Judgment days

July 23, 2018
Posted in Blog
July 23, 2018 Editor

Judgment days

Please click on audio of post. NOTE: only main text read; no links, text markings, images, videos, footnotes, etc. read aloud.

In a small Alabama town, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality

Please go to the end to read the fascinating article by the above title and subtitle.

WN: Trump – “Angel of Light”

A kind of mantra in my Canadian white evangelical upbringing went, “You can be sincere in your beliefs, but you can also be sincerely wrong”. It was applied to every other kind of believer than the Evangelical…

In white evangelical America under Trump, that mantra comes home to roost. Applied to every size and shape of those excluded, it renders supremely ironic Queen Gertrude’s observation in Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

My mother was sadly that kind of Evangelical, who was so certain of her own place in Heaven that she spent a lifetime sorely distressed that others in her family might not make it there. In particular, her older brother turfed his faith upbringing while a young man. As consequence, there was not a major evangelistic crusade in our city where she could not be found on the phone or in person pleading with her brother to attend. As she often expressed it: “Maybe one more time under the sound of the Gospel he will this time pray the sinner’s prayer” — and my mom could be assured of his presence with her in Eternal Bliss.

By my teens I had made a simple observation: she never did the same with our next door neighbours, Jehovah’s Witnesses (and distinctly disliked by us kids and our parents – not only for that reason), who we were assured by our church and parents had one-way tickets to Hell. Put simply: by my mom’s reckoning, compared to family, they could go to Hell.

Perhaps I am being unkind about my mom’s faith in which I was raised? My wife, trained in the same kind of “quintessential Fundamentalism” (church historian Ernest Sandeen about Plymouth/Christian Brethrenism) as I, thinks I am. Another story…

What is indisputable is: my mom’s faith embraced unashamed, unthinking nepotism, as surely as the faith of those in the article highlighted below are fairly blinded by unashamed, unthinking narcissism. And if I actually today believed in the kind of Hell my mom did, I would say unreservedly: both manifestations are deadly sins worthy indeed of the very Hell they so assiduously and self-righteously feel assured they will avoid!

Hence the profound irony. And if such merely produced a smile on my or others’ lips, one could acknowledge the (perhaps) smugness and move on.

One of course cannot, however. For it is tragically precisely this very American white Evangelical base that voted Trump into power (81% of them in 2016!) And that support has never wavered. And it is precisely this very base that helps sustain Trump in power, thereby foisting on the world an evil of unprecedented proportions, even by American standards – which has been an Evil Empire from inception.

And this is where American white Evangelicalism is über-execrable. And this is where the twin Great Sins of Narcissism and Nepotism have created arguably the greatest danger to the world that America today, a vast, marauding and brutal Empire, has ever been.

Not “angel unawares” (Hebrews 13:2) is the person of Trump. Rather (malevolent masquerading) “angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14).

The “Holy Trinity Icon” painted in the 15th century by Andrei Rublev, captures rapturously a foundational moment of positing Hospitality as central to all three Abrahamic faiths.

Everything about Trump is direct inversion of this Abrahamic Faiths’ Foundational Core. Nothing is more foundational than Hospitality/Love! The corollary is, everything about the kind of American White Evangelicalism that voted Trump to, and continuously sustains him in, power is to the Core anti-Faith thus anti-Christ.

 No, White American Evangelical friend: in Heaven there will not be as many dazzling appliances as one wishes at one’s finger tips; there will be no starry floors of gold; no vast manicured lawns and mansions (perhaps kept by Black slaves who otherwise should of course be in Hell?) for you to wander around on, while all the other Abrahamic Faithful and un-Christed (especially Muslims!) endure the unrelenting fires of Hell. No, for your display of everything contrary to the way of Christ, of Faith, of Hope, of Love, there will be salvation for you to be sure (God is inexhaustibly gracious), “even though only as one escaping through the flames.” (I Corinthians 3:15)

Does anyone register shock at this? One cannot do better than read in that case this by John Pavlovitz, addressed to American white Evangelicals (in the main). Well, one actually can do one better: We can all go and reread the Gospels and simply rediscover Jesus again for the very first time! – odd as it may sound. Or as writer John Alexander once wrote in dedicating a book (Your Money or Your Life) to his dad:

He was a rare fundamentalist, who actually believed verbal inspiration extends to the words of Jesus.

 May God have mercy on you! (Which of course he always does…) May God have mercy on us all!

 Amen

The article highlighted below is outstanding, and gave rise to the above…

Credits: Story by Stephanie McCrummen. Photos by Michael S. Williamson. Designed by Joe Moore. Photo Editing by Thomas Simonetti. Copy editing by Wayne Lockwood.

Please click on: Trump – “Angel of Light”

  1. [1]Please also read this excellent response to the article: "Don’t call Christians who support Trump hypocrites. Convert them."

    Though I might add: I have one acquaintance who refuses even to discuss his love affair with everything Trump. When dialogue and appeal to reason are de facto banned, the only hope for "conversion" of such irrational, (sadly) hateful bigots is they finally figure it out/do metanoia themselves! I guess that's why there is always prayer... Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:

    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below. Please also read this excellent response to the article: “Don’t call Christians who support Trump hypocrites. Convert them.

    Though I might add: I have one acquaintance who refuses even to discuss his love affair with everything Trump. When dialogue and appeal to reason are de facto banned, the only hope for “conversion” of such irrational, (sadly) hateful bigots is they finally figure it out/do metanoia themselves! I guess that’s why there is always prayer…

  2. [2]From the article:

    In Crenshaw County, where Luverne is located, Trump had won 72 percent of the vote. Recent national polls showed the president’s approval among white evangelical Christians at a high of 77 percent. One survey indicated that his support among Southern Baptists was even higher, surpassing 80 percent, and these were the people arriving on Sunday morning to hear what their pastor had to say.

It continued:

‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions. From the article:

In Crenshaw County, where Luverne is located, Trump had won 72 percent of the vote. Recent national polls showed the president’s approval among white evangelical Christians at a high of 77 percent. One survey indicated that his support among Southern Baptists was even higher, surpassing 80 percent, and these were the people arriving on Sunday morning to hear what their pastor had to say.

  • [3]The pictorial and technical qualities of the Holy Trinity Icon are certainly admirable and could scarcely be bettered as a model. So, for this reason at least, such an accolade is hardly surprising. Yet what won over the monks was something deeper and, moreover, more specifically Orthodox: the piece shows an ideal expression of God without God being represented. In the icon of the Trinity, we are in the presence of God, but we do not see him; we do not understand him. Rublev based his work on an episode of the Bible (Genesis 18: 2-15) that refers to the visit of three mysterious travellers, who announce to the aging Abraham and his wife Sarah - whose hospitality they share - that they would soon have a son. In fact, these three angels are hypostases of the One God - that is to say, they represent the three identities of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All three figures illustrated here possess identical features. This is not a mistake: the three persons of the Trinity are identical, each fulfilling its own particular role.

    In Rublev's painting, the angel on the left represents the Father, the one in the middle the Son, and the one on the right the Holy Spirit, and while those in the centre and right turn their heads in the direction of the one on the left, he remains still, since the Father is the originating principle from whence all derives. All three are blessing the chalice, which contains a sacrificed calf, readied for eating. The calf signifies Christ the Saviour's death on the cross, while its preparation as food represents the sacrament of the Eucharist. Each angel holds a slender staff in a delicate hand as a symbol of their divine power. The unifying symmetry of the meek yet noble figures is softened by the subtle use of shape and colour, while the gold and oranges hues bathe the scene in a warmth and luminosity that boosts its spiritual resonance. There is nothing naive or simplistic about their delicacy, nothing monotonous in the close resemblance between the angels. Their spirituality pervades the picture as they sit in a state of motionless contemplation with their almond-shaped eyes mysteriously fixed on a world unknown to us, a world from which these spiritual creatures, visiting earth for a mere instant, draw breath.

    Behind them, there is: (1) a house (supposedly Abraham's house), symbolizing the place of eternal salvation; (2) a tree (the Oak of Mamre), symbolizing the Tree of Life; and (3) a mountain, symbolizing Mount Tabor, where the Holy Spirit appeared during the Transfiguration of Christ. The blue worn by the figures is that of the divine. In the centre of the picture stands the chalice of salvation. The rectangle on the front of the table stands for the cosmos. The composition of the work is circular - that is, without beginning, without end, without hierarchy.

    Rublev's genius lay in his decision to reject most of the traditional elements which are found in the depiction of the Abraham and Sarah story of hospitality. He does not show Abraham, or Sarah, or the calf's slaughter, nor does he show any details of the meal. And the angels are shown talking, not eating. Rublev makes the silent communion of the three angels the centre of the composition and the essence of the Trinity. It is an ideal representation of God, without God actually being represented (Holy Trinity Icon by Andrei Rublev: Interpretation, Iconography of Russian Orthodox Panel Painting; http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/trinity-rublev.htm, last accessed July 23, 2018.). Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:

    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach. The pictorial and technical qualities of the Holy Trinity Icon are certainly admirable and could scarcely be bettered as a model. So, for this reason at least, such an accolade is hardly surprising. Yet what won over the monks was something deeper and, moreover, more specifically Orthodox: the piece shows an ideal expression of God without God being represented. In the icon of the Trinity, we are in the presence of God, but we do not see him; we do not understand him. Rublev based his work on an episode of the Bible (Genesis 18: 2-15) that refers to the visit of three mysterious travellers, who announce to the aging Abraham and his wife Sarah – whose hospitality they share – that they would soon have a son. In fact, these three angels are hypostases of the One God – that is to say, they represent the three identities of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All three figures illustrated here possess identical features. This is not a mistake: the three persons of the Trinity are identical, each fulfilling its own particular role.

    In Rublev’s painting, the angel on the left represents the Father, the one in the middle the Son, and the one on the right the Holy Spirit, and while those in the centre and right turn their heads in the direction of the one on the left, he remains still, since the Father is the originating principle from whence all derives. All three are blessing the chalice, which contains a sacrificed calf, readied for eating. The calf signifies Christ the Saviour’s death on the cross, while its preparation as food represents the sacrament of the Eucharist. Each angel holds a slender staff in a delicate hand as a symbol of their divine power. The unifying symmetry of the meek yet noble figures is softened by the subtle use of shape and colour, while the gold and oranges hues bathe the scene in a warmth and luminosity that boosts its spiritual resonance. There is nothing naive or simplistic about their delicacy, nothing monotonous in the close resemblance between the angels. Their spirituality pervades the picture as they sit in a state of motionless contemplation with their almond-shaped eyes mysteriously fixed on a world unknown to us, a world from which these spiritual creatures, visiting earth for a mere instant, draw breath.

    Behind them, there is: (1) a house (supposedly Abraham’s house), symbolizing the place of eternal salvation; (2) a tree (the Oak of Mamre), symbolizing the Tree of Life; and (3) a mountain, symbolizing Mount Tabor, where the Holy Spirit appeared during the Transfiguration of Christ. The blue worn by the figures is that of the divine. In the centre of the picture stands the chalice of salvation. The rectangle on the front of the table stands for the cosmos. The composition of the work is circular – that is, without beginning, without end, without hierarchy.

    Rublev’s genius lay in his decision to reject most of the traditional elements which are found in the depiction of the Abraham and Sarah story of hospitality. He does not show Abraham, or Sarah, or the calf’s slaughter, nor does he show any details of the meal. And the angels are shown talking, not eating. Rublev makes the silent communion of the three angels the centre of the composition and the essence of the Trinity. It is an ideal representation of God, without God actually being represented (Holy Trinity Icon by Andrei Rublev: Interpretation, Iconography of Russian Orthodox Panel Painting; http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/trinity-rublev.htm, last accessed July 23, 2018.).

  • [5]
  • [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  • [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
  • , ,

    Editor

    Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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