In the spirit of the new year, I’m taking a side bar from my writing journey into the loss of TRUTH in the west.
I make no qualms about the fact that I don’t like Donald Trump. In fact, I can’t remember how long it has been since I’ve struggled so much not to hate someone. However, as I explained before, this is not political it is my personal distain for the man’s character. I’ve spent most of my life as a Republican and there are Republican candidates I would vote for today if they were running for president. Certainly, there are several in the Democratic primaries I would support. I am politically independent and never have the desire to be part of any party again, because I see what party allegiance has done in the Trump era to the Republican loyalists, (who have totally supplanted their faith with Trumpism) and what it did to the Democrats during the Clinton era. However, either party can get my support for any given issue or platform.
We are in a country that is severely divided among political ideologies and it is a bit scary to think how this will probably get worse during the 2020 campaign. There are so many evil powers at work to divide us and I hear the hatred boiling over every day.
At this point is where this side bar intersects with my general talk about the loss of TRUTH. As I’ve described, in a previous article, one big change that has come to the American society is the fragmentation of our source of information. In the 1960s (and before) the major news outlets were fully trusted to serve up each day the most important news. It was a professional standard in those days not to put a political bias into the news. It would have been unheard of for Walter Cronkite to twist the news to support his personal political views and to scream and cry while doing so.
Now, this is not to say bias never happened. I’m sure that the major news outlets did things, out of respect of the oval office, such as hide the fact that John Kennedy was having affairs. But I think it was about as far as it goes. I do recommend the movie Good Night and Good Luck as a window into that era where the news sought to be independent of political storms.
These days, thanks to many issues that I described in the previous note, our “news” is segmented from the far, radical left to the far, radical right. These “niche realities” are present on cable TV, web sites and social media sharing. Once you deviate very far from the center, then there is no longer any intent to educate the public with information. The intent is to selectively pick information and to twist it to support that site’s political agenda. As long as they keep feeding the base what they want to hear, the base will keep coming back for more and followers converts into money for them. It becomes a vicious cycle, always downward. As you move even further along this path, you end of with political entertainment outlets (they call themselves “News”) which fabricates stories completely and then entices their readers to believe it to hold them faithful. I mentioned before that “gnostic truth,” which is a secret truth that only I and my peers have, is very enticing. It makes you feel smart when you know things that no one around you knows. But, to put it mildly, is mostly bullshit.
A Personal Story
I have not liked Donald Trump for decades but during the 2016 election I grew to dislike him even more, based on things he said, especially about Syrian refugees. However, I found myself working in a job where everyone there was a big Trump supporter. To me, and people that think like I do, Donald Trump appears to be worse and more dangerous than Charles Manson. So, it was very hard to understand how good friends, and smart people, didn’t see that.
I had joined Face Book years ago to see photos of my grandkids. I don’t know how FB works, but they were very good about connecting me to many old friends from my evangelical days. Before 2016 I was happy to hear their stories and see the photos of their lives. However, during the 2016 election my FB was inundated by hateful anti-Hillary stuff. For example, a good friend and church leader sending me a GIF of Hillary opening her mouth to speak at a rally and a huge (very real-looking) turd started coming out. Then there were videos being passed around of Hillary personally working with Al Qaeda to have the staff in Benghazi killed, another one of her running a child sex-ring operation, and another video of her and Bill, literally selling assault weapons out of the back of their van to a group of Isis fighters outside of Washington DC. These evangelical friends shared these things a factual and it was clear they hated her guts. At the same time, they were promoting Donald Trump as the godliest man they had ever seen.
With all the above, I felt like my brain was about to collapse and my moral compass was spinning. So, I, systematically started to unfollow people who were promoting most of these things. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them, but it was because I was afraid that they would eventually make me so angry that I would say things that I would later regret. Many of them appeared to already label me as a non-Christian because I did not support Trump. Just like they have labeled me as a non-Christian because I’m no longer an evangelical (as of the past 20 years).
To help my own disillusionment with American Christianity, I did find several anti-Trump Christian groups and joined them. It reminds me a lot of when I was first diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and joined a MM support group. In the beginning, these groups were very helpful for me to know that I was not alone and that I was not crazy. I had to get out of the MM group because so many of the stories were ending in tragedy.
Soon (and now we are talking about after the election) my FB page went from being flooded with bullshit conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and constant praises for Donald Trump, to dozens of anti-Trump things every day. But either I got tired of it or maybe it changed over time to resemble the pro-Trump people with bullshit stories about Trump having sex with his daughter, Trump fathering dozens of children across the country, Trump being either bribed or blackmailed by the Russians to do their dirty work, somewhat like the “Manchurian Candidate.”
I may have fallen for some of these anti-Trump stories and now I regret that. I’ve been called out for posting a story that was later proven to be false. I have started to call out fake stories from my remaining pro-Trump friends and my anti-Trump friends. I have also purged my FB account from those friends on either side that habitually pass on fake or hateful stories. I am still bombarded, from these anti-Trump Christian sites, things that are untasteful as the turd coming form Hillary Clinton’s mouth. It is photos of Trump as a turd or toilet or having sex with Mike Pence. I am trying to block that stuff. I also regret reposting untasteful things against Trump.
How Do We Find Peace?
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
- Select our Sources of Information Carefully
I think the first repentance in this path of fighting the hate is to break our bad habits of going to those channels or websites that promote biased and unproven stories. I had to personally stay away from some of CNN shows (like Don Lemmon) and MSNBC shows (like Rachel Maddow). Now, these shows are only a small step off the mainstream, and I do think Rachel Maddow is a smart woman, but when you watch these programs day after day, it feeds to your own bias.
Now, I check CNN daily, as like the Cheetos of foods, but then I also check those sources that all the experts say are most accurate and unbiased. That includes AP News, NPR, BBC, Reuters, and C Span. Now my evangelical friends have already told me that these aforementioned good sources are “part of the fake mainstream media” or worse, “part of the godless conspiracy against Christians.” One Christian friend said that he would never listen to NPR because it is the “Gay Station.” I’m sorry, but if you think that, it is because you have already succumbed to the bullshit brain washing and frankly you need to repent from that too. These same evangelical friends tell me that they only watch Fox News, which is notorious for bias in favor of the president and promotes hateful and racist ideologies. If you don’t see the racism there, then it probably means they have already won you over. I know what’s on Fox because I used to be an avid watcher and watch it daily even now, before or after I watch CNN.
I will share the chart here shows how biased and accurate news sources are. For the sake of peace, go to the top and the middle to see the world through a clear glass and not through someone’s hate-filled tinting.
- Stop the Personal Attacks.
I was in a meaningful conversation (online) with a evangelical friend about the nomination of Bret Kavanagh. They were claiming that Bret was a good man and the women who accused him of sexual assault were all liars, paid off by the Democratic party. I simply asked him as a serious question, “How do you know this?” to which he replied, “You are nothing but a libard!”
I’ve been called a libtard over and over since then, and it is usually by conservative Christians who should know better. A good intellectual conversation is always healthy. That’s why I don’t hesitate to ask questions such as how do you know God exist? I’ve asked Taliban people face to face what they thought of the character of Osama Bin Laden. But when a conversation turns into mean and hateful insults, all chances for peace and learning end.
I hear from the right that those on the left are “radical socialists,” “communists,” “libtards,” “snowflakes” (which means they wear their feelings on their sleeves and if you aren’t perfectly politically correct, they will be traumatize and cry).
From the left I hear that Trumpers are all ignorant, wife-beating hillbillies. While I agree that Trump says some racist things, some people on the left say all Trumpers are racists and Nazis.
We must take the time to think of the other side as people who are not stupid, who are not morally corrupt and try to learn why they see things the way they do. We should invite them for coffee and try to, respectfully, understand them. We don’t have to accept it, but it is a starting point to being civil.
- Look for Mutual Goals
We have many problems in America, and we can come to a mutual agreement on fixing some of those. But to start this process, we have to stop demonizing the other side and exaggerating their position. I was going to expound on those but I’ve taken too much space for this already.
Immigration reform, respectfully controlling immigration without demonizing the people
Endless wars from “nation building”
Un or underinsured
Global Warming and the environment
12 responses to “RAMBLINGS: For the Sake of Political Peace in the New Year”
Good article Mike – much truth and wisdom in it along with practical suggestions. Thanks!
I also stepped away from the evangelical circle and viewpoint over thirty years ago in order to save my own soul. My concept of, understanding, and experience of God/Divine/Pure Source has not only shifted me away from evangelical thought system to also expand beyond “Christianity”. How freeing! I continue to clear out “all that is not me” – false beliefs, judgments, biases, emotional baggage, etc as I bring in more love, divine light and become more expansive in my awareness and consciousness. Although there are challenges along the way I love the journey I’m on.
PS – the bible verse you quoted has always been a favorite of mine and I still see the great wisdom in it ❤️
My response to Jesus Parable of the Tares, is that we must stop trying to figure out if other people are “saved” or not. I lost several friends who no longer saw me in their very, very narrow path of Christianity (must adhere to a very long list of specific doctrines).
“My response to Jesus Parable of the Tares, is that we must stop trying to figure out if other people are “saved” or not.”
BUT THEN HOW CAN *I* BE HOLIER THAN THEM?
(You know that’s what it comes down to – simple One-Upmanship. Zero-Sum Game.)
Excellent article Mike and I see you probably mentioned me as employees you worked with that we’re all trumpsters. At that time Hillary Clinton’s platform as a Democrat would go against my biblical beliefs of legislating abortion and homosexuality so with that choice alone, yes I was a trumpster. I would love to talk to you Mike over coffee to understand from you, what your beliefs were at the time and now. I know a lot of Christians have said they can’t stand his moral character, his views on immigration and his racism and maybe you can explain how you feel those same things to be true. I am surrounded by a lot of Republican friends and would love to hear the other side of it from another Christian whom I respect. I am truly trying to seek the Lord and know in my spirit what lines up with His truth. Thanks Mike, I know you probably get a lot of mail and so appreciate your thoughts put to writing. Kathy D
Sent from my iPhone
The Republican’s first great sin was that they looked at a pool of several great potential candidates, all with the same white evangelical platform that they wanted, yet they chose as their candidate Donald Trump, who had by far the worst character of the group, but the ONE THING, that separated him from the pack, was his racist rhetoric. So those Republicans who choose him as their leader must look hard in a mirror and think why did I like Trump more than Kasich or Rubio? Is it their own clandestine racism? Once the dice was cast and the Republicans chose Trump some of us were left with a hard choice between Clinton and Trump and we had to choose the lessor of the evils. I will share a link of what I wrote about this during the 2016 election: https://jmichaeljoneswriter.com/2016/11/03/the-moral-freedom-for-christians-to-vote-for-hillary-clinton/
Two things on this:
1) In 2016, both major parties succeeded in nominating their WORST possible candidates, whether by Triumph of the Clinton Machine’s Will or “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!” boiling over. Any Dem other than Hillary would have beaten Trump. Any GOP other than Trump would have beaten Hillary. Instead, our only choice in 2016 was evenly matched between a Cersei Lannister and a Benito Mussolini.
2) Trump presented himself as blunt and direct to the point of crudeness. (So did Bernie Sanders, without the crudity). This alone would make him (them) stand out in the 2016 free-for-all. Every other candidate sounded like every word out of their mouths was written by committees of spin doctors and attorneys, vetted through polls and focus groups, and read word-by-word off the teleprompter. In that environment, ANYBODY who sounded blunt and spontaneous would have an advantage. It would come across as direct and honest, no matter what the actual content.
(Though this still doesn’t explain how Trump became The REAL Second Coming of Christ to all those Christians, “strong delusion” like they took The Mark in a bad End Times novel or movie.)
As a patient of yours I’ve always appreciated your brilliant mind, tenacity to help headache sufferers, your warmth and kindness and your wicked sense of humor. I’ve been praying for you since I learned of your journey with MM and have been trying to follow along to learn best how to pray.
I’m not well versed in politics and truthfully , as a woman with chronic migraine headaches I choose not to watch or listen to the news to reduce stress in my life. I completely agree with your viewpoint and just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you choosing to share your opinion and wisdom publicly. Thank you!
As far as being an evangelical I am at a crossroad after leaving a church for I’ll behavior on the part of the pastor and his flock who continue to drink his koolaid. I’d like to know more about what gave you the insight to leave the evangelical world and if there is a particular author or group you would recommend to learn more about what is spiritually healthy and where the ideology is based on truth and not human filtered and fed.
Mike, I hope and pray 2020 brings improved health and quality of life for you and you find opportunities to contribute to the world in ways that are meaningful for you.
Keep on keeping on!
I hope you are doing well. If you want to know my story, it is in my book Butterflies in the Belfry, which some people get a little lost in. For a more (shorter) and straight forward book is Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God.”
“Butterflies in the Belfry, Serpents in the Cellar” is a good read. I remember reading the rough draft chapter-by-chapter on his older “Christian Monist” blog. There’s a LOT of walking wounded ex-Evangelicals like him out there. (And some who are outright crippled. Their theme music: “Veterans of the Psychic Wars” by Blue Oyster Cult. Give it a listen sometime.)
JMJ has BEEN there – FOR REAL – unlike the Job’s Counselors you usually get in the Christianese milieu. Nobody is as quick with the glib advice as someone who has NEVER been there for real.
P.S. If there’s no formal diagnosis of “Church PTSD” or “Church Chronic PTSD”, there should be. You get a lot of classic PTSD cases coming out of these churches.
Not helped by the fact that a Church environment itself can ramp everything up to (literally) Cosmic Importance. EVERYTHING.
I just got done reading this post on “for the sake of political peace in the new year”
Thank you for writing this. I’m almost in tears because I wish more people would approach things this way. There’s so much hate and throwing of stones – we don’t take the time to ask good questions and then actually listen for the answer. We all, myself included are so quick to talk over people instead of allowing healthy conversation like you said.
I hope the start of 2020 has been good to you so far! Praying for your continued recovery and I think of you and Denise often 🙂
I love reading your blog!
Your Niece, Erin
On Mon, Dec 30, 2019 at 3:08 PM J. Michael Jones wrote:
> J. Michael Jones posted: “In the spirit of the new year, I’m taking a side > bar from my writing journey into the loss of TRUTH in the west. I make no > qualms about the fact that I don’t like Donald Trump. In fact, I can’t > remember how long it has been since I’ve struggled so much n” >
That was very nice of you and I hope this is a great year for your family as well.