Posted by: minnow | June 17, 2018

A Sunday Sermon

I do not believe in the god represented by 45, the AG, the press secretary, or others in the Republican party who try to justify the behavior of this administration by using the Bible. I do not believe their actions are motivated by Christian principles or a conviction to work for the greater good of our nation. I do not believe in the heartless, self-aggrandizing, terrorist their words and actions paint their god to be. The god they revere, the god they reflect, the god they obey does not deserve OUR worship, OUR following, or OUR allegiance. It is a golden calf and we have been here before.

Tell me the Bible commands us to obey authority whether it be spiritual or governmental, and I would have to concede it does. Right there in Romans 13:1 it states: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities…” But using this single verse to suggest because the Head of State sets a policy that policy is just, is frankly worth of contempt. When you cherry pick verses you can make the Bible support just about anything, which would be even more obvious if one bothered to read just a little bit further in Romans 13. Verse 8 instructs us to “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” And, verse 10 starts out by saying, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” If the immigrants at our borders are not our neighbors I honestly don’t know who is. Leviticus 19: 34 admonishes us saying, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself…” Provers 29:7 proclaims, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” And of course theres the golden rule found in Luke 6:31. But, did you know the verse which precedes it is even more instructional, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Before I move on, I’d like to leave you with another thought from the Bible, also found in Luke chapter 6, verse 38 reads, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measures to you.” 

I’ve heard a lot of people pleading for our government to stop this unprecedented abuse of power because “this isn’t who we are as Americans”. But the sad reality is, children being yanked from their parents’ arms never to be seen by them again is not new to us. Parents and children were routinely separated from their families during slavery. And, as the white man settled the West, Native children were taken from their parents, dressed in white man’s clothing, forbidden to use their native languages, and forced to learn white man’s ways. Destroying cultures and wrecking families is exactly who we are and always have been. 

White preachers with their superior knowledge of scripture have long tried to blame the ills of society, even natural disasters, on sexual immorality, abortion, or the LGBTQ “life-style”. So long as it’s the “other” they point fingers and preach. It is time we look at the Church record of sin–the sale, abuse, and rape of slaves; the mass slaughter, incarceration, and reprograming of Native people groups; the seizing of property and unlawful detention of Japanese-AMERICANS. And now, the ripping apart, imprisonment, and detention of families seeking ASYLUM.

This is who we are America. It is time we repent!

Advertisements
Posted by: minnow | June 13, 2018

Diplomacy or Photo Op?

 

 

So the last few days have been busy for our President. First the G-7 Summit in Canada on June 8 and 9 where he met with Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau of Canada, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prim Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom,  and the European Union’s Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk  to discuss, among other things, international trade issues. Then off to Singapore where he met with the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un to negotiate North Korea’s growing Nuclear threat.

Our Commander by Tweet informed the world, as he left the G-7 Summit for Singapore, that he instructed his representatives to not sign the communique hammered out by all the participants prior to his leaving Canada. “Why?” you might ask. Because Canada’s Prime Minister stated in a press conference what he had told the President in person: that Canada’s response to the steel tariffs imposed by the President would be to impose comparable tariffs on the United States. And, the President didn’t like it. As context, we do in fact have a trade deficit with Canada to the tune of $18 billion dollars. Yet, our overall trade with Canada is $582 billion dollars. In comparison, our over all trade deficit with China is $375 billion dollars and our over all trade with China of $636 billion dollars. Why does that matter? Well, while Canada is among the top ten nations to import steel to America, China is not.

Another significant tweet to come from the President this week is that North Korea is no longer a problem. What? That’s right. We can all, finally, sleep at night. North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program. “What assurances do we have,” you ask?  Well: The President’s good feelings. Quoting from his interview with Greta Van Susteren: “I think he likes me. And, I like him.” The President further asserted, “We signed a document today which was far greater and more comprehensive than people thought. And, nobody thought this was possible.”

The problem is, the signed document is weak on details. The problem is, nothing–no verification plan, no timeline, nothing–was added to the document 45 and Kim Jong-un signed that had not already been signed by North and South Korea–last month. The problem is, this Summit was more valuable as a photo op–for both 45 and Kim Jong-un–than as a diplomatic mission for the United States. The problem is, 45’s base thinks it’s sour grapes not to cheer this “historic event”, not to embrace this “tremendous” agreement, not to finally concede that 45 is the best thing to happen to America since sliced bread. To his base: Don’t hold your breath.

While 45’s base might be easily taken in (though one wonders why since they all cheered when 45 pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal even though it contains a verification plan because it wasn’t tough enough), students of history and politics have a few concerns. In an interview directly after the Singapore Summit, the President also announced a halt to the “war games” the US was playing with its ally South Korea. The actual term the President should have been looking for is “joint military drills”. But, what does it matter what he calls them, his disregard for our allies, as well as our own military chiefs, was communicated by his actions, not his word choice. The scrambling on the part of both Republicans and military personnel to assure the public that 45 didn’t actually mean…and we haven’t actually gotten any orders to stop…and…indicates that those in the know see a problem with what just happened. Still, the photo from the “historic Singapore Summit” will certainly be used to shore up the GOP base for the up coming election.  And that’s the news.

But, before I go, I’d like you to take a moment to scroll up to the photos at the top of this post. Those of you who think the American flag should always be treated with respect, that the way in which we use our flag matters, study these two pictures. Ask yourself–what are you seeing? What is implied by these photos? Who is the target audience? And, what questions should we be asking ourselves about what happened this past week?

In the photo on the Left, our flag stands as one of seven national flags and two European Union flags. In front of these symbols of freedom and unity are nine men and women who, at least at this point in time, represent the leaders of the free world. All of the nations represented hold free and democratic elections. They have constitutions and laws which protect their citizenry, guarantee opportunities for individuals, and embrace the principles of freedom and justice for all. They are not perfect, but they were conceived by blood, sweat, and tears in order to form more perfect Unions.

In the photo on the Right, one of the leaders of the free world, the President of the United States, stands along side the Supreme Leader of North Korea, a callous dictator. The US flag, a symbol to the world as well as to our nation of freedom and justice and equality, appears on equal footing with the flag of North Korea, a symbol, at least to the rest of the world if not also North Korea, of oppression and brutality. The documented human rights violations North Korea has committed under Kim Jong-un include: restricting all the civil and political liberties of its citizens with regard to speech, religion, and the right to organize for political, social, or economic reasons. The consequences of even being suspected of moving outside State restrictions include: arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without a trial or representation, torture, forced labor, and execution. Still, in this photo, a tyrannical regime has been placed on an equal footing with the United States.

Let that sink in.

Then ask yourself–who benefits? 

 

Posted by: minnow | June 10, 2018

I Don’t Understand

So I’ve let March, and April, and May go by without blogging. To be honest, I haven’t written since February because I’ve been wondering what writing actually accomplishes. Two or three people might view my posts and usually one of them is my son. So, what difference does putting my opinions out there actually make? But lately, I’ve been wondering something else. Why aren’t more people writing? Why aren’t more people outraged? I don’t understand.

When I was growing up I believed the United States really was the best place in the world. I thought everyone would be an American if they could be. I thought we actually were a country where others could come to find open arms, opportunities, and hope for their weary hearts. I didn’t know about the dark places in our nation’s history until I was an adult, an older adult if I truly being honest.

When I was growing up I also believed Christians were a big part of what made America great. I thought if we all would just treat people the way Christians did the world would be a better place. Of course, I had wonderful role models. The pastor of Sunrise Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Anderson, walked the talk and Mrs. Baker predictable brought fried chicken to every pot luck dinner and always, always had something kind to say. Just thinking about her smile makes me feel warm. In high school my Young Life leaders, Glen and Cheri Govertsen Showed me that Christians could be fun as well as kind and faithful. Just a week ago I ran into Glen and he called me by name.  I hadn’t seen him in years. He’s lead hundreds of kids over the years but he remembered my name.

The truth is, most of the Christians I have known personally have shown me kindness. They have helped me when I needed it. Their doors have never slammed in my face, directly. Some have even let me rant, or cry, or swear, without showing me the door, personally. Still, I don’t understand. I turn on the news. I read my news feed on Facebook. I check out podcasts and talk shows and I am appalled.

Evil reigns in the White House yet is called good by Church leaders. But, the body of Christ remains silent. The principles and ideals the United States and the Church once stood on are threatened, torn apart, falsified, and poisoned. But, the body of Christ remains silent. God’s children of color are torn from the arms of their earthly parents at our borders. Others are beaten and shot by police in our streets. But, the body of Christ remains silent. Greedy self interest protected by fear mongering run rampant in the halls of our government and spews from the pulpits in far too many fellowship halls. But, the body of Christ remains silent. The checks put in place by our Founding Fathers to protect us from would-be Despots and Theocrats have been ignored. But, the Body of Christ remains silent.

I don’t understand. I can’t figure out why I am surrounded by so much silence. How is it possible for the loving, hard working, fearless people I once knew to remain silent?

I don’t understand. I have felt helpless. And, it is breaking my heart. But, If I let it keep me silent, too, then evil wins. If I let the evil I see make me too afraid to fight back, then evil wins. And it cannot, must not, win.

Wake up, Church. The Spirit is calling us out of the wilderness. It is time to march.

Posted by: minnow | February 16, 2018

It Is Absolutely About Politics!

Who do you want to be in this situation? I asked my children that question when they complained about “unfair” situations or people. Ultimately, I wanted them to decide the character traits they wanted others to associate with them. Unlike the more typical “how would you like to be treated?” my question focused on their behavior and the part of the scenario they could actually control.

I have needed to ask myself that question a lot in the last year and a half. All too often I would rather write people off with my words. I’m tempted to post (or at least like) every belittling thing I can about the current administration and the majority in Congress. And although I understand those, like John Pavlovitz, who  take the high ground, appeal to people’s moral conscience, and try to encourage others, I don’t want to play nice. I want to swear and call people names and make them feel small. I am enraged by the willful white ignorance that gets so much play in the media–both right and left. And I am grieved by the self-righteous silence of those who at one time filled the categories of compassionate friend, life giving leader, and witness and worker for Christ.

I know the excuse–“good people” don’t want to engage in divisive politics. And you can bet your sweet bippy this is political. But that excuse simply doesn’t hold water. America is in the political fight of its life. We do not have the luxury of pretense–both sides ARE NOT EQUALLY VALID! The difference we are looking at is between ethical power and immoral power, about defending our Constitution or becoming the nation our Constitution was designed to protect us against, about securing justice and freedom FOR ALL or justice and freedom for none. If you think the stakes are not that high, if you think you can still be a Republican for whom the labels greedy, racist, xenophobic, and immoral do not exist, you haven’t been paying attention. That GOP is dead. That party silently rots in a grave lined with blood money and white privilege. The only question left to decide is: “Has the Democratic party died right along with the GOP?”

Democrats have one way to get voters into their camp beyond the mid-term elections–they must become progressive–not simply less rotten than the GOP. We can complain about the Russian hack all we want but only being “better than the GOP” got 45 elected. If those in control of the Democratic party don’t look themselves in the mirror and decide to fight to make America more equal, more just, more innovative, more inclusive, MORE FOR ALL, then the party will continue to hemorrhage voters and the oligarchy currently in control will destroy our democracy. Time is running out.

What are Democrats willing to do to protect our elections?

What are Democrats willing to do about campaign finance reform?

What are Democrats willing to do about inequality and systemic racism–in our legal system and in our schools?

What are Democrats willing to do about the GOP gutting government oversight of big banks?

What are Democrats willing to do about healthcare? and big pharm?

What are Democrats willing to do to restore NET neutrality?

What are Democrats willing to do about the GOP gutting the EPA?

What are Democrats willing to do about gun violence in this country?

What are Democrats willing to do about the GOP tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans?

What are Democrats willing to do about DACA? and immigration in general?

What are Democrats willing to do about global warming?

What are Democrats willing to do about providing Americans with a livable wage?

What are Democrats willing to risk to find their backbone? It’s time to decide.

Posted by: minnow | January 21, 2018

Sophie’s Choice

Back in the early 80’s Meryl Streep starred in a movie about a Polish holocaust survivor named Sophie. As her story unfolds we discover a Nazi soldier made her choose between her two children who would be “sparred” and who would be killed. Sophie was obviously put in a no-win situation. The latest game being played out by the GOP reminded me of this movie. Senator Mitch McConnell (up for re-election in 2020) gave Dems a choice–DACA or CHIP. He thought it would be a no brainer. I guess that’s what happens when fear and race and greed control your thinking–choosing between children becomes a no-brainer.

Make no mistake America–the GOP, lead by 45, Senator McConnell, and Speaker Ryan want you to think the Democrats are at fault for the government shutdown. Yet, the GOP holds the cards. The GOP controls the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. The GOP failed to produce a budget on time. The GOP asked for not one, not two, not three, but four extensions in order to get the budget worked out. Three times the Democrats went along. Only the fourth time around was the GOP denied.

GOP priorities are frankly out of line with the American people. Last summer when the GOP had all the time in the world to come up with a budget–and mind you a budget takes a simple majority to get passed–they failed. Instead, they thought it was more important to try and repeal the ACA, again, and again, and again. They failed every time. This fall, after they were given their first extension, did the GOP get to work on a budget? NO! They decided it was more important, after failing to undo Obamacare outright, to give their patrons a multibillion dollar tax cut which will add 1.5 trillion to the national debt and include provisions which damage the integrity of the ACA. Paying their donors back before the Christmas break was of greater urgency than guaranteeing the government had enough money to remain operational after the Christmas break.

A simple majority is all it takes to pass the budget–51 Senators, which they have, and 218 Representatives, they have 238. A simple majority, because a budget resolution cannot be filibustered, and the signature of the president is all it takes. Yet after eight years of obstructionist politics the GOP cannot deliver on one of their primary responsibilities. For the last 10 years the only thing the GOP has had relative success doing, is stoping others from serving the will of the American people.

Midterm elections are in less than 10 months. Every representative and the following senators are up for re-election. Look into how your senator and representative voted. Find out who or what supports them and who or what they support. Then ask yourself–Does this person fight for my values, vote in America’s best interests, and up hold our Constitution. If you cannot honestly answer yes to each of those criteria find someone who can!

As for me–I will do everything in my power to see Jon Tester re-elected to the Senate–He cares about Montanans. He fights for veterans. He believes in high quality public education. And, he supports family farms and small business development. I will also do everything in my power to see Greg Gianforte defeated. He wants to give away hard earned money in the form of tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. He’d like to sell off public land to the highest bidder. And, he doesn’t believe in keeping big banks, manufacturers, environmental polluters, or corporations in check.

Here’s the list of senators up for re-election or whose seat will be open. Remember also every representative is up for re-election as well.

Jeff Flake AZ/R–not running/seat will be open         Dianne Feinstein CA/D

Chris Murphy CN/D                                                          Tom Carper DE/D

Bill Nelson FL/D                                                                Mazie Hirono HI/D

Joe Donnelly IN/D                                                             Angus King ME/I

Ben Cardin MD/D                                                              Elizabeth Warren MA/D

Debbie Stabenow MI/D                                                     Amy Klobuchar MN/D

Roger Wicker MS/R                                                           Claire McCaskill MO/D

Jon Tester MT/D                                                                Deb Fischer NE/R

Dean Heller NV/R                                                              Bob Menendez NJ/D

Martin Heinrich NM/D                                                     Kirstein Gillibrand NY/D

Heidi Heitkamp ND/D                                                      Sherrod Brown OH/D

Bob Casey Jr. PA/D                                                            Sheldon Whitehouse RI/D

Bob Corker TN/R not running/seat will be open        Ted Cruz TX/R

Orrin Hatch UT/R not running/seat will be open      Bernie Sanders VT/I

Tim Kaine VA/D                                                                 Maria Cantwell WA/D

Joe Manchin WV/D                                                           Tammy Baldwin WI/D

John Barrasso WY/R

Posted by: minnow | January 6, 2018

Out Stretched Hands

The following words from someone I do not know captured my attention today. Their simplicity and tenderness stopped my scrolling though my FB feed full of status updates and political posts and caused me to consider how I generally move through my day.

“Lately I’ve been replacing my “I’m sorry”s with “thank you”s, like instead of “sorry I’m late” I’ll say “thanks for waiting for me”, or instead of “sorry for being such a mess” I’ll say “thank you for loving me and caring about me unconditionally” and it’s not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself but also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.” –vijara

I was similarly stopped by a stat I read just before the holiday break from school. According to the article 60 percent of the population cannot go 10 minutes without lying and they average 2 to 3 lies in that time frame. Most of these lies are relatively unimportant and generally told to help us fit in or make oneself look better such as, adding an inch or two to our height, taking five to ten pounds off our weight or saying we watched the movie everyone else is talking about when we only know a few of the most quoted lines. After reading that stat, I tested myself. Sure enough, within minutes I heard myself saying I was ready for Christmas when in fact I had done nothing to get ready–no decorating, no shopping, nothing. And moments later I dutifully answered “fine” when a colleague asked how I was doing. In truth I was fighting a cold and all I wanted was a comfy blanket and my head to stop pounding.

Little white lies–some, like the one I just mentioned, might even be called a nicety or the polite response to the extended greeting of “how ya doing?” which we know is never really meant as a sincere question.  I don’t know if the article I mentioned counted these types of lies but they truly come out of our mouths every day. “You’re lookin’ good!” when really we think they need to put on some weight, or take some off. “How’s that granddaughter of yours?” when in fact we never think about the granddaughter until we’re face to face with an acquaintance and feel pressure to make conversation.

Do these falsehoods actually hurt anything? I don’t know, but I’m beginning to think they might actually be damaging to our mental health. When we don’t trust others enough to be truthful with them, when we’re always only positive or only say what’s politically correct, [Given the group we find ourselves in PC might be politically, religiously, culturally, professionally, or economically determined.] we isolate ourselves. We build emotional walls to keep ourselves safe but they also keep others out. When one wall gets built in front of another wall which is built in front of another wall, some taller and thicker and more important than the first couple, the isolation turns to loneliness and the loneliness becomes filled with doubt. We begin to wonder if we will ever be understood, valued, or loved, if we will ever feel free to be the mixtures of flaws and ordinaries, and spectaculars that we truly are.

Human relationships are full of unintended and insincere communication.At least, this is the conclusion to which my experiences have brought me. The quote I used at the beginning of this post caused me to think about my own relationships in a new way. Outside of my immediate family, I do not have many close ties but I want the relationships I do have to be less polite and more straightforward. I’m not talking about becoming more critical (heck, I probably wouldn’t have any friends left if I did that). I just want to be more intentional with my words. I want others to know they can trust what I say to be what I mean. And when I change what I say or ask their forgiveness for what I’ve said, I want them to know I am truly repentant and am walking in a new direction.

Posted by: minnow | December 31, 2017

Maybe I Am a Heretic

Interesting word–heretic. It’s definition runs the gambit from dissenter to idolater.  I guess the intended meaning depends on who uses the word. When I first started blogging I wrote about politics, the Church, and my personal journey. I spent a lot of energy warning fellow Christians about becoming judgmental, twisting scripture to fit their singular bias, and driving people out while intending to love them in. Their reaction was less than receptive. I was told I sounded angry, warned to tone it down or risk offending my “brothers (and sisters)”, and in extreme cases labeled a heretic destine for hell.  Some who knew my situation pointed out my lack of regular church attendance as further evidence toward my ultimate destination. Though truth be told, I left the building in search of God, not because I’d lost my faith.

It has long been my not so humble opinion that rather than being havens, buildings with the primary function of a once a week gathering, have become millstones around the necks of their congregants. The larger and more glorious they are, the less cost effective. The classic pyramid leadership structure embedded in most of these organizations is equally restrictive and consumptive. Not only do they provide little opportunity for more than the same couple voices to be heard they swallow up the little remaining resources generated from the tithes and offerings of their congregations in order to keep the few at the top of the pyramid employed.

Like me, a growing number of men and women have responded to those problems by blazing their own spiritual trails. Some continue to infiltrate more traditional circles in order to reroute stuck thinking and provide safe places within hostile waters but most have formed alternative fellowships, like The Refuge in Broomfield, CO, where the marginalized are welcome, valued, and nourished and where ministry to the marginalized is on-going. Individuals who have not found like minded faith fellowships plug in to non-religious organizations which are focused on positive participation in the greater community. Their faith is fed by joining with others to practice the Gospel Jesus preached. The overarching connection among these new expressions of the Church is their inclusive nature, outward focus, and fellowship in action.

The emergence of a reformed expression of the Church has caused some confusion and more than a little frustration within traditional ranks. As their numbers decline, those left behind instruct one another to reject the legitimacy of these new trail blazers.  Leaders like Franklin Graham, Denny Burke, John Piper, and James Dobson feed fear and distrust. They have labeled this new wine as worldly, deceived, or worse.

Last August this division came to a head. A group of self-described evangelical leaders produced a document called the Nashville Statement. In its preamble the statement asks, “Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life?” These are profound questions. I wish the authors of this statement would ask themselves the same thing, for they have missed the mark.

Not only does the Nashville Statement fall seriously short of Christ’s example of love–so powerful it casts out fear and cannot be destroyed, removed, or diminished–it focuses almost exclusively on policing human sexuality, specifically within the LGBTQ communities. So, before you embrace the judgment of the Nashville edict, consider what a friend I met on FB has to say regarding good and bad fruit. And remember, Jesus promised to send the Spirit to each of His followers. You should trust the Spirit to be your teacher as you read or listen to any teaching from Man. Also remember, scripture is full of parables and passages designed to help us discern between good and evil. For example, as parents, we are warned not to exasperate our children and reminded that when they ask for bread we do not give them a stone. More than once we are told, forgiveness (when there is something we must truly forgive) is meted out to us in the manner we bestow it on others. And love, scripture reveals, covers a multitude of sins.

Sins–individual acts of wrong doing. These are harmful. They damage our relationships and impede our progress toward becoming the people God called us to be. Left to multiply they can consume a person’s life. But sins and Sin are not necessarily one in the same. Sin separates us from God. The real “spirit of this age” is the same “spirt of this age” Jesus warned against when he called the teachers of the law and the Pharisee blind guides and hypocrites. Ego, lust for power and position, greed, a judgmental heart–these are the sins of separation, the attitudes that keep us from building relationship with one another and trusting God to do the rest. These are the sins that become Sin by destroying the unity of the Body and feeding us verses them mentalities. So, if I am a heretic for standing against that which divides and embracing that which brings together then AMEN to heresy, for all are welcome at the table laid out for Christ, including the heretic.

 

Posted by: minnow | December 26, 2017

Compassion

The sympathetic concern for the suffering and misfortunes of others. Empathy. Warmth. Humanity. Charity. As a little girl I was taught the definition of COMPASSION could easily be applied to America. We were, according to my childhood education, a Christian nation built on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality. In world affairs my childhood placed America on the good, Godly, righteous side of every conflict.

I attended high school in the seventies, had government with Miss Kennett, a stanch Democrat who put a picture of her cat in the yearbook because having polio as a child left the right side of her body weakened and she couldn’t smile. (We never saw her smile anyway). Miss Kennett was tough. Raised by fiscally conservative Republicans, I assumed her class would be difficult for me. It was, but for other reasons than our differing political views. Miss Kennett insisted we understood how our government worked. If we wanted a voice she wanted us to be able to use it well. Her goal was not to tarnish the ideal of America but she did want us to understand the reality of America.

In addition to the ins and outs of government, I vividly remember three things Miss Kennett told our class. One was a story. As a child, she attended the Summer Olympics in Germany with her father. He snapped a photograph of Adolf Hitler turning his back to the awards podium when Jesse Owens, a Black American, won his gold medal for the 100 meter dash. Later, when her father had the film processed, that photograph was the only picture from the roll that “didn’t turn out”.

Another memory of Miss Kennett was of a scolding she gave one of the students in my class and the lesson she taught the rest of us. Known for her left leaning political views this student probably felt safe referring to President Nixon as “tricky Dick”. Miss Kennett immediately interrupted his rant saying, “Young man, you might get away with that kind of verbiage out there,” waving her good left hand to the world beyond her classroom door, “but you will not get away with it in here. That type of language makes you sound uneducated and small minded. You may not agree with what another person has to say. And, if you plan on being successful you may have to put up with people calling YOU names and slandering YOUR reputation. Even so, if you stoop to that level, if you lower civil discourse to meet some vulgar individual slight for slight you will have lost something much more valuable then an argument. You will have lost your integrity. I do not demand you agree with, or even respect the individual you just mentioned, but in my classroom you will respect the office the man holds by referring to him as President Nixon.” More than the Golden Rule taught to me in Sunday school or my mother’s mantra that “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” Miss Kennett’s words that day reached my core.

So why are these stories significant now? Haven’t I written rants criticizing 45, the GOP, and conservative Christians? Isn’t this post somewhat hypocritical in light of those? No. And although the third lesson I remember from Miss Kennett might bring me right up to the line, I still believe I haven’t crossed over to the dark side. Miss Kennett’s final instruction was reinforced in several political science classes I had in college. Simply stated she insisted we know our opponents. In fact, we should know our opponents’ points better than our opponents knows them. “If you do,” Miss Kennett asserted, “you will be able to counter whatever they did or said. If you’re ready, you’ll win the day.”

The only exception was if our point was indefensible.

Advocating for compassion, insisting we be civil even when the opposition isn’t, refusing to engage in name calling, slander, or deceit, is not the same as our allowing people to pretend two equally valid points exist to every argument. THAT is simply untrue. Most of the behavior of the far right over the course of the last year, actually over the course of the last nine years, is indefensible.  The rhetoric coming out of the current administration is both harmful and dangerous. However, returning hate for hate, using cutting sarcasm and dismissive satire, or engaging in vitriol and advocating for violence will not advance a cause rooted in principled values. Unless we are willing to exchange our frustration for compassion and return to civil discourse, we will never to get back to the business of solving problems.

Posted by: minnow | December 18, 2017

Banning Words? Seriously?

45 and friends have turned our world on its head. Sometimes they seem hell-bent on throwing us off balance simply because they can.  Other times their smoke and mirrors, card tricks, and vaudeville act is simply a distraction from more sinister activities. They banned certain people from entering the country (mostly Muslims). They tried banning transgender people from serving in the military though the courts have temporarily blocked them. Back in February they blocked certain media outlets–CNN, The New York TimesPolitico, the BBC and others–from specific White House news briefings.  They believed they can create their own facts and now they think they can control language.

Friday’s announcement is not the first attempt by the administration to control what government agencies can and cannot say. Back in March the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy was told to refrain from using: climate change, emissions reduction, and Paris agreement, in any official communication.  It was claimed then that this was not “official” but the word science was also removed from the EPA’s mission statement and the administration ordered a temporary media blackout at the agency. To avoid further inquiries, perhaps? On Friday, officials informed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) they should not use the following words and phrases: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based, in their official communication.

Immediately social media irrupted! CENSORSHIP!  How dare they?!

Deep breath, let me remind you–censorship is not a vile concept. The censorship of certain words and phrases has long been a part of polite society. Of course, it was usually limited to vulgar jokes, slang, and profanity. And, these were regulated by an unwritten though time honored code which was well known and generally accepted. But, with the development of radio, film, and television for entertainment the FCC created a profanity list–words deemed too offensive to be heard on public airways. Eventually movies, television, and music began to receive ratings so viewers and listeners could be warned about their content yet still choose to view or listen to them if they wanted. Daytime and prime time TV (when most families and children watch) were “protected” from inappropriate language and images by FCC regulations. Generally, the public asked for or was consulted before these restrictions were implemented. Some protested, of course, but most people felt served.

We don’t need to be geniuses to realize the words on the list to the CDC and the 4-letter variety we typically censor on our own differ considerably. Two things about banning this list: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based, are especially disturbing. Consider what banning these words says about our current administration, the GOP, and perhaps a much larger part of society then we want to admit. What possible reason would a government agency not want to talk about evidence-based research, vulnerable groups of people, or the impact of a given situation on a developing fetus or the transgender community? My second concern was actually raised by The New York Times. Their attempt to address the question I just raised was to indicate that the authorities they spoke to suggested the word ban is not so much about how scientists at the CDC should conduct their work but rather about how they should word their requests for funding from Congress.

WHAT THE…WHAT? Seriously folks, if that explanation doesn’t grab your attention it is time to take your pulse.

The New York Times is reporting that officials at the CDC are nervous about the wording of their funding requests. The CDC is afraid if their research requests sound too science-based, they might be denied by Congress or thwarted by the administration. In other words, they are being coached to dumb-down their requests and avoid certain buzz words because those words are controversial red flags for the powers that hold the purse strings.

Public Service Agencies should not be self-censoring their research language because they fear the people who control Washington! Not only does communication become more difficult within the government but it interferes with their ability to serve the public. When the public isn’t given correct information the public is left at risk. If the CDC can’t tell us how the Zika virus effects a fetus or what people groups are vulnerable we have a serious health problem.

I’m angered by danger of censorship. But the issue facing us in this hour goes beyond censorship. Government agencies with the swore duty to protect the welfare of the American people feel intimidated and threatened by the very government which employs them. Let that sink in.

The people these agencies serve–we, the American people–must send the bullies home. We cannot afford the narrow minded worldview of a few wealthy self-righteous Republicans to threaten the security of our whole society.

We must demand our representatives represent the people who elected them and not their own self interests or the interests of their wealthy donors. OR, we must replace them!

Every single one of us is at risk. If not from the misinformation perpetuated by language censors, then  because of the massive tax cut which benefit the top 1% permanently but will phase out for the middle class. And if not from the tax cuts per se, then we’ll be hurt by the hit to healthcare which is also buried in the GOP tax scheme, or their refusal to defend net neutrality, or their plan to come after Social Security and Medicare in order to bring down the deficit their tax cuts just increased by more than a trillion dollars.

Please, please, see the writing on the wall. This isn’t fake news but it’s starting to look an awful lot like Orwell’s 1984. We must become engaged–2018 elections are right around the corner! Find a candidate you can trust–and VOTE! Tell your neighbors to vote! Change what’s happening in Washington!

Posted by: minnow | December 11, 2017

Dear Alabama Voters,

I’ve never been to Alabama. In fact, the farthest south I’ve been is Kentucky unless you count Southern California when I was five, which would probably make most true southerners jeer. I have, however, had the pleasure of meeting a few Alabamians via Facebook and those I’ve met give me hope. I hope in your goodness, your true family values, your neighborliness, and your personal integrity. Because I’ve gotten to know pieces of their stories–one’s a school teacher, another us a youth orchestra director, and another a Vietnam veteran–I feel I can relate a little because I hear from them the things I want for my own five children, my own circle of friends–safety, health, enough food to eat.

I come from Montana. We’re a red state, too, and we had a special election back in May. I’m grieved to say it, but we got it wrong when we went to the polls. The man we elected, Greg Gianforte, should never have won. The night before the election he assaulted a reporter, threw the man to the ground. That behavior should have cost him the election. It doesn’t belong in government and it sure as hell doesn’t represent Montana, not the Montana I love anyway. There were lots of reasons why Gianforte won but they don’t excuse the fact that it was a bad decision and I will do everything in my power to see that he doesn’t get a second term.

Tomorrow you have a serious decision to make, a decision that will impact our entire country, a decision the world will be watching you make. As a deeply red state I’ve heard it claimed about you that even electing a pedophile is better than electing a Democrat. I don’t believe that’s true about most Alabamians. I pray you prove me right tomorrow. I know this has been a contentious election. I know outsiders have called you names and made you feel small. And, I understand the temptation to tell us all to take a flying leap. I’ve felt that way a time or two myself, when outsiders thought they knew what was best for me and tried to tell me what to do without asking me how I saw things.

I am almost 60. Right up into my 50s I followed the fiscally conservative, family values thinking I’d been raised with and voted Republican. But then something started happening in the Republican party, something I couldn’t recognize. Threads started rising to the surface that I never knew were a part of the cloth. These threads turned their backs on those who were struggling, hard working men and women who just wanted to keep a roof over their children’s heads and food on the table. 46% of the population, according to the Republican presidential candidate at the time, could be ignored. They simply didn’t count. In his mind they didn’t pay taxes and so they shouldn’t have a voice.

But 46% of the American people do count and most of that 46% do pay taxes!

46% accounts for all the unemployed, even if they are unemployed due to disability or age (which by the way is less than 5%). 46% accounts for all the working poor and a portion of the middle class. 46% covers everyone who makes $40,000 a year or less. When the GOP candidate discounted 46% of the population, he was talking about me and nearly everyone in my family. And he was talking about an awful lot of Alabamians, too. That candidate lost his bid for the White House but his attitude toward the 46% remains deeply entrenched in the new Republican party.

I could go on about all the ways the GOP is no longer grand but that isn’t really what this post is about. Tomorrow, you, Alabama voters, have a chance to go to the polls. You have the opportunity to tell your party whether you think it’s heading in a good direction or whether it needs to readjust its course. When Democrats stayed home or voted for a third party in 2016 they told their party it was veering off in a direction they didn’t like. A low voter turn out cost the Democrats the presidency.

I believe Alabama actually cares about family values. I hope you have the courage to say as much with your vote. 59 Alabama pastors from several different denominations and non-denominations have joined together to state unequivocally they believe Roy Moore should not be elected to the US Senate because he doesn’t have the moral character to honestly represent Alabama.  As an accused pedophile he and his advocates have tried to use scripture to justify his lewd behavior toward underage girls. On the issues he doesn’t care that 150,000 Alabamian children are without healthcare because the Republicans have failed to renew CHIP. And, he’s okay with a tax plan that will give billions to the top 1% while taking tax deductions for school supplies away from teachers. And he will be okay with trying to fix the trillion dollar deficit the GOP tax plan creates by making changes to medicare and social security because he’s already said as much. Roy Moore does not represent the Grand Old Party which once was.

So please, Alabamians, truly take stock in the candidate Republicans are offering you and let them know how far off course they have gotten! Do not support Roy Moore.

PS: (Added 12/12/2017 9:33 mountain time) Thank you, Alabama! Your goodness is showing.

Older Posts »

Categories