Archive for the ‘Donald Trump’ Tag

The Immorality of Separating Families at the U.S.-Mexican Border   2 comments

Making a Mockery of Claims to Upholding Family Values

For the last few days I have noticed the bipartisan denunciations of one consequence of the Trump Administration’s Zero-Tolerance Policy–separating children from their parents.  I have also noticed official defenses of that policy, denials of its existence, and outright lies flowing from Washington, D.C.  Furthermore, I have noticed condemnations from a wide range of religious leaders.  I have a simple message for anyone who defends this execrable policy:

You have no moral right to lecture me about family values.

To all those who have condemned this policy as immoral, I say “thank you.”  I add my voice to yours.  May more of us speak up.  May more members of U.S. officialdom speak up.  May more of us who claim to follow God actually do so and speak up.

Here endeth the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRANCK, HEINRICH HELD, AND SIMON DACH, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MASSIE, HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Posted June 18, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2018

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Virtues of the Saints   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

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Reading and writing about lives of saints are ennobling hobbies.  Certainly I find them preferable to a host of alternative possible ways to spend time, not all of which are inherently bad.  I might, for example, follow the news of perfidy, disregard for the truth, and probable criminality rife in the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States of America more closely.  Or I might pour over all the details of political attacks (under false pretenses) on a Roman Catholic chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, complete with doses of Evangelical-Fundamentalist bias against Roman Catholicism, with its celibate priesthood in the Latin Rite.  Or I might lose myself in so-called reality shows.  But no, I prefer Bible studies and hagiographies.

I have been taking notes on saints with feast days ranging from July 7 to 11; I have not completed that project yet.  I have also made plans to draft posts, merge four feasts extant on my ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS into two feasts, and to create new posts during the next few days.

To focus on the lives of holy people, from antiquity to my lifetime, is to consider those who followed Christ left noble legacies.  There is never a bad time to do that, but now seems like an especially appropriate time, at least for me.  Nobody is perfect, but many of us are genuinely good.  I seek to, in the words of novelist Alex Haley,

Find the good and praise it.

As for current events, the passage of time and the efforts of principled investigators will reveal and document the truth, which will reside in the realm of objective reality, not opinion.  I leave that work to those suited for it.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA ROSA GATTORNO, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT ANNE, MOTHER OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF TOBIAS CLAUSNITZER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE DICKINSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

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False Allegation of Treason   Leave a comment

Can we call that treason?  Why not?  I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.

–Donald Trump, Febrary 5, 2018

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DONALD TRUMP IS A SHAMELESS BASTARD.

I define a bastard according to his character, not the marital status of his parents at the time of his conception, for no person is illegitimate.

Recently, at the State of the Union Address, many Democrats refused to clap.  This was neither unusual nor was it partisan behavior restricted to members of the Democratic Party.  Many Republican members of Congress have done the same when a Democratic President has addressed Congress.  Earlier today Trump, speaking to supporters, likened that Democratic refusal to applaud him both treasonous and un-American.

Shall we unpack that?  Treason is a high bar.  Those who have committed it include Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr (not convicted, though), Henri-Philippe Pétain, Vidkun Quisling (whose surname has become a synonym for a traitor), David Greenglass, Julius Rosenberg, and Aldrich Ames.  They sold out their countries.  As far as I can tell, Arnold believed primarily in himself.  Burr plotted to found a new country on U.S. soil.  Pétain and Quisling collaborated with the Third Reich.  Greenglass, Rosenberg, and Ames passed secrets to Moscow.  Nobody has actually been guilty of treason for refusing to applaud a head of state, especially in a democratic republic, although certain dictators have punished dissidents harshly.  Has Trump wished he could be a despot?

Then again, Trump, consistent with the bad character of the bastard he is, has expressed his disdain for dissent repeatedly.  He has given voice to disregard for the freedoms of speech and press.  As I have written, no administration is the nation-state.  Dissent might merely be dissent, or it might rise to the level of the highest form of patriotism, but it is never treason.

And how do we treat traitors?  We incarcerate them for life or execute them, do we not?

What is un-American?  Accusing American citizens who are peaceably dissenting of committing treason and being un-American is un-American.  Trampling liberties while wrapping oneself in the American flag is un-American.  Donald Trump is un-American.  He is also deplorable.

Here I stand; I can do no other.  My conscience is captive to the highest ideals of the United States of America.  Therefore I refuse to remain silent.  If I were to do so, I would violate my conscience.  Out of my conscience and my loyalty to the nation-state I oppose the administration and the bastard who leads it.  That is patriotism, not treason. It is also quintessentially American.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

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That Which Defiles   1 comment

Above:  The Seal of the President of the United States

Image in the Public Domain

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I ask for a few characteristics in a President of the United States.  I seek a stable, level-headed person who safeguards the civil rights of Americans, is not trigger-happy (especially with nuclear weapons), and conducts himself or herself in such a dignified manner.  I have no President, although I am a citizen of the United States.

In Euclidian geometry one needs only two points to form a line.  In the case of the man one conservative journalist from Orange County, California, today called “Andrew Dice Trump,” we have a lifetime that forms a pattern.  Trump is simultaneously the eldest and the most juvenile (in a negative way) temporary occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The most recent point in that pattern comes from yesterday, when, in a meeting with U.S. Senators, he referred to “shithole” countries (all of which have majority populations of color) and longed for more immigrants from Norway (with a majority White population).  Trump has continued other patterns–lying and blaming his self-inflicted wounds on others.

Perhaps the most appropriate theological commentary on the Dishonorable Donald Trump, Racist Vulgarian-in-Chief, is comes from Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew:

What goes into the mouth does not make anyone unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that makes someone unclean.

–Matthew 15:11, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Here ends the lesson.

I refuse to be silent.  If I cannot condemn this easily, what can I condemn?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT BISCOP, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF WEARMOUTH

THE FEAST OF SAINT AELRED OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF RIEVAULX

THE FEAST OF HENRY ALFORD, DEAN OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL PREISWERK, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Modified slightly from the original post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Posted January 12, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2018

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The Freedom of the Press   1 comment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

–The First Amendment (ratified in 1791) to the Constitution of the United States

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It is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.

–Donald Trump, October 12, 2017

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Donald Trump, who puts the bully in bully pulpit, is frankly disgusting.  The First Amendment is a crown jewel in the crown of freedom.  Freedom of the press is an American as the First Amendment.  The fact that certain news stories are not flattering or politically helpful does not strip them of their status as protected speech under the freedom of the press.  If one does not approve of a certain story that is neither libelous nor slanderous, so be it; one should suck it up, so to speak.

Here I stand.  I can and will do no other.  The First Amendment matters that much to me.  It should matter that much to all Americans.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Deplorables   2 comments

Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:  it not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

–Matthew 15:10-11, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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If Jesus were speaking today, he would include websites and social media in that statement.

I used to be a news junkie.  In the middle and late 1980s, I could recognize the names of most of the United States Senators.  In 2015 and 2016, however, I began to choose being sane over being thoroughly informed.  I also decided to tend to my spiritual life more; certain public figures were bad for it, increasing exponentially my use of profanities (in private, under my breath, of course).  I did not grow up using that kind of language routinely.

I have been monitoring the news during the last few days and becoming more horrified with each passing day.  The news stories from Charlottesville, Virginia, and now from Spain have not ceased to develop, but I have collected enough information to make a few informed and moral statements.

Racism is a sin, one that I learned by societal osmosis.  Fortunately, my parents raised me well, to reject racism.

Whenever the sin of racism raises its ugly head in my thoughts (which is to say, often), I reject it and take it to God in confessional mode.  I make no excuses for racism in myself or anyone else.  Related to that ethic, I reject all biases directed at people–on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, gender, et cetera.  Each of us bears the image of God, and therefore carries inherent dignity.  This is a morally consistent position, regardless of the mixed political labels attached to it.

Furthermore, I condemn almost all violence, for most of it is unnecessary and morally wrong.  I do understand defense of oneself and others, however.  Human nature is flawed and the world is imperfect, after all.  Certainly I condemn the violence of the racist thugs at Charlottesville last Saturday and the terrorists in Spain yesterday.  I do so without any hesitation and backtracking.  The political causes differ, but the problem of violent radicalization is the same.  The reality of the killing and injuring of innocent people is also consistent, as is the use of vehicles as deadly weapons.

Contrary to the unscripted words of the increasingly politically isolated inhabitant of the White House, he who has professed to care about getting facts straight then who, in the wake of the attacks in Spain, has tweeted a lie about General John J. Pershing killing Muslims with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs, there was no moral equivalence between Klansmen and neo-Nazis on one side and anti-racist protesters on the other.  One of the chants of the violent racists at Charlottesville was

The Jews will not replace us.

How could there, in Trump’s words, have been

very fine people

on both sides?  This week Trump seems to have prompted many prominent Republicans in Congress to do what I had thought impossible:  grow spines.  True, based on news reports, the Vice President, based on his public comments, seems to remain an invertebrate, but the list of prominent Republican vertebrates grows longer with each passing day.

I propose a simple test for one’s denunciations of neo-Nazis and Klansmen, the sort of people who chant

The Jews will not replace us.

The condemnation must be unequivocal and focused.  Klansmen and neo-Nazis must hear it and find in it no reason to agree with any of it or take comfort in it.  None of this describes Trump’s unscripted remarks, the ones that preceded his scripted remarks, the ones he retracted.

Trump could have averted this Charlottesville-related political firestorm easily.  All he had to do was make an unequivocal statement condemning Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists as well as their violence then be consistent.  But he did not do that.  He has also blamed others for the mess he made for himself.  Trump has also been more eager to condemn journalists (calling them enemies) and CEOs with social consciences (accusing them of grandstanding) than Klansmen and neo-Nazis.

Everything is wrong with this picture.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/deplorables/

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The Unfortunate Triumph of Ignorance and Emotionalism   Leave a comment

Above:  The Beginning of the Declaration of Independence 

Image in the Public Domain

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Or, Why We Should Not Fail to Recognize the Text of the Declaration of Independence, Especially on July 4

In 1988 National Public Radio (NPR) began its annual tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on the air on the morning of each July 4.  For years I, as a student of American history, have anticipated the orchestra of voices, each speaker reading a segment of the complete text of that great document.  This year NPR tweeted the full text of the Declaration of Independence in 113 tweets, giving rise to an unfortunate Twitter storm.  There were bitter complaints that NPR was, among other offenses, calling for the violent overthrow of the federal government and daring to (gasp!) criticize Donald Trump, as if criticizing those in authority is unpatriotic and un-American.  (Tsk:  Dissenters founded this country.)  Many angry Twitter uses had to eat crow the following day.

 A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

–From the Declaration of Independence

This incident leads me to some troubling thoughts.  It confirms me in my low opinion of human nature (trust in the faithfulness of God, as Martin Luther said) and illustrates the fact that one negative use of social media is to expose the degree to which one is an overly emotional and poorly informed person.  People out themselves voluntarily and unwittingly as individuals who should study more deeply, or at all.  I recall hearing that my grandfather Taylor, who died in 1976,  said that it was better to have a reputation as a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.  If social media had existed in his time, I am certain, he would have added clauses about posting and sharing.  All of us who are or have been on social media are guilty of some unfortunate acts of posting, sharing, and/or liking, especially with regard to factually inaccurate posts.  I am.  I am also a former used of social media.  It is something best avoided, except for official purposes, at least in my case; I might permit it to take up too much of my time otherwise.

…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

–From the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is a document of which many Americans have superficial knowledge at best.  Many (including some of my students) conflate it with the Constitution, which, of course, a few years younger.  So if one is already worked up emotionally and coming from a certain defensive political perspective while reading a disembodied criticism of George III (Parliament, actually, British Parliamentary supremacy dates to the Glorious Revolution of 1688), one might interpret it as a criticism of Donald Trump or a call for the overthrow of the government.  (George III, by the way, was a loving husband and a kind father-in-law.)  My knowledge of the document is greater than that of such poorly informed Twitter users, for I teach the document not quite line-by-line in U.S. History I survey courses.  The Declaration of Independence is a foundational document, one that schools should teach well and that inquisitiveness should compel one to explore on one’s own.  I do not blame schools and teachers completely though, for, although I teach the document thoroughly, some of my students still manage to confuse it for the Constitution and Thomas Jefferson for James Madison, the Father of the Constitution.  At some point students are responsible for their own ignorance.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

–From the Declaration of Independence

By the way, is not July 4 a wonderful day to read the full text of the Declaration of Independence?  When one thinks about how much many of the signers of the document sacrificed for idealism and country, one should stand in awe of them.

If NPR retweets the Declaration of Independence again next July 4, it will probably meet with a similar reception, unfortunately.  Ignorance and emotionalism seem never to die.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA