I've been out of my old cultesque church for ten years now Ten years. Wow. Long time.
I hadn't thought very much about the fact that so much time had passed until today. Earlier today I was talking on a Facebook posting of a friend's about how in most ways Mike Pence that close to the presidency is a far scarier than than Donald Trump as president.
There's just too much in the media about both the Republicans and the Democrats starting to gear up for an impeachment as quickly as possible. That's when they aren't sneaking around having middle of the night votes to kill the Affordable Care Act and to keep allowing places like Mylan to keep charging me that 600 plus bucks for the roughly six Epipens I go through a year. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I always fill the script for the six to have them in the car and all over the house and my purse. It takes 2 shots occasionally to turn off the anaphylaxis.
Even with the sneaking around and some of the truly scary picks for the administration part of me is starting to feel less hopeless about the Trump administration. Why? Couple of things. Trump may be a wild card and unpredictable, but there are two things very predictable about him.
One I was reading about earlier today in Vanity Fair that I've sort of sensed for many years. He is malleable and he listens to the calm rational advice of his daughter Ivanka. She's considerably less awful than much of things flying out of his mouth and on to his Twitter account. I believe that she will be able to perhaps guide him better than most of the folks around him.
The second thing is that he lives for fan adulation. If he allows the death of the Affordable Care Act, doing away with health care for the coal miners and working poor of the Midwest who've been squeezed out of formerly well paying manufacturing jobs plus kills things like the Black Lung benefit payments out of the ACA and touches too many programs like Social Security and Disability the very people that voted en masse on him will turn like crazed weasels and savage him. He will not be able to cope with those the most hardcore for him turning like that.
At least there's hope, no matter how small, that a Trump presidency might not be the goat rodeo it could be. I don't even care if he paid Russian hookers to pee, even if I know a whole lot of people who would be glad to pee on him for free. If there are sex tapes I don't want to see them, but if there is legitimate proof that he's colluded with Russia to take over the government then this is something that needs to be investigated by one of the nation's security agencies and dealt with.
But dealing with it might leave us vulnerable to his Veep taking over, to the Baptist Taliban rules of one Mike Pence.
But Pence? If the Republican party insiders do what I think they want to, which is get rid of Trump at the first opportunity, they will install Pence. Which has the potential to be much worse, at least if you are a woman. Pence would quickly dismantle any ability of a woman to control her own reproductive choices. I can see him trying to enact laws to return us to the subclass status of not being allowed to work outside of the home, hold bank accounts, vote or have any personal agency. A world that the Jerry Falwell's of this world would rejoice at, the same crap preached from every Fundamentalist, Quiverfull or Evangelical pulpit in the nation, a theology that have nothing in common with the words of Jesus in the New Testament.
What was interesting to me in this Facebook discussion on a friend's wall about the dangers of Pence as president was after I'd broken down all of Pence's beliefs and scary attempts in Indiana to strip women of basic human rights someone popped up to tell me I was unfairly categorizing Pence as a 'Fundagelical' - a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian.
Why did this person think I was wrong? Because he said that Pence was no Real Christian (tm), he was a heretic. I kept questioning this guy, drawing out his bonafides as to what constitutes a Real Christian (tm) and what's a heretic. He claimed that anyone that was an old school Jesus Freak like him from the old Jesus Freak movement in the 60s and 70s was a Real Christian (tm) and everyone else was a heretic. Keep in mind that this is the same movement that gave us child beaters Michael and Debi Pearl and their nasty misogynistic child abuse manual that still claims victims 'To Train Up A Child'
I asked this guy so many questions, pointing out that he's condemning everyone else who's koolaid i flavored slightly differently than his to an eternity in hell. He was running in circles trying to justify his gospel so far from the words of Jesus that eventually he erupted in a volley of shrieking about sin, hell and damnation followed by lots and lots of dirty words.
At that point my friend whose Facebook wall was hosting this discussion stepped in to defend my position and me from Mr. Nasty Fundy. I laughed at that, first from the notion that my friend felt the need to defend the little woman because this apparently pushed his chivalry buttons in some way. But mostly because this guy is someone that I dearly love even if he's one of those mostly failed almost rock stars. Beautiful voice, beautiful songs, but not much of success.
He missed that I never once was rude, lost my temper or said anything even slightly attacking to Mr. Fundy. I just kept questioning him and making him defend his belief. It's a useful skill I've picked up in the last ten years after leaving the old church. If someone who hasn't thought deeply about their theology is forced to think about what they are claiming and they cannot they fall apart.
Don't engage in personal insults. Don't accept their platitudes without challenging them in an intellectual way. Always reflect their statements back to them almost verbatim. Deflect their questions and ask another question of them. It's really the only way to handle these folk that want to fight about religion.
I did that and Mr. Fundy stomped off after losing his cool and my pal defending me voraciously before deleting the entire thread.
Here's what I believe now that I haven't actually verbalized to anyone in my life, but I might have to when I tell Jim I'm not attending church tomorrow. Here's the sum of my gospel - Try not to be an asshole as best you can and when you fail just pick yourself up, don't stress or feel loads of guilt and try, try again. Be kind but don't let others take advantage of you.
I no longer believe every word of the Bible is the exact perfect true word of God. It's been edited too many times in too many less than optimum circumstances to be pure and unadulterated. Some of the content is too contradictory and weird. There are some useful passages, good for comfort or advice, but largely it's a historical document that is largely fictional.
Also, while I still believe that there is another realm and the ultimate good and evil out there I think it looks nothing like what most folks in American Christianity think. I believe what's true would likely freak them the fuck out, it's larger and something that most of them could never comprehend.
I still like to worship the divine, but even that is changing within me. I have faith that all of us, even Mr. Fundy, carry some spark of the divine.