Today … I say thanks.

Thanks to all who lamented and resisted the disastrous, dangerous, and death-dealing presidency of the soon-to-be former president.

Thanks to the leaders of the Women's March who organized and led a historic nonviolent protest at the beginning of this national nightmare, and thanks to all who organized, marched, and resisted ever since. Thanks to all who resisted the Muslim ban, knowing it was a violation of religious liberty. Thanks for all who saw Charlottesville for what it was, and the "stand by" message to the Proud Boys for what it was, and the uncountable tweets in all their crude and craven self-interest for what they were: early signs of a coup attempt by an authoritarian and anti-democratic leader.

Thanks to all who nonviolently protested assaults on Black lives, and for all who boldly displayed Black Lives Matter signs, and lifted their voices to stand for equal justice and opportunity for all in a time of unsubtle white supremacy in the White House. Thanks to all the good police officers who were not drawn into racist violence and who didn't succumb to the president's seductions. Thanks to all military leaders who saw the president for what he was, a domestic threat to democracy, and resisted his pressure to be complicit.

Thanks to brave journalists who got it right, told the truth, and called lies lies, keeping record of 30,000 of them, even as they were threatened with typical dictatorial rhetoric. Thanks especially to Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa who kept getting it right again and again. Thanks to bloggers and podcasters, the writers and speakers and preachers, who kept telling the truth, people like John Pavolviz and Lisa Sharon Harper.

Thanks to folks who grieved watching their parents, kids, other relatives, and friends get sucked into conspiracy theories and maga-madness. Thanks to those who tried to help loved ones escape the cult, whether they were successful or not: at least they tried. Thanks to folks who will continue trying to win loved ones back to the reality-based community. Thanks to folks who endured rejection by members of the maga conspiracy cult, and although they were hurt by the rejection, refused to hate in return.

Thanks to everyone who stopped watching Fox News and quit the NRA and recognized them and similar organizations as threats to democracy. Thanks to donors and advertisers who stopped supporting them.

Thanks to Doug Pagitt, Genesis Be, Patrick Carolan, Robb Ryerse, Meah Pace, Rev. Vince Anderson, Rod Colburn, and everyone in the Vote Common Good Team, along with everyone in every other organization that organized in 2018 and 2020 to help maga-politicians to be replaced by democratic ones. Thanks to the Religious Left that finally found its voice to confront the Religious Right - thanks to every spiritual activist who refused to remain play it safe and remain silent, and instead spoke truth with courageous faith, hope, and love for four long years, and will continue to do so.

Thanks to women of color, especially Stacy Abrams, but no less all the organizers who got out the vote and modeled democratic, nonviolent action and very literally saved our nation. Special thanks to Georgia.

Thanks to the whistleblowers who came out about high crimes and misdemeanors in many branches of government, and thanks to those who will come out in the coming days and weeks, because truth must be told and there must be accountability for wrongdoers who have weakened so many of our institutions.

Thanks to health care workers who have saved so many lives, even as the ruling party  showed its incompetence in facing the reality of the pandemic, much less handling it. Thanks to everyone who wears masks and practices social distancing. Thanks - and comfort - to all who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, and who are turning your grief into empathy and a commitment to compassionate action for the common good.

Thanks to everyone who has survived these four years -- and not just survived, but struggled to help us not be defeated by a regressive, oppressive, and transgressive political party that became sycophantic enablers a malignant narcissist. Thanks to the few in that party who stood up to him, and to all who voted against every subservient member of that disgraced party and will continue to do so until there is a sober and searching moral inventory. Thanks to those who, better late than never, will finally admit that they were misled, fooled, manipulated, and wrong to get on the train of deception, whose conductor and his crime family engaged in nepotism, kleptocracy, and abuses of power that will yet be revealed.

Thanks to members of Congress who voted for impeachment, twice. Thanks to members of Congress who, after having their lives threatened by a vicious mob of insurrectionists, came back to vote to certify this election and help foil a coup. Special thanks to Bernie Sanders, especially, and also toElizabeth Warren, Pete Buttitgieg, Cory Booker, Amy Kobuchar, Mike Bloomberg, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and others who ran against Joe Biden in the Democratic Primary, and then, when Biden won, became strong supporters of the Biden/Harris ticket. Thank you.

Thanks to young people, for children and teenagers and young adults, who heard their parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and pastors spouting maga-nonsense and in their heart thought, "I will not go along with this." Thanks for having the courage to differ from the stagnant folly of an older generation that is addicted to nostalgia, embittered by propaganda, and stunted in foresight.

Thanks to those who are working for a green economy and a regenerative relationship between humans and our beautiful world, and thanks to those who will work with the new administration to protect wild lands and respect the rights of the original Americans, Indigenous Peoples.

Thanks especially to Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris. You knew your opponent would be dirty. You knew you would be given the hardest leadership challenge in at least a generation if you won. You knew you would need to build broad-based coalitions of competent and honest people, and even then, you would face a daunting list of challenges. You campaigned with decency and heart, and you have led through the transition with steady strength and the kind of dignity we haven't seen for four long years. You have the opportunity now to help our nation cross a threshold and enter a new era, to be "born again" as a nation that is humbled, and therefore capable of becoming a good global neighbor of diverse citizens who are good neighbors to one another. As Valarie Kaur says, "We are a nation waiting to be born. This is our great transition."

Thanks to all who will join the new president in a shared commitment to this national great transition, using heartfelt words like these (from the People's Inauguration):

“I, (insert name),
do solemnly vow
that I will faithfully execute my role
in healing, reimagining, and rebuilding
our country,
and will to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect, and defend
dignity, justice, and joy
for myself and for all around me,
and that I will do so with love.”

Thanks be to God, that though the transfer of power was not peaceful due to a shameful coup attempt spurred on by craven political demagogues, power is being transferred this day. May that power be used for justice, peace, and joy, so that this nation, with its oft-denied and checkered history, may grow into Dr. King's vision of a beloved community.

 

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0 Comments10 Minutes

A Reader Writes: As a lifelong Evangelical Christian …

A reader writes:

Thank you for writing Faith after Doubt, which I’ve just about finished reading I am deeply moved by your book as it mirrors much of my own experience in so many ways, but goes deeper and farther than I’ve gone so far.  I am relatively new to your work, but ... I find a deep sense of resonance with your ideas.

As a lifelong Evangelical Christian (65 years of age) ... I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your book, which gives me greatly needed comfort and hope at this stage in my life -- comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my disillusionment with the baggage that comes with my life-long adherence to the faith; and hope that I don’t have to waver indefinitely between faith and doubt ... I’ve been anxious to move on from my dying adherence to Christianity, but the sense of guilt and danger is, at times, overwhelming.  The renewed sense of hope that your book gives me is exactly what I need at this point in my own personal journey. Thank you so much.

Messages like these are already coming in about Faith After Doubt, and as you can imagine, each one brings encouragement. That phrase "waver indefinitely between faith and doubt" captures perfectly how so many feel. I hope my book helps them realize that this kind of paralysis (similar to what I call in the book Stage Three) can indeed be resolved (at least temporarily) by throwing out faith entirely (as many do), but it can also be an opportunity to move into a larger, deeper, wider and more expansive faith ...

The attempted coup last week (and who knows what further violence we'll see in the coming days) should give many white Christians in the US second thoughts about what they've become. I hope my book can help at least a few of them go on a needed spiritual migration.

Here's information on Faith After Doubt -

In the US:

https://read.macmillan.com/lp/faith-after-doubt/

In the UK:

John Murray Press:
Waterstone’s:
Eden:
Aslan:
Amazon:

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0 Comments3 Minutes

This might be a good day …

... to listen to

Christian Piccolini:

or Megan Phelps-Roper

or it might be a good day to listen to Jonathan Martin's "The Day After an Attempted Coup"

http://jonathanmartinwords.com/the-zeitcast

 

And if you're having a crisis of faith, this might be helpful too:

https://read.macmillan.com/lp/faith-after-doubt/

 

 

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0 Comments1 Minute

Trying to Make Sense of the Attempted Coup and Storming of the Capitol?

I've been getting lots of emails and texts since January 6 saying, "You've been telling us something like this would happen." That's because I've been taking seriously authoritarianism, doubt, and religious extremism.

Many are sharing helpful insights for which I'm grateful and from which I'm learning every day. Here's what I have to offer to the conversation:

The Second Pandemic: Authoritarianism and Your Future - This extended essay/short ebook summarizes my research on authoritarianism as a psychological, sociological, political, and religious reality. It's available here.

Why Don't They Get It? Overcoming Bias in Others and Yourself - One of the tricks that authoritarian leaders, movements, and regimes use is telling people what they want to hear by playing into their biases. To protect yourself and others you love, it really helps to understand common biases. It's available here.

Faith After Doubt: My newest book presents doubt, not as a rejection of faith, but as a rejection of authoritarianism. It's available here.

The Five Electorates - You'll find two versions of this information that explains how conservatives and traditionalists have been won over as authoritarian followers. If you're asking, "How could Evangelicals or Catholics or conservatives follow a corrupt authoritarian?", you'll find helpful answers here.

Also this - The Rise of the Authoritarian Voter

My Thoughts on the Storming of the US Capitol - A British publication asked for my reactions, especially connecting religion and the coup attempt. Available here.

This short piece might also be of interest: What We Overheard

 

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0 Comments2 Minutes

In Praise of Political Correctness (a poem I posted 5 years ago)

I don’t know if they know what they mean
When they mock it, but
I sure know what I mean
When I praise it.
It’s like gun safety, people. You don’t point a loaded sentence
At someone. You never walk through a crowd without clicking
The safety on your mouth. Certain words are like triggers.
One careless political speech or misfired paragraph
And bullets fly, children die, and mothers cry.
Print it on a billboard and read it every day: Speech kills.
It’s like hiring a licensed electrician, people. Some bozo fake
Handyman comes to install a ceiling fan and next thing you know
The whole house burns down.
You want an electrician who’s got basic electrical correctness.
And the same goes for politicians.
Why would I elect a feckless, willfully ignorant
Clown to wire up high-voltage words where I live?
The Bible nails it: a rogue tongue, like a random spark,
Can reduce your whole religion or nation or civilization
To smoke and ashes.
So whether you’re my brain surgeon or my urologist,
If you take out a scalpel in my presence,
I’d like you to be surgically correct.
And if you want to run something I’m part of,
I’d appreciate you caring enough to be politically correct.
Sure, I’m all for telling unpopular and inconvenient truths.
I’m for straight talk and rocking all boats that need rocking.
But I’m not for sinking them
If there are breathing human beings aboard.
Words have consequences, political consequences,
So consider the consequences when you detonate your words.
Don’t be stupid. Don’t spread bigotry or
Undermine decency in the way you talk.
Don’t lie. Don’t scapegoat. Don’t bully or blow whistles
That get racists salivating.
Don’t incite, divide, or wound with careless rhetoric,
Even if it wins you a standing ovation or a huge election.
And while you’re at it, don’t be a demagogue either.
The political world is one place where correctness
Matters.

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0 Comments2 Minutes

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