What I'm Thinking
Election Day, November 4, 2020
Whether Joe Biden wins the presidency or not [He did], I am stunned this morning by the sheer number of people who voted for Trump. Largely, I believe it is because for decades this country has done a horrible job of educating its people. It’s not the teachers’ fault. It’s not the textbook writers’ fault. It is the fault of the elected officials who set education policy.
Significantly, education in this country has failed teaching critical thinking, history, science, and American government. I believe this is largely on purpose because our country, especially our retired people, do not value education and do not value children. I don’t think it is primarily racism that led so many people to vote for Trump, I think it is ignorance, stupidity (which are two different things), and for a large segment of the population, an actual aversion to education—maybe a hatred of it. They consider education elitist. This is not true in other countries.
Hundreds of people and scores of professional groups in a position who know what it takes to be president endorsed Biden prior to the election. Republicans endorsing Biden include John McCain’s widow Cindy, former GOP governor John Kasich, Colin Powell, Carly Fiorina, former AZ Senator Jeff Flake, and nearly two dozen former George W. Bush staffers. Flake said a Trump second term was "a real danger.”
More than 200 retired generals and admirals endorsed Joe Biden for president in a letter published in September. Then there is the Time Magazine article from September (titled "More of Trump's Former Officials Are Speaking Out Against Him") that listed scores of former officials speaking out against their boss. Among them were Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s second National Security Adviser, and John Bolton, Trump’s third National Security Adviser. Bolton called Trump “a danger to the Republic.” Also in September, a group of nearly 500 former national security leaders, including three senior officers who served under Trump, signed a letter backing Biden.
And then there are the Christian evangelical leaders who jumped ship this year and endorsed Biden. Over 2000 people signed-on to the website “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden.” Those 2000 people included Richard Mouw, President emeritus of the conservative Fuller Theological Seminary; John Huffman, Board Chair emeritus of Christianity Today; Jerushah Duford, Billy graham’s granddaughter; and Ron Sider, President emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action. Of course other Christian leaders had always spoken out against our current president. Those include theologian and writer Matthew Fox; Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners Magazine, and the Reverend William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Add to this the many well-respected national organizations of scientists, teachers, postal workers, medical professionals, journalists, and other religious leaders who endorsed or spoke out for Biden, and you have to ask yourself, how is it possible that so many individual citizens still voted for and still support Trump?
In response to one of the Trump/Biden debates, Tom Nichols said,
"This was not a debate. It was a sustained attack on the American system of government by the president of the United States." And who is Tom Nichols?
Tom Nichols is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters. I rest my case. This country needs to start valuing education, not only in educating our children but in remembering that education is a life-long process. We need to read current and historical sources. We need to reflect on what we are reading. And we need to think critically about everything we read and hear.
Note: This essay was originally published on my Facebook page on 11/4/20, the day after election day 2020. Sources for all of this information were cited beneath several posts on my Facebook page, primarily in September of the same year.
Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018
I've been thinking about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (I guess that's "Sugar City") and all, and how they are struggling to maintain profits and guard our privacy and stop promoting false information about candidates and all kinds of other things. So much to consider. How can they maintain profits and continue being Facebook if they have to...? On and on with the questions. Here's what I think: It's not that hard to put the good of the people first. Self-sacrifice is how good people live. Self-censorship and generosity, whether it is in your business model or your creative pursuits is what is needed here. I self-censor to be sure that what I am offering through my playwriting is of positive benefit to society. Many artists I know give freely and reduce what they could earn because what we really care about is not money but a world we can all applaud, be in awe of, and live in. Imagine if you could wake up every day and give a standing ovation to the world we created together. Let's create that kind of world.
February 11, 2018
These times are distressing. Yet I cannot help but stay positive. I present this reading from The Center for Action and Contemplation [cac.org] not to disparage other creation stories (because there are beautiful metaphors in many of them), but to highlight differences between stories that present a peaceful beginning and those presenting a violent beginning--and where those lead. From Richard Rohr:
"The first book of the Bible, Genesis, is not the Bible’s oldest book. Genesis’ two accounts of creation were compiled in their present form as late as 500 BC. During this period, the Jews were likely in exile in Babylon, where they were exposed to multiple creation stories....[T]he Babylonian Enuma Elish...describes creation happening after a battle between two gods. The male god kills the female god, then tears her body apart and uses half of her to create the heavens and half to create the earth...." [an interesting idea for a play]....
"[T]he driving engine of this story is violence, carnage, and destruction. So, the exiled Jews decided to write down their own oral tradition, surely to stay cohesive as a tribe among all the competing influences from Babylonians and others. In the Judeo-Christian story of Genesis 1, God—who is “Creator” in verse 1, “Spirit” in verse 2, and “Word” in verse 3 (foretastes of what we would eventually call Trinity)—creates from an overflowing abundance of love, joy, and creativity. Humanity’s core question about our origins is whether the engine of creation is violence and destruction or overflowing love, joy, and creativity. Is our starting point love and abundance or is it fear and hatred? How we begin is invariably how we end and how we proceed. Our creation story is important."
It is advent—a time of waiting for Christ to appear. According to Christian historians like John Dominic Crossan and others, it is likely that Jesus was not born at this time of year. It is also likely that any census taken at the time of Jesus’ birth (if Rome even called for one) would not have drawn Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. So what do we do with those historical inaccuracies in the Biblical narrative? Why, at this time of year, are we waiting? And for what?
The thing about sacred scriptures is that they are seldom about history. They are about spiritual things, about changing our inner landscape, about how to approach the complexity of the world with a simple heart. The idea that scriptural stories are not factual, but metaphor, does not weaken them. It makes them stronger. We have to deal with metaphors. We have to delve into metaphors and ask ourselves what the meaning of the story is for us—for our spiritual enhancement, not for our understanding of history. Understanding history is extremely important, as current events show us; however, understanding history is very different from spiritual learning.
I like what James Finley of the Center for Action and Contemplation has to say in this beautiful Advent meditation. This year, I choose to meditate on his words as I wait for the birth of the Christ child and I offer it for your pleasure.