day to determine what news to present and report, and the formats of daily news shows allow such narrow space and time to fully present a story that decisions to cut or keep news stories is made every day.

Beaten at their own conservative game? 

But even if liberal media outlets are guilty of biased reporting, that is still a conservative or constraining choice of how to report the news. That is likely what conservatives find so objectionable. For years they have been beaten at their own game.

Which is why news outlets such as Fox News now attempt to level the playing field by appearing to conduct themselves as liberal media outlets, committed to reporting the full truth while in fact they are radically committed to a conservative approach to news reporting, and not by coincidence, favoring a conservative political viewpoint as well.

So there you have it. What appears to be a battle between liberals and conservatives is in fact a protracted fight over an overall conservative approach to reporting and presenting the news. The battle then, is not between liberals and conservatives as is so often presented, but between conservative methods of reporting the news.

Colbert exploits the ruse

That is what makes the comedy of a man like Stephen Colbert so hilarious. Colbert imitates the presentation methods of conservative media outlets while actually espousing and presenting liberal perspectives. The fact that these opinions about the news are force-fed through a faux Fox News filter is what makes the satire so funny. There is nothing Fair or Balanced about Stephen Colbert just as there is nothing Fair and Balanced about Fox News. It’s all just highly charged political information disguised as news.

Fox News, you see, excels at the City of Sanitary method of so-called news reporting. The company as a whole typically receives its marching orders on the choice of appropriate news topics and how to report on them from the very top where Roger Ailes, the chief network executive who built the American outlet for Fox News from the ground up, highly favors political conservatism as the solution to America’s problems.

His “news” staff is cleverly disguised as reporters and anchors when in fact they are positioned with a conservative ideology (and prescribed ‘talking points’) in place to constrain and deliver the information Fox News creates. It controls its messaging on a regular basis by taking a “closeup” look at news stories rather than backing up and providing the whole (and therefore liberal) context of the story. In other words, the difference between what Fox News does is the same as the difference between taking a look at the whole manhole cover that shows City of Batavia Sanitary as opposed to just showing the City of Sanitary image and using that constrained viewpoint as a jumping off point for political commentary.

Sanitized at Fox News

Fox News viewers seldom if ever get to see the entire context of a news story. Instead they are “sanitized” into thinking only about what Fox News presents as truth. It is hard to argue that Fox News is lying, exactly, because that they show on TV often exists as a “fact” just as the manhole cover actually does read City of Sanitary. But this “sanitizing” of the news is a grand deception of sorts, because it disallows context and essentially brainwashes viewers into a clipped understanding of the world and its activities.

Then the Fox News commentators like Sean Hannity further present these constrained, conservative media talking points to generate outrage over issues that have never been fairly presented. This radicalization of the news through constrained reporting and conflagratory discussion is the poison that has undermined true journalism in America.

The goals of sanitized news

Fox News has used its carefully “sanitized” views of patriotism, its jingoistic and flag-waving support for ugly and dangerous wars, its support of torture and covert aggression against nations around the world, and its advocacy for domestic policies and administrations that clearly have failed the nation and risked it very sovereignty in the process.

Insanitization of the news

We must therefore consider whether we should characterize the information presented by conservative news outlets like Fox News as the “insanitization” of news and information. It is literally as if the insane have taken over the media on all fronts. It is no longer possible or profitable for media outlets to engage and invest in liberal news reporting. The news cycle and competition for viewer attention is so tight and self-fulfilling that companies who attempt to present news in its full context are losing out to aggressive competitors like Fox who sound byte everything through the insanitization of the information presented. The American public can no longer even identify or understanding news as it is defined in journalistic terms. The insanitization of news and information has cut attention spans and comprehension among consumers to a bare minimum. Viewers now prefer the City of Sanitary to the City of Batavia Sanitary. “Don’t bother me with the facts,” the public seems to say, “Just tell me what I need to know.”

Screw the fact-checkers = Ignore the truth

In 2012 the Mitt Romney campaign boldly proclaimed that it won’t be constrained by “fact checkers.” This is a precise expression of the insanitization of information.  Think about what politicians like Romney claim they are entitled to do: They are running a campaign where the truth literally does not matter. Yet 40% of Americans will support a candidate who makes no claim to represent the truth? That is insanity. But that is exactly the strategy of the conservative brand of thought. Through sanitization of information and turning the truth against itself, people can be convinced to believe that what you are saying is “more real” than the truth.

Think of the manhole cover. Think of think of the City of Sanitary. Is that where you really want to live?

Sanitization: It’s a religious tradition

This is nothing new, of course, under the sun. Religious groups have for years blindered believers with literal interpretations of scripture and controlled their belief systems with law and practices that even Reformation and revolution have not erased. The result is a society where 50% of Americans still believe in a literal Adam and Eve and refuse to comprehend even the slightest truth in the theory of evolution. This is the insanitization of religion just as politics and news have been distorted and contorted. Conservative religion rather precisely limits its believers understanding to the City of Sanitary level. In fact it likely goes a step further, focusing only on the word SANITARY with claims that true believers must sanitize themselves from recognizing equal rights for gays and women, or associating with environmentalists or tolerating other faiths.

Meanwhile the Muslim faith is engaged in the very same sanitization and insantization of its ideology, producing radical terrorists engaged in a fight to impose Muslim law in otherwise democratic societys and engaging in an ideological fight with Christianity that produced the Crusades.

A walled city under a siege of misinformation and fear

The City of Sanitary is a walled city that behaves as if it is in a state of siege. It promotes and feeds the fears of its dwellers. Indeed, fear and constrained thinking is the main and primary focus of its ideology, for fear is the factor that keeps its audience under control.

The City of Sanitary is therefore the most dangerous enemy of America, which fully depends on the liberalism inherent in its Constitution along with freedom of a press and a truly liberal media committed to full reporting– and not sanitization–of the news as a means to protect and defend America’s most precious freedoms, both liberal and conservative.

Anything else deserves to be shoved down the manhole of history.

RELEVANT DEFINITIONS

san·i·tar·y [san-i-ter-ee]  adjective

1.of or pertaining to health or the conditions affecting health,especially with reference to cleanliness, precautions againstdisease, etc.

2.favorable to health; free from dirt, bacteria, etc.: a sanitarywashroom.

3.providing healthy cleanliness: a sanitary wrapper on allsandwiches.

san·i·tize [san-i-tahyz]  verb (used with object), san·i·tized, san·i·tiz·ing.

1. to free from dirt, germs, etc., as by cleaning or sterilizing.

2.to make less offensive by eliminating anythingunwholesome, objectionable, incriminating, etc.: to sanitize adocument before releasing it to the press.

insan·i·tize [san-i-tahyz]  verb (used with object), in·san·i·tized, in·san·i·tiz·ing.

1. to purposely constrain information in a radical way as a means to confuse and obfuscate while claiming to speak the truth

2.to propagandize factual information by limiting its context, thereby avoiding the appearance of lying by being able to point to a portion of the information as demonstrable fact

2.to lie like a sack of shit and deny that you are lying despite all proof to the contrary, as in presenting your corporate brand as Fair and Balanced when it is anything but.

On why conservatives like Michael Medved like to call liberals “unhappy”

Does this man look happy, or just dumb?

For those of you unfamiliar with that grandiose milquetoast of conservative talk radio, Michael Medved is the part-time movie reviewer and full time political critic (or is it the other way around?) who talks his way daily through a confused ideology that says America is great while criticizing nearly everything about it.

Medved consistently espouses the tortured philosophy that religious interests in America, particularly those of the Christian faith, are under regular persecution. He also consistently contends that no policy with liberal roots is sufficient to serve the interests of America, even when those policies have been proven to have delivered the greatest periods of prosperity in America.

Simply put, Medved thinks conservatives are smart and politically keen while he thinks liberals are stupid and self-delusional.

To emphasize these points, Mr. Medved recently also stated that conservative people are consistently and legitimately more happy people than liberals, whom he branded as hateful and unhappy due to their constant dissatisfaction with the state of political, social and cultural “norms” in America.

Legitimate reasons to be unhappy

Poor Michael never seems to grasp the fact that advocating and agitating for social justice requires a bit of dissatisfaction on the part of people who stand up for the rights of others. Perhaps the reason for this major gap in his understanding is that Michael Medved himself appears never to allow a single liberal who calls into his show the opportunity to finish a sentence. He always interrupts them when he thinks it convenient (or vital) to protecting his own fragile worldview, which is pretty much based on one thought: that you, being a liberal, are always wrong.

Or, when he does (rarely) allow someone to talk, it is only in the interest of gathering what he thinks is fodder for ensuingly intricate explanations of what he thinks they meant, but in a very critical context, so that he can turn around and advocate a position that turns out to be a strange caricature of the caller’s actual intent. Then he tears that straw dog apart after bumping them off the phone. This is what Medved considers fair journalism in America, but it is much more like listening to reruns of the Don Quixote Hour.

Poor baby. Michael hates unhappiness.

Recently Medved grew so frustrated at his own ability to make a point that might actually stick in the minds of Americans he resorted to preaching a broader concept to make his point about conservative superiority. To do so, he simply blamed liberals for being the unhappiest of Americans.

That really is ironic, if you think about it. Because that form of unhappiness is often the sign of real patriotism in defense of the Constitution and human rights. Meanwhile blind allegiance to discriminatory social norms has been responsible for support of slavery, preventing the right of women to vote and fostered ongoing prejudice throughout society.Those are the definitely issues to be angry or unhappy about, and liberals still fight for all those causes, along with gay and immigrant rights, equal pay for women and balanced foreign policy instead of American imperialism.

By contrast you find an angry bunch of people in the Tea Party who are primarily unhappy over political issues that affect their own interests, which are pretty selfish in many cases while also siding with the Bomb the Muslim Bastards side of international policy. That’s how we wound up with two unbudgeted wars that bankrupted the country.

If Republicans really are “happier” people, as Medved contends–and liberals truly are the so-called “unhappy” segment of society, then perhaps it’s time to consider some lyrics from a Kurt Cobain song that seem to apply to why conservatives tend to be so happy even when things have gotten desperate beyond belief at times:

“Maybe I’m dumb…maybe just happy…”

Because while the GOP and Tea Party continually express anger and outrage over the policies of Barack Obama, liberals have busied themselves trying to make sure America provides a fair playing field for all citizens in aspects of taxation, health care, education, care for the poor and elderly. Those are indeed happy objectives, but they seem to do nothing but piss conservatives off.

Truth be told, it seems that conservatives really represent a dumb and unhappy agenda for America. Because right now America has a middle class that has been gutted by the effects of years of Republican policies in which the so-called “jobs creators” and richest Americans have been swimming in tax breaks for 12 years while the middle class waits for some of that accumulated wealth to trickle down in the form of better jobs and wages. It hasn’t happened, and rational people have come to the conclusion that it never will. The rich are simply too interested in holding onto their own money to care if the rest of America is thriving. Never mind that Americans can no longer sustain their own economy because no one has disposable income. The conservative mantra of “I’ve got mine” is supposed to represent the “bootstrap” glory of free enterprise. In fact it more often represents collusion by Wall Street bankers, predatory lenders and Ponzi flippers like Mitt Romney who exploit laws and loopholes to suck wealth out of the nation and hide it overseas.

Blaming Obama = Ignoring their own failures, and trying to elect new ones

But Michael Medved and his ilk like to keep blaming liberals for the sorry state of the economy. They especially like to blame President Barack Obama, whose name Medved can hardly breathe without spitting it out like an invective. But one wonders why, if Obama is so bad, the best that Republicans could contrive is the ambitious yetnvacuous persona of Mitt Romney, who can’t say two words without contradicting himself? The answer is simple: Obama really has done a good job, and Republicans have absolutely no one who could do better.

Think about it: Does anyone seriously think Romney is a wiser, more thoughtful and controlled person than Barack Obama? Whenever Romney is pressed with a hard question, he hides behind statements like these, “I always consult my wife Anne on the tough issues.” But who’s running for President, Mitt? And the first opportunity Romney had to travel overseas he could think of nothing better to do than insult the London Olympics organizers. Nice diplomacy, Mitt. And we’re supposed to trust you on wars, terrorism and economics? We think not.

Sure, Romney seems happy enough. He’s rich as hell. But the fact is he got there by raping companies of their wealth and dumping jobs like coal slag on a West Virginia mountain. Still, conservative talkers have to support Romney for the sole reason that he’s the opposite of Obama. That’s all they’ve got. But it’s like hauling a birch tree into the house on Christmas Eve and saying, “Well, at least it’s white!” Of course a birch tree will appeal to the Republican base, it seems.

Mitt Romney symbolizes modern conservatism exactly, because even he doesn’t really believe in it. That’s why his campaign made the famous “Etch-a-Sketch” statement. No one really believes in conservatism in its modern form because there’s nothing left of the core traditions that once drove the party. It’s all been replaced by extreme policies that have failed over and over again. The conservative “movement” has been in turn propped up by alliances with anachronistic forms of religious belief that no sane moral person supports if they are familiar with even basic modern biblical scholarship. The extreme crap filtering out about rape and contraceptives through the seams of the Republican Party is what really drives the platform, but they can’t admit it or they’ll never get elected.

It almost doesn’t matter any more what really gets said, because the entire package is propagandized as a brand of political fervor, more media-driven (Fox News) than politically substantive. We really need to look at so-called modern conservatism as a form of pathological disease that eats away at society like a flesh-eating bacteria. But there may be no cure.

Because despite its flagrant flaws, Medved and the like will play along using word games to make conservatism at least look pretty on the face of things, so that it sounds like the trailer to a really good movie––another Medved specialty––but don’t trust him in that category either. He’ll go on giving liberals “unhappy people” reviews because it assuages his guilt over having to represent the interests of a party whose script really sucks. There’s not even rational dialogue there any more, like it was typed by a million monkeys hitting random keys. The GOP is officially D-Listed with smarmy characters like Reince Priebus playing lead roles. It’s B-Movie stuff that all started with the King bad actor Ronald Reagan and has forwarded some really awful actors ever since, including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, neither of whom even qualified for the Nickelodean Slime Award in popularity.

Sticks and stones

Go ahead and call the liberals “unhappy,” Michael Medved. Because the more you do, the more you’ll illustrate why we actually should be unhappy with what the unholy trio of the Republican Party, the conservative religious right in America and the military/industrial complex all represent: the seemingly happy but really dumb side of America that will vote for anyone who says they’re on your side even when talking out both sides of their mouth.

Just watch Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. They are happy but dumb people who want you to be happy and dumb right along with them. But do not complain if they are elected an things really go to shit like they did in 2008. That’s when the other happy but dumb president George W. Bush flailed around trying to save America from a Depression. Meanwhile, millions of Republicans scrambled like rats trying to figure out how they were going to blame the incoming President for the mess they’d created. You’ve been warned. The unhappy liberals have America’s best interests in mind. The supposedly happy Republicans have their own interests in mind.

“Maybe I’m dumb…maybe just happy…”

How it all washes out

Men like Michael Medved have it all wrong, you see. They think we liberals are dumb. But really, we’re legitimately unhappy. And we won’t be happy until all the dumb Republicans with their phony smiling faces and vapid promise of trickle-down wealth are either removed or prevented from holding power.

Then we liberals will all be happier people, and all the smarter for it.