Friday, September 28, 2018

The thing that is painfully and manifestly clear to me is that, for the Republicans, this was never about getting at the facts.  It was never about listening to what Dr. Ford had to convey, despite the great personal sacrifice she made.  It was not, and is not, about doing the right thing--the thing that is best for the nation and its institutions and its people.  Rather, it is a sustained and unbridled and immoral power grab aided and abetted by Fox News and right-wing talk radio and extremist right-wing lobbying groups and--most tragic of all, Evangelical Christians. 

If there has ever been a more blatant example of a cynical and morally bankrupt strategy playing out for all to see, it was Republicans delaying an Obama Supreme Court nominee confirmation for nearly a year (of a man free from allegations and taint) and now "plowing" through a Trump Supreme Court nomination in a hurry and at any cost (despite considerable red flags and public concern).

And after today it is more obvious than ever before that moderate Republicans (who seem to be a dying breed) are not going to pull things back from the brink.  Sure, politics are ugly and no political party is a paragon of purity, but the Republican Party has lost its moral compass to the point of becoming functionally evil.  I say this as a former Republican.  The only thing that is going to save the U.S. from this slide into the abyss is Americans who aren't Republicans getting out and voting and going into elected public office--especially women and minorities; those who have been ruthlessly cast aside by the Republican Party.  The Republican Party needs to be destroyed by the American people and cast into history's junk pile.  They lost their way and betrayed their founding ideals.

The other thing that is clearer than ever--for all to see--is that Evangelical Christianity has become hopelessly entwined with Babylon, shedding righteousness in exchange for a shot at power; a chance to dictate how everyone else should live their lives (while turning a blind eye to all of the reprehensible behavior among their own leaders and politicians and judges).  Evangelical Christianity, and the political party that Evangelicals have given their allegiance to, is now corrupt beyond redemption, and spiritually enslaved by the perverse purveyors of populist propaganda. 

God isn't going to fix this.  Moderates holding hands across the aisle aren't going to fix this (as admirable as that is).  The Republicans certainly aren't going to fix this.  The only thing that is going to fix this is a tsunami of the common people saying, "Enough!" and wiping the board clean.

"Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
'Come out of her, my people,
so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues...'"

--Revelation 18:4

Friday, September 21, 2018

One of the more bizarre aspects of the charismatic Christian subculture I used to belong to was the practice of claiming that demonic spirits were actively behind things--pulling the strings as it were. This idea originated, primarily, from a very poor understanding of the meaning of ancient apocalyptic biblical texts such as the Book of Daniel--which depicted angels and demons battling as a means of allegorically describing geopolitical events on earth. In the charismatic Christian subculture of the 20th century this was taken to extremes and applied on a national, regional, local and personal level. Things occurred, or didn't occur, because of "spiritual warfare." Humans could engage in spiritual warfare by identifying the appropriate spirit and shouting into empty space "I bind you in the name of Jesus!" (based upon a gross misinterpretation of Jesus' reference to the ancient Jewish rabbinic concept of "binding and loosing" which referred to applying or not applying statutes of the Torah).

In the charismatic church, if something politically or sociologically disagreeable happened, it was likely due to a spirit. On a smaller scale, if an individual began questioning authority or leadership decisions or doctrines within the church, they were accused of having a "spirit of rebellion." If it was a woman doing the questioning, she had a "Jezebel spirit." I was once told by a pastor that I had a "spirit of independence" and I thought, "Hmmm, he's saying that like it's a bad thing." :-) Accusing someone of having or being influenced by a demonic spirit was a convenient way to disparage and dismiss them and claim to have a higher and holier perspective. And, of course, there were a plethora of spirits to blame--one for every situation and malady.  And don't get me started on the countless heartbreaking stories of LGBTQ Christians who were told that their "struggle" was demonic in nature and required deliverance.

I knew a guy back in those days who had anger issues--a real short fuse. He told me one day that at a revival meeting he had been delivered from a "spirit of anger." Of course, it didn't last. Rather than have his character/behavioral issue extracted (exorcised) like a bad tooth or "bound" like innoculating against a virus, what he really needed was therapy, by a professional therapist. I hope he eventually did that and found peace.

I never really bought into the whole blaming imaginary spirits thing, even when I was in the charismatic Christian subculture. I tried it, I played along, but it seemed silly and futile. It increasingly struck me as incredibly superstitious and dualistic and a lazy way to avoid taking responsibility to do something about what was going on in the world or about one's own attitudes and behaviors and words. One of the things that really intrigued me many years later when I began learning about Buddhism was the emphasis on taking personal responsibility and engaging in very practical methods to transform one's own behaviors and thoughts and reactions and perceptions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Friends Journal review of Presence and Process

I just found out about a lovely review of 'Presence and Process' in the Quaker magazine Friends Journal.

Excerpt: "This is a book that deserves a wide audience among Friends and seekers of all faiths."