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Life Arts    H1'ed 11/8/20

Election Results: Why So Many Christians Support Donald Trump - and Conventional Morality

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Readings for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wis. 6:12-16; Ps. 63: 2-3; I Thes. 4:13-18; Mt. 25:1-13.

Last Thursday, Juan Gonzalez of "Democracy Now" provided the best post-election analysis of voting trends that I've heard. It sharply departed from the conventional wisdom that, he said, routinely wonders about the "under performance" of black and brown voters in the just-completed general election.

Instead, Gonzalez pointed out that African American, Latinx, Chicanx, and even Native American voters stepped up in an unprecedented way with more of them voting than ever - and most of them, of course, casting their ballots for the Biden-Harris ticket.

True, he said, there was a 2% increase in the number of them voting for Donald Trump. But he pointed out, it's not percentages that win elections, but actual votes cast. Gonzalez asked, "Would you rather have 70% of 12 million votes, or . . . 68% of 20 million votes?"

The real surprise, Gonzalez noted, was in the increase of white suburbanites - and especially white suburban women - who voted for Donald Trump. If anything, that was the real "under-performance" calling for further analysis.

Why is it that Republicans are increasingly becoming America's "White Party" with white women exhibiting decreasing difference in their voting preferences from white men who actually shifted a bit away from Trump? And why do so many Christians continue to support someone like DJT?

Gonzalez answer? There are a surprisingly significant number of Americans - white, black, Latinx, gay, straight, atheist and Christian - who are quite comfortable with Donald Trump's imperialist message of "America First" global dominance. Whether they're aware of it or not, they (at least subconsciously) don't want the sun to set on the declining U.S. empire. So, they respond positively to imperialism's conventional wisdom of maintaining "full spectrum dominance" over the rest of the world. It's an American thing divorced from any "identity politics."

Today's Readings

I bring all of that up because today's readings call attention to the difference between the conventional wisdom that Gonzalez decried and the radical wisdom of Jesus the Christ who had no time for empire or for making Rome or even Israel great again.

To show what I mean, here are my "translations" of the day's selections related to Jesus' profound wisdom - with a surprise twist in today's Gospel parable of "The Wise and Foolish Virgins."

There, the anonymous and conservatively Jewish evangelist called "Matthew" turns the unconventionally wise Jesus into a teacher of the world's conventional wisdom of taking care of #1. In effect, he transforms Jesus from what we might call a "progressive" (or what I would call an anti-imperialist "radical") into something like a contemporary Republican. No wonder today's Christians feel comfortable supporting Donald Trump!

Please read to original texts here to see if I'm exaggerating. The first three readings reflect Jesus' approach to wisdom. The last one seems to contradict it.

Wisdom 6: 12-16

Goddess-like Wisdom is easily encountered by those who seek her out. In fact, she lovingly looks for us even before we start our search for her. She is nearer to us than our jugular veins. Honoring her is actually the height of informed intelligence. You might say that human beings are naturally wise.

Psalms 63: 3-8

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is "The Magic (more...)
 

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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This is one of my favorite parables to demonstrate the approach of the Jesus Seminar that seeks to identify the authentic words and deeds of Jesus as opposed to inventions of the gospel writers.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 8, 2020 at 10:00:01 AM

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
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Was trying to point out to someone the other day that with the Religious Right anointing Trump has the chosen one, and getting away with it, this country has some drastic problems. I try as hard as I can to avoid using the word "god" using instead the Native term "The great spirits." Doing that because people need a new "image" of what is up above which guess nobody really knows.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 8, 2020 at 4:31:36 PM

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I completely agree with you, Michael. The traditional theological terms, including "God" have become unscalable barriers to meaningful speech about the transcendent. Thanks for the reminder.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 8, 2020 at 4:44:01 PM

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As Philip Slater has written, all of today's major world religions had their origins in the Controller ('Dominator") era. All these religions are steeped in warlike attitudes, in hierarchy, and misogyny - in spite of the fact that their founders - Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed, for example, were ardent Integrators.

"Fundamentalists are fond of talking of "God's plan", as if God were some sort of communist dictator. The authoritarian personality always needs an absolute, rigid, fixed despot he can submit to, and sacred texts - no matter how barbaric, foolish and absolute - provide this. That they are forever locked in a particular moment in time and unable to evolve and grow is pleasing to those frightened by the fact that the world around them is forever changing."

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 12:17:57 AM

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Reply to Blair Gelbond:   New Content

I agree, Blair. It's those dominators that almost from the beginning distorted the teachings of the prophets you mention. I think the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids illustrates that -- as well as the work scholars like those in the Jesus Seminar have done to locate the authentic words and deeds of Jesus himself.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:48:26 AM

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Mike,

Mother Meera said something interesting: "These are human beings, just evolved from animals to [humans] and there is not enough soul development."

1) Would you share more information about the Jesus Seminar?

2) A bit more from Philip Slater, who writes that spirituality in Integrative Culture (which he argues we are evolving toward) is based on the awareness that we are part of something larger than ourselves, which doesn't stand apart from us or over us. We participate in it and belong to it.

"Integrative spirituality is an appreciation of our oneness with all life, with all spirit..."

"A friend of mine in the sixties, taking LSD in s rural part of Mexico, experienced this oneness vividly. He felt an ecstatic sense of belonging and devoted the rest of his life to spiritual disciplines like meditation that would enable him to sustain feeling without drugs...

"...The problem with personal deities is that they tend to acquire human traits - the God of the Old Testament is jealous, spiteful, vain, petty, boastful, vindictive, murderous, genocidal, dictatorial and capricious...The image of God, the Godfather, constantly ordering his followers to whack someone, seems increasingly irrelevant to our modern interdependent world."

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Wikipedia is good on the Jesus Seminar. My first acquaintance with it was through the book by its founder, Robert Funk, Honest to Jesus. I read that in 1999 and was surprised by the stir it had caused. That's because its contents coincided very closely with what I had been taught in the seminary around the time of Vatican II (1962-'65) and especially with what I had subsequently learned through the methodology of liberation theology. I also found Funk's approach very euro-centric instead of taking account of the experience of people living in the former colonies. Since 2000 I've found the work of Marcus Borg very helpful -- especially Meeting Jesus again for the First Time and The Heart of Christianity. John Dominic Crossan's The Historical Jesus and The Power of Parable have also been helpful. Then Borg and Crossan together wrote The First Paul where using the methodology of the Jesus Seminar, they laid out their discovery of three Pauls in the Christian Testament -- a radical, a liberal, and a conservative Paul with only the radical Paul being authentic. The pastoral epistles (1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus) were actually written against the authentic Paul. All of this, I find, is quite fascinating.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 9:08:40 PM

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

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Wonder times that things ended up set in motion out of control once we started spinning through space. May have been some big bang. I've got a big break theory pool T-Shirt with "god' breaking the rack of balls. They ask if I poised for it? What did Moses see in the mirror, I mean the burning bush? Then I think of your quote.

"...The problem with personal deities is that they tend to acquire human traits - the God of the Old Testament is jealous, spiteful, vain, petty, boastful, vindictive, murderous, genocidal, dictatorial and capricious...The image of God, the Godfather, constantly ordering his followers to whack someone, seems increasingly irrelevant to our modern interdependent world."

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Thanks Michael,

I appreciate your quote:

When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"

We're still evolving. Humanity itself is a young (and sometimes rather stupid) species.

I appreciate the way Martin Luther King Jr. "did" his Christianity:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

"The non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times."

"But I am also concerned about our moral uprightness and the health of our souls. Therefore I must oppose any attempt to gain our freedom by the methods of malice, hate, and violence that have characterized our oppressors."

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 at 4:33:17 AM

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Michael Dewey

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

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MLK summed up a lot of truth in that statement about spending and spending on the Military. I tire of quoting Ike's wise warning given in vain. I have a hard time with people who blindly support Trump bragging about going in the wrong opposite direction of Ike's warning.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 at 4:54:31 PM

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Hi Mike,

Agreed!

On a very interesting note, it appears that Ike was not just talking about the MIC, but referring obliquely to the ET's, the military taking over the matter, our reverse-engineering of their crashed crafts - involving industry (so the research becomes "proprietary"), and hiding the whole thing. By the time Ike made his famous statement, he knew the matter was out of the control of the executive branch. (See The Day After Roswell, if interested).

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 at 5:25:28 PM

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America is filled with hard working, ethical and honest Christians. Unfortunately, some are guilty of worshipping a False Profit and Fake Greatness by the World's Greatest Bullshit Artist who finds it impossible to confess when he commits sins. To be fair, call him a Jew, then call him a cab. Communion Whiners never admit defeat.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 12:22:29 AM

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Michael Dewey

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

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Have seen enough good ones to know there is good intent in rank and file, wonder greatly about the leaders. Don't know what to think about their leaders. Since am here on the subject this blue grass hard rain is in my video collection here on OEN, or it will be soon. Looks like last hope for curing religious leaders minds. They sing it with such a smile on their face too. The Nashville Jam which need to find name of Leader Singer in all the blue grass videos from 10 to 5 years ago from Battle of 1814 to the Saints go marching in the streets of Memphis. (It can purge and refine them. Danger to mind as is.)

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:29:31 AM

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Michael, I'm currently watching Martin Scorsese's "No Direction Home." I find its review of Bob Dylan's life and context truly inspiring. I know you would too.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:45:38 AM

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Yep, it's the leaders who are the worst.

That's what happens when church leaders get involved in politics.

They become compromised.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:52:03 PM

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What does this mean? "To be fair, call him a Jew." Unless I've misunderstood you, this sounds like an ignorant, bigoted comment.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:50:00 AM

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I liked your comment except for the "Jew" part.

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I'm somewhat surprised and disappointed that more people did not disclaim Dink's little slur -"To be fair, call him a Jew" - as I would've expected if he had said "call him a n-word." (automatic editing; I wrote out the word itself)

Dink,

You've had a day to respond to my inquiry and since you haven't responded, you've given me no choice but to conclude that you are a bigot.

As such, I recommend a thorough brain cleansing. I advise you to stick your head in the toilet (it seems to be there metaphorically already) and flush no less than five times. If that doesn't work, see a psychoanalyst no less than five times a week to discover what happened to your mind.

Harboring bigotry simply poisons the spirit. You might pray for redemption, but a warning: piercing and getting beyond your embedded hatred and/or distain is going to hurt like hell.

If I've come to the wrong conclusion, please feel free to set me straight.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 at 1:56:45 AM

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And many false prophets will rise and deceive many ... For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 12:39:14 PM

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
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The Religious Right is the worst of them. Be quite an ugly book if ever wrote about the damage they have done to the good news of freedom. Their prosperity theology strikes me very very wrong, saying the rich elite deserve their riches while the broken down on their luck deserve their fate due to their wickedness. They teach people that its wrong to help the poor. I see it every day.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 at 6:25:50 PM

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Yes, so true. The prosperity theology is very wrong.

Submitted on Friday, Nov 13, 2020 at 11:25:43 PM

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"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
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They will figure out what many probably don't buy into themselves, in a comfortable life. Just helps if we understand the costs?

Johnny Irion Endless OM video can cure about anyone if given a bit of time to slow down and look around. It came out back in June 2020. Lucky treasure of a couple his wife Sara Lee Guthrie who this year also has a updated cover of the old Union tune "Which side are you on?" Sara Lee in full war paint in that video right before Corona shut us down. Was weird to see day before at Flea Market other side of Boston bridge in small city. A man had a painting of a Native Warrior said was drawn of him in full war paint with dark clouds coming behind him. The timings had an effect on me spiritually. The trees here in Massachusetts help.

"The universe goes on forever. All we have is each other. Every heart is searching for its home. Inside this endless OM."--written in honor of some Guru guy.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 12:49:09 AM

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Good 'un, Mike!

Bill Homans

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 3:12:05 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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(Member since Apr 9, 2010), 51 fans, 330 articles, 1260 comments, 4 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
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Thanks, Bill. Your note gives me the opportunity to say how much I enjoy your participation in OEN's Saturday night zoom calls. Always interesting and insightful.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 9, 2020 at 9:14:09 PM

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Inna V

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Great and interesting article very good read, not sure what about the finance and cash loans issues. With Covid 19 its everyones issue these days.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 21, 2020 at 8:56:13 PM

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