Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump is Patient, Trump is Kind

When I was a kid growing up in the at-the-time terrorist-afflicted nation of Peru, fear was an almost palpable undercurrent to my life. Although I lived in a secluded missionary community that had a certain degree of immunity from the violence, I was still afraid.

I was afraid when I heard the sounds of bombs going off in nearby communities. I was afraid when a friend who lived in the nearby town had his windows blown in by one such bomb, and when another friend had to leave the country when they started finding corpses on the hotel property his family ran just up the lake. As I fell asleep, I heard the pop-pop-pop of automatic gunfire in the distance and dreamed of hiding in the jungle from terrorists, after finding my parents dead in pools of their own blood.

Into all this fear came a savior: Alberto Fujimori, a Japanese-Peruvian strong-man who promised to take that fear away. Who promised to do what had to be done to make Peru great again. It wasn't just the terrorism, see, the economy was in free fall, too. Inflation was rampant. It had to be stopped.

Fujimori stopped it.

Because congress was corrupt, he suspended it. Because the system was broken, he took it over. Because terrorism was real, he decreed that convicted terrorists would face the death penalty.

Oh, sure, there were some mamby-pamby liberals back in the U.S. who cried out against these measures, but the missionaries...?

The white, evangelical Christian missionaries were, by and large, thrilled.

Fujimori was taking their fear away. Fujimori was solving the economic problems. Fujimori was storming the Japanese embassy and putting a bullet through the heads of all those god-damned terrorist hostage-takers.

One missionary lady stood up at the Sunday night service and told how she'd known one of those god-damned terrorist hostage-takers. She told how he'd been abducted from the indigenous community where she served, and forced to join up, on pain of death to his family. She registered a complaint.

It was a blip of a complaint. No one cared.

They cared that the fear was subsiding. That the gunfire had stopped. That inflation had stabilized. That their children (ME!) didn't have to wake up with nightmares.

And me, I was happy. When "El Tigre" Fujimori came to visit our mission center, I gave him a colored-pencil drawing I'd done of a tiger and was thrilled to hear from a Peruvian friend that Fujimori had said on the TV that he loved it and was going to hang it in his office. 

Yay, me! Yay, El Tigre!
The tiger is strong! Peru is great again!

Sure, yeah, some people were going missing. But they were "bad people." They deserved it. And if Fujimori ended up being linked to those disappearances, and to the disappearance of a whole lot of money from the public coffers... well, what of it? Sometimes loving-kindness has to be sacrificed in the name of morality and security.

It was worth it.

Anything was worth it, to make the fear go away.

That was my childhood. 

So yesterday morning when I woke up to the news that the white, evangelical Christian community had voted in a man who in practically every word and deed has been completely antithetical to the words and deeds of Jesus, I was zero percent surprised.

See, I don't believe in them anymore.

I don't believe in white, evangelical Christians.

I don't even believe in America, which as an ostensible democracy is merely the sum of its (apparently racist, misogynistic, and selfishness-affirming) parts.

I don't know what I believe in, but I think I believe in Jesus.

Despite all the ways he's been misquoted and prostituted-against-his-will for the white, evangelical Christian will-to-power, I actually do still believe in Jesus. So I cried this morning to learn that his ostensible followers had been largely responsible for giving the White House to a man who's made it his life's work to mock, belittle, disparage, and crush-just-because-he-can "the least of these." 

Which, for those unfamiliar with Jesus story about "The Least of These," means that Trump has directed all this abuse at Jesus himself, because Jesus identifies most strongly—always and forever—not with the wealthy or the powerful, but with the weak, poor, and powerless.

That's right, the ostensible Christians of America have handed the reins to a man who has loudly, willfully sided against Jesus. They have grasped at another shot at top-down power, choosing it (for the umpteenth time) over loving-kindness. They have sided, to the bafflement of almost no one, with the principalities and powers of this dark world.

Many of them did it with the best of intentions.

They had this one thing they believed needed to change, and they were willing to listen to any internet-lies about any other candidate in order to to justify their decision.

I won't go into that, here. 

If they're not going to listen to reason, facts, all living ex-Presidents, most of their own Republican leaders, most of our military leaders, and almost every other sane person on the planet, they're not going to listen to me. They're not going to fall to their knees and acknowledge that, yep, they've done a very bad thing, of which they should be ashamed. 

After all, they were never ashamed (as I am) of having helped to put George W. Bush into the Oval Office and America into an endless War-for-Oil, which was also based on lies. 

They were never ashamed for their part in deregulating big business, crushing millions of livelihoods, and nearly spiraling the global economy into complete ruin and mass starvation. 

They were never ashamed for their long-term endorsement of the belief that the health of the soil and water of this planet is unimportant, since God gave it to us to wreck and also nothing is wrong and everything is fine, and those bleeding-heart, pinko-commie Greenpeace liberals are just pawns for China, trying to wreck our economy. 

They were never ashamed for the way abortion-rates went UP during George W.s reign. 

They were never ashamed for the way "their" Tea-Party-hijacked Republican establishment took a President who was at least a decent man and made it their entire focus not to serve the citizenry, but merely to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct anything he tried to do, regardless of how many lies they had to wallow in to do it.

They were never ashamed for the lies they listened to (and believed, and shared on Facebook) about that President. The racist subtext that was clearly evident beneath it all. 

They were never ashamed for anything. So why would they be ashamed of this? 

Not because I say so, certainly. 

Perhaps, however, they might listen to some words from the Man himself, Jesus. 

In the book of Matthew, when Jesus had just finished telling the white, evangelical Christian leaders of his day that God was going to exclude them from his party because they were being such poop-stains, a bunch of the leaders asked him what the whole thing was about, if it wasn't about being morally right all the time and controlling people's behavior with force and fear. 

Jesus answered and said, in Matthew chapter 22, verses 37 to 40, 


“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


So basically, Jesus said it was all about LOVE.

Now, a lot of white, evangelical Christians I know have tried to challenge that. They've said, "Well, yeah. Sure. But Jesus wasn't all about mamby-pamby mushy feelings. He got mad, too. He made rules." 

[Ignoring, of course, that Jesus only ever really got mad at people like them, and only made guidelines intended to subvert all the rules being used as power-bludgeons by people like them.]

These people—aware, perhaps, of how dangerous Jesus's actual words are to their little power-games—tend to focus on other parts of the Bible. Like the parts written by the apostle Paul, for example, who tended to rant about immorality. 

Let's go, then, to One Corinthians Thirteen, where Paul said that if a person was to ascend to the most powerful position in the most powerful nation in the world but didn't have love, he'd be like the sound of "Achey Breakey Heart" being played simultaneously at top volume with Eminem's "It feels so empty without me." 

Perhaps that will send them to their knees. To sackcloth and ashes.

What's that you say? Still nothing? Still arguing that sometimes the most loving thing is to endorse a sexual abuser for the highest office in the land? 

Well, let's look at how Paul went on to define love, to see if he'd agree with you:


4 Love Trump is patient, Trump is kind. Trump does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. 5 He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Trump does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 Trump always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


8 Trump never fails. But where there are Fox News Stations, they will cease; where there are political establishments, they will be stilled; where there is a big, bloated, propped-up Religious clustercuss, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when Trump comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me and voted for Trump. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see Trump's face in a framed poster in every single home in America (Or Else). Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known by Trump, who is the only one who can fix everything.



13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and Trump. But the greatest of these is Trump. He's really terrific. The best.



Wait. 
No.

I think I might've gotten that just a liiiiittle bit wrong. Paul is so easy to misinterpret, sometimes.


So I'll finish with some of Jesus's own words and ask any white, evangelical Christians who happen to find this post to read them. Slowly. Thoughtfully. Prayerfully, even, to use the mealy-mouthed language you vomited out as justification for your CHOICE to listen to the father of god-damned lies.

Because after yesterday morning, I am desperate for any kind of hope. And all white, evangelical Christian nonsense aside, I think Jesus is a fantastic place to start. 

As that old, irascible humanist Kurt Vonnegut has said,

"If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being. I would just as soon be a rattlesnake."

Please think on it. Internalize it. Answer your fear not with a blind acceptance of violence in all its forms, but with Christ's self-sacrificing love.

- - -

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
by Jesus Christ (superstar)


Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they will be comforted.

 Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

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