How Do We Even Talk About This?

Disclaimer: The following is not meant as a philosophical argument but an emotional rant that’s been building in light of this past week (beginning 6/12/16). Also I’m excessively more sarcastic regarding certain presidential nominees than maybe necessary.

All week I’ve been looking for the words to say after the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and in response to how my friends, families, acquaintances are processing publicly on social media. I keep drawing blanks. Feel free to keep reading this or not, it isn’t particularly good.

I have obvious opinions about many of the talking points this week. I’ve written several times on this blog about gun control — I’ve since taken the posts down, if you’re interested in those posts though I still have them and you can email me at tommy.welty@gmail.com to get them; I’ve written about the Republican Candidate, Donald the Duck — and will write more today about him; I’ve regrettably written about the LGBT community — I’ve also taken down that post down. But I’m having trouble synthesizing the thoughts. Here’s some ramblings on each.

Quick Thoughts About Gun Control

It seems to me that perhaps our elected officials are listening and making an attempt. Even the twitteriest twatter tweeted he was taking a meeting with the NRA to discuss common sense gun control legislation. I’m personally in favor of broader strokes that protect the due process of individuals and yet is more thorough than what Blonald Blump is taking a meeting with the NRA for. But who am I to argue with him, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama?

I don’t plan on mentioning his name in this post. You’ll have to decipher my code, but if you listen to Drumph regularly enough you’re used to interpreting gibberish.

Quick Thoughts About Some Guy Named “DJ” (because if you omit his last name you have a little boy’s name from 1992 and it’s hard to take seriously a guy with a little boy’s name from 1992)

Speaking of the Presumptive If-You-Don’t-Laugh-You’ll-Get-An-Ulcer Candidate, this week he’s really doubled down on his attempts to dismantle the Bill of Rights – consistent with his whole campaign platform: “Screw the Constitution! Make America [WHITE] Again!”

  1. Freedom of Religion – If you deny the freedom of religious expression to one group you’re setting the precedent to deny it to any religious group. We Christian’s often complain about how persecuted we are (we’re not), as evidenced by movies like God’s Not Dead and its unfortunate sequel God’s Not Dead 2. But, we’re fine. We’re not even close to being persecuted. Saying we are is offensive to our Christian brothers and sisters who are actually persecuted and being martyred around the world. But if the extreme right, potential future President Derple Jay Tiddlywinks sets a legal precedent to restrict religious expression rights of a particular religious group then what happens to Christians when a future president on the extreme left of the political spectrum takes office? And why is that the reasoning that I have to use? Why can’t we just agree that it is diametrically opposed to the American Ideal as presented in the Constitution to restrict religious freedom and leave it at that? Why are our rights really only worth protecting for some and not all?
  2. Freedom of the Press – We’re going to ignore Clinton’s not very good journalistic engagement because unlike He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named she’s not hostilely attacking and restricting the press. Republican Presidential Candidate Cheese Puff actively denies access to his campaign from mainstream news sources like Daily Beast, Politico, and Buzzfeed. He added to the list this week The Washington Post for accurately reporting his propagation (the day after the massacre, sensitive timing) that President Obama was somehow involved in the shooting. Let’s not forget his many varied attacks on individual journalists (here’s looking at you Megyn Kelly — but not exclusively you either). He’s promised to “open up libel” laws. But screw the first amendment. Washington Post becomes umpteenth news outlet to get the Trump-access  stiff-arm
  3. Well Regulated Militia – Oh, and he tweeted that he’s meeting with NRA to discuss tighter gun restrictions: If you’re on the No Fly list or a Terror Watch list you can’t buy a gun, he’s suggesting. But when President Obama and Mrs. Clinton made literally the exact same suggestion they’re trying to take away our guns. So if we’re being consistent Republican Candidate These-Steaks-Are-So-Good-Really-They’re-Beautiful-You-Gotta-Taste-‘Em-They’re-The-Best-Steaks is also is trying to take away your Second Amendment Rights.

Ultimately, this Orangutan Orange Haired Buffoon is just that: a buffoon. What’s scary is the inconsistent outrage of those who support him. Where are the fear mongering memes when he actively opposes the First Amendment? Are those rights less important than gun rights? And when his messaging regarding gun control is the same as the Left’s where are the poorly photoshopped memes? Which Amendments are we okay with giving up next as long as we get to keep the Second? Are only Republicans allowed to challenge our interpretation of the Second Amendment? Perhaps short bursts on social media and blog posts from poets may not the best forums for civil discourse?  Maybe we should get coffee and talk about this?

Quick Thoughts About Offering Thoughts and Prayers to the LGBT Community

Here is where I’ve stumbled the hardest.

Four days after I saw someone’s Thoughts and Prayers for the LGBT community on Facebook I saw them posting a meme about the “Gay Agenda” and a Facebook memory mocking Caitlyn Jenner. Four Days.

I’ve also seen many gay friends post about their fear after this attack and pointing out that though what happened in Orlando is certainly a concentrated attack it is not an irregular attack on the LGBT community. I’ve also seen the same friends share about how hurt and angry they are by the people who would offer their Thoughts and Prayers to the LGBT community in one post and then talk about how Trans people wanting to use the public bathroom they identify with is an attempt at our children’s safety.

I understand where my friends are coming from. The insincerity of the grief expressed from my ilk has been disheartening, if not dangerous. I can’t imagine fearing for one’s safety and then seeing those who could turn the tide express their “grief” and then immediately returning to condemning you’re entire community. I’d be angry too.

As an Evangelical, I’m complicit in this and I am sorry. Far more deeply held than my conservative beliefs of human sexuality is my belief that all humans are created in the image of God and the senseless loss of any life is a tragedy without qualification. It is my understanding of the gospel narratives that Jesus greatly loves those who are on the margins of society. I am sorry if I have ever suggested otherwise. I am heartbroken by the lives that were ended because of bigotry, by the families who are torn apart by this tragedy, for the fear my friends have.

Ultimately my thoughts and prayers this week have been scattered and disjointed. I’ve been oscillating between extreme anger and heartache that yet again someone was legally able to purchase a gun and kill so many people. I still don’t know what to say. I’m praying that our government will do what is within their constitutional obligation to do and well regulate what needs to be well regulated instead of taking moments of silence and doing nothing. I am praying for the safety of my gay friends. I am praying that those who regularly employ hateful, fear mongering rhetoric will repent of their sin and seek to be reconciled to those they’ve hurt. And I’m praying that the families who are mourning the loss of a child from this tragedy and others attacks like it that target LGBT and minority communities will be comforted and protected.

How Do We Even Talk About This?

All’s Quiet on the Mid-Western Front

Hampshire is impossibly quiet. There’s not enough traffic to drown out the stillness. You can hear birds chirping and I don’t want to say that I’ve had writer’s block because I’ve not but you can hear birds chirping and that’s wonderful.

In the immaculately mowed lawn — diagonal this week, thank you very much — a robin pecks the ground for worms, I imagine, and I’m not entirely certain what to write about. Which, again, is a lie because I’m writing more poetry than usual and I did write a post last week but it wasn’t very good and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. So instead I’ve sipped coffee on the porch counting robins.

I hope you haven’t missed my jumble thoughts on Stuff too much.

Since I’m being so honest today I’ll admit that writing this blog was the only thing I wasn’t worried about with moving, “Certainly, Tommy, you can wax poetic all day long. You’ll probably write an essay a day.” Or, so I thought. I assumed that blogging would be an anchor as my family and I were knocked about on the waves of change (and overwrought clichés).

All that stuff I was worried about is working itself out fine and I’m having trouble blogging. What kind of millennial am I?  But, again, things are working out fine. Atticus has made himself at home, Alyssa has too. I’m still reading my bible and praying as habitually as I was when I was paid to read my bible and pray — heck, I may finish my year long reading plan by summer’s end. I wrote another sad worship song. Poems are dumping out of my mind like… I had a simile I was going to use there and you’re welcome that I didn’t, proof that I’m a grown up. Or, at least growing up.

But I don’t know what to blog about. I mean, Donald Trump is still awful and grace is still amazing. I could write that again, I guess. I probably will in time. And the Spirit’s been teaching me something about joy but it feels cheap or impossible to capture that in prose, maybe when I get my sea legs back (because of the rollicking clichés). It seems that I really needed that weekly worship set as a prompt.

I’ve thought about blogging about the worship services we’ve attended but that isn’t fair. I don’t want to spoil the intention and prayerful planning of another worship leader. I don’t want to encroach on a service meant for a specific moment in a certain geography for a particular people be reviewing it. Certainly, criticism is good but I don’t need to be a critic and church isn’t a show.Also I’ve been saying “certainly” a lot lately. For example: Certainly there’s no need to be so judgmental, certainly God is doing good things.He does do good things, doesn’t He? Certainly.So I want to write about all the good things He’s doing like keeping the robin in the front yard whistling while it works for that worm.

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Robin. May 7, 2014. Anna Hesser. Some Rights Reserved.

 

All’s Quiet on the Mid-Western Front

Donald Trump and the Chamber of Secrets, All Things Considered, National Poetry Month, and Other Miscellany

1) There’s zero content about Donald Trump in this post. But, every time I put his name in the title of a blog post people read it. This post is full of poetry because it’s National Poetry Month and I want everybody to read lots of poems. Poetry trumps Trump. You’ve been baited and switched. I’m bad but you’re reading my diary so who’s worse? The person who just wants to share some poems? Or, the person who saw their friend’s diary lying there open on the coffee table of social media and decided to read it. Tread lightly, that’s how Ginny opened the Chamber of Secrets.

Also, Donald Trump is a low-rent Voldermort but ask me how I really feel about him.

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2)
 Did you do your taxes yet? Today is the half way point for National Poetry Month, though you’re more than welcome to keep reading and writing poems the rest of the year.

Poetry Magazine (the oldest English monthly poetry magazine and my favorite) is offering this month’s AMAZING issue for free!

GET IT HERE: April 2016 Poetry Magazine, digital issue

3) From that issue is this heartwrenching poem:

When I Think of Tamir Rice While Driving

BY REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS

in the backseat of my car are my own sons,
still not yet Tamir’s age, already having heard
me warn them against playing with toy pistols,
though my rhetoric is always about what I don’t
like, not what I fear, because sometimes
I think of Tamir Rice & shed tears, the weeping

Source: Poetry, April 2016

You can read the rest of the poem here, and please do: When I think of Tamir Rice While Driving

4)  For National Poetry Month NPR’s All Things Considered is featuring Twitter poems from the #NPRpoetry thread. I had a short poem I liked but wasn’t going to do anything with (too short for the blog, too short to submit to a magazine, and, ironically enough, sharing full poems on Twitter without warrant feels pretentious) but here was this poem I’d written about the Alyssa and Atticus. I thought I’d be pretentious for a moment and share it with the hashtag. I had hoped for maybe a Like or a Retweet, what I expect was nothing to happen. Instead a PA reached out to me a few days later and asked me to record it and I read a poem on NPR’s All Things Considered last Saturday. You can listen to my “interview” and reading here: Love is a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Here’s the poem for your reading pleasure:

Love is a Rube Goldberg Machine

bits & pieces knock together
push down a chute
pins pop & strike
matches & ignite small flames

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5) From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: SIXTEEN CLASSIC POEMS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

“This Man Stops By Woods On a Snowy Eve… You Won’t BELIEVE What Happens Next!”
by Robert Frost

“We Should All Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Right? Here’s 10 Reasons Why You’re Dead Wrong”
by Dylan Thomas

“What Happens to a Dream Deferred? The Answer Will SHOCK YOU!”
by Langston Hughes

6) How E.E. Cummings Writes a Poem

7) If you too, like myself, are wondering how to be a poet:

How To Be a Poet
BY WENDELL BERRY
(to remind myself)

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Source: Poetry, January 2011

Read the rest of this here: How To Be a Poet

8) Christianity Today just launched another branch of their platform called The Local Church. I follow the editor of the project on Twitter and like him plenty, he’s got a son about the same age as mine named Atticus, but I’m not really sure what The Local Church is about yet. Maybe satire? A poet I love, Aaron Belz, wrote a poem for the inaugural issue:

The Temple Market
BY AARON BELZ

III.
SALE. This week only,
buy one male lamb,
get one FREE sheaf
of harvest grain!

Best way to prepare
for the Feast of Firstfruits

SUPPLIES LIMITED

Visit Abe’s Small Ruminants

Read the rest of the poem at The Local Church: The Temple Market

9) Like bacon, Bono is perfectly fine, if not a little overrated. But! Eugene Peterson is a personal hero, a poet and a pastor. His memoir The Pastor and his book The Contemplative Pastor greatly inform the kind of pastor I hope to be one day. Also, The Contemplative Pastor ends with a large section of his poetry. The two of them are prolific artists, both in their own right, and I could not be more excited to watch them discuss the Psalms together.

10) Final lie. This version of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By A Wood on a Snowy Eve” from Rottingpost vis a vis Donald Trump is pretty dang great:

I have a pretty good idea whose woods these are, believe me.
And let me tell you something, my people say he’s a complete nobody.
This guy lives in the village.   So what if he sees me stopping here?
I dare him to sue me!   I dare him!

And by the way, this snow is pathetic.
These are by far, the least downy flakes ever!
I hear they had to import them from Canada.
I don’t know.  Maybe they did.  Maybe they didn’t.  We’re looking into it.

Read the rest of it here: “Stopping By a Wood on a Snowy Eve by Donald Trump

Donald Trump and the Chamber of Secrets, All Things Considered, National Poetry Month, and Other Miscellany

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton vs. Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders vs. John Kasich (Who Would Jesus Vote For?)

If you’re reading this hoping that I’ll tell you who to vote for, I apologize.

Vote for whoever you want.

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Everybody keeps forgetting Kasich. Makes you feel kind of sad for him. Poor guy. Ohio still loves you.

Vote for who you think will be the best president of America. Vote for whichever candidate best represents your values. Vote intelligently – do your due diligence when researching each candidate, read a variety of resources both conservative and progressive. It won’t do you any good to just read things that agree with you because the internet is a big place. I’m certain you won’t have to look too hard to find somebody as looney as you to tell you that, “Of course you’re right. You’re always right.”

Above all, pray and search the scriptures. Let the Holy Spirit and the Word of God inform your every political opinion.

If you’re reading this to find out who Jesus would vote for I have to again apologize, I tricked you. Jesus thinks they’re all jokers and loves them anyways.

But of course we all want to know which candidate Jesus would endorse. And people always have.

There’s two stories in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is asked what he thinks of the government. The first:

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

“Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

“From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Matthew 17.24-27

Did you catch that? When it came time to pay his taxes Jesus pulled what he owed from the mouth of a fish.

Which is weird.

Fish don’t spit coin.

It was like Jesus was saying, “Here, you can have this, I don’t need it ’cause I own all of creation.

A few pages over there’s another story about Jesus and taxes, maybe a more familiar story:

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus and basically asked him, “Hey Jesus! Who would you vote for?”

If you think America is in trouble right now you weren’t around in the first century, obviously. The Jews were an oppressed people in their own country, oppressed by Caesar and the Romans. The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus because if he had suggested revolt they’d have been able to arrest him and Rome would’ve executed Jesus for them.

The Pharisees were basically saying, “If Jesus isn’t for us, he’s against us.”

Which is exactly how I feel.

I like trying to trick Jesus too. When I was preparing for this I was absolutely prepared to decide for myself who Jesus would vote for – because I got God on my side. And for some of you I’m wondering if you reading this expecting to hear that Jesus would vote for whoever you would vote for. And how many of us are prepared to get real angry if it’s suggested that Jesus would vote for that one candidate? You know the one.

When asked which government he endorses Jesus says, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Remember Jesus can find coin in a fish’s mouth. America can take care of America, God will take care of the whole universe (which, coincidentally, includes America).

For the Christian our hope is not in the GOP, or the Democratic Socialists, or in the Clintons, Bushes, Kennedy’s, Roosevelt’s, or whatever Dynasty (duck or otherwise). Our hope is not in the Establishment, or in the Constitution. Our hope is in the Crucified and Resurrected Christ. Our hope is in the long view.

If America were to falter and fall, and who knows when but it ultimately will because every nation and kingdom does, we as Christians could still have hope because Jesus is king. One day He will establish his Kingdom here on Earth once and for all and no weapon formed against it will prosper.

But what are we to do in the meantime? Who should we vote for? How does a Christian interact with the government?

The Apostle Paul says this in Romans 13:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Romans 13.1-7

We’re to trust that God knows what He’s doing with whoever He chooses to put into office. We’re to pay our taxes, we’re to pay revenue if it’s owed, we’re to give respect and honor where it’s due.

And remember Paul is writing from a Roman prison to Roman Christians and telling them to give respect and honor to a government that crucified Jesus and would throw them to the lions. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that calling the sitting president Obummer or the Dictator-In-Chief or something worse because you don’t like his policies is in violation of what the scriptures command. Stop it.

And in case you’re think I’m harping on the conservatives, I believe that if Donald Trump wins the presidency “#MakeDonaldDrumphAgain” will also be in violation of the scriptures.

While we wait for Christ to establish His kingdom here on Earth we’re to be good citizens, we’re to do what is right and just, to submit to authorities as a matter of good conscience.

Paul continues in chapter 13:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13.8-10

We’re to do no harm to our neighbor and when harm is being done to our neighbor we’re to defend them and seek justice. We’re to be kind to one another, we’re to seek to bless our community regardless of their socioeconomic situation or political, racial, sexual, or religious affiliation.

We are to love without exception and that is the fulfillment of the law.

So who would Jesus vote for? Probably not the person we tell him to.

This election cycle, like all the election cycles before it, will work itself out. As Americans we get the privilege to vote for our leaders – so vote for whoever you think is most fit for the office. Pray about it, study the scriptures, study the issues. And realize that over the next four to eight years some good things are going to happen, some bad things are going to happen, maybe lots of bad things will happen, maybe lots of good things will happen. No matter what happens God is still King and works all thing for good for those who love him.

Love God, love people, vote accordingly.

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton vs. Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders vs. John Kasich (Who Would Jesus Vote For?)

Donald Trump and the Prince of Peace (With Apologies to Jesus Christ, a poem)

Disclaimer: The following poem does not represent the political views of New Song Community Church.


 Donald Trump and the Prince of Peace (With Apologies to Jesus Christ, a poem)

Because of your little faith. I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,
And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small –
say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there.’ Nothing will be impossible for you.
I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee.

And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small.
Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.
I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee.
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.

Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.
I built a company that’s worth more than $10 billion.
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.
And I say it not in a bragging way, but that’s the kind of thinking we need.

I built a company that’s worth more than $10 billion.
Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.
And I say it not in a bragging way, but that’s the kind of thinking we need.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.
I was a million votes higher than Marco, one million votes.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
That’s a lot of votes. And was by far in first place.

I was a million votes higher than Marco, one million votes.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
That’s a lot of votes. And was by far in first place.
and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
So I keep hearing that he is the only one that can beat me
and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
but he is getting beaten very, very badly.

So I keep hearing that he is the only one that can beat me
Nation will rise against nation,
but he is getting beaten very, very badly.
and kingdom against kingdom.

Nation will rise against nation,
And by the way, Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
and kingdom against kingdom.
I can tell you that. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

And by the way, Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
I can tell you that. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
They’re chopping off the heads of Christians.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.

They’re chopping off the heads of Christians.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.
but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
And, frankly, when I say they’ll do as I tell them, they’ll do as I tell them.
but whoever loses his life will keep it.
And that’s very — it’s very simple. It’s very simple.

And, frankly, when I say they’ll do as I tell them, they’ll do as I tell them.
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
And that’s very — it’s very simple. It’s very simple.
As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?

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Donald Trump shows off the size of his hands at the US Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. – Reuters pic
All Donald Trump quotes from the March 3rd Fox New US Republican presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan. From the Washington Post transcript of said debate.

Matthew 17:20 John 2:16, Matthew 21:13Matthew 20:8, Matthew 19:30, Luke 14:11, Luke 21:10, Matthew 5:43, Luke 17:33, Luke 6:27-28, Luke 6:31-32. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Donald Trump and the Prince of Peace (With Apologies to Jesus Christ, a poem)

Donald Trump and the Soul of Man

You can disagree, vehemently, with Donald Trump. You can find him ridiculous, his views abhorrent, his whole person a little bit monstrous. What you cannot do, however, is ignore Donald Trump. He is there, and there he will remain.

Donald Trump and the Spectacle of 2016  Megan Garber, The Atlantic

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I find Donald Trump utterly fascinating. I also find him contemptible but so, so fascinating.

At Thursday’s GOP debate when asked why he donated to previous Hillary Clinton campaigns and the Clinton Foundation he was honest and said it was to curry favors:

I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice, because I gave.

Because that’s how politics work. Favors exchanged for money. Anybody who has enough money can buy whatever policy they want. And you know what Donald Trump has? Money. Lots of it. $4,000,000,000. Do you know what that can buy? The right to say anything you want without consequence and whatever favor he wants. Maybe even a presidency.

Donald Trump, serious contender for the presidency or not, is unencumbered by what the other candidates need: financial support. So, he can say vile things. He can be a racist, a sexist, and just an all around awful person. Because he doesn’t need financial support, he has four billion dollars.

And, to be fair, Trump doesn’t even need the Republicans. Consider this exchange from the start of the debate:

BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.

Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.

[Trump raises two hands.]

Mr. Trump.

(BOOING)

Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.

TRUMP: I fully understand.

BAIER: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod.

TRUMP: I fully understand.

BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.

You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?

TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.

BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…

PAUL: This is what’s wrong!

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…

BAIER: Dr. Paul.

PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.

TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.

BAIER: Just to be clear, you can’t make a — we’re gonna — we’re going to move on.

You’re not gonna make the pledge tonight?

TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.

BAIER: OK. Alright.

Trump is allowed to behave and speak as he chooses because he has zero restraints on him.

Now it’d be easy to wave my hands in the air and say, “God, thank you that I’m nothing like Donald Trump.” But, unfortunately, I cannot do that because the only thing that separates my behavior from Donald Trump’s is restriction.

Most of us are restricted by cultural and societal norms, moral and religious convictions, the need to be gainfully employed, a desire to be liked, upward mobility. These restrictions may fool us into believing that we, individuals, are inately good. That what wickedness we see in the world is separate from our individual expereience. That badness is something outside of ourselves. That wickedness is something Other. The Devil made me do it, right? See no evil, hear no evil. If we close our eyes and plug our ears then we will not be soiled by wrongdoing.

But wickedness and sin are not objects outside of us working on us but rather, they are in us. They are a fundamental part of DNA, not in us like a parasite or a cancer. We are all fundamentally flawed and bent towards evil. Evil doesn’t work from the outside in, but from the inside out.

Ask anybody what they would do if they had zero consequences and four billion dollars and the answer will, unsurprisngly, not be donate that time and money to charity. A far likelier answer would be something mischievous, self satisfying, and immoral. Because, none is righteous. No. Not one. All of us are Donald Trump.

Behind every atrocity commited in history is not a religious fanatic, be they Christian, Muslim, or Atheist. Behind every act of terror or war is not a political or religious worldview. No murder, rape, or pillaging in history is an act of philosophical violence. Behind every sad and tragic thing that has ever happened in human history – regardless of the size or scale of the offense – is a person, a human acting out their own base desires. It is no surprise that Cain killed Abel.

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What about goodness? What about love and kindness then? If the soul of man is wicked, what is there to say about love? Because, no matter how you look at it the glass has got something in it. You don’t have to look too far to see humans being kind to one another, helping each other out along the way. If we’re so bad at our core what about that?

Darkness is an absense of light and if it is interior to man, working from the inside out, than light must be exterior, working from the outside in. Because light and darkness do not and cannot co-exist. Where then is light found?

Is it a natural occurring phenomenon? Outside of us, yes, but accessible in the natural order of things? No, nature is neutral, indifferent to good versus evil. A lion cares only for its hunger, not its prey. The sun shines on both the good and the bad and the rain falls on the wicked and the just.

If I’m right and man is obviously depraved but good does exist then it, goodness, must exist supernaturally. Alternately, if I’m wrong and man is inherently good and evil is outside of us than there is a malveolent force working against us. Or, I’m wrong again, and man is netural, neither good nor bad, then we exist as pawns between two or more cosmic forces of varying degrees of power. Even more so, I could be wrong and good, evil, love, sin, or any other human experience is simply an arbitrary chemical reaction experienced biologically and without meaning.

My personal belief, and any hope that I have when considering what lurks in the dark and hidden corners of my being, is the first because the other options cause me great dread. I hope that despite the evil that exists within me there is a knowable benevolent force who works against my worst impulses. Who would willingly die while I was still the way I am.

Donald-Trump-for-President-Memes212As it were, I find Donald Trump to be absolutely fascinating.

Donald Trump and the Soul of Man