The Reason I Love “Flat-Earthers”

You’ve heard of these people. right?  They’re the ones who believe that the earth is actually flat, and that attempts to make it look like our planet is a sphere are actually the results of a vast international conspiracy. They’re the ones who even Biblical literalists–people who believe that the earth is 6000 years old, that God killed everyone on the planet (other than Noah, his family, and two of every animal on the ark), and that a guy named Jonah spent three days inside the belly of a giant fish and lived, among other things… even BIBLICAL LITERALISTS are looking at them like, “Settle down, flat-earthers. Get a grip. Let’s try to use a little common sense, huh?”

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Which one is it? 

Anyway, I love flat-earthers. And it’s not because I love their minds. They’re obviously idiots. The reason I love them is because the clear idiocy of their argument makes it clearer–even to those bent toward conspiracy theory–that we need to return to a place where reason and rationality and evidence rule our conversations and our beliefs. It’s like if a climate denier was making her case, and someone chimed in, “I totally agree with you. And this is why it’s so important that make people aware that Obama is a SPACE ALIEN!” And then the climate denier is like, “Whoa, whoa… Let’s not get crazy.” When even the crazies think you’re crazy, maybe the pure stupidity of the conversation that’s taking place can jolt people into a realization that evidence matters… And there are some things we can know… And there is such a thing as truth. I think the whole “flat-earther” thing is just stupid enough to make people realize that there is truth in the world, and that we can look at come people and say with certainty, “You are 100% wrong. And here’s why.”

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Sure, you have all the answers on your cell phone… But no one taught you how to THINK. (Also, if anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me, this T shirt is it)

Google has made experts of everyone. We are living in an age where every single person has the answer to every single question inside of their pocket. It’s a time people refer to as “Post-Truth.” People believe they can’t trust anyone, and concepts like “reputability” have become a punchline. It’s the erosion of evidence. It’s expertise under attack. It’s “Any negative polls and fake news.”  It’s “I know you went to medical school for 8 years, but I saw this YouTube video….” It’s 58% of republicans think higher education is a bad for America. It is a direct attack on the truth. And when there is no truth, and every opinion is just as valid as every other opinion, liars and brutes rise to power. This is why this administration–with their “fake news” and “nothing burgers,” and with the full support and complicity of the republican party–is laser-focused on attacking journalism… attacking science… attacking education… attacking evidence.

And all of this coordinated attack on truth fits very nicely with religious fundamentalists who are desperately trying to hang on to the logically impossible story they have been presented. And so, when someone says, “Here is why we know for a FACT that the world is older than 6000 years.” Or when someone says, “There is a mountain of EVIDENCE showing that autism is not caused by vaccines.” Or when someone says, “There is SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that human beings are causing the planet to warm up,” these statements cannot be attacked in a rational, fact-based way… So instead, people attack the concepts of FACTS and EVIDENCE and SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS.

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But there ARE facts in the world. There IS such a thing as evidence. Think about it… Even the concept of “lying” assumes that there is such thing as “truth.” It’s built into our language. We talk about things being “better” or “worse” all the time, and those very concepts of “quality” assumes that there is a “goodness” that we are either getting closer to, or further away from. When we make an “argument” for something, we are appealing to REASON as an authoritative means of settling things. “I believe this because of this evidence.” We break things down into axiomatic building blocks. “If we can know anything, then we can know [X]… And if we can know [X], then we can reasonably know [Y],” right? This is how we function. This is how we believe. This is what human rationality looks like. Words like “Why” and “Because” are as part of us as the concept of language. If we asked someone why they believed the things that they believed, and they answered, “Bleeds peanut butter average pumice,” we would know they are not playing by the same rules of rationality that we are playing by.

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Irrefutable evidence that the Earth is spherical.

Within these rules of rationality, the evidence is overwhelming. So in order to not give in to that evidence, the flat-earther (and many others) must instead give in to Conspiracy Theory: The willing to believe that EVERYONE IS IN ON IT. When faced with evidence that our beliefs are unreasonable, we find it easier to believe that the evidence has been faked (ignoring how unreasonable that possibility is). And this is where things get really dangerous, as far as valuing the truth is concerned. Willingness to believe that “everyone is in on it” at such a grand scale makes ANY lie believable. Consider centuries and centuries of scientific study, all falsified by the entire scientific community in order make people question the factual accuracy of the Bible… Or possibly to set us up for the most amazing April Fools joke ever.

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Well now I don’t know WHAT to believe…

But what’s so genuinely gross about this way of looking at things is what it says about our view of human nature. In some dark corner of the internet, someone is convinced that science has already discovered that all it takes to cure cancer is shoving a whole clove of garlic up your butt while sniffing vaporized lavender oil before you go to bed… But the “scientists” and “big pharma” don’t want you to know about it, because that’s how they get rich. “Follow the money, man,” they say. But what they’re REALLY saying is that everyone who is involved in cancer research is the sort of despicable human being who would rather withhold a cure–watching kids and parents and grandparents die miserable, painful deaths–than tell the truth about a cure that would save countless lives, all because there’s money in it for them. Not one or two greedy, immoral scientists. ALL of them.

And that same level of evil conspiracy is what it would take to pull off something like trying to convince everyone that the world is a sphere when it was actually flat. Everyone who works in GPS, everyone who works with satellites, every astronomer, every astronaut, every meteorologist, every person sitting at a computer photoshopping pictures of the planet–taken from space–to make it LOOK like the Earth is a sphere, countless others… Every one of them is in on it. Conspiracy theory is a disease of the mind, and it’s a disease to which only those of us with the very lowest view of humanity are susceptible. 

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I know, I know… It feels weird to me as well. But sometimes we actually ARE right.

The PROBLEM comes with the fact that liberals and progressives aren’t very well-suited to combat this disease of the mind. We like to pat ourselves on the back for “seeing both sides of things.” Many us have landed where we have landed as a reaction to fundamentalism… And anything that feels even remotely close to the “I’m right/You’re wrong” brand of certainty (that was forced on us in our youth) sets off a sort of PTSD reaction inside us to the fundamentalism we rejected. We rejected their intolerance. We rejected their exclusion. We came to think of tolerance and inclusion as virtues.

And what happens (and what many of us have seen happen and experienced many times) is that people throw those words right back in our faces. “Oh sure… You ‘liberals’ are really ‘tolerant.’ You don’t seem very tolerant of my desire to use the N-word! And as soon as I want to pass legislation taking away rights from gay people, all of a sudden I’M the bad guy. Some ‘inclusion.'” But tolerance and inclusion are not the goals. The goal is getting closer to Goodness… The goal is the Truth. People functioned for a very long time under the belief that intolerance and exclusion were Good and True, and you thought we were attacking Goodness and Truth. But what has happened is NOT that we have rejected the idea that there is Goodness and Truth in the world… What has happened is that we have encountered a better argument. 

I mean, is anything settled? What this comes down to is an ideological battle between Truth and Moral Relativism. But if reason is of any value at all, then moral relativism is a self-defeating ideology. With it, we land in a place where the only thing that is “wrong” is to tell someone else that they are wrong. And besides the self-evidence of that logical paradox, when we land there, we can’t “know” anything… And who wants to listen to the opinion of someone who believes that we can’t know anything? Not me…

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Dip shits. No shame here… I’ve been a dip shit before. Just own it, change your mind, and move on.

Fundamentalists and conservatives think young adults are getting “brainwashed” when they go to college. We’re not getting brainwashed… We’re getting exposed to better arguments. We’re having conversations with people who think differently than us. We’re learning that much of the certainty we inherited as we grew up was misplaced, but this realization doesn’t mean we don’t believe in the ability to KNOW anything. Our rejection of old time religion does not mean a rejection of spirituality. Our intolerance is not for you… It’s for your irrational and immoral arguments. And as far as “inclusion” is concerned, we’re not saying that you’re not allowed at the table… We’re just saying that you’re wrong. We have to be able to embrace those words: You are wrong. We’re so afraid of becoming fundamentalists, we are afraid to say, “I am right about this. And that makes you wrong.”

And this is why I love the flat-earthers. They are so CLEARLY wrong that it allows us (some of us, at least) to overcome our liberal sensibilities and say, “That is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard.” Because sometimes that needs to be said. Telling someone they are wrong is NOT dehumanizing. Sometimes it is the process by which we protect something as precious as The Truth. You want to see a “Snowflake?” Watch what happens when a progressive tells a fundamentalist they are wrong… It’s like, “Wait. I thought you were supposed to accept me as I am! What happened to inclusion?!?” Inclusion doesn’t mean that we have to include your bad arguments with our better ones. Tolerance doesn’t mean tolerating lies. I’m sorry if we gave you the impression that we don’t believe in Truth. We are not saying that no one can KNOW… We’re saying that our argument is BETTER than yours. Progressive doesn’t mean “There is no Truth.” Progressive means that we are getting progressively closer to the Truth than we used to be.

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What The Muslims Taught Me About Jesus

Two days ago, someone vandalized The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro… A Mosque in a town not far from where I live in Nashville, Tennessee. They spray painted the words “Fuck Allah” multiple places, spelled out those same words in bacon, and then covered the door handles in bacon as well. This is not the first time people have vandalized this Mosque and terrorized the people who worship there. Seven years ago, they were the victim of anti-Islamic graffiti, a bomb threat, and arson. While they were trying to build, members of the Murfreesboro community tried to sue to keep them from building the center, and the plaintiff’s lawyer argued that Islam isn’t a real religion, so they couldn’t used religiously zoned land “because these are the same people who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 9/11.” Not exactly “welcoming.” But because of yet another act of violence and hatred, yesterday they had a gathering where members of the community could express their solidarity. And since it’s only about half an hour away, I thought I’d go stand with the folks saying, “We are not okay with this.”

I had never been to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro before, so I let my phone give me directions… But even with Siri talking to me, I almost missed my turn. I was too busy looking at a Church with a ridiculous amount of big white crosses out front. There is a Church RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the ICM called “Grace Baptist Church.” And their property is covered with just under 40 large crosses. Here is a pic I got from Google Maps:

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Wouldn’t it would be weird if churches decorated their lawns with electric chairs or guillotines? 

It certainly doesn’t look like the spot where you are getting ready to turn into a Mosque’s parking lot… But then again, it doesn’t look like your average front yard of a Baptist Church, either. But back to that in a moment…

The gathering was beautiful. There were different leaders from different faith communities who spoke out against the acts of violence and hatred, and everyone was encouraged by the big turnout of people willing to spend their evening showing their solidarity and love for their neighbor. It felt like this sweet, heavenly break from the “Us vs. Them” mentality that makes people call out for walls instead of bridges. I loved it.

After it was finished, I went and briefly talked to Saleh Sbenaty (who is on the board of ICM, and was also the spokesperson for the event), and I asked him this question: “What is your relationship like with the church next door?” He immediately looked disheartened. He said, “Didn’t you notice the 39 crosses as you drove in?” I had just told a friend that I bet those crosses weren’t there before the Muslims moved into the neighborhood. Churches will have ONE big cross… Sometimes THREE big crosses… Almost NEVER will there be 39 big crosses lining the property. I looked into the history of those crosses. Turns out it started as thirteen crosses. Then ten more were added. Now there are 39. The church voted to do it “to make a statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity… We wanted them to see the crosses and know how we felt about things.”

Saleh told me that the Mosque has reached out over and over to their Christian neighbor, but they had no interest in getting to know them. He mentioned that when the crosses were being made for the church, they ran short on resources… The Mosque offered to pay for the lumber they needed. The Church refused.

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This makes me proud to be an American.

Now, please don’t let this sound like I’m “Christian bashing.” There were ALL KINDS of Christians at the gathering. I’m not Baptist bashing either. There were people from other Baptist congregations in attendance as well. I don’t even want this to sound like I’m bashing the Church who put up all those crosses… Like a bunch of white middle fingers. There are probably all kinds of sweet, kind folks who attend that church… People with worries and fears and stresses and kids who love them just like the rest of us. I’m not trying to dehumanize the people who go to Grace Baptist church. They are certainly human, and worthy of being loved… Just like the rest of us. Here’s what I AM saying: They are getting it wrong. 

It’s almost parable-level of self evidence, right? Like I can see a story about some lawyer asking Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life/Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus telling him a story about two places of worship… One who didn’t offer to help when people desecrated their neighbor’s Mosque, and another who offered to buy some lumber for even more middle-finger-crosses to be pounded into the ground to make even more of a “statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity.” One of these things is like Jesus, and one of them isn’t. “WHICH ONE WAS A NEIGHBOR TO THE OTHER?” Jesus asked. And yet there are SO MANY churches today can’t seem to get this simple parable. This is the offensive genius of the Parable of the Good Samaritan… Sometimes the one you think is getting all the theology wrong is actually the one God is using to teach you how to love… teaching you that the cross is not a middle finger.

So this actually isn’t a story to beat up on the sort of religious communities who preach that America is God’s favorite, and have people who wear things like this to church…

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Pulled this from GBC’s Facebook page. I can almost guarantee you that these guys are nice. They’re completely wrong… about those outfits AND about their theology… But they are almost certainly nice guys.

This is actually a story about hope. It is a story about a boy scout troop who got together with some members of the Baha’i faith last night and started scrubbing some walls… like little Holden Caulfields, scrubbing the “Fuck Yous” off the bathroom doors of the world.

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I’m not crying… YOU’RE crying.

It’s a story of hundreds of people–people of differing faiths standing along side people of no faith at all–gathering together around a goodness that transcends the borders of nations, as well as the borders of theology. It’s the story of people trying to convince each other that everything is not garbage… People standing with their neighbors and reminding them that the darkness is no match for the light… People standing together, professing with their lives and agreeing with the truth that, when it comes to loving your neighbor, it is way more powerful… more life-giving… more Christ-like… and more loving to DO the right thing than it is to “believe” the right thing.

Now–Just like Jesus said… “Go and do likewise.”

Admit it… You like this blog. And you’re probably thinking, “I wish I could help support this dude.” Well, good news–YOU CAN! You can Be A Patron, or you can Give On Paypal, or you can just share this post with the people in your life. Yada yada, Facebook and Twitter… I sure am honored you are reading my stuff. Thank you!

 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hey White People: Remember When We Briefly Cared About Philando Castile’s Life?

“This is NOT okay.” ~ That’s the kind of stuff we would say as we shared the video footage police released a few days after the Not Guilty verdict was announced. When the verdict was initially handed down, there wasn’t a whole lot of outrage–At least not coming from white people like me. We assumed there was a reason he got shot… We had heard there was some marijuana involved… And we can’t be expected to spend all of our time being pissed off every time some officer somewhere in the country gets off for killing a black man who posed no actual threat to him–We wouldn’t have any time for anything else! Right? We only have so much outrage–We have to spend it wisely…

THEN, when they released the video of the dash cam footage, EVERYTHING CHANGED… For a couple of days.

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Which one was this again? It’s hard to keep their faces straight…

But you can’t blame us, really. There were a lot of other things going on! There was a terrorist attack in London where some man drove a van into a crowd of Muslims outside of a Mosque… There was the special election in Georgia… There was more of the Russia investigation… There was the GOP trying to take away healthcare from poor people because the super-rich folks who get them elected want even MORE money… And there were any number of embarrassing, sexist, confusing, enraging, horribly shameful and dehumanizing things tweeted by the current president of the United States of America. That’s a lot of stuff to worry about. With all of that happening, we can’t be expected to remember every injustice… Even ones that are so unmistakably clear that they shook the very foundations of what remains of our trust in the American justice system. It’s easy to forget about.

But you know who DIDN’T forget? People of Color–That’s who. Well… I’m assuming. I really don’t know. What the hell do I know? Nothing. I mean, I ASSUME people of color think about it every time they’re in their cars and see red and blue lights. And now the video that got us all so upset (for a short while) is just another graphic, terrifying cautionary tale within communities of color–It’s not enough to be polite. It’s not enough to follow directions and be respectful. It’s not enough to inform an officer that you have a license to carry, and that you are currently carrying. It’s not enough to tell him that you aren’t pulling out your gun… that you’re getting the license he asked you to show him. If you’re a black man and you get pulled over–even for something as simple as a broken taillight–you need to keep your hands where they can be seen at ALL TIMES. Ask for PERMISSION to move. When you move, make sure you move with EXAGGERATED SLOWNESS. Because if you fail to follow these rules, you can not only very easily, very quickly end up with seven shots fired at you from close range by a man whose only cause for fear is the color of your skin, but that same fear will be all the justification he needs to ensure that he isn’t held responsible for killing you.”

But as a white man, these are rules I DON’T have to follow. As a parent of white kids, I don’t have to teach these rule to my kids. I don’t see police lights behind me and think, “My life might be in danger right now.” I have the privilege to not watch video. If it’s too much for me to deal with the reality that Black Lives DON’T currently Matter, I can decide to not watch it. I can say, “It’s too hard to watch.” Because it IS hard to watch. After he watched it, the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah said, “I won’t lie to you–When I watched this video, it broke me. Like, it… It just… It broke me.” If you still haven’t seen it, you can watch his reaction to the video below.

So yeah… Maybe you’re like me. Maybe after seeing the video, you were rightly outraged. Maybe you shared the video on your page. Maybe you wrote “#JusticeForPhilando” next to the thing you posted. Maybe you clicked an angry face on an article someone else shared. But if having to deal with the graphicness of the video is too hard, and if having to deal with the reality of systemic racism in America is too much, don’t worry… Within a couple of days, there will be something else for you to get pissed off about. There will be some other story. There will be some other hashtag. There will be some other reason to get you so riled up that you click the “Angry Face” button on the screen. And then you’ll forget about it…

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“Wake Up!” ~ Probably the two words that are more needed than any others right now…

We might not have even HEARD about it if it hadn’t been for Diamond Reynolds pulling out her phone and doing Facebook live while her boyfriend was slumped over in his chair, dying. I mean, what else is she going to do–CALL THE POLICE? But if it hadn’t been for that video, it might have gotten lost… Mixed up with all the others. And the thing is, they didn’t even try him for murder. They charged him with 2nd Degree Manslaughter (which is committed when the defendant “recklessly causes someone else’s death”), and two counts of Dangerous Discharge of a Firearm (as if there’s any other kind). And the mostly white jury acquitted the officer of all charges. Recently, the judge in the case wrote a letter to the jurors in support of their decision. Here is an excerpt:

“The criticism of the jury’s decision of which I am aware has focused primarily on a reaction to the squad-cam video and on consideration of issues you as jurors were never asked to address. You were simply asked to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether a crime had been committed… You were never asked to decide whether racism continues to exist, whether certain members of our community are disproportionately affected by police tactics, or whether police training is ineffective.”

A lot of people will look at a clear injustice like the killing of Philando Castile, and they will say, “The system is broken.” But the system is not broken… It is working exactly as it was designed to work. I have been on a jury before in a civil case. We were given directions, we were told the law, and we have to come to a decision within those laws. And when police officers kill people whose blackness makes them look like a threat, those same laws are rigged in order to protect police officers. The law requires officers to only have a “reasonable belief” that they were in danger. They don’t have to be in actual danger… If they say they BELIEVED they were in danger, that is really all it takes. It’s like the “Stand Your Ground” laws… They are DESIGNED to make it legal to kill people. All you have to do is say you were scared for your life. And for Jeronimo Yanez, the man who ended Philando Castile’s life while his girlfriend and her four year old daughter sat watching him politely call him “Sir,” I have no doubt he WAS scared for his life. The sight of a black man reaching for his wallet can be terrifying.

So what can be done? All of this happens within the backdrop of our country having an Attorney General (who Coretta Scott King called too racist to be a judge) calling for the Department of Justice to “pull back” on police department Civil Rights Lawsuits. All of this happens within the backdrop of our country having elected a man who retweets white supremacists, while staying completely silent on the injustice that resulted in a man being killed twice–Once by a man who believed in weaponized blackness, and again by a justice system that looked the other way. And the president is joined in that silence by the NRA, who has nothing to say about a man being killed simply for letting an officer know he was carrying a legal gun, and reaching for his license. I doubt very much that they would have remained silent if the person killed for carrying a legal gun was someone with a lighter complexion.

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Can we do anything more than this?

I don’t know what to do about all of this. I don’t want this post to be just another thing that people share, or “like,” or click an angry face on… Just to feel like they have “done their part,” and then forget about it two days later when our national embarrassment tweets something ELSE that makes us all ashamed. Or concerned. Or afraid that we are starting a military conflict with and unstable nuclear power. I don’t know if this makes any difference whatsoever. All I know is that–after writing this–I am more sure than ever of the following things:

Black Lives Matter. Just freaking say it. And keep saying it. And keep saying it. And keep saying it… Until you actually believe it. Be willing to stick your neck out when you hear someone drop an “All lives matter.” Have awkward conversations. When you encounter racism, shut it down. Stay hopeful, even when you don’t see any reason for it. And stay brave, even when you find yourself pretending to be hopeful.

White Privilege is VERY REAL. Anyone who can’t understand this is either blind or trying very hard not to see. When I, as a white man, see the video of Philando getting killed, I think, “That’s not right.” When a black man sees that same video, he thinks, “Damn… That could have totally been me.” When our justice system says “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” I think, “That’s not right.” When people of color hear that message, they think, “That’s MY life they are talking about.” As a white person, I can’t hope to understand the weight of that difference…

White People Have Got To Be More Involved. If anything is going to change, we HAVE GOT TO SHOW UP. This is not a black problem… It’s a HUMAN problem. And when there are rallies and marches and protests for civil rights and racial equity, we can’t have nearly all of the faces at rallies supporting those causes be people with dark skin.

It Matters Who Governs. Elections matter. The people we elect have very real effects on the justice people in this country experience… Or DON’T experience. We have to elect more people of color as leaders at the national AND local level, and we have to get rid of the people who are clinging to white supremacy with the white-knuckled death grip of people who feel their privilege slipping away. The laws need to change… And in order for that to happen, the lawmakers need to change.

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Shut it down.

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I Don’t Hate Donald Trump

I don’t. Okay yes, I sometimes fantasize about getting close enough to him to tell him to his face that I believe he could very well be America’s single worst citizen. And sure, I would pay just about all the money I have in the world to watch him get the living shit kicked out of him by a female MMA fighter. And if I’m being honest, he is probably my least favorite person on the planet. And I admit he makes me question whether or not I really love God… Because I think Dorothy Day was telling the truth when she said, “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least,” and if that’s true, then I really don’t love God very much. But I don’t HATE him. I mean, sometimes I THINK I do… It often FEELS like I do… But it is not Donald Trump that I hate.

I hate the indifference and apathy of the people who don’t care enough to vote.

I hate the gerrymandering and corruption which fuels that indifference and apathy, and makes people feel a deep sense of “What’s the fucking point?”

I hate the ignorance of the people who don’t know how to figure out the truth from a lie.

I hate the intentional ineffectiveness of our educational system which continues to ensure an UNinformed electorate.

I hate the conflation and confusion of the word “Christian” with the word “Republican” that blinds people to the clear dehumanizing evil of the words of this president.

I hate mental illness. I hate Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I hate the onset of dementia.

I hate the racism and white supremacy that made so many white people believe that a good and moral man like Barack Obama was trying to take everything from them…

And I hate the misogyny and patriarchy that would rather elect a clearly broken man than elect a competent, compassionate, coherent woman.

I hate the blind ambition that values power and wealth over character and integrity.

I hate the cowardice of the republicans elected into office, who refuse to stand up and call this man’s continued attack on women and common decency UNACCEPTABLE AND SHAMEFUL AND AN EMBARRASSMENT TO OUR NATION.

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Turns out I also hate that smile.

National embarrassments like this…

He doesn’t care one bit… I mean, this is the kind of shit he pulls WHILE CAMERAS ARE ON HIM! WHILE TALKING ON THE PHONE TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF IRELAND!!!

But I would expect nothing less from the sort of person who would drive a golf cart on a green. Anyone who has ever golfed before knows that you NEVER do this. It is the pinnacle of inconsiderateness to the other golfers who follow you one the course. But this is the way that Donald Trump treats the world. People… Creation… Everything… He feels like the world is his swimming pool, and he can take a shit in it if he wants to…

And then there’s this absolute embarrassment…

But it’s not Donald Trump I hate… I hate all the things which make Donald Trump possible. If he weren’t able to do so much damage, the biggest feeling I would have toward him would certainly be pity. I think he’s horribly alone and unhappy, but I think he’s too broken to realize it… A man whose ego is so fragile he has to be surrounded by fake magazine covers. It’s sad… It’s clear that his wife feels no affection for him at all. If he was in a room by himself, unable to do harm to the people in his path, I would feel so sorry for him. Like a pathetic pedophile whose mind–as a child–had been broken and deranged by years and years of physical and sexual abuse… As long as he is kept away from kids, he is a tragic figure. And even worthy of compassion. But despite the “reasons” for the pedophile’s brokenness, and despite our feelings of compassion at the story of abuse that came before, the fact remains: WE MUST KEEP THIS PERSON AWAY FROM BEING ABLE TO DO ANY MORE HARM. It is not out of hatred for the person doing the harm that we remove him from a position of power… It is not out of lack of understanding about the mental disorder and brokenness he embodies… It is out of compassion for the ones he continues to hurt.

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Donald Trump, briefly after hurting his hand while attempting to Karate Chop Mike Pence’s rock hard abs.

We can feel compassion for an abused and beaten dog, but if it keeps growling at and making aggressive moves toward your kids, you don’t bring it into your house.

On my last post, I was accused of being hateful toward Donald Trump. And hateful toward God. I don’t hate Donald, and I don’t hate God… I hate the bad theology which creates the sort of monstrous god that looks and acts like the monstrous man-child who has been elected to lead this country.

After his tweet about “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the hosts penned an article for the Washington Post titled, “Donald Trump Is Not Well.” In it, the refuted Donald’s objectively and verifiably dishonest claims that he made against them, but they said…

“More significant is Mr. Trump’s continued mistreatment of women. It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women. From his menstruation musings about Megyn Kelly, to his fat-shaming treatment of a former Miss Universe, to his braggadocio claims about grabbing women’s genitalia, the 45th president is setting the poorest of standards for our children.”

And they concluded that that his mental health is not well…

“We, too, have noticed a change in his behavior over the past few years. Perhaps that is why we were neither shocked nor insulted by the president’s personal attack. The Donald Trump we knew before the campaign was a flawed character but one who still seemed capable of keeping his worst instincts in check.”

Keith Olbermann has been ringing that same alarm bell about the president’s mental health for quite a while now. A month ago (even before ant of this recent stuff happened) he made another very strong case for Donald’s diminishing mental health. You can watch his video here:

But these thoughts are nothing new. Many people have written and commented publicly about the concerns they have with Donald’s mental health. You can CLICK HERE to hear the former Prime Minister of Australia commenting on the world’s concerns about it…

And please–Do not take this in any way as an attack on people with mental health challenges. I am not demonizing people who struggle with dementia or Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Paranoid Delusions… I’m just saying that they shouldn’t be president. We do not let kids play with loaded guns. This is not a demonization of childhood. It’s not because I hate children… It’s wisdom. And we do not let grown men with the temperament of a child, with paranoid delusions, with lack of self control, with clear mental health problems play with a loaded military. This is not a demonization of people with mental health problems. It’s not because I hate people with dementia… It’s wisdom.

Last month, a Quinnipiac Poll asked participants the following question: “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?” Forty-six different words were given five times or more… Here is that list of words, followed by the number of times each response was given:

idiot 39
incompetent 31
liar 30
leader 25
unqualified 25
president 22
strong 21
businessman 18
ignorant 16
egotistical 15
asshole 13
stupid 13
arrogant 12
trying 12
bully 11
business 11
narcissist 11
successful 11
disgusting 10
great 10
clown 9
dishonest 9
racist 9
American 8
bigot 8
good 8
money 8
smart 8
buffoon 7
con-man 7
crazy 7
different 7
disaster 7
rich 7
despicable 6
dictator 6
aggressive 5
blowhard 5
decisive 5
embarrassment 5
evil 5
greedy 5
inexperienced 5
mental 5
negotiator 5
patriotism 5

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Here’s our president, pleased with the news that “Asshole” didn’t make it into the top 10.

You should really spend some time looking at that list. It is fascinating. And horrifying. And depressing… But this STILL IS NOT NORMAL. This man is the worst of us. He needs to go before he does some damage that can’t be undone. So in honor of this list, and in honor of this country that I think is worth saving, I’m going to make a paragraph using all 46 words in order… And I want you to think if this is the kind of person we want running this nation.

“We have elected an idiot. We have chosen an incompetent liar as our leader. He would have you believe that he is a strong businessman, but the truth is he is an ignorant, egotistical asshole… A stupid, arrogant man trying to bully everyone he comes across. His business is being a narcissist, and he has a history of being successful at disgusting women he meets–He’s great at it. Seriously, though, he’s a clown… A dishonest racist who makes me ashamed to be an American. He is nothing more than a bigot who is good at taking money from people who aren’t smart. How could we have elected this buffoon… This con-man who is clearly crazy? Every day, it another different disaster from this rich, despicable dictator wannabe. And every day this aggressive blowhard takes decisive steps toward being an even bigger national embarrassment than the evil, greedy people who elected an inexperienced man with clear mental problems because the thought he was a good “negotiator.” Anyone with an ounce of patriotism will denounce this dip shit.”

Alright. Maybe I do hate him…

If you are a person who has been considering BECOMING A PATRON, but you haven’t because you can only afford one or two dollars a month, I really want you to know how much a value people who give a dollar or two a month. If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton of money to spare… But if you value this blog and you want to support it, a dollar or two a month is amazing. Thank you. Otherwise, you can leave a tip on PayPal, follow me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter. Much love.

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Here’s The Reason “christians” Support Donald Trump…

But before I get into the “why,” I want to specify that–in all honestly–I don’t consider these people to be Christians. So if you’re reading this and that’s you, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings or be needlessly offensive. I’m being honest. For me, the definition of that word–Christian–means to follow Jesus… And there are exactly zero things about supporting Donald Trump that are anything close to following Jesus. I could list off the tens of thousands of things that Donald Trump has said and done that are completely ANTI-Jesus, ANTI-Christ… but if you don’t already see it, the chances are slim that anything I write is going to change that. So for the purposes of this blog post, if I’m referring to people who follow an enemy-loving rabbi who angered the people in power by revealing a God who is on the side of the poor, the vulnerable, and the oppressed… If I’m referring to people who follow a man who seemed most angered by the hypocrisy of the “religious” elites, who preached about the end of tribalism and an end to the idea of a god who is for “us” and against “them,” and who proclaimed the coming of a different sort of kingdom where the power structure was flipped, I’ll use the term Christian.

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It looks like they are laying hands on him, but they are actually attempting to keep him from grabbing the ladies with those tiny hands…

But if I’m referring to people who follow a virgin-concieved God-man who came to the planet to start the one true religion, be worshiped forever, and send his followers out into the world to let everyone else on the planet know that they are going to burn in hell for all eternity unless they believe the exact right things… If I’m referring to people who worship the one-and-only son of God who was sent by the father to fulfill a divine desire for unblemished blood as a self-imposed son-sacrifice so that God could allow a few of us to get close to his goodness… If I’m referring to people who believe in the the Jesus who flies an American flag, carries a star-spangled gun, is for firm borders (both theological and national), and is on “our side” against the ones on the other side of the border, I’ll use the term “christian.” I’ll leave it lower case. And I’ll put it in quotes…. Because I don’t think it’s real… Because I consider it fake.

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Yes… Fake. As fake as the hair, the spray tan, and the smile. Fake fake fake.

So now that we’ve got that settled, here is why “christians” support Donald Trump: It’s because they don’t know what “Good” is anymore. Culturally there are two things that have happened to bring us to the place we are now. One is the “post truth” age we are living in, where every person’s opinion is just as valid as another person’s opinion… despite the presence of things like “evidence” or “facts” or “proof.” This is partially made possible by a willingness to believe that everything is a conspiracy, and that everyone is in on it. The other thing that makes this possible is that “christians” believe in an amoral God… A God who thinks and acts just like the amoral man this country has elected as its leader.

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On a scale from 1 to Nope, this picture created a small neutron star of NOPES.

Think about it for a moment… Jesus describes God as being “Good.” He uses the example of a good father. He says, “What kind of father gives a kid a stone when that kid asks for some bread? And what kind of father would give a snake to a kid who asks for a fish?” Those actions are clearly not “good.” We–in our brokenness–even understand this simple fact, right? And if God is “Good,” what kind of God would do something like this? I’m a mediocre parent, and I would NEVER send any of my kids to get tortured–with no hope of redemption–because he or she got something wrong. What kind of God would give a kid cancer? What kind of God would put a family through torture to “teach them a lesson” of some sort? What kind of God would send the vast majority of the humans who have ever lived on this planet to burn in a conscious, hellish torment for millions and billions and trillions of years… All because they believed the wrong theological things about a person named Jesus?

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If there is a hell, I imagine it feeling something like this.

If we can know anything of “goodness,” then this is clearly not a “Good” God. Not if that word has any meaning. But that is where “christians” have come… To a place where the concept of “goodness” has no meaning. They will try to justify it with Bible verses. They’ll quote Isaiah and say, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” They’ll quote Job and say, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” But the story of Job is the story of a God who says, “I’m big and strong! How dare you question my morality?” This is how people USED to think about God, but Jesus was about changing that old way of thinking. And somehow–despite Jesus’ description of God to the contrary–this is where many of the people who identify as “christians” have landed: Equating and conflating Bigness & Strength with Goodness & Morality.

And this is how you end up with people who call themselves “christians” walking around wearing douchey red hats and supporting an unstable, narcissistic megalomaniac–He acts exactly like the unstable, narcissistic megalomaniac god they believe in. They are people who have surrendered their natural understanding of Goodness in order to avoid an eternal hell which doesn’t exist. They worship a god who says, “You don’t know what ‘good’ is. I’ll tell you.” People who walk around thinking, “It’s not for me to decide what is good and what isn’t.” But people who have stopped listening to the thing in them which says, “This is not good” are as dangerous as things get.

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Good luck getting through customs, Jesus.

Oh, how I hate that god… The one who is in control of every little thing, and gives kids Leukemia for reasons only he knows. The one who kills kids because “he needed another angel.” I absolutely reject that god. That god is a logical impossibility, and keeping that idea of God as a prerequisite in Churches insures that the pews stay filled with people who are either willing to turn off their sense of morality, or people who are too dumb to realize the god they are being presented is a horrible monster. And then, when they figure it out, everything comes crashing down, and many of them abandon God altogether. And I don’t blame them one bit. That BS picture of god is worth abandoning. It is pagan. It is Zeus throwing lightning bolts. It is the volcano god who demands a young virgin. It is the god which allows people to think that our current president is anything other than completely morally reprehensible. And that god may be strong and terrifying… But we could never call that god “Good.”

So if you are grossed out by “christians,” I am too. But that doesn’t mean there are no Christians out there…  And if you reject the monstrous god they worship, I reject it too. But that doesn’t mean there is no God out there… And if you reject people misusing and misreading the Bible as a justification for their hatred and bigotry, I reject that too. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t another way to read it which expands the light and life and love in us.

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This picture looks like he is praying, but it was actually taken before finding out that Jim Comey was going to testify, just before he dropped the loudest M-F anyone has heard in the White House since Rutherford B. Hayes got his beard caught in an electric fan.

Anyway, don’t lose hope. I know it’s hard not to. I swear there is hope! Look for places where people get it. Human consciousness is expanding, and with it our capacity for empathy and love is expanding. Stay strong, and keep up the Good work. And if you want to become a person who gives a couple bucks a month to help support this blog, you totally can RIGHT HERE. It’s easy, and it really helps. Or you can Leave A Tip/Boost A Post RIGHT HERE. Otherwise, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Either way, thank you so much for reading… It means a lot to me.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The N-word, and A Friendly Pat On The Butt

Not too long ago, I was added to a Facebook group where Christians discuss politics. I’m not sure who added me to the group–they probably thought it was a good fit, seeings how I wrote about Jesus & Politics and whatnot–but I can assure of this:  It is every bit as much of a shit show as you would imagine it might be. There are a few good folks there, but for the most part, I feel like a missionary in a land where I’m not welcomed. Or particularly liked. A prophet in a strange land… A land mostly bereft of compassion and common sense. That place is my Nineveh. A couple weeks ago (a good week before Bill Maher dropped the N-word on his show), someone posted this picture:

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A robust discussion followed. Just kidding… It was mostly a bunch of white people who were mad that “THEY get to say it–why can’t WE say it?” And “People are just looking for a reason to be offended.” And “If they don’t want people to say it, they shouldn’t put it in their songs.” And “Reverse Racism” and “Snowflake!” and “Censorship!” and “First Amendment Rights!” And because of this, lately I’ve been thinking about how to explain to people the “WHY” of being careful with our words. Because–believe it or not–this is something that is up for debate with quite a few people in the world right now… Almost all of whom voted for our current president, and almost all of whom usually put some stank on it when they use the term “Politically Correct.” And I can’t believe I have to explain this, but here is why white folks using the N-word is NOT AT ALL DEFENDABLE.

So let me just start off with the claims about “First Amendment Rights.” The First Amendment basically protects people from being arrested and imprisoned for saying offensive or unpopular things… Specifically prohibiting congress from making laws which abridge a person’s right to free speech. Here’s what the First Amendment does NOT DO: It does NOT protect you from being called a racist, a bigot, or an asshole when you say racist, bigoted, and asshole-ish things. The First Amendment protects you from being arrested for calling for the deportation of all Muslims… It does NOT protect you from someone taking a screen capture of your words, sending that picture to your employer, and that employers firing you because they don’t want hate-filled, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging embarrassments working their company. See the difference? Good.

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Nope. You don’t get to say that, Bill Maher. You can say it without getting arrested, but you don’t have the “right” to say it without people demanding an apology.

A few years ago, I wrote a post titled “Letting Go Of The R-Word.” I repost this one a lot. I hear people use the word “retarded” probably five times a week, and if you tell people that their use of the R-Word is hurtful, they will often talk to you about their INTENT. They didn’t MEAN for their words to be hurtful, so that excuses it… It makes it okay. They don’t use it thinking of people with special needs… They just mean it to be a synonym for “dumb.” They might talk to you about how the “real” meaning of “retard” is “to slow.” And if you’re speaking to someone face-to-face, there’s a good chance they will apologize for offending you and move on. But in the artificially-bravery-inflating arena of social media, many people will bemoan how “overly sensitive” people are nowadays. They will equate this sensitivity with weakness, and they long for a simpler time… A time when you could insult whole groups of minorities without a bunch of “Social Justice Warriors” wagging their fingers at you every time you called someone a fag… A time when America used to be “great.”

NO.jpgAnd it’s a similar dance for people who want the “right” to say racially insensitive things without the discomfort of being called out on their douchebaggery.

“It’s just a word.”
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone.”
“THEY get to say it.”
“Don’t be so sensitive.”

But I want you to imagine a scenario with me: Imagine there was a guy who–when he saw people he knew–slapped them in the back. Pretty hard. Not like he’s trying to HIT them, necessarily… But hard enough that some people spoke up, and said, “Ow, man. That kind of hurt.” Maybe he assumes the first one might have had a sun burn, and he keeps on doing it. A few more people let him know, “Hey. When you slap my back like that, it really hurts. Please stop.” Maybe he works at an office, and people finally get together and confront him: “Seriously. There are quite a few people complaining about your back slaps. Stop doing it!” What kind of person hears this and insists that he should be able to keep slapping people because he isn’t intentionally TRYING to hurt people? What kind of person blames the ones complaining about him slapping people as being “the real problem” because they are too sensitive?

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“No slap ass?” No, Ravi… No slap ass.

Now, let’s take the analogy a bit further: Let’s say this guy played baseball growing up… And he and the other members of his baseball team used to give each other a friendly little pat on the butt when did something worth celebrating. “Nothing sexual,” he will assure you. Now, when he pats people on the butt, he means nothing by it. So if you get offended by it, that’s YOUR problem. Little does he know, he’s patting the butt of a person who has survived sexual abuse… And every touch–though it leaves no bruises or physical scars–harms her in a way that he could never understand, even if she tried to explain. And he’s all, “Give me a break. Get over it, snowflake.” Again, what kind of person does something like this? What kind of person defends these sorts of actions? And what kind of person complains about how he saw that woman’s SISTER slap her on the ass… “She get’s to do it–Why can’t I do it?” 

Here’s the answer: An awful, awful person. A certifiable asshole. And the question is not “Is this person an asshole or not?” He obviously, objectively is. The REAL question is this: Does this person have the same definition of “asshole” as the rest of us? In this person’s world, is selfishness part of the DNA of being an asshole? And at the heart of that is the question of whether selfishness is good or bad. Are some things better than others? And can we KNOW about those things? If “better” is a thing, is it “better” to take into consideration the feelings/emotions/beliefs of other people, or is it “better” to be almost singularly focused on our own feelings/emotions/beliefs? These are questions that–for many of us–have been settled for a long time. In corporate settings, in academic settings, these questions are settled. OF COURSE it’s better to consider others’ feelings, emotions, and beliefs. If we know that a course of action causes some people harm, and we have other options available to us, only a sadist would insist on the action that causes harm. 

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This lady defended calling the woman in front of her the N-word because of her right to “Free Speech.” She also has the “right” to wear a sweater with a belt buckle across the chest to the beach… And we have the right to make fun of that decision.

But a different narrative has seeped its way into the minds of many in this country… challenging the very definition of “goodness.” It is a disease which celebrates selfishness as a virtue. An Ayn Randian mental derangement which has even infected the Church with its disordered thinking… Where people–who claim to follow a man who constantly preached thinking of others first and loving even our enemies–have embraced a “Me First/Us First/America First” ideology as somehow being Biblical, when it is neither Biblical, rational, or anywhere close to moral.

One more analogy: Imagine a person brings a cat into a hotel lobby. And a manager comes up and says, “Sir, you CAN’T have a cat in here. We have guests who are deathly allergic to cats. This is a shared space.” Only the most selfish of people would ever argue their “right” to grab a cat and have it in there, despite the harm it could cause. That, or the sort of person whose privilege has them so blinded that they don’t even believe in the concept of a “shared space” anymore. As far as they’re concerned, EVERY lobby is THEIR lobby. And how DARE you tell me that I can’t grab a pussy in my own F*CKING LOBBY?!?! This is the kind of person who insists on using the N-word, even after being informed that his use of that word causes so many people harm. It is a community’s most hurtful word. It has been used for hundreds of years as a dehumanizing term, sneered through hatred and chewing tobacco spit and abuse. YOU. DON’T. GET. TO. USE. IT.

And if you do use it, and we hear you, don’t get all “snowflakey” on us when we call you what you are: A selfish, sadistic, knuckle-dragging, anti-Christ, racist, asshole who has been duped into believing that the shared space of this world belongs only to him.

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Thank you for reading. I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written… And I know it’s hard to stay hopeful these days… But rest assured that when we are on the side of compassion, on the side of equal rights, on the side of the oppressed and vulnerable, we are on the right side of history. Even if it feels like we’re outnumbered right now.

If you value this blog and you’d like to help support it–and me–an easy and fun way to do that is to Become A Patron. Or you could just Leave A Tip on PayPal. Otherwise, one of the best ways to help support my writing is just sharing it with the people in your life. And if you want to follow me, you can do that on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What We Can Learn About People In Restaurants and Costco Parking Lots

I’m a server at a restaurant. And as a server, I am completely dependent on the goodness of strangers in order to make money. Nobody is forced to leave a tip after their meal… Not even large parties where the gratuity is added to the check. If someone complains and says, “Hey–I don’t want to pay this automatic gratuity,” they don’t have to. You can’t FORCE someone to pay a gratuity. I know this from experience… I have taken perfect care of a table before, and–for whatever reason–they declined the auto-grat. One of those times, people actually said, “I only give 10% to God… You think I’m giving him 20?” But despite the existence of these kinds of people, I have been serving long enough to know that it always seems to even out. For every unbelievably cheap person out there, there seems to always be someone who is generous enough to make up for them.

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For every person like this out there, there is someone with a soul.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the name of the game is trying to get people to leave me money. Sure–I want them to have a great experience, and have a really nice meal… But when that check goes down, if I have to choose between someone thanking me profusely for how impressive my service was, or someone quietly leaving me an extra $20 on top of their regular tip, I’m choosing the money every time. Sorry verbal tippers out there–We can’t pay our bills with your kind words. 

Different servers do different things when they bring the check to the table. Some people write little messages on the check… Like “Thank you!” or “Come back again soon!” I’m not one of those people. Here’s what I do: I leave the check without a check presenter. You know–those little fancy booklets that have a little slot for credit cards? I don’t use them. And here’s why: I believe that the best way to encourage people to be generous is to make it harder for them to keep their cheapness a secret. When people have those books, it’s super easy to leave a crappy tip–with half of the book in the air, like they’re shielding their answers from the kid sitting next to them in middle school–and then just close it up so that no one other than their server (as well as the rest of the service staff in the restaurant after we show everyone) will know what a jackass they are (if you’re interested, I wrote about “How To Not Be A Jack Ass” here, and I wrote about “What Christians Need To Know About Tipping” here). But without that very effective hiding place for their stinginess, their lack of generosity is on display for all to see. Sure, they can still fold it in half… or flip it over… or strategically place the pen across the line where they wrote in the tip… But they still have to consider the possibility that someone they KNOW is going to catch a glimpse of their tip. Or lack thereof. Like SCOTUS Justice Louis D. Brandeis said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

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You can learn a lot about a person by how they behave in Costco. What you can learn about me is that I’m in love with that little onion grinder thingy they have…

You can watch this same test of integrity play out in the Costco parking lot. Some time, take a couple minutes and watch what people do with their shopping carts when they’re done with them (Well, I call them shopping carts… My wife and now my kids call them “Buggies.” I was certain that this “Buggy” nonsense was only some quirk specific to her immediate family… Until she showed me an ACTUAL SIGN in West Virginia that said, “Buggy Corral.” My mind was blown. Though for some time I suspected she and her kin might have planted the sign).

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Apparently, there are people who refer to them as “Wagons” and “Carriages.” In case your Kroger is located in the Old West.

Anyway, watch to see if people take them back to the the Shopping Cart Return/Buggy Corral. If you watch closely, you’ll see that people are a lot less likely to push two of their cart’s wheels onto some grassy knoll if there are other people around. Their behavior changes based on who’s watching. MOST people, that is. Some people don’t care at all… They wear their indifference for the people around them like some sort of badge of honor. But as far as I can tell, there are four main types of people… In Buggy Returns and in life. Here they are:

  1. The person who is going to push their buggy onto a grassy knoll while waving at everyone driving by and wearing a t-shirt that says “I don’t give a f*ck about your stupid buggy return areas.” This person also has a higher probability of having a gun in their glove box (next to a copy of something written by Ayn Rand), a red hat in their backseat (so to speak), and at least a mild sympathy for the Confederacy.
  2. The person who believes they ALWAYS have a set of eyes on them. Jesus’ eyes. Always watching… Judging… Ready to catch you doing something wrong–like not putting the buggy where it goes–so he can give you a guilt trip. Keeping you afraid of the possibility of being sent to hell like almost everyone else on the planet to be tortured for all eternity. You know… The “Good News.”
  3. The person who is going to look for a return, but if there isn’t one close by, they just might ditch it somewhere. They’ll look around to see if anyone is watching… If not, they will shove their buggy somewhere it’s not supposed to go. If they make eye contact with someone, they might walk the extra 30 steps to the buggy return. They have a sense that shoving their cart halfway onto a curb is probably making someone else’s life harder… But they’re tired, you know? And at least they didn’t leave it where it can roll away. Like SOME people. Ehh, they’re probably going to forget about it in a few minutes anyway…
  4. The person who–for whatever reason–is usually thinking of other people… No matter who is watching. Maybe he knows the feeling of having to to pick up after inconsiderate people who spend their lives thinking “Someone else will take care of it.” Maybe she has had a job where she watched people rationalize and hide and lie to themselves about their own selfishness, and–through some twist of fate–she now walks around with that compassion and empathy at the forefront of her mind. A person who is outwardly-focused… Focused on “loving neighbors,” one might say…

And before you get all “Plank and Speck” on me, I am well aware that I am not even CLOSE to functioning at a level four all the time. Maybe not even MOST of the time. While I’m serving, there are times when I see the ice needs to be refilled, but my feet are sore, and I’m tired… And I push two wheels of the metaphorical buggy onto the curb. Especially when no one’s watching. So don’t get me wrong–I have the capacity to be every bit as selfish and lazy as the next guy… The difference is that I’m just aware that when I have those times of times of compassion and empathy and action and integrity and selflessness, I am way closer to getting it right.

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The party of “Me First” with the ideology that turns selfishness into a virtue… A match made in republican heaven.

And this is the part I don’t get about some people right now… Politically, and even somehow managing to rationalize it spiritually: Some people seem to have talked themselves into thinking that a “me-first,” screw-everyone-else mentality is morally acceptable. Possibly even morally superior. And I think it’s morally repugnant. A me-first, “America First,” healthcare-denying, immigrant-excluding, refugee-banning, wealth-worshiping, poverty-demonizing, all-lives-mattering, privilege-protecting disease of the mind and soul has infected a disturbing amount of people in this nation. Things like compassion and empathy and selflessness are looked at as signs of weakness. Or a punchline. Or even an evil enemy with nefarious names like “socialism” or “political correctness.” So I have compassion for people who have been duped into believing #2… I have empathy for people feeling #3… But I cannot–for the life of me–figure out how people can’t seem to understand that #4 is such a BETTER version of themselves than #1.

Because it is better. It just is. It’s not that one is “right,” and one is “wrong” necessarily… There are always going to be exceptions and reasons for times when focusing on yourself has to be a focus. But as a balance… As a guiding principle… As a way of life, selflessness is just so clearly BETTER than selfishness. As a human guideline, as a spiritual guideline, and as a guideline of people who value anything at all about Jesus, it’s just better. It’s a better version of ourselves, and it’s a better version of a society worth having. But the disagreement over this basic starting point is what makes me wonder how we’ll ever get through this deep division we are in right now, where we have such starkly different concepts of something as simple as the Goodness of being outwardly focused. Oh–Wake up, world. Open your eyes, clouded by fear… And see your neighbor. See the virtue in taking care of each other. See the possibility of a better world, and start working on it like someone’s watching…

If you’d like to support me, my writing, and this blog, you can do that HERE or HERE. If you like something you have read here, share it with the people in your life. You know what? If you like something ANYWHERE, share it. Stay hopeful, stay loving, and stay active and brave in your resistance of this attempt to paint selfishness as a virtue. Love your neighbor, y’all.

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Divinity School Drama, and Questioning Diversity’s Moral Goodness

You might not have woken up today and thought to yourself, “I wonder what’s going on in the Duke Divinity School.” Welp, too bad… Because I’m going to tell you. Here it is:

Drama–That’s what… Divinity School Drama.

So first I’m going to give you a short rundown of what happened, and then I’m going to tell you why I think it matters–even if you are one of the rare breed of persons who doesn’t normally care what happens within the walls of a prestigious Divinity School.

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You ever wonder if important theological work can be done in a pole barn? Or do you think it needs to be done in giant, ornate stone structures…

What Happened:
It started innocently enough… A Prof. named Anathea Portier-Young used a mass eMail to invite and encourage her colleagues to attend a 2-day training on Racial Equity. If you’ve ever worked in an office or in a college, you have probably attended “diversity trainings” like this before. Some are good; some are not. Some make you think; some make you think “I can’t believe we just spent four hours doing that.” Some feel vaguely like this scene from “The Office.”

Now granted–Different people feel different ways about trainings like this. Not everyone is excited to attend. Some of us might even groan or roll our eyes when hearing about trainings like these… But if your name is Paul J. Griffiths of Duke Divinity School, what you did was you wrote an eMail to the entire staff eviscerating the very concept of a Racial Equity Training in the sort of uniquely asshole-ish way that only a Doctor of Theology can muster. Here’s a segment of his eMail:

“I exhort you not to attend this training. Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show. Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual. (Re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history; I hope you’ll keep that history in mind as you think about this instance.”

If you’re feeling like pulling out a dictionary, you’re not alone. Basically, he’s saying it’ll be an unoriginal waste of time to focus their time on a training combating racism… And if it gets any deeper than clichés, you will see these attempts at educating staff on racial equity for what they REALLY are: Thought Police trying to enforce communist ideals of “equality.” He goes on to say that what their REAL mission as theologians should be is to “think, read, write, and teach” about God (whom he–more grandiosely than could ever be needed–refers to as “The Triune Lord of Christian confession”).

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Is being “intellectually flaccid” considered a Pre-Existing Condition under the AHCA? And if so, can I get an I.V. for that? (Intellectual Viagra)

Well, Elaine A. Heath, Ph.D., the Dean of Duke’s Divinity School, didn’t appreciate Dr. Griffiths’ use of the list serve to dress down one of his colleagues and crap on something the school views as important. So she told him about it. She used the words “racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry” in her descriptions of his actions. And–as we have all seen unfold of at least 100 Facebook threads–them’s fighting words. The hubbub goes on from there… with a defender of Mr. Griffiths writing in, another lengthy letter from Mr. Griffiths laying out his case for the oppressiveness of a culture which doesn’t allow dissenting opinions, and photos of a letter detailing discipline for his actions and for refusing to meet with the Dean… All the way to Dr. Griffiths’ announcement that he will be retiring early. For those of you as nerdy as I am who want to read the whole exchange, you can read it all RIGHT HERE, but be aware that the information there is presented in a VERY biased and political-right-leaning way. Also, be aware that the reason you are able to read these eMails is because Mr. Griffiths decided to make them public… So we don’t know about other correspondences which might have taken place which–for whatever reason–he didn’t feel like releasing to the public.

Why I Think It Matters:
You might be thinking to yourself, “What does an argument between theological eggheads have to do with me?” Well, this argument is playing out all over the country right now. It is at the heart of the debate between people who want to let Milo and Ann Coulter and Richard Spencer use the stages at college campuses to spread their hate, and people who feel pretty good about punching Nazis in the face. It is what’s behind the debate about whether “hate speech” is actually a thing, or whether “hate crimes” should be dealt with differently. It is an ideology of “Sticks & Stones (will break my bones, but words will never hurt me)” versus “Words have the ability to harm.” And it’s why some people see a concept like “political correctness” as a clear evil, and other people see it as the good of simply attempting to treat people with respect…

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I am, most certainly, not an advocate of Punching a Nazi in the Face. Mostly because we shouldn’t be doing things to make people feel sympathetic toward folks like Richard Spencer. Although I must admit, I did watch the video more than once…

There are many questions behind these debates, but one of the main ones here is this: Are there some things which are objectively “wrong” or (in theological terms) “evil?” And more specifically to this situation–Is racism one of them?

Is sexism “wrong?” Is bigotry “wrong?”  To me, it feels like the main divide in this country is over this very “base” question of “What is good?” And conversely, “What is evil?” And where these broad terms of “good” and “evil” fail us, are we at least inclined to know what is “better?” And what is “worse?” Is diversity “better” than homogeneity? Is inclusion “better” than exclusion? Is equality and equity “closer” to the kingdom of God than the opposite? How we answer these sorts of questions determines MUCH about where we position ourselves both politically AND religiously… Because how we answer these questions reveals what we believe about God. What we’ve been told and what we believe about God influences our ideology. It’s the Transitive Property of Theology: If God = Good, and God = Exclusive, then Exclusive = Good… and then who the hell do you think you are telling me that an inclusive workplace is “better” than one which isn’t?!?

So what we see in the reaction to all this drama at Duke Divinity School is a reaction to the idea that these issues have been settled. In most of academia, these questions HAVE been answered. Inclusion IS better than exclusion. Diversity IS better than homogeneity. Sensitivity and compassion for other people’s feelings IS better than insensitivity and indifference to the feelings of others. Racism, sexism, and bigotry ARE evil… It’s been settled. And for many years it has been out of fashion to question the “settledness” of this issue. Even QUESTIONING the settledness of this issue would get them shouted down… So they would stay quiet, looking for ways their families could avoid places which assumed/enforced the settledness of these questions. They would put their kids in private schools or home school them, because they looked at public schools as “indoctrinating” their settledness. They moved away from the cities. They started to dislike things that smell “intellectual.” They sent their kids to Bible colleges. They went to churches with clear and firm borders on who was “in” and who was “out,” and they voted for people who promised those same clear, firm national borders. But all along, they still felt like they weren’t allowed to even utter the WHY of their ideology. We have shamed them into not being able to admit that for them, it isn’t “settled.” And they have grown resentful of those who keep them from being able to speak it.

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I am offended at the conspicuous absence of a often overlooked demographic: The Bald, Bearded, Progressive Christian Blogger. We shall overcome!

Now we live in two different countries, surrounding ourselves with people who have our same answer to the question, “What is good?” And this resent spike in racism and hate crimes has been encouraged by the unlikely ascension of a man who makes them suspect that their unsettledness is not as “out of fashion” as they once believed. So they vote for the same clear and firm borders–fearing the eroding boundaries that globalization brings–for their country that they need for their religion… They need to know who is in, who is out. Because if God is exclusive, and God is good, then exclusive MUST be good. And it spirals… The distance between us gets wider and wider. We talk past each other… Fear each other… Hate each other… Unaware that our inability to understand each other stems from the fact that we are holding different foundational ideas of something as basic as the concept of Goodness.

And so, back to Duke Divinity School, and why this matters. The question of “What is good?” is a theological question. It is–Even if you don’t believe in God. There are some seminaries and divinity schools who have settled on the goodness of exclusion… And–taken to its logical ends–the case can be made for the goodness of separation and segregation and even a rationale for racial purity. There are other seminaries and divinity schools which have settled on the goodness of inclusion… And–taken to its logical ends–the case can be made for a God who loves everyone equally, with no regard for borders, with no “in” or “out” to worry about… Here, OR in whatever the afterlife looks like.

I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done to change or influence a person’s sense of this foundational goodness… I don’t know if anything anyone writes or says or argues has any effect on someone else’s process. Maybe it’s just time. Or encountering people who are different than you. Maybe it’s education. It almost certainly ISN’T enforcing our “settledness” on others with a totalitarian control. Maybe there is no argument that can be made to affect anyone other than those people whose mind–through time, experience, and education–is already teetering on the balance between goodnesses. But one thing is for sure: Both of these things cannot be Good. And something tells me that the “movement” of this process generally goes in one direction. The movement of human consciousness is in the direction of understanding equality and equity and diversity and inclusion as Good. And even if we’re not certain enough to call it Good, we at least see evidence of it being Better.

If you believe conversations like these are important, and if you value what I am doing with this blog, you can help support it. BECOMING A PATRON is fun and easy. You can also LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL if you want to be generous, or if you want to “boost” a post. Or, if you’re not in a position to give right now, you can support this blog by subscribing, by following “The Boeskool” on Facebook and on Twitter, and by sharing the stuff I write with your friends. Thanks so much for reading!

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Tell Governor Haslam To Protect Tennessee’s LGBTQ Citizens

Here’s the thing: The Legislative process can be confusing. And a lot of the time, this is on purpose. The confusion is intentional. Take for example SB 1085… “SB” stands for “Senate Bill” (as opposed to HB 1111, which is a “companion bill” where the “HB” stands for “House Bill”). The people here in Tennessee who know about it have called it the “LGBTQ Erasure Bill.” Here is what the text of SB 1085 says:

Statutes and Codification – As introduced, requires that undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest. – Amends TCA Title 1, Chapter 3.

Road House (1989)

You might also be thinking, “What does Patrick Swayze have to do with any of this?” Well, I decided this week that I was going to make the word “Swayze” become a synonym for “Cool.” Anyway, the Tennessee legislature is definitely NOT Swayze…

Now, you might be thinking, “Where does it say anything about gay folks?” And you’re right–It doesn’t say anything specifically about people who are LGBTQ. Sounds simple enough. “Words mean their ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning.” Seems fair… But make no mistake, this bill is specifically designed to take away the civil and equal and human rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. It is one of SEVENTEEN anti-LGBTQ bills in Tennessee that have been introduced this session, and it is very closely-worded to a failed bill which specifically stated that “mother,” “father,” “husband,” and “wife” would all be given their “biological” meaning. You can watch David Fowler of the “Family Action Council TN” (a big backer of this bill) speak directly about how SB 1085 is a broader replacement for the failed discriminatory bill in this video.

Now this bill–probably largely because of how obtusely “harmless” the verbiage sounds–has passed, and likely the only thing that will keep it from becoming a law will be a veto from Governor Bill Haslam. Here is how this is designed to hurt Tennesseeans who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, or Asexual:

This bill would insist that federal agencies and courts would apply a “plain” meaning to language that mentions gender. So if there was a law of a policy which used the word “husband” or “wife,” this bill/law would prevent the understanding to be “spouse.” And what THAT would do is it would effectively exclude same-sex couples from many protections. They are basically trying to put as many things in place as possible to weaken the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality decision. It can become law either with or without Gov. Haslam’s signature… The only thing that can keep it from becoming law is his veto.

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Bill–You don’t have to run for Governor again. LGBTQ folks in Tennessee are hugely outnumbered. Don’t do the popular thing… Do the RIGHT thing. Make those flags proud.

So if this becomes a law, it could do a lot of damageIt could keep a woman from putting her wife’s name on the birth certificate, it could prohibit confidential communications in court between same-sex couple, or it could even keep same-sex couples from using surrogates to have children. NOT ONLY THIS, but it could also have effects on straight folks as well (just in case you’re one of the folks who only cares about injustices done to YOU, and not about injustices done to people who make you feel a little bit “icky” on the inside). There are laws in Tennessee which speak of a “man’s” right, and if this horrible bill is signed into law, those can be interpreted NOT to apply to a “woman’s” rights.

And if that wasn’t enough, this law is going to cost Tennessee taxpayers A LOT of money. It is clearly unconstitutional, and Tennessee will spend all kinds of money defending it against legal challenges. Tennessee currently has a policy that “gender-specific words are to be construed as gender-inclusive.” The courts have sided with that opinion. This would be EXPENSIVE… Not only to defend legally, but when the rest of the country becomes aware of what actually happened with this law, and they understand the sinister, evil intent of its language, it will be expensive in other ways as well. We have seen the kind of negative economic impact that North Carolina’s disastrous and discriminatory “Bathroom Bill” has caused that state… When people find out how intentionally hateful this bill is, we can expect the same sort of blowback.

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Come to find out (a friend informed me), in the movie “Superstar,”–Mary Katherine Gallagher said the phrase, “He’s the Swayziest.” So it turns out I wasn’t the first to make it up. Anyway, long story short, my mom has always loved this dude. And I wish “Dalton” was here to “Roadhouse” this awful bill right out the front door of the Double Deuce.

Tennessee’s Legislature has spent an inordinate amount of time this year trying to hurt LGBTQ people in this state. There are an overwhelming amount of republican lawmakers in this state, and they all seem to have a boner for taking away gay people’s civil rights. If what you’re trying to do is send a message that says, “Y’all aren’t welcome here,” believe me… The queer folks in this state have gotten that message. For the life of me, I can’t seem to figure out why they stick around. What is so great about this place that would make them endure this continued harassment? Because I don’t see it. But for whatever reason, they do. They love this place, and they call it their home. And they just want to love who they love, and receive the same fair and equal treatment that other couples enjoy in The Volunteer State. Like me, maybe they know this place to be friendly and kind–despite what our legislature keeps doing. But that hospitable reputation will be HURT by this hateful bill being signed into law.

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Listen man, you’ve appeared on SESAME STREET! Did you not pick up anything while you were there about treating people right even if they were different than you???

So I… You… WE can put pressure on Governor Haslam to do the right thing. You can call his office at (615) 741-2001 and voice your opposition to this hateful and discriminatory bill. You can learn more about why keeping this bill from becoming law is so important by CHECKING OUT THIS PAGE. You can add your name to THIS PETITIONAnd, maybe most importantly, you can speak to your gay friends, and remind them that you are on their side. Let them know you love them. Let them know they are welcome, and that you are glad they are a part of your life. Let them know that–regardless of whether or not Governor Haslam ends his tenure with a discriminatory act of political cowardice or an inclusive act of political bravery–you will continue to fight along side of them until–someday–they stop having to worry about this shit anymore.

If you value this blog, you can help support it by becoming a Patron HERE. It’s easy, and it’s a Swayze way to help out. If you’d like to “boost” a post on Facebook, or if you’d like to leave a tip, you can do that on PayPal HERE. If you’d like to share this or follow me on Facebook or on Twitter, that would ALSO be Swayze. Lastly, I’d like to say a special thank you to my friend Jennifer Sheridan. You have been a rock star lately keeping the people in your life informed and active as to what these scoundrels have been trying to do. I know it has been exhausting. I also want you to know I am on your side. I see you, and I love you in all of your powerful lesbian glory. Keep up the good work.

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

The Story Of How A Woman’s Right To Vote Came Through Nashville–A Story Of Hope

Last night I sat in my driveway with tears in my eyes, and I listened to the end of a story on NPR (specifically a story on RadioLab titled “One Vote”). You ever hear a story that is SO AMAZING that you can’t believe that you haven’t heard it until that very moment? It’s a story about Nashville, Tennessee… A story I had never heard in the 16 years I’ve lived here. And it’s a story you should probably know about.

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Here’s an early 1900’s ad against women’s suffrage… Although spend ten minutes on Twitter, and I’m sure you can find something similar on Alt-Right accounts.

This story is about women’s suffrage… The right to vote. And I want you to know about this story for a few reasons.

  1. It hasn’t been very long since women have been able to vote. It’s been less than 100 years. There are a whole lot of people walking around who are older than a woman’s right to vote. So all of the sexism that women have to endure? It makes sense. Not saying it’s okay. Just saying that–given the time frame–it makes sense.
  2. Things actually ARE getting better. History is so very important. I know that it can feel like everything is going to shit. And viewed short-term, you’re probably right to feel that. But if you look from 30,000 feet… If you take a longitudinal view of human rights… If you know your history… Then it’s clear that things are getting better and better. Do not lose hope.
  3. Your vote matters. I can’t stress this enough. People fought…. People DIED fighting for your right to vote. And the ones in positions of power–the people with all of the money–these people WANT you to feel like your vote doesn’t matter. But it does.
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Translation: All the women for equal rights are ugly.

The 14th Amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868. It is a fascinating Constitutional Amendment, but one of the things it did was guarantee the rights of citizenship to people born in the United States. And one of those rights was the right to vote. The 14th was an Amendment that came out of Reconstruction. There were a whole lot of women who helped the cause of the abolitionist movement, so when the 14th Amendment was being written and debated, many women involved in the fight for equal rights thought that women would be included in the 14th Amendment’s language concerning suffrage. But at the last minute, the word “male” was inserted into its language, so the right to vote in 1868 was guaranteed to “MALE citizens twenty-one years of age.” But not women. Women would have to wait another 52 years for that right.

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More flattering suffragist imagery. That front tooth, tho…

Fast forward to 1919, when Congress voted for the 19th Amendment, which would give women the right to vote. But in order for that Amendment to become part of the Constitution, it has to be ratified by by three fourths of the states. And in 1919, since there were only 48 states, that meant that the suffrage movement needed 36 states. Thirty-five states voted to ratify, but it was being defeated in many of the other states. The pro-suffragist movement looked at all of the states left to vote, and the only state where the vote was close enough to having the possibility to pass was Tennessee. So in the summer of 1920, everyone from the pro-suffragist movement and everyone from the anti-suffragist movement descended  on Nashville when a special session was called. You really need to listen to the story on RadioLab… It’s so good (The whole podcast is good, but if you want to just hear the drama surrounding the vote, you can start at 30:42).

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Back when America was “great.”

So in case you don’t listen, just know it was a dramatic scene. Both the pro-suffragists and the anti-suffragists set up their headquarters at The Hermitage Hotel–In Nashville. In August. With no air conditioning. Everyone wore a rose on their lapel–Yellow for a Yes vote, and Red for a No vote on ratification–and it became known as “The War of the Roses.” They called the ones for ratification “rats.” There was wheeling and dealing, and there were dirty political tricks… Like forging letters and telegrams from lawmaker’s families telling them that their wives or kids were deathly ill, and they had to come home right away. When it finally came time for the vote, they counted the roses on the floor… 48 yellow, and 48 red. After two separate 48-48 votes to table the vote (essentially killing the Amendment), at the last minute the youngest member of the General Assembly, a 24 year old named Harry Burn–a young man wearing a red rose–considered a letter his mother, Febb Burn, had written him telling him to “be a good boy” and vote for ratification, and he changed his “No” vote to a “Yes.” And with that one vote, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, and American women won the right to vote.

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“I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow…” ~ Harry Burn

Well… WHITE American women won the right to vote. Jim Crow laws were still strong in the South, and the Voting Rights Act was still another 45 years away. Even today, we still have gerrymandering based on racial demographics, we still have voter ID laws that are designed to make it harder for people of color to be able to vote, and we still have laws designed to disenfranchise people who commit crimes, while convictions and enforcement of those crimes is more focused on people whose skin in black and brown. But still… The 19th Amendment was a victory for human rights. And even though there is still much to fight for, it was undeniably a step in the right direction.

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“Because it means competition of women with men instead of co-operation.” ~ The person writing this had to be laughing.

There are times when something moves through the consciousness of the world… Times when the world–for whatever reason–starts to wake up a bit. And around this time, the world was waking up a bit to the full humanity of women. New Zealand passed women’s suffrage in 1893; Australia in 1902; Finland in1906; Norway in 1907; Iceland, 1913; Denmark, 1915; Russia, 1917; Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, and Wales all gave women the right to vote 1918; Holland and Sweden in 1919. The United States is far from anything close to a “leader” in women’s rights. One of the main arguments against suffrage in the U.S. was that all women having the vote would do is either double a husband’s vote, or negate it… Either option being unfair to men. I’m going to end this paragraph while you think about that for a minute (And while you’re thinking about that, perhaps revisit this post titled “The Real Reason You Hate Hillary Clinton”)…

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Anti-suffrage leaders in 1913 “(from left): Mrs. George Phillips, Mrs. K.B. Lapham, Miss Burnham, Mrs. Everett P. Wheeler, Mrs. John A. Church.” Notice their names–It’s the men’s names that are important. Also worth noting, strip poker was an arduous task in the early 1900’s, sometimes taking 30-40 hours.

This story in interesting to me for so many reasons. While I was researching this story, one thing that was just crazy to me was how many of the anti-suffragists were women. It reminded me of the gross feeling I got when I saw females wearing “Women For Trump” T-Shirts. But there are always going to be people who are duped into believing they should vote against their own interests. And there was so much racism involved in the opposition to women having the right to vote… The last thing white folks in the South wanted was a bunch of black women canceling out their votes. There are so many interesting and inspiring parts to the story of women winning the right to vote. But again, one of the most interesting things about this story was the fact that I had never heard it before. Harry Burn was 24. When I see people who are 24, the look like KIDS to me now. After his vote ratified the 19th Amendment, he wrote in the House Journal, “I appreciated the fact that an opportunity such as seldom comes to a mortal man to free seventeen million women from political slavery was mine.” All the drama behind the scenes, the letter from his widowed mother (which you can see here), all of the years of hard work put in by the suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt… It’s such an amazing story.

But back to my three reasons for sharing it with you. 1) This is NOT ancient history. This hatred for women is alive and well. Especially in the Church (if you don’t believe me, check out #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear on Twitter). There are still a bunch of powerful white men walking around trying to figure out whether they should be focusing their political influence on limiting women’s rights or limiting the rights of people of color. For many, many people in this country, any movement away from white-centric, male-centric United States is a threatening thing, and it will be met with anger and hatred. 2) There is reason to be hopeful. The fact that women earn 77¢ for every dollar that a man makes is unacceptable, but it is way better than things were 100 years ago. The world IS waking up… Little by little. Our impatience at the pace of progress is not the same thing as lack of progress. Progress often moves in “three steps forward, two steps back.” And when we are living in a time of “two steps back,” we need to tell the stories of “three steps forward.” And 3) You NEED to vote. If you are a woman… If you are a person of color… If you are a citizen of this country, you’ve got to vote. Inform yourselves, support good journalism, and then vote. Vote for what is right. Be willing to compromise. Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good. Your vote MATTERS. The ones with all the power and the money want you to believe that your vote doesn’t matter. It does!

I leave you with a video we should probably watch at least once a month…

I am filled with hope right now. There is goodness everywhere. Thank you so much to the people who give a little each month to help support me and this blog. Thank you especially to Terri Janke who recently became a Patron on my Patreon page. They make it really easy for people to help support the content creators they value. If you’d like to become a Patron, CHECK OUT THIS PAGE. If you’d like to leave a tip on PayPal or you want to boost a post, you can DO THAT RIGHT HERE. And if you want to follow me online, you can do that by clicking on Facebook or Twitter. In this time of darkness, let us tell the stories of the light.

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