A User’s Guide to Donald Trump: Appendix 1

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump: Appendix 1

The American public has never had to deal with anyone like Donald Trump in the White House. Most of us are aware of that. But it’s important to identify the aspects of The Donald that set him apart from all previous 44 Presidents of the United States, with perhaps the exception of Warren G. Harding.

For many years Donald Trump was a member of/financial contributor to the Democratic Party. Why then did he suddenly declare his candidacy for the Presidency in the Republican Party primaries in 2012?  First, his motivations for his party affiliations and contributions were, like always, strictly self-serving. They were pragmatic, not ideological. The money he “donated” and his affiliations were intended to be profitable in the long run.

So when he smelled an opportunity that he could never have among the Democrats, it was natural for Trump to change sides. Although he was never interested in running (and losing) against the incumbent Barack Obama in 2012, he was hungry to join the legion of Republicans who sought the presidential nomination. This was an irresistible chance to invent and introduce a new facet of his image, downplaying his amoral, audacious real estate escapades and reckless, amoral, playboy persona. Here he would test fly himself as a potential statesman.

No one took him seriously in 2012; he gathered very few percentage points in the primaries. But that didn’t matter. He wasn’t in it to win it back then. He’d accomplished his objective of planting seeds of quasi-political respectability. He’d shared the stage shoulder-to-shoulder with life-long politicos whose names were, in most cases, lesser known by the general public than his. He wedged his way in and gave his eventual presidential aspirations a precedent.

Over the next four years, he created and burnished his supposed executive leadership credentials with his new popular television show, “The Apprentice.”   Sitting on his regal executive throne, he disparaged and humiliated young business school graduates with his denegrations of their performances in difficult assignments that ostensibly tested their chops. His image took on a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners attitude and a demi-god-like impatience with the fools he had to tolerate. As intended, he presented himself as a tough boss who demanded results. Contrary to his 2012 primary showing, his television ratings were astounding. Not satisfied with besting unknown job applicants, he then gathered a bunch of celebrities whose fading stardoms were in dire need of any kind of boost, and thrashed them around to get ever-higher ratings. He proudly proved he could easily control and inflict failure on characters whose names were recognizable having once been popular but who were now stuck in the minor leagues.  Meanwhile, Trump’s popularity rose.

Like a mountain of bubbles in a bathtub, there was little real substance in the political image Trump created for himself by 2016. He had no real steak to offer, but he had more than enough sizzle.

The rest is history. He tossed his Vietnamese-manufactured “Make American Great Again” hat into the crowded ring and immediately stood out boldly against the stable of Republican wannabes who were virtually indistinguishable from one another.  His cast away opponents either went home to lick their wounds or prolonged their agony by embracing his campaign.  Trump squeezed out what little value they had left and then left them by the roadside (see Christie, Chris).

With active and illegal complicity, his de facto campaign manager Vladimir Putin crafted and executed a masterfully deceitful strategy for the general election. Hacking into Democratic leaders’ e-mails and making other well-timed cyber moves and Wiki leaks, Putin’s minions created a growing series of questionable concerns about Hilary Clinton. With heavy strategic applications of paid advertisements on major social media sites, The Donald’s allies in the Kremlin pushed all the right buttons to plant propaganda into the willing ears of those living in the heartland. Their strategy’s climax came at the either unwitting or cunning announcement by FBI Director James Comey that more Clinton e-mails were under investigation less than 48 hours before the polls opened. The Hammer & Sickle banner was raised to new heights as the Trump/Putin campaign successfully turned the tide of reason in the electorate just enough for the Electoral College to negate the popular vote.

Gleeful high fives in Moscow.  Trump was in.

God help us.

Now that he is president, it’s important to understand what motivates Trump as he plays the ringmaster over his circus. We caught more than a hilariously stupid glimpse of what is in store for the next four years very early in his administration. In the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary, Trump launched his administration by adamantly insisting that his Inaugural crowd was the largest ever, dwarfing President Obama’s crowds.  In other words, Trump’s presidency began with what 99.4% of sane people in the world knew was the boldest of bold-faced lies. His humiliated Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was ordered to support those outrageously false assertions in his first press briefing from the White House. Trump and Spicer were the only two people who made those farcical assertions. Everyone knew that neither believed it.

And that was just the inauspicious beginning.

Many political commentators have since grasped the obvious and reported that Trump has absolutely no fundamental political beliefs to inform his decision making. Instead, his decisions waffle depending on what works best for him at a given time. Believing in nothing is very advantageous to someone cares nothing for the truth and wants to remain pragmatically flexible.

Regrettably “pragmatically flexible” is a new piece of Washington-speak that is the equivalent of “unpredictable,” or in Trump’s case “wildly unpredictable.” Trump is definitely that. Those who try to read his mind have to realize he is fundamentally a spoiled and over-inflated bag of pure ego.   Not unlike his counterpart in North Korea, Trump expects his people to, not only accept, but applaud loudly, his blatantly self-serving lies.  Unfortunately, many who invested their support in him find they either have to turn a blind eye to the nature of the man and his shenanigans or admit to a big mistake. Understandably, obstinance favors the former option.

Unpredictability is a strategic tool that fools people and keeps Trump in the limelight where his bleached comb-over and pink cheeks look best.  He stirs the pot, which is not necessarily a bad thing but can be very dangerous in some instances.  I think we all have reason to worry about whether he knows the difference.

Ultimately, Trump has no ideology or morality in the foundation of ‘What’s Best for America.’ The true bottom line is that whatever Donald Trump does is driven by what’s best for Donald Trump. It has always been that way; he knows no other way to live.

Certainly some people, his family, his unstable inner circle, his daughter’s wedding planner, and his business associates have benefitted from some of his decisions and actions, but those are collateral consequences. Trump seems to firmly believe that what is good for The Donald is always the equivalent of What’s Best for America.  So far, I contend that our American values and his stances have never been aligned and are becoming further distant by the day.

A User’s Guide to President Trump – Warnings:

  • Do not expect the truth from The Donald; Fact check whatever he says, even if it is something you think might be true.  It’s a shame to have to do this, but it comes with the territory.
  • Always keep in mind that Donald Trump is his own favorite cause, topic, and person. Donald Trump NEVER does anything that doesn’t primarily benefit Donald Trump. Interpret anything he says or does accordingly. From this vantage point, what he says and does will make more sense in a perverse way. It might not be acceptable or make you feel better, but it is easier to work with than total chaos.
  • Donald Trump will often surprise his allies and detractors by doing the polar opposite of what they expect. He unapologetically contradicts himself often. He is unpredictable simply for no other reason than shock value. He loves creating unexpected change because it almost always grabs his favorite elixir: attention.
  • Oh, one more thing, and this is a big one. Beware: At all costs, whatever you do, don’t let Trump’s reckless bravado start a nuclear w

 

I have a cold…again

I have a cold…again

I have a cold…again.

I hate having a cold.  This one started just two weeks after my last cold finally left my system.   I’ve been cycling through colds separated by brief hiatuses (hiatusi?) for several months now.

It’s not hard to figure out why.  It’s an occupational hazard. Two and a half years ago, I was shanghaied into a new job.  Grand-parenting.  My official title is “Grandfather,” but never one to stand on ceremony, I prefer the  informal, “Pop.”

For the first 63 years of my life, I was not qualified for this job.  My resume was strong but it lacked one absolutely-mandatory-no excuses-accepted qualification – a grandchild. I was an honorary Grandfather, a title I still proudly hold, but in order to qualify for the bona-fide Grand Certificate and the 401K opportunity* that come with the real thing, I needed one more credit.

*[Update: I just learned there’s no 401K opportunity, but I’m expected to establish a College Fund for each grandchild. Shanghaied again.]

Finally, in late 2014 my wife Doris and I were invested with full rights, privileges and responsibilities of Grandparenthood. Our names were added to the on-line version of the Official Grandparents Directory/ US Division/ New-bees Chapter: www.diaper-changers (the national equivalent of the British Division’s famous www.nappy-changers).

There are now three acorns after my name and Doris’s.  So far all of our acorns reside under one roof.  For  good reasons, Doris and I were enlisted for temporary duty to assist in acorn management under that roof.   At least for the time being, we are a household of seven family members, two of  whom typically labor weekdays nine-to-five in “Day Care.” (Their artwork and paper hats can be stunning.)

I’ve learned that it is wise to inquire as to how many other acorns are in a Day Care. The chance that one of our acorns will catch another one’s cold and bring it home for us all to share is inextricably related to the number of acorns there. We are vulnerable to colds incubated in Day Care for export as well as the home-grown kind. Only a miracle combined with a total ban on kissing might break the cycle of colds passed around in our present environment.

Tired of grabbing tissues to clear mucus from my stiff upper lip, I recently decided to buy an over-the-counter cold remedy.  I was amazed at the number and variety of cold remedies on Walgreen’s shelves.  Each item’s label listed the specific combination of symptoms that the remedy was supposedly designed to manage: congestion, headache, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, general aching, fever, sleep deprivation, halitosis.

(Okay, one of these wasn’t among any product’s targeted symptoms – can you find it?)

Amazingly, each product touted its prowess with typically only three or four among the universe of cold symptoms.  I found not one product claiming to relieve all cold symptoms; the most I saw was five.

I guess if you have six or more symptoms you should go to the hospital, not the drug store.

Before going out to buy a cold remedy, I suggest you should list and prioritize your symptoms.  Not including the mystery entry, my list of ailments two paragraphs ago names nine different cold symptoms.  Among products with labels advertising special effectiveness for three symptoms, there are exactly 84 possible combinations of three symptoms that could be offered. (So says a permutation calculator on the Internet.  Impressed?)

This inventory of 84 possibilities is considerably more than the 50 or so cold relief products on Walgreen’s shelves.  I suspect some odd combinations of symptoms, like headache, general aching, and halitosis, didn’t make the cut.  Nonetheless, if you are hunting for a remedy to cure your three most acute symptoms, your hay stack is 84 differing three-symptom combinations and the needle you seek, may not even be in a store that stocks only 50 or so combinations.

Make sure to bring your glasses when you go to buy; symptoms listed on the front of the package are alphabetized on some labels, but not all. No uniform code of for symptom labels addresses this issue.  Finding a package claiming to have been made for your three priority symptoms could take some time. Plan accordingly.

Alternatively, however, you can look at the lists of ingredients in the various products, like I did. There you may be surprised to find, despite the symptoms listed on the front labels, most of the mainstream cold products list the exact same active ingredients in the exact same proportions!

So why do manufacturers put the same ingredients in so many different bottles?  Well, if you see a product that appears to specialize in Runny Nose, Sneezing, and Congestion, and those are your symptoms of greatest concern at the moment, wouldn’t you choose it over other products touting their effectiveness against symptoms you don’t have?  If you don’t know the pills are essentially all the same, wouldn’t you be willing to pay more for a product that appears to have been customized specifically for YOUR symptoms? Wouldn’t that increase the product’s profit margins?

In the end, it appears that the only thing associated with a cold remedy that has been customized is its label. 

This slick trick is a shining example of American Marketing Ingenuity at the Top of its Game.

This is what Makes Money for investors, which is what Makes America Great.  

Let’s see China, Russia or North Korea top that!

 

 

 

So, What’s the Point?

So, What’s the Point?

Not for nothing, but for some sartorial reason in the flurry of photographs of President-elect Trump in the media I have noticed that he always seems to wear his neck ties longer than most men.  Typically, a gentleman will wear his necktie so that the point at the bottom of the tie reaches the top of his belt buckle.  I imagine the theory involved is that a necktie is an accessory that is intended to enhance the appearance of one’s shirt and so should end where the shirt ends.

Mr. Trump, exercising his right to freely wear his necktie in whatever manner he chooses, apparently prefers to tie his ties in a manner that the front facing end extends below his belt buckle.  Inasmuch as most ties in today’s fashion are pointed at the forward facing end, they resemble an arrow one might use to direct someone’s attention to that which is beyond the point.

As noted, in most cases, the arrowhead points to the man’s belt buckle.  In Mr. Trump’s case, and more recently that of Vice President – elect Spence, however, the elongated front portion of the tie points directly to the crotch.  Is there some subliminal, or perhaps overt intent for this?  Target practice perhaps?

What’s the point?

donaldtrump-tie6  trump-tie-3
donald-trump-tie-13

Republican National Convention: Day Three

Bernie Sanders was Right

Bernie Sanders was Right

Donald Trump’s campaign, while preposterous and inconsistent, has thrown a bright light on a social divide in America that is deeper and more severe than most of us realized.  There is no doubt that Trump is a narcissistic ass who has the ethics of an alley cat with a grossly enlarged libido. Nonetheless, despite his bombastic claims and morally degenerate behavior, many Americans are willing to turn a blind eye to his racial, ethnic, and misogynist hate mongering, and believe that “Donald really tells it like it is.”

People, we know something’s wrong, but let’s not forget what is right.

What’s Wrong?

Clearly, the great social experiment of equal opportunity and mutual respect in our Democracy is far less mature than it ought to be at this point in our history.  What has happened to stir up such vile and destructive emotions among so many people?

I believe that the current, worsening social divide is a product of an even more stark divide in the United States, namely the economic chasm between the wealthy and the rest of us.

During most of the 20th Century, the strength of our nation was largely drawn from a large and vibrant middle class that bridged the divide between the rich and the poor.  That middle class provided a vital pathway to success for people in poverty who wanted to better their conditions. It provided the reachable goal of helping a next generation live better than the parents had. Anyone could get ahead through honest work and intestinal fortitude. There was credible reason for hope.

But the dawn of both the information age that supplanted our manufacturing economy and the political shift of tax burdens from the rich to the middle class, changed the role and nature of the class structure in America.  Today, the poor have little means or hope to achieve upward mobility.  They have been nearly completely disenfranchised from the American Dream.  They are surrounded by greedy predators, like Mr. Trump, who create bogus “universities” touting the promise of a bright future.  Unsuspecting and well meaning people take on student loans to pay for an ultimately bogus education and a useless degree.  Because student loans are not forgiven by bankruptcy, people least able to pay back loans trade their hopeful futures for a lifetime debt.  And the rich get richer.

While the poor lose hope, many in the middle class face the legitimate fear of falling below the poverty line to join the ranks of the hopeless.  The middle class is not shrinking because more people are getting rich.  The erosion of the middle class is from the bottom, not the top.

Meanwhile, the rich buy the allegiance of law makers in local, state, and national political arenas and quietly arrange the rules of the land in ways that allow them to systematically siphon off more wealth from middle class and the poor.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the tax codes of all levels of government.

There is no doubt that the top 10% of wealthy Americans pay significantly less than their fair share of taxes.  Don’t listen to politicians or political pundits who, like Mr. Trump, make up false statistics to the contrary.  Fully 50% or more of the wealth of this nation is owned by that 10%.  By far, more taxes are collected from our 50% than are collected from their 50%. End of story!

This economic disaster began with the Ronald Reagan notion that if we cut taxes for the wealthy, all kinds of great things would happen.  They would invest all that untaxed money to create tons of new jobs for millions of people. Some of the wealth of the top 10% would “trickle down” like soft rain from a cloud, nourishing us all.

It simply didn’t happen then, and it will not happen now. The rich don’t use their money to create rainfalls for anyone. Most use money to get more money. Few, if any people benefited more financially than the rich during the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of of the 21st.  They have built their rigged system.  All they need do now is maintain it.

What’s Right?

The spiral we are in where the rich profit at the expense of the rest of us can only be stopped if the rest of us, 90% of the electorate, demand that:

  • Tax codes are simplified and the wealthy are made to pay their fair share without exception. The purpose of taxes in a democracy includes being a mechanism for a healthy distribution of wealth among the electorate.  That needs to happen.
  • The power of free speech is equitably shared by all. One’s right to speak freely is sacrosanct, but the decibel level of one person’s right to speak should not be allowed to drown the speech of others.  Free speech needs to include the concept of an equal right to be heard.  That’s where the power resides.  That is why we desperately need to impose limits on how much money any one individual or group of individuals, or a corporation or a union, or a political action committee can contribute to the decibel level of any one candidate.  The idea that free speech in America includes the right to drown out the speech of others who may not have a mega-phone is dangerous and ethically contrary to the bedrock upon which this nation was built.
  • Good jobs are created by government to repair and improve the infrastructure we all depend on (even the rich) for transportation, communication, education, law enforcement, welfare, and commerce etc..
  • Education for the information age is widely made available and affordable if not free in many cases.

The gulf between greed and simple comfort is wide.

The gulf between greed and happiness is wider.

Being part of the solution is always better than being part of the problem.

Bernie was right.

Can the World Afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the US?

Can the World Afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the US?

Q: Can the world afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the United States?

 A: Probably not, but let us not test the idea.

What is Malignant Narcissism?  Below is a bullet point rendition of Wikipedia’s definition.

As you read it, ask yourself, is this not Donald Trump?

“Malignant Narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of:

  • narcissism,  […no one loves Donald as much as the Donald does, and nothing that Donald does is intended to benefit anyone but Donald. His proposed tax break for the middle class is part of an overall tax strategy that would hand the wealthy top 10%  – including himself – a much bigger tax break.  Trump thrives on being in the limelight, disregards any inconvenient truth, and cannot acknowledge his mistakes to the point that, obviously contrary to his own best interests, he doubles-down on his numerous blatant blunders.]
  • antisocial personality disorder, […does bragging about being able to grab any woman’s crotch simply because he is The Donald qualify?  He has absolutely no respect nor an ounce of empathy for anyone but himself.]
  • aggression[…he sues everyone who dares to cross his path, is a misogynist, a bigot, and indiscriminatly intimidates any who might be in his way] and
  • sadism […refusing to pay workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the act of firing someone are among many harmful situations that seem to give Donald great pleasure].
  • Often grandiose, […he genuinely thinks his five-letter name should be valued at more than a billion dollars per letter, nuff said?] and
  • always ready to raise hostility levels […like the schoolyard bully, he will pick on anyone he thinks is weaker than himself.],
  • the malignant narcissist undermines organizations in which they are involved […can America afford this?] , and
  • dehumanizes the people with whom they associate” [Women, Mexicans and Other Hispanics, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Political and Business Opponents,  etc., etc.].

Power in the hands of a malignant narcissist is extraordinarily dangerous. The malignant narcissist does not want to lead, but to rule. Most of those who fought to depose the last major malignant narcissist ruler over 50 years ago are no longer with us.  Few are left who saw first-hand how dangerously evil a popular conniving malignant narcissist can be.

Donald Trump’s candidacy presents danger to the world, and many world leaders know it.  His bluster, reversals of expressed opinions, personal slanders, and complete disregard of truths that are in conflict with his desires, make him unreliable, untrustworthy, and insanely volatile.  These attributes might be useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations but it is a terrible mix when dealing with leaders of other sovereign nations that have national pride and military options.  Putin would love to play with someone who thinks Twitter is a great political forum.  Trump’s buttons are easy to see and easy to push.  All it takes to make him totally irrational is to insult him personally. (Have you noticed that he never says he was “attacked.”  Any assault on his character or comments is a “vicious attack.”  Apparently in his self-absorbed mind having the temerity to attack Donald Trump must be vicious.) 

Do you really want Donald Trump in charge of our nuclear arsenal?

Beyond Frightening – Simply Unacceptable.

We are in these seriously dangerous waters largely because for the last six years the Republican-controlled Congress chose to abdicate it’s responsibilities and freeze the government to undermine the remainder of Obama’s two-term presidency. Trump’s popularity is the genuinely frustrated but reckless grass roots response to the uncompromising leadership of Congress.  Perhaps Republican incumbents in both houses who are running for re-election as “down-ticket” candidates under Trump’s name this year will suffer for their intentional and petty gridlock.*

The last political malignant narcissist who rose to power on a wave of an indignant grass roots backlash nearly destroyed their world and ours.  Luckily, he didn’t quite have access to atomic weaponry.

The next one will.

 

 

 

*Ironically, the political career of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is reeling from self-inflicted wounds suffered in his very own gridlock scandal .  The now infamous George Washington Bridge traffic jam, deliberately engineered by Christie’s Administration to “punish” the Mayor of Fort Lee, has backfired on him. Christie is well suited to Trump’s sycophantic entourage.

Whose God is It Anyway?

Whose God is It Anyway?

Faith: Find yours or don’t, but for God’s sake and mine, let others do the same.  Part 2 0f 2

 

In case you haven’t met, let me introduce you to the God I’ve come to know* and love.  You might recognize Him/Her or He/She might just resemble your God (presuming you know One, of course).  That resemblance would be natural.  Your God and mine are probably related.

*Legally, my “knowledge” of God is subject to change at any time, for any reason, and without prior notice.  Any resemblance of my God to anyone else’s is unintentional and purely coincidental.

My God is not a jealous God.

My God knows that those who believe in God desperately want to know His/Her plans and His/Her will so we can take a shot at living in the manner He/She wants us to live.   But God doesn’t work that way. If there was a book that perfectly defined how God wants us to live, it would be helpful. But to be perfect, such a book would need to be written in God’s hand, not a human hand. The only such writing I can think of (though my theological education is admittedly woefully inadequate) may have been made on the tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain. Those rules, while often broken, have stood the test of time very well. But the writings of people, no matter how inspired by God they may be, have to be flawed, simply because all humans are flawed.

What we inherited from our ancestors are texts written by people, many of whom may have been inspired as holy messengers. Accordingly, each text likely carries a degree of spiritual wisdom, but all are nonetheless imperfect. The contradictions that exist within, for example, the Bible, can only be attributable to the fact that many human authors were contributors, and their memories or interpretations of The Word were more-or-less good, but not perfect. It they were perfect, there would be no contradictions in the Bible. Likewise there would be an easily recognizable correlation among The Koran, the Bible, The Torah, The Kojiki, the Four Texts of Confucius, The Tripitaka and other all sacred texts, except for the fact that they were nearly all written by men (there’s an inherent bias right there) to define a monotheistic or polytheistic God’s Will in the world.

If the inspired men who authored and compiled the Holy Scriptures were not flawed, all religions would share the perfect vision and there could be no such thing as religious disagreement, let alone religious wars.

I seriously doubt that God ever intended women to be denied the opportunity participate fully in the development of our world’s religions. Men certainly don’t have an exclusive proclivity on spirituality, intelligence, perceptivity, reason, or any other key theological components.  But God’s rulebooks were overwhelmingly composed by the males of the species, and were terribly flawed by that chauvinism alone. Imagine how much more theologically advanced our species would be today, if the perspectives and wisdom of women, fully half of humankind, had not been excluded from their rightful positions in the mix from the beginning. The religious hurdles we face today might have already been cleared long ago if women had their equal place at the table.

God does not want any of us to feel threatened by anyone else’s interpretation of God. Neither should we be threatening to those whose faith is not aligned with ours. No human can ever fathom and understand all that God is. We are only just now taking our first little forays outside of our solar system, which is in itself a tiny and insignificant portion of God’s universe.  We are all blind as we describe the elephant in the room using our imperceptions to prove our imperfections from where we stand in the room. Our descriptions need not be the same to still be correctly attributable to the same God (or pachyderm). God is not apt to require anyone to blindly and fully accept any religion’s narrow definition of God and faith. I lose no favor from my God from my inescapable inability to fully know and define God.

Rather, if anything, I think God wants us to look for elements of the True Way in any venue, idea or religion. Likewise, God gives us license to disregard (not, however, to destroy) any idea or practice that one’s self perceives as contrary to the foundations of love of God. My self perceives that we should welcome (not merely tolerate) one another’s differences.

It is ironic that people are self-compelled by fear of the unknown to feel they are completely and unquestionably right in their faith, while God knows none of us is even remotely able to be so.

It is tragic when people so desperately need to believe that they are completely right in their faith, that it becomes their duty to destroy all believe otherwise.  Might is not right.

My God is an inclusive God.

I believe that the self, the soul/spirit that is in every one from birth, is a fully included particulate of God on earth temporarily residing in a biological vessel. Further I believe it’s nearly certain that other particulates of God inhabit other vessels, not only on earth but in other realms in the universe. As we are all particulates of God, no one is worthless, nor is any one inherently more valuable than others. If all are included, there are no “chosen.”

My God is not a vengeful God.

As God is not vengeful, God needs or wants no agents of vengeance. (Vengeance is mine say the Lord.)  My God grieves when people are persecuted, are made to suffer, and are wounded (physically, emotionally and soulfully) or die in war. God grieves all the more when wars are perpetrated in God’s name. “Holy War” is the ultimate oxymoron. Those who perpetuate deadly Holy conflicts are proxy-morons. God neither condones nor punishes them, but forgives them.

My God is a generous God.

For a long time I drove around with a bumper sticker on my car that read “Grace Happens.” It was a play-on-words about Grace Church, where I was a member of the most wonderful, spirit-filled congregation I have ever known. Grace Church was happening. But the broader and simpler statement, Grace Happens is also true.

I deepely believe in God’s Grace, the no-strings-attached gifts that God presents to us from time to time regardless of how undeserving we may be. God’s Grace is bewildering because it is completely unrelated to our worthiness. God’s Grace is not a reward reserved only for the righteous; neither is misfortune a punishment just for the sinful. There is no fairness or unfairness involved in God’s Love or God’s Grace. Each is simply and magnificently a gift freely given. The apparent randomness of Grace is mystifying.

My God is a forgiving God.

I believe that God’s generous love freely forgives and informs how we should comport ourselves as well. I need to be forgiven, and need to forgive. The comfort and peace that so unexpectedly comes when one forgives is surprisingly as strong as, or greater than, that felt by the forgiven.

My God is a patient God.

I believe that God waits patiently for me to learn and accept what God wants of me. The surest sign that I am doing as God intended is an enlightenment of my spirit.

My God is a loving God.

God motivates through love, not fear. God does not want us “obliged” but “inspired” to love one another, to worship, and to do no harm. To be obliged is to follow “the rules;” to be inspired is to be infused with “the Spirit”. The fearsome God portrayed in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) and in other religious scripture, appears intent on defining duties as the price of admission into God’s Kingdom. I believe that God’s power lies in love, not in duress.

 My God is an eternal God.

Achieving a favorable eternal existence ought to be a crucial concern in the lives of those who believe in an eternal soul. Life presents opportunity and danger to the soul. We, being particulates of God, are eternal. Nourishment of one’s soul in a lifetime is the opportunity. The damage one does to one’s soul is the danger. After a life, a soul (the essential you) will carry the soul-nurtured nourishment and the self-inflicted damage of that lifetime forever. An earthly human lifespan is an infinitesimal moment in eternity. That makes what we take with us infinitely more crucial. That’s why I love watching Ebeneezer Scrooge when he finally figures that out.

My God is a pained God,

especially when we kill one another, and even more so when we kill in God’s name.