Eliminating the Causes of Trumpism

Image for post
Image for post

Even if Trump is gone, will Trumpism remain? This reflection is not about him. It is about us and where we go from here.

Most of us understand where Trump is coming from and how he got the way he is. We even understand how he became President of the nation by a non-majority vote through electoral structures established centuries ago by compromise. We understand his TV performance appeal. …

Reflection on his Jan 21 column: Trumps Kinship with his Critics

Image for post
Image for post

O George, there you go again! Perhaps it is the nature of punditry to be over-simplistic.

You start making a good point about Trump’s nostalgic return to pre-enlightenment thinking and then you characterize it as “postmodernism” and so condemn thinkers that criticize the ideology of free-market “capitalism.”

Most of us in many ways have criticized and moved on from modernism which make us all “postmodern.” What was great about the period historians call the Enlightenment and the modern age is that it ushered in the scientific method or critical thinking including continued questioning of previously held beliefs, seeking new and reviewing old evidence, attempting to make those beliefs consistent, imagining new ways to conceive and conjecture in higher viewpoints verified by evidence and peer review. …

Reflections on Fukuyama’s “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment”

Image for post
Image for post
Hand in Hand by Vivien Feyer

Image for post
Image for post

The Washington Post recently published an article on the Catholicity of President-Elect Joe Biden. He is a fervent Catholic who attends Mass and receives Communion regularly. Nevertheless, priests have condemned him from the pulpit as a standard bearer of the “party of death.” Some Catholic Bishops have denounced him because of his stance on reproductive rights including access to contraception and abortion. Biden has been quoted as saying: “Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.” And many Catholic clerics don’t like that.

American Catholics, according to the Pew research center, are playing major roles in American politics. They comprise a little over a quarter of the national vote and almost a third of the Congress. They split almost 50–50 between the two major parties. Catholics pretty much mirror or embrace the policies and platforms of their party whether or not they are in accord with official teachings of their church. The large majority of Catholics accept the notion that America is a pluralist society with many belief traditions and endorse the right of religious freedom for all citizens. And most want to keep the Church in any official capacity out of electoral and partisan politics. …

Image for post
Image for post

For full disclosure, I am a Jesuit-educated Catholic who caucuses in Unitarian-Universalist congregations whose principles and practices resonate more firmly with mine than most Roman Catholic institutions. Moreover, they more strongly resonate with my understanding of Catholic social teaching which I have valued, taught, and used throughout my career as a community organizer, an urban planner, and director of non-profit organizations including Catholic Charities and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

I have been taught to be slow to judge persons especially for their opinions. And so it is with Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Even though I have made negative and critical judgment strongly against the person who appointed her and am acting to do all I can to stop his reelection in November. …

Faithful America writes: “More and more right-wing Catholic priests are falsely claiming it’s a sin to vote for Joe Biden. This isn’t just bad policy — it’s bad theology, and a distortion of both the Gospel and Catholic teaching.”

One prominent voice is Wisconsin’s Fr. James Altman, whose angry homily “You cannot be Catholic & a Democrat. Period,” has 280,000 views on YouTube and the endorsement of at least one bishop.

Image for post
Image for post

Unfortunately many priests are woefully lacking in theology. It is true that the Catholic Church teaches that it’s wrong to support abortion, as well as unjust wars, capital punishment, and racism — and that all persons should have the means of livelihood including shelter, nourishment, income, work, wages, and civil rights. …

Hate Mr. Trump — NOT!

Like Dorian Gray,
His picture is almost complete.
It is what he is and will be.
To destroy the portrait will destroy the self.

We are the Sophocles’ of his story.
We pity, not hate, a would be king
Led by his gods and oracles,
To kill his father, marry his mother,
And gash his eyes to blindness.

We are the Shakespeare’s of his story.
We pity, not hate the old king,
Deceived by daughters and judgment,
To wander mad and unseeing in the storm.
A king, prodded by his lady to execute rivals,
The blood of children on their hands.
A noble Moor, tricked by a conspiracy theorist,
To kill his faithful beloved. Out of jealousy. …

Image for post
Image for post

Bernie and I have been meditating the life and meaning of John Hume whose funeral we just observed. His event comes quickly after the death and celebration of John Lewis. Both were community organizers, civil rights activists, and peacemakers in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela in our time. And many great souls of our past.

We are perplexed that, when we sojourned Ireland a few years ago, we didn’t learn about Hume. We had surveyed the murals and fence posters of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. We traversed the places of O’Connell and the other republican leaders, many jailed and executed for their revolutionary activities. We visited the chancery of Jonathon Swift of Gulliver and A Modest Proposal and walked the streets of James Joyce. …

Image for post
Image for post

The old saw we learned as kids is not so: “sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you.” They can hurt. We knew that when we heard them. And we know now that, by stimulating and reinforcing behaviors, words can hurt us plenty.

When Hillary Clinton, during her campaign for President, responded to the leaders of Black Lives Matter, that “All lives matter,” I knew immediately that she didn’t get it. She wasn’t hearing because she wasn’t listening. Yes, all lives matter, but that isn’t the point. The point is that black (and brown) lives have not mattered as much, if at all, in American society. …

Image for post
Image for post

Aging and Dying as Vocation

My brother-in-law died of ALS a few years ago — a miserable disease of gradual degeneration and incapacitation of nerves, muscles, and bones for which there is no known cure. As he lost all bodily functions until even the muscles of his heart and lungs gave way, he retained full consciousness including his ability to remember, to emote, to think, to pray, and to desire. Even when the capacity to talk and write, except through a machine, was gone he retained his sense of loss of organic capacity. But he also miraculously retained a sense of humor. His body was shutting down and he knew it acutely. But his mind stayed whole. …

Rollie Smith

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store