Shithole countries and the Bible

The “shithole” wave was just a little late in coming.

I opened my Facebook feed this morning and there it was. The usual suspects celebrating and dancing around their Dear Leader’s latest reprehensible, racist remark. I’ve said from the very beginning of the Trump phenomena that supporting the reality TV star said more about one’s character than it did one’s politics. And these types of responses confirm that observation, time and time again.

Trump’s use of the word “shithole” to describe whole nations and their people, was for his supporters a bit like sunlight on Groundhog Day. They were afraid that if they peaked out to show their agreement with his racist sentiments, they would see their shadows and scurry back in their little hiding places.

Apparently, some of my Facebook friends didn’t see their shadows.

Rather than condemn him, rather than stay silent about him; they actually took to Facebook to sing Trump’s praises.

It started off with this:

I’ve redacted their names because the feed is not mine and it’s not public, but some of this stuff you just have to read to believe:

Of course, you can see the one sad reaction from me.

I posted the following just to send a message about hypocrisy given the overt religious self-aggrandizement so many of these same people exhibit, but I doubt my friend or any of his pious lemmings will make the connection:

“I imagine first century Romans saying very similar things about people from Nazareth….”

When I posted the same observation on my Facebook page, a friend of mine from high school who is now a local preacher sent me this verse as confirmation of my hypothesis:

Perfect. I can almost hear Nathanael saying to Philip, “Have you not seen the kinds of people who come from that shithole place?”

How can so many of these people who profess so publicly to follow Jesus’ teachings and who make grand, self-important claims about compassion and forgiveness, simultaneously sing the praises of a man who so effortlessly spews racism and bigotry?

I hope preachers like my old high school friend call special attention to the John 1:46s and Matthew 25s in their holy book this Sunday, as they address the giddy Trump lovers in their congregations.

Let’s slow our roll on Oprah 2020

I listened to Oprah Winfrey’s speech during the 75th Golden Globe Awards. It was indeed a powerful and inspiring speech. Oprah had just been awarded the Cecil B. de Mille Award for her impressive career in television and film, and she used her moment to send a powerful message about female empowerment and equality.

And it was a really good speech. In fact, her speech was so good, many are now pondering the prospects of an Oprah 2020 presidential campaign.

Oprah as counter-punch to Trump.

Make no mistake, I think she would be several orders of magnitude better than Trump if for no other reason than she has spent a large portion of her career listening to and then evaluating what others are saying, but I think we would all be wise to take a look at what’s going on here.

Oprah is a TV star. Trump is a TV star. While they both have managed to make an incredible amount of money branding, and then using, their names to promote their business interests, those are not necessarily the skills that translate to good governance in a democracy.

The laundry list of Trump’s flaws is too great to rehash in this post and I’ve written about them already here and here, but Oprah has her own set of issues, particularly her ability to suspend rational thought when it comes to science. From her enormously popular show, Oprah promoted a considerable amount of pseudoscientific quackery and, like a strange pyramid scheme, launched the careers of other pseudoscience peddling quacks.

In addition, Oprah has made that classic theologians’ mistake of presuming to know better than you, how you feel.

A case made starkly clear in 2013 when Oprah challenged her guest, the author, motivational speaker, and long distance swimmer Diana Nyad, on Nyad’s ability to feel wonder and awe. During the Super Soul Sunday interview, Nyad explained to Oprah that belief in god claims is not a prerequisite for experiencing the awe and beauty of the natural world. Oprah then let her prejudice slip through by saying:

“Well I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder, and the mystery, then that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not the bearded guy in the sky.”

It’s a strange and illogical leap to make, yet one made by many. If Oprah is going to change the meanings of words around to suit her own narrative, then we all need to be on guard. But if that’s the worst of what she does, we would still be in far better shape than we are now.

All of that said, can we not just take a breath? Is it too much to ask that we elect a president who has real policy experience, who is scientifically literate, who understands how government functions, who is not an oligarch, and who is not a brand in and of him…or her…self? Is it too much to ask?

We don’t want to replace one cult of personality with another cult of personality. We should all tread carefully.