Vote Today! No Excuses!


Like I said yesterday, the Republican candidate is a terrifying, unqualified, cruel,  egomaniacal, racist misogynist who’s advocated torturing the families of suspected terrorists and has allegedly sexually assaulted multiple women and allegedly even a couple of young teen girls … And who has bagged about sexually assaulting women when he didn’t realize the microphone was on. 

He’s demonstrated an unprecedented disrespect and disregard for the rule of law and even for the constitution. 

If you’re not a Republican,  step up to defeat him for obvious reasons.

If you are a Republican,  step up to defeat him and force your party leaders to nominates someone sane and qualified in 2020.

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Election Forecast: Russian Roulette

Five Thirty Eight,  Nate Silver’s political polling and statistics site, gives Hillary Clinton an 85% chance of winning the U.S. Presidential election, about a 5 in 6 chance.

That leaves Donald Trump with about 15%, or 1 in 6, chance.

The same odds as Russian Roulette. Lovely. 

And the same outcome, at least for some people. Remember,  you’re voting for a man who’s promised to commit war crimes, intentionally target civilians, assassinate, and even torture the families of suspected terrorists, without trial.

Remember the 1990’s? Maybe it’s time to bring back the old bracelets & slogan: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Wayne Grudem Is NOT a “Good Man Giving Bad Advice” 

[I wrote this in early August, but shelved it until I’d cooled off some. Sometimes being timely isn’t worth it] 

Conservative evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem wrote a terrible article called “why voting for Donald Trump is a morally good choice.”

In it, he whitewashed Trump’s misogyny and racism, including his refusal to denounce the KKK.

Grudem minimized the dangers of having such an egotistical, unstable bully at the command of the world’s most powerful military.

He raised the spectre of widespread persecution of Christians under a Clinton presidency,  with no real evidence that this would happen,  while ignoring the persecution of Muslims that Trump has promised.

Obviously, I disagree with Grudem. So do conservative theologians like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Al Mohler and Russel Moore, though perhaps for different reasons. 

In fact, there had been a lot of pushback against Grudem from the Christian Right, which is encouraging.

This article sums up the general approach these articles have taken, assuming that Grudem is a generally good and wise man who has been misled by fears of who Clinton might appoint to the Supreme Court.

I want to take a more critical approach. Wayne Grudem and Donald Trump are a near-perfect match.

Torture: Donald Trump has advocated not only torturing trout suspects (without trial) just as his Republican predecessor,  evangelical darling George W. Bush did, but even torturing their families if it helps get useful information.

Wayne Grudem called waterboarding and other Bush-  era “enhanced interrogation” techniques a “moral responsibility” of government. Not only did he give his sanction to torture, so long as it was the kind that didn’t leave permanent scars, but he actually said “not to have used them would have been morally wrong…” (Politics According to the Bible, p 432, quoted in Christianity Today).

Christian supremacy: Donald Trump has shown open hostity toward Muslims, even the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in action.

And while few people actually believe Trump’s conveniently timed religious awakening (an awakening that has not led him to change any of his positions, apologize to anyone he has wronged or insulted, or divest himself of his strip clubs and casinos), it’s pretty clear which religious group he’s currying favor with.

Wayne Grudem’s examples of religious liberty in his endorsement all centered around Christians being allowed to deny God’s and services to people the disagree with (mostly gay people) Or limiting medical coverage for their female employees, Hobby Lobby style.

Grudem’s book on politics us called Politics According to the Bible, a title that is certainly ambitious, if not hubristic. Much of what he advocates is standard Christian Right “get this country back to God” soft theocracy.

It is safe to say that Trump’s hostility toward religious minorities is of no real concern to Grudem.

Misogyny, or at least male dominance. Trump has proven his misogyny over and again on the trail. And that’s leaving aside a history of adultery, objectification, rpe allegations, abd sexualizing his daughters on talk radio.

Grudem is one of the leading proponents of complementarianism, a theory in which the men lead and the women submit and support thrm. Men are spiritual and worldly leaders, protectors, and providers. Women are caretakers. They raise the children, support their husbands’ ministries and activities, and follow.

This aligns him with Trump, who proudly claimed to have taken little role in raising his children, other than bringing home a lot of money, and whose three wives have all set their careers aside for him.

Sure,  Grudem is a moralistic man who’d never be involved with something as crass or sleazy as a strip club, who’d never say “grab ’em by the pussy“, but fundamentally, he and Trump are the same: authoritarians who believe in male dominance, force, torture, and the suppression of civil rights for unpopular minorities.

If you call that “good,” you know how to vote in November.

If not, you can be like Al Mohler and Russel Moore and vote third party, or you can be like Rachel Held Evans and Shannon Dingle and vote for Hillary Clinton.

But let’s not pretend that Wayne Grudem’s endorsement of Donald Trump was some weird, outlier mistake. The two are much more alike than they seem.

Two Types of Rebellion, Part Two: Acceptable Disobedience and Unacceptable Obedience


It’s well known that you can gum up a bureaucracy by following all the rules perfectly, literally,  and inflexibly. It’s even been used as a tactic of protest. 

You can also push back against a social system by taking the expectations TOO literally, like actually openly choosing virginity, which is what the churches preach and the schools encourage,  but no one much expects teens to actually do. 

But real pushback against expectations comes with the near certainty of real abuse and ostracization. 

Taking the rules too seriously really didn’t cost me much: I’d been socially awkward since early childhood and had no popularity to hoard or squander. I had no game, and would probably have been just as virginal had I tried to “get some.” 

The few close friends I had were mostly on the same page and were geeks and nerds enough to bond together regardless of any differences we had.

And high schoolers never drink good alcohol. Skipping cheap beer and liquor (and the associated hangover) is no loss.

Waiting for good wine and single-malt scotch was surely worth it. You can read that as a metaphor for the other things I skipped in high school, if you’d like. 

But gay and transgender teens with much greater social skills than I have literally faced death just for admitting to who they are. And it still happens sometimes. 

Those who don’t face violence still often face rejection, even from family. They often face cruelty,  discrimination, misgendering,  and a cavalcade of ignorant, invasive questions from people who should know how to mind their own business. 

And they’re often not even intentionally rebelling. Their mere existence is an affront to the system. 

Often, as a nerd, I wondered how the system could tell us to do all these things:  get good grades, say no to drugs and alcohol, remain sexually abstinent, and then treat us so terribly.

I never understood the point of the rules, which is to enforce conformity and consumerism, nor how vital a role acceptable disobedience plays.

In short, I didn’t understand anything about the social structure,  and I certainly didn’t understand real resistance. 

And I had no idea what real outsiders faced. 

Book sense I had in spades … common sense, not so much.

Two Types of Rebellion, Part One: Unwitting Servants

Reading Kester Brewin’s Mutiny and reflecting on rebels I have known in my life,  I’ve come to believe that there are two types of rebels, at least in recent American society: 

  • Those whose rebellion supports the social structure
  • Those whose rebellion actually threatens the established order 

We’ll talk about the first group,  the rebels whose actions prop up the culture they’re rebelling against, today.  The second group will have to wait. 

The first group of rebels skips class, drinks,  has lots of sex in high school, drives too fast, plays a little dirty in business deals, keeps a “woman on the side, ” etc.

They may be reckless, selfish, irreverent, even criminal,  but they do it in normal, understandable ways. 

They uphold the power structure, even as they outwardly flout it. 

Occasionally one of them has to be punished to keep up the illusion that their rebellion is unacceptable, but it’s usually a woman (Martha Stewart or the girl who gets pregnant in high school), or the punishment is usually nominal (most white collar criminals,  Brock Turner). 

They typically “sow their wild oats” and then “grow out of it,” or else “bend the rules” or “play the system.”

They’re a necessary part of the system, though few of them would admit it.

Their rebellions serve as a pressure valve in the social system, just as their occasional scapegoating punishment serves to pacify and sanctify the self-righteous anger of the common people who live by the rules and are upset to see the cheaters prosper. 

Their rebellious acts are safely within the respectable, heteronormative, generally white male dominated traditional culture. 

Some of these acts are so common they’re not even rebellious any more, but almost expected. An “out and proud virgin” is more transgressive than the typical “having sex and hiding the fact from their parents” high schooler. 

Of course,  neither is nearly as transgressive (or likely to receive abuse) as an out LGBT+ teen, but we’ll talk about actual challenges to the social order later. 

I think Rush sum up the frustrations of a nerdy, studious kid watching the almost Huxleyan acceptable deviations of high school perfectly in one music video:

“Deserve” Has Everything to Do With It

A while back I talked about how “deserve has nothing to do with it.” Now I want to talk about the opposite. Sometimes, deserve has everything to do with it.

For those of us who were born in relative privilege, we have to deserve the things that we get and that we go for.

We may be handed a lot, being born in a country that’s not war-torn, that has clean water, that has vaccinations. But there are things we have to earn.

I was reading an Onion article called, “find the thing you love most, and do it on nights and weekends for the rest of your life.” I have to admit I found it pretty depressing. 

But when I look back at when I was younger and had more time and opportunity, I see that I never really took advantage of it.

I never really pursued being a writer when I was young and had the relative freedom to do that. I certainly never pushed myself, writing hard and really studying to improve my skills, when I was young and had so much more time than I do now.

In short, I didn’t deserve to succeed. I didn’t deserve to be a writer.

What that means now is that if I ever want to have even some sideline success with this, is that now I’m going to have to earn it when it’s harder.

I wasted my playthrough on the “easy setting” and now I’m going to slightly harder setting … still not anywhere near the hardest setting … but slightly harder than before. 

And so now I’m going to have to prove that I want this more and then I’m willing to be more disciplined than I was as a young man, and do this while still keeping up my work and family responsibilities, even though it’s harder now than it was before.

And I have to be more disciplined and more dedicated than I’ve ever been before. Which is a pretty low bar to leap.

“Deserve” Has Nothing to Do with It

​https://youtu.be/dpDkYZWeeVg

It’s easy to talk about our accomplishments

It’s easy to talk about what we’ve done

What we’ve built

And look down from our safe, high places

And say to those below, 

“If I did it,  you can do it!  

Don’t be so lazy!  

Pull yourselves up! 

Don’t ask for a handout!  

Nobody helped me up! ”

When we know that last one is manifestly untrue. 

Did I build the roads that carried my mother to the hospital where I wss born? 

Did I build the hospital?

Did I make the water clean, the mosquitos relatively disease free, the food plentiful and the land peaceful? 

Did even my parents build all that? 

Did I chose my nation,  my parents wisely, as I was waiting to be born? 

No. I did not. And neither did you.