Dear Third Party Voters: If We End Up With “President Trump,” It’s On You

I have an honest question for you: Do you really think you know more about Hillary’s Clinton’s faults than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Think about that, for a moment, while I show you something.

I’m about to show you two of the most damning videos you could watch if you are against Hillary Clinton being the next president. This first one is a video of Bernie speaking at a rally just under four months ago, where he was responding to claims that Hillary Clinton had referred to him as being unqualified to be president (though she never actually said he was “unqualified” to be president… She just refused to give a yes or no answer when asked if she thought he was qualified), and it marked one of the biggest escalations in rhetoric for the 2016 democratic presidential campaign:

For those of you unable or unwilling to take the 126 seconds to watch this video, here is what he said:

“And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am ‘not qualified’ to be president. Well, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don’t believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don’t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC. I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don’t think you are qualified if you have supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I don’t think you are qualified if you’ve supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed and, which as all of you know, has allowed corporations and wealthy all over the world people to avoid paying their taxes to their countries.”

sanders-and-hillary-5

“They never give ME and shit about what I wear…”

For me, these are some of the most damaging criticisms of Hillary Clinton that I have heard. I admit that I care very little about the fact that she used her Blackberry to receive emails that were LATER classified while Secretary of State. Benghazi was tragic, but what happened has–multiple times–been proven not to be her fault. And I don’t think she is to blame for the way the DNC is run. But I DO care that she has taken so much money from Wall Street. I care that she seems more hawkish than I would like. I care that she has voted for policies that make it easier for billionaires to dodge their taxes. I care about ALL of those things. Bernie Sanders cares about them too… But he still endorsed her as a candidate. Do you know why? Because he understands that right now, it is either going to be Hillary or Trump.

Here is another absolutely damning video… This one of Elizabeth Warren criticizing Hillary Clinton about voting FOR a bankruptcy bill as a Senator that she convinced her husband to veto as a FLOTUS:

The video is from a 2004 interview with Bill Moyers. It seems to show a principled Hillary Clinton while Bill was in the White House, and how she was later able (or forced) to compromise those principles as a New York Senator. Again, this video is troubling to me. It smacks of a lack of integrity. I want someone who represents the interests of the little guy over the interests of the big banks. Someone like Elizabeth Warren! Someone like Bernie Sanders! And yet BOTH of these people, who have been openly critical of her in the past, have decided to endorse her for President of the United States of America. Why do you think that is? Have they both “sold out?” Are they “in on it” too?

This “everyone is in on it” mentality is KILLING rational discussion in this country.

Listen, do you really think you’ve got more dirt on Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren do? Do you think that because you watched that one YouTube video, you now know more than a dude who has been in Washington for 30 years? Do you think that because of that eMail forward you read 20 years ago about people close to the Clinton family dying mysteriously, that you are now–somehow, magically–more informed than SENATOR Elizabeth Warren? I guarantee that THEY KNOW MORE of her garbage than you or I EVER will, and they are still standing up and saying, “I’M WITH HER.” They didn’t suddenly stop caring about these issues. They didn’t accept a giant bag full of money from Goldman Sax. They just understand the reality of the situation… And so should you. And not just the REALITY of the situation (that situation being the fact that one of two people is DEFINITELY going to be president, and neither of those people are going to be named Gary Johnson or Jill Stein), but the GRAVITY of the situation.

THIS. SHIT. IS SERIOUS.

Please consider this quote by Sinclair Lewis from 1935, and think about what was happening in the world in 1935… “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

DumpsterFire2

They are dropping the elephant, and replacing it with this new mascot…

If you are a person who looks at the the flaming orange dumpster fire of a candidate that is Donald Trump, and you actually see a man who has the temperament and character to lead this nation, then there is probably nothing in the world I could ever say to you to help you see things differently. You’re beyond help… Hell, if you think Trump has the temperament and character to lead an Arby’s franchise, you’re probably beyond help. But if you are a person who is similar–as far as ideology and policy are concerned–to Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren), and you are convinced that Hillary’s shortcomings are too great for her to receive your vote, you are basically giving half a vote to each candidate. And half a vote for Donald Trump is WAY too much. I have a lot of respect for Jill Stein… But Bernie is a better candidate than her, and Bernie couldn’t even manage to win the democratic nomination.

www-elle-com.jpg

I like Jill Stein. She is more in line with my values than Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s definitely not going to win. Bill Nye the Science Guy might be EXACTLY in line with my values… It doesn’t mean I should vote for him as a write-in.

Even people who are voting for her will admit that Jill Stein has no realistic shot of winning the presidency, but they are planning on voting for her as an act of protest. Well, your act of protest could very well end up putting a man in the presidency who has suggested killing people’s families to show terrorists we mean business. A man who has suggested making a registry of Muslims in this country. A man who has called for the use of torture like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” A man who won’t rule out using nuclear weapons in the Middle East or even in Europe. A man who has talked about changing libel laws to make it harder for people to criticize him. A man who has been accused of sexual assault and rape three different times (settling twice). A man who calls himself the “law and order” candidate in a time when law enforcement continues to end Black Lives with impunity, and a man who thinks that allowing young black women to use a privileged person’s microphone is a sign of weakness.

A while ago, I took one of those silly “Who Should You Vote For?” quizzes on Facebook, where you answer a bunch of questions, and then they tell you what the percentages are for how well you line up with each candidate. For me, Bernie Sanders was about 98% (and so was Jill Stein, for that matter). Hillary Clinton was about 94%. I am not pissing away my vote over 4%. Because that’s what you are doing if you vote for someone who doesn’t have a shot to win–Pissing away your vote. You might think I’M the best candidate for president, but I’ve got as much chance of being president as Jill Stein. This blog post might go viral, and there might be a grass roots campaign… “The Boeskool For President!” But I can’t win. And neither can she. Now right now, anyway. With a lot of hard work and organization, maybe she can win in four or eight years. But right now, the race is between two people. The only thing a vote for a third party candidate can do at this point is make it easier for that candidate’s ideological opposite to win the election. And yeah, maybe “That’ll show ’em that they need to take us seriously.” But in the meantime, President Trump is installing policy and SCOTUS Justices that will hurt minorities in this country for decades.

And it’s not because I’m cynical… It’s not because I’ve lost hope… It’s because I’m living in reality. People tried to say that Bernie could never win the nomination… That didn’t stop me from voting for him. But this is an entirely different situation. We haven’t done the ground work, we haven’t put the systems in place to make a win by a third party candidate a possibility. Bernie couldn’t win the primaries… If you think Jill Stein can win the general election, you are living in a dream world.

my_dream_world_by_istvanantald3c9xv8

And this is what I want my house to look like!!!

And a lot of these people who are calling for third party votes have been acting like Trump and Hillary are equally bad. Again… DREAM WORLD. They are not even in the same ballpark… Not even on the same PLANET of bad. She’s a good leader who understands how to navigate a flawed system. She is a leader who is willing to compromise at a time when compromise is looked at as a character flaw. There is no perfect candidate. Even Obama has let me down in so many ways… Drone strikes, and lack of aggressiveness when something substantial could have been done about healthcare, and lack of movement on issues of policy that affect black lives…  But it’s about trajectory. Trump’s trajectory is backwards. It’s longing for a time when America was whiter. And manlier. And less welcoming to other religions. As evidenced here, when Daily show correspondents ask Trump supporters the question, “When exactly was America great?”

Look–I get that you believe that the system needs to change. I agree. But that change is going to take work. And time. And SCOTUS Justices that aren’t crackheads. And that change is going to be a whole lot more difficult with an authoritarian, quasi-fascist meathead in charge. In the system we have right now, ALL of a state’s electoral votes go toward the candidate with the most votes–That is not going to change before November. I live in a state with such a thick cloud of racism that Trump will probably make my vote irrelevant, but especially–ESPECIALLY if you live in a swing state, it is absolutely necessary for you to understand what I’ve been writing about. You can call it “standing with Clinton,” or you can call it “Standing against Trump.” Either way… STAND. Even if you look at her as “the lesser of two evils” (which she 100% is), consider the fact that another way of saying “the candidate who is the lesser of two evils” is this: “The candidate who is better.” We need to vote for the candidate who is better. And I agree with Bernie Sanders, I agree with Elizabeth Warren, I agree with Michelle and Barack Obama… That candidate is Hillary Clinton. If you sit this one out… If you vote for a candidate who has no chance to your state’s electoral votes… Even if you write in “Deez Nutz,” and then Donald Trump ends up in charge of our country… It’ll be on you.

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leslie Jones, and What To Do When Racism Makes You Want to Give Up

Last night I sat in a packed out Church in Nashville with about 500 others–mostly white folks–and we talked about racism. The event was put on by an organization called SURJ, which stands for “Showing Up for Racial Justice” (You can learn more about SURJ HERE). “Showing up…” Woody Allen said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” and even though it was encouraging to see all those people come together for a cause we believe in,  I’ve got to admit that most of the time I feel like the problem–Racism, White Supremacy, and the Systems which support it–is just too big to make any sort of actual difference. It’s the air we breathe. And no matter how much people work, there’s always another person responding to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter.” There’s a steady drumbeat of lifeless black bodies, without any consequence for the ones who took those lives. Freddie Gray’s death was ruled a homicide, and yet no one seemed to kill him… And when it was announced that the final officer was acquitted of any wrongdoing, the crowd at the Republican National Convention cheered in celebration. At the SURJ event, we talked in small groups about the barriers to doing something, and I said that a lot of the time, fighting racism feels like standing at the edge of the ocean with a Dixie Cup… Wondering how you’re going to get all that water out.

So this morning, I woke up and read this post on Facebook from a woman named Taylor Alex. Please, PLEASE read it… 

I hadn’t heard anything about Leslie Jones being harassed by people on Twitter. I knew that there were a small, vocal group of confused and privileged men who were very pissed about Ghostbusters being remade with women… Probably the same small, vocal group of confused and privileged men who were angry about a female lead in the new Star Wars movie… And that sort of misogyny usually goes hand in hand with racism.  But until this morning, I hadn’t heard about the racially charged attacks that happened to Leslie Jones. This is Leslie Jones…

leslie_jones_1050x1050

And here is some of her hilarious work…

She is from Memphis. She grew up as an Army brat. Because she was tall, she gravitated toward sports, and she ended up getting a basketball scholarship. She figured out she was really funny, and–at age 46–she landed a job as a writer on Saturday Night Live. At 47, she became the oldest person to become a cast member on SNL, and she ended up getting a part in this year’s reboot of Ghostbusters. A couple of days ago, a “conservative writer” for Breitbart named Milo Yiannopoulos led a targeted attack campaign of his racist Twitter followers (over 300,000 of them) against Leslie Jones. While enduring distilled hatred, Leslie tweeted this:

She then posted some pics of the attacks. Here are a few of the results… Brace yourselves.

leslie tweets 1.jpg

leslie tweets 2.jpg

leslie tweets 3.jpg

And at the end of a long day of enduring hatred and evil, she understandably left Twitter…

As a result of a pattern of targeted abuse, Twitter permanently suspended the account of this Milo Yiannopoulos person. A little bit later, Milo showed up at the Republican National Convention wearing a bulletproof vest, stood behind a “Trump/Pence” lectern, and let the world know that “I just got banned from Twitter,” saying that it was “for getting in a fight with a black Ghostbuster.” Here’s what that looked like…
Cnx6KK8WAAA-7oD.jpg

Here’s some of what he had to say on his Breitbart column:

“With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives… Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We’re winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot.”

“This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter.”

So… Just to recap: 1) Joined with hundreds of others at an event working toward racial justice, 2) Left encouraged, but overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem… wondering what we can possibly DO about it, 3) Woke up today and listened to yet another black voice talking about the constant messages she receives telling her that her black life DOESN’T, in fact,  matter, 4) Grieved over acts of such cowardice and hatred, as seemingly endless waves of racist, faceless people publicly attack a woman because of the color of her skin,  5) Watched as an accepted voice in the republican party calls TWITTER “cowardly” for trying to protect its users from abuse… While he ignorantly claims his right to “free speech” is being infringed… By a private company… Who doesn’t think people should be targeted for bullying and harassment… All while he is cheered on by “conservatives.” These folks SAY they love the free market… Right up until the market determines that their hate speech is not welcome. Then they cry about “free speech.” Here’s a news flash: Free speech does not mean free from consequences. GAH!! And 6) I considered shutting it all down and moving to a shack in the woods.

Which leads me back to this very important question: WHAT CAN WE ACTUALLY DO ABOUT IT? Is it just part of us? Is the system too ingrained? Is the problem too gigantic? Is the ocean just too big? Sometimes, while watching an auditorium full of white people cheer the news that no one will be charged for the killing of yet another murdered black man, it feels like there is nothing we can do… Maybe there ISN’T anything we can do about about problem this big. Maybe that’s what Mother Teresa was talking about when she said,  “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” So here’s what I did: I sent Leslie Jones a tweet. Here is what it said:

I don’t know if she’ll see it. I don’t know if it will matter. Sometimes–despite our best efforts, sometimes the ass holes of the world drown out the sound of our voices with their fear & pain (which presents itself in hatred). And I certainly don’t think that taking a moment to remind one person she is beautiful and valuable and loved is going to solve a problem the size of systemic racism… But here’s what it DID do: It reminded me, for a moment, that everything isn’t going to crap. It reminded me of beauty. And love. And it reminded me of the Cherokee man telling his grandson the story of The Two Wolves:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Maybe we are not making a dent in a problem the size of systemic racism… Maybe we’re not even making a difference to the person we are trying to be kind to… Maybe we are just feeding the good wolf inside of our own hearts. If we focus only on the enormity of the problem, any action we take seems hopelessly insignificant… But sometimes we are planting seeds of love that won’t bear fruit until long after we are gone. So what do we do? Something. Do SOMETHING. And make it loving! I get it… Sometimes the world is a big mess. We don’t have to clean the whole thing, but if we see something on the ground, we should go ahead and pick it up. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” So grab your Dixie Cup, and head back to the ocean… We’ve got work to do. And while you’re at it, send Leslie Jones a tweet to remind her “what human means.”

If you value this blog and want to help support it, HERE’S A WAY to do that. Love you.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Something We Can All Agree On…

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 8.53.38 PM.png

This post will be very short and a little bit crazy… Not unlike Tom Cruise.

The world is a very divided place right now–Just about anyone can see this. In these divided times, I feel like it is important to focus on the things we can all agree on. Here’s one: No one should ever try to dance to the song “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” by Bob Seger. I mean, I get it–You’re at a wedding, and you’re just trying to have some fun. But PLEASE hear me–I don’t care how many drinks you’ve had. I don’t care if you know every word. I don’t even care if you’re wearing a pink oxford and nothing below your waist but a pair of tighty whiteys and some slippery socks. Don’t. Do. It. It will not turn out well. There is no amount of alcohol that can make you look good while doing this.

carlton-dance_o_gifsoup-com.gif

“Today’s music ain’t got the same soul.”

Listen, we’ve all been fooled before. Some songs are not to be danced to. If you’re like me, you’ve learned your lesson from the cruel teacher that is a high school dance floor. I remember it well… Hearing the familiar intro from Use Your Illusion’s biggest hit, with Guns n’ Roses’ whining about how “Nothing lasts forever. Even cold November Rain.” So I walked up to a girl and asked her to dance… expecting to sway softly back and forth to the strangely soothing sound of Axel Rose trying his hardest to get his crappy, nasally voice to sound like an electric guitar. Then–six minutes into the song–all of a sudden you realize the song you’re listening to is no longer a “slow dance song.” And there I was, staring at a girl who was as horrified as I was, as Slash increased the intensity of his guitar solo… Both of us wondering how the hell we are going to transition from the standard high school slow dance to… WHAT?!? Some sort of gentle head-banging? And a deep sense of WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW? gives way to a genuine anger that someone would play this sort of joke on people. I imagine long-haired millionaires sitting on expensive couches, laughing as they decide to write a song that will leave millions of skinny white kids like me standing in the middle of a school gymnasium, unsure of what to do next.


When the rain starts falling in this video is when everything stated falling apart on the dance floor.

But of course they did! They had that joke played on them as well. They were out there slow dancing to “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago, and four minutes into it, all of a sudden the horns come in, and some damn fool starts screaming about “When we get there gonna jump in the air!” And they closed their eyes, shook their fists, looked to the heavens, and cursed the day Peter Cetera was ever born.

400px-khan.jpg

CETERAAAA!!!!!!

But here is what I want you know: Familiarity with a song does not make that song a good song to dance to. Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” is a great song to sing while you’re sitting in a car, but only a fool tries to dance to it. Just because some random wedding DJ doesn’t know a good dance song from his own ass, and just because you recognize the beginning piano part to Old Time Rock n’ Roll, it does NOT mean you should run out onto the dance floor like an idiot. The carnage will begin with uncoordinated white people attempting to slide across the floor, and it will eventually and inevitably devolve into people playing awkward air guitar. There are some lessons that can only be learned by going through the pain and humiliation of the people you love laughing and pointing at you… But this doesn’t have to be one of those times. You know what? I’m going to go ahead and just say avoid ANY Bob Seger song… Just as a rule of thumb. But the thing is, no one is going to hear “Night Moves” or “Against The Wind” and run out onto a dance floor, you know? They’re going to sing it at the top of their lungs on a road trip, but dancing? No way. But “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” can trick you if you’re not careful. People’s minds go straight to “Risky Business.” But Tom Cruise had choreographers, a cinematographer, and a director… And even with all of that, they still couldn’t manage to make him look like he knew how to dance. And he ended up playing air guitar… Just like you will.

This public service message has been brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood The Boeskool. Remember kids: Friends don’t let friends make an ass out of themselves by dancing to “Old Time Rock n’ Roll.” It is important to talk about issues that matter in times such as these. Thank you to Shannon Godbold for giving on PayPal. If you value this blog and want to buy me a coffee (disclaimer: I don’t drink coffee) every month or so, you can BECOME A PATRON. It’s easy, you can get fun stuff, and it really does make a difference. Also, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, or whatever. MUCH LOVE!

Posted in 3) Bathroom Humor, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

You Can Think We Need Guns To Protect Us From The Government, Or You Can Have Respect For The Troops, But You Can’t Have Both

56f9714dd6561.image

This is the sort of tyranny the “founding fathers” were protecting against.

If you talk with people about changing gun laws, it won’t be very long before someone shows up and explains that one of the main reasons we have the second amendment is to “protect us against the tyranny of our own government.” Believe me–I have had enough of these conversations to know… If you ask why people feel like they need to have weapons of war, they will invariably attempt to explain to you that the Second Amendment (which reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”) was written so that we could be armed to fight against our own government… When Obama comes to enslave the American people, I assume… Per the diabolical plans that he is obliged to carry out as a secret Muslim.

bear-arms.jpg

It couldn’t… Could it?

Now… Forget, for a moment, that the words of the 2nd Amendment are a jumbled mess of a sentence that could be interpreted any number of ways… Seriously. A jumbled. Mess. Try to diagram that sentence–I dare you. If I wrote a sentence like that in middle school, there would have been red lines all over it. And forget, for a moment, that when someone tries to get gun regulations passed in Congress, people point to the 2nd Amendment as a sort of proof that regulations are unconstitutional… Even though the words “well regulated” are right there in the text. Regulations. As in, “well regulated.” And forget, for a moment, that if refers to a “militia.” Which is something completely different than every jackass with a $1000 in a PayPal account being able to buy an assault rifle online, without a background check, and carry around that assault rifle on the street. Or in a bar. Or in a school. Or in a church.

And–if you can–even forget that the military (if it wanted to) could TOTALLY destroy any sort of civilian-led rebellion. Your red neck uncle and his AR-15 would never stand a snowball’s chance in hell (if hell were a real place) against our trained, well-equipped military machine. They have artillery, they have mortars, they have machine guns, they have .50 caliber turrets, they have RPGs, they have armored transports, they have tanks, they have smart bombs, they have stinger missiles, they have hellfire missiles, they have bunker-busting missiles. They have DRONES… Remotely controlled, flying robots that rain down death from the sky! They have a freaking Air Force, with Blackhawk helicopters and F14s and all kinds of other ways to kill a whole lot of people at once. They have microwave cannons and sound cannons and lasers and God only know what else. And they have nukes, you guys… NUKES! If you think the crappy gun you bought from Dick’s Sporting Goods is keeping the government at bay, you are living in a dream world. Wake up.

bomb-robot.jpeg

Turns out police departments also have “bomb robots” that can kill you remotely… So that’s a little disconcerting.

But even forgetting all that–How low of a view of our troops do you have to have to think that they are going to turn on the American people? Have you people ever even MET an American soldier? Do you think that they are such conscience-free, mindless machines that they would train their sights on American civilians, just because some bureaucrat points his finger? Most of these people who are hell-bent on keeping military-style weapons in the hands of everyday citizens (and kids as well) are probably people who profess to “respect the troops.” They cheer at airports, they tear up when people post those videos of soldiers coming home and surprising their kids, they stick their yellow ribbon magnets on their cars… But when it comes down to it, they really don’t trust those men and women to do the right thing. They think we need as many high-powered, semi-automatic assault rifles as possible–Just in case those same men and women they pretend to honor decide to… what… Put them in chains? Take away their freedom? Tax their tea too high?

tumblr_lz6b6dDmdQ1qzmrwlo1_500.jpg

Be careful… When she gets done hugging her kid, she’s coming for your guns.

So here’s the thing: If you are demanding that there is a need for people to have weapons that can kill a whole lot of people in a very short time (sometimes known as a “weapon of mass destruction) because of some perceived threat from our tyrannical government, please stop acting like you “respect the troops.” You don’t. You think that soldier in the airport is in on the conspiracy. You think that parent coming home from war is willing to enslave the American people. You think those troops represented by that yellow ribbon are not defending us… You think they need to be ended AGAINST. And that is a lot of things–paranoia, fear, ignorance–but it’s certainly not respect.

Thanks for reading. I seriously love you guys. Thanks to my newest patron, Sarah. All it took was me saying I’d hold my nose and vote for Hillary…:) If you’d like to be a patron and help support this blog, you can do that RIGHT HERE. That or PayPal. Or you can just share this and let someone else read it. Either way, I love writing for you, and I’m going to keep on doing it.

 

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

For Those Convinced Of Clinton’s Corruption

Think about this for a moment: Is there any result of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email misuse that wouldn’t have made you even more certain that she was completely corrupt? While she was secretary of state, she used a private email server. She has admitted over and over that this was a mistake. The FBI investigated her, and after their investigation, they concluded that although her private email server was “extremely reckless,” there was no indication whatsoever of any sort of criminal intent. So, if the FBI investigation would have come back and recommended an indictment, you all would have said, “See? I told you so!” But now, when the FBI investigation concludes that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” you are all still using this decision as proof of Hillary Clinton’s perceived corruption, and you’re still standing there, like, “See? I told you so!”

Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Is there any answer I could give that would satisfy you?”

You see, this is what happens when you attack a person and accuse her being part of some corrupt cabal that is “above the law.” When you bring charges against her and they don’t stick, you can look at the cameras and say, “See?” It’s actually a brilliant attack… It’s kind of like accusing someone of being an alcoholic, and then when she tells you she’s not, you say, “See? There it is… Denial.” The same thing happened with the Benghazi investigations. After eight different Benghazi hearings (at a cost of millions of dollars) conclusively found that Secretary Clinton did nothing wrong, the damage is still done, because it reinforces the perceived narrative that Hillary Clinton is so corrupt that she is “above the law.” But maybe she is not above the law… Maybe she just didn’t do the things they are accusing her of doing.

And the hell of it is, this line of attacks is successful. So successful, in fact, that there are a lot of people who look at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, and actually don’t know who would be worse–Her, or the dumpster fire known as Donald Trump. Some are even considering her as the lesser of two evils. It has affected me as well. I get it. It works. I don’t really trust her either… And I’m not even sure why. Which of all the accusations against her have actually stuck? When you press people to name something, they can’t. After some amorphous talk about emails, Benghazi, being “crooked,” enabling Bill’s infidelity, and maybe even tossing in some conspiracy theory email forward about a list of people close to the Clintons who died, usually people end up with a very unspecific, “I don’t know… I just don’t TRUST her.” And they’ll question her integrity. They’ll call her a liar… And then, it’s the same game: “She’s a liar! Want proof? ‘Hillary, are you a liar?’ [No.] <–SEE?!? There she goes again…” Even though the non-paritsan, Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site PolitiFact has shown Hillary’s statements to be the most consistently truthful of any of the candidates (51% true or mostly true… even more than the Bernie I love so much), while showing that only 9% of the things Donald Trump says are rated “true” or “mostly true.” That’s NINE percent… Then, when actual journalism doesn’t line up with your accepted narrative, what do you do? That’s right… You call the journalist liars as well. That, or you spend billions of dollars setting up an overtly biased “news” organization that damages the whole concept of news. COUGHFoxCOUGH…

dlGtWst.png

For some reason, they don’t seem to focus near as much on the outfits the men wear…

And if you don’t think that part of this has to do with Hillary being a woman, you are fooling yourself. Even as a young man in college, I can remember having a deep sense of “Who does she think she is?” while Hillary Clinton tried to get her healthcare bill passed. It wasn’t an overt “She needs to know her place,” but it was something close. But if a man had the tenacity and adept political maneuvering that Hillary Clinton has displayed, those things would be viewed as assets. But with her, it just comes off as her being conniving. Or “bitchy.” But as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said while Hillary was campaigning against Barack Obama, “Bitch is the new black.” Anyway, who were you expecting? If a woman was ever going to rise to being a stone’s throw from the most powerful position in a country that has been so very patriarchal for it’s entire history, did you think she was going to be a wilting violet? She has had to navigate a harsh political landscape for decades… Of course she’s a bitch. Bitches get shit done. Again–I get it. It’s distasteful when people compromise their principles… But governing is about compromise. Compromise  is a necessity. When a nation is as divided as ours is, uncompromising principles is a recipe for getting nothing done. AND WE HAVE SOME THINGS THAT NEED TO GET DONE!

hillary-clinton.jpg

Seriously… Just who were you expecting?

Instead, we have found ourselves living in a situation where many are SO ENTRENCHED in the “She’s crooked” narrative, that news can come out showing that Hillary Clinton did NOT do anything illegal, and her enemies are still sharing the story as if it is some sort of proof of her corruption. It’s craziness. And this is not to say that Hillary Clinton is above criticism. She’s not. Not even close. There are plenty of things for which she is responsible that she needs to answer for. The crime bill she and her husband championed is responsible for our prison population more than tripling since Bill Clinton’s presidency. It has negatively and disproportionately affected minorities, and it has basically set up a new system of enslavement and disenfranchisement for people of color. This is well worth criticizing… The trouble is, most of the people rooting for Trump APPRECIATE a policy that results in more brown people in prison… So the GOP can’t focus on that.

hillary-clinton-benghazi-.jpeg

Like a lot of you, I’m not super wild about it, but I guess “I’m With Her.”

But let’s just say–for the sake of argument–that all of her critics’ charges against her are true. Let’s say that she intended for those four people to die in the consulate attacks in Benghazi. Let’s say she fully intended to illegally and maliciously set up a less-than-secure email server for her job as Secretary of State. Lets say that she is guilty of everything from Whitewater to Benghazi and everything in-between… Even if it were all true, she still managed to keep herself out of trouble while just about every republican in a position of power has tried to prove it. That would be AMAZING! How impressive… Listen–Donald Trump can’t even dodge the charges from one little fraudulent “University.” One of two things is true: Either Hillary Clinton’s enemies cannot get any of these charges to stick to her because she is too politically astute, or they’re not sticking because she actually didn’t do them. Either way, she is infinitely more qualified to lead our nation than the angry, racist, inept, misogynistic, unknowledgeable, unstable buffoon that is the alternative… A man so colossally unqualified, that if you said the words “angry, racist, inept, misogynistic, unknowledgeable, unstable buffoon” on a gameshow, people would be able to guess who you’re talking about. Think about that. Make the right choice, America.

Facebook has (once again) changed its algorithm to make it harder for content-creators like myself to get their work out there without paying them money. If you like the stuff I write, share it on Facebook or Twitter. And if you REALLY like a certain post, you can give on PayPal and designate which post you’d like your money to go toward “boosting” on social media. Otherwise, you can BECOME A PATRONKimberly Torrey-White just did. Why? Because being generous is fun. And because she rocks.

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 188 Comments

That’s Not A Terrorist… That’s A VICTIM Of Terrorism

kkk-jesus-saves

This is an actual picture. And that’s an actual church. That’s a sign above them that reads “Jesus Saves.” And that thing behind those three hooded men on the right is a piano, and they used that piano to sing songs about how much they loved Jesus. And as much as we might like to believe that this sort of stuff is a thing of the past, it’s not. We’ve still got churches who use the Bible to make a case for how we should be killing Muslims… We’ve got churches who preach about celebrating the deaths of the gay people who died in Orlando… We’ve got “church leaders” vouching for how a morally bankrupt dumpster fire like Donald Trump is a “born again.” And yet, here I am–A person who calls myself a follower of Jesus… Just imagine if people looked at me and judged me (and my religion) by the hate-filled, murderous, torturing, racist, deceived douche bags in this picture. That wouldn’t make ANY sense. We know better than that, right? Right???

And yet yesterday morning, terrorists detonated a car bomb that ripped through a crowded marketplace in Baghdad. The blast killed over 200 people–many of them children–and wounded hundreds more. Though–just like when 45 people died in the terrorist attack at an Istanbul airport–I doubt there will be very many people around these parts changing their profile pictures to the Iraqi flag to show their support. In fact, I’d be willing to bet a whole lot of you never even heard about it. Why do you think this is? Why would so many in this country come together in solidarity when terrorists attack Paris? Or Brussels? But we don’t come together in the same way when there are attacks in Istanbul? Or Baghdad?

them

The horns never seem to be on us… 

I think this phenomenon has to do with keeping a clear “other.” It’s about maintaining an obvious “THEM” as a counterpoint to the “US” we are continually rooting for. And for so many people, the “US” in that last sentence looks a lot like white people. The “US” looks like the men under those hoods in the picture at the top of this page. And people in France and Belgium look a hell of a lot more like “US” than the people in Turkey or Iraq. Add to that the perception that people in France and Belgium worship “OUR” God and people in Turkey and Iraq worship “THEIR” God, and you’ve got yourself a fine recipe for tribalism. When the self-esteem of the tribe is getting a little low, nothing gives it a shot in the arm like a reminder the we are better than them. That’s “THEIR” tribe… Not “OUR” tribe. It’s us versus them… And the easier it is to tell “US” from “THEM,” the better. Language, skin color, the name they call God, the way they dress… THEM.

We don’t like complex story lines. We like clear lines between the good guys and the bad guys. We like simplistic narratives that tell us “They hate us because they hate freedom!” If there is an attack of some sort, it’s much easier to trigger our empathy if the people who were attacked look like we do, if they call God by the same name, if they’re one of “US.” We like story lines that provide simple solutions… Like calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”  But things get a little more complex when you consider that many of the Muslims leaving their countries and looking for a safe place to live are running from THEM.

iraq-shock-and-awe.jpg

When you consider how many died in Baghdad as a result of bombs dropped by OUR COUNTRY, things get even more complex…

Muslims are far and away the biggest victims of terrorism. If Christians are killed somewhere, it’ll get shared a lot in the U.S. because it feels like it happened to one of US, but seven times more Muslims have been killed by Al Qaeda than non-Muslims.  It’s difficult to determine the religious beliefs of the people who are killed in terrorist attacks worldwide, but most experts say that Muslims account for somewhere between 82% and 97% of the people who are killed by terrorists. So when bombs go off in a country like Turkey whose people (even though they have a secular government) are 96-99% Muslim, or in Iraq where about 95% of the people are Muslim, that story is a little bit more complex.

310CB20F00000578-3440253-image-a-2_1455101932028

This is what a victim of terrorism looks like. This is also what a fantastic beard looks like.

Here’s the thing: ISIS are a bunch of deceived, murderous ass holes. One of their goals is to get the world to think of THEM when it thinks of Islam. But no one hates ISIS more than Muslims. ISIS is not about Islam… It is about a demented ideology that kills people who don’t think like you do. This is what terrorists do. This is what ISIS does. They kill random people in an attempt to split the world even more starkly into “US versus THEM.” And most of the people they kill are Muslims. So this means that every time you accept the narrative that ISIS is somehow representative of Islam, you are helping ISIS be successful. When you equate terrorists with Islam (instead of a demented ideology that calls for killing people who disagree with you), you are actively working to HELP ISIS accomplish one of their main goals.

So last night I laid in bed and listened to people set off small explosions and fireworks in celebration of a country that was founded partially on the hopes of religious freedom. I truly believe one of the most patriotic things you can do this Fourth of July is standing in solidarity with Muslims. And if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, certainly one of the most “Christian” things you can do is to stand with your Muslim brothers and sisters against the forces of hatred in the world that would have us fearfully retreat into our little tribes. We can reject the dishonestly simplistic view of the world that attempts to divide us. We can reject the depraved PR campaign of ISIS that would have you look at your Muslim neighbor as one of “THEM” instead of one of “US.”

ISISflag2.jpg

If you’re looking at a person waving around a flag that looks like this, you’re looking at a murderous, evil asshole who no more represents Islam than Timothy McVeigh represented Christianity, or those robed men in the KKK represented Jesus.

But if you are looking at a Muslim, you are not looking at a “possible terrorist.” You are looking at a VICTIM of terrorism.  When you see someone walking around wearing traditional Muslim clothes, you are looking at a person who looks like a VICTIM of terrorism. If you’re looking at a woman wearing a hijab, you’re looking at what a VITCIM of terrorism looks like. If you’re looking at a Middle Eastern man wearing an Islamic skullcap, you’re looking at what a VICTIM of terrorism looks like (Also–just to be clear–If you’re looking at a man wearing a turban, you’re probably looking at a Sikh. Not a Muslim. A Sikh–A member of another really cool religion that is yet another VICTIM of prejudice and bigotry and violence in this country). If you’re looking at some Muslim kids walking through a grocery store, there’s probably a good chance those kids look pretty similar to the one of the dozens of kids who were VICTIMS of yesterday’s terrorist attack. We are all victims of the hatred and murder that seeks to divide us. When you look at a Muslim person, you’re not looking at one of “THEM.” You’re looking at one of “US.” 

I’ve been away for a little bit… Taking a short vacation with my family. This weekend, I’m attending the Wild Goose Festival with a bunch of other freaky people like me. Your support has partially made that possible, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. If you want to help support this blog by becoming a Patron, you can do that. Otherwise, you can join the fun on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Alligators, Assault Rifles, and Asking God For Help

“I think the biggest thing is pray… Pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray that this never happens again.” ~ Florida Governor Rick Scott, when asked what Americans can do to help.

rick_scott.jpg

This is a picture of Governor Rick Scott. He is *NOT* a crazy person.

That quote made me think of a story… For just under a decade, one of the things I did for my job was teach kids about child abuse. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I’ve spoken to probably over 100,000 third graders about what child abuse is, the different kinds of abuse, how to prevent it, and what to do if child abuse has happened or is happening to them. It wasn’t uncommon at all for me to tear up while discussing this topic that is so, SO important to talk about with kids. After a puppet presentation where the kids had an opportunity to ask the puppets questions, we would do a closing where we went back over some of the most important points of the program. One of the things we would always do was ask the kids to name a grown up they trust who they could tell if any kind of child abuse ever happened, or was happening to them. The hands went up, and out came the names: “My mom, my dad, my teacher, my principal, my neighbor, my friend’s parent…” Lots of names of grown ups they could trust. Sometimes they would name friends or a brother or sister, and we would say, “Kids are easy to talk to, but maybe that kid could go WITH you to tell a grown up… Because it’s the grown ups who are going to get you the help that you need.”

CitmadrW0AA6j8k

Yes, I’d like to report a disclosure of child abuse…

But every once in a while, a kid would throw in a monkey wrench. We’d ask, “Who’s a grown up YOU trust who you could tell?” And the kids would look at us with completely earnest eyes and say, “Jesus.” Or sometimes, “God?” If kids gave wrong answers, we always tried to spin it, so it didn’t sound like we were saying, “Wrong, you dip shit!” But it was important–especially with the Child Abuse Program–to make sure they had the correct information. And it always felt a little awkward trying to say that *maybe* Jesus wasn’t the best person to tell… We didn’t want to be like, “Maybe it would be better to tell someone REAL.” But we always were intentional about letting them know how important it was to tell a physical person. “How about telling someone who you can touch… Someone who can pick up a telephone and call DCS… Someone who can actually DO SOMETHING to get you the help that you need so this awful stuff that has been happening never happens again.”

Orlando has had its share of tragedies these last few days… First, singer Christina Grimmie (from the show “The Voice”) was shot and killed by a deranged man while she was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando. The next night a homophobic murderer walked into a gay nightclub called Pulse, shot and killed 49 people, and wounded 53 more. Then, two days later, a two-year-old boy was snatched by an alligator while he splashed in a man-made lagoon on a Disney resort. They found his body 16 hours later. Now–these three events are all horrible and tragic and heartbreaking… But there’s only ONE of these tragedies that anyone is going to do anything substantial about in order to try to prevent it from happening again in the future. I’ll give you a hint: It ain’t either of the ones involving guns.

alligator-zigzag-1.jpg

We’ve got an alligator problem here… How do we solve it? MORE ALLIGATORS!

Listen–They are going to move Heaven and Earth to make sure something like this alligator attack never happens again. After the child went missing, they removed five alligators from the lagoon and euthanized them. They will put up so many signs around that man-made lagoon, they will put up fences, they will pass laws… They will do whatever it takes. I’d be willing to bet they will probably pass a law making it illegal to step foot in an artificial lake. It wouldn’t shock me at all if they let people legally shoot any alligators they see until there are no more alligators found in the wild in central Florida. This one random act has exposed a public health concern–however rare–that the people are insisting NEEDS to be addressed… But you know what they WON’T do??? They won’t fill that 200 acre lagoon with as many alligators as they can find. And do you know WHY? Because when you have something that is dangerous and deadly, you don’t make things safer by bringing in more of the thing that is dangerous and deadly!!!

But that is exactly the sort of plan many people are suggesting as a result of these shootings in Orlando. Whatever the problem, the NRA’s solution is “More Guns!” I’m legitimately surprised the NRA and the “The-More-Guns-The-Better” crowd is not calling for more people to arm themselves as a response to the “Deadly Alligator Crisis” that everyone needs to be very afraid of… All while NRA representatives give interviews on Fox”News” about how this could have been prevented if that toddler would have been carrying a gun…

In 2001, a terrorist failed in an attempt to detonate explosives packed into his shoes… And fifteen years later, every person who wants to get on a plane still has to take their shoes off and put them through an x-ray scanner. And honestly? I don’t mind. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but if it help keep people safe–totally fine. And after terrorists used box cutters to take flights hostage, for a time you couldn’t even take nail clippers on a plane. But we do NOTHING as a nation to attempt to curb all this gun violence.

4f0bf9642f265fbbcc997ef67677a986

That’s a good question.

And any suggestions for changes in policy (other than filling the lagoon with more alligators) are met with accusations of trying to “take our guns” or “going against the 2nd Amendment.” But the people with this unlimited access to high-powered guns–and the people committing these atrocities–are not even CLOSE to being part of a “Well-Regulated Militia.”  And guess what… Even though the Constitution tells us we have the right to “keep and bear arms,” that right is not universal. Civilians still can’t take guns on a plane–Not even the “good guys with a gun.” You can’t take a gun into a courtroom. At the State Capitol here in Nashville, you can’t carry your guns into Legislative Plaza… And do you know WHY? Because the lawmakers there don’t want to get shot and killed. That’s why. And now we’ve got the orange-faced, golden-coiffed Richy McPoutyBigot (the republican nominee for president) calling for allowing guns in bars… Where people are drinking and getting inebriated… What would go wrong?

At a press conference after the Orlando mass shooting, a journalist asked Gov. Scott, “Is there anything you can do on a policy level to stop something like this in the future?” His answer: “There… Look, we’re dealing with a tragedy right now. Our prayers go out to everybody impacted. Law enforcement is doing their job… There will be plenty of time to think about, how do we make… Or, you know, continue to improve our society.” Well, that time is RIGHT FREAKING NOW, Rick Scott. We don’t need prayers–We need action! We need leaders who believe that there are things we can DO to make these murders less frequent. The strategy of the NRA-owned republicans is transparent: 1) Accuse people of “politicizing a tragedy” if they speak of need for reform “too soon.” 2) Wait… Wait for people’s outrage to subside… Wait for people to get distracted by the next story… Wait for people to lose hope that our government could ever do something to help, after your dirty money has filled Congress with people who are committed to obstructing anything that could be called “progress.” Wait as long as it takes for people to either forget or give up. And then 3) Continue with business as usual. No more! Something CAN be done. Your ideology of hopelessness is not only ineffective… It is actually costing people their lives.

2015-11-21t045416z_348020388_gf20000068268_rtrmadp_3_usa-election-republicans.jpg

If you believe this is all you can do, maybe you should get out of government, and start a church…

I’ll leave you with a quote from THIS AMAZING ARTICLE written by the Dalai Lama titled “Why I’m hopeful about the world’s future.” He wrote it after the Orlando massacre, and if  the events of the past week (or month, or year, or decade) have left you feeling hopeless, I highly suggest you read it. In the article, he writes: “It is not enough simply to pray. There are solutions to many of the problems we face; new mechanisms for dialogue need to be created, along with systems of education to inculcate moral values. These must be grounded in the perspective that we all belong to one human family and that together we can take action to address global challenges.” He goes on to say, “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the 21st century does not repeat the pain and bloodshed of the past. Because human nature is basically compassionate, I believe it is possible that decades from now we will see an era of peace — but we must work together as global citizens of a shared planet.

It’s weird asking for support. I usually put something at the end of my posts where I thank a Patron and let you know how you can support this blog. I work at a restaurant, and people give me $10 or $20 all the time for simply spending an hour bringing them some food and drink. But it takes me a lot longer than an hour to write one of these posts. If you value this blog, and you’d like to BECOME A PATRON, or if you’d like to leave a tip on PayPal, feel free. When you do this, I get to tell my wife that my time spent writing these posts is paying off in small ways. And that’s really, really fun for me… Love you guys. And thank you.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Before We Forget About Orlando, Here Are 4 Ways Christians Need To Change

Outrage is like catnip to some people…myself included. We find an issue to be mad about, we make a couple of Tweets, and we post some articles on Facebook… And that’s about it. But the kind of anger we experience is meant to spur us into ACTION. Instead, we get the relief of being angry about things, and even experiencing some corporate outrage in the echo chambers of social media… Then we feel a little bit better, and move onto the next issue–But nothing really CHANGES. It’s a counterfeit. And then–a few months later–when the same exact sort of injustice happens again, we’re left wondering, “Why hasn’t anyone DONE something about this!?!” Well, before we all move on to the next issue, I’d like to suggest a few things that actually need to change… Particularly within my tribe: Christianity.

1. Change The Way You Read The Bible

Stop reading the Bible the way that ISIS reads the Qur’an. The people who commit horrible acts like what happened in Orlando are the sort of people who are CERTAIN that their way of understanding scripture is the one right way. If you are the kind of person who tries to quote a verse in Leviticus to “prove” that God hates homosexuality, you are part of the problem. And if you are the sort of person who thinks one verse that has Jesus telling his disciples to “buy a sword” negates the overwhelming call for nonviolence on Jesus’ followers, again, you are part of the problem. The shooter’s father said (in a video comment), “The issue of homosexuality and its punishment–all that they do–God himself will give punishment to homosexuality. It is not for people to decide.”  This way of seeing things isn’t about Christianity or about Islam.. It’s about fundamentalism. It’s about a dangerous certainty that informs the way people read scripture, and interprets what is read as having God be for *them* and against everyone else.

o-GAY-FLAG-facebook.jpg

If you feel threatened when you see a flag like this, you are probably reading the Bible the wrong way…

I don’t care what religion you call yourself–You cannot separate the belief in the violent God (who is planning on sending all the gays to be tortured forever in Hell) from the acts of violence committed in his name. Reading the Bible in a way that ends up with a god who you have to keep reminding people was “vengeful and full of wrath” has real-world consequences. And right now we are seeing the fruits of those beliefs in a hate-filled God… We are seeing the fruits of the garbage that is “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” This. Needs. To change. There are other ways to read and understand the Bible (THIS IS THE BEST EXPLANATION OF THAT I HAVE EVER READ).

2. Change The Way You Pray

Telling people you are “praying for them,” while believing that the god you are praying to hates them enough to send them to Hell is one of the most F’ed Up things that I can imagine. Most of those same people probably believe that I’m going to Hell also. And I totally get why you’d think I’m going to Hell… We believe in completely different Gods! You believe in the god who hates his enemies, and I believe in the God who LOVES his enemies. Either way, if our prayers are to have any significance at all, our prayers need to become loving actions. Otherwise, what are they worth? In the Bible, James writes about this…

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or a sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

There was a neat story about Chick-Fil-A workers going into work on a Sunday (when Chick-Fil-A is usually closed) and making sandwiches to give to the people who were waiting in-line to give blood. And as awesome as this is, if it’s done out of some desire to save people from hellfire, it is “dead and meaningless.” We’re not trying to feed people as a means to an end… Hoping to get them to say some meaningless, magical prayer that will save them FROM a monstrous God who is sending everyone but a very select few to be tortured forever. We feed people because they are hungry. We feed people because they are people. We love people because they are worthy of being loved. And we remind them that they have infinite worth, and that there is a Force in the universe that loves them wildly… Regardless of where they are from. Regardless of what name they have for God. Regardless of what they have or what they look like… And yes–Regardless of who they love.

13413647_10154057149526187_2830280585998464619_n.jpg

If you don’t feel comfortable sitting next to people in church, you probably don’t have any business telling them they are in your #ThoughtsAndPrayers. This photo was taken by the amazing Tabitha Hawk… A member of our Church.

All over the place, we saw people summoning “Thoughts and Prayers” for the victims in Orlando, and for their families… But many of the people making those pleas were the very same folks who have been actively working to pass laws that make it legal for people to discriminate against the sorts of people who might go to a club like Pulse on a Saturday night. And those same folks call for a”moment of silence” in honor of the ones who died? I agree with Rep. Jim Hines, who said that these, “smug, self-empowering moments of silence in the House… do absolutely nothing for anybody.” If there is any sort of abomination involved here, it is the process of going through the motions of “honoring” a group of people you believe are worthless–Or at least worth less. Keep your moments of silence. Silence is what the LGBT community has been getting for a very long time from many of our elected leaders… I doubt they need any more. Which leads me to my next change…

3. Change The Way You Vote

Somewhere around 90% of Americans favor stricter gun control laws. Do you have any idea how hard it is right now to get 90% of Americans to agree on ANYTHING?!? It is next to impossible. There is absolutely no rational reason for people to be able to buy military weapons that are designed to kill many people in a very short amount of time. And even though the republican allegiance to the NRA is easier to see, this is far from an issue that is split down party lines… There are plenty of democrats who are bought and sold by the NRA as well. These are people who profit off of our fear, and they need to be voted out. This is a public health crisis. As Nicholas Kristof wrote (and was proven true), “More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.” Yet we have a legislature that is so owned by the NRA that it doesn’t allow our government to keep statistics on gun deaths anymore, or even STUDY gun violence. President Obama explains this better than I could ever hope to in this video:

This video is so very important for all of us to watch. This situation is not hopeless. There are things we can do to make our world safer. And save lives. If you want to call yourself “Pro-Life,” then BE pro life. We have an election right around the corner. Please–If you care about this, vote in a way that reflects that concern. Twenty of the lives that were lost in Newtown were kids. These 49 young lives taken in Orlando were people’s children. If all of the people who claimed to be Christians voted in a way that reflected actually being “Pro-life” for more than just Life Before Birth, we could actually DO SOMETHING to make these sorts of tragedies less likely. And I realize people will say things like “People who want to murder can do it with a knife or a hammer” or “Cars kill people–should we ban those too?” or some other BS… But here’s the thing: Cars have uses other than killing people. And if this jack hole in Orlando had walked into that night club with a knife or a hammer, there would be a whole lot fewer calls that had to be made to parents, explaining that the child they love has been killed by a madman–A maniac who we have guaranteed the right to freely purchase a weapon of mass destruction. I get it–Murderers are still going to murder… But we don’t have to make it so easy for them.

4. Change Where You Go To Church

If you go to a church that doesn’t welcome queer folks every bit as fully as you would welcome straight people, you can keep your #ThoughtsAndPrayers. The Church was never meant to be a place of exclusion. The way Christians have treated the LGBT community will soon be looked back on in the same shameful way we look back on the way the Church justified discrimination and hatred and exclusion of People of Color and women. If you feel your heart breaking and changing and evolving on the issue of inclusion within Christianity, you don’t have to stay in a place that preaches exclusion. There are other options… Churches like the one my family and I attend. Last year a whole bunch of people from our church went to Nashville’s Pride event, and we walked in the rain along side our LGBT brothers and sisters, as people calling themselves “Christians” shouted hateful garbage through their megaphones. It was lovely… the day was filled with the kindest folks you’ll ever meet. I took my kids. They loved it. Here’s a picture from last year’s Pride:

11412335_10206990620424231_1860943945977169300_n

That’s me over on the right, along with a couple of my kiddos. We can’t wait to go back this month… And no act of violence by some deranged fundamentalist could keep us from returning to stand with our friends.

My life is so much richer for having people in it who are different than me. And belonging to a faith community that reflects that reality has been so life-giving. I feel so sorry for those people who go to a church where they feel like they may be the only person in the building who cried their eyes out watching “Rent.” There is no reason why anyone should feel trapped in a church that is focused on exclusion. If the people you are surrounded with respond to tragedies like the Orlando massacre with demonization of Muslims, blaming of immigrants, calls for even more weapons of war, and silence on the hypocrisy of prayers to a God who supposedly looks on these victim’s orientation as being one that is worthy of death, THERE ARE OTHER PLACES FOR YOU TO GO TO CHURCH. Vote with your feet. Christianity has never been about exclusion. If your church community is more about who it keeps out than who it welcomes in, you are in the wrong kind of church. If Christianity is to be worth anything at all, then we must be allies and advocates and friends to the vulnerable people around us. We must be examples of rational minds and radical love… And not the other way around. 

If you value this blog and want to support it with a couple bucks a month, it is really easy to do. You can become a Patron on my  Patreon Page. Nathan McKinney is one of my newest patrons… I’m totally honored. And he’s totally going to win himself a T-shirt. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Let us keep looking for ways to respond to hatred with love. Let us continue to strive to Be The Change…

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

14 Things That Feel True To My Broken Heart After Orlando

I don’t think I can write about his right now. I can’t be positive… And I don’t want to be negative. What I want to do is remind people that love is stronger than hate, but it’s hard to do that with tears in your eyes. I want to expose all of the hypocrisy of people who talk about “praying for” people who wouldn’t even be welcome in their church… But what’s more anger going to do right now? I want to shine a light on hatred and bigotry, and expose it for what it is… But then I realize that hatred and bigotry has got way too much of the spotlight right now. I want to write about how this one man doesn’t represent Islam any more than he represents me because we’re both men. I want to do something to remind people that there is hope… Even when hopeless people kill and destroy. I want to choose love… In such a real and honest way that it inspires people to do the same. But if I’m being honest, I’m pretty numb. I’m scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter like a zombie… And there’s no way I’m going to have anything worthwhile to write for a little bit… So here’s some things that struck me as true that I wanted to share with you:

13417495_1159199387506447_2255414923728920154_n.jpg

13413077_10153975166201130_8684445261855112907_n

 

13428652_1595927807103333_7725334090844701852_n

Here’s a picture of the line of people waiting to give blood in Orlando.

May we take these acts of hatred, and let them teach us how to love each other better than we do. May we take these acts of continued insanity, and let them teach us how to be rationale and sane. May we take these acts of violence, and let them teach us the fruits of violence. May we take these acts of terror, and–instead of allowing them to make us more afraid–let them teach us to be brave… And to love bravely… And to live bravely. May we look for the helpers… May we take these acts acts of war that feel like defeat, and let them strengthen our resolve that LOVE WINS. And may we take these acts of terror and fear, and let them teach us to bravely love the people in our paths… Especially the ones who are feeling unloved and vulnerable. And most of all, may we be good to each other. I love you.

If you’d like to support this blog, you can.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Had Nothing To Do With This

Imagine with me, for a minute, that a tornado was coming down your street. The path of the tornado destroyed the three houses next to yours, but then–for some unknown reason–the tornado’s path crossed the road and destroyed the houses across the street. There was a little bit of damage, but for the most part, your house went pretty unscathed. Now. There are two sorts of folks out there… 1) There are the folks who chalk this whole event up to chance, and 2) There are the folks who look at this occurrence as proof of the Almighty’s miraculous and sovereign hand in the world. And inevitably, when something like this DOES happens, in come the declarations of how God was somehow behind these events. The family in the “spared” house proclaims how grateful they are to God for protecting their house… Their friends and family get on Facebook and make comments like “Thank God you’re all safe!” It’s everywhere. Even the insurance companies refer to situations like this as “an Act of ____?” That’s right: God.

o-TORNADO-facebook

Behold… The will of the Lord.

This way of thinking about God has been around for a very long time, but it is alive and well today… From Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson‘s belief that 9/11 was God’s punishment for abortion, the ACLU, the feminists, and the LGBT community… All the way to a pastor who got shot in the head  by a stray bullet a few days ago while she was in a beauty parlor, who credited God with “sparing her life” (though she seems to have no problem with a God who shoots her in the head just to show how he can save her life).  It’s a very simplistic formula. It goes like this: It Happened + God Is In Control = God Must Have Allowed/Ordained It. In the Old Testament, if the Israelites were fighting against some other group, they believed their victory or defeat was up to God. If they lost, they would explain it as being their fault for not being holy enough… And in victory, they would say, “God was with us, and that’s why we won the battle.” When it didn’t rain, this same God was sending the drought because of their sinfulness. It is a very archaic, very pagan picture of God… The sort of God that throws lightning bolts from the heavens when he’s angry. It is the God of 20/20 hindsight… The kind of creator where we can find out if God was with “OUR SIDE” by asking whether or not we won–Yes? With us. No? Obviously NOT with us.

dammit-jesus-wrong-wheel

I blame this on Carrie Underwood. And Jesus… But mostly Carrie Underwood.

But there are a few of problems with this way of thinking about God. One problem comes when you are part of the group that was destroyed by the troops. The Israelites dealt with his problem quite a bit: “Wait, if we’re God’s ‘chosen’ people, why in the world are we enslaved?” And, like a lot of folks still do today, they decided God must be punishing them. Or removing them from his protection (six of one, half dozen of another). Another problem comes when people you love dearly are living in one of those houses across the street. When the tornado misses your house and destroys your neighbor’s house, how much you care depends on how much you love your neighbor. But the biggest problem to this way of thinking about God comes when you start believing that God loves the people across the street every bit as much as God loves you. The people across the street… The people across the border… The people across the oceans… All the people.

PLg3Z6T

Just in case you can’t read it, this has Jesus saying, “Don’t let them merge.” Also, it’s God’s will that this makes you laugh more than it offends you…

A family I know lives in Houston, and a last week a deranged man took a pistol and an assault rifle, and–for whatever reason–decided to start shooting people. His rampage happened in the neighborhood where they were attending church over Memorial Day weekend. They didn’t even figure out that they had been on lockdown until later in the day, but when they found out, my friend posted something about it on Facebook. And–as often happens in situations like these–in came a flood of comments proclaiming thankfulness to God for this family’s safety. Comments like “Praise the Lord y’all are safe!” and “Thank you Jesus for your protection.” Even in the local news, a city official said (speaking about the police officers who responded), “By the grace of God, none of them were injured seriously…” And that’s great if you’re on “Team Police.” And it’s great news if you’re on “Team Family I Know.” But one of the people who was shot that day DID die. His name was Eugene Linscomb, but his friends called him “Gene.” He was 56 years old, and he has friends and a family who love him. He was a veteran of the Navy. He has a wife. He has a daughter (You can read his obituary and see pictures of him and his family HERE). So I imagine if someone from “Team Gene” heard you thanking God for this situation, they might be thinking, “Wait… God’s behind all this?”

But another person died in the Houston shooting. He was a veteran as well–a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan… A person with friends and a family who loved him. His name was Dionisio Garza III, and he was the shooter. His life was ended by a SWAT sniper’s bullet. His mom, Cathy, said, “I think he was haunted by everything that he saw there and he experienced there. I think it changes you. I don’t know how you can go through what he went through and see what he saw and not have it change you or have it affect you.” His father, Dionisio Garza Jr., told the news, “Just in the last two weeks it progressively got worse… It was not the same boy that we raised. Not the loving uncle, the loving brother. Something snapped. It wasn’t him anymore. I’m not making excuses. No excuses. I know he did this, but it wasn’t him anymore. My son was broken. We want a clear-cut, good and evil in situations like this, but as we mature, we find that things are rarely as simple as we want them to be…

Pulp Fiction (1994) 720p[17-17-24].JPG

“This was divine intervention!” ~ Jules Winnfield

Listen–If someone shoots a bullet at you and misses, it’s easy to “thank God” for that bullet missing the mark. If it zings past you and finds someone else’s chest, how much God was involved depends on how much you care about that person. If it lands in your enemy’s chest, God “surely” had a hand in things. A stranger’s chest? Tragic, but at least you’re still here. But if it flies past you and finds the chest of your chid, it’s not so easy to credit God with guiding the bullet’s path. People always look for a simple solution to a complex and tragic situation. It is not easy to live in that uncertain place, where there are no clear answers… So people find comfort in the God who “needed another angel in Heaven.” They look for the “reason” people get cancer. They look for “God’s will” in all this, and sometimes I just want to grab them by the shirt and say, “GOD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!”

The more we care about the people in the other tribes, the harder it is to hold onto this idea of a God who is for US and against THEM. And believing in the God who loves the person in your sights every bit as much as God loves you makes it way harder to pull the trigger… especially when you’re trying to follow the one who died LOVING his enemies. And said, “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God.” But for many people, the picture of a God who is good enough to love everyone–even our enemies–is as hard to swallow now as it was for people to swallow a few thousand years ago. People who believe that God is in control of every little thing are often the same people who are terrified of God. And why wouldn’t you be terrified of that God?

KfVcfRp

It turns out that the internet has a bunch of funny results when you search “Jesus take the wheel.”

For a lot of people, the only God they’ve ever known is the God of “Us versus Them.” They can’t even IMAGINE a God who is on everyone’s side, because–without even being able to put words to it–that would mean a God who isn’t in control of everything. They would rather have an all-powerful God who “wills” the evil and pain in the world, than have the complexity and mystery of a God who enters into the pain WITH US. Letting go of the God who controls everything feels like giving up on God altogether… But the God who is in control of every little thing quickly becomes a monster. And this is the reason so many people give up on the idea of God altogether: Because that archaic, pagan, all-powerful God becomes easy to fear, but impossible to love. And I get why a lot of people are atheists… If that old God was the only picture of God I had available to me, I’d be an atheist too. Ironically, the simplicity that much of the Church clings to is what is driving so many people away from Church. But God is complex. And mysterious. And loving. That simplistic, black & white, “We’re good, they’re evil” tribal deity was what the people in the Old Testament THOUGHT God was like… But this was the messed up idea of God Jesus came to correct. And thank God for that.

I am so honored to have people who have decided to help support this blog by becoming Patrons. One person who just became a Patron is named Lynda Chidester. She values my writing, and it makes me feel energized. And meaningful. And loved. Thank you SO MUCH, Lynda. If you value this blog, and you’d like to help support my writing, you can BECOME A PATRON as well. Or, just join the fun on Facebook and Twitter. Or even Instagram?

Posted in 1) Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments