Monday, October 30, 2017

Tinted Glass

Living in the South has given me insight into the mind of the Evangelical Christian and beleaguered is not a word I would use in conjunction with them, me on the other hand.

The attitude and belief system is one of constant Martyr that must suffer in order to believe. What they believe and try to force upon others is an argument that I simply refuse to have as it is pointless. They are sure that if everyone was complicit and in turn forced to believe what they believe then the world will be perfect and they won't be angry/sad/disappointed anymore. This way it beats the whole Crusades idea as that seemed to backfire.  Fear is the number one factor in Christianity... Fear God, Fear Death, Fear Hell, Be Afraid Be Very Afraid.

So when I read this claptrap I thought you have got to be kidding me.   What this is about is how they the Christian right got into bed, a heterosexual one of course, to push their agenda on America. They truly believed the voodoo President Reagan would be their Christian Savior but alas the AIDS crisis and then the Alzehiemers so it ended that. Plus the true power brokers behind the throne would never dig that crap, this time however Trump has surrounded himself with bigger lovers of Jesus and angry assholes who may not practice their same belief system share some of the same beliefs on that Venn Diagram of angry. 

The nice thing is that J.D. Vance realized he cannot be the spokesperson for the White Trash of America in the same way Ta-Nehisi Coates is hauled out to be the spokesperson for the American black community. Even he too has admitted he has no intention of being a leader of a movement.  Write about it yes, spokesmodel not so much.  And that is the point when one writes about their own experience and their own observations about that outside of their world they are just that, observers and their observations are theirs, they are neither right nor wrong, they are just stating what they have experienced and observed. And in the world of eyewitness testimony we all see the world and the view from our window colored by whatever the glass is tinted by.    No one is anyone spokesperson nor should they be placed into that position by themselves or by others.

So here is a new Martyr to add to the ever growing and changing list of poor pitiful pearls that dominate the conservative talking heads.  We have Hugh Hewitt and then we have crazy Alex Jones, anyone on Fox, Rush Limbaugh the Grandpappy of this bullshit and whoever is pushed out in front of a microphone to tell the poor, the pitiful, the lost, the angry, the sad, the huddled masses that America was great when races knew their places and white people were in power.  The end.

Until I moved to Nashville I thought I had a handle on all this and my character and beliefs were firmly place.  After 19 months I question every value, every belief, every conception, experience and life knowledge because I have never experienced anything remotely like this.  It  has led me to isolate myself, hate myself, hate everyone I encounter, question my beliefs on race and of course faith.  No one should spend the energy and time I do doing personal inventories and daily assessments about everything and anyone who comes into my path.  I have simply accepted the fact that I have gone from one who called herself and Humanist to now a Misanthrope. So again that is my tinted glassware what is yours? 

(I put Kevin Sorbo up as well that whole Versace thing made me look into this asshole and he too is now a Christian.   Good one Hercules!)

Rod Dreher is the combative, oversharing blogger who speaks for today’s beleaguered Christians
By Karen Heller The Washington Post October 29 2017

BATON ROUGE — Rod Dreher’s life is an open book. Several, actually. “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming,” about his late sister. “How Dante Can Save Your Life,” about his love of the Italian poet. His latest, “The Benedict Option,” is a call to beleaguered Christians to divorce themselves from the increasingly secular American mainstream.

But really, every work by this conservative Christian writer is a literary act of confession, a quest for purpose and a purge of disillusionment. An influential and prolific blogger for the American Conservative — he averages 1.3 million monthly page views on his blog — Dreher is credited with helping introduce J.D. Vance of “Hillbilly Elegy” to a larger audience. He founded the “crunchy con” ideology — another book, back in 2006 — wedding cultural and moral conservatism with an organic, co-op-and-Birkenstock lifestyle.

He is, however, no supporter of President Trump.

“I’m a social and cultural conservative, and I think Trump is a disaster,” says Dreher, 50. Asked why, he spits back, “Because of his incompetence, his recklessness and his malice. Plus, he is destroying conservatism as a credible public philosophy. The conservative movement needed serious reform, but this is annihilation.”

Once “a typical conservative Republican,” Dreher is now a registered independent and last voted for president in 2008 — when he wrote in author Wendell Berry. He left the Republican Party after growing disenchanted with the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in his beloved home state.

“I really thought the Republican Party was something you could count on. I had made a false idol of them,” he says. As a traditionalist, he became upset that the “GOP has been captive to neoconservatism, which is basically right-wing, pro-market liberalism.” So he turned “my hopes to religious and cultural renewal.”

Today, “the most important political issue for me,” he says, “is defending religious liberty, ” which he sees as under assault in a secularized nation that embraces what he calls “LGBT orthodoxy” and disrespects traditional Christian values.

Published in March, “The Benedict Option” draws inspiration from the 6th-century saint who retreated from the Roman Empire to create separate faith-based communities, a prescription Dreher suggests for the like-minded in these morally compromised times.

“The loss of the Christian religion is why the West has been fragmenting for some time, a process that is accelerating,” he writes, sometimes referring to the current climate in almost End Times terms. He advises readers to “secede culturally from the mainstream” and adopt a “hands-on localism” in politics, inspired by former Czech dissident Vaclav Havel and others who defied Eastern Bloc communism. New York Times columnist David Brooks, an early admirer and good friend, deemed the latest book “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.”

Which didn’t stop Dreher from taking issue at length — he does almost everything at length — with Brooks’s insights.

Dreher thrives on intellectual opposition. He emailed me, almost proudly, that a close papal adviser had denounced his book, an action he dissected in a 3,700-word post titled “Does Pope Francis oppose The Benedict Option?”

He’s also a sharer of deep personal pain, especially his rejection by his late father and sister, and subsequently by his nieces.

Each Dreher volume arrives upholstered with a subtitle — “Benedict’s” is “A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation” — but they all boil down to “Rod’s search for existential meaning and harmony.”

“The whole journey of my life is trying to find a home,” he says. It’s a journey he readily shares in his posts — as many as 10 a day. The man burps copy.

In a shiny shopping mall not far from his house, Dreher arrives in a long-sleeved T-shirt that appears as though it might double as sleepwear, L.L. Bean duck boots, largely vertical hair that he says “looks like rats nested on my scalp,” and thick-framed Le Corbusier glasses purchased in Paris that are somewhat at war with the home-office frump.

Wrapped around his left wrist is a chotki prayer rope of hand-knotted black wool beads. His former Orthodox priest asked him to silently invoke the Jesus Prayer 500 times a day. “It was the hardest thing for me because my mind is racing constantly,” he says. Now, he does 100, though not daily.

It takes all of 10 minutes for him to unload his emotional and philosophical struggles in a wannabe hipster coffee/doughnut/slider/brew house, a metaphor for the source of his existential pain and familial estrangement: He got fancy; his family did not.

We’re here because we can’t be in his home for lengthy reasons shared in emails and conversation and . . . oh, never mind.

It’s stupid loud. Coffee grinders and blaring music require Dreher to semi-yell intimate moments of extreme rejection.

“You’re so easy to talk to,” he says.

Perhaps, but you get the feeling that he might unload to almost anyone and that it’s always a half-hour before closing in the graduate school library of his mind.

Filters are for coffee and air conditioners. Dreher has none.

“He feels emotion strongly, right there on the surface,” says his good friend Frederica Mathewes-Green. “He’s almost childlike. He just doesn’t have any shame.”

He was raised a “Christmas-and-Easter Methodist,” but yearned for more faith in his life. He became a devout Catholic, converting in 1993.

But the priest sexual-abuse scandal wrecked him, “like having my faith pulled out of me by my fingernails.” In 2006, he and his family joined the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The family relocated to Baton Rouge from his home town of St. Francisville, La., a year ago for the local church of his new faith, which, on a good Sunday, attracts a congregation of 30. His wife, Julie, teaches at a school specializing in classical Christian education, based on biblical readings and emphasizing grammar, logic and rhetoric. Their three children, ages 18 to 11, all attend.

Julie is a constant in his conversation. Two decades ago, Dreher was celibate and yearning for a life partner. “He prayed that God would make him fall in love at first sight,” Mathewes-Green recalls. “I told him, ‘Maybe you should start with friendship.’ ”

One night at an Austin bookstore, he saw Julie and fell in love at first sight. “He persuaded her and her date to come for dinner,” Mathewes-Green says, “then he placed himself between Julie and her date and just monopolized her.”

Dreher proposed four months later. They’ve been married 19 years.

“The Benedict Option” preaches living in a like-minded religious community to promote faith and values, yet Dreher knows few people here. He spends much of his time alone at home writing. Most of his friendships are epistolary.

“What I really love about Rod is that, even as he’s insisting upon certain truths, he’s obviously completely conflicted,” the conservative gay writer Andrew Sullivan told the New Yorker. “And he’s a mess! I don’t think he’d disagree with that. But he’s a mess in the best possible way, because he hasn’t anesthetized himself.”

We’re getting right into it, the mess.

Dreher long lived in big cities — New York, Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia — where he worked as a movie critic and conservative opinion writer. He moved his family back to St. Francisville (pop. 1,675), to be with his revered father and the daughters of his late sister, his only sibling — the Ruthie of “Little Way” — after she died in 2011 of lung cancer. But he was slapped by familial rejection.

“They didn’t want to have very much to do with us. And I confronted my father with this, and we had an argument, a really bitter argument,” Dreher says. “I told him, ‘Those girls won’t accept us,’ Ruthie’s two younger girls. ‘They’re not rude. They just won’t accept us.’ ”

Rod’s father said to his only son, “Can you blame them? You’re so damn weird.”

He shares that his family called him a “user.” His sister once said of him, “Isn’t that just like Rod? He’ll only talk to people if he can get something out of them.”

He tells the bouillabaisse story, which appears in both “Little Way” and “Dante.” Everyone who knows about Dreher knows the bouillabaisse story — “the iconic moment in my relationship with my family” — when he prepared the French fish stew and his family wouldn’t eat it because it wasn’t the Louisiana country cooking they knew and loved. His father, especially, seemed to nurse a grudge.

“I’d moved my family back all the way from the East Coast to their doorstep, but he wouldn’t let me cross that threshold because I wasn’t like them in every way,” he says. “It broke me. I was diagnosed with chronic mono, Epstein-Barr.” That was in 2012. He’s better now.

He still reveres his father, a health inspector, who was so unlike him.

“I was actually an idol worshiper. I realize I put my father in the place of God the Father in my heart,” Dreher says. “I had never really believed that God loved me, even though I’ve been a practicing Christian since my mid-20s.” Still, he says he found some measure of peace after his father’s death in 2015.

Except he’s still talking about the conflicts. At length he quotes Dante, who saved his life, but not completely. He’s on to Benedict and the monks he visited in Umbria for 10 days. Most likely, there will be another saint or poet who will inspire a 3,000-word post that will become another book in his search for enlightenment.

“The consistent theme of my journey is disillusionment, so painfully with the Catholic Church, the Republican Party, my family. The stories that I use to explain my family turned out to be inadequate,” he says. “Maybe I’ll try my hand at fiction, or there’s some future in TV writing,” a different way to understand the story.

And, perhaps, share the bouillabaisse tale anew.

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