The apocalypse of the anti-Millennials

Nature can help us look beyond our earthly perspectives

For millennia people have looked skyward for signs of God. But sometimes it is better to look at the ground under their feet to find examples of God’s creative powers.

I was once a Millennial. So were you. So were all of us.

We all passed through our 20s and 30s in some fashion. It really does not matter what that fashion truly is–– 70s or 80s, 90s or 2000s. Being twenty-something and searching for your true self is a rite of passage we all go through.

So it is disturbing to listen to members of my generation and a little younger than the Baby Boomer complain that today’s Millennial generation somehow lacks initiative and/or the life skills necessary to make it in this world. “They don’t want to work a job that isn’t perfect,” the complainers says. Or, “They don’t want to pay their dues.”

Paying dues my ass

You know what? I worked more than a couple jobs that were less than perfect. You know what it taught me? That a shitty job is just that. It’s shitty. And the people who worked there? They were shitty and cruel and inconsiderate. In some cases they were backstabbing bastards and bitches who would do anything to go home on a given day feeling like they’d somehow “won the battle.”

That was true in the blue collar factory jobs I worked as a summer job. It was also true working a supposedly moral organization such as the Boy Scouts of America. There are shitty people everywhere. It often doesn’t pay to stick around waiting for some of these people to get better. Because they won’t.

A whole lot better

I’m not being negative here. I’m being positive. The minute I left those shitty jobs life got a whole lot better. In fact the reason I took those shitty jobs in the first place was by taking the so-called “safe” advice of others rather than sticking it out to find work more suited to my mind and skills.

That summer I worked in the paint factory… loading cans and sucking up blue fumes of turpentine… and dealing with the jerks who purposely shot sponges through the cleaning tubes while I held a hose into a barrel… so that it would soak me with dangerous chemicals from head to toe? All so they could have a laugh.

That was not paying “dues,” as so many people like to claim. That was being the victim of abuse. Accepting that job in the first place was a product of listening to my mother telling me I needed to take a job earning $4.50 an hour rather than selling five or six of my paintings for $250 as I had done that past winter.

The “safe” advice turned out to be a tragic and awful choice. That summer job trashed my self-esteem and my health. I was a wreck going into my junior year in college and fell into an undiagnosed pattern of depression and struggled with my schoolwork and running. Was $4.50 an hour and paying my dues worth it? Not on your life.

This is good for you? 

DeerCrowrevSome might insist that it was a good experience. “Well, you need that kind of experience to appreciate what real work is all about.”

I say Bull Shit. I was a Millennial then. I could recognize shitty work and shitty people for what they were. The people with whom I worked in those positions and several more were small-minded assholes who took perverse pride in hauling people down to their own level.

Later in life if you’re fortunate enough to climb the ladder a bit and work either a better blue collar or white collar job, you just might get to appreciate that not everyone treats each other in such a shitty manner. Yet even in those circumstances, we are all often forced to deal with complete jerks in our work life. Either our co-workers or our customers can turn our lives in a living hell. You wake up wondering “What the hell happened? Why am I so goddamned unhappy?”

You think back a bit to figure out why life went to hell and almost always you can point to one or two people who were either jealous or so blatantly coarse in their worldview that no one can deal with them. Some of those people become bosses through their sheer belligerence. Then the workplace becomes toxic from their ignorant bullying. Yet somehow the company lauds their bottom line success even when twenty people around or under their management know that the company could make twice as much if that person were removed from their job. That’s because companies also often take the “safe” advice and settle for shitty-assed managers who leave skid marks on their reputation as well as their accounting books.

Thinking outside the knocks

Yet companies keep barking about “thinking outside the box” when the very people who do are are considered impractical troublemakers.

If that’s the case, the whole culture can become an insular, crappy place to work. All those “safe” and seemingly productive people are threatened by those who come in the door with a whiff of new productivity about them. That’s why companies hire so-called “change agents.” When management gets safety fever and can’t think their way to the next level of good, “just good enough” takes over. That is the path to dissolution of course. What companies actually need to do is “think outside the knocks.” That is, work to create a culture that is based on respect, not knocking each other around.

dscn9203.jpgIt’s true. Even entirely successful companies can come to believe that only those raised in their carefully coiffed culture are indoctrinated enough for roles in the firm.

Entire industries can get that way. During the economic downturn in the United States, some companies were heard to claim, “We can’t hire anyone that has been out of work for more than six months. They’ve lost their skills. ” Talk about a sick brand of insularism.

With that mindset we there are entire industries whose insular practices and values come to represent the opposite of goodness. For example, we hear stories about how pharmaceutical companies push drugs on doctors who prescribe them to patients that don’t even need said drugs. Now the opioid epidemic is crushing the nation. Yet the profits made from the drug-pusher system typically cover legal costs of malpractice and even wrongful death. It’s all part of “the system” if you’re on the side taking pay for practice.

This is a really shitty way to do business. Yet it happens all the time. Health care and pharma are not alone in the push and pull world of shittiness. Speculative bidding and holdbacks on demand push gas prices up and push entire nations to war. All so that a very few wealthy people can enrich themselves at the expense of others.

Into this world wades a new generation of young people who question these tactics along with the shitty work ethic of those who seem to think it’s funny to demand that Millennials “pay their dues” at the hands of a system that is clearly fucked up.

Insane purposes

John-Lennon-john-lennon-34078983-1024-768We can turn to none other than John Lennon (no Saint, but wise…) for perspective on this fucked up “system” into which Millennials now wade. Lennon was perhaps the original model for a pissed off hipster Millennial if there ever was one. Here’s what Lennon had to say about the way the world works, and has worked for quite a long time:

Here’s what Lennon had to say about the way the world really works, and has worked for quite a long time:

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

The tactics of such insane people have become ever more evident with the advent of social media. Now we can see, in real time, the quotations of politicians claiming that rape is not really rape, and that the principles of so-called “less government” strategists are include imposing laws dictating what a woman can and can’t do with her own reproductive organs.

We see slogans such as “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” when the only reason guns were ever invented was to kill. We see Presidents lying to take our countries into war for ideological purposes and both sides of the political aisle blaming the other for why the system doesn’t work. But it’s simple. Everyone is in it for themselves. That’s how we get war profiteering. Human lives become expendable.

Human capital

Global companies come to view “human capital” only in terms of dollars and cents, and are willing to completely gut the economy of a nation such as America if the company can make more profit for the shareholders. Those harmed by this lack of loyalty are simply categorized as collateral damage.

Then the very same political and business idealogues who execute said rape and pillage (of person and economy) set to work to pass laws that categorize corporations as “people too.” The entire notion of personhood is thus turned into a perverse euphemism. All that remains is a system that benefits the few and trumps all other priorities.

The devaluation of human capital by granting corporate personhood to impersonal entities is the huge weight on one end of the delicate balance that props up the ugly system on which conservatives have labored for 40 years or more to bring to fruition. Starting with Ronald Reagan smashing the air traffic controller unions, conservatives with an appetite for debasing labor in the name of unmitigated profits has gone through all kinds of transmogrifications. But the end result is the same. Disempower the common man so that there is no resistance to profit-taking.

The newest euphemism for stealing labor is the so-called “right to work” movement. This unfairly grants companies the ability to ignore principles enacted through law that have protected worker wages for decades. Republicans also have fought the minimum wage increase over the years, claiming it would bankrupt businesses. That has never happened. But workers have not kept up with the cost of living while corporations and their executives grab ever more of the economic pie. The transfer of wealth has been massive, almost deadly to the economy as a whole.

This has been abetted and further perverted by investment companies that have invented more efficient ways to transfer wealth and call it freedom of choice. The entire movement to privatize programs such as Social Security are nothing more than a blatant grab at billions of otherwise protected, safe money that will be there for the workingman’s retirement.

The love of money is the root of all evil. And these are evil times indeed.

In the name of religion

To make things even creepier however, the people who run this system are all to happy to recruit the name of Jesus Christ to justify it all. It’s their way of normalizing insanity and maniacal behavior. This is the approach of a sociopathic society. It is a fascist worldview that confuses nation with God, or profit with personhood. Jesus did not come to bring any of that to the earth. Human beings bring that upon themselves through selfishness, greed, avarice and lust for money.

The environment becomes yet another victim in all this extractive and exploitative behavior. Then, if people gather to protect and conserve nature for its own sake, they are branded “tree-huggers” as if that were a negative connotation. Religion is again dragged into the mix with people claiming that God gave human beings “dominion” over the earth as if that were enough reason to excuse rape and pillage of all creation with no consequences or obligations.

A better way

angelsThere is a better way of course. Business is not by itself an evil entity. Nor are corporations. There are many organizations that conduct business in good conscience. Some become leaders in the movement to enhance people’s lives through their profession. These companies encourage employees within the organization to treat each other with respect.

So we should not settle for the idea that Millennials are wrong about the world and just need to grow up. It may in fact be quite the opposite. It may well be that it is those embittered Baby Boomers and other social critics that have ceased trying to change the world for the better. These may be the true and complicit evil at work in culture and the work world. That goes for all those entrenched in anachronistic religions that place fundamentalism and literalism ahead of practical human knowledge. If you don’t join their team they try to beat you any way they can.

Shitting the bench

Because if you’re a nutter on a basketball team when a star freshman shows up for practice who threatens to show you all up, it is not in good conscience to convince them they are better off sitting the bench with the rest of the miserable scrubs that have quit trying to improve. And worse yet, don’t try to call them “bitter” or “spoiled” if they ignore you and go about the difficult process of actualizing their own abilities. Some would rather quit the team and try something else rather than put up with a bunch of selfish ball hogs and nutters.

That goes for religion and politics too. We’re far past the point where churches full of small-minded creationists and bigots should get the chance to represent themselves as the face of God. If this entire essay seems a bit harsh and impatient it is because there are many who are sick of the crazy-assed conservative, supposedly “safe” bullshit of being told what to do and how to do it by people who claim to know how the “world really works” when it’s clear the only they know is how it works for them.

That’s not good enough. Nor is it fair and right to all those people trying to create sane and considerate policy against a veritable tsunami of idiotic, selfish, Fox News-driven demagoguery and bully pulpit enculturation.

Just stop with that crap. Millennials of all ages are sick of it. No, I can’t pretend to speak in fullness or insight for all people in the so-called Millennial generation. But I can speak against the prejudicial accusations of people who seem to so poorly grasp what anyone is about, much less people wise to the world before their years, and willing to deny the bullshit that stems from it.

Modern apocalypse

The dynamic that impoverishes the intellect while gutting the culture for insanely selfish purposes is backed by powerful interests.

Yet we can also recognize that the worldview also recruits believers on basis of fear and creating conflict between sectors of society.

That can be a highly popular way to draw followers. Yet their net methodology requires that we all adopt a worldview intellectually equivalent to ignorant children. They juvenilize the political and culture progress of the nation by seeking to ban science and intellectualism as a foundation for public discourse and education.

They also treat women as inferiors through legislative action and in speeches rife with dog-whistle threats and controlling behavior. They speak out against equal and civil rights for blacks, gays, minorities, immigrants and anyone else that does not fit their typically white, male mold. Even the lone 2016 GOP black presidential candidate Ben Carson is tone deaf on the rights of other minorities.

This is cognitive dissonance at its worst. There’s not an exception among the bunch to these methods of disaffection used to gain electoral support. The Tea Party was a similarly astroturfed attempt to rally anger and disillusionment into a political whole. But the fractiousness and contradictory nature of political, social, economic and religious conservatism denies its verity at the core. Plus all four defy the foundations of the United States Constitution, which by definition is a liberal document.

Divide and die

We can be assured of the ultimate apocalypse of this worldview because it ultimately depends on isolating one group against the other. Certainly that has been a recruitment method for a cabal of loud-mouthed idealogues barking about how persecuted they are because their prejudices and jingoistic view of God and Country no longer hold water under rational inspection. Yet one by one these embittered souls are going under. The formerly powerful Rush Limbaugh has already begun to dig his own grave through falling ratings and stations abandoning his sick brand of dishonesty. Sean Hannity won’t be far behind, and Bill O’Reilly has recently spun himself into the ground over his many lies and spins about his own journalistic integrity.

The days of these so-called “realistis” are numbered in an apocalyptic sense. The world can no longer afford to sustain such dangerous ideas and anachronistic woes. The apocalypse of the anti-Millennial is already here.

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

Republican Presidential candidate Scott Walker would love to punt us all

IN a recent interview in London, Scott Walker illustrates how and why Republican conservatives refuse to accept science as a foundation for dialogue about politics

Scott WalkerOne of the leading Republican candidates for the presidential nomination in 2016 is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A well-known advocate of conservative principles such as busting unions and defunding public education, Walker is exploring his Republican darling status by setting up a campaign office in the state of Iowa, where all presidential aspirations begin.

In the meantime, Walker is still playing Governor for the State of Wisconsin. In that role he drifted overseas to London, England to talk trade. During an introductory interview with his London contacts and the press, Walker was asked a simple question by his English hosts. “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it? Do you accept it?”

Walker’s reply was textbook Republican political deflection. “For me, I’m gonna punt on that one,” he said. “That’s a question a politician should not be involved in one way or another.”

Shallow depths

Really? That’s all the deeper the thinking goes with Scott Walker? That when asked about his understanding of the primary descriptive theory used by science to define the origins of life, he chooses to “punt?”

It’s no wonder the audience laughed at Scott Walker’s reply. They were not laughing with him. They were laughing at him.

Scott Walker evidences a very shallow grasp of the impact of worldview on one’s politics and by proxy, on the politics of the world. By denying evolution one essentially denies one of the principle foundations of modern science, the realm of human thought that drives all technology, medicine, agriculture and environmental science.

Not fit for office

A politician that does not grasp or accept the concepts that drive our understanding of the world is clearly not qualified to serve in public office. It’s time that this qualifier be brought to the very front of the political equation.

This is especially true here in America, where one in four people claim not to accept the theory of evolution. Most base these beliefs on religious grounds and a literalistic interpretation of the Bible that says evolution could not have occurred because everything on earth was created instantaneously and fully developed by God.

Never mind the clear evidence in the morphological processes that take a human zygote from cellular to human form in a mere nine months. There can’t be any trace of our genetic and development history in that short process, can there?

Cognitive dissonance on science

When someone raises the question as to whether evolution is true or not, it comes packed with an even more important question. How can you accept the benefits of science without believing in it? Isn’t that the very same thought process as taking the very grace of God for granted?

And yes, we did just equate science to God in that sentence. Because God has no problem with science. Neither did his son Jesus, who taught important spiritual lessons using highly naturalistic yet metaphorical symbols from earthly life to teach about the kingdom of God. All throughout the Bible these wonderful examples of organic fundamentalism exist. We find expressions of God in all of nature, but that does not make nature into God.

The Bible tells me so

The Bible is fully reconcilable to science if a rigid template of literalism is not clamped over its interpretation. Jesus was a naturalist in its most broad definition. He saw the earth as a wellspring of meaning, something about which we should be both curious and proud.

Despite these incredible truths we find that the ardent anti-scientific crowd is not content with metaphorical truths. So they construct their own brand of hardened truths around constructs such as creationism, which is not a science at all, other than a science of denial. There is also so-called “intelligent design” which claims that the world is simply too complex to have evolved on its own.

That is the lobby to whom Scott Walker beckons and bows when he says he has to “punt” on the question of belief in evolution. We have 25% or more of the American population proud as hell that they’re ignorant of their own biblical tradition and its metaphorical foundations. They are aggressively content to ignore the example of their own spiritual naturalist Jesus Christ in favor of putting more import in the methodologies of the Pharisees, whose passion for putting law over love was repugnant to Jesus. He called them a “brood of vipers” (another organic image!) to their faces. They didn’t get it.

Pandering for power

Paired with an equally pandering political herd of political and economic conservatives, there exists an entire alliance of doctrinal freaks who like to deny that evolution even exists. As a result, America is stuck in a cycle of patent denial of such realities climate change, a theory of anthropocentric pollution that is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm.  97% of of the worlds credible scientists worldwide agree that climate change and global warming is a human-driven problem.

But not conservatives like Scott Walker. We can ascertain from his answer about evolution what Scott Walker would say about climate change as well. “The science is not decided.” The reasons why he would give that answer have to do with who funds his political aspirations. The Koch brothers are highly invested in carbon-based industries that have made them both billionaires. Scott Walker is suckling at their trough along with a host of other politicians paid to do the bidding of the oil, gas and coal industries causing global climate change. It’s that simple. And that corrupt as a worldview.

But back to the main topic. We have some news for you Scotty. Things like evolutionary science are never “decided.” On anything. Science researches and tests and revises its understandings about the physical and biological world based on experimentation, analysis, discoveries and documentation. Then scientific peers try their best to tear it all down. If it survives––as has the theory of evolution in most of its forms–– then it becomes the canon by which we describe how things work.

Conservatives politicians love to claim this dynamic as a defiant reason for resisting science as a worldview. Yet conservatism has an absolutely horrid track record of being right about anything to do with the physical and material realities of this world.

Pope Francis shoots down the conservative worldview

Can we consider the position of the Catholic Church on the position of the earth at the center of the universe? And can we consider that same August body insisting for quite a long time that the earth was flat? The Catholic Church resisted the theory of evolution when it was first introduced as well. Yet even the Catholic Church acknowledges that evolution is true.

How interesting that even the new Catholic Pope Francis is now experiencing blowback from conservative American interests for calling very biblical principles to the fore of the church’s ministries. He calls for helping the poor. Holding the rich accountable for their conduct in business. Pope Francis is opening the arms of the church to gays and all who experience discrimination in the world. He lambasts the idea that the Bible should be interpreted literally at all. His main contention? That which does not lead believers to the love of Christ is obsolete.

The Pope’s entire ministry does not sit well with American conservatives who prefer their pet discrimination projects against gays and the poor. Now that the Pope is calling people to account for their backwards beliefs he has run afoul of the very supporters of men like Governor Scott Walker who frankly would rather “punt” on real solutions to social problems in favor of casting blame on all those they deem lazy, inferior or flawed. Frankly that’s a fascist worldview. It is neither Christlike or scientific in foundation. Instead it is selfish, plain and simple.

Patent ideology

And that’s why Scott Walker is unfit to hold public office. His worldview evidences a cognitive dissonance that embraces the love of money and a patent ideology of social control over all else. He’s a passive/aggressive personality, if not indeed a true sociopath. His interactions with public unions demonstrate a severe lack of empathy or even curiosity about the actual concerns of the very employees he was elected to serve.

So it’s no wonder he chooses to “punt” on a very legitimate question from a very legitimate source in the world. Scott Walker will punt us all if it would serve his selfish, psychopathic aims and the economic motives of those who fund his efforts. He’s already proven that at the state level. Let’s hope his sociopathic tendencies are exposed well before he reaches a national stage.

Why America is still a primitive nation

America will remain a primitive nation until it moves beyond literalism in its creation myths and national identity

America will remain a primitive nation until it moves beyond literalism in its creation myths and national identity

All cultures in the world, whatever their current sophistication, developed around a creation myth of one kind or another. To put it bluntly, the United States of America has not one, but two creation myths around which the cultural debate revolves.

America’s dual(ing) creation myths
The initial creation myth upon which at least half of America depends for its cultural identity is the Christian bible with its creation myth drawn on the book of Genesis, a literal Adam and Eve and the tribal history that followed and has extended into the present.
The second creation myth is the story of the Founding Fathers, upon whose originality America was invented and prospered.
Infallibility and inerrancy
These creation myths are considered by many to contain the salt of inerrancy and infallibility. People who take the Bible literally are loathe to consider that anything in its pages has been contradicted by outside knowledge and history. Similarly, those who abide by a view of inerrancy toward the Founding Fathers also take a dim view of interpreting anything in the Constitution anew. Many would seem happy to eradicate even those Amendments; against slavery, against a woman’s right to vote, against equal rights for all races, with the intent of “restoring” the Constitution to its original and supposedly holy premise: That the Founding Fathers were wiser than us.
A constrained lens
It is no coincidence that a significant part of American culture views both the Bible and the Constitution through this lens of inerrancy. That type of personality that resists change and is more secure with what appears to be clear authority than to sail on the surface of liberality. That is, they don’t want to have to make choices. They prefer a worldview where the hard choices are already made, where God tells them what to do, and where the nation is founded upon a rock of wisdom that cannot be cracked or moved.
Some call these propensities “conservative,” with some pride perhaps, in seeking to protect the founding myths of tradition and cultural orientation. The word “conservative” is defined as follows: conservative; disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
Definitive dangers
The danger of a conservative viewpoint is revealed in its very definition, of course. For the last few words in the definition outline its true character, and that is to limit change. Many conservatives appear bound to protect that last aspect of the tradition at nearly any cost.
To be so aggressively rooted in the past produces, of course, an ultimate fear of anything changing in the present, or likely to produce change in the future. Such fearful thoughts are indicative of a truly primitive mind, one so characterized by fear in fact, that  fear sees evil even where it is not, yet likewise forms additional gods where there are none.
Conflicted at the primitive roots
So let us examine, for a moment, the nature of the primitive or conservative mind, and how it drives what America has become. We shall also learn how and why American is conflicted at the roots and unable to move forward into a future where our creation myths can be reconciled to our progressive natures.
We can begin by examining the definition of the word primitive:
Primitive:
1. being the first or earliest of the kind or in existence, especially in an early age of the world: primitive forms of life.
2. early in the history of the world or of humankind.
3. characteristic of early ages or of an early state of human development: primitive toolmaking.
4. unaffected or little affected by civilizing influences; uncivilized; savage: primitive passions.
A primitive grip
These definitions converge on one thought: that primitivism refuses to be changed from the inside or from without. Significantly, the effort to protect the primitive viewpoint of the world, in America’s case the idea that both the Bible and the Constitution are infallible and inerrant, produces a form of tribalism wound around the core myths like a yarn. Its threads are visible, and can be cut, but the whole remains tightly wound because of its collective grip on the deep inner consciousness of the rod within.
Tribalism
Primitive tribalism is always a defensive posture. The entire history of the world is written around cultures that have built up to grand scales around their creation myths only to be invaded by more powerful cultures less concerned with culture than imperial aims. The Romans wisely made a practice of allowing these creation myths to persist, to some degree, within their empire, so long as tribute was paid and the ultimate loyally was declared to the Emperor.
Yet even the Roman culture ultimately failed, driven perhaps by terror of its own power and pulled apart by external forces that did not respect the core idea that Rome was a superior power, and therefore rightful owners to permanent empire.
Some speculate America as the new Rome, but the analogies only go so far. America’s biggest problem is not its imperialism, which is expressed in another patent belief in its infallibility, American Exceptionalism, which is nothing more than a primitive attempt to justify its own existence in the face of its often egregious acts of tribalism and fear.
America needs a critical review
Yes, this is a criticism of America, and of the Bible, of the Founding Fathers. But it is especially a criticism of the primitive mindset and tribalism that has resulted from a dependence on a literal form of worldview that is holding the nation back. And that has consequences. Deadly consequences.
In the last decade America has seen an increasing number of gun massacres. People armed with powerful murder weapons capable of shooting multiple rounds of ammunition within seconds have stalked into schools and malls fired at anyone who moves. The results are dozens dead from these massacres, and 30,000 people dying each year from gunfire.
Shooting from the Constitutional hip
Yet despite these horrific figures, Constitutional literalists insist that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. It is not to be interpreted in any other fashion than to be taken literally, that is, no limits on the right to keep and bear arms. Yet there are differences of opinion within the judicial ranks as to what the Second Amendment really means. Justince Antonin Scalia interprets the term “militia” to mean “everyone.” Everyone who handles a gun becomes part of a militia by literal decree. He states
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Heller, stated: As we will describe below, the “militia” in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”— those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the people”.[126]

Meanwhile Justice John Paul Stevens countered in his dissent by arguing that the truth is more subtle, and not literal when defining a militia as anyone who owns and handles a gun: When each word in the text is given full effect, the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. So far as appears, no more than that was contemplated.

Civilized versus tribal

When it comes to choosing a nation that is able to confine and regulate its internal arsenal, in other words, a civilized nation versus a tribal and lawless nation operating under vigilante justice, Justice John Paul Stevens arrived at the conclusion that the Second Amendment was not meant to be interpreted literally to mean that everyone who wants to own a gun, and use it, is covered by the term “well-regulated militia.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, by contrast, takes the literal, more primitive and more tribal approach of creating opportunity for everyone to own a gun of any type, almost without restriction. In so doing, Scalia and his populist henchmen in organizations such as the National Rifle Association have fostered a tribal culture in which gun ownership literally is the law of the land.

Cowboy myths

This primitive interpretation of the Second Amendment of course fits with America’s treasured Cowboy myths of an unbridled freedom in the Wild West. That was supposedly an America in which everyone carried a gun and settled their differences out in the street, like honest men and women do.

Yet the facts are somewhat different, and cowboy myths are just that, conflated images of relatively rare incidents of either heroic or tragic behavior. Then cannot be taken literally. In fact, our national narrative cannot agree on even the most basic of cherished traditions, including the life and death of men life Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. The lives of these particularly great men were fairly well chronicled, and yet their deaths by gun assassinations have had little if no effect on the primitive fact that they were shot dead by guns.

A deadly and ignored narrative

Instead, America has embraced a primitive narrative that says, in effect, that the deaths of great presidents and leaders, as well as innocent, is the supposed price of freedom to own and use guns any way “the people,” as Justice Scalia so cynically defines it, shall be unabridged.

This is a fatal sort of primitivism, deadly both to the people killed by guns and to the conscience of the nation as a whole. We live in an America where people scream against the right to have an abortion yet tolerates the use of deadly weapons to take life on a daily basis. That is primitive thinking, at best. Irresponsible and irrational, at worst.

Red herrings and mental health

The current direction of the gun debate appears to be steering towards and effort to take guns out of the hands of the mentally ill whenever possible. Yet that approach plays into the hands of the primitivist gun lobby because it defers raising the question on the rights of gun ownership as a whole, and why that interpretation of the Second Amendment by men like Justice Scalia is so wrongheaded and avoids the subject.

All of America has a mental illness so long as we depend on a literal interpretation of our creation myths. The fact that 50% of America believes in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis is responsible for a deep chasm between progressive education in the sciences, medicine, geology and philosophy ranging all the way to civil rights, including equal rights for minorities, gays and all people. That is the path to civility and maturity as a nation, yet it is being blocked by a primitive religious culture that is prejudicial, aggressive and tribal.

Correcting the mistakes of the Founding Fathers

Likewise on the Constitutional front. America’s creation myth of the Founding Fathers as somehow perfect beings has been contradicted over and over again with amendments to the Constitution delivering equal rights to blacks (which took another 100 years to commence in full) women and now people of all orientations. This progressive tradition is making America a better place for all to live. Indeed, it fulfills the equality so strongly desired by the Founding Fathers in drafting a Constitution that guaranteed equal rights for all people. Yet that equality has been repeatedly and aggressively denied by constitutional primitivists who use the so-called letter of the law to interpret it to meet their tribal desires for power and control.

Free will and choosing grace

America needs to overcome this fearful tradition of literalism and primitivism at its core. Only then will the nation fulfill its true definitions of freedom, and by ironic consequence, also fulfill the meaning of true freedom espoused in the Christian Bible and nearly all faith traditions. The freedom to choose grace, rather than impose will upon others shall not be abridged.

Jesus was particularly unfond of those whose power turned upon a phrase in order to manipulate “the people.” Here in Matthew 15 we find a description of how Jesus handled such challenges.

Matthew 15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

Think about the application of this scripture to current day issues in America, in which Second Amendment Constitutional rights are being construed and dispensed in ways  that literally lead to murder and death. We need not ask what Jesus would do in these circumstances.

Instead, we can look in a multitude of places in the Bible, and need not fall back on a literal interpretation to understand that it is our duty and our right to consider a better America, one that is not constrained by primitivism or tribalism the way it is today. We can use this bit of scripture as a starting point of inspiration, to do so:

Matthew 5:20
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s move beyond the primitivism and the tribalism.

Is the reason you vote Republican because your religion has failed society?

This election year millions of ostensibly Pro-Life Christians will vote Republican because they feel that Republican politicians represent the best opportunity to strike down legalized abortions.

Of course Republicans line up like sheep to claim the Pro-Life mantle. Some indeed do try to pass legislation to overturn existing laws resulting from court rulings such as Roe vs. Wade, which delivered protection for legalized abortions in the United States.

Religion in the public sector

For perspective on the use of religion as a foundation for political alliance and public policy, you may recall that many people of conservative faith originally threw their hopes behind a largely politicized attempt to bar teaching of evolution in public schools in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. A teacher named John Scopes defied the Butler act, a Tennessee law prohibiting public teachers from denying the literalist interpretation of the biblical account of man’s origin. Scopes was actually convicted of defying the law, but was let go on a technicality.

What that story illustrates is not a flaw in the judicial system or public policy, but the eventual and necessary failure of a segment of society to impose a religious view on the society as a whole. States across the country now advocate teaching of evolutionary theory because it is founded on real, discoverable science, not just a religious view dependent on a narrow interpretation of scripture. Evolutionary theory is also (not coincidentally) supported and complimented by myriad other scientific facts and theories. Evolutionary theory has led to important discoveries in sciences ranging from medicine to genetics to astrophysics. It is an important theory not just because of what it says, but because it works. Just as importantly, the theory itself continues to evolve, because that is the heart of science, not a fixed, one-time snapshot, as if life were a Polaroid picture.

Creationism, by contrast, is essentially the practice of denying science to support an anachronistic worldview. It is nothing but a Polaroid picture of the process of creation. And like many early Polaroids, its picture of the world is mostly black and white and not very clear. In sum, creationism is a negative theory whose only contribution to the world is the surety it provides to its adherents.

Sum-negative thinking

The same sort of sum-negative-thinking theory is at work in efforts to ban abortion in America. Years before abortion was legalized, millions of women engaged in the practice on their own or through black market providers delivering abortion services. Abortion was not invented after it was legalized. Instead it was legalized to make the practice safer for women in need of abortions for legitimate reasons, including protection of a woman’s health in at-risk pregnancies, termination of pregnancies caused by rape and yes, selective choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

That last phrase is what causes abortion opponents the most pain. The religious view that life begins at conception––itself an evolving contention––is used to contend that all forms of abortion are a type of murder.

Here is where the Pro-Life movement begins to resemble the creationist argument in its religious framework. The Bible makes no specific reference to abortion anywhere in its text. The 10 Commandments do say “Thou shalt not kill” but again, the interpretation of that commandment is short on actual, specific substance with regards to abortion, except when supported by scripture such as Psalm 139:13, which reads “for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (NIV)

That very elegant passage makes a great case for protection of life in the womb from conception. You can see how that image would move and motivate people to advocate for protection of life and the banning of abortion.

But here we are faced with a difficult question. If the religious case for protection of life is so compelling, why hasn’t religion been able to convince our nation and the world that abortion is not a good choice for women?

Religion’s failures do not make good public policy

The answer is that religion has failed miserably in its chartered role of reaching the world through its ministries. This fact relates to its failure to make relevant sense of its message in several key respects.

The first of these is that the most conservative forms of religion fail to reconcile scripture to any form of modern knowledge, especially the sciences that informs and improve our daily lives. In that context, the continuing effort by literalist sects to impose teaching of creationism undermines the credibility of religion as a whole in the public sector. How can we trust what religion says on any practical issue if a big chunk of the faith is living in a dream world where something always has to come from nothing, and never changes?

Secondly, large segments of the Christian faith also take a contrary view toward practical solutions such as birth control that would prevent the need for abortion. This sort of denial is cruel, aggressively naive and irresponsible, yet the largest bloc Christian faith in the world would deny its believers birth control under any circumstances. How interesting that more than 90% of Catholic women ignore this “law” imposed by the church.

Then think about what the Catholic church actually advocates for a method of birth control. The so-called Rhythm Method suggests that couples conspire to engage in “natural” birth control by timing their copulation to avoid impregnation. What a cynical “solution,” for it actually advises lying about the reasons for sex!

There are many examples in the bible in which Christ states that the intent of an oath or an act is as much a sin as the actual act. The idea of trying to avoid pregnancy and essentially “trick God” through use of the rhythm method sounds much like that moment when Adam and Eve were caught sneaking around the garden after they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and figured out they were naked. God didn’t like that little ruse, so the Creator surely must not like the Catholic Church encouraging its members to engage in procreative trickery.

The Catholic Church does not have a very good record in many such areas of theology, having actively persecuted scientists like Galileo for discovering that the earth was not the center of the universe, and others for teaching that the earth was round. These were practical realities that eventually revolutionized the Christian worldview, but not with much help from the Pope, who also threatened the life of Martin Luther for contending that it was not good works but grace alone that earned the believer salvation. Religion has a pretty sorry track record when it comes to figuring out the truth when it conflicts with some literal interpretation of scripture.

Old habits and infallibility

Yet we live in a time where many Christian believers persist in old religious habits and claims of infallibility (especially Leviticus and other texts of law) that have long been ignored, proven wrong or debunked through scriptural scholarship and newly inspired interpretation of holy texts. That process continues as faith evolves, as it always has since Jesus Christ himself came along to deliver the knockout blow to the love of law over the opportunity for fulfillment, salvation and life through redemption from sin.

Pay attention to what was just said. The love of law is not where Christians should reside, in whole. Jesus taught that the law of God is best understood through tools of parable, metaphor and experience, which when used together give us greater perspective on the will of God. He also chastised the religious leaders of his day for turning scripture into law, and turning the lives of believers into unholy efforts to justify themselves before the church or before God.

That also means that Christians should not try to turn their personal faith into the strict law of the land. Because as soon as you begin defining the core of your faith through the imposition of law, especially in the public sector, you have failed God in the commission of faith. Obviously your efforts have not been good enough on behalf of God to reach the people whom you seek to reach through law and politics.

If that sound harsh or accusatory, the truth really does hurt sometimes. But truly, nothing is so cleanly evident than the failure of religion when it claims to be the salvation of the world but fails in some grandiose and crucial way.

In politicians, not God, we trust?

Instead of taking direct responsibility for the failure of faith to convince people of those moral objectives some believers who high, they crawl instead to politicians in positions of public power, convincing them that the most important goal of the republic is to impose Christian law on a secular society. This is the exact same thing Christians find so abhorrent in the Muslim world when religious law is imposed in place of democracy.

The cynical sideline to all this has been the efforts of groups from the Christian Coalition to the Moral Majority working to install politicians who favor religious law over public law, thereby creating a virtual theocracy. This is done in spite of the fact that our own Constitution guarantees freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

But when religion fails as it has on the abortion issue to convince people of its brand of morality, it is too hard for believers to admit or accept.

So you get pompously righteous politicians pumping their fists, proclaiming they are “on the side of God” while  saying “We want to ban abortion!”

And why? Because it will get them elected and bring in campaign contributions. And yes, if they build enough consensus in America for their various pet “religious causes”, they may indeed seek to impose their religious worldview on the nation by banning abortion, teaching of evolution and taking away equal rights for gays and women and people of color. Well, America by definition and Constitution is supposed to provide equal rights for all, not just the religious citizens of the republic. Yet the Republican platform has determined that’s not good enough. They’ve made up their own agenda for America, supposedly in the name of God.

Failure twice over

We’ll state it plainly to make the matter clear. It is never right to use politics to compensate for the failures of religion. For religion to refuse to acknowledge its own failures and then blame America for persecuting the Christian faith is the ultimate hypocrisy. But that is the Republican platform these days, and it should be seen for what it is: A failure wrapped in political lies in an attempt to grab power.

So you should ask yourself: Is the reason you vote Republican because your religion has failed society? If so, then you should go to your church, not the voting booth as the means to effect change in society. Because if you really trust God, why do you need to rely on politicians to accomplish your aims?