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Life Arts    H2'ed 4/28/19

Mike Pompeo's Cynicism vs. Marianne Williamson's Politics of Love

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Readings for 2nd Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:12-16; Ps. 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev. 1: 9-11A, 12-13, 17-19; Jn. 20: 19-31.

By the time you see this, many of you will have been yet again outraged by the crude cynicism of Mike Pompeo, America's Secretary of State and former head of the CIA. This time, I'm referring to his embarrassing throw-away line following a speech at Texas A&M last week. Secretary Pompeo said:

". . . When I was a cadet, what's the first what's the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. (Laughter.) It's it was like we had entire training courses . . . (Applause.) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment."

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In this election season, Pompeo's arrogant disregard for the disastrous effects of the actions he described (in terms of governments overthrown, innocents slaughtered, and our own democracy discredited) offers an instructive foil to recommend the contrasting approach of Marianne Williamson, whose presidential campaign is based on what she terms a "politics of love." The contrast between Pompeo and Williamson is further illumined by the familiar story of Doubting Thomas which is the focus of today's liturgy of the word. It locates divine presence precisely in a victim of the imperial double-dealing and cruelty Pompeo finds so amusing and that Williamson finds abhorrent.

But before I get to that, please watch the secretary's remark for yourselves:

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What I found noteworthy in what you just saw was not so much what Pompeo said. (Anyone who knows anything about the CIA would not find that surprising.) What I found amazing was the audience laughter and applause. Both suggested not only rejection of U.S. ideals, but of the faith Americans commonly claim. Pompeo's words absolutely contradict the Jewish tradition's Ten Commandments. The laughter and applause also suggested that Pompeo's audience recognized that lying, cheating, and stealing somehow have more power than the teachings of Jesus about the primacy of love and doing to others what we would have them do to us. (Let's face it: that's the underlying reservation many have about Marianne Williamson's candidacy as well.) Even more, the audience's approval cynically endorsed Pompeo's position that such actions constitute something glorious about Americans and their country!

I suppose the secretary would hasten to explain that we're living in a dangerous world, where enemies lie, cheat, and steal all the time; so, we must do the same. But just imagine if Vladimir Putin or Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro had uttered Pompeo's words! We'd never hear the end of it.

It's principled response to such cynicism that fuels Marianne Williamson's campaign for president. And in the light of today's Gospel reading, which endorses miracles over "realism," she should be taken seriously. More directly, and at a far deeper level than any of the other 20 (so far!) Democratic candidates, Williamson actually believes in a "Politics of Love," and says so openly.

In fact, Williamson is running on a platform that holds that there is no distinction between personal and public morality. As she points out, the world and our country have a long history of acknowledging that fact. Jesus himself embodied that teaching. So did Gandhi. Abolitionists were Quakers, as were many of the suffragettes. Martin Luther King was a Baptist preacher. The Berrigan brothers were Catholic priests; so was Thomas Merton. None saw any distinction between the personal and political.

However, it's not that Ms. Williamson is any less aware of our world's evils than Mr. Pompeo. She doesn't claim that the Judeo-Christian tradition invites anyone to ignore immorality and violence. Quite the contrary. As she points out, the entire Jewish tradition stems from rebellion precisely against the horror of slavery (in Moses' Egypt). And the Christian tradition is founded on the teachings of a prophet who was tortured and executed by one of history's most brutal empires. To ignore such evils, Williamson says, is not transcendence; it's denial.

And that thought brings us to today's Gospel reading. It's the familiar story of Doubting Thomas, whom in today's context we might call "Realistic Thomas." That's because the story is finally about Christ's call to recognize his own presence in the tortured victims of the kind of empire Pompeo's audience applauded. It's a parable told perhaps 90 years after Jesus' death to encourage believers who, unlike Thomas, had not seen the risen Christ, yet believed anyway. The story is about the early Christian community coming to realize the truth of Jesus' words, "Whatever is done to the least of my brethren, is done to me" (MT 25). Williamson recognizes all those truths. Evidently, Pompeo does not.

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Recall the parable.

The disciples are in the Upper Room where they had so recently broken bread with Jesus the night before he died. But Thomas is not present. Then suddenly, the tortured one materializes there in their midst.

"Too bad Thomas is missing this," they must have said to one another.

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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.Mike blogs (more...)
 

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Progressives should be doing everything they can to get Marianne up on that debate stage. Even a contribution as small as $1.00 will count as one of the 65,000 necessary to do the job.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 10:00:01 AM

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I would not characterize Pompeo's views as cynical but rather as sociopathic.Evil administration

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 7:30:48 PM

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Reply to George W.Reichel:   New Content

I agree. Your description is more accurate. These people just can't restrain themselves from telling this kind of truth. If people would only take them seriously . . .

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 8:05:35 PM

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Mike,

I listened to a few of Marianne's videos and was at first very impressed with her, especially with her forceful calling out of our government's immorality, and for advocating for peace and a "politics of love". I had never heard a political candidate express such beliefs before and it was startling. But.....then..... I listened some more and began to get an uncomfortable feeling. I was particularly turned off when Jimmy Dore was interviewing her and he asked her about Julian Assange. She seemed to hem and haw about Assange and appears to have some resentments toward him for exposing the DNC/Podesta emails which did not play our well for Hillary in 2016.

I also think that she has a very close connection to the celebrity elites, like Oprah, and other Hollywood Dems which I suppose explains some of her still-lingering support for Hillary. I realize that she has lived in the LA area for many years and these connections go with the territory for someone in her field, but it doesn't appeal to me.

And, sorry to say, she speaks a lot of empty platitudes, and I'm not sure she is as informed on some issues as she should be. And I think she can tone it down about the Founding Fathers and all that. Most of us know they weren't what they've been cracked up to be.

I'd also like to say that I don't think Marianne is the only candidate who has mentioned "love". I distinctly remember Tulsi Gabbard also mentioning it in one of her campaign videos. And I believe that Tulsi is genuinely motivated by her faith, compassion, spiritual values and a deep desire to work for the well-being of all.

Thanks for taking my comment, Mike.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 9:22:29 PM

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Oh, I forgot to mention, despite all I just said, that I did contribute to her campaign to get her into the debates.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 9:24:54 PM

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Reply to Ronnie Roberts:   New Content

I'm glad you did this, Ronnie -- although I've just heard that when the field went up to 20, the number of individual contributions necessary to qualify to appear on the debate stage also went up dramatically. That doesn't seem fair to candidates (like Marianne) who rarely get mentioned by mainstream pundits.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 2:10:26 AM

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Mike,

I tried to search for current info on what it takes to qualify for the debates. I found this article which seems to be the most recent regarding who has qualified, or at what stage of qualifying they are at.

click here

Yes, I agree, if they are changing the rules midway through the game, that is definitely not fair. And the idea that they have to get at least 1% in the polls is also tricky because we know how those polls can be and always are skewed.

And where getting a fair amount of media coverage is concerned, certain candidates are definitely ignored like Marianne and Tulsi. If your platform doesn't fit with the official party line, then you are out of luck, or you're treated like a pariah. We have the most corrupt and unfair electoral system on the planet, mostly because we, the people, don't have much if any say. The media controls the whole thing.


Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 2:11:37 PM

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Reply to Ronnie Roberts:   New Content

It's all so very discouraging.

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019 at 1:55:20 AM

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Reply to Ronnie Roberts:   New Content

Ronnie, You are not alone with your specific concerns or your uneasiness. Tho' I choose not to contribute to any political campaigners, I do hope Marianne is able to join the debate and contribute to the conversation. Respectfully.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 1:07:25 AM

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Thank you, Janet. I really appreciate your responding to my comment.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 2:15:25 AM

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Reply to Ronnie Roberts:   New Content

Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, Ronnie. I haven't seen the Jimmy Dore interview, but I'll look it up on YouTube. He's very good. And I find any unclarity about Julian Assange disturbing. I like Tulsi too. However, I think Marianne is head and shoulders above all the other candidates in terms of her deep spirituality the depth and commitment of which has been demonstrated over more than 30 years of consistent teaching and insistence on connecting interior development with political commitment. Again, thanks for reading the article. I appreciate your constructively critical reading.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 2:19:06 AM

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I do greatly appreciate and always have Marianne Williamson, a most prolific writer click here

I do think, however, that Tulsi speaks the language and has the background more likely to get her elected. I would LOVE for that to happen, and for Marianne to be put in a significant cabinet post, particularly as Secretary of Education, though I can think of others who would fit that bill (Susan Schwartz or myself for starters). Room for many if Tulsi actually gets in.

I also note that I wept in one or two of BO's speeches, and was devastated after seeing the same cabinet and advocates in place as George Little's, one week later.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 7:37:02 PM

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Here's but one example of why I put Tulsi over Marianne, in spite of my great appreciation of MW: click here

Submitted on Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 7:55:49 PM

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Reply to Daniel Geery:   New Content

Thanks for sharing this, Dan. You're right; that's a powerful message that pulls no punches.

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019 at 1:54:03 AM

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