Category Archives: Beloved Community

Compassion, Trump-style

Hello, brothers and sisters. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, but I’ve been a little busy. And, by “a little busy”, I mean “working my butt off to get some really mediocre grades this semester”.  But, recently, something so big happened that I just had to carve out some time and write about it. 

     What could possibly pull me out of my self-imposed exile and back into the blogosphere? President Trump’s budget proposal (I throw up in my mouth a little, every time I say that), that’s what. And, let me you, it is a doozy. It increases defense spending by 54% and slashes funding for almost every other part of the federal government, including all funding for arts and cultural agencies and the block grants that support Meals on Wheels and Head Start. Naturally, a few folks have their panties in a wad over this turn of events. 

     The real brouhaha started when, at a press conference yesterday, a reporter asked White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney if the budget wasn’t “hard-hearted”. Mulvaney replied, “No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s one of the most compassionate things we can do.” That’s right, beloved; a budget that cuts funding to programs that feed the elderly and underprivileged kids is “compassionate”. 

     Now, before we lose our collective mind over this, let’s look at Mulvaney’s reasoning. He told the press, who didn’t take his pronouncement very charitably, “You’re only focusing on half of the equation, you’re only focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus both on the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money any more.’ ‘Single mom of two in Detroit, OK, give us your money.’ We’re not going to do that anymore … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function, and I think that is about as compassionate as you can get.”  And, believe or not, I get where he’s coming from.

     This budget is remarkably compassionate. I mean, sure, Trump’s budget will impose an 82% tax hike on a single parent making $34,000 a year. But, imagine how it will relieve the burden on the long-suffering and over-taxed 1% in this country. Seriously, who deserves a break more than the ultra-wealthy?

     And, yes, this budget will eliminate programs that the single mom he mention probably relies on, like Head Start, PBS, and other silly, socialist fluff. But, come on, folks. Lord Dampnut has to get the money to build The Wall™ from somewhere. Especially, since Mexico can’t stop laughing at his claim that they’ll pay for it. 

     Besides he’s got to come up with that extra $54 billion he needs to beef up the world’s largest military. Yeah, I hear you, “We already spend more on the military than the next 8 countries combined.” Maybe. But, don’t we need to be ready in case shit pops off with the Russians? Okay, not the Russians; Uncle Vlad wouldn’t be happy about that. But, it is necessary. If only because he needs to make sure the military is equipped to protect him when the mob of screwed-over supporters arrives in D.C. with the pitchforks and torches.

     Look, I know a lot of you are still pretty pissed about this budget. I get that. But, maybe you should take Mulvaney’s advice and look at both sides of the equation. There’s the “decent human being who wants to take care the least of these” side…, and, then there’s Trump’s. I’m sure you’ll see the light eventually. 

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.

Am I Still A Christian?

Doubt TillichOver the years, I’ve had people ask me, “How can you call yourself a Christian with some of the things you believe?” It’s a fair question, seeing as I don’t put much stock in a lot of orthodox beliefs anymore. The short (smartass) answer comes in two parts: 1) I’m a progressive Christian, which means I’m not hung up on a lot the stuff Christians have traditionally worried about: sex, drugs, rock and roll, etc. 2) I’m not really that good of a Christian.

But, a better question is “Why do I still call myself a Christian?” I think the answer to that will make more sense if I tell what I do and don’t believe these days.

  • The Biblical creation story _ I don’t believe the story told in Genesis is a historical, factual account of the world’s creation. The evidence presented by science about the Big Bang and evolution is overwhelming and to believe otherwise is to be willfully ignorant. That is not to say that I think the Genesis story should be tossed out. For me, it exists as myth or allegory and has to do with why we’re here, not how we got here.
  • That the Bible is the literal, inerrant Word of God _ I gave this one up a long time ago, if I ever really believed in the first place. That was only reinforced by the fact that, for me, learning the history of the Bible was a lot like watching sausage being made: it wasn’t pretty. The Bible has a place in my life, to be sure. But, it’s not the be all, end all of things.
  • The Virgin Birth _  I no longer believe that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. That’s just not how biology works. Besides, the whole thing is based on a mistranslation of one word. In my opinion, the virgin birth story was a literary device that, like several other historically questionable events in the birth narratives, was meant to show that Jesus was special. Personally, I prefer to spend my time working on living the way he taught than how he was conceived.
  • An actual physical resurrection _ A few years ago, there was a bit of a dust-up between Tony Jones and Marcus Borg about whether the resurrection was physical or spiritual, with Jones arguing for physical. As I followed this discussion (between Jones and his detractors. Marcus was smart enough not to get down in the mud with them), I began to realize I had trouble accepting that Jesus’ body was reanimated and he walked around in it. The best I can do with this one is to believe that something happened in that tomb that inspired his followers to carry on, even in the face of persecution, oppression and death at the hands of the state.
  • The Trinity _ Actually, saying I don’t believe in the Trinity isn’t accurate. A better way to put it would be that I don’t really give a shit. Like the preceding items on this list, I don’t see how spending any time on it makes me a better follower of Jesus, so why bother?
  • Whether God even exists _ I suppose this makes me more of agnostic than anything else. I say this because I’ve never had that moment that some people talk about where God knocked me to my knees. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt the presence of God at any point in my life. At least, not in the way others have spoken of.

So, in light of all this, why do I still call myself a Christian? Because the way Jesus taught us to live is a pretty damn decent one. It  definitely makes makes me a better person. And, understand when I say “the way Jesus taught us to live”, I’m not talking about the perversion that is American Christianity, I mean what he actually said: love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, forgive those who treat you badly, don’t hoard your wealth, share with those who have less…, you get the picture.

Trans-parenting

Wednesday evening, my son Parker and I spoke to some of the members of our church family about our experiences with transgender issues; he, as a trans man and me as the father of a person who is transgender. This is the video of that talk. If you can’t watch it, what follows is a close (i.e. improved) version of I said. I hope you enjoy it.

I have a friend who likes to say, “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” I have to amend that because, while I do love Jesus, I cuss a LOT. I am going to do my best not to do that tonight, but all I can guarantee is no f-bombs.

Now, I’ve always been pretty liberal around social issues: I figure as long as no one’s getting hurt, it’s none of my business. Never really been concerned with who somebody loved. I was thinking about this and said to myself, “Yeah, but you grew up in rural North Carolina in the 60’s and 70’s. How many gay people did you actually know?” Come to find out I knew quite a few; at least four people have come out since we graduated high school. The signs were there; two of those people got fake ID’s, not so they could drink, but so they get into Daddy-o’s and dance. (Daddy-o’s was the place to go in central NC during the disco era)

I attribute this liberal attitude to two things: 1) my parents always taught me to judge people based on who they are, not something they didn’t have control of, like the color of their skin or their sexuality. And 2) I was out of the church during the heyday of the evangelical insanity surrounding LGBT issues. So, I didn’t have to deal with that.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to this stuff; I just want to put that out there, right up front. I do know more about it than I ever thought I would. That said, sometimes, I feel like I’ve just scraped the surface.

As Parker said, he came out as trans in 2013. I was at the beach, relaxing and having a good time when I got a phone call. It was Parker and he said, “Dad, I didn’t want to do this over the phone, but I need to tell you that I’m trans.” I think my response was, “Okay, then. This is a heck of time to tell me.” I didn’t care and, to be honest, I wasn’t really surprised. It was something I had seen coming for a while. In fact, as soon as he told me, everything fell into place and made perfect sense.

When your kid drops a bombshell like this one, you’ve got two choices: denial (which never works out well) or acceptance. I chose acceptance. When I signed on for this parenting gig, it was for the long haul and I couldn’t write him off. But, acceptance means you have to start educating yourself. So, I started researching and learning.

Now, the one thing that taught me the most, and you’re not going to believe this, is a South Park episode. It’s called “The Cissy”. C-I-S-S-Y, which comes from the term, “cisgender”, or what a lot of folks (erroneously) call “normal people”. Basically, it means you identify with the sex you were assigned at birth.

I’m not going to go into the details of the plot, but as it starts, Cartman is tired of waiting in line in the boy’s room during recess and not having enough time to do what he wants to do. He finally gets fed up, sticks a bow on his hat and says “I’m ‘transginger’. That means, I can use the girl’s restroom.”  If you think that sounds a lot like certain Republicans these days, you’re right. And, when your elected officials start to sound like Eric Cartman, you’ve got a problem. South Park gets a bad rap all of the time, but they’re doing some of the best social commentary on television these days.

So, what I wanted to talk to you about is what it’s like to be the parent of a kid who’s trans. For me it was humbling, more than anything. By the time Parker was 18, I didn’t think I knew everything about being a dad, but I did think I had a pretty good handle on it. As it turns out, I did not, In fact, I found out how much I did not know. There was an avalanche of new things to learn.

Like names, for instance. When you’ve called someone by one name all their life, it’s a little difficult to start calling them something else. Add in the fact that the new name is a different gender and things get even harder. But, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Then, there are pronouns. Pronouns are hard. Again, calling someone “he” when you’ve spent the past 18 years calling them “she” is not easy. There are new gender-neutral pronouns like “zie” or “hir” along with those old standby’s,“they/them”. I like to consider myself a bit of writer and, as someone who works with words, these phrases are a bit…, difficult to work into a conversation. But again, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Let’s not forget the discrimination. I’m a straight, white cisgender man who lives in the South, which means if you were to look up “top of the heap” in the dictionary, you’d see my picture. So, I don’t know much about discrimination first hand because I’ve never experienced it. Now, if it was me who was being treated this way, it wouldn’t that big a deal. I could handle that. But, it’s my kid. It’s a lot different when it’s your kid they’re talking about.

As most everyone knows, I used to work for the Raleigh Fire Department and firefighters are generally very conservative people. They come from a traditional, working class background and I’ve had to listen to a lot of BS from them lately. At one point, things got so bad, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“There have been a lot of ugly, hateful things being said by people who support HB 2 and the fact that some of these words are coming from people I have counted as brothers and sisters, people who I served with as a firefighter, feels like a betrayal. We shared meals together, risked our lives for each other and the community and talked each other down after dealing with trauma that threatened to break us. And now, you want force my son, who is transgender, into situations that expose him to harassment, humiliation and even violence for incredibly thin, even ridiculous, reasons. That hurts. A lot.

I know that, eventually, we’ll get past this. One day, things will be normal again; not the same, but “normal”. We’ll be able to laugh and joke and tell the war stories we all love hearing, even though we heard them a thousand times before. But, not now. Right now, I don’t believe I want to talk to you people.”

Now, if I had seen one of my friends post something like that, I hope I would say, “Whoa, I need to back up!” But, that didn’t happen. Basically I was told to “get over it”. About the nicest response was, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about your son”. But, it is my son you’re talking about. How can you not understand that?

As I said just a minute ago, there’s violence involved. There was a study conducted in the DC Metro area that found almost 70% of people who are transgender have experienced harassment up to, and including, violence in bathrooms. And, I don’t believe that’s an anomaly.

It’s hard being a parent in today’s world with all the crap you have to worry about. Now, as the parent of a kid who’s trans, you get to add something else: the possibility that someone will do something stupid to your kid because they don’t like trans people. I’m not stressed enough whenever my son walks out the door, worrying about the normal stuff he might encounter So, now I’ve got this extra dose of angst to go on top it. That is probably what bothers me more than anything.

There are only two ways that I can see someone’s motivations for supporting these laws. One is that they think my son is predator who might use an ordinance like Charlotte’s to find new prey. The other is that my child’s well-being is less important to them than an imaginary threat. And, the “bathroom predator” threat has been conclusively debunked. Something like 200 municipalities and 18 states include gender identity in the anti-discrimination laws and none of them can trace an increase in sexual assault back to these laws.

While it’s tough, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are good things that have come from this:

  • I finally have a son. His older sister used to  say that Parker was the “boy” I’d always  wanted. We didn’t know just how right she was. Now, we get to do stuff together we might get to do otherwise; this comes in particularly handy during the male bake-off (the rules say men can’t get any help from women) because he’s a much better baker than I am.
  • He can talk to people! The change since he began to transition is amazing. Talking to strangers was almost impossible, to the point that he couldn’t even order food at McDonald’s. Just getting that extra layer of junk (the dysphoria) out of the way a massive amount of difference.
  • There has been a big improvement in his mental health, if only because, now he can talk to his therapist. I have gone to therapy sessions with him and sat in the room for an hour and listening to the doctor try to get him to say something. And, not a word in response.

While I do worry about his safety, I don’t worry about how he will make it in the world. I can see this huge change in him and I know that he has a community that loves and accepts him and that makes all the difference in the world.

Looking For The Bright Side Of NC House Bill 2

Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.
Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.

I’ve written quite few posts about NC House Bill 2 of late and they’ve been…, let’s say, “less than complimentary”. As a young man growing up in the South, one of the lessons that was beaten into me that I learned was if I couldn’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Sadly, the ship concerning the latter part of that adage sailed a long time ago. So today, in an attempt to live up to my raisin’, I thought I’d take a shot at finding something nice to say about a law that I have referred to as a steaming pie of discriminatory shit. Something tells me this may not be so easy.

First up, we have to address the fact that HB 2 has rekindled conservatives’ love of laws. I mean, they’ve spent years telling us how laws (of the gun control variety) don’t stop criminals. Now, however, they’re convinced this new one will prevent the awful (and non-existent) threat posed by bathroom predators. It really makes me happy to see my conservative friends embracing law and order once again.
Next up, there’s the way HB 2 has revealed the bigotry that abounds when it comes to LGBT folks, especially the “T’s”. Okay, the fact that folks don’t seem to have a single fucking qualm about shitting on people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and the rest of the alphabet soup that makes up that acronym wasn’t exactly what you’d call a huge  secret. But, every so often, we seem to need reminders that people like to discriminate against those they don’t understand. And, more importantly, that doing so is wrong.
We can’t forget how House Bill 2 has helped shine a light on Republican hypocrisy when it comes to the best way to govern. For years, the GOP has championed small government and local control. But, since they took control in Raleigh 4 years ago, they’ve attempted to take over the operation of Charlotte-Douglas Airport, they did take over Ashville’s water system and changed the make-up of Greensboro’s city council, all without these cities consent or public referendum. Even if you disagree with their methods, you’ve got to admire their chutzpah. Or not. I mean, it is pretty shitty.
Finally, there’s the fact that our esteemed legislators didn’t say anything about religion, freedom or anything else along these lines. This is good because, for once, bigoted assholes aren’t hiding behind their faith while they treat people like shit; they’re hiding behind their wives and children. Is that just as much of a dick move as saying Jesus told you to discriminate? Well, yeah; if anything, it’s an even bigger one. But, at least the J-man is catching a break this time. God knows, he could use one.

Well, would you look at that? Turns out finding the bright side(s) of HB 2 wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I mean, all I had to do was turn my already jaundiced eye on the fetid swamp that is North Carolina politics and look beyond all the bullshit the GOP-dominated General Assembly is spewing to find the actual benefits(?) of House Bill 2. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take multiple showers in what is probably a futile attempt to feel clean again.

Christians For Trump Pt II

This is the man that evangelical Christians are lining up behind. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.
This is the man behind whom more and more evangelical Christians are lining up. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.

On a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight“, John Oliver said, “Donald Trump is America’s back mole. It may have seemed harmless a year ago. But, now that it got frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.” And, much as I wish he wasn’t, he is absolutely right. Especially since Trump is starting to pick up endorsements. The political ones, like Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, don’t bother me a whole lot. Christie’s performance in the primaries shows that Americans think he’s a tool and Sessions has only to open his mouth for people to figure that out. No, it’s the religious leaders jumping on the Trump bandwagon that are most disconcerting to me.

Yes, beloved, I said “religious leaders”. Amazingly, The Donald is picking up a good deal of support among evangelical Christians. The list of endorsements from that quarter reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right. There’s

  • Jerry Falwell, Jr.
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
  • David Jeremiah
  • Jan Crouch
  • Paula White
  • Robert Jeffress

This list is not exhaustive, it only includes the ones I could verify this morning.

There is one endorsement that I feel deserves more than a mere mention in a list and it comes from James David Manning, “pastor” of ATLAH World Ministries. In the past, Manning has claimed that Starbucks uses semen to make their lattes “even more flavorful” and that gay men would “carry babies in the testicles for nine months and then gestate them out of their assholes” before the City of New York foreclosed on his church for non-payment of water bills. Understand that if you’re backing Trump, you agree with this psycho. Chew on that for a minute.

Of course, Manning isn’t the only “controversial” figure who has come out in support of The Donald; there’s a group with views even more disgusting than Manning’s who are lining up behind Trump: white supremacists. And, he’s cool with that.

Okay, given his comments about Islam and immigration, it’s really no surprise that Ku Klux Klan chiefs like Rachel  Pendergraft (national organizer for the Knights Party, a KKK standard-bearer) and former Grand Wizard David Duke like what they hear. But, it is more than a little shocking that, in 2016, a candidate for the highest office in the land refuses to disavow their support. This is not a joke, people. Trump actually refused, on national television, to condemn an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper gave The Donald multiple chances to distance himself from these people. Tapper brought up Duke’s message to white people that voting against Trump would be “treason to your heritage” and Trump…, well,  you just have to watch it for yourself:

Well, that’s “problematic” (and yes, I realize that is an understatement of massive proportions). But, even more problematic is the fact that it doesn’t seem to bother the Christians who are flocking to his campaign. You’d think the last thing people who follow Jesus would want is to be allied with representatives of what may be the most odious organization in American history (the GOP is coming on strong). But, I guess not. There’s no outrage, no calls for a boycott of all things Trump. Basically, there’s just silence. So far, all I’ve seen is Robert Jeffress’ answer to The Daily Beast’s request for a comment:  “Thanks but I think I’ll pass on this one!”

Siding with the Klan is right where you want to be as a Christian, isn’t it? You know, it’s one thing to watch Trump bullshit his way through hard questions (which are “hard” because he can’t answer the way he should for fear alienating a large part of his base), but it’s another to see a Christian run from the opportunity to call Trump out for not rejecting the support of such an awful group. It’s called “speaking truth to power” and it used to be a thing in Christianity. But, these days? Not so much, it seems.

Don’t Do It, Charlotte? Too Late, They Done Did It

satire def
^^^Because some people are irony-impaired.^^^

So, the Charlotte city council recently voted to allow transgenders to use whatever bathroom they damn well please. Well, beloved, if you need a sign of the moral degeneration currently taking place in the United States, here it is. I mean, we’re seriously going to let men use women’s bathrooms just because they claim to “feel like a woman”? If it’s not immediately struck down, we’re headed for a disaster of biblical proportions! Complete with human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria.

You may think that response is a little over the top, but you’d be oh so wrong. You see, in the two days since Charlotte passed this abomination, some of North Carolina’s most God-fearing leaders have begun shouting from the mountain tops to alert the citizens that the dreaded “gay agenda” is attempting to take over our fair state.

As I told you a couple of weeks ago, Franklin Graham spoke up about the menace to our children represented in this legal anathema. And, right before the vote, Governor Pat McCrory emailed the two conservative stalwarts on the council to inform them that passage would “most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention.” Yesterday, Speaker of the NC House Tim Moore released a statement that legislators are planning a bill to block not only Charlotte’s ordinance, but also in any other similar laws passed in the state. Thank you, God, for men such as these.

Make no mistake, brothers and sisters, this is the moral crisis of our generation and we need to stand strong. Oh sure, several NC communities are all over lists of the hungriest cities in the nation and, a list of municipalities where poverty is growing the fastest includes the four largest cities in the state, but who cares about a bunch of deadbeats now that the government has decided to take up for the gays? Even worse, they want to protect a bunch of she-males? There’s a word for those people and we all know what it is (it starts with “pr” and ends with “edator”).

Is there any basis for the fear that child molesters will use this “bathroom bill” as a way to find little girls for their nefarious purposes? Of course not. Are there, in fact, multiple places where such ordinances have been on the books for several years and haven’t resulted in an increase in sexual assault or rape? Absolutely (see above link). Stop clouding the issue with facts, damn it!

Look, I know that persecuting gays and trannies seems to fly in the face of Christianity since Christians suffered awful persecution in the days of the early church and we follow a man who taught to us love and accept everyone, not just people who look like us. And, a Republican-controlled legislature passing laws to subvert a city council’s decision seems utterly absurd, as they constantly remind us that the GOP is the party of small government. But, seriously, none of that matters. Things are changing and, as a straight, white, cisgender (and by “cisgender”, I mean “normal”) man, I am terrified that gays and the transgenders might  treat me as bad as I’ve treated them. I’m not sure I could stand that.

ADHD and Church

Something I've said more than once.
Something I’ve said more than once.

Those of us who have ADHD often hear some version of “In my day we didn’t have ADHD. We had parents who weren’t afraid to discipline, and kids who were sent outside to play until the lights came on.” Yes, because ADHD isn’t an actual disorder and can be dealt with by letting your kids play outside. Oh, and don’t forget to beat the shit out of them. Because that always works.

Here’s the problem with that line of thought: I grew up in the era it references; I played outside, even after the lights came on (what kind of wuss goes in just because it’s dark?) and I was “disciplined” (and by “disciplined”, I mean “got my ass beat”) on an almost daily basis. And, guess what? I still have a rockin’ case of ADHD. So much for that theory.

While I can’t say I suffer from ADHD, I’m not going to lie and say I enjoy every minute of it, either. Between the fact that society isn’t set up for people with attention deficit and the maroons who try to tell you that it isn’t real, having this condition can be a real pain in the ass. That’s because most things in life cater to “normal” people, not whimsical souls like me. (And by “whimsical souls”, I mean “people with the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel puppy”)

One place that can prove challenging for people with ADHD is church. I know that sounds weird because church is supposed to a refuge, a place where everyone is welcome. And, in general, we are. The challenge comes in long, drawn out prayers and sermons, especially ones that don’t have much going on. Those things? They’re like a slow death for someone with ADHD.

Prayer time is the worst. I bow my head and close my eyes and it’s off to the races. It does not matter how hard I try to concentrate, my mind will take a random phrase from the prayer and go off on some weird free-association spree that defies description. Eventually, if the prayer goes on long enough, I’ll try and pull myself back to reality, only to spin off on another tangent seconds later. This stream-of-consciousness rampage is only halted by the word, “Amen”. Hell, I even do this when I’m praying to myself. The only way to prevent it is to write the prayer down and read it out loud. I’m sure that violates some rule about praying, but I’m past caring.

Sermons are a little better because I can take notes, which helps me focus. Of course, I still miss a few things, but at least it’s because I’m trying to get something worth remembering down on paper and not off in the ozone, daydreaming about traveling the galaxy on Serenity with Mal and his crew. Sadly, I’m not making that up; I’ve actually done it…, as an adult…, during church. Sorry, Michael.

Lest you think I’m whining about how my church isn’t meeting my needs, I’m not. The truth is, College Park does an excellent job at keeping me engaged and I’ve developed coping skills to deal with any problems that I might encounter. No, if I’m whining about anything, it’s living in a society that’s not set up for me and forces me to use those coping skills even in church, something that supposed to be a respite from the stress the world puts on us. I realize that whining is not a very grown up thing to do. But, then, no one has ever accused me of being a grown-up.

Remembering History: The Greensboro Sit-ins

I wrote the first version of this post three years ago. Since this is the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins, I thought this would a good time to dust it off and give you an updated version. Enjoy.

The Greensboro Sit-ins at their height: 63 of 66 seats taken by African-American students waiting to be served. It only took 6 months for them to get a bite to eat.

57 years ago today, four college students walked in and sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N. C. Now, a group of people sitting down at the lunch counter wasn’t a big deal; it happened every day. But, this? This was different.

You see, these four young men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan) and David Richmond, were African-American and African-Americans were not served at this particular lunch counter. If a black person wanted to eat at Woolworth’s, they went to the counter in the basement. But, under no circumstances did they sit down at the main counter upstairs, a custom that prevailed in Woolworth stores across the south in those days.

But, these four 17-year-old freshmen did just that, politely asking to be served. Eventually, the manager asked them to leave, but they didn’t; they stayed on those stools until closing time. The next morning, the four, later known as the Greensboro Four, were back along with 20 of their peers, including students from Bennett College (a historically black women’s college in Greensboro). On the third day, 60 students showed up. By the fourth day, the crowd had grown to more than 300 people and 63 of the 66 seats at the lunch counter occupied by young African-Americans with final three seats taken by waitresses. That must have been a sight to see.

At first, Woolworth’s stood by their policy, stating they would abide by local custom and keep the counter segregated. But, after 6 months of bad sales and worse publicity, they relented and opened it anyone. The story doesn’t end there, however.

The actions of these four young men started a chain reaction, with sit-ins happening all over the south which led to the desegregation of not just lunch counters, but other places as well. In May of 1960, a group of Nashville students led by John Lewis, the Georgia congressman our president recently accused of all talk and no action, achieved citywide desegregation. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no going back.

The sit-ins also led the SCLC to fund a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh N. C. for delegates from the sit-in centers, 19 northern colleges and groups like CORE, and the SDS . Out of this conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was formed. To say the sit-ins changed the face of the civil rights movement is an understatement. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have nearly as successful if those four young men hadn’t walked into Woolworth’s that day.

I grew up in Greensboro and, for North Carolina, it’s a pretty progressive town. I’m not sure why, Maybe, it’s because this area was originally settled by Quakers, a group known for being progressive. Guilford County was a stop on the Underground Railroad and Levi Coffin, one of the most well-known conductors, grew up here. And, of course, there are the Sit-ins.

But Greensboro has a split personality when it comes to race and civil rights. Yes, it was here that sit-ins brought new attention to the civil rights movement. But, it was also here that, in 1979, a group of Nazis and Klansmen shot and killed 5 protesters in what is known as the Greensboro Massacre. Go figure.

Here in the United States, we’ve come a long way regarding equality. Jim Crow laws are pretty much a thing of the past (the overt ones, at least). Black people are welcome in any establishment in the city and their employment opportunities have increased. Sounds good, huh?

On the surface, maybe. But, according to the latest data, almost 1 in 5 people in this city live below the poverty line and most of them are black. And, in the last few years, North Carolina has enacted new voting laws that purposely make it harder for African-Americans to vote. To top it all off, the President of the United States is a black man and has been subjected to more vitriol than any president in recent memory. The intransigence that seems to be a part of American (especially southern) DNA, can be discouraging. When it is, reading about what happened in 1960 lifts my spirits. If we could make those changes, the ones facing us today aren’t so bad. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.