Sound and Fury

hail-trump
I’m sure he doesn’t know anything about these guys.

As many of you probably know, I am not a fan of our Dear Leader-to-be, Donald J. Trump. The reasons for my antipathy are many and varied, from his choice of the most anti-LGBTQ governor in America as his vice-president to his relationship with the alt-right, a group of racist trolls whose taint was mostly contained to the internet until the Tangerine Nightmare drew them out from under their bridges. And, of course, there are the temper tantrums he regularly throws on Twitter; all of which would embarrass the brattiest of three year olds.

One of more troubling actions of President-elect Trump’s (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I say that) is his refusal to reject the hateful ideology of the alt-right. Not only has he been silent on the matter, he has appointed their top propagandist, Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, as his chief adviser. And, yes, I realize referring to this as “troubling” is a lot like World War I “a little dust up”.

But, there is a break in these awful black clouds of doom, beloved. Last week, everyone’s favorite “short-fingered vulgarian” finally spoke to the country on this issue. In what only be described as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” Trump “disavowed” the alt-right.

Last Tuesday, during an interview with New York Times staffers, the  PEOTUS was asked about the group and he said “I disavow and condemn them”. Sounds good, right? Well, I wouldn’t get too excited because he also said “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.” It appears our president-elect is the only person in the country who is unaware of how his candidacy and election has breathed new life into what we all hoped was a dying movement. Great, just frickin’ great.

What’s that? You think I shouldn’t criticize Mr. Trump’s remarks out of hand like that? Oh, don’t worry, Sparky, I have given careful consideration to what President-elect BabyHands said. But, the fact that you feel that way makes me think you haven’t. So, let’s take a look at how his statement last week lines up with with what he’s done so far:

  • During his campaign, David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan, was very vocal about his support of Trump. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if he would repudiate the support of an avowed racist, the future leader of the free world said, “I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” (He was lying) But wait, there’s more!
  • After going through campaign operatives like a pothead goes through a bag of tacos, Trump hired Steve Bannon. Yes,beloved, the same Steve Bannon who bragged that Breitbart.com, the website of which he was CEO, was “the platform for the alt-right”. After he won the election and began putting together his cabinet, Trump’s first act was to appoint Bannon as his chief adviser.
  • His pick for Attorney-General, the cabinet official charged with enforcing civil and voting rights is Sen, Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama. This is significant because in 1986, a Republican Senate committee denied Sessions a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified that he “used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were ‘okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’”

So, on one hand we have Trump’s statement that he is not allied with the racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, Neo-Nazi internet trolls who, after his election to the highest office in the land, are now slithering out from under the digital rocks to which they had been relegated. On the other, we have specific actions on his part which indicate that he may have actively courted the support of the alt-right; at the very least, he had no problem with them.Sure, Donald, you “disavow and condemn them” in the same way I “disavow and condemn” my mother’s chocolate cake while shoveling another bite into my mouth.

 

It’s That Time of Year Again: The Annual “What I’m Thankful For” Post

How about the fact that this shitty ass year is almost over?
How about the fact that this shitty ass year is almost over?

Well, beloved, today is Thanksgiving and you know what that means: It’s time for my annual semi-snarky “What I’m Thankful for” post. This tradition started before the “gratitude challenge” became a thing, but being a dedicated curmudgeon, “What I’m Thankful For” quickly turned into a vehicle for skewering American’s penchant for jumping on a bandwagon while totally ignoring the implications of that bandwagon. Plus, I’m enough  of asshole to really enjoy letting the air out of people’s balloons.

 Saying this year’s post was hard to write  is a bit like saying the Titanic’s maiden voyage hit a snag: true, but a massive understatement. By any reckoning, 2016 has sucked ass. In a year that began with the death of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and is ending with a god damned reality star elected president, it was a bit hard to find things for which to be thankful. Hell, I can’t even say, “It could be worse” with any confidence, because I’m not sure that it could. But, it’s Thanksgiving and this what I do at Thanksgiving. so here goes:
  • Thanksgiving break _ In case you missed it, I’ve gone back to school, pursuing a degree in English. It’s been awhile since I was in the academic world and had sort of forgotten how nice it is to have some time where you aren’t freaking out because an assignment you haven’t even started is due in a few hours. But, my enjoyment is tempered by the fact that finals are right around the corner. And, I have a test on my second day back. Good times.
  • My Chucks _ By “Chucks”, I mean Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. I’m thankful for them for many reasons, but mostly because they’re not New Balance, which has been declared “the official shoe of white people” by The Daily Stormer. Sure, they aren’t “Made in America” anymore, but at least I’m not wearing something endorsed a racist neo-Nazi, alt-right asshole.
  • Pandora Radio _ I have to arrive at school around 7:30 every morning or I have walk what feels like a couple of miles to get to my classes, the first of which starts at 9 AM. I end up spending the intervening time in the cafeteria where the televisions are tuned to ESPN’s SportsCenter (or worse, Headline News). Thanks to Pandora, I can tune out all that inane bullshit  and enjoy something a little more edifying. Like the Weird Al Yankovic channel.
  • Social media _ Every so often, I see people talking about a social media fasts or telling their friends they just can’t take it anymore and their getting off Facebook for a while. Not me. I can’t see any instance where I would willingly give up Twitter or Facebook. I mean, where else am I going to find daily, even hourly, reminders that I’m not the absolute worst person in the world?
  • My friends with young kids _ Because it’s nice to be reminded just how wonderful it is that my kids are grown and (almost) gone.
  • Blog material won’t be hard to come by for the next four years. Yeah, this one’s pretty much an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. But what are you gonna do?

If you’re thinking this year’s list is darker than ones from the past, you’re probably right. But, like I said earlier, 2016 has sucked ass. I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that it’s almost over.

Taking on the Bad Guys.

satire def
You’d think I wouldn’t need to include this advisory on a piece that is so obviously satire. Past comments, however, would prove you oh, so wrong.

We live in a frightening world these days. Radical Islam hates our freedom and wants to convert and/or kill us all, the threat of Chinese economic hegemony continues unabated and the Russian bear is waking up from a long hibernation. All I can say is thank God  we elected a strong, tough-guy type to lead us through these trying times. And, you need look no further than President-elect Trump’s Twitter feed to that strength and toughness on full display.

Why, just the other day, he stood up to some bullies who treated his vice president, Mike Pence in a very rude mannner. It seems that over the weekend, Pence – a man noted for his anti-LGBTQ views and policies – attended a showing of “Hamilton” – a show that is noted for its support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Things went awry almost immediately: as Pence entered the theater, the audience began to boo him. Then, to make matters worse, a cast member had the audacity to ask Pence to represent all Americans, even the gay ones. Are you kidding me?!?

But never fear, America, our Dear Leader was on the case and, Sunday morning tweeted:

trump-hamilton-tweet-1

Followed by:

trump-hamilton-tweet-2

 

That mean, old bully, Brandon Victor Dixon (the cast member who spoke to Pence), had the audacity to tell Mr. Trump:

dixon-response

How rude!

But, it didn’t stop there, beloved. Our fearless leader also took on what may be the most dangerous show in America today: Saturday Night Live. While Mr. Trump has a long-standing relationship with NBC, the network that airs the unfunny sketch show, he has only recently come into the cross hairs of the hacks who write for the obviously communistic producer/creator, Lorne Michaels. The show has consistently denigrated a man who has vowed to “Make America Great Again” in the most awful ways. Why, they’ve even stooped so low as to let him host the show! That is wrong on so many levels.

The president-elect’s feud with the late-night comedy show kicked up a notch after Saturday night’s disgraceful portrayal of him when, as any strong leader would,  he let them know what he thought:

trump-tweet-snl

Noted presidential disrespecter Alec Baldwin tweeted back:

baldwin-response

What? Television shows are free to mock the president and we’re supposed to be okay with that? Before anyone starts quoting the First Amendment at me, I’m pretty sure that criticizing elected officials isn’t what the Founding Fathers wanted to protect.

Yes, friends, our new president certainly has the right stuff to protect and defend our nation from all the threats arrayed against it. I don’t know about you, but I feel better already.

What About The Taco Trucks???

Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.
Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.

During the campaign, Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez warned that his culture was a very strong one and, if we didn’t do something about it, we’d have taco trucks on every corner. So, with the election of Donald Trump, who vowed to fix the immigration system, is that wondrous (possible) reality now just a fantasy? Shit. If there’s one thing we don’t need right now, it’s something else to worry about under the regime of the Tiny-handed Terror.

I don’t get it.  Why would anyone vote against the availability of tacos on every corner? Tacos are crunchy, little folders of awesomeness, filled with all kinds of ambrosia-like substances. There is a taco for everyone, from the most hardcore vegan to the dyed-in-the-wool meat eater hell-bent on destroying the environment through livestock-produced methane. And, Americans actually said “no” to that. What the hell, white people?

Understand that when you voted for Trump, you stomped on a dream that everyone could get behind: readily available tacos no further than one city block in any direction. And, for what? Do you honestly think Donald Trump is going to be the champion of the working people like he promised? Right, the guy with a very long, very well-documented history of stiffing people who worked for him has your back. What were you thinking?

I mean, I get it: you’re still out of work, you’re worried that your kids aren’t going to do better than you did. And, let’s be honest: brown people freak you the fuck out. But, wouldn’t a tasty, warm taco take a little of the sting out of that situation? FYI, those “brown people” you’re so worried about? They’re the ones who came up with those tasty bits of heaven in a tortilla.

Hell, even Trump loves tacos. See, here he is enjoying one from the Trump Tower Grill:

trump-taco-bowl

Okay, so it’s not really a taco. It’s a taco bowl (aka “a taco with a big, beautiful wall around it.”). And, being prepared in the grill at Trump Tower, it’s probably about as authentic as something from Taco Bell. But, it’s the sentiment that counts, right. Besides, he loves Hispanics!

We could’ve had taco trucks all over the place; not to mention affordable college, an real healthcare plan, a minimum wage that you actually live on and more. But, no. You had to throw your little temper tantrum. And, what are we getting instead?  A tangerine nightmare, along with warmed-over Republican bullshit like privatizing essential elements of the social safety net, incompetents appointed to key positions, and the legitimization of white supremacy/nationalism. I would say “Bet those taco trucks aren’t sounding so bad right now”, but I know better.

 

The Spray-Tanned, Tiny Handed Devil

"See, not so short!"
“See, not so short!”

Over the weekend, I offered space here on “The Progressive Redneck” to anyone who is a member of the groups worried about their future under a Donald Trump presidency. The first person to take me up on that offer is my friend, Joshua Allen. I first met Josh when I was volunteering at Love Wins Ministries and he was a intern from the Campbell Divinity School. So you’ll know where he’s coming from, I share this bio he sent me:

Joshua Allen is a graduate of Campbell University Divinity School that spends his days playing with Japanese kids and teaching Japanese teenagers, and his nights musing about life while in the Japanese countryside of Aomori Prefecture. When he isn’t begging his students to try to speak English during class, he is jogging, exercising, or youtubing to pass the time. He spends his weekends doing disaster relief volunteer work.

He was born and raised in the sleepy town of Dunn, North Carolina and spent most of his life somewhere in North Carolina. Because of his mixed heritage, his father is a Salvadoran immigrant, he was often bullied by white kids as a “half-breed.” He channeled that anger into a college education and fight for those marginalized by society. He hopes to continue that fight, even in the countryside of rural Japan.

He was once a hard-line fundamentalist, but after college and subsequently graduate school, he now rails against the dangers of fundamentalism from the perspective of one that used to be in the thick of things.

As you can see, he offers a unique perspective on what’s happening in the U. S. these days. His contribution is a little long, but well worth the time it will take to read it:

There is no hiding it. This election cycle and the results have been devastating. Not only for many Latinos, LGBT, African-Americans, and Muslims but for me especially as the son of a Salvadoran immigrant and as an American who believes that without reservation the words of our forefathers that all men were created equal. Because I’m in the Japanese countryside I won’t experience much of the hate that my fellow Americans are experiencing now (even as I write this, Trump has had to tell his followers to stop harassing minorities). But I still feel afraid. Both for all the marginalized groups in America and my family.

I have a lot to say to my fellow Americans about what has transpired but I first want to address the Evangelicals and the Christians that voted for Trump. If you aren’t or if you are but you voted for Trump for non-religious reasons, this is not for you. You can scroll past. To those left I say this:

If you honestly believe that you are doing ‘God’s work’ and ‘God is in control,’ or you thought that Trump was the Christian candidate, you have sold your souls to the devil. Only this time, the demon didn’t take the form of red imp with a pitchfork. He is manifested as a red spray tanned white man with bobby pinned hair and tiny hands. Your hypocrisy has never been on more fully on display. How so? I’m glad you asked:

You all have embraced a man that called for a shutdown of refugees entering the USA when your own Bible says that we should welcome the alien into our homes and treat them as a native

LEVITICUS 19:34

You have embraced a man that proposed building a wall to keep out ‘rapists’ (even though evidence indicates that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than their native-born counterparts) when your own Bible calls for you to be welcoming of the outsider.

DEUTERONOMY 10:18

You have embraced a man that has demeaned women all throughout his life, bragged vociferously about his sexual accomplishments and that has been married three times, and if that weren’t enough, has been featured in Playboy when your own Bible, the supposed “Word of God,” demands sexual purity.

1 CORINTHIANS 6:18

You have embraced a man that mocked a disabled reporter just because he wrote something mean about him, when your Bible demands that you take care of the crippled!!

EZEKIEL 34: 3-5

You have embraced a man that has bragged enthusiastically about how much money he has when your own Bible states that a man of God is to be humble.

ROMANS 12:13

You have embraced a man that boasted that he never asked God for forgiveness and bragged on twitter about how he believed that he was perfect when your religion commands that we seek repentance and that we are most certainly not perfect

LUKE 18:14

You have embraced a man that actually attacked women that accused former Fox News Chair Roger Ailes of sexual harassment when your religion commands that you identify with the oppressed

PSALMS 82:3

You have embraced a man that has lied about so many things: his lack of support for the Iraq War, his donations, his tax returns, his feud with John Oliver, about meeting Vladimir Putin, and many others, the list goes on and on when your religion stresses truth telling.

PROVERBS 26:28 AND EPHESIANS 4:15

Do you understand your hypocrisy? Not yet?! Okay I’ll continue

You all have actually embraced as your representative and as the man that you want as your leader of a “Christian Nation” a man who has proposed racial profiling when your religion says that ALL are one in Christ

GALATIANS 3:28

You all have embraced a man as your righteous one, a man that has suggested that there be ideological certifications for immigrants when not only is that what radical Islam does in other countries, but the history of your own religion is rife with stories about how well that worked out for you all.

You have actually embraced a man that has claimed to love the Bible, but couldn’t even name a single damn verse when pressed and couldn’t even pronounce the name of a book correctly (And before you even ask, mine are Ecclesiastes 1:1, Matthew 5:43, and Luke 9:25) when your freaking Bible says that the Word of God is supposed to be in our hearts and in our minds!!!

PSALMS 119:11

You all are willing to elect a man, that has proposed jailing his political opponent over some emails when your religion says that we are to love our enemy

MATTHEW 5:43

You all have embraced a man that ran a scam/bogus university with a manual that contained directions to its staff on what to do if the attorney general shows up, and who plagiarized portions of that university’s manual when one of the founding tenants of your faith is “Thou shalt not steal”

DO I EVEN NEED TO CITE THAT….

You all have embraced a man who stiffed foreign workers on his worksites, when your religious text says, plainly and without any need for contextual explanation, that a worker deserves his wages

LUKE 10:7 AND 1 TIMOTHY 5:18

You all have sold your religion, your characters, your ideals, your beliefs, your history, your churches, and your souls to a pompous, bombastic, malevolent, puerile, bacchanalian, acrimonious, pedantic, disputatious bully!

Congratulations! You all have lost every last bit of propriety to say that you represent Christianity in the political realm. You all have been exposed for the lying, hypocritical, living political satire that you all became years ago when you sold your souls to the Republican Party and while doing so have further alienated and marginalized the very citizens that you share the country with and those that Jesus demands we identify with.

When the Band Begins to Plays

veteransTommy
By Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
 
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
    But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
 
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
 
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
 
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

What the Hell, America???

diving-into-the-abyssWe did it, we really did it. I truly thought that we might skate right up to the edge of the abyss that is the hate-filled shitshow  known as
“The Trump campaign”, but would heed the call of the better angels of our nature and step back. But, we didn’t. We dove in, head-fucking-first and made orange-hued disaster zone Donald Trump President of the United States. Way to go, America. Way to fucking go.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that if you voted for Trump you’re still my neighbor and I still love you. I mean that with all my heart. But, I have to say, I am extremely disappointed in you. Why? Because when you voted for Trump, you told people who are black, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, women,…, basically, anyone who isn’t a straight, white man that you don’t give a fuck about them.

How do I come to that conclusion? Let’s break it down by the numbers:

  1. Donald Trump received the endorsement and support of the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi’s, white nationalists, and Alt-right trolls. He’s not the first to win the backing those odious groups, but he is the first in a long, long time who didn’t immediately repudiate it. In fact, he added a couple of white nationalist activists to his campaign staff.
  2. In the very first speech he gave, Trump called people from Mexico rapists, drug mules, criminals, etc. To be fair, he did say, “…some, I assume, are good people” (italics mine). Throughout his campaign, he has talked about massive deportations, building a wall and more.
  3. Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and greatly increased surveillance (including a database for Syrian refugees). All to fight “Islamic terrorism”. He also attacked the Khan’s, a Gold Star family who just happens to be Muslim.
  4. Trump opposes marriage equality and transgender bathroom access and supports the First Amendment Defense Act (which basically legalizes discrimination as long as it based in a “deeply-held religious belief). His VP, Mike Pence, believes deeply in conversion therapy (which has been rejected by all major health professions).
  5. Do I really need to detail Trump’s incredibly awful history with women? I guess so, since quite a few women voted for him. Donald Trump is a documented womanizer and misogynist. He may be guilty of sexual assault and has been accused of raping a 13 year old girl.

This is the man we chose to lead our “Christian nation”.

Several of my friends are hurting right now and most of what they’re saying can be summed by this post from Jasmin Pittman-Morell:

Didn’t sleep very well last night. Fear won out over calls to love or healing or unity across racial/socio-economic/political divides. Grieving and wondering, now what?

Indeed, now what? First of all, we should keep in mind that, as bleak as it looks right now, there is a bit of silver lining: Hillary Clinton is actually ahead in the popular vote. While that doesn’t help much with political stuff, it is heartening to know that the majority of Americans aren’t as racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic as it may seem. Second, we roll up our sleeves and get to work so this kind of shit doesn’t happen again.  Third, we hold our breath and hope that the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers put in place work to restrain Trump’s more dictatorial impulses. I realize that’s not much, but it’s all we’ve got right now.

10 Things You Can’t Do And Call Yourself A Progressive Christian

onedoesnotsimplyprovideevidencememe
An example of #3

The Progressive Edition

A certain popular progressive Christian blogger has made a name for himself with a series of posts titled “10 Things You Can’t _________”. These lists make some really good points, but I have a slight problem with them: they’re all directed at conservative, evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians. That’s a problem for me  because it smacks of the “Not all Christians” thing. God knows progressive Christians aren’t saints, however much we’d like to think otherwise. So, I came up with my own list. And, I’ll go ahead and say you probably aren’t going to like it.

  1. You can’t call Trump supporters “deplorables”. Or “racists”, or “ignorant”, or any of the other epithets that get thrown at them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and I’m pretty sure telling someone that they’re “deplorable” isn’t what he’d consider “loving”.
  2. You can’t tell everyone “I can’t vote for him/her. I’m voting my conscience.” Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can’t vote your conscience, just that you can’t be a condescending ass about it. Because, no matter what you think you think, that’s the way you come across when you say this. The same goes for “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”
  3. You can’t call people out for taking advantage of “white privilege” while doing the same thing yourself. See #2 above.
  4.  You can’t pontificate on what you’d do if ________. What I’m talking about here is something I wrote about last week. I’ve seen several progressive bloggers write about what they’d do if one of their kids turned out to LGBTQ. It’s the “if” that’s the problem here. If you don’t have a gay kid (or have any kids at all), shut the fuck up and let people who actually live this reality talk about it.
  5. You can’t put words in people’s mouths. Or thoughts, or ideas, or pretty much anything else. It’s wrong. Don’t think progressives do this? Tell you what, google “progressive Christian memes” and then we’ll talk.
  6. You can’t marginalize people because of they lack the “proper” educational credentials. Don’t think this is happening? Take a look at the roster of speakers at any progressive Christian event. I can almost guarantee you won’t find anyone who doesn’t at least have a masters degree. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against education. Hell, I’m going into some serious debt right now because I believe in it so much. But, progressive Christianity has to open it’s eyes and see that there are people out here who have important things to say that are being ignored because they don’t have any letters after their name.
  7. You can’t attack everything a person believes in. This is less about the message than the way you present it. Granted, some of the things Christians believe need to be challenged because they are, to put bluntly, fucked up. But, going all “scorched earth” on a conservative Christian’s belief that “the homosexual lifestyle” is a sin won’t get you where you want to go. Unless where you want to go is making yourself feel superior to “those people”. If that’s the case, you are definitely on the right track.
  8. You can’t block people on social media because you don’t like what they say. It goes back to that “love your neighbor” bit. Is it hard? God damn right it is. But, I think that’s what Jesus was talking about when he said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
  9. You can’t be a condescending douche. If you’re thinking most of the items on this list are covered in this point, you’re right. This attitude of theological and moral superiority (that borders on arrogance) may be progressive Christianity’s greatest sin. Don’t you think it’s about time we started working on it.
  10. And, last, you can’t make lists telling people what they can and can’t do as a Christian. This pretty much negates everything I’ve said up to now and that’s the point. I don’t think we get to be the arbiter of what is “Christian” and what isn’t. It really gets on my nerves when some hard-core conservative tells me that I’m not a Christian because I believe in full inclusion, reject the idea of Hell, that I’m “pro-life”, etc. Doing the same thing to them seems kind of shitty.

An Open Letter About My LGBT Kid

parkers-first-legal-beer
My son, Parker, enjoying his first beer. Okay, his first “legal” beer.

Lately, I’ve seen a few straight progressive bloggers write about parenting children who are LGBT. It might be speculation about how the author would react to the news that one of their kids is gay. Or, it could be an open letter telling parents what they should say to their LGBT kid. As the parent of a child who is part of the “T” portion (see photo at left) of that acronym, I thought I’d respond to this new blogging phenomenon. And what better way to do it than an open letter! I mean, they’re so effective.

 

 

Dear Progressive Bloggers,

     First, I want to thank you for your concern about my son and his well-being; not everyone feels that way. Here in North Carolina, we are dealing with a law that can put him in harm’s way whenever he’s out. And, I have seen some truly awful things said about him and other folks who are LGBT, so please be assured that your good intentions are appreciated.
     But there is a problem. You see, so much of what I read about parenting a child who is LGBT seems to be written by folks who either don’t have a kid who’s gay or they don’t have any kids at all.  Now, while I appreciate your interest in my child’s welfare, I have to let you know that any advice you might have to offer on how raise/relate to him makes me laugh. Honestly, you’re almost as funny as parents-to-be who claim they won’t let their child watch television because, “The TV isn’t a babysitter” (FTR, the TV is a great babysitter, it’s how most parents of toddlers get things done). And, your words carrying about as much weight.
     I find it interesting that actually having a kid who is lesbian, gay, bi, or trans  doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for penning an article letting those of us in the trenches know just how we’re fucking up. Granted, many of us may not have those fancy letters after our name (MDiv, DD, etc.), but amazingly, we have managed to raise healthy, happy, astoundingly queer offspring without the benefit of your education, status and/or stature within the progressive community. Isn’t that crazy?
     Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, this letter has certainly taken an ugly turn.” Yes, it has. And, you should probably grab hold of something because it’s about to worse.
     I don’t presume to speak for all parents who have an LGBT child, but I have had it up to here with sanctimonious, educated-beyond-their-intelligence, progressive preachers (because, no matter what you think, you’re not acting very pastoral here) telling me how to care for my son when they have zero skin in the game. Unless and until you’ve dealt with all the crap that comes with having a kid who is LGBTQ, your words don’t mean shit to me.
     I can hear some of you now, “But, Joel, we’re not talking to open-minded, progressive parents like you. We’re trying to reach those awful conservatives who have done so much harm to young people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA.” I hate to break to you, Skippy, but you ain’t reaching them. And, if by some weird chance they did click on your post, they wouldn’t make it past the first sentence of your holier-than-thou bullshit. Take it from someone who used to be one of those “awful conservatives”, words like “empowerment”, “parenting mantras” and that ridiculously ever expanding acronym used a couple of sentences ago are a one-way ticket to Ignoresville.
     So, what should you do? The same thing you tell those of us among the Great Unwashed to do when the conversation turns to issues other marginalized groups deal with: sit down, shut the fuck up and listen. And, if you want to do more, amplify the voices of people actually dealing with those issues. Because, right now? You’re just a “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.

Me, Jack and The Devil

haw-haw-hawSo, Jack Chick died last week. You may not know who he was and, if that’s true, you should probably count yourself lucky. If you are that fortunate, let me give a little background. Chick was a cartoonist and publisher best known something called “Chick tracts”: tiny, little fundamentalist/evangelical comic books that attempted to scare people into getting “saved” and almost always featured Satan at the end. Subtly may not have been Chick’s forte, but he was a master at scaring the shit out of me. That son-of-a-bitch was the author of many of my nightmares as a gullible, evangelical kid.

You see, from the ages 10 to 16,  my family was part of a hyper-religious, charismatic, evangelical group that witnessed to anyone, in any place, at any time and in any situation. No matter where we were, we were never without a supply of evangelizing material and Chick tracts were a huge part of our arsenal. They weren’t handed out in person; usually,  they got stashed away some place where an unsuspecting heathen would accidentally stumble across them and BAM! They got ambushed with the fear love of Satan God. We were masters of passive-aggressive evangelism.

Because we always had a ready stash of these fucked up little comic books (and because I love a comic books), I was inevitably drawn to them. I also don’t think my parents wanted me to see them because they were never offered up for my brother or I to read. In fact, I really don’t remember being handed one to pass out on my own; they were just there. In fact, they were held back just enough to make them seem like forbidden fruit, thus making them all the more attractive to me.

I can remember almost every Chick tract I ever saw, which is really no big feat because they’re basically all the same. Oh, they may have different characters or evils to rail against, but the theme, the dialogue, the mood were identical. But, the most enduring image is the Devil that was at the end of every pamphlet. That motherfucker creeped me out like you wouldn’t believe.

It wasn’t just Chick tracts, though. As a kid growing up in the weird quasi-Pentecostal world of Charismatic Christianity of the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was exposed to multiple exorcisms, for others and myself (at the time, some crazy-ass cult leader said my ADHD was actually an “evil spirit of laziness”) and”facts” like Ouija boards being a doorway for demonic possession. To this day, I can’t watch “The Exorcist” (the first one. No one can watch the sequels) and I avert my eyes or change the channel when trailers for that damn Ouija board movie show up on television. Yes, beloved, I was in on the ground floor of the great “Satanic Panic” that gripped the 80’s. And, it was just as fucked up as it sounds.

As I said at the beginning of this piece, Chick died last week and a week is an eternity in the blogosphere. But, with all the baggage surrounding this subject, it’s taken me that long to process my feelings on the matter. And, even now, I’m not really sure how I feel about it, other than to say I hope “Haw, haw, haw”, was the first fucking thing the old bastard heard when he awoke in whatever afterlife situation in which he landed. Not only that, I hope they were uttered by that creepy-ass Devil he took such glee in rendering. I know that’s not very Christian, but it’s about all the grace I can muster, right now. Sayonara, Jack. You won’t be missed. Not by me, anyway.