Losing My Religion
The County where I live is about the size of Delaware and probably has less than 60,000 people. One of my friends remarked that we probably have more cows than people. Then added “but who’s counting?”. This is my first diary for Kos, though I’ve been following since 2008. I’m not much of a writer. My work life before retirement was in Accounting and Finance, primarily creating alternatives to the systemic abuse of modern day Capitalist culture.
I was raised Catholic. Now I attend meditation at the Dharma Center and hang out with the Buddhist. It’s right across the street from St. Columba’s Catholic church. I used to call myself a non-devout atheist, but one of my friends made the observation that I was more like a paranoid agnostic. I have no idea what that means, but I am not religious at least in the traditional sense.
I’ve always thought I should write at least one diary, so naturally I pick a topic that I’m quite clueless about. The whole idea of Losing my Religion came about because 43% of our beloved nation seemingly supports President Trump no matter what he does. Due to my rural location and the relationships I’ve developed over 50 years of living small, it has been my observation that a lot of the tea party Trumpsters I deal with have strong feelings about religion. When BHO made the off-hand comment that “they have their guns and bibles”, local bible thumpers were more than upset. But when HRC made her famous “deplorables” comment the low-grade anger turned into a boiling rage.
Not all of the 43% of Trumpster loyalist (CIVIQS) are bigots or white nationalists. It has been my observation and many others agree that there are characteristics that establish a consistent thread running through the typical 43%. Generalizing - they are largely white, patriarchal, vote Republican no matter what, get their news from Fox or the Sinclair affiliated radio and TV, don’t read a lot, pride their selves on work and family, and have a huge resentment towards the “others”. “Others” defined by RW propaganda machine are “those that don’t work, take money out of their pay checks for government handouts, are not Christians, support liberal things like communism, are immoral because they support abortion, are invading “their” country that white people founded, and worse – they hate NASCAR and country music.
So the question is why are they so bound to their ideology and so blind to the dictates of a smug bully that could care less if their health insurance is affordable, their kids get an education and have opportunities for higher ed that won’t enslave them in debtors prison, and encourages the wholesale exploitation of the planets resources so the air we breathe is like a big refinery cloud. Is it religion?
No, but it is an ideology wrapped in the vestiges of Christianity. Spike Lee’s Black Klansman presents Klan worship and rituals as accurately as any recent movie. Wrapped around that seedy Klan self-worship is the Mega church prosperity gospel hour, a very lucrative but less virulent form of Evangelical zeal parading it’s wears on primetime TV whose gullible audience worships consumption. Then there hover the traditional suburban denominations of Catholic and Protestant weekend worshipers that pass as mainstream Christendom. They tolerate gays in church unless they want to get married. They pity the homeless but are either ignorant or insensitive to the causes of homelessness. They embrace a set of beliefs that capture the fear generated by an increasingly complex world.
Even out here where I live someone that spends an inordinate amount of time on a tractor is swept into the madness of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity booming through the stereo system of the cab in their air-conditioned John Deere. They are working hard and just barely able to hold on to the farm, when all these black and brown people are living off the taxes they pay. The “others” take all the government jobs their kids and relatives used to get at the county and city because the government in D.C. makes them hire minorities. Then to make things worse the public schools pollute the minds of their kids about sexual identity and make rules that keep “the good book” out of education. These folks are angry. They might not be “White Nationalists”, but when the clarion call to “take back our country” echoes through the empty caverns of their lives it becomes their religious duty to fight for “blood and soil” against an enemy that is largely a construct of RW media, Russian trolls and conditioned bias.
What do we do about it? I only wish I knew. Maybe coming at it from the perspective of what NOT to do would be a more suitable approach. For one thing most of these folks are religious and they can only identify with the concrete realities of their circumstances. They are not going to even talk about the subtleties of making moral decisions based on nuance. No, they have to have a higher authority that they worship or vote for that handles ambiguity in a manner that eliminates any doubt, reinforces their need for some identity be it tribal or national, that assures them of a place in a world that threatens their order.
What NOT to do is even think that logic, facts, persuasion, or impeachment of the most insidious and corrupt Commander in chief is going to make much of a difference. For these people Trumps impeachment and possible (though it is unlikely given Moscow Mitch) removal from office is viewed as a crucifixion. It confirms their greatest fear – that they are expendable. Here is where it gets a bit dicey. There are some of those 43% that are dangerous and if called to arms will oblige.
And when I refer to “arms” I’m not just talking about the 30X30 used for coyotes and prairie dogs. They are fed the narrative that the Libs are stealing a duly elected leader, and unless it is overwhelmingly obvious that he is duly unelected, or convicted in the Senate, we could be in for some violent madness. I talk to these people (when I can). Most of them would hate to see it come to that, but their religion, sense of identity, perceived and actual threats to their “way of life”, and as distorted as it is, their desire to matter is real to them.
What does this have to do with Religion? Not all religion or religious experiences are anchored in the Fundamentalists element of the Abrahamic religions that make up the big three. Although you won’t hear it in the Ministry’s of any prosperity gospel, the core teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and Abraham have always leaned towards compassion, love, tolerance, and now more than ever we need patience. Patience is something I’m not very good at but reacting to and obsessing over every revelation that pops up on breaking news on MSNBC is a quick ticket to burn out city. Most KOS community are very aware of what is at stake. We must work together to put forward the best ideas and the best candidate with the full knowledge that we may lose, and if it’s close it could get really ugly.
If we hold together nothing can stop change that is based on consideration for our fellows, and our sincere desire to make this planet safe for our kids and grand-kids. Try to not get wound up in every poll that measures the angst de jour. It’s a long time until the elections in 2020. There are a lot of things including black swan (1) events (economic, climate, noun – verb - Giuliani), that will demand our ability to respond rationally for the common good. R. Reich has a wonderful book on this. And for god sakes listen to music and share it on KOS. There was such a beautiful comment section on Linda Ronstadt recently. Music will inspire and inform so much more than a CIVIQ’s poll. So next time you sit next to a Trumpster in an AA meeting, be nice. (HA! note to self).
- Black Swan Events are at the tail ends of the bell curve, happen rarely, but have outsized impacts. 9/11, the 2008 depression event & Kennedy assassination are examples.