A Question…

Dear God, How Did We Get Here?

Photo not displayed due to obscene content.

Representative Massie family Christmas photo

I’m not a conventionally religious person.  In fact, I don’t consider myself religious at all, but rather, I think of myself as spiritual, with an idiosyncratic set of beliefs based on my life experience.  One of those convictions is that, in a vaguely Jungian way, a critical mass of belief can create global reality.  The best example I can think of is Christmas; originally, “the Christ’s mass.”  I’ve read that modern scholarship puts the birth of Christ as sometime during the warmer months, in accord with astronomical conditions.  The early Church fixed the date to celebrate the mass in December, however, as a counter to Yule, or the winter solstice, a high point of pagan ritual.  Nevertheless, many millions of people around the world consider December 25th to be a holy day (commercialization notwithstanding), and therefore, it has become so to almost one-third of the global population. 

As a non-Christian, I personally don’t hold December 25th to be sacred per se, but still….there’s something about the beauty of the mass and the singing and the joy expressed in the old carols that sanctifies that date, even for me.  Any belief or event or concept that can pause the daily routine across large sections of the globe and bring forth the best part of the human spirit is to be venerated (and that holds true for the holy days in any religion). 

All of this introductory rationale is here to explain my absolute disgust for the perversion of the Christmas spirit that I’ve witnessed this year more than any other.  One example:  Representative Thomas Massie’s (R-KY) family photo, showing his wife and children grouped around a Christmas tree, all gleefully brandishing rifles and shotguns.  The accompanying tweet requested that Santa bring ammunition.  Not to be left behind, Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), published a similar photo with her family.  That such pictures would be created for public consumption at all is beyond outrageous.  That they’d appear just a few days after the tragic shootings at Oxford High School is inconceivable to any person possessing one iota of compassion. 

As my s-i-l would say, “What the actual f**k is going on with these people?”  It doesn’t matter what their background is, or if Mommy loved them; it doesn’t matter that they’re tasteless and tone-deaf and might think such scenes are cute; it doesn’t matter if the photos were staged to poke political opponents or gun-safety advocates.  These so-called “representatives” put dangerous weapons into their children’s hands and had them pose for photos related to a holy day, a day dedicated for millennia to love and peace.  How do implements designed solely to kill embody the spirit of Christmas?  And as a practical matter, as the preponderance of right-wingers are Christians, how does the glorification of gun possession square with the adoration of a peaceful being?  Guns don’t equate to peace and harmony in any situation, even in the fantasy “good guy with a gun” scenario.

And yet….these holiday photos are just one more escalation of the violence with which the year began, the armed invasion of our Capitol.  In some traditions, January 6th is the end of the Christmas season, or Epiphany.  In a bizarre — and surely unintended — way, the mayhem has spanned from one Christ’s mass to another.  The irony is breathtaking.  It seems as if this country started the year as it meant to go on:  locked into violence and contention. 

In a twisted way, Representatives Massie and Boebert have normalized and personalized the hatred and threats we saw when the Capitol was attacked.  Are they trying to say it’s a family thing?  The family that shoots together stays together?  We know that Jennifer Crumbley, mother of the Michigan school shooter, had admonished her son to “not get caught” running searches for ammunition for the handgun given to him by his father.  And these dysfunctional parents thought it was quite suitable to give their troubled teenager a weapon, the father subverting gun laws to get it into the boy’s hands.  Naturally, the gun was an early gift in honor of that upcoming holiday that’s supposed to symbolize goodwill toward men.

Between the beginning and the end of this year, violence and aggression have proliferated as quickly as the pandemic virus and its variants.  Of course, the U.S. has been a shoot-’em-up culture since its early days, but not since the era of the mythologized “Old West” has it been acceptable to play out in real life one’s animosities and love for destruction.  Or at least, acceptable to a large swath of our society.  But we’re living in a new age here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  The news has been full of reports this year of brawls at school board meetings and death threats made to low-level election officials.  Then there was the cartoon disseminated by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), depicting his killing of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When it caused a stir and then a rare censure in the House, Gosar responded by RE-SENDING the cartoon to his admiring fans. No remorse, no restraint, no shame.

It was a shocker for a hot minute last year when the plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan was revealed, but that unheard-of level of hard-right fanaticism soon sank below the radar.  The horrific images broadcast worldwide on January 6th frightened and appalled [most of] us, but there’s a cadre in the GOP faction that is now firmly behind the “peaceful day of tourism” Big Lie, propagating it incessantly on complicit media outlets.  It’s getting to the point when the previously unthinkable barely makes a headline.  Those who believe violence is the first and only resort have succeeded in pushing the rest of us almost beyond the ability to be surprised and outraged.  Shootings, vehicular homicide, mass casualty events — all these things have become so common as to be unremarkable.  Tragically.

What was the switch?  How was it tripped?  What in the tenor of American life altered so unequivocally that half the country condones or at least shrugs at violence, and the other half feels helpless in the face it?  How, in the name of all that’s holy, whether you’re a Christian or a Cargo Cultist, did we arrive at this precipice over the abyss of utter chaos, and how do we step back?

23 thoughts on “A Question…

  1. Jesus was arrested to be crucified after he violently turned over the tables of the Bankers and Merchants operating the Shopping Mall on Temple property in a Kosher deal with the Priests of the Temple.

    All these Centuries later in the Christian Nations, the Birth of Jesus is the BIGGEST money making Season for the Bankers and Merchants.
    The Banks love the poor Masses making the minimum payment on their maxed out Credit Cards.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I believe that, because of the general flaws of human nature and the tumultuous world in which we are all confined, an increase in population thus human minds will be accompanied by greater instability. However, if the collective nature of the world and human masses were instead peaceful, I could imagine a potential benefit to an increase in population, assuming there was sufficient quantities of clean life-sustaining elements (i.e. air, drinking water, food and shelter).

        Place a relatively/proportionately greater populace at the Holy Temple during Passover, with a disenchanted and increasingly influential Jesus, two millennia ago — and one might find things much more chaotic.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s Merry Gunmas! The true spirit of America. Or, as the bumper sticker puts it: “God, guns, and guts made America great.”

    Who needs the Prince of Peace?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hopefully, a majority of the constituents of these two Representatives will have enough integrity to vote them out of office. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just looked up Cargo Cult. It just reinforces what my old housemate said about me in 1970, “Daryl, you are left out of mainstream American culture” (because I couldn’t identify a certain TV program).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you are on the same sort of search that Mr. Dylan was on, when he penned the lyrics to this song.
    I was going to post another one of his tunes for this topic… Everything Is Broken. But of course just posting the name of this song says it all; it writes itself after the title of his piece.

    “Got no place to fade, got no coat
    I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
    Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
    About dignity”
    This is what I felt like reading your creation today. Definitely a case of sea-sickness!

    “Dignity”

    Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
    Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
    Hollow man lookin’ in a cotton field
    For dignity

    Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
    Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
    Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
    For dignity

    Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
    Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
    I went into the city, went into the town
    Went into the land of the midnight sun

    Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
    Searchin’ everywhere I know
    Askin’ the cops wherever I go
    Have you seen dignity?

    Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
    Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
    Hopin’ to find one circumstance
    Of dignity

    I went to the wedding of Mary Lou
    She said, “I don’t want nobody see me talkin’ to you”
    Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew
    About dignity

    I went down where the vultures feed
    I would’ve gone deeper, but there wasn’t any need
    Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
    Wasn’t any difference to me

    Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
    House on fire, debts unpaid
    Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
    Have you seen dignity?

    Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
    In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
    Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
    For dignity

    Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues
    Said he’d give me information if his name wasn’t used
    He wanted money up front, said he was abused
    By dignity

    Footprints runnin’ ’cross the silver sand
    Steps goin’ down into tattoo land
    I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light
    In the bordertowns of despair

    Got no place to fade, got no coat
    I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
    Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
    About dignity

    Sick man lookin’ for the doctor’s cure
    Lookin’ at his hands for the lines that were
    And into every masterpiece of literature
    For dignity

    Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
    Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin
    Bites the bullet and he looks within
    For dignity

    Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
    Dignity never been photographed
    I went into the red, went into the black
    Into the valley of dry bone dreams

    So many roads, so much at stake
    So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
    Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
    To find dignity

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That “Santa’s Wish List” photo is extremely telling ! It reveals a completely unaware group of humans who have absolutely no idea who they are; or how precious this gift of life truly is. There’s a foundation that one should recognize before stepping out of line and offering your services to lead a people. These folks in that photo have forgotten the first gift was freely given; it’s called the gift of life, and it takes up residence upon every successful union of the egg and sperm. So begins the joint venture of Spirit and matter. Every one of us love Santa “the gift giver”. As a child we take on the Santa myth and cultivate it until we outgrow that belief. These folks have given up their connection to the Original gift giver. It’s humanities version of outgrowing the belief that there exists a powerful force that brought their life forth. They are “wise adults “ now, completely in charge because of their own set of beliefs based on their selfish desires. They have taken this rarity of universal treasures and superseded the relationship with their own human perspective being the primary compass as they travel along life’s journey. Instead of cultivating a loving relationship with that invisible presence that holds the creation together by that electric force we know as unconditional love. They have set their thrones up before all of creation and they bang their gongs and clang their cymbals; the political pied piper’s; creating visual eye candy; piping poisoned proclamations, leading those uninformed followers over the edge of darkness. Welcome to the season of unenlightening leadership. We have chosen to be led by fools on a mining mission for fool’s gold. Don’t go down that hole with them; you’ll only get captured, all one gets then is the shaft!

    Here’s Bob’s son Jakob…

    “They’ve Trapped Us Boys”

    Gentlemen where have we been?
    Can’t find the hole where we got in
    We ain’t had no letters since spring
    Gentlemen where have we been?
    Ain’t going nowhere now
    Now let this bottle make its rounds
    And let this liquor settle down
    We ain’t going nowhere now

    Darker than ever in the mine
    Now shine a light, shine a light
    Now holler back now make some noise
    I do believe they’ve trapped us boys

    Now fill the dirt back on the grave
    Ain’t nothing good here being raised
    I look at the filthy mess we’ve made
    Fill the dirt back on the grave

    We cut the fruit, we took the tree
    We chiseled all the branches free
    We took more than we’d ever need
    Yeah we cut the fruit and we took the tree

    It’s darker than ever in the mine
    Now shine a light, shine a light
    Now holler back now make some noise
    I do believe they’ve trapped us boys

    Can’t have no one not toe the line
    ‘Round here it’s always ’round midnight
    We can’t have no brothers left behind
    We can’t have no one not toe the line

    That ain’t the cavalry we heard
    It’s the rain that’s crashing on the earth
    Now tell our women and our children we ain’t hurt
    But no that ain’t the cavalry we heard

    It’s darker than ever in the mine
    Shine a light, shine a light
    Now holler back now make some noise
    I do believe they’ve trapped us boys

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! They have ensnared themselves and because of the magnetism of their military might; fellow “might” fanatics are drawn to it’s attractive, addictive power. Trash trolling for votes; and meaningless pitiful praises!

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  7. “How do implements designed solely to kill embody the spirit of Christmas? And as a practical matter, as the preponderance of right-wingers are Christians, how does the glorification of gun possession square with the adoration of a peaceful being?”
    ___

    Over decades, I have found that too many monotheists have unwittingly created God’s nature in their own characteristically fallible and angry, vengeful image. Often being the most vocal and covered by mainstream news-media, they make very bad examples of Christ’s fundamental message, especially to the young and impressionable. (Really, why couldn’t Jesus have been one who’d enjoy a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then?) And I sometimes wonder whether the general human need for retributive justice can be intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet, perhaps not all of which we learn about. …

    The bitter irony is that some of the best humanitarians I’ve met or heard about were/are atheists or agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings/values than do too many institutional Christians (i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth). Conversely, some of the worst human(e) beings that I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakably great miracles, have met or heard about are the most devout practitioners of institutional Christian theology. And it seems, for example, that when a public person openly fantasizes about world peace, a guaranteed minimum income and/or a clean global environment, many ‘Christians’ reactively presume he/she must therefore be Godless thus evil or, far worse, a socialist. This, despite a big chunk of Christ’s own teachings epitomizing the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty. (Indeed, just the concept of socialists having any political power likely causes distress to most Republicans. Some may become so narrow-mindedly enraged by it that they, with their tightened fist trembling before them, will utter: ‘I would vote for the devil himself if that’s what it took to keep those Godless socialists out of office!’)

    I believe that numerous Christians even find inconvenient, if not annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator.

    Regarding God incarnate, I believe it is/was meant to prove to people that there really was hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — seeing hopelessness in a fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator requiring literal pain-filled penance for Man’s sinful thus corrupted behavior (rather like an angry father spanking his child, really). He became incarnate to show humankind what Messiah ought to and has to be. Fundamentally, that definitely includes resurrection.

    While I do not believe that God (whom I perceive as not being in humanoid/singular form nor with gender) required blood and pain ‘payment’, from Jesus or anyone else, I do know that the creator’s animals have had their blood literally shed and bodies eaten in mindboggling quantities by Man. And maybe the figurative forbidden fruit of Eden eaten by Adam and Eve was actually God’s four-legged creation. I can see that really angering the Almighty, and a lot more than the couple’s eating non-sentient, non-living, non-bloodied fruit. I’ve noticed that mainstream Christianity doesn’t speak up much at all about what we, collectively, have done to animals for so long.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As for your last paragraph, fgsjr2015, I do enjoy the occasional Filet Mignon I can gum without my upper denture.

      I understand the Spirit of the letter in the 1st words in the last chapter of the Major Prophet Isaiah writing, “So says the Lord, “The heavens are My throne, and the earth is My footstool; which is the house that you will build for Me, and which is the place of My rest?
      And all these My hand made, and all these have become,” says the Lord. “But to this one will I look, to one poor and of crushed spirit, who hastens to do My bidding.
      Understanding that is understanding the Eternal Sabbath.

      I confess I’m less enthusiastic about the next line, and don’t follow it religiously as Vegetarians do.
      Whoever slaughters an ox has slain a man; he who slaughters a lamb is as though he beheads a dog; he who offers up a meal-offering is [like] swine blood; he who burns frankincense brings a gift of violence; they, too, chose their ways, and their soul desired their abominations.
      I also will choose their delusions, and their fears I will bring to them, since I called and no one answered, I spoke and they did not hearken, and they did what was evil in My eyes, and what I did not wish they chose.

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  8. So many profound thoughts here, fgs!

    Just to comment on a few of your points….in my personal experience, the most strict, doctrinaire, evangelical “Christians” I’ve known have invariably turned out to be the biggest hypocrites; i.e., they act contrary to the morals they preach. They don’t adhere to the standards to which they hold others.

    Several of the French existentialists—for example, Sartre and Camus—were atheists or agnostics, but they believed that each person was responsible for upholding a social contract that essentially amounts to the Golden Rule. They believed that no deity or religion needs to exist for morality to exist, that if we treat each other with respect and compassion, we’ll have a just world. It’s not really surprising that many humanitarians are not believers, imho.

    I agree that, as he’s been written about, Christ would have been a much more human personality than some of the evangelicals portray him. A laugh with his disciples? Why not? If he had compassion for Mary Magdalene and had doubts and fears at the end, he possessed both greatness and fallibility, a not uncommon mixture among homo sapiens.

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  9. Don’t get me started about population growth, fgs. There are already exponentially more people on the planet than it can sustain without damage to ecosystems. No amount of goodwill can erase a ruinous carbon footprint.

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