They have no stated positive goals or plans to accomplish anything of consequence to benefit ordinary Americans- Republican, Democrat or Independent. So what do they see as worth focusing on for the next couple years?
They have no stated plans to find ways to improve the wages of common people. They have no plans to improve or even preserve healthcare. They have no plans to insure continued Social Security payments. Affordable college or childhood education for our young people are not priorities. Then what is their priority?
It appears that that their main priority is to please their donors by focusing on what they want as a way to insure their own job security. They would like to undo the work Democrats have done to insure Social Security, marriage rights, rights of gay people with regard to marriage and abortion rights. They plan to be busy.
To be fair, not all Republicans are of such a mind. Even now, there are Republicans in the House who voted for Gay Marriage Recognition. I am sure there Republicans who will be willing to work together with Democrats in the interest of the American people in addition to their own interests.
What makes it hard for them to speak up are the loud boisterous voices of Republicans who are focused on winning at all costs and pursuing their own personal agenda of power rather than thinking about what ordinary Americans need and want. Let’s hope the next couple years are not lost in deadlock.
The ones who cannot restrain their anger will wish undone
what their temper and irritation prompted them to do.
We have looked at a number of statements about anger by the Abbot and monk, John Eudes Bambauer. His final observation is, “Anger often reveals how you feel and think about yourself.” We have considered where anger comes from, whether it is justified and some options we have for dealing with it. Up to now we have thought about anger as being a response to something that happens to us.
Father John Eudes suggests in his last statement on the subject that we may learn more about ourselves from considering our anger than about the objects of our anger. Some people are chronically angry. No matter what the situation, they seem to find something annoying about it deserving of their anger. We may recall times when we were in a bad mood, tired or frustrated, and it took very little to annoy us.
Becoming angry gives us a chance to understand ourselves a little better. What is there about us that inclines us to become angry? After all, we could also see the humor in difficult situations or take them in stride. We could reach conclusions which on reflection appear bizarre. We don’t deserve to be treated the way we are. God is being unfair by piling so much trouble on us at once. People should know better than to annoy us when we have a great deal on our minds.
We could stop to examine our thoughts as we are invited to do by Father John Eudes. Have you ever told yourself one of things in the above paragraph? Are any of them true? Is it up to us to decide how we deserve to be treated? Do we have the right to decide what is fair for God to do? Who are we to decide what others should know?
When we get angry, we might not just be reacting to the present situation. We may have leftover feelings from childhood inclining us to expect to be treated poorly. Maybe we jump to the same conclusion in the present. Were we spoiled earlier in life and now expect everyone to anticipate and kowtow to our wants and needs? Do we have high standards for ourselves and expect others to live up to our code of conduct, becoming angry when they don’t.
All of these considerations of anger were made by a contemplative monk who has had many hours to think about the meaning of his life, God’s will for us and the implications of our response to His will. Most of us do not have regular times for contemplation built into our daily schedule. However there is no reason we can’t put aside time to consider the meaning of our lives. Doing so may help put our lives and our experiences into context so we can see the larger picture. From this perspective, our anger loses its bite and our feelings become less important in the larger context of creation.
If you are interested in more of the thoughts of Father Bambauer, they are discussed in some detail by Henri J. Nouwen in his book, The Genesee Diary.
If you feel angry, who do you blame for it?
Do you take responsibility for your feeling?
Do you blame someone else?
Think about what leads to your anger.
What can you do to reduce your anger regardless of others’ actions?
Selection from my book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage, available at Amazon
Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.
We often think of anger as a bad thing. We try to avoid angry people if possible. We don’t want to get caught up in their rage and would prefer to maintain our distance and serenity if possible. There are times when anger is appropriate. We will explore Father Bambauer’s third consideration about anger.
We have considered how we jump to conclusions and talk ourselves into becoming upset over minor affronts or misunderstandings. We have also looked at the alternative choice of allowing our anger into awareness, letting it become a topic of rational thought. We can use this process to decide whether there is a good reason to be angry. Having a reason implies that we think about why we are angry rather than exploding in a burst of emotion.
What are some good reasons for being angry? Perhaps the most obvious reason is deliberate physical harm to us or to someone we care about. We can be attacked out of spite or overreaction and in response are rightly angry.
A deliberate attack on our reputation can be just as harmful. Lies about us can have a broader effect than physical violence. Long after the lie, our interactions with others can remain tainted and we can be seen as having even more faults than we actually have.
Another reason for anger is betrayal of trust. We come to depend on our spouses, relatives and friends to be there when we need them. Affairs, gossip and not following through on commitments are all ways of breaking the trust on which we base our relationships. These deliberate transgressions are all legitimate reasons for us to be angry.
You may have noticed that I used the word “deliberate” in describing each of the above examples. Our anger is justified when someone makes the choice to act in a way which is harmful to us. Mistakes and misunderstandings don’t count. The key element is the intention to cause us harm.
The tricky part is to know what is in someone else’s mind and what his or her intentions are. Do you recall a time when your intentions were misunderstood? In the course of ordinary events it is easy enough for us to misunderstand each other’s intentions. The heat of anger only complicates the task.
There are ways to judge whether an affront is deliberate and therefore worthy of our anger. We can ask others what their intentions are. Sometimes they will be honest and tell us what they had in mind. If we have told them how we feel about a certain behavior toward us, and they repeat it, there is a good chance it is on purpose.
Did you ever think of anger as something positive?
Seeing someone hurting another is an example of justifiable anger.
Be sure you understand others’ motivations when you are angry.
Be sure you understand your own motivations.
Try talking about it.
Selection from my book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage, available from Amazon
The GOP isn’t even in control of the House of Representatives yet, and I’m already tired.
In the interest of unnecessary fairness, we should at least admit that Republican lawmakers have been clear about their intentions from the beginning. They’ve been broadcasting their intentions to investigate everything ranging from Hunter Biden to the supposed unfair treatment that the January 6th rioters have experienced. Oh, and we can’t forget investigations into Nancy Pelosi as well.
Always nice to have something to look forward to, isn’t it?
Good to know how our taxpayer money is going to be spent over the next couple of years, right? Those Republicans. Always interested in responsible government spending.
But, in the midst of all the tweets and media appearances from GOP leadership and prominent figures within the Party, I’m sure they would like all of us to overlook the fact that there are some significant things missing from their plans.
For instance, oh you know, actually doing something to improve the material conditions of the American people.
Have Republicans ever laid out an actual plan for how they’re going to improve the lives of their constituents? What answers have they provided for you? Have they ever told you what they’re going to do to raise your wages, get you better healthcare, or ensure you get those Social Security checks? Are they interested in investing in your child’s education? Do they have any answers for helping the American people make sure they’re able to pay the rent, and put food on the table, and find daycare for their families?
They do not care about you.
Republicans are not interested in raising your wages, or making sure you don’t go bankrupt due to a medical emergency. They’re not interested in changing the fact that we’re being price gouged at the gas pump. They aren’t interested in saving Social Security, or making sure your children and grandchildren will live in a habitable planet.
All they have to offer is distractions as usual, and nothing more. They’re here to serve their donors, and they don’t even pretend to hide it.
Why draw our attention to record profits for corporations when they can point to Hunter Biden’s laptop instead? They would rather use your taxpayer money to draw your attention away from the issues that matter, than actually do anything to help you.
As for the Democrats, they have a responsibility to remind the American people of that fact every step of the way for the next two years. But, that’s only if they actually want to win.
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As we all know, following his own unscientific Twitter poll results, Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Of course, as was to be expected, liberals were livid. In all fairness, I can genuinely understand why people would be upset upon hearing the news. The man used his Twitter account to incite a riot after all.
But, take a moment to think.
Take a moment to process the implications of various scenarios for not only Trump, but Elon Musk as well, and the news might not be quite as bad as we think it is.
Trump’s in quite a predicament now, isn’t he? He has a much wider reach on Twitter and he knows it. But, if he returns to Twitter that will effectively destroy his own social media company Truth Social. So he now has to chose between the platform that helped him to win the election, or losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
As of right now, he’s saying he won’t return to Twitter. But, as we get closer to the actual 2024 election and he sees his fellow candidates posting on there, we’ll see how long that lasts, right? I have a feeling all it’s going to take is one slightly critical tweet from Mike Pence or Ron DeSantis, and he’ll be back on in a heartbeat to respond.
I have a feeling he won’t be able to resist. He’s never, ever been able to help himself.
All that said, there’s a lot at stake for Elon Musk as well. We all knew this was coming, right? We all know he was betting a lot on Trump coming back, drawing more people in who would make this the right wing platform he envisioned it would be. A platform full of nothing more than his fanboys who would be willing to pay the bill for him, subscribing because he overpaid and drove away advertisers with his erratic, nonsensical decisions.
He did this knowing Trump’s account being brought back would drive more advertisers away, and it would be absolutely hilarious if it ended up not paying off in the end.
Obviously, I know Trump has no business being back on the platform given what he used it to do, and Musk has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he’s not capable of running it. But there’s silver linings everywhere if we look for them, right? There’s a chance this could go poorly for both of them, and that would be wonderful to see. Both of them have a lot riding on this decision, and it’ll be fascinating to see who it works out for, if any of them at all.
Everybody has weeks from hell. Some people deserve them. Meet Donald Trump. He’s having a…bad, bad week. First came the woeful underperformance of his chosen candidates at the polls, as America repudiated them. Then came his announcement that he’ll run for President again…to general indifference, and groans even from his own party. And finally…
Remember when we were all — all of us thoughtful and sane people — like, “This awful guy should one day face a war crimes prosecutor from The Hague”? Well, now…he is.
LOL. They say trouble comes in threes, and Trump’s got a trifecta of hurt in his narcissist-verse. And having heard about all that, I’d bet a question’s crossed your mind: can Trumpism survive without Trump?
Now, this question doesn’t just matter to America, but to the world. Not just because America’s emerging as a world leader again — but because many societies, even formerly stable ones, like Sweden, now face their own waves of far-right demagoguery. So — can demagogic movements survive…without their leaders?
The answer to that question — or at least my answer — goes something like this. Maybe. But it’s not very likely. Why not? Let’s discuss a few reasons that connect the dots of social collapse — and how societies begin to recover from it.
Right about now, there are a set of contenders to the Trumpist throne (it’s tacky and covered in fake gold.) You know about them. There’s Ron DeSantis in Florida, Glenn Youngkin in Virginia. There’s Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Mike Pence. And so forth and so on.
Let’s immediately place this set of people into categories — and if you’re not into the details of American politics, skip this part. Cruz, Hawley, Pence — they’re not going to make it. For obvious reasons. They’re fringe figures, who have all the charisma of a beige coat of paint. The idea that they could really rouse the Trumpist masses is a fiction, to say the least. They don’t have the demagogic skills — not the reach, not the natural demagogic insight, not the paternal Father Figure relationship that seals the demagogue’s bond with his flock. Sure, some of them — like Hawley — can make people mad, with outsized, fictional threats, like imaginary “genocides” but that’s only half the demagogue’s game: the other half is soothing away those fears with “I alone can save you.” Nobody wants to be saved by these guys — not even the Trumpists — because they don’t have credibility on that level. As strongmen, they’re weaklings.
That leaves us with another category — the more serious contenders. This group is striking fear into the heart of liberals and centrists already — Youngkin and DeSantis, in particular. Are they really viable replacements for Trump? Remember — we’re not just talking about “leaders” here, but whether or not they have the demagogic skills. Whether or not they work this black magic of first gaslighting people into a state of fear and rage, by conjuring up imaginary existential threats — the gays are coming for your kids!! The Mexicans are invading!! The women don’t want to have your babies!! My God!! What about the master race!! It’s under attack!! — and then soothing away those very fears, with “I alone can save you, because I’m a Nietzschean superhuman, and all you have to do is obey me.”
It’s crucial to really understand that. The demagogue’s black magic is something far beyond even a mere “cult of personality.” Lots of figures have that — musicians, artists, intellectuals, writers, athletes, and so forth. The demagogue’s spell is more powerful still: he (or she, but it’s usually a he) can literally pervert people’s basic morality, and corrode it to the point that they’re willing to commit atrocities in the name of some imagined, perverted moral crusade of saving the chosen people from the subhumans. That’s something deeply sinister, and disturbing — think of what it takes to make people hate neighbors, colleagues, kids, women, just for existing. The demagogue can break people’s minds in this way, precisely through the combination of gaslighting people with fictional existential threats, and then soothing away those fears by being the strongest of strongmen, the Father Figure who “alone” — not just singularly, but single-handedly — can “save” you.
So. Do you think that DeSantis and Youngkin have that magic? I don’t. You see, there are little-d demagogues, and then there are capital-D Demagogues. Little demagogues have regional appeal. They’ve figured out how to connect with people in small ways — locally, in regions or states or towns. They conjure up threats specific to those certain areas, and portray them in ways that match those places’ folkways and norms and pre-existing standards. But cross those boundaries — and suddenly, things are very different. It’s much, much harder to be a national demagogue than it is to be a local one.
And if you ask me, figures like DeSantis and Youngkin aren’t going to make the cut. Why not? Let’s think about it. First of all, interestingly, they’re polar opposites. There’s Youngkin, trying to look like a Home Depot going soccer dad, in a fleece vest. And there’s DeSantis, in a hand-made, tailored, expensive, shiny suit. Remember, this is demagoguery — and aesthetics matter crucially. Why else did the Nazis put so much thought into pomp and pageantry? Gaslighting people effectively means connecting with them on an emotional level, and then being able to “save them” means projecting the image of super-sized strength. If I wore my favorite leopard coat and my Cuban heeled boots, do you really think the Trumpists would…respect me? Or think I was flamingly gay and…try to put me in Gay Gitmo? So. Can it really be true that figures with completely different aesthetics are going to be able to replace Trump? Maybe you begin to see the problem.
But let’s go much, much deeper. It’s not just their aesthetics which are polar opposites. It’s also their rhetoric and their approaches to policy. DeSantis is so explicitly fascist that striking down his vaunted “Stop WOKE Act,” which stands for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees,” LOL, a judge literally quoted Orwell. “‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,’” Walker wrote, citing George Orwell’s novel 1984.” Whew. Nowthat’s a takedown if I’ve ever seen one.
DeSantis makes a point of being as loud and offensive and flagrant a public figure as he possibly can. This is going to be really offensive, so I apologize, please forgive me. He’s literally used the work “monkey” to refer to minorities. He demonizes immigrants, gay people, women, and even kids in extreme ways. It’s true that DeSantis is trying to out-Trump Trump, and even succeeding, in some ways. There’s just one problem with that, and that’s that America’s already sick of the Real Trump.
Youngkin, on the other hand, takes a softly-softly approach. He speaks in the kinds of polite, genteel codes that soccer moms who are secretly conservative get instantly. He’d be the last person to shout slurs in public like DeSantis — his whole approach is about soft-pedaling, signaling the imaginary existential threat in veiled terms, then laughing and smiling like a good old boy from the Virginia hill country, who just luckily grew up to be another suburban soccer dad.
See how completely different all this is? Youngkin and DeSantis are two poles of a spectrum of demagoguery. Soft versus hard, quiet versus loud, coded versus explicit, suit versus fleece vest, soccer dad versus suited executive. They couldn’t be more different, in their approaches as demagogues.
And the truth is that neither of those approaches is likely to cut it on a national stage, because what one appeals to, the other doesn’t. We already know that, because they’ve had to take these different approaches. For example, Youngkin’s carefully crafted image as a smiling, polite soccer dad — which is in such stark contrast to DeSantis’s equally carefully crafted one as loud, proud bigot? Both of those have been carefully crafted to appeal to the different constituencies in their states, and they’re very different. Virginia’s full of suburban soccer moms and dads, which is why Youngkin’s pretending to be one of them — and they’d reel at the kind of shouting, open, vile bigotry DeSantis espouses. It wouldn’t work at all. It’s not Virginian. It’s just not done in Virginia — even if Youngkin inspired those very soccer moms to shout at school board meetings, him doing it himself would have been met with repulsion. He would’ve been seen as weak, not a strongman.
Meanwhile, in Florida, a figure like Youngkin would get…nowhere. LOL, who’s this joker in a fleece vest, Floridians of a Trumpist bent would ask, laughing contemptuously. What is he trying to say? Does he really hate gays, women, kids? If he does, why doesn’t he just say it? Out loud, really loud, openly, proudly? What’s this guy’s deal? He’s not really a strongman at all, is he? He’s just a weakling.
It’s not that DeSantis and Youngkin “can’t get votes.” Sure they can. But each appeals to what the other doesn’t, and they’re likely to split the movement, not unite it. Neither possesses the mass appeal on a national level that Trump had.
Maybe you see my point. Let me make it clearer. Figures like DeSantis and Youngkin have learned to be local level demagogues. That’s dangerous and it’s wrong, sure. But crossing over to being a national level one is another matter entirely. And it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to do it, precisely because they’ve attuned their images and approaches and rhetorics and aesthetics for local appeal. But that also means that developing national appeal is going to be very, very hard for them. Hardcore Trumpists that are into bigotry and violence don’t take Youngkin’s nice-guy-in-a-fleece-vest schtick seriously, and meanwhile, richer, more affluent Trumpists who want to still have the privilege of sending their kids to soccer games and not being ostracized for being fanatics and lunatics don’t want anything to do with DeSantis’s loud-and-proud-of-hate schtick.
Neither one works on a national stage.
Trump, in the end, was different. Being a Second Coming of Trump is harder than it appears, for many reasons. Perhaps the most crucial is that Trump emerged because of reasons larger than Trump. America was in the right place for demagoguery at a national level, cratering into decline, rage and discontent sweeping the nation, as inequality collided with downward mobility and the Dream died. Still, Trump was the right man for the job because he already was a national figure. A household name, thanks to reality TV and shady real estate deals and so forth — plus a political blank canvas to paint on. His contenders enjoy none of those advantages. Ask someone in Colorado who Glenn Youngkin is, and they might just look at you baffled, and wonder if you’re talking about a mountain climber.
But being the Second Coming of Trump is harder than it appears for another reason, too. Americans are turning away from demagoguery. What was the lesson of the midterms? Why did voters reject Trumpist candidates so vehemently? It tells us that Americans are wearying of the demagogue’s game. That the spell is breaking. The combination of gaslighting and soothing away those imaginary fears — it isn’t working anymore. Instead, people are tired, fed up, and want real solutions to their very real problems. They want better lives. They want a functioning society, not chaos, civility, not violence, a future, not the past repeating itself, democracy, not fascism. Americans are rejecting demagoguery now, precisely because years and years of it? It hasn’t solved anything. Hence, the economy was issue number one to voters, Womens’ rights second — and immigration, conjured up as an existential threat, key to the demagogue’s game, was near the bottom of the list.
That’s remarkable achievement for America. Much of the world — most of it, in fact — is firmly in the grip of demagoguery. Breaking the spell isn’t easy. For Americans to be wearying of demagoguery, because they want answers to their real problems — that’s a major accomplishment, because most societies don’t get that far. Once demagogues emerge, they end in war, collapse, ruin. Look at Russia. Look at Britain, imploding into poverty and chaos. Look at Italy and Sweden, where the far right is already doing crazy, incredibly self-destructive things, like dissolving Environment Ministrieswhile the planet broils. The examples today are endless.
Being the Second Coming of Trump is going to much, much harder than many think. It’s a mistake to think that all someone has to do is step into Trump’s shoes. Not that simple. The movement is fading. Its moment is passing. Americans are rejecting fanaticism and violence and scapegoating and hate — and demanding democracy, decency, and a better future.
Figures like Youngkin and DeSantis don’t offer any of that. They’re demagogues of limited appeal, even to Trumpists. What one does well, the other does badly, and neither can be both. They’ll each try and step into Trump’s shoes, sure. And neither one will fit very comfortably into them. But there’s a bigger problem than that. The problem is that Americans are already looking at those very shoes, and saying: man, these shoes are filthy. They’re gross. They’ve got holes in them! Maybe it’s time we tried a different pair.
The verses in the Bible that condemn homosexual behavior are completely justified. Homosexuality in the era of Apostle Paul was vile. It was exploitative.
And it was in no way similar to the gay Christian love of today.
Please read on.
Recently I read — spellbound and sickened — Sarah Ruden’s chapter on homosexuality during Paul’s time in the Roman and Greek culture. [Do yourself a favor and get her academic masterpiece book, “Paul Among the People”]. Dr. Ruden spares no punches in describing the horrific abuse inflicted — males upon males — during this age of cruelty.
Men of Status
If you were a man of wealth or high reputation, living in the Roman or Greek culture of Paul’s life, there was no such thing as a “homosexual” nor a “homosexual orientation.” Rather, the culture expected the men of status would copulate with their wives, other men’s wives, males who held a lower class, male slaves, males from foreign countries who were conquered in battles, and male prostitutes. The more sexually diverse, the higher the esteem.
Men of status would brag about anally penetrating men of the lower class. This anal intercourse raised the penetrator’s reputation and esteem — while humiliating the penetratee. Thus, if you were a man of status, it would be expected that you sexually conquer men and women, boys and girls. A man who was exploited was viewed as being a less valuable human. Honor was only given to the esteemed penetrator — and shame to the lowly penetratee.
Point #1: Men of status frequently engaged in penetrative anal intercourse — not because they were a homosexual; but rather because it gained them more esteem and power. Conversely, men of lower status were anally penetrated — not because they were homosexual, but because it was expected (and dreaded).
In those days, it would be expected that male slaves would be raped by their slave owners. One rule of slave purchases was that the closer the boy was to age 16, the higher the purchase price. Slaves were paraded nude in the open square for purchasers to examine. Hairless boys were more desired than others. If a boy had achieved puberty, it was common for his body to be shaved (to gain a higher price).
Slaves were then raped by their owners. Owners were said to have “cut to pieces” their male slaves — cruelly inflicting pain on the young or adolescent boys. Such grotesque physical abuse was expected. This behavior was no act of love; it was the cruelest of human degradation.
When slaves aged beyond 16, they were gradually viewed each year as less appealing. Such slaves were referred to as having a “loose anus” — due to the physical harm inflicted upon them when repeatedly anally raped. Such older slaves were viewed as worth less by their masters. In short, older slaves had been ravaged for years, then abandoned with little means of support.
Slaves captured through military conquest were likewise raped as an ultimate act of humiliating the captive. This was not an act of sexual pleasure — nope, this was a sadistic act of power abuse.
The slave business did not merely exploit the weak; it was an entire cultural phenomenon. Countless males were judged by their ability to look like pre-pubescent boys. How dehumanizing! Can you imagine the horrors and indignity of being repeatedly anally raped by your master while knowing that your “value” only decreases each year?
Point #2: Anal intercourse between men was an enslaved arrangement. Not only did this debasement define a corrupt and immoral society — it was also the culture in which Paul witnessed and later wrote his condemnations in his epistles.
Temple prostitutes existed during the era of the Old Testament. Such males would receive money to anally penetrate the temple worshippers. This form of anal intercourse was conducted to supposedly appease the gods and thus increase their crop supply.
Later, during Paul’s era, males stood in doorways selling their bodies to other men. Such was “normal” for the Roman-Greco cultures. In other words, it was an “out in the open” way of endorsing the pleasures of anal intercourse. And many a man paid many a penny for the ability to penetrate an attractive male! And the purchaser would hire his male prostitute with no sense of shame; rather, it was simply an expected activity of that era.
Point #3: Seeking a homosexual partner was not a closeted event. All one had to do was walk down a street to find an available man with whom one would pay to enjoy anal intercourse. And this was not considered immoral by the Roman-Greek cultures.
Paul was a high-brow Jew: an esteemed Pharisee among the most respected Jewish leaders. Paul would have been shocked and disgusted by what he readily viewed as “normal” behavior among the Romans and Greeks. The powerful and esteemed males would brag about anally penetrating one of their society’s less wealthy. Roman conquerors could add the final insult to their captives: a brutal, dehumanizing rape. Paul would have seen young males sold in the open market (based on their ability to look young and hairless). And Paul would have seen male prostitutes attempting to seduce men into paying for the pleasure of being the penetrator.
And Paul would have despised this corrupt culture! Furthermore, Paul would have known that some of his local church members (i.e., the converted Gentiles) had perhaps previously indulged in slave ownership, raping a young slave, or hiring a prostitute for anal intercourse pleasure.
Point #4: The next time you read about Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality in Romans or 1 Corinthians, or 1 Timothy, you now know the context behind Paul’s words.
Gay Love of Today
Gay Christian males who fall in love with each other look a lot like, well, straight lovers. In both cases, the couple finds each other to be attractive. They begin the process of getting to know each other better. Feelings of love and passion naturally follow. At some point, the couple considers their relationship a mutually acceptable pairing. The couple continues to learn about each other through a variety of situations. Usually, the couple unites their relationship with something legal and official — their marriage to each other.
Straights follow this human pattern. So do gays.
Unfortunately for the gay person, he has had Paul’s three verses used as a weapon against his dignity and desires for a homoromantic relationship. All-too-many straight, Bible-believing Christians do not know the context of Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality. Little do today’s gay maligners know that Paul witnessed firsthand the ravages of males being sold into slavery or purchased via prostitution. Paul knew of degrading, dehumanizing acts that included rape and discarding.
And that is what Paul wrote about in his condemnations.
Point #5: To be clear, Paul wrote about men abusing other men. Men of power and status abused lower-class men. Slave owners raped their male slaves. Young-looking boys were selling their bodies to be anally penetrated for the purchaser’s pleasure. Gross abuse, disregard for human dignity, and sensuality went amuck. Horrible!
My husband and I deeply love each other. We view each other with dignity and equality. We are sexually faithful and committed for a lifetime.
And come to think of it, that is exactly how Jesus wants every relationship to be.
Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder/author of GAYoda. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with nine years of counseling and mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. A short synopsis of Dr. Rosebush’s life can be found at I Lived the Most Unusual Gay Christian Life Ever. Please read the complete set of his articleshere. You may contact Dr. Rosebush at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like many people, you might have awoken today to find #RIPTwitter trending on…Twitter. Like I predicted, Twitter’s collapsing at record speed.
To bring you up to date, the Gross and Awful Billionaire who bought it promptly delivered a bizarre, macho, steroidal, tech-bro ultimatum to its employees — they were told be “hardcore” or…quit. In an email, no less, to which they had to literally tick a box pledging their….loyalty? Hardcoreness? What is this, a cult? A paramilitary? Abusive management to say the least, and unsurprisingly, there was a mass exodus. And now Twitter’s future is in serious doubt — because these were the folks who kept its critical systems alive. And nobody can blame them for not wanting to keep on being demeaned and abused like that, and this is just week two.
And yet even that barely begins to sum it all up. I’ve been thinking about it. Why is Twitter dying this way so…wrong? It’s an especially striking, ignominious fate. There are good and bad ways to die, and this? This is an ugly way to die.
But why is that, exactly? Here’s what occurred to me.
Think about our world today. We have grave and serious problems, and all of us who are sane and thoughtful people know that — from climate change to mass extinction to ecological collapse, all of which are fueling an inflationary spiral, as our civilization runs out of basics. But there’s another kind of Big Problem that we face, too. Only this one’s an absence — and so it’s harder to spot, because, well, it’s about a thing that’s notthere.
What don’t we have? Look around the world. We don’t have a single functioning global system. A worldwide utility, if you like. We don’t have, say, a global system of super-high-speed underground trains that whisk you from Paris to New York in hours. We barely even have regular old high-speed trains linking countries. You can get from Paris to Barcelona in a few hours on the TGV — and that’s a major accomplishment. But it points to what we don’t have.
Here are a few more examples to make the point. What else don’t we have? We don’t have, say, a global system of roads, even. For many countries, highways don’t or barely exist, and building one is a major accomplishment that only recently happened. In plenty of nations, just having one or two is a Big Deal. Or, I don’t know, bridges. We don’t have huge mega-scale bridges linking countries, except for a tiny, tiny handful of examples, like the Oresund Bridge, which links Sweden and Denmark.
We have no global systems — utilities — at all. Think about the idea of civilization for a moment — the very thing that billionaires, ironically, preach about saving. Where should we be at this juncture in human history? Well, one criterion of a genuinely advanced civilization is surely planetary utilities. Just go down the list of what you already consider utilities. Education for everyone, transportation, healthcare, energy, and so forth. We don’t have a single one of those. We barely have them at the national level, so far. Not one is a worldwide utility, because in our civilization, there aren’t any…yet.
Twitter was something genuinely like the first worldwide utility. We don’t have ultra-high-speed transportation for everyone. We don’t have education, energy, even shelter for everyone. Not even food. Those things don’t exist as utilities yet — though some do as great global goals institutions like the UN have. The only example of anything close to a worldwide utility so far in human history has been…Twitter.
We’re used to thinking of it as the world’s public square. And critics are quick to poke holes in that definition. I myself have been included on that list. It’s not really a public square — LOL, it’s a company!! Yes, I know. Twitter might not have been the formal definition of “global public square” — but practically, in the real world, that’s what it was…trying to be. As in that’s how people used it.
People used Twitter just like the first proper worldwide utility. Have a phone, tablet, computer? Cool. Just…sign up. Log in. It’s free. Anyone from anywhere can join. And…get on the information superhighway. Sorry, that’s a hackneyed phrase, to some, maybe. But in this case, it was true. Think about how Twitter acted just like, well, you might expect a worldwide informational utility to.
You log in. And within seconds, you know. Is there some kind of emergency somewhere? Did a disaster strike here? Was there a tragedy there? Did this person who’s a household name pass away? One minute, five — and you’re caught up on the great tides of information sweeping the world that day, that hour.
And you could go even deeper if you really wanted to. How are people feeling about all that? What do they think about it? How’s the mood out there in the world today? Jesus, what, half a country’s underwater because of a mega-monsoon? Wow, inflation’s how high? Man, I feel anxious, worried, but maybe I’m not so alone in all that.
Now. It’s not a surprise, really, to the economist in me, that the thing that was like, being used like, evolving towards, the first worldwide utility, was informational. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Building a network of underground ultra-high-speed trains linking the major cities of the world is hard. Expensive. We don’t know how to do it, and we probably can’t power it without advances in renewable energy first, not to mention we don’t know how to finance such a thing, really. Information, on the other hand, is cheap. We can manipulate it in computers for fractions of pennies, and deliver it to you at a marginal cost of pretty close to zero. Those economics mean that information was always going to be the first worldwide utility.
You might say, well, so what? Who cares about “the first worldwide utility,” anyways? The answer to that is that every sane person does, even if they don’t know it. Because apart from those of us who’ve opted out of it entirely, the rest of us all want to live in an advanced civilization. Even the Awful Billionaire’s fans do — that’s exactly why they buy into his humanity-saving schtick. An advanced civilization is one that “saves humanity” precisely through things like worldwide utilities. And when those things are real, we’re all going to be better off, because of course that much more possibility is unlocked. Maybe that kid in some slum in India is going to be the next Einstein, now that he can get an education, books, shelter, food.
We all care about this, even if we haven’t really every thought about it, unless we’re a) liars b) dolts or c) sociopaths.
Twitter had problems. It’s true. It always did. And yet this moment is so poignant because in another way, it really was a high point for our civilization. The first something-like-a-global-utility in history, really. Where else, after all, could you go and just…interact…with people from around the globe, renowned, accomplished, intellectuals, journalists, writers, thinkers, artists, scientists, athletes, people living the experiences you were hearing about…getting information directly from them? Nowhere, really. We underestimate just what an accomplishment Twitter really was — and I don’t mean that in just the technological sense, that part was relatively easy. I mean it in the sense of millions of people came together to build something like a global community, which transcended boundaries of every kind.
When else has that ever really happened?
Now, that doesn’t mean that Twitter didn’t have a Big Troll Problem. Sure it did. Of course it did. There you were, excited to be able to talk to, I don’t know, this writer, that athlete, to get information about this or that, to share your feelings or opinions — and along would come some crazy a-hole and start threatening you with the kind of extreme violence that make Jeffrey Dahmer blush. And yet despite that, millions of people still came together to build a global community.
Think about that for a second.
All of that, of course, brings me to the cruel twist in the tale. Why does it feel so wrong, so gross, so actually repulsive for Twitter to die this way? Even for those who were kind of sick of Twitter’s descent into hate and disinformation — and I’ll come back to that? Because millions of people came together to build a global community…and the world’s richest man destroyed what they built in two weeks.
Or at least began to.
Let’s go back to the “town square” thing. What is a town square? On one level, it’s just a…stones and buildings. Take away the people, and a town square isn’t much of anything. When we say “town square,” we don’t really just mean the architecture — we mean the interaction. If I say “town square,” you don’t think “Oh, a place where Nazis hurl racist abuse at people and threaten the rest with rape and murder.” You think of a place where people are laughing and chatting and having coffee and walking their dogs and maybe even doing the promenade, dressing up nicely to see and be seen. A town square is about people. More precisely, it’s about the kinds of connections between people.
When I go to my favorite little European town square, with little Snowy, what happens? We were just there today. And there, a certain set of rules exist. Strangers stop and laugh and giggle. Your dog is so cute! Come say hi, I encourage them. Snowy grins up them. His little smile stops every little girl and grandma in their tracks. Sometimes, with all these strangers, I chat. Today, it was with a girl who turned out to have recently moved from Canada, and with an Indian couple, who were visiting. Connections are formed. They’re not always lifelong or even tight ones — they’re “loose ties,” informal connections, shuffling around. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly what happened on Twitter.
All that’s probably called a milieu. It’s a complex word, for which there’s no really good proper English analog. It means something like “people who come together and affiliate in a certain way.” Not quite professional, not ultra-personal, but more of an..atmosphere. A kind of there’s-something-in-the-air. This is how we act here, together, and thus this is how we interact.
That’s what used to happen on Twitter, anyways. Back in the early days. Twitter was a good milieu, a place that had never really existed before, where people came together in that rarest of attitudes: good faith.
And then, for some reason, Twitter took a far-too-tolerant approach to hate and abuse and disinformation — and that atmosphere of good faith changed. People acting in bad faith began to pour in — and before you knew it, you were getting abused. But apart from a tiny number on the left, it was usually those on the far right who were harassing everyone else, intimidating them, shouting at them, and you were like, wait, what? Who even is this person?
The milieu on Twitter changed. When I’m in my ancient, famous town square, and I’m walking little Snowy, and people stop and smile and he grins up at them and we chat…the last thing that’ll ever — ever — happen is that…LOL…a Nazi comes up from behind us and starts screaming at us both to die. Maybe you see my point. Twitter’s management, sadly, began to change its own norms, and now hate and abuse weren’t just possible — they were omnipresent.
And yet despite all that, something remarkable happened: people didn’t give up on Twitter. They kind of sighed wearily and learned to shrug off the trolls and bots and fascists and haters…and persevered. Because on the other side was this thing called a global community. And it didn’t really exist elsewhere, in such distilled, raw form. Being part of it was something remarkable, which is why so many people did it every day — they might not have known it, but they were making this global community happen, enacting it.
But the idea that hate and intimidation and slurs and all the rest of it were what the point of all it was came to be championed, by the far right, as “free speech.” Despite the obvious fact that free speech is about the government not censoring, not being able to be a Nazi in a public square, hurling abuse at some poor couple leaning down to pet a cute dog. And the world’s richest man emerged as the leader of this bizarre, fanatical movement, its ideologue-in-chief.
The rest is history. They did what they were always going to do. The point of the far right is control and domination. Particularly, to control the kinds of interactions the rest of us can have. Love that person? Sorry, not allowed. Want to ride in the front of the bus? Sorry, your kind can’t. Your kid says he’s what? Sorry, they can’t be. Understand that, and you understand that this was going to happen from the moment Twitter was acquired — the far right’s purpose is to limit the kinds of relationships and interactions the rest of us can have to the ones they approve of, which are about knowing our place in a hierarchy of hate all-the-way-down-to-subhumanity.
You see why it feels so gross and repulsive now? Twitter was something like our civilization first attempt at a worldwide utility. It definitely wasn’t all-the-way-there. But it was still a major accomplishment, because, well, we don’t have any global utilities, systems, of any kind at all yet. And then the world’s Richest D-Bag came along and killed it. Why? To control the kinds of interactions and relationships the rest of us could have, because, well, he didn’t like them.
Think about that for a second. Here was the first attempt at a global utility — a worldwide community that millions of people built every day, hour, minute, despite the obvious problems that it had, of abuse and hate, of violent bigots and lunatic fascists getting in the way of the simple acts of relationship building and information sharing. And then, when they weren’t getting what they wanted — the lunatics and trolls — the world’s richest man bought it for them. Leaving the rest of everyone else — all those millions who’d joined, built, enacted this global community — to chew on the bitter cud.
Crazy, no? This is where our civilization is. We don’t have a single global utility. Instead, the world’s richest dude bought the only real attempt at one so far…and killed it. LOL. It’s poignant, because it’s so deeply sad, when you think about it that way. Not just because it’s unfair, not just because it’s antipathic, not even just because it reveals that the techno-tycoon’s schtick “saving humanity” as a joke, but because, above all, it’s so painfully stupid. Why would you want to kill a thing like that?
Anger seeks its prey-
something to tear with sharp-edged tooth and claw,
like not to go off hungry,
leaving Love To feast on milk and honeycomb at will.
I wrote above about becoming aware of our angry feelings as suggested by Father John Eudes Bambauer. His second step in dealing with anger is, “Do not hesitate to talk about angry feelings even when related to small or insignificant issues.”
In the first step, we were encouraged to think carefully about our own feelings. We considered how some people take their anger out on others and some people let it eat away at themselves. Talking about our anger is a middle course.
Talking is different from attacking. It follows from reflecting on our anger and trying to make some sense of it. Once we understand it, we are in a better position to talk sensibly about it with others. We can let go of some of the emotion and focus more on the issues involved.
I have found it interesting to observe the effect on someone who is the object of strong anger or even rage. We tend to tune into the emotion and not hear what the anger is about. If you yell at children for doing something bothersome or dangerous, they will be aware of your angry emotion. They may miss entirely what made you angry in the first place.
If we decide to talk about our anger, who do we talk with? Some of us tend to talk with anyone who will listen rather than the person who is the object of our ire. This kind of talk usually takes the form of complaining rather than discussion. It is usually geared toward gaining sympathy for our position rather than working toward an understanding of what happened.
It is probably best to talk with the person who engenders our angry feelings. As we considered before, blasting them will probably not be very productive. If you think back to the last time you were blasted, you will probably remember being defensive. You might have tried to explain yourself, whether or not you did anything wrong.
Maybe you tried to placate the other person. Or you might have been concentrating on how to escape the line of fire. In any case, these defensive maneuvers do not usually lead to any great insights or resolution of the issues. We must find a more productive way to approach them.
In addition to a discussion with the person involved, we may have trusted confidantes who can help us understand our feelings when we are having trouble figuring them out on our own. They may more easily see the situation in a rational way.
I am not suggesting we use our confidantes as sounding boards to absorb our anger, but as a source of clarification. Complaining is a way of blaming someone else for how we feel. Asking for help in dealing with our anger is a way of seeking understanding of how we became angry. We might also seek help to approach the situation in a productive way.
Deciding whether we have a reason to be angry might be difficult. This will be the next step in considering our approach to anger. Stay tuned.
How do you express your anger?
Do you show it by your actions?
Do you share how you feel in words?
Can you expect someone to understand why you are angry if you never explain yourself?
If someone who upsets you understands you, will you still need to be angry?
Selection from my book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage, available from Amazon
Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.
What are you supposed to do with anger? Some people blast the nearest person regardless of what their anger is about, often leaving the other person confused and wondering what he or she did wrong. Some people swallow their anger, never directly expressing it, so that it eventually takes its toll on their well-being. It seems there must be a middle course between exploding and imploding.
A former Abbot at the Abbey of the Genesee, Father John Eudes Bambauer, suggests five steps to use in approaching our anger. The first is, “Allow angry feelings to come to awareness and have a careful look at them.” This is a deceptively simple suggestion.
Anger is an emotion, as are joy, surprise and fear. Emotions do not arise by themselves. The psychologist Albert Ellis describes becoming emotional as a three step process. First something happens. Second we tell ourselves something about what happened. As a result of what we tell ourselves, we end up with an emotion or feeling.
Consider an example regarding anger. A man is waiting at a restaurant for a date with a woman who does not show up. He starts thinking she is probably not very responsible, lied to him about wanting to have dinner with him and is not very considerate. As he entertains these thoughts, he finds himself becoming angrier.
Father John Eudes, to my mind, is suggesting we work backward to understand our feelings, in this case, anger. We move from passion to understanding. It is hard to make much sense of our anger while we are feeling it. We need to allow our tempers to cool and our brains to engage.
Let’s practice on our example from above. Rather than fanning the flames of his anger with further negative thoughts, our man might put aside his emotions and become aware of his thoughts. He might come to realize he had no evidence on which to base his thoughts about his potential date. All of his thoughts are assumptions.
Just because she did not show up, he has no way of knowing whether she is responsible or not. She may have just decided she did not feel like having dinner with him and did not bother to let him know. It is also possible that she was involved in a serious car accident on the way to dinner and might be in an emergency room. His anger is based on his imagination rather than on reality. It is possible he is right but equally possible he is wrong.
Taking a careful look at the thinking behind the anger in this case indicates that it is not based on anything he knows for sure and is premature at best. Even if he is right about his assumptions, it is not the end of the world. It may also be that our man got the time or the restaurant mixed up.
In the cold light of reason, we may find our anger overdone, inappropriate or based on false assumptions. It is also possible that our anger is justified, but that is another chapter in the story.
Another consideration suggested by the Father John Eudes, in dealing with our anger is: “Part of the problem may be generalization.” Frequently our arguments and the underlying anger do not stay focused on the issue at hand. Rather than expressing our anger as it relates to a particular incident, we might become mad at the whole world, indiscriminately venting about every annoyance which comes to mind.
This is another example of being carried away with our emotions and not allowing our thinking to become involved in the process. It is like using a shotgun to try to kill a fly. We expend a great deal of energy without getting much done.
It is harmful to stifle our emotions and keep them inside. This process appears to be one of the chief contributors to stress. Yet unfocused expression of anger might make us feel better for the moment, but is unlikely to result in any lasting changes. Nothing has really been addressed and we are likely to remain stuck in a pattern of becoming upset and blowing off steam.
The alternative is to engage our brain. First, we need to clarify in our own minds what is making us angry. Once we get into a bad mood, this might not be so easy. However, we can think back to what led us to feel angry. Often there are a series of small annoyances we try to ignore, but which contribute to our overall agitation if left untended. Not dealing with the little things as they arise keeps us from building up resentments and finally overreacting to “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Once we are sure why we are angry, we can decide whether we have a good reason to be angry. Someone may have upset us by accident, or even in the process of trying to be helpful.
The third step is to consider our alternatives. Sometimes we overreact and need to talk to ourselves. We may be the problem rather than someone else.
If there is indeed something people are doing to upset us, we still have several choices. The least confrontational is to explain to them why we feel when they do certain things. Presented calmly, such an explanation might well result in others’ efforts not to do what we find upsetting.
Sometimes gentle hints are not enough and we may need to make our feelings known more clearly. Some people do not respond to polite statements and may need to have clear limits established. In the case of bullies or toxic people, it helps to have reinforcements available to help make the point.
In the extreme, it might be best to avoid people who are consistently aggravating us, especially if they are doing it on purpose. They are not likely to change and constant confrontation is like beating our heads against the wall.
What is your style of expressing anger?
Do you explode with little provocation?
Do you sit on your anger until it makes you sick?
Can you find a middle road?
Try explaining your position and why you are upset.
Selection from my book, Navigatng Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage, available from Amazon