From bullshit jobs to bullshit help – a lack of basic security

I have to admit I agree with this article. Life has become too stressful for too many people, unless you’re rich.  The title may offend some, but I think it’s accurate.

Why are people being forced to adapt to a sick (and dying) system that favors only the wealthy, rather than the system itself being adapted to serve us?

Especially in America, capitalism has taken a dark turn toward fascism and even neo-feudalism (authoritarianism in either of these forms is actually a sign of end-stage capitalism — the final culmination of unregulated capitalism, with the rich not bound to the laws the rest of us are, and a dangerous lack of governmental checks and balances).  Neither form of end-stage capitalism is conducive to or compatible with human happiness or even simple contentment.

Yet we keep being told there’s something wrong with us if we can’t adapt and feel stressed out all the time.   We’re told to just smile and think positive thoughts, and everything will be hunky dory.   We spout shallow platitudes at each other and stick post-its with flowery affirmations on our bathroom mirrors.    But the stress never really goes away.

Why?  Because the truth is, the stress we feel is a normal reaction to the abnormal. Nothing about our system is normal or healthy for real human beings, and it needs to change.  All the sunny advice we are given and all the positive affirmations are nothing more than emotional Bandaids for our existential malaise.  They can’t and never will fix the underlying problem which none of us can fix as individuals, but must be addressed by the entire society working together for the common good.

A View From Askew

David Graeber has put forward the notion of bullshit jobs in recent years, and I highly recommend that you watch his interviews and lectures on the subject. However there is another bullshit trend happening…

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The most chilling book I have ever read (book review: Democracy in Chains)

This is a book everyone who cares about saving democracy in America needs to read, so I’m reposting this review I wrote in September 2017.

If you do read it, don’t expect to get much sleep. It’s as scary as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but is based on extensive research. I have seen some of its predictions come to pass, and so have you.

A similar book is Dark Money by Jane Meyer. I have read that too, even though I didn’t review it.

Lucky Otters Haven

democracyinchains

I just finished reading Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy McLean.    This book was as creepy as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but it isn’t a horror novel or even fiction.   It’s a well-researched expose of how America lost its way — and it started a lot earlier than you thought.   It also wasn’t an accident.  Everything up to and including public attitudes about democracy and the rightward shift of both parties was planned down to the smallest detail decades ago.

It all started innocuously enough with an ultra-conservative economist named James McGill Buchanan in the early 1950s.    Buchanan was a libertarian who believed that the New Deal, labor unions, and the social safety net were assaults on true freedom  (to him and others like him, “freedom” meant the right of property owners to keep all…

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Institutionalized soul murder.

handmaids-tale

“If you’ve been following me for some time now, you’ve likely noticed the absence of optimism & hope. While my wife is at work, and my son is in school, I just cry. I’m trying to hide it from them, but they know. I just want to leave this country before I’m destroyed.”  — Twitter user

If you think statements like this are unusual, I can assure you they are not.

Several days ago, Jussie Smollet, “Empire” actor, singer, director, and photographer, was brutally attacked by a couple of Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats (the new KKK hood).  The assailants tied a rope around the man’s neck, yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, and poured bleach on him.    As the assailants left, they yelled “It’s MAGA country now.”   Smollet’s injuries were severe enough to require hospitalization.  This was a hate crime and most likely an attempted lynching.   Trump is doing everything he can to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow days, and we are almost there.

Indeed, Trump emboldens such violent attacks because of his hateful, racist, misogynistic, and neofascist rhetoric, especially at his rallies.   His hostile and bullying bluster contains obvious “dogwhistles” to his supporters, letting them know that attacking or bullying people who are different than they are is just fine in Trump’s America.

Not long before the Smollet attack, four good samaritans left food and water near the Mexican border for tired, hungry migrants (who are almost all women and children, not the caravans of violent MS-13 gang members and drug dealers Trump keeps screaming about).   Police arrested the kindhearted samaritans, and charged all four of them with misdemeanors!   Why misdemeanors?  For showing empathy?  That’s insane.

Meanwhile, homegrown terrorists, neo-Nazis, and high school racists are invited to the White House, are interviewed on TV, and sometimes treated like heroes–or at least their actions are dismissed as “boys will be boys” or “well, some of them are very fine people.”

A Trump supporting politician named Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter last year for asking him questions.  He  was held up as a hero for attacking a journalist, and even won his state election, while the injured reporter was vilified as an “enemy of the people.”   (Gianforte later apologized).

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who very believably and painfully described the way she had been  sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, was told she was lying by Fox News pundits and Trump’s sycophants.   She was then mocked cruelly by Trump himself at one of his rallies (after Ford said the most painful part of the assault had been the way Kavanaugh and his friends mocked her — I’m sure this was not a coincidence).  Ford’s testimony was dismissed as a bunch of lies, while Kavanaugh, clearly temperamentally unsuited to serve on the Supreme Court, was painted by Trump and the GOP as some sort of misunderstood victim who was being unfairly attacked by lying, spiteful women who just wanted their 15 minutes of fame.   He now sits on the Supreme Court.

Central American children and their parents escaping certain death in their home countries, instead of being instructed in how to apply for asylum (these families are showing up legally at ports of entry) are being caged and forcibly separated from each other by ICE and border patrol agents, then tossed into concentration camps with only a foil blanket for warmth and inadequate food and medical care.   Two children have died in these camps. Unbelievably,  some evangelical Republicans are actually calling these cruel actions “biblical.”  Meanwhile, Democrats and others wanting to see the children reunited with their families and treated with kindness and empathy are dismissed as misguided or even evil.  We are gaslighted and told we just want “open borders,” but that too is a lie.

Undocumented immigrant families are released from detention at a bus depot in McAllen

Photo by Loren Elliott/Reuters

In “The Handmaid’s Tale,”  there is a scene where one of the girls is severely punished and returns with her feet bleeding and barely able to walk.  The other girls feel empathy for her, but don’t dare show it, because if they do, they too will be punished.   The same thing was also practiced in the migrant camps at the border, where siblings and other children were ordered not to hold or comfort each other, even after having been separated from their parents.   I don’t know whether or not they were punished if they broke the rules, but the fact such a rule exists is concerning.  It’s institutionalized cruelty.

There’s a reason for this besides just being cruel.  It’s an effective way populations can be controlled.  If you don’t allow people to comfort or show empathy to each other, they won’t rise up or try to overthrow their oppressors.   Hitler and other dictators were  known for doing this.  It’s also a way to fast track the destruction of human beings.   Don’t allow them any hope or comfort.   It’s an effective form of emotional torture.

concentrationcampww2

Meanwhile, cruelty is rewarded and applauded.  At the very least, it seems to be tolerated a lot more than it used to be.

Our values have been turned inside and twisted beyond recognition by a group of men (and a few women) whose only goal is absolute power.  Evil is now good, and good is evil.  Lies are the truth, and the truth is fake news.   Kindness and empathy are now bad and diabolical, cruelty and violence are godly and good.  Truthtellers are silenced, and liars are given a voice.

War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.  — George Orwell (1984)

The people having the hardest time under the Trump regime aren’t necessarily the poor (as difficult or even impossible as their lives are), but people with high sensitivity, high empathy, high creativity, and people who are critical, independent thinkers.    This regime is threatened by all those things, just as narcissistic parents are threatened and scapegoat the most sensitive, empathetic child or the child who speaks the truth and exposes the family’s dark secrets.

I have heard many people say that since Trump became president,  they feel constantly on edge, suicidal, depressed, cry every day,  have lost interest in things that once interested them, feel like they can no longer cope, want to leave the country, are constantly afraid, feel constantly angry, isolate from others, feel sick all the time, or feel dead and numb inside.  These are all indications of PTSD and C-PTSD.  Trump and his sociopathic, cruel regime has triggered or retriggered these disorders in many (if not most) Americans, but it’s the sensitive, empathic, and creative, artistic types of people who are suffering the most, and are least able to thrive under an oppressive, authoritarian regime.   At the same time, these are the same people who are most likely to be the truthtellers  and whistleblowers we need so badly right now.

What the Trump GOP is doing is institutionalized soul murder.

Enough.

The Year of Fascism: Ten Lessons We Should Learn from 2018

fascistamerica

I just finished an article that is both profoundly depressing and profoundly eye opening.    I won’t summarize it here.  Just read it.   I think the writer (Umar Haque) nailed what happened to us in a way no one else has.

Fascism came to America in 2018.  And most of us still won’t admit it.  We still think, “it can’t happen here.”  But it already has.   Until we admit we have become a fascist nation, things will continue to get even worse.

The cure for fascism is almost ridiculously simple: restore the middle class.  There’s a simple way to do this.  But will America ever admit it failed its middle class and humble itself enough to do what needs to be done to restore the middle class?  I wonder.

The Year of Fascism; 10 Lessons We Should Learn From 2018 

The Narcissism of Capital

Here is an incredibly insightful post I wish I’d written. The author explains how unregulated, uncontrolled capitalism and the societal abuse and cruelty inherent in such a political system (America is such a society) is actually an abusive, predatory relationship taken to the macro level, with the callous, corrupt, and often cruel leaders standing in for narcissistic parents and other abusers. I’ve made this same connection myself in some of my own articles about Trump, authoritarianism, and malignant narcissism/sociopathy, but this article seems to explain it even better than I could.

Before you read the article though, let me point out that I use a less broad brush to paint the politicians the author names as narcissists or sociopaths. For example, while Hillary Clinton and Obama certainly have narcissistic traits (which are probably necessary to be successful in politics or be taken seriously in such a high profile endeavor), I do not believe either of them is a sociopath or a malignant narcissist. If they are narcissists (and they may well be), they are of the more benign type. Obama in particular has shown he possesses at least normal levels of empathy, which I don’t think is faked. In my memory, the only president I can recall who was definitely not a narcissist was Jimmy Carter. Because of that, he wasn’t a very effective president, even though he was an unusually good person.

Infinite Ocean

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

In my analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, I discussed something I called ‘political gaslighting‘: in abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim; I argued how the super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public. I’d like to expand on those ideas here.

We all know about how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online; that’s psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels can be seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. The fact that Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as…

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5 Essentials for Defeating Trump.

Here’s an extremely sobering article about the Trump regime’s true diabolical agenda: an unholy merging of white male privilege and authoritarian religion disguised as evangelical Christianity (also known as Dominionism).   What this regime isn’t telling anyone is they are working in the shadows toward an intolerant, legally enforced, violent, misogynistic theocracy very similar to radical Islam in everything but the specific religion it’s using to disguise itself.  In fact, this movement isn’t a true religion at all; it’s a religious cover for a fascist political agenda, and is the opposite of anything Christ ever stood for.

Dominionist Christianity is an unholy mix of the prosperity gospel and forced sexual conformity (especially for women).  It tends to attract the selfish and the uncompassionate; the smug, self righteous, and sanctimonious; the greedy, the abusive, the sociopathic, and those who need, due to their own narcissism, to feel superior to others based on their white heritage, their false piety, or their personal wealth.

Qualities like compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses that need to be eliminated.   Financial wealth and the power that comes with that is seen as the only true measure of God’s approval.   Misfortune, illness, and poverty is inflicted only on those who God does not approve of.    Human beings are regarded as useful objects to achieve one’s aims or exploit for financial gain, rather than as individuals with needs (slavery is acceptable).   The desire for human rights and to be treated with dignity are considered to be the work of Satan.  The end always justifies the means, so evil acts and cruelty are all acceptable as long as they help to bring about the endgame, which is a theocracy based on Old Testament Law and unfettered (unregulated) capitalism where the wealthy and privileged can rule like feudal kings over the hordes of serfs and slaves under their rule.  Adherents believe God has given certain people (modern day prophets and apostles) license to force their will on others to achieve the movement’s agenda.   Dominionist Christianity is a sociopathic, violent, religiopolitical movement and is eating America like metastatic cancer.

I have already written a number of posts about dominionism, so I won’t list sources here, but a quick Google search will direct you to them. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s absolutely real.

Trump is the key this Christofascist movement is using to open the Pandora’s box of horror and suffering they have kept under wraps for years and are just now beginning to unleash in all its ugliness and hypocrisy, the intention being to inflict it on anyone who can’t or won’t conform.   Many Trump supporters aren’t aware of the regime’s real agenda,  and can’t be convinced they have become part of a cult of personality that in many cases, will do them or their loved ones harm or even kill them.   But as in Hitler’s Germany, by the time they finally realize the danger they are in, it will be too late.

Trump, though apparently not religious himself (and definitely unrepentant of his past sins) is helping this diabolical movement realize their fascist agenda (which is why its adherents insist he is anointed by God) in return for their support of him. That’s why there are so many dominionists in his cabinet and why they seem to think of Trump as a kind of savior.

To save America and the world (because it’s their intention to eventually take over the planet), their dark agenda must be exposed and brought into the light.  Author Chris Kratzer outlines how this can be done in this terrifying (but also hopeful) article.

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump 

 

I want my life back.

munsch

There hasn’t been one morning since Trump became president that I haven’t woke up with my stomach in knots and my heart racing. It’s impossible to get back to sleep and the first thing I always do is pull up Twitter to find out what the latest calamity is.

I’m edgy with people, edgy at work all the time, edgy with my family.  I can barely function due to the constant nerves.  And it’s all because of the political situation which occupies my mind 24/7 and is growing worse with each passing day.

Self care (which I recommend!) is only a temporary respite from the endless rollercoaster of anxiety, anger, dread, and depression.  Going on vacation helps, but I can’t afford to do that more than once or twice a year.   And even then, in the back of my mind, is the heavy feeling of knowing that soon,  I’ll once again have to face our dark reality.   Self care activities are necessary, but all they do is keep me from falling into the abyss.  They don’t remove me from its edge.

I have NEVER had this kind of reaction before to ANY president.   Even when I didn’t particularly like the president or his political platform, in the back of my mind I always knew he knew what he was doing, was going to protect democracy,  and that we were more or less safe from terrorism, both foreign and domestic.  I could focus on other things besides politics. Since January 9, 2017 I can’t.

I read somewhere that in functioning democracies, people don’t obsess about politics. They can actually live their lives.  Since January 9, 2017 I feel like my life has been on hold and I can never relax.

Maybe in 9 days, we can put some much needed checks and balances back in place to keep this despotic president under control.   Perhaps then I can relax a little.  But I have a feeling no matter how the election goes,  calamity will ensue.   Trump’s base is so huge, so violent and so full of hatred toward most Americans, that I fear if we win,  there will be civil war waged against us (which Trump himself has threatened).   Already there seem to be bands of roving vigilantes and right wing militia groups sprouting up like metastatic tumors in the body republic, and not just at the southern border (where they await the “caravan” which consists primarily of women and children seeking asylum, not rapists, MS-13, and murderers).  I have no faith these groups will be kept in check by our military, and no faith our military will even take our side (even though they’re supposed to protect the Constitution, not the president).

fascism_characteristics

Two days ago, pipe bombs were sent through the mail to Democratic leaders and reporters by a Trump supporting white supremacist (yet the Trump camp, as they always do, blames the victim, claiming Democrats sent the bombs to themselves).   We were fortunate this time that the bombs were intercepted and defused before a disaster (or many disasters) happened, but next time, someone may die.  And there will be a next time.   We have become as tribal and violent as a third world country — and the violence isn’t coming from Antifa (which is a tiny minority on the very far left that engages in vandalism, not violence against actual people) or the left.   Resistance protests have been peaceful, with any violence that occurs stirred up by counterprotesters (Charlottesville) and far right domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys and other far right extremist groups.   The left (which now includes what used to be moderates and Never Trumpers due to the rightward shift of the Overton Window) has been gaslighted, demonized, and smeared by the Trump regime and its cult members to the point that anyone who disapproves of Trump and the toxic fear based rhetoric he spews at his rallies is seen as an enemy.   We have been identified and marginalized.   Removal of our rights and finally elimination will follow.   People are going to die.

If we lose, I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen.   It’s too terrifying to contemplate.

I just want this madness to end.   I don’t want to have to obsess about politics anymore.

I just want my life back.

 

The bullies are winning and my heart is breaking.

wearenotok

Today I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and recovering from some terrible illness at the same time.  I have no energy.    I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep.  But I can’t sleep because I’m so on edge.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I’ve spent the entire day lying in bed. I’m depressed and anxious and everything hurts.  I’m stress-eating, doing pretty much nothing but staring at the ceiling and dropping the crumbs from the loaf of lemon pound cake I bought this morning all over my clean sheets.  At least I haven’t watched the news today (I need a break from it, after this past week).   I’ve been trying to read a new book I just bought, but I can’t concentrate.  I must have read the same page about ten times and didn’t comprehend a word of what I read.

As a survivor of narcissistic and sexual abuse, this whole Kavanaugh drama that’s been on the news 24/7 for almost two weeks now has been extremely triggering and making my C-PTSD symptoms flare up.  It’s not much comfort to know I’m far from alone though.  What this government is doing is narcissistic abuse writ large, and it’s negatively affecting millions of women and children, people of color, immigrants, and even many men.  Brett Kavanaugh is an abuser.  Even if he wasn’t a sexual predator (and I think there’s enough evidence that he is), he is predator and an abuser of women.  You can tell by his smug demeanor and his fake tears, by his narcissistic rage, by his entitlement, and by his abuser non-apology (“I didn’t mean to lose control, but SHE made me do it”).  Trump loves Kavanaugh because he’s a mirror image of himself and he will do his bidding and make him immune to the law.

So now that this predator, serial liar, and all around awful person has been confirmed to the highest court in the land, I feel personally threatened.  Not by Kavanaugh personally, since I will never have to deal with him.   I feel threatened by this entire regime which seems to grow stronger and meaner every day.  The abuse they inflict seems to keep getting worse, and now it’s getting personal.   First there was the Muslim ban, then the horrible treatment of the people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, there was Heather Heyer being killed in Charlottesville by a white supremacist, and then football players taking a knee and being condemned for that.   As terrible as those things were, they didn’t seem that personal.  They were just terrible news stories, distant from my own life.  I still had hope things would turn around, people would wake up to what was happening, and good would triumph over evil.

But real life isn’t a movie with a happy ending, and things continued to deteriorate.   There were reports of  migrant kids from Central America locked in cages and forcibly separated from their parents.  I remember waking up in cold sweats from nightmares about little Hispanic children crying and screaming behind bars in cold dark cages, reaching their little hands out through the bars toward me, tears streaming down their small brown faces, and not being able to do a thing to help them except pray for them.  My nightmare wasn’t far off from the reality of what was actually happening.  Kids in concentration camps.  No privacy, not enough food, forced to drink dirty water, denied medical care or comfort.  Provided only with an aluminum foil blanket for warmth.  Ripped from their mothers’ arms and then not even allowed to comfort each other.  Abused and mocked by cruel, sociopathic guards in some cases.  Children fortunate enough to be returned to their parents looked shell shocked, their faces devoid of emotion.  They’d obviously been traumatized and were forced to  bury their feelings because living like that, in cages, away from the family that loved them, not understanding what they did wrong to deserve such treatment, hurt too much.  These little kids will be damaged for life, because a fat orange faced dictator felt like it was necessary to “deter” immigrants from coming here, and these innocent little lives were used as a tool and a warning.

And this travesty is happening in America.  In the land of the free.  In the the shining city on a hill.  “It can’t happen here.”  Really?  Oh, yes, it can.  And it is.   Who will be targeted next?

Women.   Women are being targeted now.  Especially women who dare to come forward and tell the truth about their abusers.   This regime has no empathy for survivors of abuse, sexual or otherwise, especially if they’re female.   Trump mocked Dr. Christine Ford at one of his rallies, and his supporters cheered.   A sexual predator gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, after lying under oath, committing perjury, and after a sham FBI investigation was run that turned out to be nothing more than a way to get “the left” to shut up.

Now Democrats and liberals are being targeted.    I avoid reading Trump’s tweets, but I couldn’t ignore this one, because it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck:

You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left wing mob.  Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern.  Republicans believe in the rule of the law – not the rule of the mob.

Let’s unpack this tweet.  First of all, it is blatant gaslighting and projection, which this man does every day.   It’s the Party of Trump (formerly the Republican Party), that has become extreme and dangerous, they are the ones who are trying to install a fascist, authoritarian government, remove our rights and freedoms, and now they appear to want to squash the First Amendment rights of anyone who doesn’t fawn at Trump’s feet.

I have never heard any president in my lifetime ever refer to the opposite party as a “mob” or “dangerous.”   Such labels were reserved for outside enemies, like ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  Our protests have been peaceful, much more peaceful than the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that ended in the death of a counterprotester, or all the hate-filled Trump rallies where his followers chant mindlessly, “Lock her up!  Lock her up!” two years after Hillary lost the election (even though she didn’t lose the popular vote) — and even though repeated investigations found she was innocent of any wrongdoing.   THEY are the mob, not us.  The Trump party does NOT believe in the rule of law because its leaders are corrupt to the core and break the law every day.  Its followers are fueled by hate and fear, and they are growing more aggressive, as Trump stokes their rage at his rallies and encourages bullying and violence against anyone who is different from them, or anyone who doesn’t worship Trump, which means most of us.  I fear there is going to be a crackdown against us very soon, a curtailment of our rights, even though we have done nothing wrong.

In America, the bullies are winning.  Evil is winning.  It’s so triggering.  I am reminded of being the bullied, sensitive kid at school who was chased home every day by a rowdy group of cruel boys and mocked by the popular girls because of my social awkwardness.   Our president is a sadistic bully and he is surrounded by and rewards other sadistic bullies, while gaslighting and blaming and cruelly mocking everyone who has ever been a victim — or even anyone who is just a decent human being — by him and his merry band of flying monkeys.

When I think back to two years ago, or even a year ago, I realize with a jolt how much worse things have become since then — and much worse than I ever thought they could get.  I certainly thought Trump would have been impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment by now, but nothing he does or says — locking kids in cages, committing treasonous acts with Putin and Kim Jong Un in plain sight, alienating our allies, mocking women and abuse survivors who are brave enough to come forward and tell their stories — nothing at all seems to force him to be accountable.   He is apparently already above the law.  His new SCOTUS pick, Kavanaugh, was chosen primarily because he will make sure Trump stays above the law and is never held accountable for his many criminal acts and brutal deeds.    Our system of checks and balances has been hacked away at and has failed us, and now all three branches of government are completely under Trump’s control.

Even the breaking news story the other day in the New York Times that provided proof that Trump is a tax cheat and fraud who lied about his inheritance and businesses,  made barely a blip in the news.  It got buried under all the Kavanaugh drama, and no one even seems to care.  No one is going to hold him accountable for his crimes.   Even if the Mueller investigation somehow isn’t shut down,  Trump will skate, no matter how bad the charges may be.

Things have gotten worse, so much worse.  I feel it in my very cells.  It’s different now than it was even a few weeks ago.  Trump is consolidating power, he’s become more blatant and open in his cruelty and his lackeys don’t even try to hide behind a pleasant facade anymore (Lindsey Graham is a good example —  it’s almost like he’s possessed or suddenly removed his “soft spoken southern gentleman” skin suit).

The GOP has declared open season on women who dare to call out a man for abuse or for rape, and on all Democrats.   This isn’t normal.   A president is supposed to bring people together, not divide them.   Democrats have been demonized and identified as the enemy, and Trump’s tweet is preparing his base for aggression and violence against us.  To Trump and his supporters, we are the enemy, every bit as bad if not worse than ISIS.  We are fair game for whatever Trump wants them to dish out.   Martial law and curtailment of our freedom of speech is probably next.   We may even be rounded up and put in reeducation or forced labor camps.  Private prisons can make a hefty profit off our free labor.

As a Democrat and a woman and abuse survivor, I don’t feel safe in this country anymore.  I’m hypervigilant and constantly stressed.   Things seem to get better for awhile, I see a ray of hope — and then something happens and it feels like I’m on the Titanic as it was sinking, knowing there’s no way to save myself.  Or like I’m in hell, trapped in a torturous game of two steps forward, three steps back, for all eternity.   It’s as if I’m back in my abusive marriage, only this is worse because there’s no escape, no way to go “no contact.”  Trump dominates everything, he’s an oppressive presence even when I’m not seeing or hearing him.   I feel like I can’t breathe.  I wish I could flee the country, but I lack the means to do that.    And I’m so jealous of those who will be able to.

If things have gotten this much worse in less than two years, I’m absolutely petrified of what is coming down the pike next year, or two years hence.   I lack the right kind of emotional makeup to be able to survive living in a fascist dictatorship and once it’s established (if we lose the midterms I am sure it will be), all I have to look forward to is the relief of death.   I worry about my children facing a future under such a cruel and heartless regime, where my daughter can be targeted because of her gender, and my son can be targeted because of his sexual orientation.   I don’t feel like they’re safe here either and I worry about them.

Besides being terrified, I’m also heartbroken.   I remember the way things used to be here in America, how bright the future seemed.  I remember the way we took our many freedoms and rights for granted and never dreamed anything like this could happen.  I’m filled with grief so profound and heavy I can barely move.    I often wonder if this is the way women felt in Afghanistan or Iran before Sharia Law took over or the way the people of Germany felt in 1934 before Hitler seized total power.

I never thought it would happen here.  But it has.  America is dying, and this is what is feels like.

Please pray for us.

*****

Here is a similar, but more hopeful, article from Chris Kratzer’s amazing blog.  Its central message is that if what is happening in America makes you feel sick, nauseous, angry, sad, fearful, or disgusted, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, if you feel those things, it’s an indication you have a working soul.

If Today, Your Heart Breaks and Your Hope Is Fading

My extremely unpopular opinion.

hiding

I expect to get trolled or unfollowed for this, but so be it.

I have a very unpopular opinion.  Some may call it Marxist or un-American (but in my opinion, it’s no more un-American than what’s going on right now in our government.).

Here it is.  Capitalism run amok (without controls and regulations to keep its excesses at bay) is worse than communism.  Unfettered capitalism is purely predatory.   It always leads to fascism.

Granted, communism is a terrible way to run a government (and has fallen out of favor in the developed world) because it’s extremely authoritarian and allows no real freedoms, no private property, there’s always the risk of food and other shortages, since the government, rather than private business, supplies everything.   But at least everyone has access to a first rate secular education (including higher education) and healthcare.  Those may be its only advantages but it least it has them.   The outcomes of communism have been terrible because it’s an ideology that just doesn’t work.    But neither does unregulated capitalism (except for corporations and the very wealthy).

If you look at the reasons why each ideology exists, communism at least had origins more noble and humane than the motive of pure greed that fuels capitalism.    Its core belief is that everyone is equal.  In the real world, of course, it doesn’t work, and communist governments always become corrupt with the leaders exploiting the populace and creating massive human suffering.   But unregulated capitalism is even worse because it’s basically a neofeudal system based on pure greed and the lust for power.  Without regulations put in place to protect the populace from its excesses, it rewards only the most predatory and sociopathic people, while exploiting everyone else and destroying the environment.    It punishes the most vulnerable and those with empathy while rewarding only people who have no issues exploiting others for their own gain.

So, as bad as communism is (was?), unregulated capitalism/neofeudalism like we’re heading toward here in America under Trump and the GOP is worse because it leads to fascism.  It leads to the oppression and the removal of basic rights and freedoms every bit as bad as those associated with communism.   It thrives on predation of the vulnerable and is therefore sociopathic and more evil than communism. There, I said it.

In my opinion, democratic socialism like they have in Scandinavian countries is the most ideal way to run a government.   People living in these countries score highest on the happiness index (even in spite of the endlessly dark and cold winters, which itself leads to depression and suicide), they have the longest life expectancy and the best health, there is the least inequality, and their people are far more likely to be prosperous then elsewhere (even though these aren’t the richest or most powerful nations).  Maybe such a system can only work in small countries with relatively homogenous populations though.

Short of that, humane democratic capitalist (capitalism can be balanced with enough socialism to make it humane and respectful of the earth — it used to be that way here, too) governments like Canada’s, that at least recognize the basic humanity of all its citizens, work best for average human beings.  Western Europe and most developed countries recognize this fact.  But in America, probably due to the Cold War, people are still terrified of the “S” word.  If they educated themselves on what it actually means (some people think the Nazi Party was socialist because it had the word in its full name — but it was actually fascist and not socialist at all) and stopped associating it with communism (which it isn’t), perhaps they would stop being so afraid of it.

*****

Further reading:

The Benefits of Socialism

 

 

13 red flags of a dominionist church.

angry-violent-god

I’ve written about Christian dominionism before, especially as it relates to our current political situation here in America, but what exactly is it, and how can you tell if your church has gone dominionist or has dominionist tendencies?

What is dominionism?

First, we need to define dominionism.  What exactly is it anyway?  Basically, it’s a postmillennialist theology that was started by Rousas Rushdoony in the 1960s, with the publication of his tome, Institutes of Biblical Law.  It has its roots in Calvinism, and is in fact Calvinism on steroids.   It’s a form of theonomy, or theological totalitarianism, that teaches that God has mandated humans to prepare the world for Christ’s return by “christianizing” the “7 mountains” of society: government, family, media, education, religion, entertainment/arts, and business.   They seek to do this by installing only Christians (specifically, dominionist evangelicals) into the top echelons of each of these seven “mountains”  who will then work on changing them.   One of the tasks of the people mandated to transform the “government” mountain is replacing the Constitution with Old Testament biblical (Mosaic) law.   In fact, they’re busy doing this right now, which is why there are so many dominionist Christians in the Trump administration.  Dominionists (and many “normal” evangelicals also)  believe that Trump has been “anointed” by God as a “wrecking ball” to help bring about God’s kindgom on earth.   Many people have compared dominionism to ISIS and the Taliban, two extremist factions of Islam that also don’t recognize the separation of religion and government and have made laws based on the Q’uran (sharia law) the law of the land in some Middle Eastern countries.

Dominionism isn’t a denomination.  It’s an authoritarian theology that has infiltrated a variety of Christian denominations in America, mostly evangelical, fundamentalist, or pentecostal (you’re pretty safe from it if you’re in a mainline or liberal Protestant or Catholic church — for now).  Dominionism has flown under the radar for years and has gone under several different names:  New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  Manifest Sons of God, the Latter Rain movement (an early incarnation from the 1970s), Kingdom Now,  Kingdom Theology, Joel’s Army, and other names.    It’s actually a fascist and nationalist political agenda wrapped up in Christian piety.  As a post-millennialist doctrine, it has a different eschatology from “normal” evangelicalism, which is traditionally pre-millennialist and therefore teaches that the Tribulation and Rapture will occur before Christ returns.   “Normal” evangelicals (and mainline Christians who believe in the Second Coming) adhere to the biblical teaching that we have no way to know when Christ will return, and there is no way to “prepare” for it, since God’s kingdom is not of this world.

Dominionism is heretical for many reasons but mostly because it says Jesus can’t return until the planet is “Christianized.”   For Americans, this means a installing a theocracy based on Old Testament laws.   If that sounds a lot like radical Islam to you, that’s because it is.  Their agenda is eventual world domination (dominion) and a One World Religion.  This is unbiblical.  We were never called to force certain religious beliefs on others, only to spread the Gospel.  To force a religion on society by way of its laws negates the concept of free will.  It also corrupts both the religion and the government.   This is why the Founding Fathers were clear about the separation of church and state.

The Bible also never says that only Man can change the world for Christ.  In fact, we cannot facilitate Christ’s return ourselves because we can’t even know when He is returning (Mark 13:32).

God’s kingdom, according to John 18:36, is not of this world.   But dominionists believe it very much is and to be pleasing to God, the world must be changed to Jesus’ liking.   Dominionism is also extremely authoritarian and very cult-like.    Many survivors of spiritual or religious abuse came from churches that embraced tenets of dominionism and reconstructionism.

Here’s an excellent (and scary) description of dominionism from a political research website:

Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight 

Dominionism has been working its dark magic within American evangelical churches,  and even some charismatic Catholic churches.  Now that it’s infiltrated our political system, it threatens the integrity of our Constitution and our freedom.  Many of the current GOP in high level positions, and some members of Trump’s staff are actively trying to install dominionist doctrine into our laws.   Here are 13 red flags to look for.

1.  The church uses military imagery or language.  This is a very visible and immediately obvious red flag of a dominionist church.  Such symbolism indicates a church that has no respect for the separation of church and state — and even believes it is mandated to change the law of the land to its liking.  Ads and educational materials include military imagery such as shields, swords, guns,  images of soldiers at war, sometimes combining the cross with nationalistic symbols like American flags.   They use terms like spiritual warfare, warrior for Christ, soldier for Christ, prayer warrior, POTUS Shield, Joel’s Army, etc.   God himself is portrayed not as a loving Father, but as constantly angry, full of wrath and vengeance, intolerant, and punishing for the smallest infractions.    Extreme nationalism is prominent too.  America is believed to be God’s chosen nation (the “new Israel”) mandated to convert (by force, if necessary) the world.

soldiers4jesus

2.  The church tells you how you should vote.   In America, this nearly always means voting for the “pro-life” candidate, regardless of how immoral that candidate may be in other ways.   Abortion and to a lesser extent, homosexuality, are the two pet “culture wars” issues given outsized importance by these churches.    This red flag alone though does not indicate a dominionist church, since many conservative and fundamentalist/evangelical churches frown on abortion and homosexuality.  But taken in context with other red flags, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.    Be wary of any church that tells you to vote Republican, says Trump is “God’s anointed,” or rails on about abortion and homosexuality constantly but doesn’t seem to care  very much about other moral issues such as greed, pride, pedophilia, poverty, racism, human rights abuses, adultery, dishonesty, or cruelty.

3.  The church encourages you to leave your non-believing loved ones.   Dominionist churches operate very much like cults because in fact they are cults.  Cults such as Scientology very often coerce their adherents into disconnecting with non-believing friends or family members, who are demonized.  Enemies of Scientology are called “Suppressive Persons” or SPs for short (here’s more about my own short foray into Scientology, in case anyone is interested).    In dominionist churches, anyone who isn’t a believer — even other kinds of Christians — are said to be doing Satan’s work.   In fact, some dominionists believe that non-dominionists are naturally evil because they come from Cain’s bloodline (they believe that the “right kind” of Christians are from Abel’s bloodline) so they are predestined for Hell no matter what (I told you this was Calvinism on steroids!)

So if your church leader tells you a relationship you have is sinful or accuses your friend or family member of being of the devil because they believe differently or have a lifestyle the church disapproves of, and they tell you you must cut off that person to avoid God’s wrath,  run away as fast as you can.  Dangerous people and organizations both attempt to isolate their prey from the people they love in order to control them.   It’s a form of divide and conquer.

4.  The church says we can and should seek signs and wonders.  Many evangelical churches emphasize “signs and wonders” (spontaneous healing, “glory clouds,” speaking in tongues, deliverance, exorcism, laying on hands, etc.) as a physical manifestation of the holy spirit.  Pentecostal and charismatic evangelical worship services focus on attempting to bring about these supernatural phenomena and as a result, it’s hard to not get drawn in by all the intense and uncontrolled emotion.  Dominionism goes a step further, saying humans are mandated by God to “manifest” signs and wonders, since God is in each of us.   This is very similar to New Age teaching.  In fact, many dominionist churches, such as the Bethel megachurch in California, are a strange hybrid of Christian fundamentalism and New age religion (Bethel is also known for an odd and disturbing practice known as “grave sucking.” ).    Dreams are also given great importance, and even quasi-occult practices such as astral projection are practiced: there are dominionist preachers and authors who claim they have traveled to heaven (and hell).   Signs and wonders (miracles) may be real for all I know, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to be conjuring them for their own sake or as “proof” God exists.   I think it could even be dangerous (not all supernatural occurrences come from God), so if you belong to a church that says you must take part in such occult activities or that something’s wrong if you can’t speak in tongues, conjure a “glory cloud,” or heal people spontaneously, find another church.

glory_cloud

Attendees at Bethel Church catching manifested gold dust from a “glory cloud.”

 

5.  The church says certain people are “anointed,” or chosen by God — and says you must obey those people.   In this regard, dominionism has been compared to the Roman Catholic Church, which believes in intercessors between us and God, such as popes, priests and bishops.   In dominionist churches, certain people are “anointed” (often self-proclaimed) as prophets or apostles, and they have dominion over everyone else.    To disobey or resist such an “anointed” person is considered a sin.   Since these churches consider Trump to be “anointed by God” (regardless of his continued immorality and lack of repentance for his sins),  to disagree with Trump means you disagree with God himself and have a “jezebel spirit.”

If your heart tells you something is wrong, I think it would be immoral not to disobey.  We were given a conscience which is a gift of God, and helps us manifest the holy spirit in the world (the same way our minds do — it is godly to use our critical thinking skills!)  While good works may or may not be necessary for salvation, they certainly are a “good fruit” proving we are using the conscience and thinking ability we were given and acting in a Christlike manner (even if we are not Christians).  Who can argue with that? It sure wasn’t Satan who gave us brains and a conscience!

If you know your leader is doing something immoral,  I think it’s the godly thing to call it out or at least refuse to take part in it.   What if your pastor asks you to perform a sexual act on them or cheat on your spouse?  Is to refuse to do so immoral? I certainly hope not!  I think there are always circumstances in which disobedience is not only the correct thing to do, it’s the only moral thing to do.

6.  The church puts great importance on blind obedience.   This ties closely with #5.   Dominionist churches put an inordinate amount of emphasis on unquestioning submission to authority, often quoting Romans 13, which says that every man in a position of power was put there by God, and therefore we are not to question God’s will.   Using this logic, even Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were placed in power by God.   You could also ask a dominionist why Barack Obama was so vilified by the religious right, since according to their doctrine, he must have been put there by God as well.   Not only is blind obedience valued over critical thinking (which is a sin), to insist on “rights,” including civil rights, is considered to be satanic.

Here’s a thought experiment.  Dominionists might want to ask themselves if undergoing an abortion in China is the godly thing to do, since Chinese law mandates a couple must not have more than one child — and therefore to refuse an abortion is to disobey the law.    Likewise, would the American Revolution have ever happened — or any revolution in all of history ever happened — had disobedience or resistance to authority not come into play?

On a side note, I’ll add that dominionist child rearing methods are extremely authoritarian and oppressive, even cruel.   The goal of such draconian and harsh parenting is to “break the child’s will,” as you would “break” a horse — but really what happens is the child grows up to be a broken person unable to think for themselves, afraid to experience genuine emotion — and all too often becomes an abuser themselves.

7. The church preaches the “prosperity gospel.”  While not all prosperity gospel churches are dominionist, all dominionist churches preach the prosperity gospel.   Dominionism is really a sort of hyper-Calvinism, which states that God blesses those who please him with financial and material rewards (“name it and claim it”).   So if you are poor or struggling,  then you deserve your poverty.   You’re displeasing to God in some way, or your faith isn’t strong enough and God is trying to “awaken” you to the error of your ways.   It would therefore be wrong to offer such a person help because that’s interfering with God’s will.  The prosperity gospel also puts a great deal of emphasis on tithing, which I describe in #8.

8.  The church puts great importance on tithing and “donations.”   Even if you are poor and can’t feed your family, you are told you must tithe a large portion of your income to the church.  Failing to tithe the right amount is considered sinful.   This is another red flag of a cult, because cults always find ways to extract large amounts of money from you, often promising you nebulous things such as greater prosperity, happiness or peace of mind in return.    Failing to attain those goals means you have failed — or are displeasing to God.   The church is like a gambling casino: the house always wins.   It is always right, you are always wrong.  If you belong to a church whose leader is extremely wealthy and flaunts that wealth, and the poor are blamed for their own financial condition,  run.

9.  Women are treated as second class citizens.  Women are held in very low regard in dominionist churches, though not all churches that order women to be “helpmeets” and submit to the authority of their husbands, fathers, and other male relatives are necessarily dominionist.  They could just be ultraconservative.   But again, this is something you will see in dominionist churches.   Of course, abortion is forbidden in most conservative churches, but if birth control is also frowned on (outside the Catholic Church), and women are told their only value is to have as many children as God gives them, or if having many babies is referred to as “building an army for Christ,”  that should be a howling red flag.   The Quiverfull movement, which the Duggar family is a part of, is a fairly recent manifestation of dominionist theology at work.    The Taliban in Islam has very similar views of women and their proper roles in society.  In such a misogynistic environment, abuse is rampant.

handmaidstale

Scene from the Hulu TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

10.   Abuse is concealed, denied, or excused.   Women and children are extremely vulnerable to abuse because of their second class status.   Since the man is regarded to be biblically mandated to have headship over his wife and children — and because questioning authority is frowned upon and even condemned as sinful — reporting abuse or defending yourself or your children against it can be dangerous.   Many women who tell their preachers about the abuse are shamed and coldly ordered to go back home and try to be better wives, or to “make the best of it.”  Sometimes they are even accused of bringing it on themselves, and told they can stop the abuse by being more pleasing or obedient to their husbands.    Because a woman may be saddled with many children, or have been cut off from her family and friends (see #3), she may have nowhere to turn to get any help or relief, which takes us to #11.

11. Disdain for psychiatry, psychology and the mental health profession.   This attitude toward the mental health professions is very similar to that of Scientology, which also takes a very dark view of them.   In many dominionist churches, the only acceptable kind of therapy is that given by a Christian (dominionist) practitioner, who is rarely trained in psychology and counseling, and will often give advice that is not based on the client’s best interests but rather on obeying the religious doctrine.  For example, they might tell a gay person their sexuality is an abomination to God, and they need to undergo “conversion” therapy, or they might tell a wife she must obey her husband and try to “make the best of things” even if she and her children are in danger.  A secular therapist would encourage the gay person to accept themselves as they are, and urge the woman to leave her abusive husband and connect with people who can help her.

12.  The church demonizes the vulnerable.   I’ve already discussed the way dominionist doctrine demonizes the poor, blaming them for their lack of prosperity.  But it also demonizes the disabled, the sick, and other vulnerable groups of people.  Because dominionist doctrine holds that God blesses his elect with perfect health and wealth, a godly person would never become poor, sick or disabled.  Misfortune is only visited on those who don’t believe or who are morally offensive to God.   To suffer misfortune then, means you are doing something wrong.  The fault is always your own.  This is an extremely narcissistic, even sociopathic, worldview — and nothing at all like Christ, who loved the “least of these” the most.    Dominionists apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount.

13.  The people are just…weird.   When people join cults, if they stay any length of time, eventually the indoctrination and mind control tactics begin to take a toll on their personalities and even their appearance.   Many people have noticed, for example, the “Scientology stare” so common in Scientology adherents like Tom Cruise.  This is a creepy blank stare, often combined with a fake smile that fails to reach the eyes.   I’ve never spent time in a dominionist church, but my fascination with it has led me to watch Youtube videos of dominionist preachers and public speakers, and almost all of them have that weird, robotic, predatory, almost psychopathic stare.  Watch videos of Paula White (Trump’s “spiritual advisor”) if you want to see a real world example of what I mean.

If you’re still not sure whether the church you attend has dominionist leanings, there’s an easy way to tell if it’s a good church or a bad one:  ask yourself if it bears good or rotten fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).   If the church is doing good works and helping others (without coercing them to convert),  its leaders seem humble and kind, and the congregants seem happy and contented without repressing their real desires and emotions, then it’s probably a healthy church environment.  If the leader seems distant (or “above” his congregation), the congregants seem fakely perky and happy (or miserable and afraid), and the overall feel of the church is one of fear, negativity, and anger,  it may not be a dominionist church, but it definitely could be a toxic one.