Bring Us Together Again

Cracks on the canvas, broken bridges, shattered streets, and bleeding buildings,

Tell me, my sweet Lord, can you bring us together again?

Can you sing us an excellent new song to heal the pain?

Heavy hands, saddened smiles, hard hits, burning barns, and these fiery fields,

Tell me, my dear Beauty, can you reweave this clothe?

Can you retrieve for the forlorn hearty, healthy growth?

Acid in the alleyways, dirty depots, slumping shacks, an eviscerated economy,

Tell me, my Soul Lover, can you fill us again with love?

Can you pull us together again in bonds from far above?

Another Shooting, Another Tragedy, Same Questions

‘Our right! Our right! Out right to shoot and kill if we will, day or night!’
But what about the right to live without fear, without gunshots to hear
In classrooms and halls, to play on grounds without the sound of terror?
And when we look at the bodies of innocence, which the gunman took,
Can we turn away yet again to begin again another political argument,
Chalking up slain youth as no more than more statistic to be counted?
Or is it not time to confront the crime of senseless violence in reliance
Upon unnecessary, deadly weapons that really no one needs to be free,
If only we could see and apprehend the liberty that comes with peace,
And now cease our insane proclivity toward death and destruction
In protection of the weak and the vulnerable and innocent among us,
Rather than preserving outdated rights to self-armament and murder

India: On Independence Day

So dark and lovely, wrapped in ancient mystique,
Pointing back into the world before any history,
Serenely singing songs long held in Vedic mystery,
So strongly enduring the ages yet purely meek

Now banners fly with freedom’s flag held high
In memorial of everything done for liberty won,
Prizing peace with all neighbors under the sun,
And to never shun humble strength to exemplify

What festivity is festive enough for such people,
Who trace their roots to the earth’s foundation,
Other than the joy of such sacred reclamation
Of independence celebrated like soaring eagle?

 

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Race and Violence: An American Matter

Monday Musings

While the President resists being labelled “racist,” his own record and spoken words militate against him. This being the case, no one should hesitate to accuse where these accusations are factual, and no one should hesitate to hold the President accountable for his hand in racially, ethnically motivated, alt-right violence. No one ought to be shy in condemning him for adding fuel to prejudicial, bigoted, hate-filled ideas and perspectives, thoughts and feelings and beliefs.

Conversely, no one should stand in his defense, and only those who are themselves ethnocentric bigots and crazed nationalists (which is fundamentally different than patriotism) will, in fact, defend him.  And it is, indeed, a very sad day in the United States when millions of people do just that in defending the morally indefensible. And yet racism never really died in this country; it simply went underground … kind of, sort of. Now because of one man nationalism, bigotry and masochism are acceptable.

Well, at least these perspectives and attitudes have once again become openly acceptable is some quarters of America. Tragically, we are witnessing the fear-and-hate-driven resurrection of white supremacy, and the fear comes most obviously from the increasing numbers of the non-white population in this nation. Put simply, many conservative white folks are simply afraid of being taken over. And isn’t it interesting that this same group always refers itself to “our nation” or “our country?”

This is their convinced belief, though, that the United States is really, in some special sense, their country. As if African, Latino, Oriental and Native Americans have no claim on America. And it doesn’t matter that the Indigenous peoples were here long before Europeans began to settle North America (and Central and South America, too, for that matter.) It doesn’t seem to matter that most African Americans can trace their roots in this country back to a time well before the ancestors of most Caucasians came over.

Of course, for most of the history of the United States this nation was predominantly mastered by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (pejoratively called WASPs.) And in fact, the majority of the population fit into this mould, with the exception, perhaps, of predominantly Catholic Maryland and predominantly Mormon Utah. We might also add Massachusetts as being heavily Catholic in the 20th century. So when these people shout, “make America great again,” they actually mean make America white Protestant again.

This is, indeed, very sad and quite indefensible, yet this is precisely what we are facing today. This is the monster that’s finally crawled back out from under the bed. The old bones of white supremacy and nationalism have been fleshed again by the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. God have mercy and help us! Two years has already been too long, and we have to somehow survive the next two when, hopefully, voters will overwhelmingly make a better choice for President.

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We Believe They’re Evil: Party and Diversity in America

My good friend, Hank, alerted me to a recent survey and blog article that reported “many Americans think people in the other party are ignorant, spiteful, evil and generally destroying the country… About half of Democrats think Republicans are ignorant (54%) and spiteful (44%). Likewise, about half of Republicans think Democrats are ignorant (49%) and spiteful (54%). Twenty-one percent of Democrats think Republicans are evil, and about the same share of Republicans (23%) think Democrats are evil.” This is according to a November 2018 Axios poll first aired on HBO.

First of all I must respond by simply saying, “Wow!” Our country is, apparently, far more socio-politically divided than I imagined, but I haven’t had my head stuck in the sand either. Let me say for the record that, even though I identify as a democratic-socialist who aligns more comfortably with the Democrat Party, I do not believe most conservative Republicans are backward, ignorant, sexist, racists who are intent on destroying our country. In many, if not most cases misinformed and even misguided, perhaps, but not fiendish, nefarious individuals dedicated to wrecking society.

The results of the poll do point to an important divide in conviction and deeply held perception, though. How is it we’ve come to this point where so many folks in each party not only look at the “other side” with suspicion but even with disdain and loathing? Specifically, how is it each “side” has come to claim the moral high ground while at the same time condemning the other side as iniquitous and even malevolent? Well, perhaps part of the answer is that this is really not so completely new after all. It may be that when we look back upon the history of our country we may find some deep and wide moral-ethical ( as well as cultural and religious) divisions all along.

My friend, Hank, quoted the blog author (whom I’ve not had an opportunity to read) as opening his article by observing, “Our political and cultural environment has become so intensely moralized, in the sense of seeking with zeal virtue, absent prudence, that to compromise seems like giving in to evil.” And I agree with the second part of his statement — that is, that for many people compromising feels like giving in to evil — however, even though our political and cultural environment is very divided, it has not just now become so “intensely moralized” in its zealous quest for collective, socio-political and economic virtue, thus leading members of the two (or more) parties to harshly condemn members of the other (or some other) party.

Hank, quite gifted and deeply intelligent, surmises that if the blog author’s assessment is correct, then:

[T]he only way … it is correct is that fundamental change to our system, which includes change to the fundamental worldview of that system … is giving up what made us great as a country… The multi-cultural pluralism message is only a message because it doesn’t take into account the reality of fundamental transformation of our country and way of life … Everything may be already ‘gone with the wind,’ but there is a vast residual, in that case, who never were informed of the transformation and who never had a choice or chance to have themselves heard as the changes took place. So, the evil is what people expect to happen when the last vestige of our tradition is no more.

One might justly ask, however, precisely who is meant by “our” and specifically what is meant by “tradition.” In other words, just what is “our tradition?” To many white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (the WASPs of old), the answer seems to come rather easily … but it also betrays gross over-simplification of American history. For in fact, America has always been multi-cultural, and the embryonic promises of the unique, constitutional, American democracy have only grown and matured down through the generations.

Yes, as Hank also observes, the newly formed United States was informed by an overall Judeo-Christian worldview, broadly speaking, and this broad worldview continued to influence our country at least until somewhat recently, historically speaking. Yet beneath the umbrella of Judeo-Christianity there existed quite some variety marking very important differences between groups, sects, and denominations. From the beginning, there were Quakers and Roman Catholics, Methodists and Presbyterians, Baptists and Congregationalists. There were also Jews and, among the slave population, even Muslims. And we certainly cannot forget the number of Deists and Unitarians to be counted among the Founders of this country… So there we have it: Diversity.

big-time-cover.jpegAnd culturally, there were, of course, English and Scottish, French and Germans, Africans and Spanish, and many Indigenous Peoples, as well as others. Each race and ethnic group brought with it their own cultural history and heritage, norms and habits, traditions and ways of life. This was all part of what made the American colonies so very unique, and the founding of the United States so different and even astonishing. That all of these disparate groups came together under the broad panoply of Judeo-Christianity is an important fact of history, yet one that ought not distort our view of that same rich and variegated history.

Certainly we must recognize that socio-political (and economic) controversy, and in the process claiming the moral high ground, has been part and parcel of American history. After all, the very nation itself was predicated upon self-evident, moral truth, and right from the beginning our Founders wrangled over the question of slavery. And there was some controversy in some states over tax-supported churches, and then there was the question of our relationship with the various Indigenous Peoples. And what about women and their “rightful place” in society? And the manufacturing and selling of alcohol? And the rights of common laborers? Safety in the workplace, quality standards for meats sold on the market, regulation of medications for public safety?

There is so much more from early on in our history that we can mention: Should we maintain a strong military or be more pacifist? Should we invade and conquer the West as part of our “Manifest Destiny” or respect the boundaries of Mexico? Should slaves be counted in the population of a state or not … or partly counted? Should an atheist be allowed to hold public office? And, yes, this was a question, but by the first half of the 20th century was, for the most part, answered in the affirmative. If the majority of voters vote someone into an office, then that individual should be allowed to serve, period. 

But my friend nevertheless laments, “we have lost something great in this country and that is character,” and I do agree with him, though perhaps not in quite the same way. Character includes, among other virtues: honesty, integrity, and courage with love and compassion, and I simply do not see this currently issuing from the White House or the Republican Party in general. Still, we should not conclude that there has been some great overturning of the American society, or that what was established and generally accepted before is now “gone with the wind.” The wind has always been blowing in this part of the world, at least, and still blows today. Where it carries us largely depends on how we set our sails, and that is largely up to us, to be decided by “we the people.”

Now we should conclude by observing that, yes, as a matter of fact Judeo-Christianity has waned in this country, its influence much diminished, but why is that? Perhaps it is not so much that the larger population has rejected truth or, especially, the love of Christ Jesus presented in the Gospel, but rather has altogether and quite understandably rejected an overly-politicized, sham gospel that Jesus of Nazareth would also reject just as vehemently as he renounced the message of the religious leaders of his own day and time. Perhaps it is time for self-professing Christians, especially of the evangelical ilk, to “get back to the basics,” so to speak, in order to re-present the light, life, and love of Christ to the whole of the hungering world suffering in darkness, sin, and death. Maybe then the masses would listen once again. Maybe then the Judeo-Christian worldview would be taken seriously… Perhaps. 

Another Silly Meme on Socialism

MonopolyWhat an excellent example for Capitalists to use to try to prove some point against socialism: The infamous Monopoly game! Read this meme and then think about it for a minute. Digest the contents of this and try not to regurgitate. Now… 

Ever wonder how Monopoly got its name? Because the objective was to buy up all properties, brutally running everyone else out of business, which meant out of their livelihoods, too, so no competition was left… It was literally the game to establish monopoly, i.e. winner literally takes all, leaving everyone else with nothing. Now that’s Unbridled Capitalism in a nutshell! (Of course, it is just a game … and one I’ve always personally enjoyed!)

But there more to this meme that strikes me as humorous. For example: In the game as it is, every player gets exactly $200 when passing Go, no more, no less. That’s equality of income, my friends. And anyone who lands on Income Tax must pay 10% or $200. Anyone who lands on Luxury Tax must pay $75, whether they have luxuries or not! LOL Anyone landing on Go To Jail must go to jail, and anyone landing on Free Parking … well, they get free parking! Imagine that: parking that’s free, income equality, justice for everyone across the board, equitability in taxation, not to mention equal distribution of wealth at the onset of the game… Wow! Even the game of Monopoly has built-in socialistic elements! Who’d have thought???

Perpetuating Another Myth: Government Funding of Abortion

I am and always have been pro-life; however, I have always tried to be careful in the information I share on this oh-so controversial topic … and I’ve encouraged others to please do the same, but I kind of got in trouble the other day when I replied to a misinformation meme that said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the government funded adoptions instead of abortions?” I simply pointed out to my fellow pro-lifer that the government does not fund abortions per the 1977 Hyde Amendment. Planned Parenthood receives approximately $500 million per year as of 2016, none of which may be used for abortion procedures. It’s very important to keep our fact straight! He was not very happy with me.

So God Told Nehemiah to Rebuild the Wall

Evidently, somewhere along the way in the debate over Trump’s proposed Wall along the Mexican border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must have asked, “What would Jesus do?” I personally don’t remember her asking this, but many evangelicals started circulating a meme claiming that God told the Old Testament character, Nehemiah, to reconstruct the Wall around ancient Jerusalem; therefore, Jesus would presumably tell us to build our President’s “big, beautiful” Wall! The meme ends by saying to Pelosi something like, “So stop asking what Jesus would do and just read the Bible”

Huh? God told Nehemiah to rebuild the Wall around Jerusalem sometime in the fifth century B. C. (or BCE, if you prefer), so Jesus of Nazareth would instruct the 21st century United States to build a wall of protection along the Mexican border. Right? Yeah, right! This is so convoluted it’s not even funny, but folks shooting this meme around are actually quite serious, and will even add the fact that there is (supposedly) a wall around heaven, or the New Jerusalem, as it’s described in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation, perhaps the most symbolic and esoteric book in the Bible.

Of course, Nehemiah was also a eunuch, so maybe we should think about something similar for our POTUS??? 

Ah, but the lengths some will go to in order to prove a point… Ridiculous but often times funny, really! More later, and till then blessings to one and all!

 

One Memetic Distortion of Socialism

Looking at memes can be fun, sometimes aggravating, but then at other times somewhat infuriating, as is the case with the below pic and statement. One does not have to be socialistic to conclude that these claims are either wrong or, at least, overly simplistic. It certainly is minimalistic, which is one glaring problem with memes anyway.

Socialism.jpg

1) No socialist has ever claimed that “free” means completely free in the sense of wholly economically free.

2) Perhaps you are not entitled to someone else’s “hard earned money,” but you are entitled to just compensation for honest labor, which is what socialism (as well as other socio-economic perspectives) demands for all people.

3) No, you cannot tax any nation into prosperity, but you can guarantee a more just distribution of wealth, along with adequate healthcare for all, good education, adequate food, clothing, and shelter, etc.

4) As a matter of fact, sometimes (oftentimes) the rich ARE responsible for the poverty of many, many peoples, who have no other recourse to address the injustices foisted upon them by an oligarchy than the gov’t they elected to represent them.

5) It is absolutely FALSE to claim socialism always leads to Communism; point in fact, there are many democratic-socialist nations today that are not Communist, but this claim simply betrays some confusion between democratic-socialism as a socio-economic system as opposed to Communism as a form of governance.

In the end, democratic socialism may not be the greatest answer to what ills our nation, but I do wish some folks would take the time and make the effort to educate themselves before posting memes like the one above. 

Local Papers Tell More Than You Might Think…

Local, small town newspapers may tell more than you might think, perhaps especially in what they don’t say. I know. I worked for a small town paper in east-central Alabama, wrote freelance articles for another half-dozen papers, and have generally followed smaller, local publications anyway. And one thing’s for sure: Small town papers respond to and cover what’s important to local residents. After all, it’s their bread and butter.

For example, the paper I worked for ran a few AP (Associated Press) articles, but for the most part covered very typical small town stuff. You know, last night’s high school basketball game, the latest meeting of the garden club, town council and country commission meetings, a new traffic light to be installed at a “heavy” traffic intersection. Typical stuff for small town papers.

However, and this is important, if a larger issue directly affected our area, we’d report on it. For example, when I was with the paper we had an issue with water usage along the Chattahoochee River. The city of Atlanta was sucking up large quantities of water from the River, thus lowering water levels along the Chattahoochee further south. This directly impinged upon our area, so … we reported on it, albeit from a local perspective.

This is true, I believe, of most local papers, especially smaller ones. Ordinarily you expect them to report on typical, small town matters. They should. Again, it’s their bread and butter. Subscribers can, and do, easily get national and international news from the larger papers, from radio, television networks, and now the Internet. Consequently, what they want from their local paper is … well, local news. Period.

This is a big part of the reason I delved into local, small town newspapers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, particularly focusing along the Mexican border, when trying to determine whether or not there is really a crisis there. And what did I find? I ended up searching through more than 40 such papers and found only a handful, perhaps six or seven, that addressed border issues and illegal immigration at all, and those publications pretty much offered the same conclusion: There is no crisis along the border.

What really struck me, though, was the fact that out of those 40+ papers I consulted, the overwhelming majority had nothing whatsoever to say about any border problems, illegal immigration, drugs and crime (supposedly) flooding in from Mexico. Nothing. Period. So because of my own background, I knew there must not really be any “crisis” at all.

You see, I know that if there really were, and if it were directly impacting those towns and cities, the papers would be reporting it. The silence, in this case, told me more than what was reported in those other, very few local publications. Add to this the fact that, according to other larger news outlets, residents along the border are actually reacting negatively to the (false) claim that there’s a “crisis” and you know with hardly any doubt that this frenzy has been manufactured by our current President. 

Sad, really, but before signing off on this article, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the honest, hard working, small town newspaper reporters, who keep their constituency informed so well day after day, week after week. They deserve our applause and our respect!


Read “Beyond Washington: What the Locals Have to Say About the Border ‘Crisis’” and Beyond Washington: What the Locals Have to Say About the Border ‘Crisis,’ Part II

The ‘Old Calendarists’ of America: The Dissection of an Influential Mentality

They are called “Old Calendarists” because they still use the ancient Julian (for Julius Caesar) calendar, and represent a small, though vocal, minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians. You see, some Eastern Orthodox churches simply refused to adopt the newer Gregorian calendar, which was a revision of the Julian made in the 16th century, because they saw the proposed adoption as a capitulation to the Roman papacy. So to this day, they continue using an outdated and inaccurate calendar in order to (ostensibly) maintain the purity of their faith. Weird, huh?

Well, more specifically, and admittedly more important, these churches have been adamantly opposed to revising the liturgical calendar of their churches, which was part and parcel of adopting the new Gregorian calendar, which was again modified in 1923 by the Serbian astronomer, Milutin Milanković. Now, you might justly wonder why in the world this should make any real difference. After all, wouldn’t you want to use a more accurate calendar? And, if you are an Orthodox Christian (as I am, by the way), couldn’t you continue celebrating all of the feasts and fasts of the year?

Why am I even mentioning this obscure subject, which doubtless interests hardly anyone, least of all my readers? It’s simply because it occurred to me, perhaps especially after reading a recent article by my friend J. D. Wills, that we have our own kind of “Old Calendarists” here in America. Call them “resisters” or “preservationists,” or what-have-you ~ although I resist applying the term “traditionalists” to this group ~ really they have much the same mentality as the Old Calendarists. Having grown up and lived most of my life in the deep South (i.e. the old Confederacy), I understand this.

There are some shared characteristics between the Old Calendarists of the East and resisting-preservationists in this country , including the deeply-rooted, felt-need to resist any and all changes that might be perceived as bowing to some opposing force, or group, even when that change is an overall good change or one that really has little affect on the truly important things of life. More than this, however, there is an unadulterated, hyper-conservative mentality that militates against change simply because it is change. This is the mentality that fueled “white flight” in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

There are other shared characteristics, though, of which the following few come to mind:

The need to preserve a pure history.

History can often be confusing, especially when one is seeking truth, that is, trying to discover “what really happened,” or the “way it really was.” Now, I’m not so cynical as to think it’s not possible to arrive at some good, solid conclusions where history is concerned, but I do know that it’s oftentimes … well, messy. You know, it’s not the elementary schoolbook version, but resisting-preservationists need their history to be clean, smooth, easy to grasp and understand. Why? Because it underpins everything else they believe and, thus, how they live out their lives. For example, though the Judeo-Christian faith was an important theological-philosophical influence in the founding of this country, the Founding Fathers were, nevertheless, a mixed bag when it came to religion. Many were deists and many more were, to put it bluntly, little more than nominal Christians. The Declaration of Independence was, at best, a deistic document, and the Constitution not at all religious in any sense of the word. Period. This is not to say the newly birthed United States was irreligious, only that the pristine pure narrative of this country being founded as a Christian nation is, at the very least, complex. In other words, there’s more to say on the subject, and when one delves into the founding documents, writings, recorded speeches and whatnot of that era, one soon discovers the difficulty in simply, almost glibly saying, “We were founded as a Christian nation.” And this is only one example, but it leads to another point…

The good ole days were the best days.

Not only is history supposed to be pure and simple, it also needs to be good, truly good, for the resisting-preservationist. This is the anchor-hold for Old Calendarists, both East and West (including this country, of course.) After all, if the good ole days were really not so good, then why try to preserve them or bring them back? Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly believe there is much ~ very much, in fact ~ to be deeply appreciated, and even in some cases revered, from the past. I abhor chronological arrogance; besides, as I said above, I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian myself, so how in the world could I possibly despise the past??? That would be to despise my own salvation, as it were, and most especially my Lord Jesus, whom I love with a deep and abiding love and to whom I gladly cling in hope and joy. No, I’m not a despiser of the past, but neither am I a blind glorifier of some carefully selected past that I can use explicitly to justify my beliefs, perspectives and chosen lifestyle. For example, I’m proud to be an American, yet I feel no need whatsoever to “tidy up” the history of my great country. The resisting-preservationist, however, views the whole of his/her communal, or national, history as really and truly being the “good ole days,” when all things were as they should be and, consequently, s/he feels deeply compelled to return to those glory days … and even fight for that return.

If the good ole days were the best days, then these days are not.

In pining for the good ole days, it’s not difficult to understand how and why resisting-preservationists would look at the current scene rather gloomily. Looking back at the past nostalgically, they look at the present negatively. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: “Things just aren’t the way they used to be.” Right? Right. And so another narrative surfaces, one that casts a long, dark shadow over the whole world, and in this world the majority of the major players, if we might call them that, are held suspect. There is precious little talk about the very real freedoms we continue to enjoy in this country ~ including freedom of speech and religion ~ and very little mention of how modern technology has made our lives so much more convenient; hardly any thanksgiving for modern medicine and, comparatively speaking, good access to healthcare (which certainly needs to be improved, but…); very little talk about the relative safety we enjoy in this country, not to mention food and clothing and shelter. Only compare how billions of men, women, and children are forced to barely survive throughout the world and you would think there’s an awful lot for which to be grateful here in America … but for the resisting-preservationist, this contrasts too sharply, too vividly with his/her notion of the good ole days and the way things seem to be now. So, s/he must guard against too much light of reality penetrating into his/her preconceived notion of how the world, and nation, currently stand…

So build a wall or, better yet, a fortress.

We’ve all heard the term “fortress mentality,” and that’s what it is, really. It’s literally erecting a mental fortress around one’s whole belief system, or perspective on life and the world. Let nothing out ~ or, in other words, let nothing of one’s particular ideological view go ~ and let nothing in, i.e. let no one else’s perspective creep into the fortress. And it helps immensely to have friends in this fortress, of course. As the old saying goes, “Misery loves company.” Naturally, too, it’s much easier for these “Old Calendarists” of America ~ the resisting-preservationists ~ to perpetuate their pure and simple history as the good ole days (the best days), as well as their dim view of the contemporary scene with the consequent need to return to the nostalgic past when they do so together in the greatest numbers they can muster. Well, community is great, and we all love to be with folks who share our interests and hobbies and whatnot. I imagine we even like to have at least some friends who share our values and perspectives on life and the world around us … but here’s precisely the point: Most of us, I truly believe, also appreciate other viewpoints and perspectives, even other faith-religions, just as we surely appreciate art, literature and music from different cultures, even when it may not particularly be our “cup of tea,” so to speak. In an open and ideologically liberal society, we’ve learned to value other people and other cultures along with what they offer without feeling threatened or as if we’ve somehow compromised our own dearly, deeply held beliefs. Not so the resisting-preservationist. Any outward show of appreciation for something or someone different is perceived as a sign of weakness and/or compromise. What’s really terribly insidious about this (among other things) is that many of these folks actually, secretly love what they pretend to detest. But since they are in a fortress with others of like mind and heart, they cannot “out” themselves. There is safety and security in their enclave, and this safety and security is simply not worth sacrificing … for anything.

Well, so much for brief observations! Though much more could be added, I’ll quit now by simply reiterating (or confessing) that I know of what I speak. I’ve been there. I’ve been party to the “Old Calendarists” of this country, the resisting-preservationists. Consequently, nothing I’ve written is offered in a mean spirit at all, nor do I imagine it will effect any great change. I just thought that, perhaps, some of my readers might want to better understand what has become an extremely influential mentality (of an abnormally influential minority) in the U. S. I hope I’ve managed to provide this. If not, I apologize. I’ll try better next time! God bless!

 

Falwell Jr.’s New Religion?

Did you hear? Evangelical “Christian” leader Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a recent interview that “Jesus never told Caesar how to run Rome. He went out of his way to say that’s the earthly kingdom, I’m about the heavenly kingdom…” Really? No, Jesus didn’t try to tell Caesar how to run Rome; neither did he condone the abject wickedness of Rome. But more importantly, when Christ taught his disciples to pray ~ what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer ~ he specifically taught them to say, “… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Falwell also claimed, “There’s two kingdoms. There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country.” Presumably, then, doing what’s in the best interest of the country may include harming innocent people? In other words, the Golden Rule to do unto others what you would have them do unto you has no bearing, or should have no bearing, on national policy? Well, this evangelical “Christian” leader seems to think “that’s what Jesus thought, too.” 

Really? Jesus simply said things like, “if you’re one of my followers, then you will not act like others in the world, that is, lording it over each other, seeking power and wealth and prosperity… No. In fact, the ‘first’ among you will be the least … will be the servant of others, just like me.” I wonder what difference this might make if it were applied consistently by conservative, Bible-thumping, evangelical Christians, especially those who hold elected positions? Of course, if Falwell is right, then it doesn’t apply to public life. How he proposes separating the two is a bit of a mystery. How does one go about following the teachings of Jesus privately, in one’s “individual” life, without also following those teachings publicly and, where the Church (called the Body of Christ) is concerned, communally?

Ah! This is a good question, isn’t it? After all, an individual is elected to public office as an individual. It’s hard to see how s/he can stop being an individual. It’s also difficult to see how an individual can be completely amoral ~ moral or immoral, yes, but not completely amoral. But if that’s the tactic Falwell wants to take, then he’s really destroyed his own foundation, at least where an awful lot of his pet issues are concerned. For instance, upon what grounds does he continue to oppose abortion? Remember, by his own recently-admitted standard, he can’t quote the Bible, or anything religious; he must demonstrate how outlawing abortion would be “for the good of the country” without resorting to any religious or religious-type argument(s).

The same goes for his opposition to homosexual rights. On what grounds can Falwell now continue to oppose homosexual marriage, for instance? Not on biblical/religious grounds … not anymore. Please note that I am not presently presenting my own perspectives on these issues; rather, I am simply wondering just how Falwell, as an evangelical “Christian” will continue to make his case on these, and other, issues without resorting to anything remotely religious. I may be wrong, of course, but I think it will be exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) for him to do so, but I also know he will keep on pounding the pulpit (literally!) against abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other issues. And he will do so without any qualm about the hypocrisy of it all.

Many things intrigue me about what the evangelical “Christian” community has become in recent years. But now Falwell is promoting an altogether new religion totally divorced from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. No wonder more and more Protestants are dropping the “evangelical” label, not wanting to be identified any longer with the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr. Oh! And isn’t it interesting that Jr.’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., started the Moral Majority movement precisely to influence the government, all political discourse, and, indeed, the very course of the life of this nation. Wonder what daddy’s thinking about baby boy’s recent comments? But, then, all of this seems to me to be one very good reason not to listen to religious leaders’ commentaries and endorsements of politicians and policies. So maybe I kind of, sort of agree with Jr. in separating religion ~ at least institutionalized religion ~ from government and political discourse in general… I just wish he’d follow his own lead on this and separate himself!

(Everyone reading his remarks should also note, importantly, that Falwell Jr. heavily insinuated that following the teachings of Jesus would not be in the best interest of the country … only in the best interest of the individual. Wow!)