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Blogging Amidst the Trumpian Chaos

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BLOGGING AMIDST THE TRUMPIAN CHAOS

August marks five years since I started blogging here at Writing With Spirit, and I want to recognize the anniversary and thank my readers and followers. I truly appreciate the company.

When I first began blogging, each post was greeted with an empty echo. Now I receive encouragement and feedback (even if I am occasionally damned to hell), and I have virtual “friends” I’ve never met. I love reading comments from the people in my neighborhood, and I love imagining who my readers might be in Turkey and Japan and Australia.

I want to continue blogging — I do — yet I seem to be losing inspiration lately. Here I am in the midst of a two-week stay at my little writing retreat in New Hampshire, the place where my blog was born, and I haven’t blogged once!

Just sittin’ and pondering

I Blame trump

I blame Donald Trump, as I do for most things. Donald and Twitter. I am so overwhelmed by the chaos and danger and tragedy in the nation and the world that I can’t find a handle to get inside a story. It’s all just swirling around in my head and overwhelming me, like the toxic brown waters swirling around the people of Houston and India and Pakistan and Nepal and Yemen and Niger.

See? I try to use a simple metaphor and all of a sudden I’m drowning in the despair of lethal climate disruption and the current administration’s denial and vengeful dismantling of all of our climate protection programs. Not just the programs to research and curb the disruption and death, but the ones to address the consequences, like money for flood programs and healthcare.

And the EPA Administrator shaming the “opportunistic media” for insisting on talking about climate change “without basis or support.” And the Attorney General declaring that “Hurricane Harvey Is proof we need to militarize our police forces.” What???

And Twitter

I just can’t hold on. When I try to focus on one travesty, such as the president being unwilling to disavow white supremacists, the president encouraging police to hurt people, the president toying with nuclear annihilation, the president mocking efforts to prevent Russia from undermining our democracy, the president dooming our planet, well, I just, I just . . .

I just resort to wasting time on Twitter, is what I do. Which overwhelms me even more and exacerbates my ADD. You think you’re getting a handle on the hateful #Nazi violence in #Charlottesville when all of a sudden the hate-full #Evangelicals release their gay-bashing #NashvilleStatement.  (Mean, embittered religious men must always make a resounding STATEMENT or a PROCLAMATION.)

And who can keep up with the White House firings and resignations? I am both spooked and comforted by the apparent military take-over of the White House. Near as I can tell, General John Kelly is the only reason we still have a country at this moment.

So I want to say three things:

  • Happy anniversary to my beloved blog, which has kept me sane during some very trying times these past five years. I will persist and continue Writing With Spirit, despite the madness.
  • A hearty thank you to all of my followers and readers and fellow bloggers for the encouragement and inspiration and food for thought.
  • Climate change is real. It is happening. People are dying because of it, in hurricanes, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, typhoons, and tsunamis. After the flooding, the typhoid and cholera. So the Tweeter in Chief and his reality-deniers are criminals. Period. They should all be in jail for mass murder.

And that’s where I am, five years in to this blogging endeavor.

 

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Mr. Trump’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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I have to say, I like it when President Tweet has a very bad day. I love my country, I care deeply about justice, and I treasure this beleaguered planet; so when the man-child is pouting, I’m feeling upbeat. I know that probably doesn’t make any sense, because when he’s grumpy, he’s likely to lash out and do something stupid like fire one of our last remaining respectable public servants or drop a bomb or something.

Still, I’m as petty as the next pastor.

You know, it’s a damn good thing I’m serving on the pastoral team at my church right now because I’m forced to maintain some kind of online decorum, such as it is. Otherwise, I might stoop to the level of the new White House Director of Communications. Well, OK, I couldn’t be that despicable if I tried.

Actually, this fine fellow, Don Vito Corleone, likely provided President Tweet with his only smiles yesterday when he called up and spewed physical threats and utterly crass sexual obscenities about several of his colleagues at the White House. Oh, you missed that? It’s a must read for any American (adults only).

This guy — actual name Anthony Scaramucci, and not technically a mafia Don that we know of — is our president’s new best friend. He makes the president’s pu#$&y grabbing look like a game of Tiddlywinks.

Anyway, the man-child’s giggles after Scaramucci’s bit of fun didn’t last long.

Sorry Boy Scouts

Imagine his chagrin when the Boy Scouts of America found it necessary to apologize for the presidential (not) speech given at their annual jamboree. And he’d thought it was such a good speech — he even got the kids to boo our last president! While President Tweet’s mental illness clearly prevents him from experiencing shame, at least the Boy Scout’s official apology shamed everyone else involved, so that’s good.

But Boy Scouts, soy sprouts, right? What difference do they make to a big, important boy who grew up to be President of the United States? Not much. However, the next Big Boys to fire a salvo yesterday carry more than toy guns, and their weapons are loaded with real bullets.

Big Boys with Real Guns

The Joint Chiefs of Staff — the freaking military Joint Chiefs  — publicly blew off their Commander in Chief’s tweeted order to discriminate against transgender troops. They basically said, we aren’t going to do anything until he gets his act together. Period. Oh, and they also included a pretty direct hit on their Commander: “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

Ouch.

Senate Charade

But the biggest ouch came very late in the day, actually in the wee hours of this morning when the courageous GOP was trying to cram through a “healthcare” bill that they crafted over lunch and released at 10 p.m., just hours before the vote. You know, the one that Senator Lindsey Graham called a “fraud” and “a disgrace” and then voted for anyway? That one.

Mind you, I used to work in politics. I’ve seen it all when it comes to dirty politics. I saw a senator trade his vote to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a tennis game bet. No lie.

Worth a tennis bet, right?

Nevertheless, I have never seen anything as shameful as what I witnessed last night, watching Republican senators refuse to allow the Democrats to make comments or even ask questions on the bill they had just received, a life and death measure affecting every American. No hearings, no markups of legislation, no public input, no expert witnesses, no rule of law.

Late Night Miracle

I stayed up watching the vote on CNN, cheering on the Democrats who kept trying to interrupt the GOP monologue, and praying very hard that in some Republican office, some Senator was going to be smitten by an attack of conscience, common sense, and/or patriotism and decide to vote against the sham.

Two brave GOP women senators –Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — had put up with haranguing from their male colleagues all week, yet continued in their principled stand against the bill. But with the Vice President pacing the Senate floor waiting to break a tie vote, the women would not be enough.

That wasn’t the only thing Pence was there to break. In a back room, he twisted Senator John McCain’s bad arm (OK, OK, hyperbole) for twenty minutes before the vote, but the old POW had seen far worse in Vietnam.

McCain can recall when the Senate used to be “the greatest deliberative body in the world,” and with nothing to lose as he heads into brain cancer treatment, McCain just said no.

No.

And with that, millions of Americans (myself included) breathed easier, knowing that they will have healthcare a while longer. And the man-child’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day got markedly worse.

A bad day for President Tweet is a good day for most of us

Trump’s Discrimination Against Transgender Americans

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I wanted to write about tea — it’s the word prompt of the day, and a subject about which I am very passionate. Then the latest presidential tweet was vomited forth, and I must instead write about a different type of T.

The T in LGBTQ.

I have 4 transgender friends that I know of: one I’ve known since he was a child, one I worked with for more than a decade, one’s a neighbor, and one’s a new friend from Wild Goose Festival.

My heart is just breaking for them today. The president of the United States is harnessing the ignorant hatred that many Americans hold for them and using it for political gain. There are no words to describe my feelings. I am just so, so sorry. I feel sick for you, my friends.

Today the man in the White House tweeted – TWEETED – his decision that trans people can no longer serve in the military. I don’t know what that means for the 15,000-plus who are already in the military. I guess they’re fired.

So the coward who avoided the draft because his feet hurt (but not enough to slow down his tennis game) is now firing service men and women because of who they are. And why? Here’s why:

In case you can’t read that, it’s a reporter who was told by a White House official that this is a good wedge issue for the 2018 election. Democrats will be forced to defend LGBTQ people in states where a lot of blue collar workers hate them.

There you have it, folks. That’s your president.

And just for the irony of it, I will tell you that on this very day in 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order that banned discrimination in the military.

It’s probably best that I not spew my raw outrage and despair. There’s enough ugliness out there, and as a Christ-follower, I hope not to contribute to it. I’d like to write about tea, but I can’t.

I’ll just share this old poem from Martin Niemöller, which grows more relevant each day:

Muslims, Hispanics, Pre-existing conditions, Transgender . . .

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

You Are Done, Mr. Trump

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You are done, Mr. Trump. No argument. Thus far, the Republican party has been willing to put up with your minor — what shall we call them? Shortcomings? Indiscretions? Many of your supporters even applaud you for “telling it like it is,” and “saying what everyone thinks but is afraid to say.”

You know, your traditional American values of contempt for blacks, Hispanics, women, Muslims, disabled and overweight people; your inciting violence, your purposely undermining confidence in our elections, your trying to intimidate voters by sending goons to “watch” polling places.

I’m even afraid to put up a Hillary sign in the yard here in New Hampshire, lest I attract a rock or a bullet through my window.

But now you’ve gone too far, Mr. Trump. You’ve said the “P” word, and Republicans didn’t know you were like that. They are shocked, just shocked! 

News Flash: It's Who He Is

News Flash: It’s Who He Is

Your non-apology points out that you said the “P” word ten years ago when you were young and less mature, a mere sixty years old. And besides, former President Clinton has said and done bad things, too (and, by the way, was impeached for them). And furthermore you claim, “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.”

Right, we’ll just leave that there with the pile of rape accusations and sexual harassment lawsuits waiting in the back room.

It’s not flying anymore. It’s over. You’re done. Now it’s all about damage control for that Grand Old Party that chose to focus on hate and fear and division a few decades ago and is paying the price today.

Your Friends are Bailing

Everyone is bailing on you now. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan doesn’t want to stand on the same stage with you. Ouch. In the bright red state of Utah, there’s a total insurrection, a senator calling for you to step down, and a GOP candidate running specifically on the platform of deadlocking the electoral college and getting rid of you.

Your Vice Presidential candidate is pretending you don’t exist: he’s perfected the “kindly old grandfather who is deaf when he wants to be” act and pretends he isn’t drowning in your cesspool. (Psssst — I think he’s after your job, Donald.)

Even your buds over at FOX News call your comments “crude” and “lewd.” After all, Roger Ailes has set the standard there, and . . . oh, never mind.

Pharisee: A Self-Righteous Person; A Hypocrite

At least you still have the right-wing evangelicals. Because, you know, God is a guy, and if God didn’t intend men to grope women, then why did He give men hands to begin with?

No, seriously, I can see where these evangelicals are coming from. The Family Research Council (FRC) says their support for you was never based on shared values anyway.

WHAT???? WHAT??? The “family values” lobbyists don’t care about values??

Sure enough, the “Christian public policy ministry” FRC website says that Trump demonstrates “an understanding of the importance of values voters in the general election” and has “a desire to work with them.” It never says he shares their values.

Wonder why people are leaving the Christian church, FRC? Look in the mirror.

FRC was busy yesterday promoting #BringYourBibleToSchool day, so perhaps they didn’t have time to carefully review the P-word video. I suggest they take a listen. Also, #ReadYourBible.

No argument.

#UnfitForOffice

** I know that this post will lose me some of my Christian followers. That makes me sad, but it’s inevitable. Still, please, please, in this election and every day, ask yourself that over-used but profound question: What would Jesus do?

Day eleven of my daily blogging pursuit

Trump’s Disagreement with Reality

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Trump’s Disagreement with Reality

You can disagree with a policy. You can disagree with an action. You can disagree with an interpretation or an assumption or even a worldview. But when you disagree with reality, you are either lying to others or lying to yourself.

Which category Mr. Trump’s disorder falls into is a mystery to me: probably both. I am not a psychologist (if I were, this election would have exploded my head months ago), but I am fascinated by what must go on in that orange head. 

One of my favorite moments during the presidential debate Monday night was Hillary’s line, “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.”

Bingo. I think that’s quite true.

A Big, Beautiful Wall

The Republican candidate’s brain seems to function like a second or third-grader’s. It’s motivated by wanting people to notice him and praise him, wanting to appear grand while always knowing underneath that he’s never going to be good enough to please Daddy.

I think he got emotionally stunted in elementary school and simply never grew into an adult who accepts and operates within reality. He does not have a moral center because he never matured enough to develop one. Instead, he built a “big, beautiful wall” around himself so that nothing and nobody could hurt him. He built it out of money and denial and meanness. And behind his wall, he hides from reality and launches tweets at anyone who disagrees with him.

Sadly, I believe his emotional immaturity and false reality ballooned into a personality disorder. At least one. But there I go again, trying to diagnose him. I have a terrible need to understand this entity that is threatening my country and the world.

Recovery is an Option, Mr. Trump

I wonder sometimes if the reason the man creeps so deeply into my psyche is that I can relate at some level. I struggle against the very same bugaboos that haunt him, the need for praise and recognition, the belief that my way is the only way, the insecurity that drives grandiosity — all driven by fears.

But I’ve worked crazy-hard to recover from my brokenness. It’s meant humbling myself and accepting hard truths. Through spiritual pursuits and practices, honest relationships, psychotherapy, and twelve-step recovery for various emotional addictions, I have escaped the house of mirrors with no true center where I used to live and am coming into an entirely new reality. One where I am good enough: beloved, even.

I get how emotional pain can leave you stranded in your own reality, isolated and afraid. I am sad for you, Donald.

Let’s Face Reality

But what of Trump’s followers? That’s a harder question and one that I  hesitate to address because I don’t want to come across as telling anyone that my reality is correct and theirs is incorrect. There’s enough of that going around, and it’s part of what’s bringing our country down.

14522916_10210183812462436_6874383037775797971_n

But please just take a big, self-reflective breath and think about this: How could you hear a man interrupt a woman over and over with “I never said that,” and “That’s not true,” and “Wrong, wrong,” without googling to find out who is telling the truth? Do you just assume that the male is always right? Or do you actually hate Clinton so much that you don’t want to know the truth — so much that you would vote for a pathological liar over her? Yes, I grant you, she is not honesty personified. And she’s secretive. Almost all politicians become like that.

But, but . . . Donald is sick. Unwell. Unbalanced. How could you watch the debate and deny that reality?

Imagine the man who turned up at that debate talking to FOREIGN LEADERS, for heaven’s sake! Tell me, didn’t you feel even the teensiest bit of relief when Clinton spoke directly to the rest of the world, trying to reassure them that we have not lost our minds, that we will stand by our agreements and will not catapult into an alternate universe? To me, it felt like an adult had finally entered the room to restore order.

I don’t agree with all of Clinton’s policies or actions, but I want a grown-up in the White House. One who doesn’t make faces and yell and interrupt and insult people and live inside a second-grader’s fortress of lies.

In response to a WordPress word prompt: disagree.

Predictably Unpredictable America

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Unpredictability. Not my favorite thing. It feels dangerous, risky. I don’t mind being seen as unpredictable myself, mind you — that seems charming, whimsical, youthful, fun. But I want to be in charge, I want to know what to expect next. I cherish the illusion that I can somehow control what happens around me, which of course is a fantasy. One never can. Especially these days.

A truck might plow through a celebratory crowd, or your office holiday party might turn into a killing field, or you might be held hostage or murdered at a night club. Or your kid could be shot at her elementary school or your husband be shot by a rogue policeman.

Or a mentally unbalanced, completely unqualified orange man who is also a pathological liar could be elected president. Anything can happen in 2016.

trump_stop

Like most people I know, I cringe when I fire up the computer each morning or turn on the radio. What awful thing has happened? In fact, the bad news — the violence and hate and racism and vitriol — has now become completely predictable.

We feel uprooted, unprotected, aghast at our world.

But maybe, just maybe, being uprooted is precisely what we need.

As the good-hearted but disengaged people of America become jarringly aware of what is happening to our collective human spirit, perhaps they will be shaken loose from their complacency. Perhaps the orange vomit of hatred that is polluting our nation has finally caught the attention of the millions of people who have been privileged enough to ignore the simmering hatred up until now. The shock of Orange Man’s success may finally disrupt the status quo.

“We have seen the enemy, and he is us.” (Walt Kelly, from the Pogo comic strip.)

At the same time, an old geezer from Vermont has awoken the sleeping masses of young people in America with a call to get involved and fight the corruption and corporate control of our nation’s political and economic systems. Who saw that coming?

Unpredictable.

I don’t know what will happen, but I think there’s a chance that as we all stand mired in this putrid, stagnant swamp, some of us will sense a new but ancient stream moving somewhere deep below, and we will thrash and kick and roil the muddy waters and make waves until we bring up fresh, clean water that everyone can drink.

I Can’t Tolerate Tolerance

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I Can’t Tolerate Tolerance

I was talking to some folks about Orlando this morning, and the sense of helplessness and sadness and even despair that many of us feel in the wake of yet another preventable tragedy. People look at the National Rifle Association’s power to completely override common sense and they say, “Could our country be any more broken?” and then they look at Donald Trump and realize that our country is way more broken than anyone ever imagined.

America, “land of the free,” is now held hostage by paranoia, anger, and division, all fueled by fear and hatred of “the other.”

You call your God Allah? Other! Your skin is darker than mine? Other! Are you speaking Spanish? Other! You are sexually attracted to someone with the same type of genitalia as your own? Other! You are a hunter? Other! You are a vegan? Other! You are a {Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, Democratic Socialist}? Other, other, other!!!

I don’t need to tell you that candidate Trump stokes these sentiments. He’s like some sci-fi monster that feeds on other people’s fear and anger and grows more and more grotesque and powerful with each hateful Tweet, Facebook post, and blog. He can’t abide truth or tolerance — they make him grow smaller and lose his magical powers to control people.

photo (50)

He’s like the opposite of Jesus, whose power and influence in the world grows stronger each time someone chooses love over fear and compassion over judgement. Each time someone chooses tolerance over division . . . but wait. Tolerance?

Teaching Tolerance

Why yes, of course. Isn’t that what the solution is? “Teaching Tolerance,” they call it. Well, I’m sorry, but I call B.S. on that. Jesus never said, “Tolerate one another.” Jesus said to love one another. And so have many other spiritual sages throughout human history. Loving someone is more than just putting up with them, just tolerating their existence. That may be a necessary beginning for some people, but I think we should aspire to more than tolerating one another.

Be the Change

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” Jesus said.

Maybe that’s the place to start — maybe we have to learn to love ourselves before we can properly love others; embrace ourselves, not just tolerate ourselves. We need to look honestly at our inner thoughts, motivations, and promptings, especially the ones that we don’t like, or that confuse us or make us feel ashamed. We need to talk about them with someone else. Pray about them if we are praying people. Let the darkest stuff out into the light so we can see it and heal it if need be.

We can’t change what happened in Orlando, but we can change ourselves. Be the change we want to see in the world, as Gandhi said.

It’s worth a try, right? Because people who shut off or hide parts of themselves can turn into angry people. They can have heart attacks. They can fall into depression. Some of them might buy guns. They might hurt other people emotionally or physically. They might vote for Donald Trump.

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