Sunday, January 2, 2022

Maga in a nutshell


 Donald Trump  brought Christian Nationalism out of the shadows. It's not Christian but it has  some of the trappings and decorum. They use the Bible...but selectively reinterpret it to meet their need (as many cults do).  Many people in it think it is its a real draw for the uneducated to believe "Truth" is relative.  For them its like being in a cult but not knowing they are in a cult. It's what is behind the fanatical dogma of Trumpvangelicalism. QAnon and other various conspiracy theories are an inevitable mix of emotion and a watered down theology. "Faith" becomes relative and emotion driven. The emergence with white nationalists is likely more about power than practicality but it brings to light the unresolved issues in the South which were never resolved at Appomattox. I think if a Civil War Part II is going to happen it will be around November 2022. It would not be a Civil War II..but a continuance of the one in the 1860s. 

Reality against Non-Reality plays out in "Don't Look Up" on Netflix

    My thoughts on "Dont Look Up" which I watched last night on Netflix:

    "Don't Look Up" satirizes the political climate that has been playing out for the last decade or so but has become really intense in the last few years. And it's not the Republican vs Democrat or left and right divide but reality vs non-reality.

     Meryl Streep plays the President. Her character is somewhat Trumpian: self absorbed and played to the masses even though she was an unethical slime trying to get re-elected. (It didn't hit me til I was writing this that that may be why she had that awful hair style and wore that cap at her rallies)

     Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence were her nemesis. They were reality to Streep's non-reality. Without giving up too much of the movie for those who have not seen it yet...just think of the political climate we have faced in the last couple years on the issues of the pandemic: The facts are there. But the deniers and anti-vaxxers push an agenda where reality does not matter. They would be crying "Don't Look Up" and essentially deny any and all facts and evidence.

     Some interviews I saw before I saw the movie mentioned climate change as a metaphor and I think it could be. Climate change deniers would be the "Don't Look Up" crowd even though reality is clear. And it wasn't that many years ago that I was one of them.

     There are other factions of the battles which are interesting but if I reveal too much I would spoil some of the events for those who have not seen it yet. 
     In the end, in spite of all of our political agendas reality will win. Democrat or Republican, right wing or left wing.....will mean nothing.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Anti Christian Conversion Laws & Faux Christian Parsonages

    Several states in India have passed what are referred to as “anti-conversion laws,” which ban religious conversion by force or through financial benefits. Activists warn that such laws have intensified attacks and prosecution of Christian individuals and groups. Today India blocked foreign donations to Mother Teresa's Christian charity for the poor.

    Under the current Prime Minister such attacks are growing. It is at a point where Hindu activist can just claim (without evidence) that a Christian group is trying to convert Indian people and the police will turn a blind eye to any attacks on them. Compassion International, which helped 147,000 children in India left India 3 years ago as the persecutions were in their early stages. Last week, a mob of 200 to 300 people stormed a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh while students were taking their exams and threw stones at the building.
     Pray for Christians in India. It is a small blip in a small country but it could spread.


 Behind gates on a golf course in Spring,  there is a parsonage - identified in 2013 paperwork as the home of Champions Community Church Founding Pastor Steve Austin - boasts a pool and hot tub with fountains, wine grotto and outdoor kitchen. Zillow says it's worth over $1 million. He pays ZERO taxes on it because its designated a "parsonage" One of several in the state of Texas. When the tax bills come due, the residents of the area have to make up the difference (loss) for school districts or other things property taxes are designated for. In other words the pastor who thinks he is getting a free ride is actually being paid for by his neighbors .

     In Travis County, Texas the 3,700-square-foot Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary parsonage set on slightly less than an acre is appraised at $3.33 million. If it weren’t designated a parsonage, the property’s owner would contribute $72,500 a year in taxes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Republic is Already Gone; And Democracy is on Life Support

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday accused Democrats of stealing elections by using completely legal methods of registering and convincing potential Democratic voters to support them.

    As is usual for a Right Winger who rules by Snark, Rand Paul intended it as an accusation. I dont get his "accusation." Convincing potential voters to cast legal ballots is the how you win elections in a democracy.😳

     There seems to be an assumption that the major responsibility in society towards the poor is to create some kind of legislative policy that will “take care of” the poor.
     As I am reading the Book of Proverbs this week, I am noting that it seems to see treating the poor more as a matter of personal responsibility.
“Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor” (Proverbs 14:21).
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him” (14:31).
“It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud” (16:19).
“Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished” (17:5).
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (19:17).
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (21:13).
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (22:9).
“Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty” (22:16).
“Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor” (28:8).
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse” (28:17).
Adding all that up is simple math:
     Proverbs doesn’t measure care for the poor by what kind of policies you support. It seems to care more about what you as an individual do with other people which equals: You share your stuff.
     Jesus made a oft overlooked promise when he said, “The poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26) and even back in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 15:11 declares “the poor will never cease to be in the land," which means if you're looking for something to do "for the Lord," there's always someone somewhere you can bless.

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
― Benjamin Franklin

     Ive read a lot of quotes from the founders and I think most of them misjudged human character. Or they just didnt think that far out. Franklin is right on that point...and the "Republic" has not existed for quite a while now. It's a Democracy, which historically they are very fragile and, like Rome, our end may be in sight. Man was never created to rule. Power will always corrupt him as he attempts to rule autonomously.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Fear is a lazy person’s out

 Matt Beard has posted an interesting article about fear on an Australian Web site:

Fear is a lazy person’s out. It’s easily stoked because, as Martha Nussbaum argues, it is relatively stupid. Our fear rises in us without our needing to think about what’s worth fearing. This makes it a powerful motivator: if you can make your audience afraid, you can often get them to do what you want them to.
The unfortunate reality is that fear sells, and many of us don’t have any awareness of its insidiousness, nor are we necessarily able to resist fear when it is being spoon-fed to us. From fitness companies to political campaigns, people’s fear of COVID-19, of infection, and, in the end, of other people, have been hugely profitable for some but degrading for us all. The reason for this degradation is, as Nussbaum reminds us, fear is a profoundly narcissistic emotion — my fear is mainly about keeping me safe; it does not consider others. “Its view of the world is exceedingly narrow”, she writes, and the result is that fear “threatens or prevents love.”


Donald Trump Jr. told young Republicans attending a conference Sunday that biblical teachings have gotten the party nowhere after damning new texts revealed he was aware of the magnitude of the Capitol riots.

'We've turned the other cheek and I understand the biblical reference, I understand the mentality,' he said. 'But it's gotten us nothing."
Where they go now carrying that kind of religious dogma can be dangerous.
     The problem is that they will use the Bible and God as an excuse to continue to push racism and fascism. Similar to what happened in the the 1930s with Hitler. He used the Bible and Christianity to gain followers and then when he had Naziism locked into place...he became a dictator. Granted, it wont gain them anything eternally..but short sighted Christianity never has. Its temporal fruit, though,  is a dangerous dogma.
     The US is “closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe”, a member of a key CIA advisory panel has said. The analysis by Barbara F Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego who sits on the Political Instability Task Force, is contained in a book due out next year and first reported by the Washington Post.

Lisa Hannan in a column at Valdosta Daily Times pondered: D.L. Moody, one of the greatest preachers of all time, estimated that every 19 out of 20 professing Christians were doing more harm than good as it pertained to the Kingdom of God. And that estimation was made over 100 years ago. What would the statistics be today, I wonder?

Religious Nationalism under the disguise of Christianity.

      Pretty much every right wing nut job in America is signing on to this "Reawaken America" nonsense tour promoting Religious Nationalism under the disguise of Christianity. Yesterday Sarah Palin and Marginal Taylor Greene spoke. Christian Nationalist groups are hitting Colorado pretty hard (Boebert Country). I am not totally surprised by that as I lived in Colorado Springs for awhile and many of these "ministries" are home based there. School boards are a major target and they are working to place far rightwing candidates in a lot of these places.

     A new poll from Pew Research suggests the share of U.S. adults who consider themselves Christian is falling.
Only 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian this year, a marked drop from 75% 10 years ago.
     The declining number of Americans who say they are Christian is offset by a growing number of people who call themselves atheist, agnostic or people of no particular faith. These unaffiliated Americans make up a full 29% of the U.S. population, up from 19% in 2011.
      “The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing,” the Pew researchers concluded. “The religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.”
     Only 45% of U.S. adults said they pray on a daily basis (down from 58% in a similar 2007 survey). And the number of Americans who say religion is “very important” in their lives is also falling: 41% of Americans consider religion “very important” in their lives, down from 56% in 2007.

​     Data from the Center For Systemic Peace has found that the U.S no longer qualifies as a democracy. They claim that since the Trump years we now sit somewhere in the middle of a democracy and an autocratic state. They're also claiming that the "U.S is closer to a Civil War than anyone would like to believe."
The Center used the same factors to monitor the U.S that they use to monitor foreign countries. The center states that the U.S has declined as a democracy in the last 5 years. A data set has classified the U.S as an anocracy. An anocracy sits between a Democracy and an autocratic State.
     Barbara Walter, a professor at UC San Diego, explained what a Civil War would like in the United States and she said think about the Palestinian Israeli conflict. She said it could last for decades and be just as destructive as the first Civil War we experienced.
     So those of us that have been saying that our Democratic Republic is hanging by a thread are right, unfortunately.
Trump’s literally costing us our country, and forcing us into a dictatorship.

Donald Trump: A man Hitler would be proud of

 After weeks of discussions among legislators, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the 45th President, Donald Trump, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on December 18, 2019. The vote fell largely along party lines: 230 in favor, 197 against and 1 present. Trump became only the third president ever to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, after concerns about his alleged attempts to seek foreign interference in the 2020 election.

​Dec 18, 1940: Adolf Hitler issued his secret plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Dec 18, 2020 American fascists under the leadership of Donald Trump were working out their invasion and coup to take over America.

Truth over party

Liz Cheney is an important figure in our times. And I have similar praise for Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney­­––for all the Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Trump. Historically, the left never defeats fascism on its own. . . . I continue to disagree with Liz Cheney on a range of issues, but she is an ardent constitutional patriot. She doesn’t believe her party must win. Her party is now one of ‘rule or ruin.’ Either they rule, or they eliminate any basic democratic norms. They have positioned themselves outside the constitutional order.​” -Jamie Raskin. Democratic member of the House representing Maryland’s Eighth District from interview in The New Yorker

Churches are experiencing a pandemic of tribalism, blame, and unforgiveness

I came across this article this morning written last week by one of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn: In the 52 years I’ve known Jesus, I’ve witnessed countless conflicts between believers. But never more than in the last year. Many have angrily left churches they once loved. Believers who formerly chose churches based on Christ-centered Bible teaching and worship now choose them based on non-essential issues, including political viewpoints and COVID protocols. Churches are experiencing a pandemic of tribalism, blame, and unforgiveness—all fatal to the love and unity Jesus spoke of. Rampant either/or thinking leaves no room for subtlety and nuance. Acknowledging occasional truth in other viewpoints is seen as compromise rather than fairness and charitability. Sadly, evangelicals sometimes appear as little more than another special-interest group, sharing only a narrow “unity” based on mutual outrage and disdain. This acidic, eager-to-fight negativity highlights that we have no right to expect unbelievers to be drawn to the good news when we obsess about bad news and treat brothers and sisters as enemies.