• There’s a lot going on in this story from the (N.H.) Union Leader:
The transgender Satanist candidate for Cheshire County sheriff is joining forces with the owner of a controversial pho restaurant, and the pastor at a libertarian church in challenging the city of Keene’s mask mandate.
Aria DiMezzo, who is running as the Republican mandate for sheriff, is suing both the city of Keene over the recently passed mask mandate, and Gov. Chris Sununu over his use of emergency orders to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
DiMezzo, who is the founder of a Satanic church as well as a writer and internet radio host, is joined in her lawsuit along with Malaise Lindenfeld, the owner of Pho Keene Great, and Ian Freeman, one of the leaders of the Free Keene movement and the founder of the Free Shire Church in Keene. They claim there is no need for the state’s emergency order limiting gatherings of more than 100 people, and there is no scientific basis for wearing masks.
The sheriff’s candidate seems to be trolling on multiple fronts. The “libertarian church” — yikes! — seems like a cross between Yankee Hippie woo and sovereign citizen folklore. Normally, I’d have harsh words for the restaurateur’s anti-mask nonsense, but I don’t wish to offend them because one day I may want to use the name “Malaise Lindenfeld” in a novel.
• Made this joke on Twitter, but it’s not entirely a joke.
Love to rent a storefront and hang the sign here to the right advertising “spiritual advice.” Deck the place out like Madam Marie’s with bead curtains and candles and whatnot. Wouldn’t charge anything for this service, but I’d tell every customer who walked in and sat down the same thing: “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God.”
That may not be every bit of “spiritual advice” that anyone needs, but it’s more than enough to get any of us started. Once we’ve got that nailed down, then we can start worrying about any further, more detailed and specific “spiritual advice.”
This is why I call shenanigans on the “spiritual advice” advertised in this Charisma advertorial piece on how to “Change Your Life by Training Yourself to Hear the Voice of God.” What’s the secret? According to Charisma, the secret is buying a book by “Dr.” Ray Self and subscribing to his podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network.
Somehow when Charisma’s writers, readers, speakers, and podcasters train themselves to “Hear the Voice of God,” that voice is never telling them to do justice or to love mercy or to walk humbly. It’s telling them, instead, to vote MAGA, to preserve WhiteJesus hegemony, to increase their tithes and offerings, to sign up for conferences, and to buy lots and lots of books, tapes, and DVDs. And what do all those conferences, books, tapes, and DVDs tell them? The same thing — to vote MAGA, to preserve WhiteJesus hegemony, to put more in the offering plate, and to repeat the cycle by writing checks for even more conferences, books, tapes, etc.
• Here are three variations on the same story.
First up, an interview with stand-up comic/actor Andrew Dice Clay. Dice is 63 now, but he’s back on the road and a recent gig in Dallas landed him this item in the local paper. The interview involves this odd question and this astonishingly bogus answer:
Interviewer: Johnny Carson once said he stayed away from politics because he didn’t think audiences wanted to hear it; as a comic, is there any way to avoid it?
ADC: I don’t talk about it because you can’t win. I’m one of the smart ones. I learned that when I was about 5 to avoid the subject. I had a smart mother. She said three things, “Never talk politics. Never talk religion. Never bad mouth Frank Sinatra.”
Does Andrew Dice Clay really believe that his act has refrained from “politics”? His entire shtick and career was based on culture-war resentment in defense of a particular strain of toxic white masculinity. His act often seemed less like stand-up and more like a political rally or a “complementarian” Bible conference. Here is how the late great Roger Ebert described it in his thumbs-down review of Clay’s 1991 “concert” film:
Clay is not using humor at all – he is simply pointing, and making fun, like a playground bully.
He has many other targets. The handicapped. The ill.
Minorities. Women. Homosexuals. Anyone, in fact, who is not exactly like Andrew Dice Clay is fair game for his cruel attacks. His material about women constitutes verbal rape, as far as I’m concerned. Using obscenity as punctuation, he describes women as essentially things to masturbate with. …
It is eerie, watching the shots of the audience. You never see anyone just plain laughing, as if they’d heard something that was funny. You see, instead, behavior more appropriate at a fascist rally, as his fans stick their fists in the air and chant his name as if he were making some kind of statement for them. Perhaps he is. Perhaps he is giving voice to their rage, fear, prejudice and hatred. They seem to cheer him because he is getting away with expressing the sick thoughts they don’t dare to say.
That’s political. That’s politics. And, as Ebert said, it’s little of anything else other than politics.
The same confusion — the idea that “politics” is, exclusively, a matter of explicit endorsement of individual partisan politicians — pervades our second example, this piece by Richard Ostling, which claims that “[White] evangelicals are actually America’s least politicized group of churches.”
The entire piece is premised on the notion that “politics” is something that happens on or about Election Day. Ostling uses “politics” as, basically, a synonym for politicking or for campaigning. And he argues, based on that conveniently cramped notion of “politics,” that most white evangelical churches are just exactly as a-political and politically ambivalent as an Andrew Dice Clay set/rally. (Not particularly surprising, I suppose, given that this piece is on Terry Mattingly’s “Get Religion” blog, which purports to be about religious coverage of journalism but is always pervasively about Mattingly’s resentment that religious journalists do not privilege his particular politics.)
This third story, likewise, has nothing at all to do about politics. It is, rather, about the punishment of a young, very conservative Southern Baptist pastor in Texas for promoting “discord” in the church and failing to “promote gospel unity.”
What did this young pastor say that was such a divisive, ghastly attack on the lockstep “gospel unity” of his Southern Baptist church? He criticized Donald Trump and said that his conscience required him to vote, instead, for Joe Biden.
The senior pastor who revoked this young man’s ministerial license insisted this had nothing to do with “politics” or with anyone’s “political” views. Surely that must be true because, after all, white Southern Baptist churches are “actually America’s least politicized group of churches.”
The title for this post comes from the scrupulously non-political songwriter Woody Guthrie, who never, ever had anything political to say.