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Trump-Induced Panic

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Panic, of course, stems from fear. It also entails a certain loss of perspective, a degree of obsession. I confess to it.

Some days are worse than others. Usually the trouble starts with a visit to Nate Silver’s electoral polling website FiveThirtyEight (Avoid it at all costs.) I became addicted to the site after the conventions in July, when my nephew pointed to his computer screen with a celebratory, “Hey, come look at this! Hillary has an eighty percent chance of winning!”

I liked looking at the numbers then. I looked every few days. Then, as the lines on the charts grew closer together, I started checking every day. Now . . . well, we won’t talk about that.

Today Nate posted an election update entitled “The Case For and Against Democratic Panic.” His conclusion? “I don’t know.” Well, I’m way out ahead of him. And I’m not alone. I read a fascinating article in Slate this week quoting therapists who describe an epidemic of headaches, nightmares, insomnia, and digestive problems caused by Trump’s candidacy. Here is one of the many sentiments expressed in the article that captures my feelings exactly:

“Liz hasn’t agreed with past Republican candidates, she says, but she didn’t think they would ‘ruin my country, or cause civil war, or cause World War III.’ But her fear also stems from her incredulous realization that so many of her fellow citizens inhabit a reality that barely intersects with her own. ‘I can no longer see where they’re coming from,’ she says of Trump supporters. ‘I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone.’ Even if Clinton wins, she’s terrified of Trump’s followers responding with violence.”

The woman quoted above is not the only person I have heard utter the words, “civil war.” It is the easiness with which this has happened that scares the pants off of me. One day you think you know your country — yeah, there are racists and people with anger problems and there’s evidence on Twitter that thousands of people have lost all civility — but, still, we are in America and we will work it out. We have a democracy and we have people like Bernie Sanders.

Now I just don’t know. If Trump loses and calls “Rigged!” I could be in physical danger for the bumper stickers on my car.

Speaking of the Twilight Zone:

This week on my Facebook page, a “friend” whom I don’t really know (relative of another person I don’t know well) went whacko on my actual friends. When I posted that I was worried about the polls and heading to New Hampshire to work on the election, I got a lot of “you go, girl!” and “thank you” and “go for it!” responses.

And then up pops this woman. A conservative “Christian,” who drops in Jesus references here and there. She begins with sarcasm, descends into rants about Hillary murdering diplomats in Benghazi/the Iran nuclear deal/ISIS/Obama being a “muslim sympathizer”/email email email, and ends up by calling my friends “ignorant hater . . . insane fool . . . liar . . . ISIS sympathizer . . . revolting moron.”

Her main sources of information appear to be (her version of) Jesus and Fox News: “As for Jesus, he did cause a stir among the politicians of his day because he told them the hard truth that they didn’t want to hear.” (Presumably like Trump.)  And this: “Fox News is the ONLY major news media who even attempt a non-biased approach.” No comment.

She did own that perhaps Trump is “a bit of a wild card,” but still better than HRC because she is “pure evil.”

And here, in case you missed it, is an astonishing video of another denizen of the Twilight Zone, claiming that there was no racism before Obama came along:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/22/trump-ohio-campaign-chair-no-racism-before-obama

So: when today’s word prompt of “panic” came up, there was no question what I would write about.

Clowns often induce panic, especially if they are angry and incite violence and are running for president

Clowns often induce panic, especially if they are angry and incite violence and are running for president

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies if I Offend, but I’m Offended

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As with all religions, I believe there’s a lot about Catholicism that’s good, quite a bit that’s questionable, and a few aspects that make me shudder. If I were a Catholic, my personal crusade (now there’s a shudder for you) would be organizing my fellow parishioners against the rule that non-Catholics aren’t allowed to take communion in their church. I mean, really — remember Jesus? Come-unto-me, God-loves-everyone Jesus? Perhaps with Pope Francis in the Vatican, there would be a chance.

I went to a Catholic funeral mass this morning. After a long ninety minutes, it came time for the eucharist. The priest got up, sang a nice chant, and said “For you Christians who aren’t Catholic, unfortunately, we are not able to share communion with you. During this time please be praying for unity in the church.” Unity in the church? WHAT??

When presented with this situation over the years, I have gone forward and pretended to be Catholic, watching others so I’d know how to cross myself. I have rebelliously walked down the aisle and taken communion in all my non-Catholic glory, daring the priest with my eyes to refuse me. I have gone forward and received a blessing, something that some Catholic churches offer for those of us not good enough for their communion wafers. I have stayed in my seat, sometimes stewing in resentment, sometimes quietly praying, depending on the day. I have excused myself and gone to the restroom.

Today I was already angry because the priest had just finished explaining that Heaven is for God and for the people that God loves. Again: WHAT??? Only one way to hear that: God loves some of us, but not others. You can believe whatever you like about Jesus, an after-life, heaven & hell, whatever. But you don’t get to say that God only loves certain people. Purple robes and incense notwithstanding. God IS love, just IS, so how could God NOT love?

So I couldn’t help it, when the priest declared my unfitness for the Lord’s supper, which Jesus himself asked his friends to always share together in remembrance of him, I sat in my pew and rudely shook my head for all to see. It’s just wrong, and Catholics should rebel against it.

After that, I sat quietly and prayed that God would heal my anger and pettiness, the church’s hubris, and all people — all of us.

All are welcome in these seats, not matter what the guy in the purple robe says.

All are welcome in these seats, no matter what the guy in the purple robe says.

The Day it’s OK to Be Sad

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I thought I’d re-post this four-year old September 11th blog, since it still seems relevant. Little did I know four years ago when I wrote about the divisions and anger in our nation and at the 2012 political conventions how much worst it could get! Be kind to yourself and to others today, please.

Re-post from 9/11/12

I’m terribly sad, which I suppose makes sense, since it’s September 11th. Everyone is allowed to be sad on this one day. You’re not told to “buck up” or “move on,” you just get to be sad.

The odd thing is, I had forgotten the date. I don’t watch television or get a newspaper, and I usually spend my mornings “unplugged” and in silence. And yet I felt myself sinking from the moment I dragged out of bed, late. I turned on the car radio on my way to the doctor’s office and heard some guy talking about how pain is often a shell around understanding or something like that, and how we have to go through the pain to get to meaning, which is very important in trauma. I turned it off. I was already down and didn’t want to hear about trauma.

Then I saw about a dozen people waving huge American flags from an overpass. Something to do with the election, I guessed. Perhaps they wanted us to honk, but nobody did. It still didn’t register.

It wasn’t until late this afternoon that I was writing a check to my doctor and asked for the date. She looked at me like I must’ve just returned from the Mars expedition. “Oh,” I said, and wrote September 11th.

I feel kind of bad about not remembering, like it’s dishonoring to the people who died and their families. I guess my psyche knew, though I was not aware of it. I had plugged into the cosmic stream of grief and loss that is part of the human journey without even knowing I was supposed to be mourning with the rest of my nation.

Thing is, I no longer feel the sense of oneness and spiritual attachment that was so beautiful during the 9/11 aftermath. (I am *not* saying that 9/11 was beautiful, I am saying there was beauty in our response.) It’s long gone. One of the things I mourn on this day is the fact that we can’t have that unity more often. Even the chants of “USA, USA!” at both the political conventions were accompanied by clenched fists and mostly angry or righteous expressions.

Today my response is not to reach out for community or conversation. It’s to isolate and allow myself to be sad. I’m sure there’s a load of talking going on out there in TV/radio/internet land. Nothing more needs to be said, and I don’t want to hear it.

I’m just doing simple, nurturing things. Writing in my journal, watering plants, filling the birdfeeders and birdbaths, making a healthy salad for tomorrow’s picnic with someone I love.

But here I find myself reaching out, after all. Somehow I just wanted to tell you, whoever you are out there in the blogosphere…I am sad today.

Loving Beyond Humans to All Living Creatures

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As I mentioned in my last post, I have joined the We Stand With Love campaign to try to counteract the hatred and bigotry running rampant in our country lately. Below is my contribution to the campaign, entitled Loving Beyond Humanity to All Living Creatures. Here, too, is the link if you want to see a cute doggie picture and read other essays on going “Beyond Love.”

by Melanie Lynn Griffin

The more we practice “loving beyond ourselves,” the more we are challenged.

Heart-stretching can be a painful exercise as we confront our self-centeredness and prayerfully question the ways our societies, religious communities, and families make us insensitive to “the other.”

The reward is a gradual awakening to our true selves, and the discovery that our capacity for love and compassion is boundless: Joy! Connection! Belonging!

But wait — how far might this go? Might we move beyond ourselves to our families, and beyond our families to our neighbors, and beyond our neighbors to “the other,” and beyond “the other” to the enemy, so we include all human beings in our circle of love?

But then, might it go farther still – to include our fellow creatures?

To get there, we will have to have the courage to face some inconvenience.

How inconvenient to feel compassion for the cow that died for your steak dinner, or to learn that the pig that became your bacon was smarter than your golden retriever, or that contrary to what your father told you, the trout flapping on the end of your line most likely does feel pain.

How inconvenient that ExxonMobil’s potential Arctic oil field (which will power your SUV) also happens to be a nursery for polar bears and caribou, or that the site of the proposed Walmart (where you will buy your cow-skin shoes) is also home to an endangered gopher tortoise.

Your compassion practice may lead you to change some of your daily habits.

At the very least it will raise some tough questions: What is the cost of your lifestyle to the nonhuman creatures who share our planet?

Does a nonhuman creature have intrinsic value as God’s handiwork, or is it only valuable in service to humans? Today, practice stretching your circle of concern to include our fellow creatures on this beautiful planet that teems with precious life.

Questions for Today:

When have you witnessed obvious cruelty to an animal? How did you respond?

What would our society look like if we became more sensitive to the suffering of animals?

What happens to us if we become less sensitive to the suffering of our fellow creatures?

 

Melanie Lynn Griffin was an environmental lobbyist for many years. Now she is a freelance writer and pastor.

Raising a Banner of Love. Right Now.

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As the vitriol and hate in America continue to escalate, I’ve joined with a growing group of people who are committed to responding with love, rather than escalating the negativity. Our campaign, which covers the ten weeks leading up to the election, is called We Stand with Love. You can read about it and join up here: http://westandwithlove.org/

The campaign kicks off this coming week with a message entitled “Love Beyond” by my friend and former pastor Brian McLaren. I’ll be contributing a short piece to the campaign about loving beyond humanity to all animals, which I’ll post later in the week. In the meantime, I want to share this beautiful piece from Brian:

 

I’m a committed follower of Christ, and Christ taught that the greatest commandment was to love … to love God, self, and neighbor, yes, but to go farther: to love beyond those normal limits … to love the stranger, the alien, the outsider, the outcast, the misunderstand, the misjudged, and the disinherited, even the opponent and the enemy.

The apostle Paul built on what Jesus taught. Without love, we’re nothing, just a bunch of annoying noise, he said. You can have mountain-moving faith – and we might add, creed affirming doctrines – but without love, he said, it has no meaning or value. Love fulfills the law, he said, and the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.

If Jesus and Paul were right, then love is always in season.

But here in America, every four years we have national elections. And in order to win elections, politicians and political parties often scapegoat and vilify their neighbors instead of loving them. They pour gasoline on dying embers of racism, prejudice, and bigotry. In order to win for “us,” they are willing to throw “them” under the bus. And then, when the election is over, the leave the nation a mess … wounded, divided, scarred, suspicious, the winners proud and the losers humiliated. The beautiful mess is a little messier and a little less beautiful.

That’s why we need to raise a banner of love right now. That’s why the real campaign isn’t Republicans versus Democrats, or conservatives versus liberals. The real campaign is the campaign of love versus hate, prejudice, indifference, and fear.

This campaign has been uglier than most. Vicious, hurtful, and dangerous things have been said … lies have been treated as true … many boundaries of political civility and human decency have been crossed. In the face of all this noise, it’s tempting to just withdraw in disgust and walk away. But the great Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil… Not to speak is to speak.” And Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If we refuse to remain silent, we face another temptation: to mirror the ugliness and division with ugliness and division. My friend Shane Claiborne says that if you fight fire with fire, you just get a bigger fire. Or as a wise Jewish sage put it, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”

So we need to respond to evil not with silence, and not with more evil, but with greater good. We need to respond to fear and despair not with more fear and despair, but with confidence and hope. And we need to respond to hate not with more hate, but with love.

Only love can heal what’s broken. Whether it’s in our families and friendships or our neighborhoods and nations, only love never fails.

So I hope you’ll join me in the coming months – through the election to the inauguration and beyond – to stand with love.

Love for those for those who are like us, and love for those who are different.

Love for the people we agree with, and for the people we disagree with.

Love for the winners and for the losers, for the insiders and the outsiders, for the majority and the minority, the privileged and the excluded, the powerless and powerful.

God loves everyone. No exceptions. That’s my highest ambition too, and I hope it will be yours.

That’s the real campaign this season. The campaign for love.

When you hear or see someone saying something that is unloving, don’t be silent. But don’t insult them or lecture them or get into an argument with them. Just tenderly make your stand with love. Say “Wow. I see that differently. I don’t want to ague with you, but I want to stand with love.”

When the most negative and unloving statements get quoted endlessly in the mass media, we’re going to flood social media with quotes of about love by leaders who stand and lead with love.

When words fail, many of us are going to use sign language for love … like this.

 

#westandwithlove

#westandwithlove

When evil abounds, many of us are going to redouble our efforts to overcome evil with good. We’re going to engage in random acts of kindness and we’re going to consistently support organizations and projects that are showing love to the most vulnerable among us … the very ones who frequently are excluded, misunderstood, misjudged, stereotyped, scapegoated, or simply ignored during political campaigns.

When we feel anger, fear, or resentment rising up in our own hearts, we’re not going to project it out on others. We’re going to process it and determine to become not bitter but better.

We stand with love will be our hashtag, but more important, it will be our heart’s desire and our deep moral commitment. Churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, and temples can take their stand and put up a banner. Individuals and families can put up a lawn sign or wear a t-shirt.

Loving protesters can take their stand, not against anyone as an enemy, but with and for love for one another, not raising threatening fists or pointing accusing fingers, but simply standing with open arms and hearts full of love.

Why love? Why now? That’s my answer. We stand with love.


Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and networker among innovative Christian leaders. His newest book is The Great Spiritual Migration. You can learn more at brianmclaren.net.

 

Returning to Reality (and Work)

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I’m at the office. The phrase sounds strange, after many years away from the work-a-day world. When I left my house this morning, there was way too much excitement in the streets. It made my head hurt. People walking dogs, watering gardens, picking up newspapers, emptying trash. Do they do this every day?

What time must these morning creatures go to bed in order to be of the house, showered, shaved, and setting off to work or school at 7:30 a.m.? I’ve been going to bed at 10:30 this week, knowing I need to be up by 6:30. Then I lie awake for three hours until it’s actually bedtime.

The New Reality

The New Reality

I haven’t actually “returned to work” yet, after my eight-year hiatus of caring for family members on their way out of this world and then dealing with all the crap they left behind. I’m just dipping a toe into work with an on-call administrative job. Sadly, reality — in the form of a new financial advisor — dictates that I dive in all the way.

“If you want to keep that house in New Hampshire, you have to go back to work, and soon,” says Reality. “It makes no sense to keep the place,” she adds.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to you, Reality. You are a financial planner. There’s no quantifying morning dew shimmering on meadow grass and Queen Anne’s Lace, or speckled fawns gliding through green ferns and goldenrod, or grand nieces and nephews laughing over S’mores at the firepit.

Sense is a relative thing.

So no, I won’t be selling my bliss if I can help it. And I don’t seem to be going to get rich as a writer. 

Instead, here I am, googling the difference between a CV and a resumé, sifting through years of old emails looking for contacts, and wondering if I can salvage any semblance of a wardrobe from the back corners of my closets.

Well, lunch is over — I’d better get back to the phones.

Beware of Killer Kale!

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I thought I’d start your week off with a chuckle. Here is an ad put out by a corporate-funded anti-environmental group, the Competitive Enterprise Institute. They mostly spend their time and money denying climate change and explaining to the public how dioxin might actually be good for you. That’s not at all funny.

But this ad, sad as it is, made me laugh out loud. Check it out — they must have decided that the threat posed by organic kale to the chemical industry’s bottom line was so dire that they had to launch an all-out attack on the crinkly green menace. Here’s what they came up with:

kale photo

 

It’s a clever send-up of a recent public health campaign that details what happens to your body within one hour of drinking a Coke. (Hint: nothing good.) Except that it’s not clever. It’s mostly just insulting people who like kale.

I invite you to check out their website, particularly if you are concerned about the spread of kale. There you can donate to a fund named “Advancing Capitalism,” presumably because capitalism is having such a hard time of it these days. Learn about CEI’s “full-service approach to advancing public policy,” including “scholarly articles that make the case for an issue,” probably written by the same college interns who crafted this ridiculous assault on organic kale. (I just have to keep saying that, it cracks me up.) Anyway, check out the many policy areas in which they would like to limit government regulation, including energy & the environment, health & safety, and banking & finance. Because America.

Happy Monday.

The latest threat to society

The latest threat to society

 

 

 

 

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