It’s President Trump. What Does That Mean?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, commercial use attribution license, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, commercial use attribution license, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

What a night. I sat up late, watching the election returns, along with a lot of other people all around the globe. At the end of the evening, it was clear that America’s president elect is Donald J Trump.

Mr Trump was the clear winner in the electoral college, but if this morning’s vote trend continues, Secretary Clinton may end up winning the popular vote. The margin is razor thin, signifying a sharply divided electorate.

Mr Trump signaled a hard turn in his behavior with his acceptance speech. He thanked his opponent in the general election, Secretary Hillary Clinton, for “her service” to our nation. That was a big change in tone compared to what I saw him do in a speech just the night before in which he ranted and raved about how Secretary Clinton belonged in jail. I assume that it’s part of his new “presidential” public personality.

Be that as it may, I am hopeful that he turns out to be a good president for this country. The future of everyone I love is riding on it.

As for me, if he just keeps his campaign promise and actually nominates justices to the Supreme Court who are pro life and who favor religious liberty, it will be enough. We have one vacancy on the court right now. At least one of the sitting justices is elderly and in frail health. What that means is that President Trump may have the opportunity to nominate the justices who will give us a pro life majority on the court. It is possible that Roe might be overturned.

If I could see that happen before I die, it would be a gift.

However, we’ve seen decades of failures of various “pro life” presidents to nominate candidates who actually made pro life rulings once they got on the court. Pro life presidents just can’t seem to do the job of nominating pro life justices whose pro life beliefs will stick. On the other hand, pro choice presidents have a 100% record of nominating people who ultimately support Roe from the court. I don’t know if President Elect Trump will do a better job of nominating than his predecessors, but I hope and pray that he does.

One of the best things about his election is the hope it brings that we may see an end to the legal attacks on Christian business owners and Christian health care workers who do not want to participate in activities such as abortion or same-sex weddings. It would also be a vast relief to see the repeal of the invidious HHS Mandate. Again, I have hope that these are promises that he will keep.

Will President Trump follow through on his promise to build a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States and to deport millions of illegal immigrants? Will he stop immigration into this country from the Middle East? Those promises were two of the reasons why he won this election. However, the first one is highly impracticable and both of them fly in the face of what the big corporations want.

The reason why the illegal immigration problem never changes, even after repeated political campaigns hyping it, is that corporate interests like things the way they are. They want cheap labor in this country and they want cheap labor in Mexico, both.

Congress is pretty much a corporate puppet organization. They seldom bestir themselves to do much of anything except grandstand, pass tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy, create more corporate welfare and enact “reforms” that are laws for and by the corporations and which were often written by corporate entities.

Will a corporate Congress lock up in defense of corporate interests concerning immigration? On the other hand, will President Trump pursue his campaign promises in these matters with the same enthusiasm that he promoted them on the campaign trail? We’ll have to watch and see how this all plays out.

A corporate Congress should make smooth sailing for the massive tax cut to the wealthiest interests which President Elect Trump has promised. I think that is one thing we can count on happening. I say that unhappily. I’ve witnessed here in Oklahoma what bleeding the middle class and working people to give tax cuts to the rich does to an economy.

I think such tax cuts will harm the economy, not help it, for the simple reason that we’ve already transferred an unfair share of paying the costs of our government onto working people. I don’t think they can carry a heavier load. This is ironic, since those are the very people who put President Trump in office, and one of the reasons they voted for him is because they are overburdened economically. Transferring even more of the national wealth to those who are already wealthy will only make things harder on them.

The repeal of Obamacare will probably happen, although I’m not going to hold my breath about seeing President Trump follow through on his promise to replace it with a better plan. I imagine that even the parts of Obamacare that most people agree were good such as making sure that people can get health insurance even if they have health problems will be deep-sixed in service to the insurance companies.

President Trump will be able to follow through on defunding Planned Parenthood, if he wants. But I don’t expect to see him fulfill his promise of paid maternity leave. A plethora of much-needed reforms such as student loan relief and lower higher education costs are now off the table.

I am worried about programs like funding for domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, and I imagine equal pay for equal work will never happen. I am honestly quite concerned about having a man who assaults, abuses, degrades and insults women for president. Congress is pretty much a boys’ club, so I don’t expect them to buttress women’s human rights in the face of an abusive president. I also don’t expect protests on behalf of women from our religious leaders.

I look at my granddaughter and I wonder what living in a country governed by a frank and open misogynist will mean to her as a person as she grows up. I also wonder how women who are victims of violence and rape will fare in this new world.

As for international interests, I pray that President Elect Trump revises what he says he is going to do there. I do not want a world dominated by Russia and China. I do not want this country to be dominated by them, either.

I hope with all my heart that President Trump is able to control his behavior and be a good president for us. I pray that I will see an end to abortion before I die. I also hope that he will not create a climate where the degradation of women is even more the cultural norm than it is already.

But whatever he does, he is the President Elect. I wish him and all of us the very best.

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Today We Pick Our Prez. Tomorrow We Move Forward.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kelly Minars https://www.flickr.com/photos/dokidoki/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kelly Minars https://www.flickr.com/photos/dokidoki/

Today, We the People engage in the sacred rite of electing those from among us who will temporarily take the reins of government on our behalf.

Their charge, should they win, is to defend the Constitution in whatever office they will occupy. The question of whether or not government of the people, by the people, and for the people will survive will rest partly in their hands.

Notice that I did not say that this question will rest entirely in their hands. It does not. We the People do not live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. We have the privilege and the responsibility of living in the world’s greatest democracy. That means, among other things, that our responsibilities as citizens do not end when we shove our ballot into the machine. It means that our responsibilities to our country begin with voting, rather than ending there.

The burning question of whether or not the Republican nominee for president will “accept” the outcome of the election has been cussed and discussed up and down this land for weeks now. It is a mark of the overall tawdriness of this campaign that such a question can be asked by serious people.

The wider question of whether or not We the People will accept the outcome has been hinted at, but, so far as I know, never addressed with more than tut-tut commentary. Let’s take a moment and consider it now.

I voted early this morning. It was an uplifting experience, primarily because of the large crowds I saw, including many people who were obviously voting for the first time in their lives. I was so proud of them as they wended their way through the line and thoughtfully read their ballots and cast their votes. They were polite, gentle and good people who deserve leadership from their elected officials that considers them and provides for their future.

Based on what I saw, this election will run up a huge turnout, and a lot of the people who will vote in it are folks who don’t go to the polls all that often, or who have never voted before in their lives. What that means is that, if the rest of the country reflects what I saw in my home precinct today, we are seeing a paradigm change in American electioneering, and not from the candidates, but from the voters themselves. It also means that the polls leading up to this election may be based on inaccurate sampling.

I don’t know who is going to win this election, but for someone who has spent much of her adult life dealing with elections, this process is fascinating. So, instead of biting my nails like a lot of other Americans are probably doing, I’m enjoying the intellectual process of analyzing what is happening and why it’s going that way.

We the People are choosing elected officials all up and down the ballot today. I even voted on several school bond issues. I’m in a different position than most people in that I know personally just about everyone on the ballot except the candidates at the top of the ticket who are running for president and vice president. That makes voting decisions easy for me, at least most of the time.

Of course, the election that brought out the crowd this morning was the one that dominates our thinking and has set us against one another for months now. We are choosing our next president. That is a noble enterprise, but this campaign and these candidates have not been noble at all. We’ve all been slimed by this campaign, and it’s going to take a while to get the goo washed out of our minds and hearts.

That’s a long lead up to what I’m really writing about, which is the question of how We the People are going to behave tomorrow. Unless this thing is some form of a repeat of 2000, we will be talking about either President Elect Hillary Clinton or President Elect Donald Trump. No matter which of them wins, half the people of this nation are going to be certain that evil has triumphed. There will be caterwauling and we-wuz-robbed carrying on up and down this land.

We the People have become so polarized and crazy that we routinely reject verifiable facts for thought salad internet gibberish when it conflicts with our political loyalties. I’ve heard some of the most stupid and outrageous nonsense coming out of the mouths of people who I know are intelligent and thoughtful under ordinary circumstances, and I knew from the glassy-eyed anger they were demonstrating that pointing out the massive illogic and fantastical nature of what they were saying would only get me hated and attacked. This, from people I’ve known and loved for decades; people I trust and respect.

This election has created an angry mob mentality that has bled over into our relationships with our family and friends. Absolutist thinking is just about the only thinking that’s being done. Everyone is committed to the notion that everyone else who disagrees with them is going to a fiery hell. We the People have lost our common sense in this election.

I think it’s time we reclaimed it.

No matter who wins today, I am going to accept the outcome of this election and move forward. That is the American way. It is what Americans do.

We’ve been hyped half crazy with Armageddon everything-is-riding-on-this talk to the point that a lot of people actually seem to think that there will be no other chances for our beliefs to prevail if they are not upheld by our boy or girl winning today.

There is a word for this. The word is nonsense.

This is all nonsense.

We live in America. If our candidate fails today, all we have to do is reload and try again next time. Everything that is done can be undone so far as whatever nothing Congress doesn’t do and whatever over-the-top legislating the Supreme Court does. In American government, there are a pa-zillion ways to skin any political cat.

But to exercise those options we’ve got to start using our thinking brains and stop lying to ourselves about reality. Confabulation and pretend will not save the life of one single baby. They will not stop one law legalizing euthanasia. They certainly will not prevent the economic destruction of the working class in this country or keep us out of wars. We need to engage with reality and stop listening to nut jobs and their various manipulative lies. That is the first step toward actually doing something that will save lives.

We need to begin the process tomorrow, by accepting the results of this election.

Then, no matter which of these candidates wins, we need to get our heads out of fantasyland and give some serious thought to how we can best help our country and advocate for what we believe.

I voted today, and it was an uplifting, inspiring experience to see so many of my fellow Americans, standing in line to do that which just about everyone else on this planet wishes they could do: Choose the next President of the United States.

If you haven’t voted, there’s time. Go do it.

If you have voted, be proud of yourself and our wonderful country.

And tomorrow morning, no matter who wins, accept our new president elect with civility and hope.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Our Election!!

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

The American electorate has, in its concentration on the bread and circuses behavior of the two presidential the candidates and the press, pretty much ignored the single most important happening of this election campaign.

That happening is unprecedented in American history. It is also a clear and present danger to our democracy. It raises the specter of treason on the level of Benedict Arnold and a serious threat to the sovereignty of our nation and our freedoms.

The happening I am referring to is the on-going Russian interference in our election process.

I know that the behavior of the candidates, the press and most of our religious leaders would lead anyone to believe that what we are engaged in is an episode of Jerry Springer, but that is a reflection on them, not the business of a free people, choosing their government. Elections are sacred. They are the hallmark of what we are as a people and as a nation.

Elections, when viewed through the prism of direct Russian interference in the process, are as important as the soil on which we stand. This interference is an invasion of sorts, an attempt to seize control of our government and thus of our country. It is as hostile as a military invasion and has the potential to be just as destructive.

Yet We the People ignore it in favor of whatever endless dribble comes from the talking heads on whichever 24-hour news station happens to most closely reflect what we think. We are more focused on a sexting pervert’s latest outrage than we are on a direct and obvious threat to our nation that is as real as a military invasion.

There appears to be little doubt that Russia is behind the hacking of one of the political parties’ headquarters. There also appears to be little doubt that they have “probed” state election boards around the country.

Do you understand that?

A foreign power has interfered in our election in order to attempt to determine who wins. The same foreign power has been “probing” election boards in the various states in a run-up to the election. What are they going do with this ability to hack inside state election boards?

I understand that We the People have been battered into a kind of emotional and mental breakdown by the constant driving and flogging we have been subjected to by the various power brokers in this country. I also understand that supporters of these candidates have been attacked and belittled for doing what is their clear right: Choosing a candidate they believe best reflects their views and supporting that candidate.

I am absolutely appalled by the press characterizations of the people who support Mr Trump as crazy and stupid. They are neither. They are people who have just grievances which have been ignored for far too long.

They are people who have repeatedly overturned Congress from one party to the other, and who have seen that, no matter how they vote, nothing changes. They are the Americans who have paid the price for trendy social and economic tinkering. Many of them are supporting Mr Trump because they see him as the only hope they have of defending their deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of human life and our First Amendment Freedoms.

On the other hand, I am equally appalled by other characterizations of people who support Secretary Clinton as immoral monsters. They are not.

They are people, many of whom have been rejected and battered by our religious establishments to the point that they feel that God hates them. Almost all of them could be converted if we tried to do that instead of confining our interactions with them to fervently damning them to hell. Many of them are supporting Secretary Clinton, despite profound disagreements with her, for the sole reason that they see Mr Trump as a dangerous, possibly unhinged, demagogue whose election would represent a profound threat to the future of this nation.

I am equally appalled by the vacuous excuse for religious leadership we have been given in this campaign. These two candidates provide teachable moments on every single one of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of exercising their responsibility to teach and lead us in moral matters, most of our religious leaders have ham-handedly tried to use their severely tattered moral voice to drive the vote toward whatever candidate they favor. Instead of leading us through the deep waters, they have put their hands on the back of our heads and held us under.

All of this has contributed to the inability of We the People to sort the wheat from the chaff among the unending dirty, dirtier, dirtier-still revelations of this campaign. This campaign has not been a race to the bottom. It has been the bottom, and, due to the outrageous lack of religious leadership, Christians are wallowing there along with everyone else.

This situation is why we have been battered and bamboozled to the point that we overlook and ignore a threat as serious to our nation as the blatant and on-going actions of Russia to take control of our country by affecting the election. But ignoring it only makes it more likely to happen.

People don’t get bit by the snake they see. It is the snake that lies in the weeds unnoticed that injects its poison and kills.

We are ignoring a real and present danger to our nation. It is time we stopped flipping and flapping on the stuff and nonsense fed to us by talking heads and took the reigns of our own consciousness into our own hands. We need to stop this free-fall into blithering idiocy ourselves.

No one is going to help us. No one is going to lead us through to calm and centered thinking.

We must, each one of us on our own, do it ourselves.

I have said before and I will continue to say that following Christ is choosing sanity. The minute you take your eyes off the idols of this world and focus on Him, the fog begins to clear. We are not pawns of an outrageous fate that we cannot control. We are not little nothings that make up percentage points in polling. We are not bound to serve the whim of power brokers who own just about every word we hear and read.

We are eternal souls, made in the Likeness and Image of the living God. We are Americans who have the power to actually chose our own government. We are, of all the people on this planet, the most privileged and the most free.

Choosing Christ over the cacophony of cackling and crowing charlatans who want to influence and control us for their purposes and their gain is the single most freeing thing that anyone can do. It is sanity-making in an absolute way.

Perhaps the most difficult lesson of this campaign is that we must chose Christ on our own, without the leadership of our religious leaders. They have gone off after other gods, in search of political gain. Even though they couch their words in time-worn religiosity, their leadership is political, not moral.

They have ignored the great moral chasms of this campaign. They have not addressed the massive degradation of public morality and private understanding of moral behavior that these candidates have pushed on the people of this nation.

Our religious leaders have stood by while the amorality of this campaign has drug many Christians right down into the slimy pit along with it. In fact, many of these religious leaders have joined in and become part of the offal-slinging crowd themselves.

Meanwhile, our nation itself is facing a cyber invasion that threatens the integrity of the core activity that defines us as a democracy and that ensures our freedoms: The electoral process.

If a foreign power can use computer hacking to jack-hammer itself and its interests into our elections, then we cannot remain free. This country cannot be a sovereign nation if it is taken over by foreign interference in our elections. Any candidate or person who cooperates with this is committing treason. They are throwing our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the blood of our fallen soldiers in the dirt.

I know that I am, once again, treading on ground that will immediately get me labeled as an advocate for one or the other of these candidates. My advice to you is to get over that. The fact that the mention of treasonous alliances with foreign powers brings this election and its candidates to mind is a symptom of just how sick this campaign has become and how horrible these two candidates are.

We are bereft of leadership, sheep without shepherds, standing on the abyss of who knows what. But we can choose to back up from the abyss and use our powerful reasoning capacities to think clearly. We can chose to follow Christ and ignore the crowd. We can chose to take a fearless look at the threat we face with this Russian invasion into our electoral process. We can demand an end to the crazy talking-headism that is not news by the simple expediency of switching them off.

We can think for ourselves. We can be sane.

It begins with one simple act.

Chose Christ.

Ignore the rest.

Chose Christ.

Your mind will clear when you do that.

If enough of us do it, we just might save both ourselves and our country.

To read the joint statement of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security about Russian hacking to interfere in our election, go here.

To read about Russian “probing” of state election boards, go here and here. Notice that this is old news. I don’t know how many more state election boards have been hacked since these stories were published.

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Election 2016: Skip the Top and Look Further Down the Ballot

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

Warning: This post is not for children.

 

This is one of those times I don’t care what people call me. If what I’m about to write offends you, and you want to call me names for it, do your worst. Somebody needs to say this.

Publications and organizations who, in the public mind, speak for Christ, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. This year’s presidential campaign has not given us a choice between black and white, or even between dark gray and lighter gray. It has given us a choice between shades of black.

If you are a person who votes based on your Christian values, then you do not have a candidate in this presidential campaign. Since we are Americans, we need to vote. But we should avoid creating faux versions of the people we are voting for in order to ease our cognitive dissonance about the political situation in front of us.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time dissecting the problems with the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees, for the simple reason that they are not trying to lie about where they stand. They state their pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage viewpoints, and there is no reason to doubt, particularly in the case of Secretary Clinton, that she means ever single word of it.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of our major problems in the political fight for the sanctity of human life. Their politicians mean it. They are dedicated to “saving Roe,” and most of them believe right down to the ground that they are “saving women’s lives” with their political activities.

Many of our politicians, on the other hand, just signed a dealio promising to be pro life because that is a requirement for them to get elected. Their commitment to our cause would change the moment their political party let them off the pro-life hook.

I’m not guessing about this. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it in my daily life for 18 years as an elected office-holder, and in the years before that when I was the Oklahoma Director for NARAL.

That, more than any other single thing, is why the babies lose behind closed doors. It’s why our issues are always set aside for “more important” issues concerning whatever the tom fool the corporations want today. It’s why pro life advocates do not push for legislation concerning embryonic stem cell research; because the corporations don’t want it. Again, I’m not just blowing smoke here. I know these things.

On top of that, this year we are faced with a presidential campaign that does not give us a pro-life candidate to back. There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign. Let me say that again for those who don’t want to hear it: There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign.

A number of pro life advocates have latched onto Mr Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, as their great hope. I’ve even read a few publications, building up his “Catholic” witness.

I’ve got what might be called a liability when it comes to that sort of political knee bending. I have a memory. I can remember all the way back to last year when Governor Mike Pence sold us out by deep-sixing Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

I remember when Governor Mike Pence announced that he’d signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. According to IndyStar, the law prohibited “state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the acton is the least restrictive means of achieving it.”

If he’d had the guts to stick with his action, I’d be writing an entirely different assessment of him today.

This bill is not about discrimination,” he said when he signed the bill with religious people in their full religious garb standing beside him for the photo op. In fact, he went on for a while, making all sorts of sanctimonious pronouncements.

Then, the money changers came calling, and Governor Pence did what his true bosses told him to do. He signed a second bill which gutted the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

There are a lot of names for politicians who crawfish like that, but courageous, honest and sincere are not among them. Neither is a description of a genuine fighter for family and the sanctity of human life.

At the same time, I have an adequate short-term memory. I’ve read that the nefarious internal DNC emails show that top-ranking Dems met with those who want to destroy our religious freedoms and — get this — brain-stormed with them on how to do it.

It is a legitimate position for traditional Christians to say that Governor Pence might be a weak-kneed, untrustworthy and two-faced advocate who has shown that he will deal us away; that we can’t trust him or rely on him and that he will probably do us in behind closed doors, BUT we at least have some hold on him, and at least he’s not out to get us. That would be a truth-based assessment of our situation.

It is also the reality of the choice in front of us. I don’t know, but I believe that Mr Trump chose Governor Pence as his running mate precisely because the corporatists who run both political parties trusted Governor Pence to do their bidding.

I think Governor Pence “earned” the vice-presidency with his willingness to betray us over the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. He demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Secretary Clinton had achieved (a dubious achievement in my book) a realignment of corporate money, with a good bit of it, including $ from the Koch Brothers, going into Democratic coffers. And Governor Pence had demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Again, I don’t know, but I think he got where is for betraying us.

Now, let’s talk about the presidential nominees themselves. Again, I’m going to make short work of Secretary Clinton for the simple reason that nothing is in dispute. She is a pro abortion stalwart. When her husband was president, he helped pass the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act that her own party has been working behind the scenes to destroy.

What would she do as president? How would her Democratic party shape up on the issue of religious freedom? I honestly don’t know. I don’t think she’s out to get us the way President Obama has been. But she’s a political realist. If the party pressure is strong enough, she might turn and attack religious freedom as her predecessor has.

Mr Trump is not pro life. He has filled out a questionnaire from a major pro-life advocacy group in which he said all the right things. And he switched from being “very choice” to newly-minted pro life.

Now, I’m not saying that people don’t convert on this issue. I’m an example of that myself. But Mr Trump didn’t “evolve” (his word) on the issue until he was in the middle of this presidential campaign and realized that being pro choice was standing in the way of his winning the Republican nomination for president.

I paid a dear price for converting. My own party came within 50 votes of censuring me over it. Mr Trump switched when it was politically necessary and he did so in order to gain the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

He’s not pro life.

He’s also not pro family. I’m a little aghast that voters who support family values can go in the tank for a man who has been married three times, each wife looking like the last, and increasingly younger than him.

I’m flat-out disgusted that anyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ can support a man who talks about women like they are dirt, calling them pigs. But, for us to support a man who repeatedly jokes about having sex with his daughter? How can anyone support that?

Mr Trump has repeatedly made comments to the effect that his daughter, Ivanka, has a “great body” and if she wasn’t his daughter, he’d “date” her. If you can’t figure this out, let me clue you in: Normal men don’t make jokes like that. In fact, normal men would be inclined to punch other men in the face for saying things like that about their daughters.

Then, let’s talk about Mr Trump’s wife, our potential First Lady. Mrs Trump is a former model who has posed nude in a sex scene with another woman. I am not going to link to this article because the photos are pornographic.

According to interviews with GQ, Mr Trump was “eager” for his wife  (who was his girlfriend at the time) to appear in a yet another porno shoot for their magazine. Mr Trump evidently went so far as to allow the magazine to use his own jet as a backdrop for the photo shoot.

I thought about saying that Mr Trump has the personal morals of an alley cat, but that truly does insult alley cats. He jokes about sex with his own daughter, encourages his wife to appear in a pornographic photo shoot, has been married three times, and is pro life for political reasons only.

I’m going to repeat something I said earlier in this post. Those who, in the public mind, speak for Christians, Christianity and even Jesus Christ Himself, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. They will end up besmirching the name of Christ.

Traditional Christians do not have a candidate in this year’s presidential election. But we are Americans, and we must vote. I think there are legitimate judgements that we can make that could lead us to casting a vote, but we have to do this with our eyes open and without lying to ourselves.

Do not lie to yourself and try to turn these straw men candidates into pro life, pro family pro religious freedom gold. Do not demonize them, and do not deify them. To use a slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous, accept reality on reality’s terms.

I don’t endorse candidates with my writing. That is not why I write. I want to make it as clear as I can that I am absolutely not endorsing anyone in this race.

I think we need to vote as best we can, but with the full knowledge that we’re going to have to watch whoever wins and be prepared to fight them for what we believe. We also need to look further down the ticket for our pro life, pro family, pro religious freedom leaders. Because there are none at the top.

 

Note: I ended up linking to the GQ photos of Mrs Trump, which are the ones Mr Trump evidently solicited the magazine to take. They are the least pornographic of the lot, and do not feature Mrs Trump in sexual behavior with another woman as some of the other photos do. I apologize but it was evidently necessary to let people seem at least a bit of this. If you want to avoid seeing this smut, don’t click on the link “another porno shoot.”

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Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

A group of Synod Fathers, including Cardinal Dolan, have written a letter to Pope Francis expressing concern about the way the Synod is progressing.

I wrote about that for National Catholic Register today.

Here is part of what I said:

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.”
—Jesus Christ

The German Catholic Church has a long and ignoble history of playing fool for its government. During the murderous reign of the Third Reich, there were isolated bishops who stood against Hitler. But many of them joined their Lutheran brothers in allowing themselves to be coopted by the pagan cult we call the Nazis.

The Nazis created an economic system in which the government and the economic powers coalesce into one unit working for their mutual benefit. We call that fascism. They also created a mythology or a quasi-religion to go along with it. This quasi-religion was mostly a deliberate return to Germany’s pagan past with a mix of astrology and other whatnots.

At the same time that they were privately voicing contempt for Christianity and implementing plans to destroy it, the Nazi leaders pandered to the churches in their public statements. They sought — and were able — to silence the prophetic and moral voice of the churches by means of coopting them.

Christian churches in much of the world, and certainly in Germany, were already following the false god of nationalism long before Hitler and the Nazis were born. They had given moral gravitas to the abuses of colonialism and the insanity of World War I.

This made them easy prey for the claims of extreme nationalism that came from the Nazis. However, I believe that the thing that pushed German churches down the rat hole to acquiescence with (and even support of) the Nazis was not primarily nationalism. I think they were following another master. It was the “master” that Jesus specifically singled out as one that Christians could not follow if they would follow Him. It was money.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/synod-leaders-are-log-rolling-say-cardinals/#ixzz3oNaAnR30

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Deep-Sixing the Ten Commandments. The Oklahoma Story.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by wikimedia commons Museum Catharijneconvent  http://www.catharijneconvent.nl/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by wikimedia commons Museum Catharijneconvent http://www.catharijneconvent.nl/

I know more about the Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument story than my sense of responsibility to the people I worked with will allow me to say.

I’ve put off writing about it because, to be honest, I get angry every time I think about it.

But I finally chased myself around my house a few times and wrestled myself into my chair and wrote a post for Catholic Vote. I didn’t tell all. Not even close. But I think I told more than you’ll find elsewhere.

I. Am. So. Glad. I’m. Not. In. Office.

Here, from Catholic Vote, is part of what I said:

Ten Commandments monuments stand outside courthouses and statehouses all across the USA. They go back to the beginning of our country. This is fitting, since the legal structure of the Western world is built on those ten commandments.

For the first two hundred years of our republic, the only controversy was an occasional argument about whether the monument would be made of marble or granite. But for the past 30 years pressure groups have been working to drive religious expression from the public sphere.

The United States Supreme Court stopped them from acting as an American Taliban, blowing up historic monuments and statues because they had religious meaning attached to them. Otherwise, I suppose they would have kept going until they demanded that we burn the Declaration of Independence for its allusion to “Our Creator.”

Federal courts have upheld the placement of Ten Commandments monuments in states such as Texas. Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze assumed that a Ten Commandments monument that was identical to one that passed court muster in Texas would be allowed in Oklahoma.

Rep Ritz is the primary author of the legislation authorizing the monument. Rep Ritz was passionate about this bill. He was so committed to it that he even paid for the monument with his own money and donated it to the state as a gift.

I was a member of the Oklahoma House when we voted on it. Rep Ryan Kiesel, who is now the executive director of the Oklahoma ACLU, led the debate against the bill.

Without Rep Kiesel, I don’t think there would have been any debate at all. But he successfully convinced a number of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus that this bill was unconstitutional under the Constitution of the United States of America. They followed him in opposing the monument, and several of them were defeated because of it in the next election. Rep Kiesel did not run for re-election.

It turned out that Rep Kiesel was wrong. The monument was not unconstitutional under the Constitution of the United States of America.

That’s why the same Rep Kiesel chose another line of attack in his new position as Executive Director of the Oklahoma ACLU.

Read the rest here.

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Address to Joint Session: Our Pope Channeled Jesus in a Present-Day Sermon on the Mount

pope-francis.jpgThis is my reaction to Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of  Congress today.

From the National Catholic Register:

Pope Francis channeled Jesus this morning with a contemporary Sermon on the Mount, and it got just about the same results it did 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Father addressed the assembled members of both houses of Congress, the United States Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet and other dignitaries today. In what might very well have been a one-off for a speaker in that situation, he did not speak to them as a politician. He delivered a homily, in fact a re-run of the THE homily, as the shepherd of souls that he is.

If your god resides in the R or the D, there was something to hate and also something to love in this speech. You could, depending on your personality, walk away from it, angry as a snake biting itself. Or, you could, if you’re turned differently, be patting yourself on the back.

The truth of this speech is that it wasn’t a speech, it was a sermon delivered by a Pope who is first of all a priest, who takes the care of souls as his first duty before God. If you listened to what Pope Francis said today with the ear of someone who reads Scripture on a daily basis, the entire speech echoed Jesus, preaching to and teaching us to care for the least of these, Who told us that the measure by which we judge others would be the measure by which God would judge us.

It was clear to me, after my long years of sitting through joint sessions and reading politicians that the assembled body of listeners were as unmoved by the Holy Father’s words as the stone pillars of the building in which they sat. These people do not listen to anyone who stands in that podium — not even the pope — to be instructed. They listen to be affirmed.

When they felt affirmed, they applauded. When the pope said something that differed from their politics, their faces hardened subtly and their eyes filmed over with an “I-won’t-hear-you” glaze.

Pope Francis spoke of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. He affirmed his life-long opposition to the death penalty, he pled for business practices that provide jobs rather than just suck in wealth for a very few. He spoke against the arms trade that, as he said, sells arms to “those who plan to inflict untold suffering.” He said that this is done “for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” He called the silence about this arms trade “shameful and culpable.”

Those are strong words from the Vicar of Christ. He told a roomful of elected officials and people of great power that their silence about the arms trade made them “culpable” to the blood-drenched sins of those used those arms to murder innocent people.

The pope spoke of the environment, of immigrants, of the family and of justice and freedom. He couched every word he said in a plea that government be conducted to achieve the common good. He said that working toward the common good was the call of every politician.

As someone who held elective office for 18 years, I absolutely agree with him in this. I would also say that the common good doesn’t get a lot of play in private conversations between elected officials these days. No audience anywhere needed to hear this message more than the one Pope Francis was speaking to this morning.

But they didn’t hear him. Not, at least, as it applied to themselves. Politicians today, as well as many private citizens who have become enthralled with political partisanship, are like the Pharisee who went out to pray at the same time as the tax collector.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/the-sermon-on-the-mount-and-the-sermon-on-the-hill/#ixzz3mgnm706C

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Lone Vet Returns to Iraq to Fight ISIS

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by  G.obal Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by G.obal Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

60 Minutes covered the plight of Iraqi Christians Among other stories, they found an American military veteran, in Iraq, training Iraqi Christians in self defense.  He’s there because he’s a Christian who wants to help Christians defend themselves in this time of genocide.

From 60minutesovertime.com. 

Lone vet returns to Iraq to fight ISIS

|“I’m not here serving my country–I’m here serving Christians,” says former U.S. soldier Brett Felton, who returned to Iraq to train Christians how to defend themselves from ISIS

I applaud this. One of the necessary components of genocide always seem to be that the victim population can not or does not defend themselves.

Go here to see the story.

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Office Depot’s Refusal to Print Pro-Life Flyer is Bad Business, But They Can Do It

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Things are hopping in the culture wars.

It seems that a clerk at a Chicago Office Depot refused to print a pro life flyer quoting facts about the government monies received by Planned Parenthood. The reason? The flyer was deemed to be “persecuting pro abortion” people.

Evidently, Office Depot is standing behind this bit of nuttiness.

Does this, as the woman who was refused service claims, violate her First Amendment rights? I say no. I wrote a post about this for Catholic Vote. 

Here’s part of what I had to say:

… Now the lady who wanted it printed is all in a kerfuffle and talking lawsuit because, she says, her First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech was violated, along with her First Amendment right to Religious Liberty.

I know I’m going to get a lot of raspberries from my pro life fellows, but the lady is wrong. This was not a violation of her First Amendment rights.

It was rude, and it is certainly a reason for pro life people to take their business somewhere besides Office Depot. In fact, I’m sitting on a chair that I bought at Office Depot. Ditto for the desk in front of me. I have some color-coded files I bought from Office Depot just to my right on this same desk. But the truth of the matter is, Office Depot ain’t the only place I can buy these things; not by a long shot. I’ve been planning to buy bookshelves for my music room, and Office Depot has lost that sale. It’s good-bye Office Depot; Mathis Brothers, here I come.

But, I’m not about to get all worked up and claim that the jerks at the Chicago Office Depot in question violated anybody’s Constitutional rights. The Constitutional right to free speech means that the government cannot tell you what to say. It does not give anyone the right to force their speech on other people.

As a ‘for instance,’ I can, and do, delete filthy-mouthed comments from Public Catholic. Read the rest here.

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The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Father Stanley Rother Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other.

My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time when being Cherokee wasn’t cool.

I am working class from the soles of my dusty bare feet to the top of my frizzy hair. My generation was the first in our family to darken the doorway of an institution of higher learning, and I think we all felt considerably out of place there. Our background, the pond that spawned us, did not fit us for the many pretenses and — to us — absurdities of indirection of the intellectual world. At the same time, our education unfitted us for the world from which we came.

We were, all of us, doomed to wander through life as strangers in a strange land of social dislocation.

Patheos’ symposium on the future of the Catholic Church has some mighty fine thinkers contributing to it. All of them approach the question from an intellectual viewpoint. We have people telling us about how their ministries have informed them of the lacks in the Church’s outreach, others discuss how the future of the Church should be for gay people, or from the viewpoint of clergy.

But I don’t see anything there that even acknowledges the existence of people like me. The working class is right out in discussions of much of anything these days. The people that fight the wars, build the buildings, unstop the plumbing, lay down the roads, grow the food and keep the wiring from frying us, are invisible in almost all discussion of anything in this country, whether that be the ubiquitous “rights talk” that Mary Anne Glendon references, or, sadly, the future of the Catholic Church.

I am going to posit that the major failure of both American government and American Christianity in these past decades is the abject failure to protect, nurture and dignify the working class. It seems that every single thing we’ve done, whether it is the revision of our tax codes, our constant war-making, the destruction of the family or the la-la-la attitude of so much of our clergy, has fallen on the heads of the working class.

Make no mistake about it, our tax code is now constructed so that government is supported by the workers of this country, even while that same government exports jobs, and degrades our public education into a method of transmitting social values that are anathema to the survival of working class social structure and values. At the same time, our religious leaders, both of the right and the left, have gone off chasing after the whiff of close contact with the powerful and abandoned the full Gospel calls for justice and mercy.

How does this apply to the future of the Catholic Church?

It applies because of all the babbling voices of moral exhortation in our splintered and polarized society, the Catholic Church is the only one that speaks for the whole Gospel of Christ. Almost in spite of her clergy, the Catholic Church has refused to hew either to the right or the left, but has laid claim to the calls to human dignity that are inherent in the teachings of Christ for all people. This means that the same Catholic Church which speaks for the sanctity of human life also speaks for the dignity of the worker, the right of working people to earn a living wage and labor in an environment that treats them like people, not chattel.

Instead of following demonic influences that seek to deny the Beatitudes on the one hand or the Ten Commandments on the other, the Catholic Church recognizes that they are both the same and must be equally honored.

Right now, the Catholic Church in America is foundering like a horse that has gobbled down too much soft grass in the springtime. It has imbibed of the cultural riches and now many of its institutions, including its institutions of higher learning, flat-out refuse to honor Church teaching and be Catholic in a real-world way. When they are called to choose Christ or to choose Caesar, they choose Caesar.

Catholics as a whole have taken to heart the unspoken message of do-what-you-want that they frequently get from those in leadership positions in the Church who do what they want themselves. This feels like a kind of freedom to those who are doing well. But for those on the bottom side of the wheel, this moral dissolution leads to life destruction.

Working class people suffer from being disrespected by everyone from presidential candidates to the Church itself. While presidential candidates Obama and Romney both took a turn at dissing working people in private fund-raisers with rich folk, the Church disses them by ignoring them.

It is not enough to lobby for reversals in the legal shearing of working class lambs that has been taking place in government, although that is certainly salutary. It is also not enough to provide ministries of food, medical care, etc, to people who cannot afford them, although that is both necessary and wonderful.

The Church cannot simply “minister” to working class people in their physical needs and stop there. It must lead and convert the exploited and abused working class. I believe that is what Pope Francis has been saying when he tells bishops that they must get out among the people; that the church is not just another non-profit charity.

The future of the Catholic Church lies in the same place as its past. It lies in doing what Jesus directed Peter to do: Feed my lambs.

Too much of Catholic school education has become a rich kids’ privilege. It does not matter if the kids are Catholic or not. It does not matter if the teachers and officials in these schools follow Church teaching or not.

The Church needs to go back and provide Catholic education that is actually Catholic, and it needs to make sure that it is available to the people who need it most. People who are stuck holding down two or three McJobs simultaneously to support their families cannot nurture their children properly and often end up with failed marriages. Add the abominable inner city schools to this, and what you have is a recipe for one lost generation, going on to attempt to raise another generation which will be even more lost.

Meanwhile, the Church closes its parishes in the inner cities and builds both churches and schools in the rich suburbs “where the people are.” The fact is that the moving vans that trundle the vestments and hymnals from the slums to the wealthy neighborhoods are driving past tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of the Church. They are being abandoned with the idiotic claim that they are not there.

Father Stanley Rother showed us the way, if we would but see it. We need priests who will go into the inner city and into working class neighborhoods with the same missionary fervor and loving heart that he took to Guatemala. We need a Church that ministers to working class people as if they were actual human beings. The bizarre otherness that has been imposed on them by those who are exploiting and using them has no place in a Church that follows Jesus the carpenter.

Father Rother, servant of God, is a true priest for our times. He embodies both the Church’s past and its future.

The Catholic Church is either a missionary Church, bent on conversion and mission, or it is a sacrament dispenser that has no part in the lives of its people.

I could go on and on about the plight of working people in America. I could, and I probably should, write a book about it one day.

The future of the Catholic Church in America could not possibly be brighter. This nation is imploding morally in both the social and the economic realms.  There is one answer to the anguish and misery this will create, and that answer is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church is the full repository of the faith. It does not trim the Gospels to suit secular power politics. As such, it is the one institution that has the prophetic and moral voice to speak for everyone.

As Jesus said, the fields are ripe for the harvest. What the Church needs is laborers who will bring in this harvest.

I don’t think it will find them in its various ivory towers and islands of privilege.

 

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