Like folks with inquiring minds, I sometimes find myself wondering about noteworthy people who might, in another context, be inconsequential. They might be merely seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
If you can remember them, think about these people in yesteryear’s news. Some were household names, like Larry Craig, Kim Davis, Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy. See? Forgotten!
Who is Stephen Bannon? Do we know much about this guy who headed up Breitbart.com and who has become a top advisor to President-elect Trump? I wondered. So, I consulted the Wall Street Journal, archives of CBS News, the Washington Post and The Daily Beast. I thought these a good sampling - that I’d be able to sketch a decent picture of this Bannon fellow.
I learned Bannon was a Navy man; that he invested in the “Seinfeld” series, that he once made a “fawning documentary” about Sarah Palin. According to a CBS News article, he is “a rich guy-turned conservative propagandist” best known for his Palin documentary.
Lately, I’m certain he is best-known for his close association with President-elect Donald Trump. I dug a little deeper. At a WSJ CEO Council meeting, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Bannon, “is a man who says, by his very presence, that this is a White House that will embrace bigotry.” That got my attention. I detest bigotry! But, of course, everyone knows Senator Warren isn’t exactly an unbiased source on Trump or anyone connected with him.
I kept researching because I ran across the Warren quote about bigotry and also because it appears that the next president has a xenophobic (“a strong dislike or distrust of foreigners”) streak in him that can only be exacerbated by a close advisor who is a reputed bigot.
According to Will Rahn of CBS News (August 2016) Breitbart.com (remember, it was headed up by Bannon) was a haven for the “alt-right” who proclaims “the West is under attack and conservatives, locked in the straight-jacket of respectability, won’t do anything about it.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
The Muslims are coming, and so are the Mexicans. Blacks are out of control in the cities. The feminists are trying to upset gender norms, which is why you can’t get a date. Smart as you are, young white man, you can’t get rich, because of globalists, who ‘just happen’ to be Jews.”
Hmmm, it isn’t complicated to connect the dots. Steven Bannon bigotry Breitbart.com “alt-right” xenophobia close advisor to President-elect Trump to President Donald Trump!
Woodruff and Resnick of The Daily Beast, wrote in an October 2017 piece: “Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about [the aforementioned] things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.”
According to the Woodruff/Resnick piece, “Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.”
Should we just forget about this fellow, Stephen Bannon? I think not. I think we’d better keep an eye on him - remember who and where he is.
[This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, December 26, 2016.]
Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not “walking the walk.” After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.
So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.
America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.
We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree. We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song. We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.
We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter. We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.
We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday school stories they were told when they were little. They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.
There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists. And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups
COLORFUL CHRISTMAS CUPS
are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white décor is not the sign of that.
Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem? I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.
Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband. When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”
In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.
The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.
When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.
So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.
I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to “walk the walk” all the time.
I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.
In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.
However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more than I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul. This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.
And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.
Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.
And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but cannot find the love.
And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready. Christmas is here.
[Beth Rankin lives with her husband, Graham, in McMinnville, Oregon. Beth is a mother, entrepreneur, writer, and consummate seeker of truth. She is the CEO of Can-Do Foods. Her blog site is www.goingplaceslivinglife.wordpress.com. We encourage readers to go to Beth’s website, and we are especially grateful that she allows us to re-print many of her articles. Happy Hanukkah, Beth!]
Like many others I was hoping, but not expecting, the Electoral College to act in an unprecedented but authorized way to negate the Trump presidency. Had that happened, however, it would have opened other doors of unknown outcome, so maybe this is the best way.
This way, we can hold the incoming President to his Constitutional duties and responsibilities. We do have guidelines for that and will know when he inappropriately strays. I expect he will stray, as his prior comments indicate he is not clear on much of what is ahead of him.
Meanwhile, enough angst. Each of us either feels distress now or will soon. Each one of us. The efforts of a Republican Congress backed up by this President will mean we have big changes ahead. It is the anticipation of some of those changes that have people already upset. However, the rest will join the fray when program cuts begin to affect them. When campaign promises go by the wayside. When life does not get better for the many many people who expect the Federal government to fix things for them.
I have said often on my Facebook feed that I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to help retain the rights won by all of us to give equal access and protection of the law to all our citizens. I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make sure the least of us continue to be helped regardless of any political stance. I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make a positive difference.
Back in 1970 when Earth Day was initiated I heard a slogan that resonated. “Think globally but act locally.” We know the earth has overwhelming issues, not only environmental but in every aspect of life.
We have a choice, each one of us.
· We can ignore and carry on, dong what we do that may help or hinder any situation, self-centered and choosing to stay apart from the community of the world.
· We can get stirred by all the need in the world and affected so deeply we can’t deal with it, so we freeze, stuck in despair.
· We can opt to get involved in one or two issues that deeply resonate. We may send money or sign petitions or write letters or emails or even show up at our state capitol to join a protest.
· We can chose to get active in our own communities, making our voice and action count where it will show a difference.
I’ve done each of these. Earlier in my life I was focused on my own young adulthood and all that involved including building a career and raising a family. I had a nodding relationship with a few issues but not much money and not much time, so not much involvement.
I’ve been on listservs that overwhelm me with need. It seems that I receive more than 20 a day with hands outstretched asking for $1, $5, $25 or more. It was with extreme pleasure that I unsubscribed from almost all recently.
I sign petitions and sometimes post them on Facebook urging others to take the minute to add their support. It seems to be the LEAST anyone can do.
Mostly, I am active here in my town. I have chosen three main areas and participate as much as I can. I do what I can, offer my skills to forward the mission of the group. I self impose a limit on what I feel I can do and ask for the group to respect that. (If the group doesn’t, as some have in the past, I moved my energy elsewhere.)
I hope by this example you can see how you might work through the coming years when so many of us feel what we have known about the United States of America will be changing. I plan to keep on keeping on. Joining with other like minded people empowers all of us.