What You Get When You Play A Political Song Backwards…

I’ve been fascinated with physics and time travel for a while now, and I’m a music lover since forever. I’m fascinated by the Rascal Flats song, “(That’s What You Get When You Play A Country Song) Backwards”… The lyrics are,

“You get your house back

You get your dog back

You get your best friend Jack back

You get your truck back

You get your hair back

Ya get your first and second wives back

Your front porch swing back”

You can see where this is going…

Because of the Electoral College, Donald J. Trump is the legitimate President of the United States. But what if there was tampering? What if there was some reason that the Electoral College wasn’t legitimate? I’m not going to get into a long discussion about the merits of having vs. not having the Electoral College. That’s a different matter altogether.

But, if there were some reason that Trump’s Electoral College victory weren’t legitimate…

You’d get Hillary back

You’d get the cabinet back,

You’d send Gorsuch back.

You’d get G-7 back

You’d get NATO back

They’d take their pipeline back.

We’d get some our icecaps back.

We’d get our budget back.

Puerto Rican lives back.

They’d give the kids back.

Give Betsy DeVos back.

Take the “Tax Cuts” back.

In short, you get your country back.

That’d be what happens when you play a political nightmare backwards.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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The Market Has No Morals

We ask the strangest things to the wrong people.  We ask science if God exists. We ask religion about climate change. today, it occurred to me what has been bothering me for decades: We ask the market about ethics.

Our financial markets have no morals . They are neither moral and ethical or not moral and ethical.  I’ve been struggling trying to figure out my problem with libertarianism for a long time and this is it: Numbers don’t have ethics. They have numbers. I should say, by the way, that I have very good friends who are libertarians, and there is a certain amount of freedom in it that we should consider… just not about money. I’m for as few rules as possible, unless we prove that we need them. I do not see problems where no one is unhappy. I do not see look for trouble, and I believe people can be at their best, if they have a system of ethics as their guide. More often than not, I think people are at their best when just left alone. Sometimes, however, they’re not. That’s when we impose regulations.

One can act ethically with money and finances, or one can act unethically with money and finances. I bet most of us act somewhere in between. Those are our choices, as human beings. But, if there is anything we have seen over the past 40 or 50 years is that “What the market will bear” is not the same price as “ethical to charge”. Martin Shkrelli proved that once and for all. Just because you can charge $1000 for an AIDS medication or an epi-pen does not mean you should.

In addition to that, just because people want to buy something, doesn’t mean they should. Somewhere out there, there’s a very rich person who invented the pet rock.  Cute and interesting is not the same as “needed”. It’s always bothered me that a pair of jeans with a horse’s head on the back pocket were worth $50.00 a pair, when really good jeans were $10 or $15 (yes, I’m old, but if you’re as old as I am, you know what I’m talking about). Market forces — like oil costs during a blockade– can cause wars. That isn’t ethical, because suffering isn’t ethical. Suffering happens when the price of something moves way faster than income does.

There’s a reason the phrase “it’s a business decision” is not good news. “It’s a business decision” means without any feelings to it. We can only have ethics if we have access to our feelings.

Anyway, in our current setting, the House apparently is sending a bill to the man-in-the-White-House that will strip away the regulations put in place by Elizabeth Warren and company after the so-called “Great Recession” . The regulations were put into place because banks because, prior to that, banks could do anything they damn well wanted. I remember well the $35.00 cup of coffee that resulted when there wasn’t enough in bank account and the bank, after rigging the system so it was more likely I would overdraw, charged me $35.00 when I did.

I remember “interest only” loans and payday loans with an interest rate higher than a loan shark would charge. I remember “guaranteed” loans or credit-card rates that suddenly weren’t. These rules were needed. That’s why they were created. Human nature’s greed hasn’t gotten any better over time. I dare say it’s gotten worse since then.  So, given that, the House shouldn’t consider this decision a “legislative win”. It may be a “win” for the market, but it’s not a win for people and it’s not a win for ethics. The Market and Ethics are different things. They just are.

Resisting with peace,

 

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter To Our President

Wow.  You are in some serious trouble.  Let me see if I can explain how it went wrong. You wouldn’t be in this kind of trouble…

If you didn’t sell BS about a former President’s birthplace, religion, etc.

If  you weren’t trying to do business in Russia under Putin.

If you hadn’t hired a campaign manager who was a foreign agent.

If your son and a bunch of your friends hadn’t met in Trump Tower with the Russians.

If you had read the Constitution and actually tried to enforce it.

If you hadn’t slept with multiple women who weren’t your wife.

If you had showed people your income taxes.

If you hadn’t assaulted any number of women… and bragged about it.

If you vetted the people who worked for you.

If you didn’t lie all the time and get caught.

If you didn’t threaten the press.

If you didn’t call for a Muslim ban… the first 10 times or so.

If you didn’t threaten Black folk.

If you didn’t mock the handicapped.

If you say that Mexicans are rapists.

If you didn’t believe that there were “good” neo-Nazis

If you paid attention to the emoluments clause.

If you didn’t put family members in charge of middle-East peace.

If you had listened to Obama when he told you not to put Flynn in the government.

If you hired people that weren’t in it for themselves — or people who hated the agencies they were put in charge of.

If, on day 1, you hadn’t sent Sean Spicer out to lie for you.

If you didn’t write your own health letter.

If you didn’t make Steve Bannon your friend and listen to him.

If you didn’t increase the debt by an incredible amount — and call it a “tax cut”.

If you actually “drained the swamp”.

If you didn’t divide the rich and poor further than they had been.

If you actually knew what the 10 Commandments were, and tried to follow them.

If you hadn’t tried to pay women for sex.

If you kept your word about almost anything.

If you weren’t so hateful.

If you didn’t try to prevent people from voting.

If you didn’t go golfing so much.

If you didn’t watch so much TV

If you listened to people who knew what they were talking about because they’ve been studying a subject all their lives.

If you didn’t try to take money away from children’s food, education, insurance, and ultimately, their lives.

If you hadn’t fired Jim Comey, lied about it, then told the truth as though it didn’t matter.

If you didn’t think that having a “fixer” for a lawyer was normal.

If you didn’t betray all the people who have tried to protect you by lying for you.

If you actually believed in God.

Wow. You’re really in a lot of trouble with a lot of people.  Goof luck with that.

Resisting Trump peacefully,

John

All God’s Children Are Getting Streets of Their Own

The Rev. Bishop Ivory Holden today has a street named after him in Bridgeport today. As I saw the sign and at the corner of North St. and Clinton Ave., I thought of the streets of gold that people have believed to be awaiting the faithful in heaven. Bishop Holden Way now joins Prophetess Geraldine Claytor School as marks on this city’s map.

I am convinced there are corresponding marks in that Place Beyond The Pearly Gates as well because these faithful servants of God are there. Now, that may sound overly dramatic or pompous. But as the crowds gathered, none of us were there for drama or to say we were anything. People who want that need not show up, nor would they even consider it.

As the speakers spoke, it became clear that they had the same perception of Ivory that I had. Neither Ivory, nor Gerry, whom I miss and was lucky enough to call friends were doing their work for their own adulation, but because they followed Someone Else, and took His words to serve others as the way to live. They served because there were needs to be met. In making sure that children got education, that families got food or clothing or money when they needed it, or in speaking truth to power and seeking peace in the community, and by providing a safe place to be — church — in the midst of violence, drugs, and corruption– they made a name for themselves.

Being recognized or acknowledged is a primal need. From a kind greeting to stickers and plaques to buildings and books, there is a need to be recognized. “It says we are here!”, and it is why taggers put graffiti on walls, or countries put up flags and walls. It is why YouTube and reality shows are popular … we need to be noticed. 10 years from now, though, nobody will care who Omarosa was. I still can’t name YouTube “stars”.

People who want adoration can get it now. Fame can be bought. Attention can be gotten by acting *outrageously!!!*. But fame for fame’s sake fades. Deserved fame , such as today’s ceremony lasts. Goodness gets eternity. Kindness gets warm hugs and handshakes. Taking care of others, as quiet work, often goes unnoticed here on earth. During the ceremony, while people were glowing with memories of Ivory, big trucks , construction equipment, drivers in a hurry, and loud motorcycles went by. And yet, long after the noise and chaos of the day are gone, Ivory will be here. Gerry will be here.

It is this upside-down world that God calls us to. As the map of heaven’s streets is built here in Bridgeport, the actual streets of gold, light, and music and the people named are the ones who get to spend eternity with Holy God. May we understand this, as Ivory and Gerry did.

Resisting in Peace,

John

Still Grieving Martin

I recently had my spirits raised when my daughter’s school put on a production of “Urinetown”, that reminded me of a part of me, long-ago forgotten: as a Utopian. In 1978, when I was a freshman in college, I discovered the lifestyle that I thought I would live forever. Quiet, communal living, sharing a house with a bunch of people, not having many needs and so not having to work that hard, but building up the world until it was right and free and loving. I would later learn that I believed in Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community”.

Even then, the beliefs were labeled something like “socialism” or “communism”, by people who believed in those things, and — later — by people who hated those things.  The community of early Christians in Acts 2 was labeled as “communism” or “socialism  before Marx”. But, having thought about it for 40 years now, it misses the point. “Communism”,”Socialism”, and “Capitalism” (which I’ve never believed in) all miss the point. They are about economics. They are about money, and — for years — they have been about anger.   Communism is a critique of capitalism, Capitalism is a critique of communism, both think they know about socialism, and neither really do.

The early Christian community in Acts 2 was not about anger, criticism, or critique of the social or political or economic order (though many of my friends believe otherwise). It was about living toward the good. It started with the question, “What if we believed in love for all of humanity?” “What if everybody deserved to eat and have a place to be with God, and took care of each other”?.  It wasn’t so much about arguing with the culture as it was about trying something new, living a life based in Jesus’ teachings.  Nowhere in the text does it say, “F–k the empire!” or “Jews are inherently racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant and so on”.

The community in Acts wasn’t about the Jews or the Romans or the Egyptians or anyone else. It was about Jesus and how he would have us be toward each other. I have been in that community. I have experienced that community 2,000 years after the people in the early church did. I have experienced Deering. My love for Virginia Satir’s work came out looking for healthy community, not out of anger at unhealthy or dysfunctional forms of community, but in seeking a place where community was good, where we had hope, with or without money. Chasing things that mattered rather than being what Jackson Browne  called  “caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender”.

Loving one another, valuing one another,  treating each other kindly, and living simply in God’s world. Those were my goals, because, as I understood it, those were Jesus’ goals, which brings us to someone else trying to live Jesus’ goals: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My Deering utopia and Dr. King’s beloved community were cut from the same cloth as I understand it.  Gordon Sherman had gotten the directorship at Deering because he was tired of teaching Sunday School as an intellectual exercise and one day thought to himself, “What if I actually tried to live this way?”  King’s words were him asking the same question of all of us. 

Ten years before I went to Deering, I heard the words of Martin Luther King, and felt their call to act and speak and be in a certain loving, active, open, non-violent way. After hearing the words of King, and Dick Gregory, and Andrew Young, it was impossible to believe that Black was anything but beautiful. After hearing King, it was impossible to believe that African-Americans could be un-educated, violent people. It was impossible to hear his soaring voice and believe they weren’t spiritual or strong or brave or living Jesus’ faith. When he was killed, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to do that to him. I was 8 years old and knew nothing about politics. I knew nothing about racism or sexism or classism except that they were wrong because God loved everybody.

After attending Deering, I knew that King/Jesus’ vision could be real.  It was a few years after screaming with Peter Wells, “I am somebody! You are somebody! Together, we are somebody!” that I learned he stole that from Jesse Jackson. Peter and Jesse came from the same cloth as Gordon and Martin and Jesus. I like to think I do, too. I like to think everyone else does, too.

That’s what I believed in 1979, and what I remembered profoundly in the last month or so. With that memory, though, life in America makes less and less sense. It has made less and less sense for almost all the time between 1980 and today. I don’t understand why people would hate their neighbors, or hate their sisters or brothers or anyone else. I know that the Beloved Community can exist because it has existed before.

I know, over the years that I have become bitter and angry at times, both ironic and cynical. Mostly, though, I am sad. I would never have believed that Martin Luther King’s message would be forgotten that day, April 4, 1968, when he was shot. I would never have believed that a bullet could end a trajectory of history. I would never have believed that, given the choice, that they would choose to be against equality, that they would choose to fear people they didn’t know, that they would be openly hostile to women, and be actively against them, rather than simply loving them and wanting the best for them.

As I typed this, a White man came in and said he’d been attending an AME (African-American) church in the South when another AME church people were shot at a Bible Study  in South Carolina. He was embarrassed to go back to worship with them, because he didn’t know what to say to them. They were gracious and wanted to talk to him. That’s Martin’s community and the choice to live his way.

Today, America is living on hatred, led by a hateful man, who seeks money, power, and fame without anything like searching for a soul. We produce more and get less for it, unless we’re rich, and therefore “special”. We are anti-intellectual and have been pro-gun.  Our authorities beat up, or kill, people because of their skin color.  Our leaders “put up with” a woman who spoke for hours and hours in defense of women’s health rights, so that they could move on to “real business”. We play with people’s lives and citizenship as though it was of no consequence. We ask about people’s religion to separate ourselves from “them”.  Every day brings more news of the choice to hate.  We have a whole TV network that sells hate as though it were the heroic thing to do. 

A few years ago, we had a vice-Presidential candidate say about Hope and Change, “How’s that working out for ya?”. She chose to be against hope because her racism against the man who suggested it got in the way of her having hope. So, today, I say to her, and the people at Fox, and the people at the NRA, and the people in Congress on both sides, “How’s that hate working for you?”. It’s not — not for you, not for any of us. Hate, cynicism, worshiping race, or sex, or power, or money, or anything other than love, is a choice that’s killing us — and you, and everything America was known for. We are number one, alright, for making bad choices.

We can choose the Beloved Community, non-violence, and love or we can choose chaos, violence, and hate. Having experienced the first, I don’t understand why anyone would choose the second . I remain grieving for Martin’s dream. I miss Gordon and I wonder what Jesus it is that Trump is worshiping because it’s not anyone I recognize, and doesn’t yield anything I would want.

Hatred, ignorance, and lies are the choices people seem to make. I don’t want to know why. I just want them to do something else.

Resisting with Peace,

John

 

 

Jen Chapin, Citizen

Every once in awhile, I’m in the mood to write a blog post for someone I think highly of. On days like today, I like to think good thoughts, as a backdrop of heinous-ness seems to envelop the world. As I write this, I am coping with a mass shooting in a Maryland H.S., where relatives live, and, today. someone else I know whose husband tried to murder them. Oh, and did I mention we’re still in the era of Trump and everyday our country digs further into a hole in so many ways? Yeah, that, too.

With the sense of death encroaching, I wanted to think about someone normal, or someone who gives me hope for the world and, since I like to relax via music, it should probably be someone in music. Lo and behold, Facebook says “It’s Jen Chapin’s birthday! Wish her well!”. I knew what I had to do…

About 40 years ago, one of my life-goals occurred. I met my hero, Harry Chapin, for a few brief seconds after a show. My girlfriend at the time had me take a picture of her and Harry, so I have no documentation to prove it, but it’s true. For years, I wanted to do something to continue that connection and support the incredible aura of goodness and humor Harry brought to the world. About 3 years ago, I think, I got to fill that need by meeting Harry’s daughter. As a blogger, I had questions about faith, music, and politics… and Harry. I asked for an interview for my blog and she agreed.

So as not to be an idiot, I did my research and I listened to her albums/CDs/whatever you call them. I was impressed, and surprised. Her music wasn’t really anything like Harry’s. Its roots were jazz and reggae and soul. After the perfunctory (now) Harry questions, we got into discussions of race, music, and faith. It was a rollicking conversation with challenges aplenty. Mostly, though, I was impressed with her brains, and her knowledge of Africa and her activities with WHYHunger and the arts on Long Island. It’s a lot for one person, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. I don’t get it, but I can be impressed by it.

Since then, I follow her on Facebook and make contact on occasion. She wrote a supportive song for my daughter. I’m pretty sure my daughter’s the first kid on the block that can say that. So Jen has my admiration, right there. She did right by my child. Anyone who does that gets a gold star in my book. I like human people. By human, I mean, caring, doing good things in the world.

Jen is a teacher. Yes, in addition to being a musician, a worker for justice, she is also a teacher. Doing good in her local area, doing good in the world. It’s two-for-two. Did I mention that Donald Trump is still in office? She’s against his policies. She’s human. I swear, he’s not. Betsy DeVos is still in office, threatening to destroy everything I love for children I care about. Jen’s a teacher. The government wants to send food to poor people that it chooses, because it doesn’t think they can make choices. Jen works for an organization that says that’s wrong. Oh, yeah, and she’s a mother, too. She hasn’t shot anyone with an AR-15 this week. I’m guessing she thinks it’s better that way. I don’t have any way of knowing, but I bet she didn’t marry a man who hits her. She’s too spunky for that. On a day when our country is going the wrong way, she’s going the right way. I admire that. We all need that right now, and the news tells us that there’s precious little of it to be found. People like Jen make the world better. I like knowing that the world still has people like that.

On Thursday, August 16th of this year, the Jen Chapin Trio will be performing at North Congregational Church in New Hartford, CT, where I am the interim pastor. In discussing fees, and plans, and logistics, Jen asked who the band will be supporting by playing. What agency that does good things in the world will get the money she brings in. It occurred to me that anything I said my church was interested in, Jen would support, because we think like Christians and so does she. We try to act like Christians, and so does she, whether she’s active in a local church or not, whether or not that’s even her faith. Did I mention she wrote a song about protest and called it “Gospel”? She gets it.

When Harry received the Medal of Freedom, someone — I think Ralph Nader or Jimmy Carter — Harry was the best thing an American can be. He was a citizen.” Jen Chapin is a citizen. I’m glad there are people like her in the world.

Resisting with Peace,

John

What Are They Worried About?

Ted Cruz woke up to reality yesterday… sort of. The reality is that Republicans– due to their own actions or inaction– are going to be swept from all levels of power in the 2018 elections, and may not get up again for a long time. Yes, he is right about that. But the rhetoric about the “far-left” running things and destroying the country? I’m the same old lefty I’ve always been, as are the other lefties I grew up with. His fear that we are “far left” is only because the country has pulled sooooo far right that people like Cruz believe they’re normal. They are not. That’s why they’ll get voted out.

If people like President Obama are their biggest fear, let’s look at that. Did he threaten nuclear war with anyone? No. Than he’s already passed the level of Trump. Did he impose sharia law? Did he take away everybody’s guns? Did he make us a Muslim country? No, no, and no. And yet, for the last 6 years of his Presidency, that’s what they screamed at Fox News. Did he make us get insurance and be nicer to gay people? Yup. But if that’s your biggest fear, I think you’ll survive.

So, moving on, when the Blue Wave comes — and yes, it will come — what are us “far-left nuts” going to do.

On DACA: we’ll let people stay here.

On insurance, we on our most powerful day, we might give everybody insurance and tax the ultra-rich to pay for it.

Afraid of “political correctness”? Ok, we’ll polite you to death.

On abortion? Yep, we’ll probably let any woman who wants one to have one. Why? Because more women will be in power than ever before.

Like that “commie” FDR, we’ll probably put people to work on bridges and roads. Like that Catholic guy, Kennedy, we’ll dream new things in space. guy, (remember when we we were afraid of Catholics ? Look where that got us…) Like Johnson, that radical, we’ll feed people and try to meet their basic needs. Like Carter, we might bring about a New South and never go to war — or maybe we’ll just build houses until we die.

Race relations? We’ll make the police stop trying to shoot Black people. We might have to jail some crooked cops to do it. Be warned!

Climate change? We might try to save the planet for future generations.

THAT’s it folks. That’s the “far left” agenda! If that scares you, I suppose you ought to be scared. You might, in fact, want to flee the country. The only problem is that you’d be moving to… Canada — and they’re a lot scarier than we are.

Resisting in Peace,

John