Conversation with an Evangelical Friend about a Panic du Jour

A friend sent along this story about a teapot tempest at Yale, saying:

Did you see this wonderful example of applied Critical Theory … the Yale offered for Continuing Education Credit… Yale has backpedalled, but this lecture counted, for credit.

Given what we have witnessed for the past five years, I don’t find this very troubling. There is something deeply and intensely sick at work in this country. MLK was being polite when he said this, and not a damn thing has changed in 50 years:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.” — Where Do We Go From Here: 1967

He replied:

Homicide as a favor to the world… yeah. That’s troubling.

I’m trying to get my conservative friends to understand that even if they don’t see color, it doesn’t mean their friends of color haven’t experience prejudice from the many that still do

“Color doesn’t matter” — when it comes to inherent worth “Color matters” — when it comes to how one is treated, still.

One of the reliable sources of right wing outrage porn is minor academics and untenured oddballs in Ivy League. If it’s a slow news day, the Right Wing Lie Machine can always find an academic or a starlet saying or doing something weird so they can cry “O TEMPORA! O MORES!” I always dock at least 50 moral outrage points from news stories about obscure academics or celebrities. It’s one of the standard tricks the Right Wing Noise Machine uses to distract from people with actual power doing actual evil.

He replied:

Yale granted credit for listening to this nut… which showed execrable judgement on their part. And Barri Weiss isn’t a part of that machine you cite

As for actual people doing harm… is “The New Jim Crow” still in place? Asset forfeiture? The R’s aren’t helping, I know. But the D’s aren’t acting either, and the mass incarceration continues.

Yeah. Dumb. But that’s about it. Universities are places where new ideas get tried out. Sometimes they are bad ideas. And, as here, they get weeded out. Precisely the difference between things like this and, oh, the entire GOP and the whole MAGA cult, is that bad ideas are rejected while with the Cult bad ideas are doubled down on and all efforts are made to defend them and destroy the tiny handful who say, “This is a bad idea.” I just can’t get very worked up about this. It’s not that big a deal.

He said:

I grew up inside the academy… stupid ideas don’t get weeded out, stupid ideas that embarrass the establishment get weeded out. (and c.f. Semelweiss good ideas that embarrass the establishment)

c.f. “The Truth Wears Out” (the reproducibility crisis in the social sciences)

I still think this trivial incident, already renounced, is nothing compared to the monstrous and deadly evil of Pandemic and Insurrection (and institutional racism) to which the MAGA cult is 100% committed. It was the equivalent of a glitch. MAGA is the equivalent of an ideological Zyklon B manufacturer pumping poison into the body politic.

He said:

I really wish ex-President Trump would go away. He like some evil trickster god… like Loki, but venal and stupid. And no fun to watch.

He’s a Bellwether though. (did you ever read Connie Willis book of that name?) good book. geek love story, corporate parody, math science subtext, social commentary.

Nope. Never heard of it.

Trump was an apotheosis. He is everything that cult dreamt of. And now that they have tasted the hope of nihilist power, they can’t go back. They need it like a fix. And they have to be destroyed because they are not going to stay put. They are going to continue going from evil to evil unless they receive a miracle of grace. They are the gravest threat we have faced domestically since the Civil War.

He said:

I can’t get that worked up over them. They couldn’t start a food fight in a FroYo. Jan 6 was bad and dark, and the Qidiocy got people killed… now they’re just sad.

The Beer Hall Putsch was a failure too. But without crushing such people, it becomes a practice run. The GOP is still a huge threat to democracy and public health. They mean to end democracy and institute authoritarian rule. And they have already killed nearly a million Americans without a hint of regret (unless they get COVID, which is the only thing that matters to them: themselves.) Don’t kid yourself that this is over.

He said:

I don’t believe it. The GOP has too much invested in the current system to overthrow it. Same reason I poo poo’d people claiming Biden would go anti-capitalist…. too much status in the quo.

I think the GOP leadership are idiots thinking they can dabble with this huckster and not gut the party worse than they have.

But by the time they realize it, they won’t have enough power to do squat outside the rules.

I think you badly underestimate the degree to which Crazy has taken over the GOP. The industrialists who backed the Nazis reassured themselves they could control Hitler too. Turns out they were wrong. These nuts want a Great Nut to lead them. If not Trump, then some other predator–and the next one may not be a massively stupid as Trump.

He said:

Most beltway R’s don’t seem to get how R has become a dirty four letter word.

I don’t think they’re that clever. (or powerful for that matter) They don’t have corporate backing for such a think the corp’s are too busy trying to not look predatory for the masses and pouring money into both camps.

There was a lot of big business that didn’t like DJT’s trade war one little bit.

Next time they will learn from Trump’s mistakes (and victories) and focus their energy on turning the military and the cops into their personal Praetorian Guard. Hell, Texas GOP are already putting out feelers about arresting their political enemies. These people mean to turn this country into a police state. We came within in an ace last time. The Pentagon brass was preparing to resign rather than be a part of it. But next time, those types will be weeded out and the fascists promoted. It’s coming, if these SOBs get a chance.

He replied:

I hope you’re wrong and I’m right.

But I’ve been wrong before.

Right now I’m trying to work within my church to be a relevant witness w/o political baggage.

Think about how quickly the Never Trumpers capitulated and adjusted to the New Normal. Corporate moneybags didn’t get there by moral courage, but by predatory cunning and adaptation. They would instantly adjust to a soft or hard GOP dictatorship.

Finally, he said:

I’m going to keep praying for the nation.

So much we need to repent of… starting with me.

Going to be up in Seattle Aug 26-29… don’t know how much time my family will have me booked.

Cult … the Enemy loves it why lies thrive. Pray for the deliverance of the deceived.

Is there a Saint that specializes in that?

Beats me. I ask Mary and St. Michael for help a lot. 🙂


16 Responses

  1. Inasfar as the comparison with Germany 1923-1933 is apt, it still begs the question what Germany could have done, and what you suggest can be done now.

    I don’t think the comparison is all that good, though. Trump was and is already at roughly 50 pct of the vote, which is more than Hitler got. He’s already been ”chancellor” as well. Considering the latest infatuation of the usual suspects with Hungary, I think we’re possibly dealing with a slow erosion of democracy, rather than a coup.

    1. We have the advantage over early 20th Century Germany in that we have much deeper foundations of civic norms and rule of law then they did. We can think of it as a shield wall or maybe a reserve of democracy. It is vast and deep, but it is not infinite, and it ultimately will hold only so long as we maintain it and believe in the reasons for doing that. I wish we could consign the craziness of the last few years to some fringe of militia nuts, but we’re deluding ourselves if we do so.

      The much bigger problem is that the entire conservative movement, and something approaching half of the country’s population, no longer believe in democracy, at all. Those beliefs have become very mainstream, and the key to the electcability of their politicians.

      That in itself puts us on a very dark path, whether it reaches its goal in 5 years or 50 and whether that end point is an actual civil war or not. I’m not given to panic scenarios, but if I had grandchildren, I’d be doing what I could to lay the groundwork for them to create options for them to go overseas one day.

      1. @ ken

        We’re doing that for ourselves as well. We’re considering Europe, because my husband is a euro citizen. I hope things really don’t continue to fall apart, as they appear to be doing in this country. But the events of the last five years, especially the last year and a half, have made me not trust my fellow Americans.

    2. Very interesting comment Artvelde. I think it’s also plausible that this current madness is a trend and will fade away. The churches, however will be damaged in the long run. They are currently acting like lubrication for the tank tracks rolling over democracy. They will be tainted long after this madness is over. Evangelicalism, which gathered steam post ww2, will likely be the first victim (at least in its current form) and American Catholicism, as long as it continues to jump into bed with the maga-morons, will be another victim.

      It will mirror the disdain for Kennedy-Catholicism that my parents held and will damage the Church’s mission in the US for generations.

      For a people who were defined, in part, by the catacombs and various dalliances with power resulting in disaster, one would think we should’ve seen this coming.

      1. @ picket

        As an unbeliever, I’ve seen it coming and I told them about it. But, since I am an unbeliever, what I get accused of is hating the church and wanting to bring it down.I’m not there, and don’t want to be there. What I want for the church is to be what it says it is.

        A few weeks ago, when Msgr. Burrill got outed, i pointed out the absolute moral corruption of the church that he represented. Not because he’s a homeau— I don’t care about that at all. And I’m a gay man, and will use the term where it is appropriate— but because he is a homeau-hating homeau whose activities, like those of McCarrick and Branstad, among a host of others, MUST have been known to a great many people. What made it even worse, if possible, was that he was the pointman for the bishops, who had opposed a suicide hotline because it might actually help gay kids not kill themselves.

        Certain people roundly roasted me for that. *looking meaningfully with a bit of a squint at certain people*

      2. @Ben

        “Absolute moral corruption?” I’d be careful with that phrase. Or not. Certain sects of Protestants and Muslims would agree with it. You’ve mentioned the suicide hotline before, but other commenters have also mentioned having difficulty finding references to it.

        For my part, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t conflate atheism with homosexuality. Yes, there are homeau hating homeau’s in the church, and that is a travesty and a tragedy. But there are also many other homosexuals who do feel drawn to God. I would like to think that those who join the Roman Catholic Church are aware of its teachings… As Christians, they don’t have to be Catholics… there are other denominatons that (outwardly at least, I am not fully familiar with their teachings), are more welcoming to homosexuals. But they join as Catholics anyway. Some are active, enthusiastic Catholics, who share their talents with the church. To classify all these Catholics as “homeau hating homeaus” is a big assumption and stretch. We simply don’t know all their mental states as to why they are drawn to God and to Catholicism.

        That being said, in this day and age, they are being drummed out of the community, and that is a travesty and a tragedy as well. I would like to think that their faith in God though is unshaken, and that they realize there is a difference between God and Church. I would like to think they are comforted at least somewhat to realize that:

        -God knows their circumstances, background, limitations
        -We act with love toward God and our neighbors, not out of compulsion, but as an outpouring of God’s love for us.
        -God must be at least as just (not to be confused with legalistic) as the most just person they know.
        -God must be at least as merciful as the most merciful person they know.

      3. @ workbeastie

        I can’t imagine why they are having trouble finding any references to it. It took me all of 10 seconds, but that is because I’m a low typer. Google “US CCB suicide hotline.“ It’s on NCRonline, and NCR does not refer toNational Cash Register.

        I don’t know where you would get the idea that I am somehow comparing atheism, which is a lack of belief in Gods, with homosexuality, which is a belief that Ryan Reynolds is a god, though some of us gay men to prefer Chris Hemsworth. (Sorry. i couldn’t resist it. And I can’t speak for gay women).

        But back to your comment, and away from my snark. I can’t help myself.

        Yes, there are a number of gay men in the priesthood. I’ve met a few of them, read about more. They are good men, comfortable with their vocation, the celibacy requirement, and themselves. Two that I met some years ago told me that they were celibate, and I had no reason not to believe them. They were good friends with a friend of mine, and he believes them. I do not classify those men as homeau hating homeaus, nor would I ever. They are not working to actively harm out gay people. They are not repeating the lies of the bishops about gay men in general, gay sexuality, gay marriage, or the kiddy diddling members of the priesthood. They are priests who happen to be gay. As with gay people everywhere, that’s pretty much all you can say about them as gay men: they’re gay. Period.

        One of the things that pi$$e$ me off no end is people saying, “Oh. You’re gay. That means…” all it means is something that I realized some 40 years ago. So much of what is said about gay men (or women) is not about gay men at all, but what some heterosexual, and some people who desperately wish they are heterosexual, but Are never going to be, think about gay men. And gay women. Nothing to do with us. Everything to do with them.

        I was once told by an idiot that I wouldn’t be gay if I had some masculine influences in my life, like a coach and sports. I replied that I was a high school and college wrestler for seven years, and a coach for five years, producing a team that went from 30th and state to 10th in three years. At the time I was told this, I was bench pressing 250 pounds without breaking a sweat. All I could do was laugh at the ignorance and stupidity. With the benefit of 40 years passing, I could see that really a lot of it was just putting me down because of their self assumed status as a superior person. Nothing else.

        I am not religious, and you know that. But what you say in your last two paragraphs is exactly what I would say. I’ve said it many times on these very pages. I don’t care what people believe, what I care about is what they do with it. One of the most offensive things that the Catholic Church has done is its concerted attempt to blame its abuse and molestation crisis, at least 1000 years old, On innocent gay men who have had nothing at all to do with it. Believe me, I’ve read every single justification for doing so, and not one of them holds any water in the real world. None. It is simply scapegoating an innocent minority for the sins of the majority. We jews have had the same problem.

        We gay people have experienced this for centuries as we get blamed for earthquakes, the decline of civilizations, the fall of the Roman empire, the fall of every empire, the Nazis, the child molestation problem, and every single social Ill that we could not have had a thing to do with in this world, or in any world except for the fictional one. I’m not saying that you personally are doing this, but it’s something that I have observed repeatedly in the 50 years that I have been out. My ongoing quest to get Certain People to stop calling the child molesters in the church gay simplybecuase the targets of their disaffections molested pubescent boys has not been successful, or even acknowledged.

        Several people, including our host, think that I hate the church, I hate religion, I hate God. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I hate is an innocent minorities getting blamed for the sins of the majority. And what I really hate is gay kids killing themselves, because the pro-life bishops could not bear the thought that they might grow up happy to be themselves, or frankly, grow up at all to be anything at all, except for a homeau hating homeau like Burrill.

      4. @work beastie

        Unfortunately, I got worked up and got off the subject. I didnkt address your main point.

        Yes, I do use the term absolute moral corruption quite knowingly and intentionally. Priests like Burrill, or the Branstads, mcarricks, nienstedts, o’briens, and an unfortunate host of others, are not merely lying. That would be refreshingly honest. They are not being merely hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another.

        They are going out of their way to harm other people. they are telling lies about those other people in service to the lies they are telling themselves. They are lying to themselves, to others, to the church, and most importantly, from your particular point of view, and in your terms, to God. They are handling the host while in a state of unrepentant mortal sin, which their own preaching says is not a good thing.

        I use the term absolute moral corruption because they are corrupting others. In the case of Branstad, The diocesan staff must’ve known about his financial shenanigans, which would politely be known as theft. The entire diocese must’ve known about it, and looked the other way. Not to mention, the other bishops whom he gifted with large amounts of money. Orthe families and froends of the seminarians he was involved with.

        In the case of McCarrick, we know for a fact that he had a beach house to which he brought his prey. The neighbors, his fellow priests, his fellow bishops, and given the sheer number of victims, the entire diocese must have known about what he was doing. It was impossible for them not to know. But they pretended that they didn’t, and looked the other way.

        That is why I used the term absolute moral corruption. if priest X has a boyfriend on the side, he might be being dishonest, he might even be labeled hypocritical, but that’s the worst I could say about him, and frankly, I don’t care. That’s his business. But that’s not what I’m talking about with McCarrick, Branstad, and Burrill.


      5. @Ben

        I worked at a diocese for 10+ years and got to know almost all of the priests. I’d say the percentage of gay priests in that diocese was probably 30-50%. There were many HHH’s, and I never understood that. In my view, and the view of Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But being gay seems to be different, in that it’s not a sin. It’s just a person being as God created them. So why dioceses and the Church are so HHH and excited to expel gay priests, I’ll never understand. Seems like gay people have an unique voice that could help strengthen the Church.

      6. @ picket

        Thank you for your kind and understanding attitude. You seem to have a good understanding of what is going on here.

        Why are there HHH’s? Unfortunately, gay people are taught from an early age to hate themselves. On some, it has no affect, on others, we grow out of it. Some people never grow out of it. I had a brother who was gay, now deceased. He was taught very carefully to hate himself just for being himself, long before he even knew he was gay. That was just the icing on the cake, as far as he was concerned. He never told me that he was gay, even though he knew about me for 20 years. When he had finally wrecked his life beyond repair, he finally confessed to me the facts of the matter. He said that he had not told me about himself because he was afraid that it would push him over the edge, and then he would become his worst fear.

        So instead, he wrecked his life. It wasn’t just the gay issue, but it was, as I said, the bitter icing on the dessicated cake of his life.

        I’ve written about this before. I think a lot of men who are homosexual (and pedophiles, a different categoryemtirely) Enter the priesthood because it is a way of escaping from themselves, at least as they see it. Of course, wherever you go, there you are, so they are not escaping anything. what they find there is a whole bunch of men just like themselves. Two of my friends were seminary students decades ago. Both admitted that they had entered the seminary as a way of stopping the questions from their families about why they weren’t married, and as a way of escaping what was staring them in the face. Both left the seminary because they found that there was more sex going on inside that they had experienced outside.

        Much of what you observe and don’t understand is an artifact of the closet. The closet is a lie, it is based on lies, it encourages lies, and because of that, it twists, perverts, and distorts everything that he touches. And if you stay in the closet long enough, it destroys you.

        Thanks again.

  2. The biggest threat to democracy in America today is not the new restrictive voting laws being passed in red states, nor is it the openly racist appeals being made by a growing number of politicians and pundits. No, the biggest threat is the trend across many red states to ensure that only partisan hacks will be allowed to supervise future elections.

    You may remember Brad Raffensperger. He’s the conservative R, Georgia Secretary of State, who famously stood up to Trump when Trump called him after the election and said “I need you to find me 12,000 votes,” enough to swing the election to Trump. Raffensperger refused – and the Georgia R Party voted to censure him, and a hard core MAGA primary opponent (Congresswoman Jody Hice) now has Trump’s loud endorsement. Raffensperger’s political career is over. Because he upheld a fair election.

    This is happening nationwide. The nerds who used to administer elections are now being replaced by partisan hacks. (See link.)

    I don’t see a solution to this. I may be quizzing you in the future about the rules of immigrating to Belgium.

      1. @Joel

        That’s behind a paywall for me 🙂

        But yes, what you mention is the kind of slow erosion I am fear.

  3. The woman seems to be a complete quack; I pity her patients. Yale’s dropped the ball on that one and will no doubt be a little more careful with visiting lecturers in future. I don’t think anyone sensible, however, thought right-wing white supremacists have a monopoly on nutjobs.

  4. The comparison to Germany in the 30s is interesting. If Hitler could have controlled his urges, the Church would have gone along. If only he could have been more “restrained” like Francisco Franco. If only he murdered his victims slowly and in isolated incidents like Franco or Pinochet, or systematically subjugated the Jews, like blacks in the US today, the Church would have been fine with it.

    I am sure that there would have been a line between Kristalnacht and the death camps that the Church would have been very very comfortable with, given how Franco’s Spain was treated.

    That fascists strain is very much alive and fighting to dominate the Church – SSPX, the various strains of the Spainish flu (bred in certain European and South American seminaries ) It is well funded by rightwing billionaires.

    Francisco Franco is the wet dream of American Catholics and much of American/European clergy. Democracy is simply inconvenient for the Catholic Church, and wherever they can ensure they are the ruling class, they will support autocracy with no qualms. The Church has always given coy assent to the murder of its enemies, as long as it was carried out in a “restrained” manner.

    CYA statements are plenty in all these situations – but whether its the Central Powers Act in Germany, or JPII intervening to help Pinochet escape accountability for his murders, papal knighthood for Rupert Murdoch, or throwing minorities and immigrants to the wolves by helping get Trump elected, or Orban in Hungary, when it comes to meaningful actions, the Church’s actions speaks louder and contradict all its empty statements.

    If, and it’s a big if, the fascist strain in US politics gets squelched, then twenty years from now, the Church will proudly cite the few bishops who mouthed words against it. It will memory-hole the 2/3rds of US bishops who are ready to embrace fascism, deny communion to Biden, and declared it a sin to vote against fascists

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