Let’s End this Awful War Between Us!

Davud Brooks underscores our need to get along in his piece today, Jan. 14, 2022, in the NY Times,  Here is a link:  Opinion | America Is Falling Apart at the Seams - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 

FOR WAY too Long we Americans have been immersed in a war that promises only one ending: Disaster.

We refer not to the war in Afghanistan, nor to the one in Iraq, and not to the big ones before, like Vietnam, Korea, or WW II and WWI.

No, the war to which we refer is the present UnCivil War that we are fighting daily and hourly, a war that is as UnHoly as it is UnCivil.

Understand, and we think most Americans do, this UnCivil, UnHoly War is not being fought in conventional terms.  For it is a major conflict between ideologies, between rural and urban views, between the more formally educated and those not, and, yes, between those with divergent religious and spiritual beliefs.

How shall we further describe this war?

Well, for one, it fixedly puts class against class and the extremely wealthy against virtually everyone else.

But in largest measure, this UnCivil, UnHoly War pits race against race, Whites against Blacks and Browns, and Americans against immigrants of any different color who speak a language other than English.

We have generalized so far.  So let us remind ourselves:  Those fighting this war are, many of them, Americans who share core values and life goals, yet find themselves on opposite sides in the conflict, and rigidly so.

In our contemporary thought-world, we perceive this UnCivil  UnHoly War as between Democrats and Republicans; in other words, as substantially a political war.  But it is much more than that, and much more serious in its consequence if it is not ended rationally.  For we are fiercely fighting one another to see which side wins, perhaps unconsciously for many at this point, but nonetheless, we battle on in the real world while facing an unthinkable danger.

The end of Democracy is not just a thought, it is a very frightening and very real possibility.

How are we to end it?  That is the question.

We don’t yet know, but we must try and make certain that the war's conclusion is peacefully and constructively accomplished.

A first step would be the natural thing to do:  all of us declaring with conviction that we MUST end a conflict that may otherwise end in our destruction.

Then, a second step seems also called for, which would be a serious and far-reaching quest for common ground, perhaps beginning with community hall meetings in both our cities and towns, in which representatives from every point of view participate.

Today, in early 2022, we are being challenged to talk to one another and with due seriousness search for solutions to the issues that divide us.

For if we do not. . .

No, we cannot, we must not go there.

 

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Can the Voices of the People Be Heard in a Crippling Stalemate?

Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

Human beings are destined to disagree among themselves, from the least to the greatest.

So, forget trying to get along.  It ain’t gonna happen.  What then?

Let us raise and attempt to answer the proper question:  How can we get done what needs to be done?

The short answer is to begin by agreeing to disagree.  Trumpers and anti-Trumpers are forever divided.   But social as well as personal issues demand answers.

One response is the current one, the major reason for the stalemate; both major sides striving diligently, and endlessly, to gain and retain power over the other.

Today, early in 2022, and prior to the elections, neither Republicans nor Democrats have acquired sufficient power to get their way for very long at the national level, at least not with respect to the most important issues, like those having to do with the health and well-being of American citizens.    An unyielding stalemate is the essential nature of our contemporary politics., except in those states where one party has acquired the power necessary to enforce its will.

In Texas, for example, we now have an anti-abortion law in effect that may well be opposed by a majority of the state's citizens.  An extremely fragile situation, to say the least.

Therefore, it is obvious:  The people must speak up.  How?

By bombarding their representatives with e-mail and other means, and by holding rallies and public demonstrations; frequently.   In other words, the people must make every noise imaginable to scream out for humanity's needs to be met.

The media must also take up the cry to get important things done, namely by daily and hourly calling out the delayers and procrastinators while at the same time vigorously attacking the politicians who have created the stalemate and wish it to continue until they can gain or keep the power they desire.

Lastly, and most importantly, for our voices to be heard, the media and every individual with a voice of any kind must always insist on the Truth.  This IS the American way!

We will, of course, continue, to be divided, but the genius of our democracy will be lived out, and solutions will be found and implemented.

But only if we speak out - loudly and for as long as it takes for us to know we have been heard.

Undergirding “The Big Lie” There Is One That’s Even Bigger, and Far More Dangerous

by Andrew L. Pate, jr.

Foundational in the history of our democracy has been the loyalty of a majority among us to an affirmation attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the first century, “The Truth Shall Make You Free" (John 8:32).

Indeed, every time in the past our democracy has been grievously threatened, our loyalty to the Truth has kept us alive and moving forward.

But now, in early 2022, our loyalty to the Truth is being seriously tested, with the disappearance of Truth and democracy very possible.  How?

Well, many believe, by the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

In reality, however, there is a far more serious challenge, which is:  The Lie about the Big Lie, with its unprovable assertion that the Big Lie is true.

So it is: perhaps for the first time: in our history:  Truth may not prevail, The Lie about the Big Lie may well see to that.

“Surely this will never happen!” we frightfully respond.

Maybe, maybe not.

The Lie will surely fail only if we, a clear majority of the American people, affirm, loudly, clearly, and beyond any doubt, our unending faith in the Truth that makes us free.

Power’s Seduction and Our Inability to Resist

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

When, in the 1970s, the late TV comedian Flip Wilson would excuse his misdeeds with, “The Devil made me do it,” we TV viewers would either laugh out loud or, at a minimum, have a deep feeling of warm agreement sweep through our bodies.

We knew Flip was making good use of our all-too-human trait of avoidance, of our universal ability, that is, to avoid responsibility for our misdeeds.

When I was a boy in a small South Texas town, we made frequent usage of this evasive statement: “It was not I.  It was Diego," Diego being the guy who was always getting himself and other people into trouble.

I miss Diego.  I have been unable to find anyone like him to use as an excuse for my foolishness.

But here's my main point:  In recent years, we have come to revere dictator-types and, as a major consequence, we have created an extremely dangerous situation for our democracy.

We have learned to love the powerful so much that too many among us are willing to do almost anything to keep them in their places of influence.

Why?  Because keeping (voting) them in power frees us from having to accept personal responsibility.

Or perhaps better said:  " We Americans have grown to love power so much we have acquired an idolatrously high regard for those who possess it."

Let us be clear:  Donald Trump is but a symptom of the pandemic of immorality that has swept across our once-great nation.

Forget the Covid for a moment.   Our idolizing of Trump and his likes is far more dangerous to our democracy.  Trump lies.  Trump cheats.   Trump never accepts responsibility.

And if we the people continue to idolize Trump and others like him, we are well on our way to confirming the death of our beloved democracy.

We hear too often it said of Trump, "He's just what we need."

And too many Christians in our society assert that "Trump speaks for Christ today,"

Who’s to blame for our troubles?

"Not the Devil!  Not the former president."

Hear this:  We kid you not.  Donald J. Trump is for real.  And it’s time we admitted as much and accepted full responsibility for coping with the issues that confront us.

 

 

Marriage as Sacrament In Century 21

Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

I know the consequences of divorce, personally.  With that made clear, let me propose here, as staunchly and as well as I am able, the reinstitution of marriage as a sacrament, meaning that it is understood to be a legally and religiously confirmed relationship between a man and a woman which has as its primary purpose the creation of a family unit in which children may be born and raised to become responsible, healthy adults.

Century 21 finds marriage in the best and the worst of all possible worlds, or superficially so.  In the U.S., couples of whatever kind and sexual orientation can now have their relationships legally and socially confirmed as marriages.  Yet, never has marriage failed so often and so badly, creating multiple families, many of which are dysfunctional.

Where's Mom?  Where's Dad?  Why doesn't this key work?  These frequently asked in-house questions, and others manifestly demonstrate how complicated and unmanageable marriage has become.

Marriage has always been difficult, of course, even when the divorce rate was lower, which may have proved only that some men and women were too stubborn to admit failure.

But a stable home life demands a stable marriage or as much of one as is humanly possible.  And therein lies our fundamental problem.  As a people, we seem to have run out of answers on how to make lifetime commitments work.

If all adult couple relationships intended to be long-term are the same, then why are they not working?  Let us ask in all seriousness.   Also, let us ask, must we wait longer to see if this diversity will work in modern society?  I say, No!  Weak relationships in the present demand strong responses in the present,

True as well, the weakening of our religious institutions has been a major factor in the weakening of marriage.  Logically, therefore, it would seem impossible to resurrect one without resurrecting the other.   Churches, synagogues, temples--all need to rediscover and reassert their institutional strength if social stability in all areas of our living is to be reestablished.  This I believe.

For sure, there has to be a starting point.  My answer: Let us begin by reaffirming the critical importance of traditional marriage.

Such a move would surely anger and dismay some in the LGBTQ community, at first, but such need not be the case for long.  The move would not only firm up the society in which they themselves coexist, it would also provide them with the opportunity to define and obtain a different kind of legal and religious confirmation.

In time, as is sometimes argued, non-heterosexual marriages will become workable.  How?  By adding more issues and more angles to marriage itself?  It seems more likely, given present trends, to say that the holding together of all marriages will become more and more difficult, and more and more dysfunctional.

An old sports analogy applies:  "When things are not working for your team, get back to the basics!"

"Getting back" is, of course, in itself complex and difficult.  To be done in a workable fashion, the dignity and honor the LBQDT community deserves has to be maintained and made abundantly clear, especially by all the major religious bodies.

I close as I began, on a personal note.   Being a divorcee has not made me less supportive of heterosexual marriage, but more so.

The future of our world depends on it.

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Let’s Fix Our Huge “Delay” Problem! It’s Killing us!

 

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

Why does it take so long?  Surely, one of the most asked questions in our everyday language.

Take the January 6, 2021 riot in our nation's capital, our most obvious and most disastrous Delaying period since.

True, in response to the event there has been a lot of noise; dozens of the riot participants and planners have had charges brought against them or been subpoenaed by the House, with a few of the rioters either in jail or presumed to be going there in the near future.

But what happened on January 6 in D.C. was a riot.  Nothing else is needed to describe what we all saw, or have seen many times.  Yes, we could call it an insurrection, or a coup. or a demonstration or an act of treason..  But “riot” is sufficient; for a riot itself demands the swift execution of justice.

There was an unruly crowd creating the melee.  The participants were violent and destructive.  Their actions caused deaths.  And their purpose is now well known:  They rioted to interfere in the legal certification of a national election, hopefully for the purpose of continuing Donald J. Trump in office as president.

In heaven's name, why are not the initiators and leading organizers in jail, or in custody?  We should ask that if we truly believe in the expeditious execution of justice, should we not?

If we had witnessed a murder or somebody stealing from a bank vault, we would expect them to be jailed immediately, surely most Americans would.

But we have been told:  "It’s a process. We must be patient."

Those are the excuses of weak, cowardly people who have learned how to use their delaying tactics effectively in the courts of the U.S.; and more often than not, usually with a lot of money behind them.

Yet another not-so-evasive delaying argument we have heard goes something like this: "Well, that's just the way things go.  It’s happened before, many times.  We just have to accept that these matters take a lot of time.”

Who says?  Not I!  And not any thinking American who knows that when you face a major problem you put all the resources you can muster to work to solve that problem and you do so immediately; in addition, you continue in that task until you get the problem solved, and as soon as possible.

Once we Americans took great pride in our ability to solve problems and to solve them quickly.

Sadly, our present-day descent into never-seeming-to-end delays has become the norm, signifying that we may have already have lost what was perhaps our greatest gift to the humankind.

Let Us Do Our Very Best to End the Horror of Violence and Its Promotion

Love Is the Only Way

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

Amid far too many deaths and horrific events taking place far too often, we disciples of Jesus Christ are asked to follow his teachings and ways.  Obviously, we are not doing a very good job.

So it is:  We must wake up and heed Christ’s teachings.  Otherwise, we help horror and hate to win every time.

Or, shall I say, “appear” to win?  The final outcome has already been decided:  the Ultimate triumph of our always loving and gracious God. That said, however, we are living in an era for which Revelation has given us the title—“the end times,” in which there are “wars and rumors of war” calling for a Christlike response.

To which I submit:

First, we all are being asked to lay aside the negative feelings we have about our opponents.  To many of us, Trumpites and Race-Baiters are the Devil’s advocates.  But lest we forget, they too are human beings for whom our Savior died.

Secondly, as individuals, we are being asked to deepen our faith, not lay it aside.   Why did Jesus declare so emphatically that violence is not the answer?  Why are we, fully conscious of our own weaknesses, so loved and adored still by our Leader?

Lastly, let’s look first for answers, laying aside any desire we may have for revenge or an earthly victory over those who oppose us.

We have an always applicable faith and the God-given abilities to create a more Christlike world.   In short, violence is demanding that we use those abilities in the very best ways we can.  Are we able?

I pray so.

 

 

 

Hagamos todo lo posible para poner fin al horror de la violencia y su promoción

 

El amor es el único camino

Por Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

En medio de demasiadas muertes y eventos horribles que tienen lugar con demasiada frecuencia, a los discípulos de Jesucristo se nos pide que sigamos sus enseñanzas y caminos.  Obviamente, no estamos haciendo un muy buen trabajo.

Así es: Debemos despertar y prestar atención a las enseñanzas de Cristo.  De lo contrario, ayudamos al horror y al odio a ganar cada vez.

¿O, debo decir, "aparecer" para ganar?  El resultado final ya ha sido decidido: el triunfo final de nuestro Dios siempre amoroso y misericordioso. Dicho esto, sin embargo, estamos viviendo en una era para la cual Apocalipsis ha dado el título: "el fin de los tiempos", en el que hay "guerras y rumores de guerra" que piden una respuesta semejante a la de Cristo.

A lo que propongo:

Primero, a todos se nos pide que dejemos de lado los sentimientos negativos que tenemos sobre nuestros oponentes.  Para muchos de nosotros, los trumpitas y los Race-Baiters son los abogados del diablo.  Pero para que no lo olvidemos, ellos también son seres humanos por los que murió nuestro Salvador.

En segundo lugar, como individuos, se nos pide que profundicemos nuestra fe, no que la dejemos de lado.   ¿Por qué Jesús declaró tan enfáticamente que la violencia no es la respuesta?  ¿Por qué somos, plenamente conscientes de nuestras propias debilidades, tan amados y adorados aún por nuestro Líder?

Por último, busquemos primero respuestas, dejando de lado cualquier deseo que podamos tener de venganza o una victoria terrenal sobre aquellos que se oponen a nosotros.

Tenemos una fe siempre aplicable y las habilidades dadas por Dios para crear un mundo más semejante a Cristo.   En resumen, la violencia exige que usemos esas habilidades de la mejor manera posible.  ¿Somos capaces?

Rezo para que así sea.

 

Will We Ever Again know “the Truth”?

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

I celebrate my birthday on April 8th every year.  But since I had no memorable awareness during that marvelous event, I have to accept my parents’ word for it and the information that the date is stated as authentic on my birth certificate.  These sources for my birthdate are, of course, secondary.  To prove my date of birth you and I, plus everyone else who wants real proof, we must accept the testimony of my parents, the doctor who delivered  me – all three now deceased—and a legal certificate, which, as some may aver, could have been given the County of record at a latter date in support of my existence.

Sorry, but any possible additional  public announcement of my birth on the aforementioned date is not forthcoming.  If such exists, I have  never seen it nor had it confirmed that any publication ever celebrated my birth shortly after it occurred.

The above is but a clear example of “Truth’s" sad situation these days.   Everything we see, hear and read about is arguable.   Some say, “It never happened.”  Others, “The report was biased and intended to mislead.”  Or else, they declare, “It’s a Big Lie!”  as though the mere statement proves itself.

And also, as everyone knows,  it’s impossible to prove anything to the satisfaction of most people.  It was René Descartes  who said, “I think, therefore , I am.” But to be quite frank, I doubt that my thinking in itself makes anything True.

My efforts here to make light of a very serious matter may come across as weak or inadequate.  I agree.  A lot of people do not know about, nor do they really care about my birthdate.

But my purpose is serious, which is mainly to point out:  We live in an Age of  Untruth, when nothing can be validly presented as believable or provable (nihilism) .  For we Americans have become experts at disclaiming every fact and at declaring false whatever has  been asserted as true that we don’t want to hear.

How did we get to, progress or regress to this point in our  history?  Take your pick.   But I have a few ideas about “the how” that might help us put the issues in perspective, to the extent that is possible.

First, there is the reality of our prosperity, which, Truth used to say,  can destroy, inspire and rightly challenge anyone.  It’s nice to have the things you want, to enjoy them, and want more like them.  And we have gotten really good at adding wealth to our existences.  But along our way to riches, truth got sidetracked.  We learned to do and say anything that might make us yet more prosperous. For example:  Simply by shouting,  "We’re the richest nation that has ever existed,” we have convinced ourselves that somehow Truth  itself was in the way.   If  a sales pitch includes a spattering of lies, that’s fine.  And, for sure, if you are a politician and a huge falsehood will get you elected, you ride that hobby horse as far as it will take you.

Even many of our Christian preachers have gotten into the act.  Perhaps their most popular message is called “the Prosperity Gospel.”  And there’s no doubt about that; these wearers of the cloth are getting richer and richer.

But as a minister myself, I am deeply puzzled, for I can find nothing in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that even smacks of making prosperity the chief topic of exposition.  (There’s a whole lot about not doing just that.)

Along with our disastrous prosperity obsession, the Truth we used to know has suffered a big let down in the clutches of our weak educational system.   Getting the best students into the best colleges so they can join  the most prosperous has become a guiding principle in our secondary schools.  And because football and other sports  bring in “money,” they are also encouraged endlessly, while  promising athletes are coddled and passed easily through the system so that they can do what?  Yes,! So they can become more prosperous.

It should be no surprise to us, therefore, that our high  school graduates have acquired more ways for claiming what is and what is not the truth than  there are stars in the sky.  For these graduates too have learned how to turn and twist the Truth to fit their wants and wishes.   Facts, the writings of noted historians, they are considered elitist and no longer applicable to real life. And if our football team wins, many of us in America are absolutely convinced we are on the right track.

The Silence of Those Who Know Better, especially on the part of those who once were our our primary Truth definers, like  the Pope and our best known Theologians and Moral Philosophers.   This form of truth-degrading connects tightly to our obsession with prosperity as well as to the glaring weaknesses we know exist in our classrooms.

The persons who now hold these once powerful positions have, in part, silenced themselves; but more critically, our society has silenced them.  We Americans no longer respect them, or else we reject them because they come across as “arrogant,” “pompous” and “hypocritical.” – which we have learned to apply cleverly in support of our own prosperity.

Yes, there are still a relative few among us who want to stand by the Truth and speak out on behalf of Personal Integrity and Justice and Equality for all people—the core historical values of our democracy.

Mostly, I find our present-day Voices of Truth are to be found in the media; they  are our opinion writers and reporters who still hold passionately to a rather old-fashioned  commitment to reporting events as they actually happened.  There are, for sure, other Truth seekers and speakers, but they are less visible, and without the means to be heard.

Sadly, in my judgment,  the voices of  today’s Truth-Prophets are falling on deaf ears or have been  silenced into nothingness by the twists and turns of Prosperity worshippers and weak Educators

So, honestly, if untruth continues to expand and deepen its social presence, is it not the case that we  can only assert that we are living through the demise of American democracy?

And for that reason, I make a suggestion I pray  will be taken with great seriousness by every American:  Believe the True Prophets; for  our destiny is in their hands and minds.

When Crimes Are No Longer Criminal

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

It looks illegal.  It sounds like a robbery.  It hurts human beings, thousands of them

But it is not criminal.  So says our society, our world really, in 2021.

We are losing, if we have not already lost it, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.  Indeed, our "unmoral" capacities may be even worse.  The truth just may be, that we have none.  Zero are our moral principles.

Not so long ago, many thought it wrong to tell blatant lies and to steal anything of value from another person.  And when that was mostly the case, we collectively possessed an aura of certainty about human nature's essential goodness and in America specifically, about ourselves and what we stood for as the Light and Hope of the world.

Now, and swiftly so has the change come upon us,  we're not so certain.  We doubt everything, even ourselves.   The headlines tells us so, as do the stories tucked away in the socials and locals.

Trump is an idiot.  No, he's a genius.  Marriage is sacred.  Not really.  Male and female, we be.  Wait a minute!  Make that several minutes.

Pick a topic, any topic.  What is the moral position that stands out clearly about it?

Well, that depends.

The quickly-coming, yet long-standing consequences of unmorality are unending, ranging from disbelief in constitutional guarantees to widespread disillusionment and manifold doubts about what is and is not acceptable in romance.   We simply have no "basic" morals to return to, recover, or follow in any meaningful way.

Thus, and absurdly so, politicians and preachers alike have surrendered most every persuasive attempt they once might have made to support shared values and common interests based on what were once believed to be the criteria for  good behavior everywhere.

So, if you will, please allow me to be "backward" and assert a moral tone to the conversation.

If we continue along our unmoral path,  Chaos will be the outcome..

My assertion does not stand alone.  It is the assertion of history and, if you will, the underlying teaching of every healthy religion that has ever existed among the humankind.

Without a solid "moral" foundation, a society cannot and will not continue

American, wake up!  Otherwise, stop crying.  And please, please cease your dishonest pleas  about nailing the Ten Commandments on public wells.   You've got to live them, not just post them, if your truly believe in them.