Deconstructing Narratives

In the study of postmodernism, one is confronted with the concept of narratives — overarching and comprehensive accounts of events, experiences, and social and cultural phenomena based on an appeal to universal truth or universal values. The narrative is the story that’s presented about the event, one that legitimizes power, authority, and social customs.

Each of us in the U.S. makes assumptions about life based on some or many narratives that seem to have been set in stone and against which we have no choice but to go along. We’re in a season where skepticism is increasing, however, as more and more people discover that these things aren’t really concrete but stem from the narratives of others like the ruling class, those who have the power to force rules and hierarchies on the powerless. This growing skepticism is a frightening perspective for the status quo, who demands that the rules be followed regardless of their source. Here, the great enemy is the postmodern exercise known as deconstruction, where narratives are examined to uncover both source and path. Deconstruction is the great commoner counterweight to the status quo.

Here’s an example from my own history. In the early 1970s, I was a morning news producer and part-time Assignment Editor for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. I lived in the suburb of Shorewood, not very far from the campus of WTMJ, and had to be in work around 4 o’clock in the morning. My street was a one-way street that ended at a normally busy street. I needed to turn left, but there was a sign saying “No Left Turn.” There was zero traffic on the street, so I simply turned left, and one morning, a cop was watching. I got a ticket and was pretty upset about it. I can’t emphasize enough that the street was completely empty.

I did research and discovered that many years earlier, a woman pushing a baby stroller was run over by a car making a left turn at the intersection. The driver didn’t see the woman, because he was blinded by the setting sun, which was directly in his eyes. The story got a lot of attention, and so the authorities banned all left turns at the intersection. Based on that narrative, I was able to successfully argue that the circumstances at the intersection were very different in the middle of the night, and I convinced the Traffic Safety Commission to change the law from No Left Turn to No Left Turn 7am-7pm. If I hadn’t found the narrative that was used to justify the law in the first place, I would’ve had much more difficulty reaching the commissioners.

The point is it can be very valuable to know and understand the narrative behind the things we encounter around us and elsewhere. So let’s dig deeper. According to the New World Encyclopedia:

A grand narrative or metanarrative is one that claims to explain various events in history, gives meaning by connecting disperse events and phenomena by appealing to some kind of universal knowledge or schema. The term grand narratives can be applied to a wide range of thoughts which includes Marxism, religious doctrines, belief in progress, universal reason, and others.

The concept was created by Jean-François Lyotard in his work, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979). In this text, Lyotard refers to what he describes as the postmodern condition, which he characterized as increasing skepticism toward the totalizing nature of “metanarratives” or “grand narratives.”

…Many Christians believe that human nature, since the Fall (Genesis 3), is characteristically sinful, but has the possibility of redemption and experiencing eternal life in heaven; thus representing a belief in a universal rule and a telos for humankind.”

The challenge for all of us in 2021 is to recognize narratives when confronted with events — especially those political — so that we might have a chance of separating the facts from the bullshit. If we adapt to this form of understanding, we’ll see it everywhere, because every person, every business, every institution has a narrative that helps explain their language and their behavior. A personal narrative is called “agency,” the freedom I have to present myself to the world in any way that feels right to me. The problem, of course, is that we’re all human beings, and agency narratives can easily slip into selfishness, which is a serious problem for those who are trying to exercise love in their lives.

MAGA Christianity, for example, is narrative, and that’s exactly why it’s so dangerous. Universal plausibility, not fact, is what determines the story, so the grand narrative presented is false but effective in providing its denizens with what sounds like a reasonable story.

“The democrats are socialists who want to take your hard-earned money and give it to those who ought to just work like the rest of us.”

This is, of course, quite false, but it fits the conservative grand narrative that the rich people are the smart folks in our culture and provide a path for people to follow, because wherever democrats are in charge, there is waste. All one has to do to succeed in this life, therefore, is follow the rules and conform to the narrative, including the popular myth that teaching a man to fish is better than giving him a fish. The simple truth here is that the fishing pond doesn’t evenly spread the fish (resources) out in such a way that they can be caught equally.

If you understand narratives, you’ll begin to understand the old adage that “in war, the victor writes the history,” and you’ll also start asking questions about the narratives that you uncover. If you’re super lucky, you’ll soon begin — at some level — the postmodern practice of deconstructing those same narratives in an honest search for truth. History is not truth. History is narrative. As Peter Lurie pointed out in his marvelous 2003 essay “Why the Web Will Win the Culture Wars for the Left: Deconstructing Hyperlinks”, the web puts us automatically within deconstruction’s reach, because every link beckons us to dig deeper and discover for ourselves. We have no idea where this is going to lead culturally, except that it is going to be terribly difficult for the status quo.

“The content available online is much less important than the manner in which it is delivered; indeed, the way the Web is structured. Its influence is structural rather than informational, and its structure is agnostic. For that reason, parental controls of the sort that AOL can offer give no comfort to conservatives. It’s not that Johnny will Google “hardcore” or “T&A” rather than “family values;” rather, it’s that Johnny will come to think, consciously or not, of everything he reads as linked, associative and contingent. He will be disinclined to accept the authority of any text, whether religious, political or artistic, since he has learned that there is no such thing as the last word, or indeed even a series of words that do not link, in some way, to some other text or game. For those who grow up reading online, reading will come to seem a game, one that endlessly plays out in unlimited directions. The web, in providing link after associative link, commentary upon every picture and paragraph, allows, indeed requires, users to engage in a postmodernist inquiry.”

Be a deconstructor, but think positively. This is a time of tremendous opportunity. Distance yourself from the status quo, for it is crashing and will blow up in time. Before that happens, however, the heat on all of this is going to be burning furiously, and it points right now to civil war. Trump and his cronies continue to pull followers further to the right, and there will come a point when all their guns will begin firing. The ensuing terror will exceed that of 9/11, because this will be perpetuated by our neighbors, not foreigners who already hate all of us. Follow the narrative to get a glimpse of tomorrow. By presenting their political ideas as an overarching narrative, followers have no choice but to go along to the very end. The appeal, after all, is universal plausibility.

The media doesn’t get this, because the media presents itself as a special class, which is part of its own narrative. In other words, the media is simply unwilling and therefore not capable of presenting life as narrative. Goodness, that would be a lot of work.

A citizenry that does its own deconstructing is not easily fooled by political narratives, and that’s where we’re all headed thanks to the World Wide Web. This shift in human understanding is eonic in nature, and we can say with great confidence that the era of modernism is over, which likely accounts for all of the current conflict between ideologies that we’re experiencing today. One era dies; another rises. Welcome to the era of postmodernism.

The irony is that this changing narrative was brought about by a pandemic and the shutting down of the culture for a season. Suddenly home alone and with tons of “free” time, people retreated into survival mode and began a great awakening amongst the people that “jobs” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and that nobody really cares for anybody else, just themselves. This has spawned an entire generation of unsatisfied people who’re working the system to start their own businesses and thus be their own employers. Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Doordash, and others have given many of these people a way to make a few bucks while exploring their options. I use Uber several times a month, and my survey of drivers strongly suggests this is so.

So, who’ll run things when the era matures? We will. The people. And that has a chance to be glorious.

The Wishful Thinking of an Anti-Trumper

Elections | WOODTV.com

Democrats have made enormous tactical and strategic blunders in the wake of the 2020 election, and the result was a ringing and unanticipated night for Republicans in 2021 elections on Tuesday. Dems simply cannot resist advancing (not maintaining, mind you, but advancing) status quo progressive causes at every turn, and this made them appear weak, ignorant, and predictable in the aftermath of a global pandemic and the lunacy of Donald Trump.

It’s almost as though the Democrats viewed those two extreme events as merely small blips on the path from here to liberal nirvana.

The most grievous error was the automatic assumption that a Biden win was a vote for balls-to-the-walls progressivism. It was not. The 2020 presidential election was a desperate attempt at rescue for those who could see Trump’s well-lit path to despotism, authoritarianism, fascism, lying as a tactic, bullying, and profound recklessness and corruption. That was it, and for that, the entire planet breathed a sigh of relief when Trump was removed.

This matter was the paramount concern of people who gave the White House to Joe Biden, not to be swapped for extremism in the other direction. The insurrection of January 6 took place AFTER the election, so the best we can say about it was it validated the real concerns of the electorate two months earlier. Enter Biden and the Democrats who had been given the extremely rare opportunity to set their opponent back decades but instead chose to press the Obama foolishness (under the circumstances) that rubbed America the wrong way sufficiently enough to elect Trump in the first place. This strategic decision showed up in the elections on Tuesday, where Republicans not “expected” to be a serious challenge basically swept everything.

This could/should be the event that redirects the actions of the left, but it won’t, and that spells deep trouble for all of us in 2024.

In politics, it is very foolish to underestimate the circumstances within which the electorate moves. And, I can tell you that working with democrats these days (in the wake of Trump) is among the most frustrating activities I’ve ever encountered. The assumptions that drive their strategies are not universally held. Social movements either end short of their goal or become institutionalized. Such institutions, you’d think, would be smart enough to momentarily maintain radio silence while we could concentrate on attacking the very hegemony that keeps the super rich running everything.

But no. Democrats can only be democrats, so they swapped opportunity for the maintenance of the status quo and its sure money.

We desperately need a 3rd political party, one that brings together more ecumenical members of the GOP and more conservative members of the democrats. Let the extremes wreak havoc on each other while we do the job of governing and moving the country forward.

Let’s get the lawyers out of our legislatures (a blatant conflict of interest) and replace them with working people, not professional politicians.

Oh well, I suppose that’s just the wishful thinking of an old warhorse who simply cannot tolerate what he’s seeing.

The Press is Killing Democracy

CBS Sunday Evening Newscast reveals an example of by-passing the truth in favor of “independence.”

Let’s review a couple of important truths about our current culture and the shift to the postmodern era of Western Civilization.

In 1990, Historian Chris Lasch published his revelatory essay “The Lost Art of Political Argument.” Lasch wrote that we could track the decline in participation in the political process in America with the rise of the professionalization of the press. He further argued that the idea of objectivity originated to provide a sterile environment within which to plant advertising and its more destructive cousin, public relations. The public is increasingly aware of how they are manipulated by these two forces, and the internet is providing them with something to do about it.

Enter J.D. Lasica with his book “Darknet” and Dan Gillmor’s “We, The Media,” both of which described the personal media revolution taking place all around us. As surely as postmodernism is the age of participation, people in the new era would be making their own media to not only inform but entertain each other. Look what’s happened since. A pandemic hits, people lose jobs, people have a year off with stimulus and unemployment payments, which in many cases supercharged the rise of everything from YouTube to Instagram to OnlyFriends, Patreon and beyond. We actually now have an employment problem, because so many people have found better and freer ways to make ends meet. Even the term “job” has a different meaning today than it did back in the Modern Era.

These two important factors have worked together to put us in the precarious position we find ourselves today with the press, because the press doesn’t know how to respond. Does it cling to the idea of objectivity or does it opt for a more truthful way to share what’s happening in the world. Even old, tried and true methods don’t hold up anymore, and very smart but dangerous thinking has crept into the public discussion. However, based on what you read, hear, and see these days, you’d really never know it. It’s just the same‑o, same‑o “bothsideism” (as Jay Rosen calls it). It’s still still the AUTOMATIC default for the press, and it’s killing the pursuit of truth in order to stay free of the appearance of political labels. Chris Lasch is rolling over in his grave.

Here’s a current example. On the Sunday night CBS Evening News broadcast, reporter Debra Alfarone did a live shot from Washington that contained new polling on the state of the Republican Party. CBS News found that 80% of Republicans approved of removing Liz Cheney from GOP leadership on Capitol Hill. Ms. Alfarone said that Cheney is now “…paying the price for saying she would not enable or spread President Trump’s destructive lies — that’s her quote — that the 2020 election was stolen.”

The “that’s her quote” places Trump’s lies on an even playing field with those who embrace the truth that Donald Trump LOST the election and that Joe Biden is the real President. In other words, it’s presented as merely Liz Cheney’s opinion, which must be weighed against all the other opinions. Bullshit! Here, once again, the press is trying to present this as a standard, both sides have different points of view, which is surely a fallacy of immense proportions. The danger of Donald Trump’s lies is self-evident. Do we really need to play the old “objectivity” game with such a group? It’s a false balance, because one side isn’t sharing the truth.

Pursuit of the truth should be the objective of the press in the Postmodern Era, because the last century has been a heyday for the extreme wealthy manipulating everybody else with the sole purpose of deepening their own pockets.

What Ms. Alfarone should have said was “Liz Cheney is now suffering for being a truth-teller in the matter of Donald Trump’s ridiculous claims that the election was stolen from him.”

See the difference? One is an open question that says “Did Trump actually win? There’s a difference of opinion out there.” The other asks “Why are these people so deceived as to think Trump actually won?”

I mean, it’s no wonder America is confused right now. But, Terry, isn’t that taking the side of the Democrats? Are you serious? It’s called taking a stand for truth, just as Liz Cheney has done with her own people. Why is the press so extraordinarily afraid of simply seeing right and wrong? “Harrumph, well, Terry, it’s complicated.” No, it’s not.

This bothsideism delegitimizes so-called legitimate news organizations, and here’s the rub: the public knows it. To perform in such a way is to validate a fallacy, and how can that possibly be justified in furtherance of the truth? If it’s a lie, SAY SO! Is it dangerous? Absolutely!

But the Republicans will use it to add to their liberal media allegations! However, that is not of sufficient weight to justify falling back on “we just report about the differences.” What good is journalism if it is not married to the truth? It’s worse than useless; it’s destroying our culture, and let me add that the future absolutely does not align with bothsideism or false equivalencies.

Jay Rosen is equally disturbed by this and has been a strong advocate for new thinking. He told me via email, however, that “Both sides thinking and practices will never die. It’s the zero degree or most basic way to demo that you’re news, not politics.” That fear is a holdover from a prior age, and it’s being successfully used to manipulate us all today. The press is so concerned with maintaining the institution it represents that it has no defense against the forces of change in our world.

The destiny of the objective press is to die. Transparency is taking its place, and there are too many of us out here who choose not to tolerate being fed such nonsense from an earlier era.

Liz Cheney’s quote is truth and doesn’t need any balance.

Deconstructing Life, A Series

When we awaken each morning, we do so from within the confines of life under the sun. By that I mean all the beauty, emotions, and grandeur of that which our animal senses provide. Unfortunately, it also binds us to this animal world, and rather than study what “might” lie beyond, we fix our attention on that which we can touch, taste, see, smell, and hear. The traveling of great distances all begin with our knowledge under the sun. Earth is the starting point, or so we believe. The mere suggestion of time travel is the stuff of science fiction, with its warp speed, jump drives, and time travel machines. All of it begins with the assumption that, as animals, we must develop our science around that animal experience.

One of the greatest revelations in my own life was the discovery that I am a spiritual being on a human (animal) journey, not a human being on a spiritual quest. I can’t make myself or ever be any more spiritual than I am today. This body of mine is the vehicle within which I live and move and have my being under the sun, as Ecclesiastes puts it. As such, I’m bound to a perspective of life as an intelligent animal, and time travel is limited to my imagination within that perspective. But, if I can allow my mind to wander, I find that a whole new world of rules apply, beginning with the filter that there are no rules, other than that which can only be understood from outside, beyond, or from deep within our animal experience.

This makes questions far more important than answers, because we know so little about the subject.

For example, in the Messianic Psalm 110, David writes: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” It’s a very important Bible verse, because Melchizedek was a “priest of the most high God” in the book of Genesis, which is essentially the story of the birth of the Jews and their priesthood on behalf of Jehovah. Abraham encountered Melchizedek early in life and paid a tithe to him, thus validating his priesthood for all time as being greater than the priesthood of the Jews. Abraham’s son Levi was the head of the priests of the entire Jewish faith, and yet, his priesthood was lesser than that of Melchizedek. Why is that, and how is it so?

“You could say,” Paul notes in the New Testament, “that Levi himself paid a tithe to Melchizedek — while in Abraham’s bosom.” And, this not only validates the Psalm as Messianic but also raises some interesting logic for our consideration, namely that Levi, who hadn’t yet been born, was bound in his life to the deeds of his grandfather. For those who think only of life under the sun, this is impossible, for Levi was his own man, with his own agency, his own set of responsibilities, his own sense of time, and completely separate from his father.

And yet, we have evidence presented that Levi was present when Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek. So, if Levi was so bound, what can be said of the rest of us? Are we all subject to the actions of our roots? Are we then responsible? Do we carry forth in the shadow of our roots or are we actually guided by them? Was I there — in my father’s, grandfather’s, great-grandfather’s bosom — when he ruthlessly managed his slaves? Do I carry the mark as a slave owner? If we are to understand this correctly, the answer must be yes.

This is why it’s so preposterous to argue our terminal uniqueness. None of us are truly unique, because we are all human beings. Now, can we be unique in our view of life? Of course, but that view often attempts to escape roots we’d rather not be a part of them, and in so doing, we can make enormous mistakes.

Consider the new rage among us with the use of the word “agency.” The Urban Dictionary describes it this way: “The new hip word, meaning one realizes and uses their power to further their ends.” Basically, it means that you have tools available to develop and shape your own reality, and — here’s the important part — nobody else has a right to deny you your agency. What it really applies to is life under the sun, for your agency is lost the moment you try to separate yourself from everybody on a human level. That’s not possible, so even those who “identify” a certain way, may be setting themselves up for future disaster, because humans are more alike than different.

You’re entitled to create your own best version of yourself, but you have no right in stating that we must accept your agency. It doesn’t work that way, for your being has so very much in common with mine. This is a key part of the pathological fantasy that Donald Trump is living. We just can’t bring ourselves to believe his view of himself (and we don’t have to). Donald Trump is a garden-variety human being, just like the rest of us.

For most believers, time is a linear construct, one that is always moving forward, never backwards. For those with knowledge beyond the sun, however, time is fixed, and we are the ones who are moving. And, if time is a fixed construct, then time “travel” isn’t nearly so mysterious as we think. The problem we have is that we’re attempting to travel forwards or backwards from our lives under the sun. Why? So we can bring things back to use in positioning us for this life. We can’t help it; it’s our animal nature to be so.

Einstein proved that time is relative, and this is down to the cellular level. Each day for me as a 74-year old man moves at a speed that is much more rapid than when I was a young man of 18, for each day today represents 1/74 of my life, whereas at age 18, it was only 1/18 of my life. And while it moves quickly for me, that movement is different than all others, because time is fixed for everyone. Immortality under the sun is absurd, because such a person would burn and move at such a high rate as to be invisible.

Hence, spiritual truths like the above involving Melchizedek cannot be understood without knowledge that doesn’t exist under the sun. It must come from the world of the spirit.

If I’ve lived my life in the past, then I will live my life in the future. There. That was pretty simple, right? If I was there a thousand years into the past, then I’ll be there a thousand years from now. Time and distance are physical constructs within which human life exists. But it also exists outside these dimensions, beyond them, and within them simultaneously. This is Zoe life, the Life of God, eternal life, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. Think of a portrait plane traveling left to right across a landscape plane. Only dead center of their connection is fixed. Everything else is moving.

And, it is to this Life that we must give our attention, if we are to grow as a species. The price is a high one, though. We must first possess a soft and giving heart, for the life of God flows from the source, through us, to the rest of the human race, and only then, beyond.

Religion fears sex above all, because sex threatens their logic by occupying all of our animal senses simultaneously. In this way, their thinking goes, it’s impossible to be connected with God when even such thoughts of sex occur. The animal is not the spiritual, they would have us believe.

However, the truth is that sex is one of the very few human sensual experiences that can actually do the opposite. By occupying all of the senses simultaneously, sex completely frees the spirit and the mind to fly to and from the source. There is no higher calling for animals than to reproduce. Throw in the deep spiritual connection available to humans during the act, and it’s also very high on a spiritual level. Our species has it so wrong here.

When we die, our spirits don’t really “go” anywhere. They simply return to occupy their place back within the whole of life, which then influences those living under the sun. It’s why evolution is undeniable, despite the insistence of some believers that we were made exactly the same as all those who’ve come before us. There is not a lot of logic in such a belief, because life is much too efficient to toss aside everything that a generation has brought to its table for dispersal among the population yet to come.

Evolution comes from a spirit filled with possibilities based on all that has gone before. Evolution is the result of the species learning, bringing that knowledge to life beyond the sun, sharing it widely, so that life in time brings it about. What do other animal species do with what they’ve learned? It’s imprinted forever in the life that governs all in the here and now.

Just because I leave life under the sun does not mean that I lose my ability to influence this life, because, for all practical purposes, I will be, indeed, still here. Just because your animal senses can’t detect me doesn’t mean that I’ve disappeared into nothingness. My thoughts and views are actually more influential beyond the sun, because of what I’ve learned and applied in my animal life, a life that requires marketing to the masses for influence to be counted. Influence coming from within the whole of life beyond the sun is lasting, because it speaks to the inner man instead of the outer man.

There ought to be an entire branch of science that investigates this, but science under the sun requires measurements that only exists under the sun. Therefore, it’s a useless enterprise.

When a baby breathes in life, she’s automatically entered into time and distance from an animal perspective. But, she also has the ability to access all that came before her and all that will come ahead, because this connectivity is what will determine life’s quality or quantity throughout her days under the sun. It’s hard to look upon a baby and see her potential as anything less than amazing. Parents can set her on the right path, but she will need to do her own living without outside interference.

Such interference is the curse of the wealthy, because discontent increases with opportunities for acting on it. We never learn the necessary lessons of humility and sacrifice absent the lack that encourages both. This is why every act of humankind is ultimately vanity.

Time and space are only for our animal selves, as is Maslow’s quest for self-actualization. In truth, we are all part of the vast resources that make up our planet, but life doesn’t begin or end there.

And that, my friends, is our hope, and the best way to prepare ourselves for that hope is to first align ourselves with it, then to consciously keep ourselves in the moment, and then finally try our best (it is the nature of human beings to be born with clay feet) to live in accordance with a new set of rules that begin with self-sacrifice.

To be continued…

The Saints Who Vote For the Likes of Donald Trump

There’ve been many reasons cited over the last few years as to why a certain large, right-wing political sect of the Christian religion voted for an undeniable reprobate in 2016. Permit me to deconstruct what I feel is the most causal of all the issues they claim to face, one that forces their hand to vote Republican as faithful Christians.

Most observers look at the Christian political right today, self included, and conclude that the only logical reason for their vote is that they’re being deceived and manipulated. Why else, the thinking goes, would people who worship Jesus Christ align themselves with those who reject the poor, the outcast, the sojourner, or the immigrant. Surely, according to Scripture, these suffering people are close to the Lord’s heart, so it’s hard to understand why any Christians would reject such people.

Why would, how could they turn their backs on the poor the way they have with Trump? It’s not that they’re anti-poor as much as they are anti-government involvement in poverty. They didn’t require a hand-out, they believe, because they were following the Biblical mandate to care for themselves and their own. In their view, the community and the church are responsible for the job of helping the poor, not the government, and that there’s a proper response and an improper response.

The white working poor especially feel themselves better than those who don’t or, as they see it, won’t work to better themselves. To feel otherwise would completely invalidate their own experiences, and that is intolerable to those who’ve bet their lives — and the lives of their families — on the opposite.

In the same way, their beliefs about the importance of family in such matters as taking care of our own are likewise validated by such an extreme position, and to support the opposite would be spiritual suicide. Add this to the statistical reality that black people are disproportionately represented among the poor, and racism is all that’s left. The fear that poverty will rub off on them unless they internally fight against it is a powerful motivator for this Christian sect.

So, their Bible looks past all the admonitions to care for the poor in the name of protecting themselves from what they view as a threat of the devil in their daily comings and goings. And, remarkably, they dismiss social programs designed to do the job as being “anti-family,” because social programs weaken the family unit by taking away their need to strive against lazy self-interest like they themselves once did. They want the pride they feel in this accomplishment to be made available to the poor who wish to work. Poverty, in this sense, is acceptable if a man is trying to take care of his own. These, the church will support.

And so, they’ve taken up war against their own potential poverty by taking the position that God is their provider, not a political system, and that the church is their most significant ally in the conflict. It’s quite ironic therefore that, in railing against such governmental poverty efforts, they find themselves also in the unseemly position of piling on efforts to “make” the poor do some sort of work.

Meanwhile, the extreme wealthy look on and smile.

Unfortunately for them — and fortunately for us — God judges His people on how well they treat these other ones. They can rail against this or that, but God judges those who are supposed to know Him, not those who don’t, so when we look around and find chaos, we must conclude that we’re doing something wrong. The responsibility falls on us. We don’t think so, because God helps those who help themselves, right?

This is the road to perdition, not the path to Heaven, whether that’s in this life or beyond.

It’s on display fully in the response of White Evangelical leaders to the election of Joe Biden, a man they’re convinced will use Federal programs to support the poor, because in that way, the poor will always vote for left-wing (read: socialist) candidates. This is the view of those “pro-family” Christians who will do anything to push their tax money away from such use. After all, they cannot allow themselves to be party to such anti-family, anti-Republican affairs.

Witness the reaction of Megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas. He’s been one of Trump’s most ardent Christian supporters, a regular visitor to the White House, and a key member of Trump’s evangelical advisory group. In an opinion piece for Fox News last week, he called Joe Biden’s win a “bitter pill to swallow” but went on to tell his followers to “pray fervently’ for the President-Elect.”

But here’s his most important remark: “President Trump’s strong policies on life and religious liberty would have seemed, from our vantage point, to be a better path for our country’s future.”

That’s right. Jeffress said this with a straight face, completely ignoring the truth of the past four years in his dreams for a more Christian nation downstream. He can wait, as other leaders of the Christian Nationalism movement appear ready to do, too. They have all the necessary tax-deductible machinery in place; it’s just a matter of finding another candidate for 2024, even if that candidate is Donald Trump again.

Here “religious liberty” means “religious license” to discriminate based on this fear that the life of the flesh is corrupt and best kept at a distance from God’s people. Almost everything we consider “progressive” is judged to be the opposite, which means anti-faith, and this is then elevated to a level of importance just below God in their lives.

What good is knowing God, the reasoning goes, if there’s not a reward for so doing? To these Christians, that reward equals blessings in this life and beyond. They believe theirs is a righteous calling, and they’re taught that holding on to such beliefs is cause for ridicule, misunderstanding, and persecution from the world.

And so, they feel they are fighting against the devil himself, one who is trying to lure them away from the safe harbor they’ve found with their faith, each other, and the church overall.

To me, this is how the extreme wealthy are able to manipulate their mass into a voting block that actually works against their own real interests in favor of a pathological fantasy that they dare not let go of, one that represents their passionate belief that tax monies collected should not be spent on social problems, only those that support their idea of faith and family. Sometimes, it’s actually against their best interests, but they vote so anyway, because it’s their sacred duty to present their view of reality as THE cultural solution we all seek.

We cannot justify it, but we can understand it. And, we need to understand it, so that we can talk to them from the right perspective.

We’ve got four years to figure it out.

After Tuesday

So, here we are on the eve of what’s been billed as the most important Presidential election of our lifetimes. Anybody who claims to “know” how tomorrow is going to end is a fool, but I must say that it sure feels like a walloping is at hand. Of course, your view likely is based on your sources of information, but an electorate that feels it made a mistake four years ago, is not about to perpetuate that error.

I not only believe that Joe Biden will win in a landslide, but also the Senate will be flipped, for to run locally as a Trump sycophant makes for really crappy and creepy local advertising, as witnessed here in Alabama with Tommy Tuberville’s attempts to paint Doug Jones as a liberal, anti-gun, pro-abortion monster. It just doesn’t work anymore, because the electorate has become hip to such manipulation and wants to see and hear about new and creative thinking in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t care about our artificial government made up of big corporate interests and nothing else. Hardcore liberalism isn’t going to do the trick either, so what comes next is going to be very interesting for an old observer like me.

Democrats must think carefully about their next moves, because the machine that created “President” Trump in the first place (The Council for National Policy-CNP) will simply reload with a more mainstream-approved candidate next time. Unless, that is, we do something about it.

Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this “day before” status to do a little forward thinking. Assuming a Biden victory, here are things I see ahead.

  • There will be a significant sigh of relief, which will likely result in a season of inertia at a time when significant action will be required. America is worn and weary, and we just want to rest. We must guard against this, because the real work of redefining America is going to take a Herculean effort.
  • The struggle to reclaim the brand “Christianity” will be ongoing, because Trump’s right-wing church leaders will blame Trump the person for losing. They will continue to press their causes, which are mostly found in the bedrooms of the country.
  • Biden and the Democrats must resist trying to resolve all of the problems created by the previous right wing government and work instead on efforts to prevent it from ever happening again. This America will support.
  • Biden’s first year will his most fertile in terms of getting anything serious done, and the danger will be in attempts to force putting everything back together in order to satisfy his coalition.
  • American business will be painted as the victim of an anti-capitalist plot by the left.
  • Regardless of any perceived mandate from the election, the right will deploy whatever weapons they have to create a stand still government until they can groom their candidate for 2024. It won’t be Mike Pence.
  • The wealthy will throw everything they have at maintaining their grip on the culture, including damage to our economy that they will blame on the socialist left.
  • The media will still be unable to stay away from Trump.
  • The National Debt MUST be attributed to the right and Trump’s corporate welfare. Somebody has to pay for all that greed, and that will likely be us. After all, that debt is ours.
  • The most important agenda item for Biden would be reformation of the tax exemption laws that will prevent the kind of right wing mischief of the CNP and the religious right. Politics should not be a tax exempt enterprise.
  • We will need to produce an effort that keeps Trump’s damage front and center. I promise the right is working on media strategies that will frame a narrative that Trump was the problem, not the ideology of the right. We must reframe that to marry Trump and the GOP, that without each other, they couldn’t have done the damage that they did.
  • I maintain my belief that the scent of victory supplied by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is enough to pause the pro-life movement’s energy.
  • The silk stockings need to be seen as a curse on freedom, not the blessing thereof. In 1646, John Milton wrote his Sonnet 12 as a part of his writings on divorce. It very well frames the big issue with the haves, and I’d like to see us find a way to use it. The most famous line from this poem is “License they mean when they cry liberty” — referring to the absolutism of the church and those elites who benefit from it. They want a form of licentiousness (freedom from all restrictions) instead of democratic freedom, which includes responsibility. Straightening out this difference contemporarily must be given our attention.
  • We should also not be afraid to acknowledge America’s anger with corporations.
  • News organizations must continue to investigate everything that’s happened over the last four years, for, as NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote in the introduction of the new edition of Edward Bernays book Propaganda, “…the investigative journalist is the propagandist’s natural enemy, as the former serves the public interest, while the latter tends to work against it.”

This is a very incomplete list, but I hope you can see where I think the focus should be — on preventing another Trump from ever getting near the White House.

Winning tomorrow is just the beginning.