Monthly Archives: December 2017

A Contagion Has Erupted

Way back when I was a pastor and my brother and his family would visit us just after Christmas, my sister-in-law fussed and fumed that my post-Christmas homily always focused on a somewhat ugly part of the Silent Night narrative. It was my habit/discipline to preach from one of the texts assigned for that Sunday in the Common Lectionary. I could not help it if Matthew’s Gospel told the story of the Slaughter of the Innocents. Musing from ‘Bethlehem to Bedlam,’ I’d always have to wonder aloud whether Jesus grew up with almost no friends his age to play with. Oh, dear, why do liberal preachers have to expose parts of the story so as to take some of the edge off the cozy feelings?

Well, I haven’t preached for a very long time and I’ve got the itch to resonate in a very dissonant tone from “Silver Bells” on this Christmas Eve. It is time to remember that it was very dark that first Christmas and still is.

It is no slaughter but all of us are threatened. It is a worse plague than HIV-Aids; it is more of a threat than Ebola. It is trumpacardia, so named as it strikes the very heart of our Democracy.

The outbreak has been identified as recently as mid-October by our 44th President, George W. Bush, when he spoke openly of a “nationalism distorted into Nativism.” Senator John McCain, himself at the mercy of a life-threatening cancer, joined in the identification of this disease when he spoke of “half-baked spurious nationalism cooked up by people [he didn’t mention specific names] who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.” Republican Senator Bob Corker aligned himself with this diagnostic team by pointing out an “utterly untruthful President.” Corker’s fellow Republican Senator Jeff Flake signed off on the frightening diagnosis when he similarly characterized a “flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”

That trumpacardia is dangerously contagious is evident in its infection of military stalwart Gen. John Kelly, daughter of pious evangelicalism Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and even straight-laced convert from Roman Catholicism to Protestant fundamentalism Vice President Pence, who regularly calls his wife ‘mother.’ All three indicate by speech patterns as well as cognitive dysfunction, that their brain cells have been altered, as though by genetic manipulation, to patterns not imagined except by George Orwell’s prescient 1984. Apparently nearly half the population of the USA has been exposed to and is showing clinical signs of this deadly outbreak.

Do not panic! There is a remedy! Researchers with capability like that of the World Health Organization, but not limited by the recently truncated vocabulary of the Federal Center for Disease Control, have traced the source of the outbreak to a Republican nomination and subsequent election of a real estate entrepreneur become TV personality, Donald John Trump.

Surgical removal of the primary source of the outbreak, followed by vaccination, researchers assure us, will over time cure the infection and lead to the restored health of our People and Land. Do not let suspicious naysayers deter you from receiving the inoculation. There are no health-related injuries from receiving this vaccination; there is no mercury used in its manufacture and it is not a live virus. It is though a remarkable preventative. This vaccination is without cost and is self-administered. It is most effective when received in daily doses from MSNBC or NPR.  A milder inoculation can result from a similar regimen from CNN.

The warning label on the inoculation cautions that recurrence of the disease can result from subsequent exposure to FoxNews and anything controlled by Sinclair Broadcasting. Both these sources are being sold as truly effective but are in fact, placebos at best, but more likely counterfeit or fake drugs.

Season’s Greetings!

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A Memorable Christmas

My most memorable Christmas happened in the early 1950s, when I was 11 or 12. At the top of my list to ‘Santa’ was  a Gilbert Microscope Set, with which I dreamed of discovering the wonders of the wee world cavorting below the range of my normal sight. Supposing this coveted treasure was in the largest package “Santa” had left under the tree, I saved it for last. I tried my best to hide my overwhelming disappointment when the microscope was not in the box, instead pajamas, slippers and a robe.

After we had devoted ourselves to the final rite of Christmas morning, burning the gift-wrap in the fireplace, I turned to open the can opener, screw-driver and broad blade of my new Boy Scout pocket knife, my second choice under the tree. As I laid it aside to enjoy a piece of candy from the sock hung on the mantel, my Dad, reaching behind the couch, uttered a surprised, “What’s this? Seems Santa has left something here!” It was, of course, the microscope set. My tears told Mom and Dad that I had, for however brief a time, been confronted with a lesson about expectations and disappointments.

By Spring the next year, the green, hinged case with the microscope, its glass slides and chemical reagents, was on a shelf in my room where it sat neglected until it was thrown/stored away probably about the time I graduated from High School.

This year an unexpected and new favorite present has arrived from the majority voters of Alabama. They have given us all the gift of hope that a republic being shredded by religious tribalism can begin to be restored by responsible citizens. They did not hide their gift from us though. Instead our own cynicism had kept their promise out of our sight. Our cynicism had insisted that a State that had not sent a Democrat to the US Senate for twenty-five years could not possibly put that nation’s best interest ahead of narrow party and pious loyalties. Their present shames our cynicism.

Now we must all make certain that we do not fiddle away our time with multi-bladed amusements but put to use the hope they have given us. We simply must not shelve their gift after a few weeks of marveling at it and let their bright hope drift into obscure memory. They have shown us that we can and must resist the further degradation of our values of justice and equality for all of us.

 

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From Revelation To Revolution

I’m still trying to find my voice, so again it has been a while since I filled this space with my thoughts. This morning I scribbled a couple of paragraphs into my Bullet Journal and with Jane’s (my wife’s) insistence, I’ll let you read over my shoulder as I ponder my Quixotic calling…

Our Republican Congress has passed a tax bill that steals from average people now and into the future and transfers the wealth to the richest among us. Sen. Grassley of Iowa says this theft permits real investment whereas folks like you and me would just be “spending every darn penny they have on booze or women or movies.” Here in Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, we have Representative Jim Jordan and Senator Rob Portman who apparently also think any increase in income we’d get we’d just “waste it on hookers and blow,” to quote former Hillary spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

There may be some change in this Tax Scam before it becomes law as it passes through the ‘conference process.’ If the process does improve the bill, it will be a miracle.

But miracles are the stuff of Biblical hocus-pocus. John of Patmos expected a miracle of apocalyptic proportion to bring down the Roman Empire in first century Palestine and his vision can be read in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Yes, that’s Revelation, not revelations. He did not intend to issue a time-line of futuristic events. He meant to give expression to his ardent hope that the Evil Empire would come to a fiery end by Divine Intervention.

We need no longer put stock in the superstition and magic of super-naturalism to wish and work for the destruction of an Ugly Empire that is ours. In fact, we must eschew all reliance on deliverance from Beyond. Whether by taking to the streets or to the ballot box, we must remove from power the Grassley/Jordan/Portman fascism and restore to our fair land a responsive, responsible republic.

Methinks that ‘booze, women and movies’ are more the pastimes of elected officials inside the DC Beltway than the entertainments of the working-class neighbors I live with. The vice-ridden hordes of Sen. Grassley’s nightmares probably belong the same tribe as the ‘Welfare Queens’ of the Reagan Era, that is to say, they are figments of fearful conservative imagination.

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