How To Stay Out Of Disney World At All Costs: A Theological Allegory

“DISNEY WORLD IS THE GREATEST PLACE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!”

Christian told this to just about every person he met. He had never been there, but he had heard. He had seen all the movies, read all the books…

“I’m going there some day. It’s going to be amazing. It’s perfect. It’s PARADISE. Everyone is happy there… Everything is clean. Someday (by and by) I’m going to Orlando, and when I get there, I’m DEFINITELY getting into Disney World.  And once I’m there, I’m never leaving. I’m staying there. FOREVER.”

He was admittedly a “superfan.” Christian grew up with those movies. He grew up with parents that promised him he would see the streets of Disney World someday… If he just believed. It was just like Walt Disney himself once said: “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.” He even had that on a poster in his room…

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Editor’s note: Walt Disney might not have said this. Like Abraham Lincoln once said: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

And now that he was older, he raised his kids to believe the same thing. Someday–if they BELIEVED enough–they would get to go to Disney World. Be good… Eat your vegetables… Mickey is watching… The whole deal. He had Disney stickers on his SUV. He had a bunch of Disney T-shirts. Once a week, he would gather with a bunch of other Disney fans, and they would sing songs like “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” and “A Whole New World,” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” If you asked, he’d tell you that THIS time–the time BEFORE Disney World–wasn’t nearly as important as THAT time–sometime in the future–when he would actually get to GO to Disney World. Disney World… THAT’S what is REALLY important. Because Disney World is forever. It’s bliss. It’s paradise. To hear Christian say it, he couldn’t WAIT to go to Disney World.

Which is what made it so weird when he bought that samurai sword. 

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The reason you keep your samurai sword polished is so that you can see if anyone behind you is sneaking up and trying to give you tickets to Orlando…

I mean, sure… Samurai swords where perfectly legal to carry where Christian lived. And you could buy one just about anywhere. Some people had swords for fun–they didn’t keep them very sharp. Some people used them to slice cucumbers and carrots and cabbage. But when Christian purchased that samurai sword, and kept it sharp, and carried it with him, he did it for a very specific reason: To keep people from sending him to Disney World. Because if you tried to give him tickets and force him on a plane to Orlando, shove him through an Epcot Center turnstile, or send him or any member of his family to Disney World, Christian was more than willing to slice your ass in half with his samurai sword.

It just seems so strange… Why in the world would someone be willing to KILL a person to prevent that person from sending him to paradise? Something didn’t make sense. I mean, samurai swords are dangerous. People can get hurt by mistake. Sometimes kids get their hands on those swords, and that is NEVER good. Even little kids. For each week of the past two years, there has been one person sliced or killed BY A TODDLER wielding a sword, for goodness sake. And if we’re being honest, there is not really that much of a threat of people walking up to you and trying to give you tickets to Disney World. It is incredibly rare. So to be willing to endure all of the other dangers and downsides that come with carrying around samurai swords, just on the off-chance that he might meet someone who tries to give him Disney tickets, one could probably assume that Christian either a) Wasn’t as certain as he professed to be about how awesome Disney World was, or b) Wasn’t exactly “certain” that he was going to get in after he made it to Orlando.

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No worries. You get used to living with cognitive dissonance… 

Apparently, Christian was so afraid of being sent to Disney World that he was willing to kill people to keep from going there. Which seems at least a little crazy, but Hakuna Matata–at least it wasn’t TOTAL hypocrisy. At least Walt Disney didn’t command his followers to love their enemies. You know… like Jesus.

Hi. Thanks for reading something I wrote. I hope it made you think. Just as a post script, I’d like to mention that I don’t know what I believe about what happens when we die. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all speculation. Some people claim to be really certain about it… I don’t know about heaven, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is actually a hellish place where the majority of people go to get tortured for all eternity, then the only thing we can be CERTAIN about is that God is an unimaginable monster. If that’s what “Love” or even “Justice” looks like to the higher power in the universe, then we are all incredibly screwed. That being said, there are a lot of people who profess to be very certain that Heaven and Hell (as an eternal consequence) are both very real. Many of these people call themselves “Christians,” and many of these people carry guns. And here is something I will never, ever understand: People, who call themselves followers of a man who commanded his us to love our enemies, who are willing to send someone else to Hell to keep that person from sending them to Heaven. It doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. If you are one of these people, you should ask yourself how you make sense of this. And then let me know… Or you could read one of my favorites: Guns For Christians Are Like Condoms For Nuns

Lastly, I want to say thank you to one of my newer Patrons: Dale Peacock. Thank you so much. It makes me so proud that people I have never met care enough about this blog to help support it. If you’d like to be as completely kick ass as Dale, you can BE A PATRON. If you liked this story, you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. Or you can just share this post or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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Can We All Just Admit That Trump Is Mentally Unstable?

Seriously. How much more is it going to take? Hillary isn’t a threat anymore… When people are pointing out all of the dangerous and disqualifying things about this demagogue, you can’t fall back on your old, trusty “At least he’s better than Hillary” defense anymore. Hillary is out of the picture. Now? NOW can you start being honest about how truly damaged this man is? He is a champion of white supremacists. He is person with textbook Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He is a compulsive liar. He is unexperienced, unteachable, and unwilling to submit himself to actual expertise. Please take a moment and watch this video–Especially if you are a person who voted for him. There’s no policy, no yelling… Just some really important points that ALL OF US need to consider:

Please–PLEASE take a few minutes and watch this video. I get that this is one of those “The people who need this the most, won’t watch it” things, but please give it a chance.  If you voted for Trump, you probably don’t like Keith Olbermann… Heck, if you voted for Trump, you probably don’t like me either… But I promise he is respectful in this video, and he makes some very important points. With each new tweet, with each new day, with each new national embarrassment, we can all see that there is something very, very wrong with the man that was elected to be the next president of the United States of America. And as Olbermann says in the video, “To pretend that there ISN’T something wrong with him, you have to pretend really hard. And I know you can’t say it, and I know you don’t want to believe it, and I know you won’t believe this either, but I wish it were not true. But we have elected a man who is not. All. There. And that cannot end happily for ANYBODY.”

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A man of the people…

This is not an issue that is going to get solved by people (like myself) who have always opposed Trump… We are ALWAYS going to be making noise about the disqualifying things he says and does. The most powerful–the most important–opposition to Trump has got to start coming from people who voted for him. Maybe your decision to support Trump was purely ideological. Maybe you believed that Hillary Clinton was an absolutely horrible candidate–One so bad you you were willing to vote for an actual dumpster fire of a human being… A broken man-child whose behavior would be completely unacceptable in any middle school classroom–let alone the oval office.  Maybe you told yourself that Trump’s antics were just a ploy to get free press during the campaign, but now you are starting to see that he is actually not well. And now it’s becoming clear that he is much worse than a simple national embarrassment–His damaged psyche and fragile ego are putting us all in danger. It’s time to start loving America more than you love being on the winning side.

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“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” ~ The amazing Meryl Streep

I know there are people who are going to defend him no matter what he says or does. There are people who hate Obama and the democrats so much that they will side with a president who sides with a Russian dictator… They will defend a man who clearly mocked a reporter’s disability… They will overlook any number of lies they were told and the promises he has broken… But those people are not reasonable–They were never going to be swayed by a rational argument. We NEED the reasonable republicans to speak up. You know who you are–The ones who couldn’t bring yourself to support a man like this, but you were put in the awkward position of not being able to support Hillary Clinton’s policies either. The ones who see the hypocrisy of the Church rallying behind a dangerous demagogue like Donald. The ones who see the danger of this man’s vast immorality coupled with his fractured, fragile psyche. This is not about partisan politics… This is about kindness. It is about rationality. It is about empathy and honor and common decency… Not just for the president elect, but for YOU. 

I am so FREAKING thankful for all the people who support this blog. The Patreon campaign is only $50 dollars away from my first milestone. If you value this blog and my writing, and you’d like to support it, you can BECOME A PATRON. Or you can leave a tip on PAYPAL, as a bunch of really cool and generous people have done. Or you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, for even more fun stuff. When you share this on social media, people are exposed to the things I write. And I think that’s really cool, because I think sometimes I make sense. LOVE you guys!

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Three Reasons We Shouldn’t Kill Dylann Roof

I can’t think of very many people more deserving of the death penalty than Dylann Roof. He is a remorseless murderer… A demented and deceived white supremacist who walked into a historic black Church and took the lives of nine people who welcomed him into their prayer service. In his prison journal, this racist, hate-filled killer wrote, “I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed. I do feel sorry for the innocent white children forced to live in this sick country… I did not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I do feel sorry for the innocent white people that are killed daily at the hands of the lower races.” Even mentioning his name feels like a betrayal of the rules of common decency. He is a coward and a killer, and he is–without a doubt–one of the worst examples of humanity this world has to offer.

But that doesn’t mean we should kill him. Here are three reasons why…

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“There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically.” Sure there’s not, dude…

1. IT’S CLEARLY WHAT HE WANTS. And we don’t give people like him what he wants. The whole reason he decided to serve as his own attorney is because he wanted to assure that there was no attempt to portray him as mentally unfit to stand trial. Whether or not he committed these murders is not being disputed… In a death penalty case, basically the only thing that could save his life is an insanity defense. Normal people look at his actions and think, “Only a madman could do something like this.” But he wants to normalize his white supremacy, his hatred, and his horrific acts of violence… Even at the cost of his life. His self defense is yet another continued act of violence against People of Color. He wants to be a martyr for his shitty, diseased “cause.” Being killed is what he wants… And we don’t give murderous madmen attempting to start a race war what they want.

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This is on all of us.

2. YOU DON’T GET OFF THAT EASY. Not the killer… YOU. The reader. And neither do I. Dylann Roof is a reminder of the pure evil that is white supremacy. He is a reminder of the thriving cancer that is racism in the United States. He is a reminder of what happens when lies are passed along as the truth. He is a reminder of how wallowing in the cesspools of online Alt-Right hatred and bigotry can poison a person’s mind and soul. And what people would LIKE to do is to attach our nation’s sins to this young man’s scapegoat body, and send it off to die. They want to believe themselves when they say, “I’m not racist.” “I mean, sure–Maybe I don’t want my kids going to school with a bunch of blacks… Maybe I’m not super happy about THOSE PEOPLE moving into OUR neighborhood… Maybe I assume they deserve all those disproportionate police beatings… And killings… But I’m not like THAT. THAT’S what racism is! That guy needs to die.” Well, screw you, dude–You’re not getting off that easy. You don’t get to ease your mind with another sacrificial lamb. The horrific things he did–Those things are where racism leads. All this “Mexican rapists” talk, all this “moratorium on Islamic immigrants” talk, all this demonization of the Black Lives Matter movement… THIS IS WHERE THAT SHIT GOES! You think the Holocaust just “happened?” It started with nationalism, a fascist leader, blaming of “The Other” for all of society’s problems, and the tacit support of the Church. The thing that caused a young man to feel like murdering nine black people in a Church was “worth it” is POISON… But make no mistake–It is the same poison that has seeped into the Cabinet of our President Elect. You want to kill something? Kill the Dylann Roof in your own heart.

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That’s not photographic “red eye.” That’s just regular old evil.

3. IT’S JUST NOT RIGHT. I’m sorry. It’s not. We don’t bully people who bully people to show them that bullying people is wrong. We don’t rape people who rape people to show them that raping people is wrong. And we don’t kill people who kill people to show them that killing people is wrong. It doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. We have to break the cycle of this mythical concept of redemptive violence. You don’t reap love from more hatred, and you don’t reap peace from yet another act of violence. And it ESPECIALLY doesn’t make sense if you are a person who is calling yourself a “Christian.”

Now… It should be noted that I am speaking here as a Christian. And I confess that never in my life have I ever felt further away from that word–“Christian”–than I have felt since this past presidential election… Where people calling themselves “Christians” (I call them “Christianists”) delusionally elected a different brand of “worst example of humanity this world has to offer” as our leader. I am not a Christian like that. Not even close. I am so far from that brand of Christianity that I can barely even speak the same language anymore. It’s gotten to where if people identify themselves as a “Christian,” I assume we have more differences than similarities. But still I hang onto that word… “Christian.” I’m not sure why. For most of the church, the word “Christian” has been more important than the word (and person of) Jesus for a very long time. So, if this is your first time reading something I wrote, you should know that when I say “I am a Christian,” I am speaking as the sort of Jesus follower who believes…

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Love Is Love
  • Women’s  Rights Are Human Rights
  • We Need To Love Our Neighbors–And Muslims Are Our Neighbors
  • No Human Being Is Illegal
  • Science Is Not A Liberal Conspiracy
  • Healthcare Is A Human Right
  • We Need To Take Care Of This Planet
  • Global Warming Is Real
  • Social Justice Is Not A Dirty Word–It’s What We Were Made For
  • Government Is Able To Make Things Better
  • Easy Access To Guns Does Not Make Us Safer
  • Bad Theology Gets People Killed
  • The Idea Of An Eternal Hell Turns God Into A Monster
  • Journalism And Education Can Save The World
  • We Are Called To Love Our Enemies, And We Don’t Do That By Killing Them

But even if you’re not the sort of Christian who considers buying one of the bumper stickers above, there is no denying that Jesus declared an END to the old system of revenge, retribution, and “An eye for an eye” way of doing things. Listen… This thought–“He doesn’t deserve to live”–is exactly the thought that led to the shootings at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. People who follow Jesus are a people of hope… And the death penalty is the death of hope. When people wished hell on the Boston Marathon bombers, I wrote that You’re Not A Christian If you wish eternal torture on someone else. It doesn’t matter how evil the act–I do not wish death on him. It doesn’t make things “right.” It makes them even more wrong. And I don’t wish prison on him in the hopes that it will somehow be a fate worse than death either (as I’ve seen many people do). I do not wish him rape… or torture… or despair so overwhelming that he takes his own life. And I do not wish him a quick journey to the eternal fires of some mythical hell… I wish him restoration. I wish him redemption. I wish him re-birth. I wish him a renewing of his hate-addled mind. In this life, or–if there is one–the next.

I’m so very thankful for the Patrons who help support this blog (and with it, me and my family). If you value the content I create, feel free to support it by BECOMING A PATRON. You can also leave a tip on PayPal (or boost a post). Other ways to stay in touch are on the Facebooks and on the Twitters. It’s a new year. I’m glad to be back.

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Trump’s Picks: Look At All These White Dudes…

Here is a picture of the U.S. Line of Succession… The people next in line for the presidency if anything should happen to Trump. It looks like it’s going to be a White Christmas, y’all.

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On the bright side, at least it looks like there is one black guy in there… But I’m betting the Secretary of Agriculture is going to end up being yet another white guy. #SpoilerAlert

Trump is intentionally filling his Cabinet with administrative leaders who are wanting to destroy Government (like making Rick Perry Energy Secretary after he said he wants to eliminate the Department of Energy) and billionaires who stand to make even more money from their dealings (like Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobile CEO who is now fifth in line from the presidency). This is what “making America great again” looks like: Rich white men with all the power and making all the decisions. In comparison, here is a picture of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet:

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You might not be able to tell from this picture, but here are a few facts about these folks:

  • Half of the members of this cabinet are women.
  • The Minister of Science actually has her Ph.D.
  • The Minister of Health is a doctor.
  • The Minister of Agriculture used to be a farmer.
  • The Minister of Veteran’s Affairs is in a wheelchair after being shot in a drive-by shooting.
  • The Minister of National Defense is a Veteran. And one of three Sikhs picked.
  • The Minister of Transport is a freaking astronaut.
  • The Minister of Democratic Institutions is a Muslim refugee.
  • In a country far less diverse than ours, the diversity of Canada’s cabinet picks put our President Elect’s picks to shame.

Another thing–You might not have read it, but if you want a better picture of how royally screwed up Trump’s cabinet picks have been so far, please read WHAT I WROTE YESTERDAY. It’s more than just an article trying to convince people to draw Hitler mustaches on Trump’s face… But yes. It’s that too.

And lastly, here is a picture from textsfromsuperheroes.com. It’s awesome. It’s somehow funny and terribly sad at the same time… Kind of like 2016.

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You’re not the only one, Captain…

We’ve got to fight. We’ve got to stay focused. We’ve got to do more than hashtag activism. We’ve got to RESIST the feeling of powerlessness that the ones with all the power are wanting us to feel. Please call your representatives. Call your electoral college delegates (here are a list of their names). Call your senators. Fight. Focus. Resist. 

Also, you can SUPPORT, BOOST, SHARE, and TWEET this blog. Thanks.

 

 

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Making America Great Again…One Trump-Hitler Mustache At A Time

Here’s the thing: In a very short period of time there are going to be pictures of Donald Trump all over the place–In our airports, in our schools, in our post offices. Here’s what I’m suggesting: Carry a Sharpie with you wherever you go… And when you encounter a picture of Trump, take it out, and give his fascist orange face a little Hitler mustache. Hear me out…

Many of us are unsure of how to respond to the constant onslaught of horrifying Trump news that daily, steadily slides our way… Like a landslide of human waste. It makes me feel so crazy and gross. His team seems to have figured out a loophole in the system: If we are overloaded with awfulness, it’s really hard to stay focused. We can’t focus on one single story–one awful thing he’s said, one verifiable lie, one attack on our freedoms, one horribly unqualified pick for a cabinet position, one childish and disqualifying Tweet, one act of treason–when the next day he TOPS IT with yet another awful comment, another lie, another attack on our freedoms, another horrifying cabinet pick, another deranged Tweet, another story showing evidence of treasonous actions (as if there needed to be more than one). We are all feeling overwhelmed–Overwhelmed by Trump’s awfulness, but also heartbroken and reeling from the realization that there are so many people in this country who are embracing it… Some by actively defending it, and some by staying silent, even though they can clearly see what’s happening all around them.

Gone are the days when Dan Quayle misspelling “potato” or Howard Dean screaming in excitement were enough to nose-dive a campaign. I mean, this should have ended it…

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There’s no funny caption for this. Shame on you if you voted for this man.

But now we are living in a time where a man can say things like these sexist quotes written on these women’s bodies and still get elected. We are living in a time where a man can say that he gets to do whatever he wants to women because he’s famous, and brag about being able to “grab her by the pussy,” and still get elected. We are living in a time where the President Elect can get in front of a crowd and say this absolutely appalling bullshit about feeling nostalgic for the time when it was Time Magazine’s MAN of the Year instead of Person of the Year… like a common internet troll… to thunderous applause… Watch:

And three days later, we have forgotten that it even happened. We can’t even focus an appropriate amount of attention on it because tomorrow there is something even worse. Like the news of the expanding evidence showing Russian hackers influenced the election in favor of Trump… Something he acts as if they are just now bringing up. Even though HERE IS VIDEO EVIDENCE of it being brought up at every single one of the debates. I worked as a puppeteer for almost 10 years… I know a puppet when I see one. Watch:

There are actual republicans with integrity who see it as well:

He fills the news with names of people most folks have never heard of before… Picking people like Jeff Sessions (who was denied a Federal Judge appointment for being too racist) for Attorney General… Or Betsy DeVos (A billionaire and graduate of my alma mater who actively works to dismantle Public Education) for Secretary of Education… Or Linda McMahon (wife of WWE wrestling promoter Vince McMahon) as his pick for Small Business administrator… Perhaps it had something to do with the $6 MILLION she donated to his campaign… Or Scott Pruitt (a vocal climate change denier and long-time ally to the fossil fuel industry) as his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency… Or Andrew Puzder (the man responsible for all those sleazy and demeaning Hardees/Carls Jr. ads that fill our TV screens with Burger Porn while our kids look on) as his choice for Labor Secretary… Or Ben-Fucking-Carson (who himself–after running for president–admitted that he was grossly unqualified for a Cabinet position) as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I’m thinking it’s because the title has the word “Urban” in it…

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You can do it on photoshop too.

And now he names Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobile, as his pick for Secretary of State–Yet another billionaire, and a man with INTIMATE ties to Vladimir PutinA man who further compromises our national sovereignty with Russian influence. But just as people are getting upset over that, Trump will announce that Rick Perry is going to be Secretary of Energy. You remember Rick Perry… The one who wanted to get rid of three departments, but forgot the third one (and said, “Oops.”)? Well, the one he forgot was the Department of Energy. And if that gets to much heat, he will just go on Twitter and say something else that brings attacks and shame to our country’s standing in the world… That, or he will name Sarah Palin to head the VA. And just like that, people will be like, “What was that ExxonMobile guy’s name again?”

And the thing is, I am literally only scratching the surface of Trump’s awfulness, and I am straining to keep this post under 1500 words. On each of those examples I listed, I linked to articles backing up the things I was saying… But the average person isn’t going to click on all of those links. The sort of person who reads the articles that are linked to in an article like this is ALREADY the sort of person who realizes the extent of Trump’s awfulness… And the very real threat that he poses to the experiment that is America. The vast majority don’t get past the first couple sentences… They read the title, and stay just long enough to write an angry, ignorant comment. The kind of folks who voted for Trump are not big fans of explaining the complexity of situations… Trying to explain to them that they were duped by a bunch of billionaires into blaming the government, when that government is the only thing keeping the billionaires from taking whatever they want from us… That message has too many moving parts. They knew things in this country were messed up, and they responded to the simplistic message: “Make it great again.” And the working class voted for him… Never mind that his plan is to get rid of the only protections the working class had.

Well, I’ve got ANOTHER simplistic message for you: A motherfucking Sharpied-in Hitler Mustache drawn on every Trump face you can find. There’s no time to write, “I refuse to normalize the racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-gay, anti-worker’s rights agenda of this coming administration as they attempt a slow-motion coup d’etat of a country I believe is worth preserving” on every picture of Trump, but maybe you can find the time to draw a douchey little mustache on his douchey orange face. Maybe you don’t have time to write the words “Demonizing immigrants while championing white nationalism is one of the things that led to the holocaust,” but you probably have enough time to sharpie-in a fancy little Hitler mustache.

And people are going to be be like, “You didn’t see US defacing pictures of Obama.” Well, two things about that: 1) Yeah, we totally DID see you defacing pictures of Obama. And 2) That’s because Obama WASN’T an objectively awful human being. Like Donald Trump is… By any metric. Just awful. In every way. Horribly, horribly awful.

And you might be thinking to yourself , “Wait… isn’t that illegal?” Yeah. It totally is. But there is a big difference between “illegal” and “wrong.” There are many, many things that are legal and morally reprehensible. Slavery was legal. Jim Crow was legal. And there are plenty of things that are illegal and morally right. In some places, it’s illegal to give homeless people food. You know what else was illegal? Defacing Nazi Propaganda in Germany was illegal. It was illegal for Martin Luther King Jr. to march across a bridge. These are serious times… Some people are probably going to need to spend some time in jail.

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The person that put up these posters around Atlanta after Trump called for a ban on all Muslims did something illegal… Illegal and AWESOME.

And some of you are going to say, “Some Christian YOU are… Calling for defacing public property. And using the F-word.” Well, I don’t know what to tell you… Some Christians say Motherfucker… Get over it. And you know what else? In the Bible, when Paul speaks about Jesus and says, “There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved,” he wasn’t making a grand theological statement. He was actually responding–as many early Christians did–to a piece of Roman propaganda that said “There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved than CAESAR.” And early Christians–as an ILLEGAL act of defiance–were like, “Nope. I’m not bowing down to that calf. I’m not fighting in your army. You can lock me up. You can feed me to the lions…Caesar is not Lord. Jesus is Lord.” The world focuses on power OVER people–The life of a follower of Jesus is about power UNDER people. It’s about aligning yourself with the powerless and the vulnerable… Not the ones with the swords and the guns.

And if you’re concerned about these Trump/Hitler mustaches being too offensive, I wouldn’t worry about it… Trump himself said that he is not bothered by the comparisons to Hitler. What else would you expect from a man who kept a BIG BOOK OF HITLER SPEECHES NEXT TO HIS BED, right?

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Seriously… Spend some time looking at this picture. Spend a few minutes.

So yes… Show up. Get involved. March. Stay committed to the truth. Love your enemies while calling them on their bullshit. Refuse to normalize hatred and bigotry. For the love of God, vote in the midterm elections! RESIST! But while you’re doing all these things, maybe take a Sharpie with you, be on the lookout for pictures of The Shame of our Nation, and go ahead and draw in a fancy little Hitler ‘stache on his awful, orange face. I realize Trump has not gassed and murdered millions of people… YET. But those sorts of horrific events don’t just appear out of nowhere. And the election of a narcissistic, authoritarian, megalomaniac who ATTACKS THE PRESS and the very idea of truth–THAT rise to power puts this nation on a very dangerous trajectory. Before long, this dude’s face is going to be up in airports and schools and everywhere else… Mocking morality. So I ask you to join me in drawing Hitler/Trumpstaches, until their names and images are linked. Not just as an act of civil disobedience, but as a spiritual practice… As a reminder of where this sort of thing can lead to. As a reminder of what can happen if we stay silent as–little by little, and all around us–steps are taken to take away people’s rights, to make the truth unrecognizable by burying it under a sea of lies, and to normalize hatred and bigotry.

RESIST.

This blog is one of the ways I provide for my family. One way to support it is by Becoming A Patron. An amazing woman named Laura just pledged $2/month today, and I am so honored. If every person who reads this blog did that, this could be my job… And that would be amazing. Other folks Give On PayPal. People write notes and tell me all the time about how they value what I’m doing here, but aren’t ready for me to mention their names… I love that. Also remember that if you give on PayPal, you can designate money to “boost” certain posts on Facebook. Facebook and Twitter are also good ways to stay in touch. Stay hopeful. Stay loving. Resist! 
Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

“All Lives Matter” My Ass…

Michael Slager. That is the name of the man who murdered Walter Scott. And if we can learn anything from the fact that Michael Slager is not currently in prison, it is that Colin Kaepernick is right to take a knee–No one has any business honoring a country that cannot bring justice to the murderer of yet another unarmed black man, shot in the back as he ran away from yet another officer whose motto, “To Protect & Serve,” seems less appropriate than “Comply Or Be Killed.” In his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” And as I write this, Michael Slager is sleeping in his own bed tonight… In a warm house in the state that started the Civil War. I can’t imagine a clearer message that Black Lives DON’T Matter than the fact that this clear-cut murder case could possibly end in a hung jury. In case you don’t already know, here are a few of the facts from the case:

  • 37% of the residents of North Charleston are white. 80% of the police force is white.
  • Walter Scott was pulled over for a broken taillight… The same traffic violation that led to the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
  • When Michael Slager–the officer who murdered an unarmed man by shooting him in the back as he ran away–pulled over Walter Scott, he was ironically listening to the Everlast song “What It’s Like.” The song has lyrics that say, “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues.” It also tells the story of a man who got shot and killed, whose wife and kids “had to wake up to hear the news.” Walter Scott had four children.
  • Family members speculated that the reason Walter Scott ran was because he owed nearly $18,000 in back child support and was afraid of going to jail for that… A fact that made him a deadbeat dad, but should NEVER have made him a dead dad.
  • Both the murderer and the man who was murdered served in the Coast Guard.
  • As 50 year old Walter Scott ran away, officer Slager fired eight shots at him… Hitting him with five. As Walter Scott lay motionless and dying, face-down on the ground, Slager cuffs him, someone yells “Put your hands behind your back!” and the video shows that Officer Slager ran over to where they were standing, picked up the taser off the ground, and planted it next to Walter Scott’s lifeless body.

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    In his defense, he didn’t realize he was being filmed when he planted evidence next to Walter Scott’s body. So…

  • Almost immediately, crowdfunding sites were set up to help pay Officer Slager’s legal fees. After GoFundMe shut down their fundraiser, Indiegogo raised over one third of their goal in just three days… Before public pressure caused them to suspend the campaign as well.
  • The video of Walter Scott’s murder was not immediately released. Feidin Santana, who recorded the murder on his phone, said that he feared his life would be in danger if he showed anyone the video. He considered just erasing the video and moving away from Charleston.
  • The hung jury who created the mistrial in this case consisted of six white men, five white women, and one black man.
  • Though there is sure to be a retrial, one thing is for certain: If this murder had not been videoed, there is not a chance in hell that Michael Slager would ever be convicted of the murder that he clearly committed. If you can’t get twelve people to agree with clear video evidence, then you surely aren’t going to get a conviction from something as “flimsy”as eyewitness testimony…  Just think of all the HUNDREDS of people who are killed by police every year whose shootings AREN’T videotaped by an eyewitness with a camera on his phone.
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This is not a man who is direct threat to this officer’s life.

The fact that Walter Scott’s killer is not behind bars does not simply hurt North Charleston… The harm is not limited to South Carolina (A state that is preparing for a symbolic atoning scapegoat for its sins with the upcoming sacrifice of the very peacefully-arrested confessed murderer, Dylan Roof, who killed nine black church members as they met for prayer)… The lack of justice here literally hurts the country. And it’s not just because of the truth of Martin Luther King’s words that remind us Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This injustice injures the fabric of our nation. Here is what former Chief Justice Warren Burger said in a speech to the American Bar Association in 1970:

“A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people, and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: [1] that people come to believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; [2] that people who have long been exploited in the smaller transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; [3] that people come to believe the law – in the larger sense – cannot fulfill its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets.”

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A man of the people…

If you’re a white liberal (like myself) who is feeling depressed about a lying, misogynistic, narcissistic, racist, fascist, startlingly-unprepared megalomaniac being voted into the highest office in the land, and you’re still in mourning over the realization that this country is not as great as you thought it was–just remember: It could always be worse… You could be black. You could have daily messages sent your way that your life–as well as the lives of so many other People of Color around you–DO NOT matter… Even as a bunch of white “Christians” yelling “All Lives Matter” have just elected a man who called himself the “Law & Order Candidate,” appointed a top Law Enforcement Officer who was declared too racist to be a federal judge, and has called for “Stop & Frisk” to be used in all major cities (not coincidentally, the areas where most of the black folks live). Meanwhile, I’m feeling more and more like the horrified white people on this perfect Saturday Night Live sketch, saying, “Oh my God… I think America is racist.”

When someone says the words “Black Lives Matter,” they are not making a statement of how things ARE… They are making a statement of how things SHOULD BE. All live clearly DON’T matter in this country. This is proven on a daily basis. It is proven every time white men survive encounters with police that black men would never have lived through… Like this man in the video below who murdered his wife, injured his daughter, and led police on a dangerous chase that ended up with cars on fire… Just to leap from a burning car and charge at an officer whose gun was drawn. He was practically begging to be shot, but I guess the officer didn’t feel that threatened by him… Watch.

The fact that all lives DON’T matter is proven when a white man with a history of road rage incidents guns down and murders a former NFL player in the middle of the road in the middle of the day, and then that same man is allowed to go home without charges being brought against him (until the public demanded justice for Joe McKnight’s killing).

The fact that all lives DON’T matter is proven when a retired corrections officer with brown skin ends up in the hospital after officers severely beat him while he was grocery shopping in a supermarket, roughly matching the description of a nondescript black man they were looking for… Watch.

This is the reason it is so messed up when people say “All Lives Matter.” No! They clearly don’t. If ever evidence existed that Black Lives DON’T Matter in this country, everything about this Walter Scott case is it… Where a white man gets caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back as he runs away, then gets caught planting evidence next to his body, and STILL justice is delayed. All lives DO NOT matter… and until they do, I join the millions of people who see this systemic injustice for what it is, and I say those same hopeful, angry, powerful, and prophetic words:

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

I am sorry for being away for a couple weeks. This election has got me all messed up. If I let myself, I could easily slip into months of feeling beaten and overwhelmed and hopeless and depressed, but the main reason I am writing right now is because of my Patrons. I feel a sense of obligation and responsibility to you folks, and I am genuinely grateful for that. Thank you, honestly, from the bottom of my heart for your support. It means so much to me. I’m going to try to write my way out of this funk I’m in, and hopefully I’m going to take some of you with me. If you’d like to support this blog, you can. By BECOMING A PATRON, by LEAVING A TIP ON PAYPAL, or just by following and sharing on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER. More than ever, we need to Love each other, and protect the Truth, and remind each other of Beauty.

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How To Keep Jeff Sessions From Becoming Attorney General

Donald Trump has selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the United States Attorney General. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Who the hell is Jeff Sessions?” Well, I’m glad you asked…

Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III. That’s…  his actual name. In 1986, when he was nominated by Ronald Reagan to be a Federal Judge, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected his nomination because of multiple allegations of racism. Here are a few of the highlights of Jeff Sessions’ history of racism:

  • He called a white civil rights attorney working with black clients a “disgrace to his race.”
  • He “joked” with a black attorney that the only problem he had with the Ku Klux Klan was the fact that they smoked marijuana… He made that statement in reference to a case where a Klan member had hung a black man.
  • He called that same attorney “Boy” on multiple occasions, and used the word the N-word to refer to a black man he considered a political enemy.
  • He called the NAACP and the ACLU (as well as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) “Un-American” and “communist-inspired,” and he accused them of trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
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Though, in his defense, it’s got to be really hard to come from Alabama and have a name like “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third” and NOT end up being racist…

I can’t post all of the pieces of evidence showing Jeff Sessions’ history of racism here, but you can CLICK HERE to see an article with many pieces of evidence, including minutes from the Judiciary Committee’s hearing and the testimony of people who worked with him. Or you could just research it yourself. Google “Jeff Sessions” and “Racism,” and look for articles that have actual evidence. And links to reputable news sources.

After his racism disqualified him from his federal appointment (at that time, only the second time in 50 years the Senate had rejected an appointment), apparently the people of Alabama didn’t think those bullet points were that big of a deal, because they elected him to be a Senator. And Senators in Alabama don’t change very often–He has been in office for 20 years, and he is still the junior Senator. Because despite their calls for “draining the swamp,” republicans keep reelecting the incumbents over and over again. And now Donald Trump has asked him to be the Attorney General.

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Here we see Jeff Sessions showing how many “black friends” it takes to not be racist.

Most people don’t even know what the Attorney General does. The AG is basically the chief law enforcement officer, the chief lawyer for the United States Government, and the head of the Department of Justice. This is a very big job. And it has very big ramifications for how law enforcement responds to issues of civil rights. Look it up. It is a BIG. DEAL. As Attorney General, Eric Holder investigated use of force by police, financial regulations, voter ID laws, environmental policy (Sessions is a climate change sceptic), and a host of other Constitutional rights that the AG can decide whether or not to focus on. The implications of a person of Jeff Sessions’ character holding that position are–to use a term made popular by a dumpster fire and a national disgrace–YUGE.

So please listen–During his candidacy, Trump said so many outrageously offensive things and completely false things that it overwhelmed anyone’s ability to adequately respond to them… It was basically a war of attrition with horrifying and untrue statements. By the time people could attempt to respond to something awful he had said (and inform people as to why it was dangerous or wildly offensive or false), he would have already said ANOTHER awful thing that was dangerous or wildly offensive or false. Now it seems Trump is applying the same strategy with his Cabinet appointees. A few days after naming Alt Right leader and Breitbart head Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, he taps Jeff-Fucking-Sessions as his pick for Attorney General. And the thing is, I don’t have time to go into all of the many, many reasons why picking avowed white nationalist Steve Bannon is uniquely horrifying (though, if the words “avowed white nationalist” aren’t enough for some reason, his own wife has accused him of being anti-semitic). And just when people are trying to get organized around opposition to Steve Bannon, Trump names ANOTHER shit show as one of his top Cabinet positions–A name that 95% of the people in this country don’t recognize. And then, as people work to educate the citizens about how disqualified and dangerous  Jeff Sessions is, he’ll throw out yet another name… And people will slip through. Already people are forgetting about Steve Bannon. How are people supposed to respond to such a steady stream of disappointment? Honestly, it is so overwhelming that it makes me want to shut my computer, lie in bed, and just cry…

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This is Senator Sessions demonstrating the face he would make if there started being black men on playing golf at his country club’s course…  

But here is an important difference between the position of Chief Strategist and the position of Attorney General: Attorney General is subject to Congressional approval. And that is where YOU can come in. That is where YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I read an article recently that said phone calls are the most effective way of getting a message through to your elected representative… That emails and letters can be largely ignored, but PHONE CALLS have to be answered and dealt with by staffers. So here is what I want you to do.

  1.  Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. It’s a scary time, but maybe this will be the sort of scare that will WAKE PEOPLE UP.
  2. Realize that even with this steady stream of garbage our new president elect is throwing at us,  WE ARE NOT POWERLESS. I might be powerless… You might be powerless… But WE are NOT powerless!
  3. CLICK RIGHT HERE to find out the telephone numbers of your elected representatives. You just need to put in your Zip Code, and it will give you the names and numbers of all your people.
  4. Take a couple minutes out of your day and CALL THEM. Be firm and in control and not mean. Tell them you are NOT okay with a person like Jeff Sessions being the Attorney General. Tell them you will put whatever energy you have into electing someone different if they approve him. If you are a Trump supporter, let them know that nominating white supremacists for Cabinet positions is NOT what you voted for.
  5. Tell a friend. Share this post. Encourage the people in your sphere of influence to call their representatives as well. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the garbage in the world… Look for all of the places of love and hope and light.

At a time when only the most overtly racist white supremacists were supporting Trump, Jeff Sessions was one of the first in line. And now, he–and people like Steve Bannon–are being rewarded with Cabinet positions. At a time like this–a time of elevated attacks that are racially and religiously motivated–we cannot have a person with a history of racism being the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the land. This is the exact opposite of saying “Black Lives Matter.” If Trump wants to have a white supremacist as his Chief Strategist, realistically there is nothing we can do to stop him… I doubt that appealing to a narcissist’s “sense of right and wrong” will have much of an influence.  But we CAN stop him from making a man with a long history of racism the Attorney General of the United States of America. We HAVE to. We need to FLOOD the phone lines of our lawmakers and representatives with calls voicing our disapproval of this choice. Please. PLEASE. PLEASE help me keep this man from becoming Attorney General.

If you love this blog, SUPPORT IT. Boost it on PayPal. Share it! Help me get the word out… You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, thank you to my newest Patron, Karla Underwood. WE ARE NOT POWERLESS!

 

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

No. I Won’t Get Over It.

Yeah… We get it. The fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you are sexist… It just means that–for you–the litany of wildly offensive and overtly misogynistic statements he made were not significant enough to disqualify him. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not make you anti-Muslim… It just means that–for you–a presidential candidate suggesting a registry for an entire religion and implementing a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was not a big enough deal for you to vote for someone else. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you hate Mexicans… It just means that–for you–characterizing Mexicans as criminals and rapists (while admitting that “some, I assume, are good people”) wasn’t really a deal breaker. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you are anti-gay… It just means that–for you–his choice of a running mate who is arguably the most anti-gay governor in the country was not that serious a character flaw. And FINE! The fact that you voted for Trump does not make you a racist… It just means that–for you–the fact that Donald Trump removed people from his rallies based on the color of their skin, encouraged violence against Black Lives Matter protesters, and suggested a Federal Judge couldn’t be fair because of his race (among other things) wasn’t a compelling enough reason him to lose your vote. Voting for Trump does not mean you’re a bigot… It just means that you are willing to support a candidate who has the endorsement of every white supremacist group in the nation.

Voting for Trump is like wearing a racist T-shirt and saying you bought it because you liked the color… The message is still the same.

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Relax, man… I bought it because I really liked this color blue!

 

And I realize every candidate is a compromise in some way. Every candidate has faults.  My vote for Hillary Clinton was a compromise. She was too cozy with Wall Street. Her interest in People of Color sometimes came across as more political than sincere. She’s more hawkish than I’d like for her to be. And I was willing to compromise those things… Some for the other good things she would bring as a leader, and some because the alternative would have been so much worse. But I promise I wouldn’t have been willing to compromise on a candidate who seemed to embrace the dehumanization of so many vulnerable populations at every turn. For eight years, the republican party has been acting like “compromise” is a four letter word… But the party of “No Compromise” just compromised all over itself. The embracing of Trump just shows the right is willing to compromise on morality and human rights… Where the right refuses to compromise is on economic issues. There is that one shoestring issue of abortion that allows them to try to claim the moral high ground… But if we’re being honest, every other moral issue has been abandoned by the political right in its quest for political power.

And they have it. They have the political power. So for many of the people in the groups I mentioned above–women, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ, People of Color–this can be a scary time. And it is also a scary time for people like me–White, straight, Christian men–who know and love many of those people who are not only feeling outnumbered, but now the people who seem openly hostile to them have all the political power.

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Get over it…

So I hope you can understand why some people might be feeling more than a little unsafe. For many, the election of Donald Trump is like confirming the suspicion that you’re living in a country where A LOT of the people are willing to tolerate discrimination, injustice, and oppression if it means them having a chance at getting their better-paying jobs back. And that is a scary message people are receiving. And I hope you can understand why some of us are grieving right now. It’s not just because “our side” lost the election… People are coming to terms with the fact that so many in this country are willing to overlook SO MUCH at the mere chance that an inexperienced, narcissistic, con man’s promises of economic gain might be true. People ARE hurting financially. But seeing so many loved ones–friends and family–willing to embrace an ideology which blames and demonizes people of color, the poor, the immigrant, the OTHER for that hurting… That is enough to shake the very foundations of my belief that we–that humans–are slowly getting better.

And now, people are grieving. Genuinely grieving. And the prevailing sentiment from our friends on the right has been this: Get over it. We are told “You lost–Get over it” by people who fly the flag of a lost Civil War from 150 years ago. A week after a candidate lost an election but won the popular vote, we are told to “accept our new president” by people who spent years spreading birther conspiracies believing President Obama was a Kenyan (one of those people being our President elect). People who swear that they are not misogynistic and sexist are telling us to “Grow a pair” and “Man up!” And we are accused of being too “politically correct” by people who talk about boycotts because their Starbucks cup is the wrong color… Or accused of being too “sensitive” by people who literally lose their shit when someone wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And in response to the protests around the country, I am hearing people say things like, “You didn’t see us throwing a fit when Obama won,” and posting memes like this:

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Maybe that’s because Obama didn’t run on a platform that caused white supremacists to have a celebration parade…

And we have the President Elect criticizing the actions of “professional protesters” with tweets like this…

Even though, after a different open and fair election, he himself suggested marching on Washington in a tweet from four years ago…

In addition, in some recently-deleted 2012 tweets, Trump wrote “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” (even though Obama DID, in fact, end up winning both the popular vote and the electoral collage vote in the 2012 election versus Romney), as well as writing, “More votes equals a loss… revolution!”

But beyond the bewildering hypocrisy of it all, there is something more sinister to take note of… And it is this: The disturbing trend of equating compassion with weakness. It starts with casting “political correctness” as an enemy… Where a desire for people to treat others with respect turns into something that feels like a tyrannical policing of words and even thoughts. Resentment grows, as people–for so long–feel like they can’t say the things they want to say, make the jokes they want to make, or even admit the feelings they have been feeling. Resentment turns to anger as they are called names: Racist. Sexist. Bigot. And beyond that, they are dismissed as too stupid to “get it.” I am guilty of this. And when these names come out, the other side dismissed this criticisms as “Playing the race card.” If someone on the left points out a place where a person is being victimized, someone on the right accuses people of “Playing the victim.” Meanwhile, no one listens, no one learns, and no one loves. Both side drift further apart… And before long, it seems like EVERYTHING is “playing the race card,” “playing the victim,” political correctness… People start saying things like, “I don’t see color,” and “But we have a black president.” And terms like “hate speech”and “safe space” and “trigger warning” become punchlines to a joke… And I’m left wondering how we can ever get back to a place where we can talk to each other.

But here is the truth: If we get to the point where we look at something as basic and human and good as Compassion and Empathy as signs of weakness, we are in deep, deep trouble.

  • Helping someone who needs help is NOT weakness.
  • Asking for help is NOT weakness.
  • Mourning with those who mourn is NOT weakness.
  • Weeping with those who weep is NOT weakness.
  • Showing emotion is NOT weakness.
  • Showing concern for someone who doesn’t feel safe is NOT weakness.
  • Acknowledging that words can hurt people is NOT weakness.
  • Empathizing with hurting people is NOT weakness.
  • Caring about vulnerable people is NOT weakness.
  • Admitting you are afraid is NOT weakness.

Strength is not measured in self-reliance, lack of empathy, and being able to hide/bury emotions. The strength of humanity is not found only in stereotypically masculine traits. We are at our strongest when we are focused on WE instead of just ME, and we are at our most resilient when we are caring for those who need our help. And if you want to know why people are afraid, consider the fact that many of the people who voted for Trump (as well as Trump himself) seem to consider compassion for others as a sign of “weakness.” Talk about an “Unsafe Space.” I can imagine no more dangerous society than one which equates Compassion with “Weakness.” Our strength is not in our thirst for more… Not in our ambition… Not in our power over others. Our greatest strength is our compassion. It is what makes us beautiful, and it is the very image of God in us. So no… I won’t “Man up.” I won’t “Grow some balls.” And no… I won’t get over it.

In West Virginia, a county official named Pamela Taylor wrote a Facebook status that said, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a (sic) ape in heels.” And as a comment on this woman’s status, Beverly Whaling, the Mayor of Clay, wrote, “Just made my day Pam.” I guarantee you that both of these women voted for Trump. This doesn’t mean that everyone who voted for Trump is as racist as these two women… But if you’re NOT, it SHOULD mean that you should be standing up and saying this kind of hatred is not okay. These words are an act of violence against whole groups of people, and there are more each day. I will not be tolerant of your intolerance. And when people vandalize a sign for a Spanish Language Church Service like they did right here…

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… It means that I will be standing up and calling bigotry what it is: Bigotry. I will continue to point out white supremacy when I see it. I will not be afraid of the ones who equate compassion with weakness. I will weep with those who weep, and I will mourn with those who mourn. I will do what I can to let people who are hurting and afraid know that I am on their side… Not because I am weak, but because I am strong. And I believe that as we continue to proclaim the strength of compassion, people will be reminded who they are. And what it really means to be human.

One last bit… It doesn’t take much. Yesterday at a gas station, a woman was pumping gas next to me. She had brown skin, and wore a red hijab. I looked at her standing there… A woman. A black woman. A black, Muslim woman. A triple threat. As my van filled up, I walked around to her side of the pump and said, “Hi there.” She jumped a little when I said it. I said, “Are you having a good day?” She said, “Yes… Why do you ask?” I smiled and said, “I’m just checking in. Nice to meet you.” Caring about vulnerable people is NOT weakness. Our compassion… Our empathy… Our LOVE is our strength. And it is the hope for this broken world.

If you love this blog, SUPPORT IT. Boost it on PayPal. Share it! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. But most of all, take care of each other. Love you guys.

 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

On President Trump, From A Heartbroken Christian

Forgive me for not writing sooner. It has been a hard couple days. And since it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, I might as well give it a try…

For me, my support of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate was never really about some misplaced hope that she was going to be a leader who somehow “saved” our country in some way. Honestly, it was mostly about limiting harm. I supported her because I felt like she–of the two candidates who actually had a chance at winning–was the better choice for a person like myself… One who believes that supporting and standing in solidarity with vulnerable and oppressed populations as a spiritual practice is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. My firm belief is that our kids get this truth better than we do, and slowly–as bigoted people get old and die–the people of the world get closer to loving their neighbors… Closer to being able to love like Jesus… Closer to being able to see the humanity and divinity and inherent worth in all people… Closer to this thing called “the Kingdom of God.” But, like many of you, I am very impatient. Beneath the stages of grief inside of me, there is a very deep “HOW LONG, OH LORD?” welling up inside of me.

So listen–I can’t put it all together right now, but here are seven things on my mind during this difficult time… As many of us struggle with the question, “Now what?”

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Image of God, image of God, image of God, image of God…

1) I hate how much I hate right now. It is really hard for me to deal with this. I usually expect people to be generally good. I don’t like feeling suspicious. I am a person who believes in an Enemy-Loving God. It is not at all impressive or out of the ordinary for people to love those whom they find easy to love. What IS impressive–and, I believe, transformational–is when people love the ones who are directly against them. I am doing a terrible job with this right now. At this point in my life, it is easy for me to love the Muslim and the queer and the immigrant and the persons of color and the poor and the stepped on and the expendables. But I read the posts of people calling themselves “Christians,” and I find very little grace inside myself. I am filled with anger. And sadness. And a dehumanizing revulsion for people I know are made in the image of God. I’m ashamed of how readily I feel this, even as I write this sentence. I have identified my enemy. It is the sort of person who uses their Christianity to defend hatred and racism and bigotry and sexism and selfishness and greed… the sort of person who defends their support of policies and leaders who install systems which reinforce ideals that are anti-Jesus in every way. And I cannot–for the life of me–figure out how to love them. But I know that’s the only way forward.  I suppose we call out hypocrisy when we see it, we stand lovingly with the ones being harmed, we remind ourselves as often as possible that our enemies are image-bearers of a God who loves them with an infinitely love, and we remember when we were stupid too. And we stay hopeful… Even when it seems crazy and pointless.

2) Separating the Christians from the “Christianists.” We need to figure out a way to distinguish between the sort of Christian who stands with the powerless and oppressed, and the ones who claim that term who use their “Christianity” as a means to some sort of power grab. I like the term “Christianist.” The word “Evangelical” is just irredeemable now. It’s never coming back. 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. My preference would be to keep using the word “Christian,” because I truly believe this is what Jesus was about, and I don’t want it to be so easy for “Christianists” to dismiss us. People say that religion and politics don’t mix, but my belief in standing with “The Other” is a direct result of my spirituality, and that belief has political implications. I don’t believe that we’re all getting out of here soon in some giant rapture… We are responsible for making this place better. We are in change of taking care of the planet. We are our brother’s keeper. We are agents of change, and our hearts cry out for justice. We work with God at establishing equity and human rights for ALL people, and we make the valleys high and the mountains low. These things are inherently political… And if people calling themselves “Christians” stand against them, I will gladly stand with any Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist, or Atheist  AGAINST the Christianists. But really… Honestly–Whatever… Keep the name “Christian” if you want. Keep the buildings. Keep it all… Just know that I am different than you.

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The poor are moochers.

3) I hate to tell you this, but God is not in control. People are posting things like, “Don’t freak out… God’s got this.” No. God doesn’t “got this.” This is the mentality of people 3000 years ago who believed that when it didn’t rain, it was because “God was angry,” and it is the mentality of people who believe that God gives people cancer to “teach them something.” It is the heresy of “Everything happens for a reason,” and it turns God into a monster. It is Miracle Gro For Atheists. Everything that happens is not God’s “will.” Stop saying crap like that. Don’t put this on God… This shit is on US. And speaking of which…

4) Trump’s election was not the fault of People of Color not voting. A while ago, I almost wrote a blog post titled “Dear People Of Color: Please Save Us From Donald Trump.” But I didn’t. Because creating the foundation of white supremacy that makes a candidate like Donald Trump able to get elected, and then begging POCs to save us from the monster we created… That’s just gross. The reason we have a “President Elect Trump” is NOT because brown people didn’t vote… It’s because white people did. Here’s what that looked like:

It’s not your fault. It’s our fault. And I am so very sorry. Yesterday, I was trying to make a left hand turn by a median, and another car (turning the other way) pulled in front of me, making it impossible for me to complete my turn until he made his turn. When this happened, I shook my head in an “I’m disappointed in you” sort of way. The car had tinted windows, so I couldn’t see inside… But shortly after my disappointed head shake, the window came down to reveal a brown hand flipping me off. I must have looked like I missed it, because a moment later, it came down again–this time he made sure I could see his face as he flipped me the bird. And I was just like, “Yeah, man… I get it. Right now, I’m not a big fan of people who look like me either.” And for white people like me, who thought this man’s election was “unbelievable,” it’s not. It’s very believable. What is unbelievable is the extent of our ignorance to the reality of racism in America. Which leads to this cold reality…

5) This election was a victory for White Supremacy. It’s as simple as that. All of this opposition to “political correctness,” all of this anger against “Social Justice Warriors” and people who play the “Race Card,” all of this fragility to being called a racist and a bigot just because you support a candidate who is a racist and a bigot… It is all just a thinly-disguised strategy for normalizing white supremacy. Just like normalizing Donald Trump is normalizing the white supremacy and sexism and xenophobia and Islamophobia and bigotry that keeps the power and privilege in the hands of white men. And it emboldens the people who are very angry that they can feel their privilege slipping away with every brown face they see. And this emboldened bigotry has consequences:

There are stories of emboldened racism coming in from all over the place. Suddenly, “Go back where you came from” is not as out of fashion as it used to be. I shared a story of a young black woman who lives in a predominantly white community who encountered a woman who said, “Now that Trump will be president, we can get the nigger out of the neighborhood!” These things have real consequences. And right now, people are gloating. But to everyone gloating: You’re celebrating with the KKK. Congrats! Also…

 

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“Jesus is only a hero because he was crucified… I like heroes who WEREN’T crucified.”

6) The majority vote is what got Jesus crucified. There’s a story in the Bible about a supposed custom during a certain festival where the governor would release one prisoner to the people. Pilate asked the people whether they wanted him to release a dangerous criminal named Barabbus, or whether they wanted to release Jesus… Whom Pilate knew was innocent. The people voted for Barabbus. The passage says the people “acted in their own interest.” Now, I’m not calling Hillary Clinton Jesus–not by a long shot–but there are certainly some parallels here. This is democracy in action. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes, when the ones voting are angry and acting out of self-interest, bad stuff happens. But it’s the best system we’ve got. And let’s be real… The reason this election is a big deal is because there are actually a lot of white people who are upset about Trump’s presidency. If it were just black folks who were angry, there wouldn’t be nearly as much noise… Because our privilege amplifies our white voices. And if you’re like me, and you feel way outnumbered by dip shits too, and you feel like your voice isn’t being heard–Congratulations! You have just a very small taste of what it feels like to be a minority. Now go use every bit of your privilege and voice to help those who don’t have either. Which leads me to my last one. Most importantly…

7) There is work to do. There is so much work to do. And here is something true and good:

If you call out racism or sexism or bigotry or any of these “ISMs” and “phobias” that are powered by white supremacy, chances are really good you will trigger people’s defenses. They will credit your speaking up to “political correctness” instead of an appeal to human decency. Keep speaking up. They will treat your ideals of a standard of kindness like it is a punchline to some demented joke. Keep speaking up. We need to do better. Cry. Mourn. Grieve. But don’t give up. Find a way to love. Remember a time you were wrong. Forgive people… Not for them, but because it sets you free. Find someone who feels extra vulnerable and unsafe right now, and give them a hug. Tell them you love them. And for God’s sake, keep speaking up. Not because you have any hope of changing them–Because there are children watching. Here is a glimmer of hope: This is how the future voted…

And as our kids see us speaking up, they instinctively know right from wrong. They will see bravery, and they will gravitate toward it. They will hear our rationality, and it will resonate with their own deep sense of goodness. And before long, the ones who voted for this man will have gotten old and died. And our children–as they often are–will be better than we were at understanding and defending and loving the people who are different than us. And slowly… Sometimes so slowly and imperceptibly it makes me cry while I type words on my computer… Slowly, the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice… And slowly, even now, this world is being transformed into the Kingdom of God.

I have a family. I’d love to be able to support them by writing. Someday, that might be a reality, but in the meantime, every little bit of your support helps. If you value my writing and this blog, and you’d like to be a Patron and give a few dollars a month, you can do that RIGHT HERE. If you’d like to leave a tip or “boost” a post on Facebook, you can give on PAYPAL. These things help so much. What also helps is this: When you connect with something–whether it’s something I’ve written, or something someone else has written–SHARE IT. Share it on Facebook. Share it on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to rattle the cage a bit. Conflict can be uncomfortable and messy, but, again… There are children watching. Show them how to say something when saying something isn’t easy. Disfunction attempts to make speaking up so uncomfortable that people don’t say anything… And when people don’t speak up, things don’t change. And there are some things that really need to change. Be better than disfunction. Be brave. 

 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

I Was Relieved To Find Out The Des Moines Shooter Looked Like Me

Whenever there is yet another mass shooting in this country, there is this period of time–the time AFTER the news of the shooting breaks, but BEFORE the announcement of the description of the shooter–where I feel this deep sense of uneasiness. I felt that feeling again recently as news broke of two police officers in two different locations near Des Moines, Iowa who were shot down and murdered as they sat in their cars. I mean, there are all sorts of things that go through my head when I hear news like this: I think of the officer’s families, I think about other officers on duty with someone walking around targeting cops, I think of the insanity that is our gun laws… But one of the first things I think about is wondering what the person doing the killing LOOKS like. After hearing about this shooting, I thought, “Please, don’t let this person be a black man claiming some sort of connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.” And I thought, “Dear God, don’t let the shooter have a Muslim-sounding name.” So it came as somewhat of a relief when I heard that the suspect they had in custody was named Scott Michael Greene, and he looked like this:

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Looks like me… Only I’m way more bald, handsome, and happy. And way less murdery.

Consider that for a moment. I was relived that the shooter was a white man–Well, he IS a white man. Strange how we seem a lot less likely to need to use the past tense when the shooters are white… For some reason, they always manage to bring them in alive–Even when they are KNOWN to be armed and dangerous–Even when they have killed multiple people–the authorities bring them in alive, and give them a nice, fair trial. But somehow, black folks pulled over for a broken taillight keep getting killed for reaching for their wallets a little too fast. Anyway, the shooter IS a white man. He is just a bit older than me. We both have beards. Man, even our BEARDS are similar… We both have some reddish color, and we both have a little bit of grey in the chin. And they didn’t mention it, but I’d be willing to bet this guy identifies as a Christian. And even with all those similarities, I didn’t even CONSIDER the possibility that people might look at me differently because I look like this killer: White guy, in his 40’s, Christian, reddish beard with grey in the chin. Now THAT’S privilege.

Relieved. That’s how I felt. I didn’t want the tragic murders of these men to be fuel for ignorant people to have even more of a reason to hate people who are different than them. But a lot of people jumped the gun, and started blaming Black Lives Matter as soon as the news came out that these officers had been shot.

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But, of course, it wasn’t a Black Lives Matter protester. It was a person fitting the description of the vast majority of mass shooters in the country: A person who looks like me. White. And male.

Imagine–JUST IMAGINE–the reaction that there would have been if the killer’s name had been TYRELL Michael Green… EVERY black man and woman would have paid the price  for these killings in some way. And even though one of the few things all Black Lives Matter groups share is a commitment to non-violence, I want you to IMAGINE the reaction if the killer had claimed to do what he did in the name of BLM. There would be talk of WAR. Or if someone claimed this killing had something to do with Islam, how many people would just file this away as “proof” that Islam is a religion focused on killing people, instead of a religion of peace?

But when the killer is a white guy, we don’t make those kinds of leaps… We just assume he must be “mentally ill.” When the killer claims to be a Christian, we don’t start accusing Christianity of not being a “religion of peace,” or talking about putting “a moratorium” on anymore Christians entering the country… We just assume he’s not a “real Christian.” That’s one of the perks of being white in America: When a criminal looks like you, he’s a “lone wolf,” but when he looks like “them,” he’s proof that your fears and prejudices are warranted.

A couple weeks before Scott Michael Greene decided to murder two separate police officers as they sat in their cars, he had a run in with two other officers. He was upset when he heard that some local high school football players were taking a knee during the national anthem, so he went to a game and started waving around a confederate flag. He was asked to leave by school officials, and when police got involved, he got out his phone and took this video… saying they were infringing his 1st Amendment rights. Watch it here:

Now that he has been identified as the shooter, his video is now peppered with over 1000 angry comments, but if you go down far enough in the comments, Greene himself writes about why he was upset. Here is a screen capture of his comments:

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Just in case you’re reading this on your cell phone and that print is too small, he wrote, “I was offended by the blacks sitting through our anthem. Thousands more whites fought and died for their freedom.” Then, a week before killing two cops as they sat in their cars, he wrote, “However this is not about the Armed forces, they are cop haters”  (On a side note, I’ll give you one guess as to who Scott Michael Greene was supporting in this election… As well as every Twitter account but one who prematurely and FALSELY claimed that these murders were committed by someone with ties to Black Lives Matter). And here we are, only two days removed from the ambush killings of two white police officers, and the story is already fading from the headlines. But I guarantee you this story wouldn’t fade so fast if a black man had killed those officers. You’d see his black face on every news channel. And they would mine every bit of his social media presence to find even a HINT of racial anger… And then racist people everywhere–already upset over Beyoncé singing on the CMA Awards–would fan the flames of anger and fear, and allude to a “race war.” But never mind, never mind… It wasn’t racial–It was a WHITE guy, right? He was probably just crazy. Cue talking points about mental health, needing more “law & order,” “guns don’t kill people–people kill people,” etc…

But this WAS racial. It was a racist, confederate flag waving man, who has had MANY run ins with law enforcement, was known to call people “niggers,” who was upset about “the blacks” not standing for the anthem, and then very angered that some white police officers made him and his confederate flag leave the football game. Angry enough to kill people, it seems…

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Like Hope, only awful…

Here’s the thing: If you want to be afraid of someone, stop making it about what they look like, and consider what they believe. The real danger is an ideology of “Do things my way, or else.” And this is the main reason Trump supporters scare the actual hell out of me. It’s not because I need a “safe space” or “trigger warnings.” It’s because they tend toward “Authoritarianism,” which is the belief that we need to enforce strict obedience to authority–especially that of the government–at the expense of personal freedom. They follow a man who idolizes Vladimir Putin, who intimidates, imprisons, and kills people who are critical of him. They follow a man who wants to make it easier to sue the press if they write something he doesn’t like. They follow a man who encourages people at his rallies to “knock the crap” out of protesters, and offers to pay for their legal fees. They follow a man who hints at “second amendment people” taking care of Hillary Clinton. They follow a man who claims that the election is rigged and the polls are fake when his numbers are down, but has no problem with those numbers when they show him gaining. And all it takes is a little bit of stupid to transfer that kind of rhetoric into actions like this Trump supporter who planned a mass shooting at a Mosque. Or the actions of these Trump supporters who are doing arms training in their militias for how to fight back if Hillary becomes president. Or the actions of a Trump supporter like Scott Michael Greene.

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Deplorable is as deplorable does.

Here is something true: The kind of people who wanted the murderer of those two cops to be a black man or a Muslim are the kind of people who are voting for Trump. The kind of people who were relieved that the killer WASN’T a black man or a Muslim are the kind of people who are revolted and terrified by the idea of a person like Trump in a position of power. If you are a person like me–drenched in privilege–you can either use that privilege to gain more power and keep others down, or you can use that privilege to help the people who don’t have your advantages… Which kind of person are you?

Vote. Vote, vote, vote, vote, VOTE!!! Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get despondent. Don’t get depressed. VOTE! If you feel yourself getting angry, let it turn into fuel that you spend on doing what you can to help. If you (like me) are so tired of sounding like a broken record, remind yourself that there are only four more days. Do not be so overcome with sadness that you don’t take a stand against this awful, awful man. And then, whatever happens after November 8th, there is going to be so much work to do either way. All over the world, there is a rise in authoritarianism. In Russia, with the Brexit vote, in Turkey with them jailing thousands of teachers, professors, and journalists… If America is worth a shit, it must stand against it. Trump’s overt channeling of anger against journalists is SO DANGEROUS. It is not an exaggeration to say that if we allow a leader like Trump, something like this blog might soon get me thrown in jail. VOTE! Take your friends to vote! Don’t give up!!!

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