Dear White People: Stop Whitesplaining Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you seen this meme?

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For some reason, people who complain about “playing the race card” really love laying down this Black King…

Seems nice enough, right? I’ve seen a whole lot of people post this picture on social media. After the police killing of Keith Scott, the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina erupted in protest, and–as sometimes happens–some of those protests turned violent. Basically, this meme is saying, “Hey, black people… Cut that shit out! Remember Martin Luther King, Jr.? Remember what he said about non-violence? Violence never solved anything!”

Now, I freely admit–There was a time in my life where I would have posted this same meme. I am inspired by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I believe in non-violence… Not just because I consider myself a follower of Jesus and his clear, non-violent, enemy-loving call to his followers, but because I believe that non-violence simply works best. Violence, as a response to acts of violence, only begets more violence. It never fixes things–Not for long, at least… And certainly not if your goal is peace. That being said, over the past few years I have grown more and more disgusted at the phenomenon of white people bringing up Dr. King every time someone at a protest decides to throw a stone, trash a police car, or steal a television set.

So please–PLEASE!–I’m begging you, fellow white people: If violence breaks out at a protest… Before you post another ignorant meme featuring a picture of Dr. King, or quote that one line you know from the “I Have A Dream” speech, or (God forbid) spout some awfulness about “catching flies with honey,” please consider the following points:

ANYONE CAN SHOW UP TO A PROTEST. It’s not like there some sort of gate, and only people wearing special wristbands (showing they have been properly vetted by Black Lives Matter organizers) are allowed to show up. Anyone can show up. And if you have a few thousand people show up to a protest, even if 95% of them are non-violent, that can still mean a couple hundred people who aren’t… People who have seen one too many black bodies lying dead on a street, while the white guy who murdered nine black folks at a Church gets a bulletproof vest and taken out for some Burger King. And that kind of thing can make anyone angry… Maybe angry enough to throw some fucking rocks. The fact that EVERY black person in this country is not out throwing rocks as an act of protest is already a testament to King’s legacy of non-violence within the black community. They are not angry, as Congressman Robert Pittenger said, because “They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.” Watch below…

PROTESTS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DISRUPTIVE. They are meant to be seen. If a protest is going to be effective, it has to be visible… But if there is not a disruption, things don’t get noticed. Gather a few hundred people inside a Church somewhere to peacefully protest racial injustice, and see how many news cameras show up. Gather in a public park, and you *might* make the news… But if you and the rest of the protestors shut down a road for a short time, that might be the leading story that night (and then WATCH THE RACIST RESPONSES come pouring in). Ironically, even though most protesters want a non-violent disruption, the only time the national news seems to care is when violence breaks out… You better believe they are sending the cameras out for THAT. Then they sum up a four hour protest with a 30 second video clip of some kids jumping on a police cruiser, some tear gas canisters, and an officer face that got bloodied when it got hit by a stone that was thrown… As if that was what the whole protest was all about. The news doesn’t seem to care unless they can get a clip of a burning cop car.

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“We let you have a black president… What more do you WANT??”

IT’S NOT LIKE THERE IS NO REASON TO THROW STONES. Non-violence is great, but if you don’t think there is a really good reason for people to be angry enough to take a baseball bat to the window of police cruiser, you haven’t been paying attention. King’s voice was not the only voice in the struggle for civil rights. There was no consensus among the civil rights leaders of that era that non-violence is the only way to handle things. We literally white-wash how radical and disruptive MLK was. He was not well-liked by the white people of his day. In 1964, 63% of Americans said the civil rights movement “pushed too fast,” 58% said they thought “most were violent,” and 58% believed they “hurt their own cause.” There is a reason for the violence. A lot of white folks have closets full of guns, talking about being fully prepared to kill people because they think taxation is tyranny… Well, these people throwing stones are seeing video after video of unarmed black folks being gunned down. If I was out there protesting with them, and the anger toward the injustice all around us spilled over into violence against me, I would not be happy about getting my ass kicked… But I would sure understand why it happened.

THEY TRIED NON-VIOLENT PROTEST. YOU WEREN’T A BIG FAN… REMEMBER?

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Remember this guy? Guess who else “looted nothing, burned nothing, and attacked no one?” A little someone named Colin Kaepernick. I seem to remember that whole non-violent protest not going over so well. In fact, I seem to remember a lot of people losing their damn minds over him taking a knee during the national anthem, and I also seem to remember calls for Colin Kaepernick to take his unpatriotic ass out out of “our” country. But you can learn a lot about someone by seeing which things they are offended by and which things they aren’t…

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Cartoon truth, from Drew Sheneman.

 

Now…If–after reading what I’ve just written–you’re still incapable of understanding where “all this anger comes from,” and you feel compelled to tell people of color–people you don’t know–about how Dr. King would be disappointed in them, do me a favor, and just wait a couple days… This urge to “whitesplain” non-violence to black folks using their own hero will pass… Just as quickly as the memory of this most recent “Black Life That Didn’t Matter” will pass…

Can’t you feel it? It’s only been a few days since yet another black man was killed, and we’re already starting to not care anymore. Before long, we will have moved on to other things… Soon, Keith Scott’s name will get mixed up with all the rest… All the other Hash Tags. What was the guy’s name who was killed a couple days earlier, again? You know–the one who was shot while his hands were up in the air against that SUV? Crap, am I going to need to Google it already? OH, right… Terence Crutcher. It’s hard to remember. I find myself remembering the circumstances more than the names. You know, the one who was shot as he ran away? The one who was gunned down in a Walmart for holding a toy gun they sold at that Walmart? The one they choked to death for selling loose cigarettes? The 12-year-old kid who had a fake gun, who they shot before the car even stopped moving? The teenager who was shot 16 times and executed in the street as he walked away? The one they killed by giving him a “rough ride” in the back of the van? The Ferguson one… The one who got killed because the cop said he thought he was grabbing his taser… The one who got killed for selling CDs…The one who got pulled over for a broken taillight and wound up dead? There are so many, I can’t keep them all straight. But we want so badly to believe that we live in a just society… So  we try to justify their deaths by believing that it was something they did (instead of who they were and what they looked like) that caused them to get killed. If only they had just been more like Martin Luther King, Jr., right?

Regardless, even when someone with brown skin does everything right, there’s no guarantee he’s not going to end up getting shot anyway… Remember this guy?

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The man’s name–the one with his hands in the air–is Charles Kinsey. He laid on the ground, on his back, hands in the air… And he loudly and clearly identified himself as a therapist for people with disabilities, told the police officers that the man next to him was Autistic and one of his patients, and made sure they knew that the item in the man’s hand was not a weapon, but was–in fact–a toy truck. And he STILL ended up getting shot. The officer who shot him gave some conflicting testimonies, but he ended up landing on the explanation that he was attempting to shoot the man next to him… You know, the one with the toy truck. We found out recently that no charges will be filed against the officer who shot him, but luckily Kinsey lived.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Philando Castile. After being pulled over for a broken taillight, the officer asked him for his ID. As he was reaching for his ID, Philando disclosed that he had a gun that which he was licensed to carry… The officer yelled, “Don’t move!” and proceeded to shoot him four times. We probably wouldn’t even know his name, except that his girlfriend got on Facebook Live and filmed as the man she loved died in the seat next to her. Much like Keith Scott’s wife filmed as her husband lie dying on the street… Though strangely enough, the NRA didn’t really come to Philando Castile’s defense after he was killed for having a legal firearm… Maybe the NRA isn’t as interested in defending the 2nd Amendment rights of people with dreadlocks.

But we already knew that a black man can do everything right and still end up getting shot, didn’t we? Yeah, we learned that a long time ago…

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There is this disturbing double standard where nobody cares about a peaceful protest until some sort of violence takes place… At which point, people dismiss the just cause behind the protest based on the violence that took place. And they do this using the standard set by a moral superhero. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a moral giant. He’s a hero… But he’s THEIR hero, not ours. Listen very closely: You don’t get to use the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. to tell black folks how they should or shouldn’t act. Non-violence is NOT something which is demanded by the ones with their boots on the necks of the oppressed. Non-violence is born of strength and self-control and mostly love… but it is ALWAYS the choice of the person who is being oppressed. STOP BRINGING UP MLK EVERY TIME A PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT. Seriously. Stop. If you’re white and you want to help, start standing close enough to ones who are protesting that YOUR eyes are getting burned by the tear gas too. Loving your enemies is only possible when you could have chosen to punch them square in the face. When non-violence is demanded by the people in power, it just becomes more oppression.

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Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Real Reason You Hate Hillary Clinton

I know. I KNOW! You hate her so much. You have made that abundantly clear. You hate her so much that you are even willing to vote for an absolute dumpster fire of a person… But have you ever really given any thought to WHY you hate her? It’s fascinating to me. I mean, I get that she is not the most inspiring public speaker. And you’re pissed off about Benghazi and eMails… Even though I guarantee you that 98% of you have no idea whatsoever what you are actually angry about–let alone having any idea about the actual FACTS behind either of those issues. But what is it that REALLY gets under your skin about her?

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I’ve decide to decorate this post with actual items you can buy at Trump rallies. See if you can spot any sexism.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about today: Have you ever met a woman who named her daughter after herself? I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack the other day (as we have done most days for the past two months… Because it is absolutely awesome), and commented to my wife about how Aaron Burr’s wife Theodosia named her daughter Theodosia. The practice of naming a daughter after the mother is common in some cultures around the world, but it almost never happens in the United States… And yet it is perfectly normal for a man to name a son after himself. For a moment try to imagine this scenario: Let’s say you meet someone new. She is dressed for business, and she doesn’t seem super smiley. She gives you a firm handshake, and introduces herself as Trudy. You notice the little girl standing next to her, and you squat down to say hello. “And what is YOUR name, sweatheart?” you ask her, as she shyly hides behind the leg of her mother’s pantsuit. Trudy pats her daughter’s head and says, “This is Trudy.”

Now… I want you to examine the feeling that you would have as this scenario played out. If you’re anything like me, your natural (I feel like writing “natural” there, but I don’t actually think it’s natural. I think it’s something we are taught) learned response is probably something in the neighborhood of “Who does she think she is?” Now–if you can–ask yourself why you wouldn’t have had the same sort of reaction if you met a man named Brian (wearing a suit and not smiling very much) who just introduced you to his son Brian. Finally, here is the REALLY hard work: That feeling… The one I’m calling “Who does she think she is?” but encapsulates so much more… Does that feeling remind you of the feeling you get in your gut when you see Hillary Clinton? Does it remind you of how you feel when you hear her speak? Or see the way she’s dressed? Or watch her not smile enough in an interview when she’s being asked asinine questions?

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I feel like I’m being magnanimous when I assume that Trump supporters are just stupid instead of being straight up evil… Is that weird?

I had that same feeling. When Hillary Clinton tried to get universal healthcare passed during Bill’s presidency (and before I was somewhat aware of all of the prejudices inside me… All of the thriving racism and ageism and sexism and all the rest), I can clearly remember thinking “Who does she think she is? Nobody elected her… She needs to know her place!” And the interesting thing is that I don’t think that feeling about Hillary–that sense that someone’s getting a little too big for her britches–is limited to men. Not by a long shot.

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Nope, no sexism here. Carry on…

This idea–the one that says women are one way, and men are another–is not an idea which is given up without a serious fight. But the “expanding of human consciousness,” that IS something that is a natural process. It is the process of becoming aware of our prejudices… And being brave enough to question them. And as we go through that process, we feel we are wiser and more loving and more honest. Not more *than you* necessarily… Just wiser and more loving and more honest than we were BEFORE. And we want that for you as well, so we try to get people to see things differently… But those conversations rarely go well. Trying to explain how the subtleties of sexism are woven into the very fabric of our nation and culture is very difficult when you’re trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to see it. Some folks don’t yet possess the kinds of self-awareness needed to discover the subtleties and nuance of systemic problems… Especially problems to which they are complicit. To them, it just comes off as accusations of an overt offense. If I speak about the realities of sexism in the way our nation treats Hillary Clinton as a candidate, many of you hear me accusing you of hating women. “Are you telling me I hate women?!? I LOVE women! Don’t you DARE tell me I hate women… MY MOMMA WAS A WOMAN!!!”

This fragile, defensive, angry reaction to the truth that the world is more complex than you thought it was… This is one of the main things that slows down people “getting it.” Being told that there is something you “don’t get” is an offensive process. In the past, this process was sped along by the introduction of facts… Fact that were many times brought to us through journalism and science. But in an attempt to slow down the natural process of people “getting it,” people attempt to discredit journalism and even science as biased and false. For example, if you heard that unarmed black people are five times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white people, you might be nudged toward accepting that systemic racism is a problem within our police force. But if you can simply reject the data as being biased or even false, you can safely stay right in your comfortable, ignorant place. The other option is you accept the data as truthful, but you rationalize that it is truthful “for a reason.” “Yeah, unarmed black folks get killed more often by police, but it’s because they should have just complied. Or because they try to run. Or because their parents should teach them better. Or because they just naturally get in more trouble. Or because they’re just worse…” And this is the beating heart of white supremacy.

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All in good fun, right? Quit being so sensitive. Political correctness is killing America…

Another belief that slows down the progress of human consciousness is the thought that “We’re past that already.” This is the sort of belief that thinks racism is over because we elected a black president. If you believe the lie that a disease has been cured, you’re going to work a lot less hard to cure that disease. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected president, sexism is not just going to magically disappear either… In fact, if you look at what has happened since Barack Obama has been elected, the push back against the discomfort of change will likely make things worse for a while. Oprah being really rich disproves neither racism nor sexism. Did you know that it hasn’t even been 100 years since women have been allowed to VOTE?!? There are a lot of people walking around who are older than a woman’s right to vote. Women weren’t allowed to compete in the Olympic Marathon until 1984… Too fragile. And the ban on women serving in combat in the U.S. military was not lifted until 2013… You really don’t think that Hillary Clinton’s vagina is a significant part of the reason you are so triggered by her candidacy?

Please take a moment to read this post by Humans Of New York…

Some eMails were recently leaked between Colin Powell and a very wealthy republican donor. Powell calls Trump a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah.” In those eMails, he also had some things to say about Hillary Clinton. He says that “although she is a friend,” he was critical of her age, her greed, and her “unbridled ambition.” Think about that for a moment. When–WHEN?!?–do we criticize powerful and wealthy men for their AMBITION? In men, ambition is a virtue… Why does it suddenly turn into a vice when the ambitious person has a vagina? Trump is 70 (two years older than Clinton). He wears his greed and ambition around like a medal… And yet, people hate Hillary Clinton because they believe she “just wants more power.” Imagine–if you can–the possibility that Hillary Clinton has looked around and thought, “You know what? I think I’m the best person for this job.” The audacity, right?!? How DARE she? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?

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Just look at how “bitchy” that face is…

Or imagine the outrage if Hillary Clinton was on her third marriage, and this time she married a model who was 24 years younger than her… What is it that allows you to overlook that sort of action in a 70 year old spray-tanned man, but if you see it exhibited by a woman, it enrages you? A friend of a friend said, “America is way more sexist than it is racist… And it is TOTALLY racist.” I believe this is true… And not just because women weren’t “given” the right to vote until 50 YEARS after that right was “given” to black men. I believe it’s true because this election bears it out at every turn. We have an election between a very experienced and intelligent woman, and a man who is easily the most unqualified, offensive, and aggressively dangerous candidate in the history of this nation, and yet people are considering voting for him because “there’s just something about Hillary I don’t trust.” Or because you don’t like the sound of her voice. Think about the word “shrill” for a moment… Is that a word reserved for women? Maybe you’re just not used to the sound of a woman’s voice who is in a position of power… 

I don’t love everything about her. She’s too hawkish for me. I’m afraid that because of the sense that she isn’t “strong enough,” she could feel pressured into military action that will only make things worse. I don’t like the prison policies for which she is partially responsible. I think she’s too close with Wall Street and big banks. But even though these things are concerning to me, she has my vote. Do you know why? Because she is persuadable. She is competent. She is reasonable. She is a person who listens, and she considers other sides. She is not an ignorant buffoon who–when asked about who he consults on issues of foreign policy–would ever say something like“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” and “I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff.” 

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One side says “Trump That Bitch.” The other side says “Love Trumps Hate.” Which side are you on?

And in the midst of the deep sexism of this country (and the boys club that is Washington D.C.), she has had to work twice as hard to get to where she is today… All while smiling enough but not too much. All while wearing fashionable clothes that aren’t so fashionable she won’t be taken seriously… Clothes that say “I’m powerful,” but clothes that aren’t too manly–Even though “manly” is a synonym for “powerful.” All while enduring stupid questions and stupid criticisms with a smile on her face, because an angry woman is a turn off to voters. And if–while she is working twice as hard to be taken seriously (even though pneumonia)–she works herself to the point of exhaustion, it won’t be looked at as a sign of how bad ass she is… It will be taken as a sign of her feminine fragility. But she can’t ever let out the giant “SCREW YOU, YOU SEXIST BASTARDS!” that has no doubt been welling up inside her for 40 years because–again–people are freaked right out by angry women.

Well, I’m a white man–I can say it. SCREW YOU, YOU SEXIST BASTARDS! You act like you are upset about eMails… or the Clinton Foundation’s donors… or the four Americans who died in the attack on Benghazi… But what you are really upset about is that the person who wants to be in charge has a vagina.

Is this blog something that you value? If it is, please consider BECOMING A PATRON and giving a couple bucks a month. I usually write about 1-2 blog posts a week… that’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. I’d appreciate your support, and I think my wife would as well. My wife is the kind of strong, competent woman who laughs a bit to herself when I’m referred to as the “head of the household.” Much of the time, she is the one who gets things done, and I’m so thankful for that. When you give, you help legitimize the time I spend writing these posts… And that means a lot. Thank you.

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Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

FREE ADVERTISING: The Helpful Hardware Man… I Mean Folks

I’m not what you’d call a “Handyman.” I didn’t grow up with a dad who was particularly interested in teaching me about fixing things around the house. I was more of a “sitting on the garage floor, hitting things with a hammer” sort of kid… On a related note, it turns out if you fold a bunch of caps on top of each other and hit them with a hammer, you can make a really loud noise. When I was little, my interests were primarily in catching things in the ponds across the street, watching movies on HBO I probably shouldn’t have been watching, and playing video games… Followed later by playing sports, writing music, and trying to convince girls I was cool enough to kiss. Nowhere in this rigorous schedule was there any time for me to learn how to replace a garbage disposal, hang drywall, repair a leaky faucet, or fix an electrical problem.

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I just realized I don’t have an actual tool belt… But Christmas is right around the corner.

But like many of us do, I got married and bought a house. And like everyone who has ever bought a house learns, things in houses break. Now… There are some folks who–when things break–have “people” who fix those broken things. I am not one of these folks. I’m the guy who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but tries to do it himself. I’m not sure how I became that guy., but the reasoning for my own attempted foray into the role of handyman is not that important. It could have come as a result of newfound home-improvement ambition, a lack of money to pay a repairman, or a good ol’ fashioned Dutch sense of “I’m not going to pay someone for something I can do myself” (Though it was probably some sort of combination of the three). All of this to say, buying a house has led me to discover a place that I genuinely love: ACE HARDWARE.

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This is basically what it’s like when I go into Ace.

So here’s the deal: I’m not going to make some impassioned plea for people to stop using “Big Box” stores and do all of your shopping locally. There are a lot of good reason to buy locally, but I realize that, for many people, spending more money on an item just because it makes you “feel good” is not a luxury many of us have. I am not going to try to guilt you into shopping a Ace Hardware based on some sort of Anti-Walmart, “Big = Bad” philosophy. I sometimes shop at Walmart, even though I don’t feel very good about giving them my hard-earned money. I don’t particularly enjoy spending money anywhere, actually, but Ace Hardware is one of the few places I feel genuinely good about handing my cash over to. Here’s what I AM going to do: 1) I’m going to give you a few really good reasons to spend your money at Ace Hardware, 2) I’m going to tell you a quick story about me being a dip shit, and 3) I’m going to ask you–especially if you’re a person like me, who is trying to figure out this home repair stuff as you go along–to give them your business.

Reason Number One–The people who work there actually seek YOU out.
The people who work there are friendly, and that is worth a lot. You can be in Lowes or Home Depot for a good half hour without having an employee so much as even make eye contact with you. When you walk into Ace Hardware, someone is looking to help you. There have only been a couple times that I have ever walked into that place when I have not been immediately greeted and asked how I could be helped. All of those times the employees were helping other customers… And even then, I was acknowledged, and they said they would be right with me.

Reason Number Two–They do more than they have to.
They don’t point you toward the right aisle… They TAKE you to the right aisle, and then they make sure you have the right tool for the job. This has saved me so much time. I have had salespeople give me their cell phone number so that I could send them a picture of the issue I am having at home. Everyone on their staff is so knowledgable, but if there is a question you have that the salesperson in unsure of, they will take you to the person who DOES know. All of this extra service leads to the third reason…

Reason Number Three–They will save you money.
I know some of their prices are a little bit marked up compared to Home Depot or Lowes, but in the long run, you will SAVE MONEY by bringing your business to Ace Hardware. An example: I brought in a valve from my shower that was leaking really bad… fully expecting to have to buy another one. The salesperson could have just showed me where the replacement valves were (about $20), but instead, he asked to take a look at it. He took it apart, explained what was happening, and sold me a 38¢ rubber washer that fixed the problem. After I hugged him, he probably wished he would have just sold me a new valve. And yeah, you probably could have bought that washer for 32¢ at Lowes, but it would have taken you 4 minutes to walk to the area you thought it was in, 7 minutes to get the attention of someone working there, 8 minutes to find the washer, and a half hour to make the trip back in to the store after you get home and figure out you got the wrong size.

Reason Number Four–They know what they’re talking about.
And here’s the story of me being a dip shit. Earlier this year, I went in to Ace Hardware looking for help. In the “Help Area” (did I mention there is a help area?), Shannon (one of the guys who helped me in the past) was helping an older lady figure something out. Even though there was a woman who worked there standing nearby, I positioned myself next to him in that “I’ll stand here and wait for you to get done helping this other person, but I call dibs on next” posture that I’m sure they’re so familiar with. Shannon noticed me waiting, and he said, “Hey. Kay should be able to help you.” “Do YOU think you can help?” I condescendingly asked. I proceeded to talk to Kay like someone I didn’t expect much from… Complete with an actual “I’m not sure if you know what I’m talking about or not.” Like a dip shit… Like a total chauvinist dip shit. I guess I must have missed this commercial in 1982.

Within moments, Kay had made it clear that she had probably FORGOTTEN more about home repair than I would ever learn in my lifetime. She was an expert, and she sent me home with specific instructions of what to look for, and ended up saving me probably $15 and 90 minutes of my time. This is Kay:

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I don’t know who you are, but I’d be willing to bet that Kay knows more about hardware than you do.

When I came back in, this time I waited for Kay. I thanked her for her expertise (the kind of expertise that knows the brand of plumbing fixtures they probably used in your neighborhood), I confessed that I looked past her and expected less of her because she was a woman, and I asked her to forgive me. She said, “If I had a dime for every time some guy walked in here and overlooked me because I am a woman, I’d be rich.” She told me stories about customers saying things like, “I’ll just wait for one of the men,” just to have that male employee come to her to ask for her advice… Because she’s been doing this for 27 years. She told me stories about teaching women how to repair broken toilets their husbands couldn’t fix, and then–when their husbands got home and asked how she got it working again–telling the wife to say nothing more than, “I fixed it. It’s not that hard.”

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This is NOT Kay. What… Doesn’t everybody take selfies with the folks at their local hardware store???

All of this to say–I LOVE Ace Hardware. I should mention that the store I love the most is the Tusculum Ace Hardware in Nashville, but I know that there are other great stores around as well. You go in there and get a short college level courses in home repair, you get friendly, knowledgable, “measure twice–cut once” people who are eager to help, and you even get lessons in the lurking patriarchy still buried in your own heart… All for the price of slight mark up over Home-Stupid-Depot. And even a dope like me, who didn’t know the first thing about fixing all the crap in my house that breaks, can feel confident–between YouTube videos and the friendly folks at Ace Hardware–that I can fix just about anything that goes wrong with my house.

I don’t advertise on my page… I don’t get paid to, at least (you can probably see some small ads under this paragraph, but those are how WordPress is able to offer this site for free). I’ve been wanting to do some free advertising for a while, and I kept putting it off. Every once in a while, I’m going to do these “free advertising” posts about things I think are awesome (The next one will probably be about Darn Tough socks–The best socks in the world). Anyway, if you love yourself some Ace Hardware, feel free to share this. Or, if you love yourself some The Boeskool, you can BECOME A PATRON and help support me. If everyone who regularly reads my stuff gave $2 a month, that would be way more money I could spend at Ace Hardware.

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Christians ~ Want Fewer Abortions? Vote Democrat.

It never fails… If you talk with a Christian who is planning on voting for Donald Trump, inevitably the topic of abortion will come up. And the reason for this is clear: On a daily basis–often multiple times a day–Trump says things that are so starkly Anti-Jesus that even the most ardent conservative (who grew up believing “Christian” and “republican” were synonyms) can tell that this guy’s words and beliefs and policies are so directly opposite to the beliefs of a Jesus-follower that it seems intentional. He isn’t even trying. Even when he claims to be a Christian, he seems incapable of anything other than an self-aggrandizing, “I’m one of the best Christians” type of statement. He has put these confused “Christians” into a very difficult and awkward position–They have come to deeply believe that they are REQUIRED to vote republican, but to all but the most blindly ignorant, the republican nominee for president is Anti-Everything-Jesus-Stood-For to a disturbingly obvious degree. About everything except for one issue: Abortion. Well, before you go and do something stupid like voting for Trump, hear me out…

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“There has to be some form of punishment.” Only for women, I assume…

Now, most of you probably already know that, until fairly recently, Donald Trump referred to himself as “very pro choice.” But there is literally no way someone can run as a republican (and have a chance of winning) without calling himself “pro-life.” So here we are, with a morally repugnant man running for president, but Christians can still rationalize voting for him because of his newly acquired “Pro-Life” moniker. Just under 80% of white evangelicals report that they plan on voting for Trump–A bewildering and depressing number that signals the end of a lot of things… Not the least of which is the end of any value connected to the term “Evangelical.” And when people like myself challenge these folks by naming Trump’s ever expanding list of disqualifying statements, it’s hard to get out of those conversations without them bringing up their “Trump Card” (if you will) of Abortion. Every time it reminds me of when the dog from the movie “Up” sees a squirrel… “Sure, he has said some incredibly racist and sexist things, and his immigration plan is pure evil, and he has called for an increase of torture and even the killing of terrorists’ fam… SQUIRREL!! I mean, ABORTION!!”

But before you cast your vote for a man who is objectively the worst major party candidate for president this country has ever seen (and arguably one of its worst representations of compassion or humanity) just because he’s calling himself “Pro-Life, I have some numbers I’d like to show you. Since 1970, the Center for Disease Control has kept track of the number of reported abortions that have taken place in the United States. This information is taken from the CDC’s report on Morbidity and Mortality… and next to the numbers, you can see how the President’s “Pro-Life” or “Pro-Choice” stance actually affected the numbers of abortions for that period of time…

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This took me WAY too long to make. So read it…

I know that’s a lot of information, but please take a look at those numbers (by the way, HERE is the link to Nixon’s comments about abortion for biracial pregnancies). Also, it should be pointed out that in these last four years of Obama’s presidency, indications are that the number of abortions has continued to go down. When we have had presidents who support a woman’s right to choose, the number of abortions have gone way down. During pro-life presidencies, the numbers have gone up or stayed stagnant. If what you want is a president who is going to outlaw abortions even when some underage girl has been raped by her uncle, and the pregnancy is putting her life in danger, there are people you can vote for. But if your goal is fewer and fewer abortions, you should be voting for someone who is actually interested in changes in POLICY that give women better access to affordable healthcare, more access to birth control, and sex education that is more nuanced than “Don’t do it because Jesus.” And that person is NOT Donald Trump. You want fewer abortions? The numbers seem to suggest that you should be voting Democrat.

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Shyster.

But then, if you are considering voting for Donald Trump, in all likelihood you are not the sort of person who is particularly interested in “facts” or “numbers.” Still, some of you might look at the timeline I put together, and you might–even for the briefest of seconds–consider the idea that you’ve been shystered by people who told you “Vote for me, because I’m against abortion.” When really, there isn’t a chance in hell that they would ever get rid of abortion… Because abortion is the only reason someone calling themselves a follower of Jesus could EVER consider voting for someone like Trump… A liar and a bigot and a charlatan and a narcissist and a philanderer and a fake Christian who is using people’s religious convictions in order to make a power grab. And even though I doubt this is going to change your mind, I’m going to go ahead and push “publish” anyway.

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Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 48 Comments

The 7 Best Things About Colin Kaepernick Not Standing Up

In honor of Colin Kaepernick’s #7 jersey, here are seven awesome things about him not standing up for the national anthem…

1.  Another black person didn’t have to die in order for us to discuss racism. We get to talk (for a couple days, at least) about the racial injustice in America without yet another black body lying dead in the streets. It’s kind of refreshing to have this topic being discussed on Facebook without having to try to figure out whether or not the person (whose name just turned into a hashtag) DESERVED to get shot six times after getting pulled over for a broken tail light. It’s a lot easier on the conscience to demonize a rich black athlete who is trying to draw attention to racism than it is to demonize some poor unarmed black kid who got shot while running away police. So that’s one cool thing…

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I’m so sick of “athletes” feeling like it’s their place to speak out on political issues. Kids these days are so disrespectful… Not like back when America used to be “great.”

2.  You get to watch cognitive dissonance happen in real time. Guess which people are the most angry about Colin Kaepernick sitting down while the Star Spangled Banner was being sung. Yeah, yeah– I know… White people. That goes without saying. But WHICH white people? If you guessed “The Ones Who Want To Make America Great Again,” you win a shiny new imaginary medal that says, “I’m respected by The Boeskool.” Now, see if you can follow me here–And I’m especially talking to those of you who are reading this post because the title made you angry, and you’re really just skimming through while you are thinking up a really hateful comment: 1) Trump supporters don’t think America is very “great” anymore… So they want to make it great AGAIN. 2) A man sits down to protest some things about America he thinks aren’t so great. 3) You are filled with such outrage and righteous indignation, that you angrily wonder how some spoiled brat could be critical of the greatest country in the world… Nay. The Universe!

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Just so we’re clear: White sniper aiming his gun at police and federal agents? Brave Patriot. Black quarterback deciding to not stand during national anthem? Cowardly Traitor.

3.  We get to learn about the racist history of the Star Spangled Banner. I’ve read two really informative articles about our national anthem in the past 24 hours: One HERE by Jason Johnson that was written before this whole Kaepernick hubbub, and one HERE by John Schwarz that was written after. You should read them both. I didn’t even know the Star Spangled Banner had more than one verse. The third verse is quite a doozy. Here it the second half:

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

A lot of people know that Francis Scott Key (a slave-owner himself) wrote the song about the War of 1812, but most people don’t know that one of the reasons the British were successful in this war was because they recruited black men to fight for them in return for offering them their freedom… These were the “hireling and slave” that would shortly meet their doom in Key’s catchy tune. Turns out Francis Scott Key “supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.” Think about THAT next time you’re taking off your hat and hitting that high note…

4.  This awesome quote from an interview with Colin Kaepernick. Think about it:

“You have people who practice law and are lawyers who go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months, and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. I mean, someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people who have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.

Here’s the video clip…

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Dip shits ironically exercising their right to free speech…

5.  Getting to watch white people get really, really upset. I know… I’m sorry. But I have to admit, it’s a whole lot of fun for me to watch white people lose their minds. And–full disclosure–I’m white. But I can’t be the only one who finds white outrage fueled by faux patriotism at least a *little* entertaining, right? That is, if you can get past how truly tragic it all is… And you don’t let the startling ignorance behind it get you down… And if doesn’t gross you completely out when they pimp out pictures of soldiers who lost their limbs or their lives as examples of “real heroes,” instead of cowards like Colin Kaepernick… Hopefully, if you can get past all that, you can maybe giggle a little bit at the picture of a couple of white dudes burning an $85 jersey of a young man who DARED to exercise his right to free speech… You know, that same thing that gives them the right to burn his jersey in protest of him not being patriotic enough? On a side note, how much do you want to bet I can guess who these two are planning on voting for?

6.  Getting a great look at the REAL religion in America: Nationalism. People talk about “Separation of Church and State,” but this is really an impossible task when the true religion of this country IS the State. To test this out, sometime just give this a try: Say something critical about Christianity, and then see what kind of reaction you get. THEN, say something critical about USA. Suggest that racism is at the very heart of this nation. Suggest that maybe soldiers are dying for nothing. Sit down while everyone else is standing up… See what happens. See which act of criticism is truly out of bounds. But it makes sense, if you think about it. The State has the ultimate authority–The authority to kill. If someone claims to kill someone else “for God,” they are looked at as a crazy person, but most people seem to be just fine with killing state-sanctioned killings. Killing in the name of God? Crazy fanatic. Killing in the name of the State? Patriotic hero. But I better be careful… Saying this kind of stuff can get me in really big trouble, right?

7.  That hair tho… I’m serious. If I had that head of hair, I’d be running for president.

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So keep up the good work, Colin Kaepernick. Keep speaking the truth, even when it’s hard. Even when it triggers people’s white fragility. Even when people call you a coward for being brave enough to speak up. And even when it feels like you’re the only one…

Listen. I know you like this blog. And that’s awesome, because I like writing it. If you like the stuff I’ve written, you should share it with the people you know. And if you value my writing, you can support it by giving a couple bucks a month. If all my readers did this, I’d be able to afford to buy my kids fancy things… Like food. So BECOME A PATRON! Or give on PayPal. It’s easy, and all the cool kids are doing it.

 

 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 4) All Of The Above, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

When Christianity Becomes A Cult

Over the last few days, I’ve watched as some people on social media have attacked Progressive Christianity. And in doing that, they have attacked the Church community I am a part of, as well as attacking loved ones within our community as being “heretics”–A word I have grown to love. If you don’t know what “Progressive Christianity” is, I wrote a post about it (that you should probably read) called “Being A Progressive Christian, and Other Things That’ll Get You Sent Straight To Hell…” so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time here defending it. Basically, there are some folks out there who seem to get very angry if people start suggesting that God might still be speaking, or that God might be radically inclusive (and we should be too), or that we might not be saved by our right theology, or that our brains and science might not be enemies of faith, or even that God might be way better than we ever suspected… And when Christians who are very certain of their own “rightness” see churches like ours embracing questions, doubt, and uncertainty, they often feel like our very existence is a direct attack on the idol they have made out of their own certainty. And then the names start flying. Names like “Heretic.” Names like “Satanic.” Names like “Cult.”

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The only appropriate worship is the kind that looks as though you are on a deserted island trying to flag down a passing plane.

And I get why people feel so strongly about this… They have been told that people who don’t believe the same things they believe are going to go to Hell and be tortured forever (AKA, the “Good News”). So they are willing to brave the normally uncomfortable situation of telling someone he or she is believing “a lie from the Devil that is going to result in eternal torment” in the hopes that, by telling them this, that person is going to be saved from that eternal torment. These people use phrases like “scripture is clear” very regularly (even though those “clear” scriptures have resulted in roughly 39,000 different Christian denominations). They also freely accuse people of “creating a God in your own image” and “leaning on your own understanding” instead of the “Authority of Scripture.” Though they also seem to be impervious to the irony that people using their rationality and “own understanding” is exactly what lead to the Protestant Reformation that birthed their own religious tradition… There is a deep tradition within the Church of people using their brains to figure things out. Though, after they used their brains to figure things out, they usually like to attribute their conclusions to “The Spirit.” But whatever… Let’s not split hairs.

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If being in a cult means that I get hair like these kids, count me in!

So if you believe that when people believe the wrong things, they are going to get sent to Hell because of it, it can lead to folks being very passionate about converting people. But when you believe (as I do) that God is so much better than that, and that we are safe in the love of God–regardless of our sometimes errant theology–it makes “converting” people a lot less pressing. I’m not worried that if I don’t change your mind, you are going to burn in hell. Still, there is a place for defending your position… Especially when–as part of their conversion protocol–people are told that they are garbage, and not worthy of God’s love. I think that message is inherently harmful, so when I hear it, I’m going to speak up. I’m not saying that we are perfect, or that there is no such thing as “sin.” It’s clear that there is human brokenness all around us… What I am saying is that our brokenness is not too much for the love of God. And I realize that belief might be different than some of the beliefs you might have, but that is different than “Heresy.” That is different than “Satan-worship.” And that is certainly different than a “Cult.” So I’d like to address the difference between a “Cult” and “A Church who believes different things about God than you do.”

There are a lot of different characteristics of a “Cult.” I am going to make a list of some characteristics of a cult that I will be paraphrasing from information I got from the website of The International Cultic Studies Association (and the work of Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.), as well as from the very conservative Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, or CARM. It’s not exhaustive, but these are characteristics which appear on both sites.

  • Demanding unquestioned commitment to leadership and a particular ideology, belief system, and one idea of “truth.”
  • Questioning, doubt, or dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  • Exclusivity: Their group is the only group that gets it right.
  • An “Us versus Them” mentality. They build vehement opposition into the framework of their beliefs, so when people say “That makes absolutely no sense,” it is taken as validation of right belief. AKA, “If the world hates us, we must be doing something right.”
  • Controlling people’s thoughts, beliefs and actions with threats of curses, separation, and loss of salvation.
  • Isolating people from “non-believers.” If there are friends or family members who don’t believe, those people have to be cut out of your life.
  • Having “special knowledge.” If people start questioning issues based on reason or a differing interpretation, the leadership claims powers of special knowledge that comes from “discernment” or a heightened ability to “hear from God.”
  • The use of shame and guilt to control members.
  • Being overly focused on money.
  • Cognitive dissonance. They will avoid inconsistencies and logical impossibilities at all costs, and if they are forced to encounter them, they will explain them away by our inability to understand. “AKA, “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
  • Being preoccupied by bringing in new members.

There are many more cultish behaviors–shunning people, making specific demands about appearance, strict enforcement of gender roles, etc… I encourage you to read the lists yourself. But more than that, I want you to think about the list I just wrote above. Look at it again. I’ll wait… Does this list sound at all familiar to any of you?

Does this list sound like it’s describing a place that is embracing the process of people having doubts and uncertainties? Does it sound like it’s describing a place that has lost over half its members by making a statement of belief about God’s radical inclusivity? Does it sound like it’s describing a place that welcomes questions about the inconsistencies we encounter in the Bible? Does it sound like it’s describing a place that has given up the very useful threat of looming damnation in order to raise money and coerce people into lining up with their beliefs? Who DOES it sound like? Let’s say two people are arguing over what they believe God is like–One of them professes openness, inclusivity, strives for intellectual honesty, and is okay with dissent, while the other demands everyone adhere to his strict and specific theology, with non-believers going to hell… Which of these two people is more likely part of a “Cult?”

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I’m still waiting on my sister wives…

I want to leave you with a video of an amazing song by the band Gungor called “Us For Them.” I really hope you listen to the words… They are so beautiful and true. And if you’re feeling like the place you’ve been worshiping has some practices that might skew a little “cultish,” you have a sense that there is something more, and you want to find a place to come together with other folks and explore the mystery and wonder of the love of God, I have written a post called “How To Find A Church When You’ve Given Up On Church” that might be helpful. Or, if you’re in the Nashville/Franklin area and you want to visit a kick ass Church who is crazy about Jesus, but also gets some people really riled up by how good we think God is, you can come visit GracePointe. But mostly, I just want you to really listen to this song:

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I’m A Man, I’m A Christian, and I’m A Feminist

I have two beautiful daughters. I’m not bragging–It’s just the truth. Sure… There’s a beautiful son running around here somewhere too, but this post isn’t about him. Our older daughter (almost 12) is our firstborn, and she embraces that role very well. Our younger daughter (almost 9) is the baby, and she also does a pretty good job with that role. They are very different people. The oldest has decided she wants to be a goalie on her soccer team, and she was one of about 6 girls who played in a flag football league this past spring… When I coached the youngest in soccer, she seemed very concerned with how her hair looked, and she would sometimes cry and tell me she didn’t want to play if I tried to put her in as something other than a forward. My oldest believes in practical shoes… The baby dreams of high heels. The big one takes a light sweater into restaurants in case the air conditioning is on too high… The little one walks around followed by a cloud of glitter. Both of my daughters are beautiful in every way–And not in a “proud dad’s opinion” sort of way. They are objectively beautiful. But they are very, very different people. When we mentioned that the older one’s name meant “Princess” and the younger one’s name meant “Industrious and Hardworking,” our oldest said, “Maybe we should switch names.”

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This is a look with which I have become very familiar…

Anyway, it turns out I’m a feminist. And listen–If that bothers you, don’t worry… I remember the first time I heard a man say that he was a “feminist.” I was so–what’s the opposite of “woke?” Asleep, I guess?–I was so asleep that I couldn’t even process how that was possible. Somewhere in my head, I was probably thinking, “So… What, like… You’re gay, then?” But these 14 years of marriage to a strong woman, almost 12 years of being a father to a daughter, and nearly 9 years of being a father to TWO daughters have definitely distilled the feminism that was already inside me. But before I go on, let me tell you how cool my oldest daughter is: A couple days ago, I was talking a picture of two Lego figures… Because that is the sort of crap I do. One was a female Lego mini figure from a Harry Potter set, and another was a female mini figure from the Lego “Friends” series, which Lego has branded to be more for girls. I was taking the picture because it pissed me off that the regular Legos had the regular stocky, wide mini figures, and the “girly” Legos that are aimed at our daughters have really thin figures… With curves… And friggin’ thigh gap. I was going to make a post on my Facebook Page about it. Here’s the picture:

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This could really have been its own blog post. Also, it looks like Hermione might be getting ready to give that girl a little wand upside her head…

A lot of Lego mini figures have heads with two separate faces printed on them so they can have two different emotions. Hermione’s head was one of these… One face smiling, and the other with angled eyebrows and the corners of her mouth turned down ever so slightly. Our youngest took Hermione’s Granger’s little Lego head and twisted it back and forth, saying, “Look… Happy, angry, happy, angry, happy, angry.” The oldest looked at the “angry” face and said something that made me experience one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as a parent. She said, “Eh… Maybe she’s just concentrating.” I couldn’t wait to tell the world… But this is the sort of stuff that naturally flows from our oldest. She is the kind of person who naturally notices injustice, and then she very naturally  feels compelled to speak up when she sees it. I have no idea where she gets it…

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Maybe she’s just concentrating…

With all of our kids, we waited until the were born to find out the sex of the baby. From the moment our doctor looked at me and said those amazing words–“You have a daughter”–I have dreamed of the strong little feminist I was going to raise. Then we had a boy… Then we had another girl. I love being a father to daughters. In my head, I envisioned them rattling some cages and challenging the status quo. Sometimes, when I see inspiring YouTube videos and whatnot that are kid-appropriate, I’ll gather the kids around to watch it. A few years ago, I had them watch a video of a 12 year old girl speaking at a voting rights rally in North Carolina (the state which the Supreme Court just detailed how their recently enacted voting laws were aimed at suppressing the votes of people of color with an “almost surgical precision”). Here it is:

In case you don’t watch it, just know this girl is a rock star. She passionately called on youth to get involved, and reminded them that they can make a difference. So I’m sitting there on my couch–tears in my eyes–and I look at my sweet, powerful daughters, and I say, “What did you think about that?” The older one says, “That was really cool, dad.” I look at the younger one and ask, “What about you?” And she looks at me–straight-faced–and says, “That girl was wearing high heels.” And in my head, I cut to a Scrubs-esque cutscene where I shake my fists at the heavens and scream “NOOOOOO!” as the camera pulls back and I realize I’ve failed as a feminist father.

But here’s what I’ve come to learn– I haven’t failed. If there was any failure, it was in the fact that I came into fatherhood with my own expectations of what a feminist daughter needed to look like… Or simply what a daughter needed to look like. I had this warped idea that feminism was leaving behind all the things that seemed pointless and “girly” to me… But my youngest was ALWAYS going to be the sort of girl who loves “girly” and feminine things… And accessories… And glitter… And tiaras and “spinny” dresses and makeup and friggin’ high heels. This has always been who she is. From the moment she could stand up on her own, she has wanted a dress that flew out when she spun around.

This issue of feminism has come up a few times recently, with the Olympics being the catalyst. It started when I got so angry at those shitty Hardee’s commercials (which I have WRITTEN ABOUT BEFORE) with the barely dressed women talking about a “3-Way Burger” at 6:30 while my kids and I were trying to watch the Opening Ceremonies. Then I talked about it some more when I was interviewed on the “Same Differents” Podcast (You can listen to that episode on Feminism and other things RIGHT HERE… Or you can listen to another podcast I did with “Pancake House” about the creative process RIGHT HERE). Then it came up again as there were allegations of sexism in the way that the Olympics have been reported. But I suppose that kind of stuff is going to happen, right? It hasn’t been that long (less than 30 years) that they’ve even ALLOWED women to run in the marathon… Before the 1980’s, they thought it was “too strenuous” for those poor little girls–they might faint! So I guess it makes sense that there are still going to be headlines that put a man’s tie for second place in bigger print than a woman winning a gold medal, breaking her own world record, and crushing everyone else in the field so badly that she had to wait 10 seconds until the 2nd place finisher even touched the wall.

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Above: Nine year old Katie Ledecky getting a poster signed by gold medalist Michael Phelps. Below: Nineteen year old gold medalist Katie Ledecky returning the favor ten years later…

And–as often happens–all of these conversations and controversies bring me back to thinking about my own kids… My own daughters, and my own expectations for them. I wanted feminism to look like what I WANTED IT TO LOOK LIKE, but I think the point of feminism is that each of our daughters gets to decide for herself what being a girl looks like. Until fairly recently, for me feminism meant women leaving behind things which I considered “girly.” And in my own male-centric, male-dominant head, “girly” meant worthless. But feminism isn’t leaving behind “girly” things. Feminism is encouraging girls to discover who they are, and then equipping and empowering them to be that person with their whole heart… Whether that girl is a princess, or a tom boy, or walking around in a cloud of glitter, or fighting the power like my own little Hermione. And (as my wife reminded me) feminism is realizing that these things are not mutually exclusive.

“Young girls are told you have to be the delicate princess. Hermione taught them that you can be the warrior.”
~ Emma Watson

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It can look like a bikini, or it can look like long sleeves and a hijab.

Feminism can look like a lot of things. It can look like staying home with the kids, or it can look like being the breadwinner. It can look like being politically active, or it can look like not caring one way or the other. It can look like leadership, or it can look like encouragement. It can look like sensible shoes, or it can look like high heels (ugh… some of these are harder for me to write than others). It can look like Army boots and camouflage, or it can look like a spinny sundress, carefree, in the middle of an open field. It can look like cleavage, or it can look like a men’s sweatshirt. It can look like being emotional, or it can look like making fun of a husband that (some say) cries too easily. It can look at God as a good father, or it can look at God as a nurturing mother… Or it might not see God at all right now. It can look like happiness, it can look like anger, or it might just look like concentration… But whatever feminism looks like, it certainly doesn’t look like me, as a man, dictating what it “needs” to look like. It embodies all the magic and mystery and complexity that is humanity, and it doesn’t need your permission…

So here’s to women: To all their strength and beauty and wisdom. And here’s to your feminism and mine… To the ones who are just starting to think to themselves, “Wait, that doesn’t seem right,” all the way to the ones whose feminist fire burns as clear and bright inside them as the love they feel for their own daughters. To the Princesses and the Industrious, to the high heels and the sensible shoes, to the camo and the glitter and everything in-between… And still, at the same time, something tells me to be deeply grateful for voices like the voice of my oldest, who are able to look at female faces–faces that might seem angry to some… faces that that endure comments like “She should smile more”–and gently suggest the possibility that “Maybe she’s just concentrating.”

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Will The Rational Republicans Please Stand Up?

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Could you speak up? Because we can’t hear you…

I know you’re out there, but your silence is deafening. Enough is enough. Listen, I understand it can be hard–when you’ve identified as a republican for so long, and you hate Hillary Clinton so much–to stand up and say, “There’s no way in hell that I would ever cast a vote for Donald Trump,” but we’re going to need you to do that now. Okay? Because this stuff is getting crazy. You didn’t say anything when he insulted the Muslim family of a slain American soldier, you didn’t say anything when he shamed a mother for having a crying baby at one of his rallies,you didn’t say anything when he said that if his daughter was sexually harassed, he’d “like to think she would find another career,” you didn’t say anything after he joked about how being given a purple heart by a fan was “much easier” than earning one… And you really should have said something. But now it’s time for you to speak up now. I’m serious. Because this is not just about your tacit approval of the sexism, racism, and xenophobia that Trump represents and champions. That SHOULD be enough for you, but I get it–It’s not. But there are three things that highlight not just how amazingly unfit he is to be president, but how inherently DANGEROUS a Trump presidency would be.

RUSSIA

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Maybe when he said Putin wasn’t “Going into Ukraine,” he was speaking euphemistically.

A lot of people are at least a little bit aware of Trump’s man crush on Vladimir Putin, but most people don’t know that the extent of his relationship with the Russian strongman goes way beyond complementary tweets and shirtless horse rides… Trump’s campaign chairman is a man named Paul Manafort. Manafort has worked on many Republican presidential campaigns… As well as working for foreign dictators like Ferdinand Marcos and Mobutu Sese Seko. Another person Paul Manafort worked very closely with is former Ukranian president Victor Yanukovych. The U.S. opposed Yanukovych because of his close ties with Putin. So why does this matter? Because Donald Trump is a little too buddy buddy with Vladimir Putin. His campaign chairman also worked for a Putin puppet leader. Trump has said that “Putin is a better leader than Obama.” He said that Putin is “not going into Ukraine”–Even though, as George Stephanopoulos pointed out, Putin already went into Ukraine. And–perhaps most alarmingly–when the Republican Party had language in their official platform about providing Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons”, the Trump campaign insisted on changing that language to providing Ukraine with “appropriate assistance.” Now, normally I’d be just fine with taking steps away from “lethal defense weapons,” but that seems more than a little fishy for his campaign to insist on that. Especially when you consider what an itchy trigger finger Trump seems to have for using nuclear weapons. Which brings me to my next point…

NUKES

Joe Scarborough recently revealed that an unnamed source confirmed that during a foreign policy briefing, Trump asked THREE TIMES why–if we have nuclear weapons–why we can’t just use them. And listen… If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, it should. I have seen no better response than the response of former nuclear launch officer and national security expert John Noonan, who (originally in 20 tweets) wrote the following scathing assessment of Donald Trump as a leader:

“I cant get this in one tweet. So bear with me as I air some laundry here on Scarborough’s claim Trump’s interested in nuclear First Use. Pulled 300 nuclear alerts, 100 ft under the Wyoming turf. Job is serious and full of serious people. When we went into ICBM training, we went through a battery of tests and interviews. Are you sane? Are you willing to turn your key? I see how those might sound at odds. But the whole idea behind nuclear deterrence is that you don’t use the damn things. So I thought the mission credible and worthy. There are a hell of a lot of bad actors out there who have nukes. They are restrained only by our ability to instantly lay waste to them. The nuke triad, which Trump doesn’t have a clue about, has been the single greatest contributor to global peace for decades. You heard me. I dont know if Scarborough is telling whole truth here. Anonymous sources suck. BUT… if he is… buckle the hell up. Because Trump would be undoing 6 decades of proven deterrence theory. The purpose of nukes is that they are never used. Trump disagrees? This would be the single greatest strategic shift in US national security in decades. In a Trump Presidency, our foreign policy would be this: “Leave our alliances, fall back on a nuclear first use policy.” Does he understand just how F’ing dangerous that is? But what really concerns me, as a former nuke guy, is the idea of a narcissist walking around with nuclear authenticators. I could sit 100ft underground, on alert, knowing that the POTUS would not make me do my duty — not unless it was absolute last resort, but imagine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we were under attack or if it was b/c foreign leader said a mean thing on Twitter. The power is there to kill millions. Permanently alter the geopolitical landscape. It is a sacred, sobering responsibility. [The] Idea that nukes would be used, say over Raqqa or Mosul, simply because we have no more allies and it’s a simple, easy fix is nauseating. Simply signaling that you’re open to using strategic weapons as a tactical solution rewrites the rule book. Russia, China, others will respond. Nuclear deterrence is about balance. Trump is an elephant jumping up and down on one side of the scale. So damn dangerous. But geopolitics aside, I can’t get my mind off the young officers on nuke alert right now. Wondering if they’ll soon answer to a madman. And be asked to do a duty that should morally be asked of no human being, ever.”

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This is what happens when a clown has the nuclear codes.

I know that quote is long, but you should probably read it. The author is not just some guy… He was the national security advisor for Jeb Bush. I don’t want to take a page out of Trump’s own playbook (“Everyone be very afraid!”), but that is some legitimately scary stuff.  And not in a “Muslim’s are trying to instill Sharia Law” sort of way, but in a This man does not have the temperament to have the nuclear codes” sort of way… And that’s a wholly other level of concerning. But as dangerous as this is, I think the worst thing he has done is…

CASTING DOUBT ON THE VALIDITY OF OUR DEMOCRACY

The moment his poll numbers started to slip (as if they wouldn’t after saying some of the recent things he has said), he said MULTIPLE TIMES that he suspected the presidential election would be “rigged.” He said, “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” and later said, “November 8th, we better be careful, because that election’s going to be rigged.” Think about that for a minute… Three months before the election, and without any sort of proof whatsoever, the republican nominee for president is casting doubt on the validity of our election process. A man whose narcissism has made him so delusional that he actually believes he can say or do anything without any political consequences (“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”) is so completely stunned by the fact that his asinine comments are costing him numbers in the polls, that he calls into question the validity of one of the building blocks of this nation–Our democracy.

So where are you, rational republicans? Stand up and be counted… And not just behind the curtained privacy of a voting booth. I know there are some fanatics out there who no one has any chance of reaching… People who fly Confederate flags on their trucks, people who are convinced Obama is a Muslim, people who would happily elect the love child of Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler if he promised to put a pro life Justice on the Supreme Court, etc… But you’re not one of “those” kind of republicans. Are you? Don’t be afraid. It’s not like you’ll be the only one. FIFTY (that’s 50!) of the top republican national security advisors just signed their name to a letter opposing Trump, calling him “fundamentally dishonest” and saying he would make America less safe.” They said he would be “the most reckless president in American history.” You can read the entire scathing letter RIGHT HERE. Even the Harvard Republican Club said they are ashamed of Donald Trump, and for the first time since their formation in 1888, they have NOT endorsed the republican nominee for president. Again, you can read their startling disappointment HERE.

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I’d be willing to bet who these folks are voting for, and no amount of rational arguments are going to change their minds.

So we need to hear your voices. We need to hear the sound of rational conservatism… Because right now it seems like only the crazies are making noise. You might not think that he has a chance. But he does have a chance. Nobody thought he had a chance to win the primaries either. He doesn’t just need to lose–He needs to lose by a gigantic margin. And yes, he’s probably going to lose, but even if he loses, you realize just about all this stuff is being recorded, right? In the very near future, this period of American history will be looked back on as a very dark time. It will be seen for what it is: A time when our first black president revealed the thriving, beating heart of America’s racism… And the anger, fear, and nationalism that resulted almost led our nation to turn to fascism and elect one of the worst men our great country has to offer. And you’re going to be on the record, whether you like it or not. People are going to remember the ones who supported this man. And they’re also going to remember the ones who knew better, but decided to stay silent. It’s time to speak up.

If you value this blog, you can HELP SUPPORT IT. Susan White just did. Because she’s awesome… That’s why. Also, there’s PayPal if you want to leave a tip, or pay to “boost” a post on Facebook. Here’s me on Facebook. Here’s me on Twitter. And HERE’S something for you to read if all this election BS has gotten you down. Peace.

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We Are Better Than This

I’m so sick of what this election is doing to my soul. I actually LOVE people. I really do… I love humanity. I am a lover. Even the parts of us that are broken are still so beautiful… So filled with potential, and the capacity to learn and change and grow. These daily stories of one man’s brokenness would normally evoke a sense of pity in me, but this sense that so many people are championing the darkest parts of our humanity… It’s just so draining to me. It’s exhausting. It’s affecting the way I see people. I find myself feeling suspicious… Feeling disconnected. Wondering if the person I’m talking to is one of THOSE people… Who supports THAT person.

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I am a lover.

But I am not cynical. I am hopeful. I am a lover. Anger and suspicion and cynicism is not who I am. Those things are not who WE are. We are better than this. I am a person who believes we are BETTER than this. I am a lover, and I will say it as many times as I need to say it until I remember that it’s true. There are times when it is appropriate to point out how messed up something is… And there are other times when we just need to remind people (and ourselves) of the beauty of humanity. Even now, everything in me wants to make a case… I want to explain the absurdity of people who call themselves “Christians” supporting someone that… But this post is not about “making a case.” Not unless it is a case for the wonder and worth that is humanity. Unless it is a case for how truly beloved we are… ALL of us. We are loved.  And things like art and community and love and bravery and beauty and rational conversation and kindness and family–these things point toward a larger love in the world. They point toward a benevolent universe, calling us to realize our potential. Calling us to believe we are better than this. Calling us to trust that we are safe and loved. It can be easy to forget…

This morning I found myself (as I often do) staring at a computer screen through giant tears, as I watched a man reunite with a brother who he hadn’t seen in four years. He was overcome with joy… And a moment later, as he turned around to see his mother (who he hadn’t seen in TEN years), the beauty of it all was just too much for him. Please watch him crumple to the ground. And remind yourself that we are better than this. Remind yourself that you are a lover. And that you are beloved… Beloved with the same sort of love that can send a grown man to the floor at the sight of the face of someone he loves so dearly. Please watch this. Even if you watched it before, please watch it again.

Watch him drop his keys and take his hat off. Notice the way he grabs his brother’s head so he can see his face. Consider the fact that you don’t need to speak the same language (or vote for the same person) in order for the love in that room to change your heart in some small way. Listen to the sounds of happiness coming from the one who is recording the video. Let this man’s smile and his tears wash away the cynicism of the 24 hour news cycle. Take a deep breath, and remember that you are a lover. Remember that we are better than this.

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At Church this past Sunday, everybody’s kids stayed for the whole service. The kids were greeters, and they took collection, and they even helped with Communion. While our children’s pastor gave the message, kids meandered onto the stage with her. And it was just like humanity… Messy and beautiful. At the end of the service, she read a prayer that was from a liturgy from the Iona Community. Here it is:

With the whole church:
We affirm that we are made in God’s image, befriended by Christ, empowered by the Spirit

With people everywhere:
We affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity, planted more deeply than all that is wrong

With all creation:
We celebrate the miracle and wonder of life, the unfolding purposes of God, forever at work in ourselves and in the world

It was so what I needed. Maybe you need it too. All I could think about for a few days were those words, “planted more deeply than all that is wrong.” YES. YES YES YES! We affirm God’s goodness. At the heart of humanity. Planted more deeply than all that is wrong. Oh God, help me to believe those words… Help US to believe those words… And when we forget them, Oh God, remind us. Remind us of beauty. Remind us we are loved. Remind us we are lovers. Remind us we are better than this.

It you want to, when you find more videos and stories that remind you there is beauty all around us, that we are worth it, that there is hope, etc… Maybe use the hashtag #WeAreBetterThanThis to make it easier for other people to find those stories on Facebook and Twitter when they need a reminder as well. Also, if you value this blog and want to help support it, YOU TOTALLY CAN.

 

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Where Have You Gone, John McCain? Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You…

John McCain

We didn’t know how good we had it…

Remember when the republican candidate for president was John McCain? God, what sweet times those were… Back when the choice was between two good people with ideological differences–Instead of what he have now: Where roughly half the country finds themselves defending the crazed remarks of a racist, bigoted narcissist on a daily basis… Or, more likely, just giving up on defending him and simply yelling something about eMails and abortion. Remember this moment?

The first part of the video, a man says that he is “scared” of an Obama presidency. Here are the words of an honorable man: “I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared [of] as the president of the United States.” After people start booing, he says, “I just… Now I just… Now look, if I didn’t think I wouldn’t be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn’t be running, okay?” What a strange, dream-like scene that is after a full year of dealing with tinted orange craziness.

John McCain’s father and grandfather were both four-star admirals in the Navy. In the Vietnam War, he was shot down over Hanoi, seriously injured, and he spent over five years as a prisoner of war, enduring different kinds of torture. He spent two years in solitary confinement, and his dark hair turned completely white. His captors knew about his powerful military family, and offered him an early release in 1968… Which he refused. He was unwilling to let himself be used as a piece of propaganda for the North Vietnamese. He remained a prisoner of war until March of 1973, and the injuries he sustained there still affect him today.

After John McCain said things that were critical of the orange dumpster fire we have running for president, Trump responded by calling McCain a “Dummy.” No joke. When asked if calling a war hero a “Dummy” was very presidential, here is what was said:

This contains the now famous line, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured… I like people who weren’t captured. I hate to tell you.”

Now, this tiny-handed Oompa Loompa is one-upping himself again by being critical of the Muslim parents of a fallen U.S. soldier. Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan, the parents of slain Army capt. Humayun Kkhan, spoke at the Democratic National Convention. You have probably already seen the video (where the father offers Trump his copy of the United States Constitution, and tells him he has “sacrificed nothing… and no one”), but just in case you haven’t, or just in case you want to watch it again, here is a clip:

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Trump’s response was to shamefully suggest that the reason Ghazala did not speak was because she wasn’t permitted to speak as a Muslim. Watch this sadness…

 

And here was Ms. Khan’s response to Donald Trump’s bullying… HE PROBABLY WISHES SHE HAD JUST STAYED SILENT.

The depths of his depravity seem to know no bounds. And once again, we are left longing for the sanity of John McCain. Here are the words of an honorable man, with whom I often disagree on matters of policy and direction for our nation. Please read them…

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.

I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.

Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.

Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation — and he will never be forgotten.”

And for taking this noble stand, he will probably lose his Senate seat… Where have you gone, John McCain? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Woo woo woo. And yet, here we are… Stuck in a dystopian nightmare, where the majority of the Church continues to make a case for electing this ass hat. Donald Trump is objectively unfit for the presidency, and he stands in stark contrast to everything Jesus stood for. Please hear me, because  I can’t say this strongly enough: Anyone voting for this man exhibits the same startling lack of shame and human decency that he displays on a daily basis. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I’ll leave you with the words of the the prophet, John. Oliver…

Thank you to everyone who supports me! An extra thanks today goes to Lisa T, who just started supporting me on Patreon. If you value my writing, and you feel like supporting me, you can BECOME A PATRON HERE, or you can give on PayPal. Also, check out Facebook and Twitter. And I know, I feel like a broken record the last couple of weeks. This stuff feels important to me right now. Please forgive me. I’ll get to some other stuff soon… Thanks again!

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments