Pan-Flash or Rising Barbarism


What Gets Reported

Likely, readers know that tens of thousands have marched in US cities and on campuses since one of two [in my opinion] totally unworthy candidates was elevated to high office. Some have been associated with lawless acts. This is the stuff which gets reported.

The response to the Portland OR protest apparently included ‘flash-bangs‘ [presumably military issue] grenades and declaration of a state of riot by police [apparently not city council]. Behind this response stand years of military/material and legal preparation to quell protest to the reactionary direction of the very policies represented in this month’s election.

I don’t know the identity of ‘some protesters [who] used rocks and baseball bats to smash the windows of businesses…’ I won’t rule out the possibility that police provocateurs initiated this behavior to manufacture a pretext for shutting down a protest. I simply don’t know.

What Isn’t Reported

Response to current political developments has another side. It is much more prevalent but is far less visible. Acts of vandalism, intimidation and other injurious offenses are not reported by media. Here are the things I heard this weekend from members of my immediate family and friends.

  • A Muslim woman is told by friends they fear for her wearing her hijab.
  • Swastikas were painted on the residences of six GLBTs in Raleigh, NC.
  • A college student seeking a career in refugee/non-profits fears the degree she is seeking may now be worthless.
  • Gays have been ridiculed on the public transit system in Cleveland, OH.
  • Last week, a woman who works with refugees [when not caring for her husband with MS] realized she needs to find a new church. Over the weekend, this native born American decided she needs to leave the US.
  • An eight-year-old refugee was told that he’ll have to return to Ethiopia.

That is what I’ve heard from immediate family and friends. One family. I’ve a daughter who is a chaplain in Chicago with whom I have not spoken in the past week. She may have more delightful and related stories to tell.

I may be wrong, but I believe present protests, attacks on residences, on women, children and other ostracized communities are not part of a ‘settling in’ after a particularly loathsome election. These are portents of things to come. And as political consciousness rises — and it will — the reason for the militarization of police and the virtual immunity of police from prosecution will become undeniably apparent to all except the most politically illiterate and partisan sycophants.

Church and Social Unrest

‘”You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. “If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry’ [Ex 22:21-23];

Like it or not, the church faces ministry in new societal context. Needed is a strong, principled stand beside the weak and maligned of society against an increasingly lawless and more violent state.

Meet the boy with the remote — Steve Bannon.

The appointment of the fascist Steve Bannon as a top advisor effectively reiterates Mr. Trump’s intention to imprison and deport millions.

The strong, principled stand for the strangers among us won’t come from the Democratic Party or the ‘liberal’ press. The capitulation of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, plus anti-Trump editorialists Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof and Paul Krugman all strengthen Trump to proceed with his heinous agenda.

If opposition to racism, chauvinism, privilege, bigotry and misogyny [to name a few identity issues] isn’t equated with opposition to the state, helping undocumented workers may be. And if Newt Gingrich gets his new House Committee on Un-American Activities, those who supported Trump expecting more freedom of religion may find themselves in deep trouble for practicing Ex 22:21.

But my guess is that you may reliable expect our Fundamentalist sects to wave the ‘law-and-order’ banners and to function as apologists of coming repression, however anti-Ex 22:21 and however barbaric it proves to be.

In the mean time, we can all reach out to someone known in our family circle who could use encouragement. Mine can’t be the only family that runs into this stuff.

Stuff Fundies Like, 2016 Election Edition

Influential and respected in Germany, Der Spiegel offers this insightful take on a glorious election inside the bastion of western-style liberal democracy.

November 6, 2016, and for the first time in many decades, I visited an Independent Fundamental Baptist sect. I’ll report on that in another post. But that did inspire the present effort.

The pastoral prayer asked for wisdom in selecting America’s leader. That was it — until … well … it wasn’t a benediction, and not quite a dismissal. It was a minute long video of James Dobson was run telling us to ‘go vote’ on the premise that the Supreme Court had to be stocked with the right people, etc., etc. Then the pastor reminded us of our civic duty to vote. And he said that it is your ‘Christian duty’ to vote. That led to this post.

That pastor likely knows that people such as yours truly exist, although I doubt he often meets them. But I was reminded how profoundly ignorant and outright dishonest the presentation seemed. As I see it, neither he nor Mr. Dobson did God’s people any favor. Mind, some say that of me also.

Note of Warning:

This post contains statements some may find politically offensive. While not advocating open defiance of established political order, it does nothing to support that order either. If that upsets you, you should read no further.

What We’ve Seen, What It Means:

This election explores new depths of reaction, filth, degradation and regression. What isn’t clear yet but will become so is that this election has done lasting damage to the US’ core credibility both at home and abroad.

The least likely outcome of the November 8, 2016 US Presidential Election is a clear winner with a firm mandate to form a government and conduct the business of state in the stead of United States citizens.

More likely, elections will be contested in various states, some red and some blue. Courts will be involved. The Supreme Court will be involved. The possibility of ‘faithless electors’ is real. It is also possible that days or even several months may lapse before a President is selected. In that time, accusations of Russian interference may bring us dangerously close to open war with Russia — i.e., a new, World War. Behold the new normal.

Nothing Will Be Resolved:

Whatever regime in time prevails will lack all legitimacy. The US’ ability to negotiate alliances and exercise external influence will be compromised, tempting a powerful, ruling-class faction to rely all the more on the use military might to offset approaching economic and political collapse.

One establishment figure said that a Clinton win will mean unending investigations by Republican opponents in Congress from day one; but a Trump win will mean Madison, Wisconsin except on a national scale, and with political instability for a decade or more. Who said that? The great, US liberal, Newt Gingrich. This would mean that the locus of decision would move from the Halls of Congress into the streets.

Simply by being sociologically normal, Senator Clinton ought to be leading by 50 points. That Trump — win or not — will receive scores of millions of votes is an utterly crushing repudiation of the Democratic Party.

In fact Senator Clinton is committed to policies that will be catastrophic. She declares for the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairperson, General Joseph Dunford, has informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services that this will result in direct war with Russia. All of this is deliberately concealed from the public. By positioning its candidate to the right of Mr. Trump, the Democratic Party lays the basis for arguing that the election was a referendum on war with Russia.

What Is Happening:

In the past, issues were at least named. In 2016, differences are fought under narratives of scandal-mongering and McCarthyite like red-baiting’ attacks on a ‘pro-Russian’ candidate. Such hysterical slanders are used because neither party or ‘leader’ can offer a solution to so much as one of any of the explosive, political crises currently besetting the republic.

Regardless of who is declared ‘President,’ world capitalism will continue to breakdown. There will be a massive military buildup around Russia and China. Social inequality will achieve massive proportions. And on Nov. 9, working class political consciousness enters a new stage of development. This will be repressed by increasingly violent means. As the civic narrative is repudiated on the streets, riot police will assume a ubiquitous presence.

french-revolution-1789-to-1799-7-63880 years ago, Trotsky warned that the US ruling class would try to redraw the world map in its interests. US military operations confirm Leon Trotsky’s insights.

Internally, society is rife with profound social contradictions that sham elections can no longer hide or contain. The longer they are repressed, the more devastating the coming social explosion will be.

Which Way to Go:

The Pax Americana is ended. The republic is not destined for renewed greatness; it is entering collapse. The ruling class fixates on securing its privilege. The police are militarized, domestic spying is universal, and drones are developed for use within US borders. As the ruling class loads the Winchesters for coming class repression, it behooves working people to learn political lessons from their experience. Here is one such lesson.

The 2016 election is an outrageous political attack on working citizens.

As I see it, any regime that must predicate its existence on countless travesties has no legal, social or moral claim to my dutiful allegiance.

Why should I consent to be be retained as a political hostage to a decadent political order that is finally opposed to the very premise of civic decency?

If this seem unduly severe, note that it is not I, but our luminescent ‘leaders’ who prostitute themselves and the processes of state. Should they then cry ‘foul’ if the public concludes that the state is an whore?

As this nightmare of an election staggers to an end, the US led NATO is announcing its largest troop deployment since the Cold War. The ruling class demands that nations be dragged into war. Hundreds of thousands of troops are being placed on high alert, while Britain and US warplanes, tanks and artillery are being sent near Russia’s borders. All this happens behind the backs of the American people under effective news blackout.

Using the imagery of the beast, whore and false prophet, Saint John the theologian depicted and forbade war/oppression/injustice to God’s people. Yet we incarnate Rome’s imperial policies every more closely each year.

The revulsion the nation experiences toward both candidates expresses a deeper alienation from the entire structure of official capitalist politics. It makes more sense to me to give allegiance to, and to plan and labor for whatever system of governance will replace the existing political order.

This is certain: giving us the candidates it has, this election demonstrates forever to all but the politically illiterate, that the existing republic is utterly irredeemable. And if you think these candidates are bad, wait until 2020, unless thermonuclear holocaust resolves everything first.

Political Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

TriumphalismRemember when Pat Robertson issued that fatwa on Hugo Chavez’ head? Now, James Dobson explains why righteousness, honor and wisdom apparently mean voting for Donald Trump. This leads to two questions.

Question 1:

How is it that though led by God’s Spirit, Christian leaders frequently are so imbalanced and unhinged?

I’ve said that Pat Robertson is as stable as a walrus on a flagpole. In Mr. Trump’s case, the walrus is drunk. For Dobson to depict Trump’s course as the path of righteousness, honor and wisdom leaves me wondering where James finds that totally phenomenal stuff he smokes. Why he puts his name to such a statement defies my mortal comprehension.

I don’t know how to read my own heart let alone others’. But I would be lying if I denied that it ever crossed my mind that Mr. Dobson is a mole — a political operative who courts partisan favor under the language of faith. And yes, I have wondered if that is all the ‘faith’ James Dobson has. But again, that isn’t for me to know or answer.

Question 2:

How much harm is wrought by the civic involvement of faith leaders stuck perpetually in grievous, political ignorance?

Fundamentalists believe that their doctrine, nation, narrative and societal structure is superior to all others and should have supremacy. This means that they are suckers for triumphalism. If they can just align everything rightly, God will pour out his blessing, vanquish enemies, silence critics and elevate them to the status they are convinced they deserve.

Likewise, the USA has a strong, triumphalist bent. The agendas differ at some points, but the basic framework and ideas are markedly alike. This may offer insight as to why the Fundamentalist and Americanist bond is sometimes stronger than the Fundamentalist bond to God and Scripture.

Triumphalism has drawn Fundmentalism toward Americanism. This means it thoroughly secularizes fundamentalism. But it also moves fundamentalism toward political extremism. Early in his article, James Dobson admits to seeing the 2016 race as a one-issue election.  Many will no doubt agree with him. This is where the potential for harm lies.

Why this Matters

As our attention fixates on one or two ‘key’ issues, US/Russia relations have in recent days taken a very dark turn. While very sober, high profile people such as Sergei Lavrov and Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov tell their counterparts in our government — it behooves you to shun the hotheads and to consider very carefully the political import of your actions, our corporate-owned press remains guilty silence. We hear nothing of this.

When Senator Clinton says that her earliest presidential acts would include a review US nuclear policy, Russians hear her to say that the US is ready to abandon its ‘no first-nuclear strike’ policy. Our ‘leadership’ uses blatantly incendiary rhetoric to win domestic support with no thought to the potential consequences their words hold for millions or billions.

It has never been easier to educate ourselves on a global perspective. And even a quick review of the Russian press would add considerable breadth to our perspective. This is not to appeal for acquiescence to the Russian government’s line. This is about being informed and knowing how others perceive our actions. There, we might discover such titles as:

The Russian government helps nothing when it limits Christian activity. But then, were Christians more vocal critics of many aspects of US foreign policy, other nations might be more willing to receive Christians and to tolerate their presence and work in their lands.

Triumph or Disaster

The video discussion may disturb some. If images and discussion of war bother you, don’t go there. There is plenty to which to respond already.

Also, I attempted to split the video and post only the first half. But my aging video splitter program wouldn’t do it. So be forewarned that the second half is partizan. So shut it down if you don’t want it. If the video doesn’t play properly, let me know and I’ll put up the URL.

In the face of impending world war [potentially including thermonuclear holocaust], I find it deeply offensive and profoundly wrongheaded that Christians insist we focus on Supreme Court appointments or the gender alignment of human genitalia. If war is the ultimate blasphemy against Yahweh, silence in the face of such crime has no justification. Christian leaders that cheer us on as we toboggan toward disaster appear to me to be political wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

10 Reasons Jesus Would Never Win The Evangelical Vote

Dr Benjamin L Corey

I find it hard not to like Dr. Benjamin L Corey. He reminds me of all things that I used to be — minus the tattoos, of course. He’s bright, well spoken, loves theology and mission. Moreover, he’s one of those voices calling for the recovery of radical trust in a God of radical grace.

Oh and admit it or not, he’s something of a political junkie. Particularly if one has a heart for justice, I see that as a good thing.

Under the title I borrowed from his recent post over at Patheos, Dr. Corey authored an article which, if amusing, spoke more truth than a humorous article would allow — if humor was meant at all. Raised on that ‘subtle English humour’ thing, I can’t always tell.

At any rate, I’m giving you only his main points. If at all interested, do read Dr. Corey’s article for yourself.

…if Jesus ran for president? Well, I can nearly assure you: He’d never win the Evangelical vote. Here’s 10 reasons why:

10. Jesus was famous for giving away free healthcare.

9. Rich Evangelicals would see him as a divisive candidate who waged class warfare.

8. He threatened those who exclude immigrants and do not help the poor.

7. He told people to pay their taxes.

6. Jesus was known for staging public protests at church.

5. He often resorted to name calling when confronting the popular religious leaders of his day.

4. Jesus would be viewed as anti-death penalty and soft on crime.

3. Jesus’s absurd teaching on enemy love would be seen as a threat to national defense.

2. Jesus rebuked those who were into concealed carry.

1. Instead of “American Exceptionalism” Jesus would spend his campaign talking about a place that is WAY better than America.

It’s always easier to see others’ worldliness and compromise. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to judge our IFB friends. Still, it is curious that we so to claim Jesus for ourselves only to vote against him in November.

Jesus is host at the table where he nourishes and sustains his people. But what does it mean if alien ideologies fatten themselves on the sustenance he gives us? The imagery of a host and parasite comes to mind.

If there is an answer, it might run along the lines that the narrative of the bread broken and the grapes crushed should supplant the civic narratives which compete and too often gain the allegiance of our minds and hearts.

Evangelicals for the New Jesus

When Idolatry Fails Us…

But Does God Feel abandoned by Christians for Trump

But Does This Go Both Ways?

Does Jesus feel abandoned by evangelicals who endorse Trump? Or Cruz for that matter. Does Jesus’ perspective on all this actually matter?

Remind me again who Christians supposed to support all along. What does this imply for evangelicals who get this so consistently wrong?