What's Tony Thinking

June 16 Another Week Ends


The big news this week was of course Trump’s latest indictmentI’ve already had my say on that.

David Brooks offered his, which I liked a lot, today.  Talking with a friend about this latest chapter in the Trump un-reality show, my buddy said, “It’s a strange combination of goofy and frightening, which are not two words I often use together.” Sort of nailed it — goofy and really frightening.

Meanwhile, the 13,000 “messengers” (a.k.a. delegates) at the Southern Baptist denomination met in their Annual Assembly in New Orleans. I would imagine quite a few are Trump supporters. (I do have friends that are Southern Baptists, though I won’t trot out the “some of my best friends are . . .” line, as it wouldn’t be quite true). As far as I know, the SBC was mum on Trump’s latest, but did come down foursquare on the policy that only men can be pastors of SBC churches.

One church that will likely now be expelled is Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, where a woman is a member of the pastoral staff. Parallels my note of last week about Seattle’s Quest Church, leaving the Evangelical Covenant Church over LGBTQ inclusion. What we’re seeing is that many younger, or maybe west coast, evangelicals are not on board with the social/ political agendas of their elders.

Moving on . . . to marriage. The writer, Harrison Scott Key, gave a moving, funny talk at a January Mockingbird Conference, the video of which has become available with the book now published. His talk was titled, “How To Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Every Told.” I’m linking to the video, which runs an hour. I’m not sure whether you can access it without some kind of Mockingbird subscription, but try. It’s terrific, definitely worth the time.

Among the things that Key said that caught my attention was this one: “What if escaping a hard marriage is not how you change? What if staying married is?” Key’s story is about how he, his wife and family have been deeply changed by their marriage, which miraculously survived an impossible load of tough stuff, including infidelity. Sounding a bit like philosopher Alain de Botton, Key said, “You think you’re an easy person to live with. You’re not. You’re a monster.” (Possibly exaggeration to make a point, or not.)

De Botton, by the way, has this fantastic on-line project called The School of Life. They have distilled their very entertaining and truthful wisdom down to The Eight Rules of Life. Number one “Accept imperfection.” “We are inherently flawed and broken beings. Perfection is beyond us . . . No one is normal.” Check it out. This one I’m sure you can access.

This week the new pastor at the Joseph (Oregon) United Methodist Church began a book study based on Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: Wisdom for the Second Half of Life. I had read it a couple years ago and liked it. So I decided to go. Eleven of us (9 women, 2 men) sat around a smokey fire on the parsonage patio. Pastor Beth read excerpts from Rohr’s book (which was handy since I couldn’t find my copy anywhere — did I loan it to you?). One part she read was about “the hero’s journey.” When it was my turn I said something about not particularly liking the whole “hero” thing.

In the course of elaborating my point I mentioned the showing of an old John Wayne movie a couple years ago as part of a series on westerns at the local art center. Without quite remembering that I was sitting with a group of (mostly) Methodist ladies, I described the movie as “total bullshit.” But the problem was not, as it turned out, my profanity. It was that they liked John Wayne. “Well, it’s better than what’s on TV today,” sniffed one of the ladies. The other guy present also came to The Duke’s defense. I should have thought that one through. Here in the County (Wallowa County), there are taverns that run a station that is all westerns all the time. Yellow card to me for cultural insensitivity.

But keeping up with the culture is a challenge these days. Nellie Bowles at The Free Press reports, in her weekly news round-up, on proposed legislation in California which is pretty much the mirror image of some Red States, confirming what David French calls “horseshoe theory,” that is, the extreme ends bend more and more toward each other. Bowles:

“A new California law—AB-957—that has passed the state senate judiciary committee and is heading to the state senate floor would take a child away if parents don’t ‘affirm’ that child’s gender identity. The ‘affirmative care’ model means that if a male child says they identify as a girl, the parent needs to bring the child to the doctor; the doctor’s job is to affirm what the child feels by offering every medical tool available to get that child’s body to align with their inner gender feeling. If parents get in the way of this march, per the new California law, that would be considered child abuse. Again: if you don’t give your gender dysphoric child puberty blockers, that could soon be considered child abuse in California.”

I do wish the Left would leave it to the Right to — as the saying goes — jump the shark, that is, go off the deep end. Oh well, happy weekend!







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