The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #22: “Of Elections & Madness — What Time Is Is, America?”

This week has been like no other in American history.  Wednesday January 6 was like no other day in American history.  We did not acquit  ourselves admirably.  Trump’s election, his presidency — even the end of his presidency continues to expose things about America that aren’t very flattering.  We keep saying this isn’t who we are.  Maybe that’s our problem.  This IS who we are and we need to own it.

And maybe we’d help ourselves if we stopped seeing this in political terms — as a Republicans vs Democrats issue.  It isn’t.  There may be an ideological struggle afoot, but it’s not between parties.  It’s between Power and Resistance — a struggle as old as time.  Well, as old as time with human beings in it.

On the one hand, this episode was meant to close the circle on our earlier podcast (Episode # 14)  in which we made our election predictions.  Is it just us or does that seem like a thousand years ago?  As the election really didn’t end until Georgia’s Senatorial runoffs, it would have been premature to look back before and measure how we both did.  

As we all know, nothing about this election — literally nothing — has gone “by the book”.  No, this election is, instead, one FOR the book.  For the books — and it may be impossible to calculate how many books will owe their existence to what we just lived through.  

One more thought: after a while — going through repeated moments that have never happened before — one has to adapt to living through things that haven’t happened before.  It feels like what the world really needs is a “How To Live Through This Craziness” guide book.   

Or a podcast to that effect…

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #22:
“Of Elections & Madness — What Time Is It, America?”

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #22: “Of Elections & Madness — What Time Is It, America?

NOTES & SOURCES

RANDY’S NOTES

What time is it? 

So much surfaced yesterday.  Things that have been simmering for quite a while now.

Surprise seems an odd response because these are not disconnected, random events.  

Trump proved how obtuse he is to strategy, to power, to impact.  He is burning any kind of legacy he had by the way he is transitioning out of power.  (As I said in our previous prognostication podcast!)

Those who caused the turmoil in DC have shown their true colors as well.

And the “surprise” of the politicians and media about all of this is incredibly disingenuous.  Hopefully, this is a wake-up call to them to get serious about serving this country.

So, we can rant about whichever group is the evil one here.  But that won’t get us very far in moving forward on this.

This is not the time to “amp up” the self-righteousness.  That is part of the polarization that got us here.  It certainly won’t get us to our desired future.

I want to be sure we go under the surface for a deep dive on this so we don’t keep adding fuel to this fire but instead bring healing to our communities, nation and world.

1-One way we do this:  confessing that we are all part of the problem here.  It isn’t just one side or another that set up the conditions for this to occur.  This is a problem for all Americans, not just for some. 

This then draws us together to do what this podcast is all about.  To hear each other, respect each other, and find commonality so we can move forward together.

2-Another part of bringing healing to our nation is to realize what time it is.  We are in the neutral zone.

Description by William Bridges, Managing Transitions

Anxieties rise

Motivation falls

Old weaknesses emerge in full flower

Become polarized between those wanting to rush forward and those wanting to go back to the old ways

More vulnerable to attack from the outside because we are slow and random in our responses to

competitive threats.

Sound familiar?  Welcome to “the neutral zone.”

The neutral zone is the time when we have to let go of one way of life but have not yet grasped the new. It is a time when “the old clarities break down and everything is in flux. Things are up in the air. Nothing is given anymore, and anything could happen. No one knows the answers and one person says one thing and someone else says something completely different.”

“Neutral zones occur in organizations, but also in individual lives and in the history of whole societies.”

We are in the neutral zone.  Not just because of politics, but because of the pandemic, because of our ideas running out of fuel before the pandemic, because of the change in our lives and society due to technology, climate, geopolitics etc.

Story of moving to London, England.  Golders Green.  J. Geils Band album Love Stinks (1980).

Did this in Syndney, Houston, L.A., Moz, S. Carolina and more.

We have all been through these times of transition.  Elementary to Middle school.  Middle school to high school.  School to work.  Single to family with kids.  Empty nest. Work to retirement.  In each of these you went through the neutral zone and got to the other side.

But it is hard and takes work.  Easy things are now a challenge.  Getting through days and weeks take some real focus.

Three things:

1.Own that we are all in the neutral zone and that we will be here for the foreseeable future.

2.Get creative in the confusion.

3.Commit to living your most heroic life in this time for the sake of your loved ones.

Our tendency will be toward polarizing behavior.  We are all tired so we also tend toward knee jerk responses.  But being a hero is not about taking action motivated by anger or fear.  (On full display yesterday.) It isn’t about action for action’s sake. 

Take action, but make it strategic action motivated by love and a desire for healing, strategic action that moves beyond short term emotion and power plays and instead intends good for the long haul for those you love (and even your enemies).

Don’t hand over your “hero” job to someone else.  “…people in the neutral zone are tempted to follow anyone who might seem to know where he or she is going…”  There are plenty of people who act like they know where things are going.  But no one does…too many variables now.  A hero admits they don’t know what will happen while working with people, out of love, to help them move forward in their own lives.

Last thing:  think of another transition you made it through.  You will make it through this as well with those you care about.  We can make it through.  Even as we continue to disagree about things.

I am going to go out on a limb today with my first prophecy.  If this prophecy is false I will come to our follow-up show in sackcloth and ashes.  And if my prophecy is true Alan will…

Okay, so here it is…(drumroll please):  Whoever wins the election….Life will go on.  There it is.  I have said it.  I have gone “on the record”.  If Biden wins, life will go on.  If Trump wins, life will go on.

Whew.  Glad to have that “cat out of the bag!”

Three Things That Will Happen if Joe Biden wins:

  • Trump will initially fight it but find a way (or be forcefully given a way) to save face while stepping down.
  • Strengthening of far-right organizations as a large portion of the population will feel increasingly marginalized.
  • Conservative Christianity will grow as those on the political right will re-engage institutional religion out of fear of the future.

Three Things That Will Happen if Donald Trump wins:

  • 4 more years of rancor and social unrest in our cities.
  • Progressive church becomes more hardline and divided from conservative Christians.
  • Formal Christianity will continue to decline.

Internationally:

  • China will continue to grow in strength and influence as well as Turkey and Iran because turmoil internal to the US will continue and that, more than one side of the other winning, plays into their hands for growth in power and influence globally.

Three ways to lead yourself through this election cycle (from Randy the pastor without a church who just keep himself from a little preaching!):

  • Ground your sense of identity, purpose, and meaning in something greater than the ideological left or right and their issues.  Of course, my recommendation would be in faith; more specifically in Jesus.  But how you do this is your choice.
  • Laugh.  Laugh at your life and most particularly laugh at yourself.  Don’t take yourself and your emotions too seriously right now.  You remember how, for those of us who are older, it was when we were younger?  Every loss meant life would be horrible from here on out and every win meant you were “King (or Queen) of the mountain.”  As you get older you learn to tone down those emotions through experience.  Apply that lesson to your politics.  Please, everyone, the only way this is “the end of the world” is if we make it so.  Just lighten up.
  • Take some time to unplug, to rest.  This is not an attempt to escape reality, but to rest so we can be the best citizens we can be in this very challenging time in our country.  As human beings we fatigue.  This is true in any election cycle, but add to it the pandemic we have been struggling through and the racial justice issues and natural disasters many of us have been going through and we have a recipe for fatigue.  We all need to take time to rest, to recover, to recuperate and to regain our strength for the work ahead.

ALAN’S NOTES

Here’s what I wrote back in November just before the election:

  • Donald Trump will get blown out by the biggest margin ever.  More Americans will vote in this election than, perhaps in any other election ever. That’s for a reason: the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE w Donald Trump and what he’s doing to America.
  • IF Trump claims victory, it will be through manipulating the courts and the vote count.  As Trump himself has said OUT LOUD: the problem with letting too many Americans vote is it’s always bad for Republicans.  (“They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” — that’s Trump during an appearance on Fox & Friends.) Again, Trump may claim victory but he will not have legitimately won.  He “got away with it” last time; he won’t this time.
  • Joe Biden will win handily.  The Democrats will increase their lead in the House and they will flip the Senate.  Then, here is what (I predict) they will do

As a Result:

  • The Democrats will increase the size of the Supreme Court — from 9 seats to 13 or 15 at a minimum in order to make the SCOTUS look more like We The People and less like just one segment of our population.  
  • The Democrats will make Puerto Rico and Washington DC states — giving them two Senators each — helping to bring some balance back to the Senate and how it “represents” Americans and their interests.  
  • The pandemic (as much as the Democrats) will make socialized medicine and universal basic income done deals. They’ll launch a massive infrastructure project even bigger than Roosevelt’s WPA — all in order to help get the economy out of the ditch it’s in — the ditch Trump and his coronavirus response put us and the economy in.
  • As Joe Biden said, it won’t be up to him what “happens” to any Republican who might have behaved illegally over the last four years, it will be up to a newly rejuvenated Department of Justice — as per our Constitution and the rule of law.  If the rule of law dictates the Justice be visited upon all the Republicans now fallen from power then so be it.  They knowingly violated the rule of law which is what brought us here.  Behold The Day Of Judgment.

I’d say I got it all pretty close to perfect. The only thing I got wrong was the House – the R’s gained ground.  

What’s become clearer since the election: while we may think this was an election between Republicans and Democrats, it really wasn’t.  By the end, plenty of Republicans were joining with Democrats because they recognized — finally — that this WASN’T about the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

This election — the last four years — has been about Power & Resistance.

In “Doing Theology In The Age Of Trump:  A Critical Report On Christian Nationalism”, editors Jeffrey W. Robbins & Clayton Crockett mirror French philosopher Michel Foucault’s belief that wherever there is power, there also is resistance.

The great human struggle isn’t between political parties, it’s between Power and Resistance.  

In their introduction, they write: “We believe that nationalistic, patriotic fervor easily and often devolves into idolatry, and when it does, that it is important for us to identify it as fundamentally anti-Christian, if indeed there is such a thing as Christianity in any integral way.  Even further, one of the things that unites us… is the conviction that this political opposition to a form of worldly power oriented around military might, domination and denigration is actually the way of Jesus.”  

Politics and theology have everything to do with each other: “There can be no radical theology,” they write, “That is not simultaneously a political theology”.

Politics may be deeply corrupted because so many politicians are corrupt or easily corruptible.  But then, the church is also corrupt.  It cannot honestly hold itself above politics as “less corrupt”.

Tchividjian, the 47-year-old grandson of famed pastor Billy Graham and a Christian celebrity in his own right, is leading a church for the first time since his June 2015 resignation as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in northern Fort Lauderdale.

Tchividjian was forced to resign because he violated a morality contract by having an extramarital affair, according to a filing in his divorce case. But the woman who said she was involved in the affair and an advocacy organization led by his brother call it pastoral abuse and sexual misconduct.

Tchividjian, who said there was no element of sex abuse or emotional manipulation, was also defrocked by the South Florida Presbytery. Now the new Jupiter resident is among those starting The Sanctuary, an unaffiliated church that’s meeting each Sunday at the Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens ahead of a planned formal launch next month.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190817/exclusive-after-sex-scandal-billy-grahams-grandson-is-starting-church-in-palm-beach-gardens

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