TRUMP, WIENSTIEN, COSBY, AND THE FALL OF FAME.
Much like how quicksand works best the harder you struggle, American elites are starting to feel the pressure of how little fame and wealth mean to a growing populist movement. Of the three men listed in the title, none can deny that their fame and power played a key role in their predatory dominance of either women, business parters, hardened anti-liberals, or in some cases all three. What becomes most worrisome and almost intimidating is how normalized it became within our culture to accept the privileges associated with fame, power, status, and wealth. We started seeing shades of this back in the early 90's when MTV was inspired by older attempts at American reality T.V. and decided to create the first episodes of The Real World. The Real World was loosely inspired by an older reality T.V show, the first of its kind in fact, called 'An American Family'. An American Family started in the 70's, aired on PBS, and followed a family from California through their daily life. Gaining enough popularity the show went on to be parodied by the Brits with them creating their own version called 'Real Life' during the late 70's. From the show being remastered a decade later to a small spin off in the early 2000's, enough of the premise was retained for MTV to begin their own social experiment with The Real World. The Real World was a highly entertaining show that put eight strangers from different parts of America all in one house and we all got to watch what happened. Aside from mentioning the psychological turmoil of 'anticipating conflict' becoming the focus of the show and subsequently the genre, creating an audience that was only satisfied by drama and conflict worked on paper but wasn't yet understood; like the Jurassic World dilemma, just because you can doesn't mean you should. There is nothing wrong with some good drama here and there but under the veil of reality, where most audience members are malleable and experiencing vicariously through the various house members, one can see the long-term affects on what a society expects from one another. Take a look at the content pushed and your expectation of that content. Not only are we the most desensitized population in human history, but we are predestined for conflict and critique. Now, all of this isn't to say that reality T.V. is the root of all evil facing fame today, but we all knew it had repercussions that hadn't yet been defined. The Real World started a trend within the television medium that allowed anyone to become extremely well known simply for being seen more than others. Show after show stations starting popping out what everyone called 'Reality T.V.' and no efforts were made to differentiate the shows that had 'scripts for actors to follow' from the shows that didn't have scripts; genuine reality. Again, everyone understands that most of the shows had scripted circumstantial content but psychologically there was something almost addicting about convincing ourselves it was real; slowly blurring the line between what we were capable of convincing ourselves and what was actually real. We can see the residual effect of this phenomenon simply by dissecting stations like Fox News and their booming popularity among conservatives, white Americans, and older demographics. It isn't difficult to understand why Reality T.V. and Fox's steady increase in popularity are both rooted in the beginning of the new millennium. Fox has thrived for a long time on contrivance of controversy, illusion of dire conflict, and most notably taking relatable easy-to-swallow issues with other people based off of emotionally driven narratives. This creates an expectation, it creates a tribal mentality, it isn't reality. However, discussing Fox's growing popularity is more in tune with an essay on the difference between 'Platforms and Quality of Opinion' which I will probably write. In a nut shell, having a platform doesn't legitimize your argument, even if backed up by a cute set up with fancy lights and smooth camera transitions. Take note all you pseudo-intelligent 'YouTubers'. Anyway, back to the core of this write up.
Overtime, lots of these "Reality stars" got spin-off shows, company endorsements, celebrity status, and lets not forget most recently Kim Kardashian was meeting with the President Of The United State to discuss prison reform. Kim has yet to provide a shred of evidence in any content she's produced that assumes qualifications for discussing national issues. Granted neither does the person she met with but that's the scariest thing about all of this. When I saw the twitter photo of the both of them standing in the Oval Office with the flags in the background it hit me. As a society we lost control of the difference between fame and literally everything else; lost sight of what fame really stands for, which is essentially nothing. This isn't to say that fame is always associated with lower qualifications, not at all, I am saying that it isn't something that develops solely out of a respect for ones true talent, nature, or inventiveness. Elon Musk is a tech robotics genius who is also famous and famous for being a tech genius, but his fame does not equal his intelligence nor is it assumed that by being famous he is qualified to be a tech genius. Case in point, fame does not equal wealth, power, intelligence, respect, or qualifications. Most of the time fame is a RESULT of these things and throughout history this was the lay of the land, all outliers aside, the norm was this equation:
If X is one qualifications within a given field. X = fame, not fame = X.
Until now. Imagine you're a millennial in America traversing through this global climate trying to make sense of harsh division and authoritarian ideologues at the same time blossoming out of a false narrative set up by preconceived notions of the world and the way you were told it was. It's upsetting to say the least and one's priorities are forced to shift to stay afloat in the national conversation. Case in point, we're abandoning fame as a response to Trump, Weinstein, Cosby, and the abuse of power. Which is a very good thing. The pendulum will swing back and forth for eternity but it is promising to see people abandoning liking someone simply because they see them the most or because they are famous.
Lets start with Harvey. For the longest time Harvey Weinstein stood for the power of filmmaking, building careers with a magnetic talent for visualizing film and inspiring all types of productions to Oscar gold. Or so we the public thought. When the story finally broke after twenty years that he is a disgusting sad predatory rapist, everyone feigned surprise and rode their high horse as if no one had a single clue this might be taking place. Upon hearing the news of his horrific acts I thought to myself, 'Well yea, that makes sense'. Plus, that's all everyone says about Hollywood and the industry, inspiration layered with this eerie understanding that committing to the field sometimes meant rude acts. See, when people say that 'everyone knew' they don't just mean Disney who bought Mirmax, or Miramax instituting morally reprehensible NDA's that employees had to sign normalizing his behavior, or females within the companies having secret codes to discover who was a 'Friend Of Harvey', no, everyone knew meaning US. All of us. We knew it was happening like we know bombs are a daily chore in other parts of the world. We knew it was happening because we understand fame and power and their grasp over our egotistical nationalistic patriotism. Most importantly though, aside from knowing, fame became so associated with status and respect that people stopped holding famous people accountable purely because they were famous. Which as we have all experienced, is dangerous. Sure he made movies, sure he was rich, sure he was buddies with the liberal crew, but it was his fame and the illusion of public respect that garnered him free passes for pretty much anything. WE ARE THAT PUBLIC. We delivered that respect directly to his door and said, 'more please'. We create fame by hoisting pedestals and monuments for humans that we deem deserve our almost cult like affiliation with. Understandable, the higher someone you respect climbs, the higher you can invest in your own intelligence and feeling of self-worth. It's easy, after tragedy and loss to feel most comfortable with blame and pointing fingers, trying to pin anyone who's responsible by proxy. This can lead to a stronger case if trials are planned and can help to hold accountable a wider array of people to send a stronger cultural message like in the Penn State case leading to the loss of Paterno's legacy and life. Personally, my take on that is he was morally forced to stay alive until the story broke as poetic justice in a way. Before I get too ahead of myself I want to return back to personal responsibility and how the fall of Weinstein was a concerted effort and had these women not seen the courage of the other women, had the public not responded by soaring the Me Too movement into existence, and had journalists not finally done their job and pushed these stories, Harvey might still be sitting atop his throne. The reason he takes with him the bright shinny illusion of fame is because nothing is more important than a persons life and well being. People are slowly starting to see how fame can blind the famous person and the people who believe them to be famous. It's a vicious cycle that makes catching and stopping now extremely important.
Now onto Trump. In this age of pointing fingers with the left blaming the right and the right blaming the left one thing is certain, Donald J Trump is all of our faults. Yes, I said it, no it isn't just the fault of people who voted for him or people who voted third party...which...just...to me is a cop out. If you're going to invest in the decline of democracy at least have the decency to vote for it instead of throwing your vote away. Anyway, DJT is all of our faults. It's the fault of Billy Bush, Access Hollywood, The Apprentice, the stations that promoted him, the ads that promoted his shows, the partners that allowed his behavior to continue, the friends and family members who turned a blind eye to his treatment of other humans, and those who watched him, tuned in every week, read his books, used his tactics, those who adored him, get the point? The irony of Donald Trump and his inability to be a coherent stabile human being is that he's basically a product; a T.V. show that isn't getting canceled. As a public we'd see him on the television and get a tiny rush of if anything intrigue; toxic intrigue. The more and more he appeared and forced his name on things the more he became a staple; a landmark if you will. DJT became a household name and over time you just knew who he was. Which was all fine, completely fine. Stay in your mansion or tower, keep firing people and keep on being that. But he didn't. He jumped into world view and ran for president, grabbing all of our attention the same way he did on his reality shows. Each debate, each appearance, each crazy thing he said the numbers went up, ratings jumped, and that subtle line blurred over two decades became to reformulate and panic struck. See, by the time we all realized what we had created, we also knew it was too late. The line returned and we very quickly started saying things like, 'He has no experience! He doesn't know anything about being a President! He'll never win he's just a reality star.'. Which created a myopic, self-righteous approach to Trump and bolstered his base even more. Like quicksand, it was already too late. SNL starts going at him, talk-show hosts have a field day, the public conversation is the same, he's an aloof madman that just likes attention, etc. Which was all great for a good laugh but as he continued to strike chords with his base no one took it seriously enough that this was a bipartisan disconnect that would send irreversible shockwaves throughout the public conscious. On one side you have people who got sucked into the fame movement and honestly cannot differentiate fame and platform with common knowledge, facts, and decency, and on the other side you have people who know that fame doesn't always equal intelligence or qualifications yet started pretending they were always against the social trends related to fame, wealth, and abuse of capitalism. Now I am not saying that being sucked into fame makes someone stupid, not at all, and I am not calling people who voted for trump stupid, I am saying that ignorance is the fault of the society, it's educators, and it's political leaders. Stupidity is the fault more often than not of the individual. I am saying both sides are being ignorant thinking that every issue boils down to one person and their daily tweets; which I honestly don't believe Trump even controls. Come on, do we all believe that Donald Trump still tweets himself and doesn't have someone controlling that for him. He's been playing a character his whole life he doesn't care. We all got it, we all saw that our rubber necking the tragedy of his rise to power was the brain child of years of thoughtless emulation and falsely educating younger generations that 'fame' was all that was necessary to be successful. For a generation told they can be anything they set their minds to as long as they dream Donald J Trump was the greatest embodiment of that. He could become President. He became President. Keep in mind, chance has addictive qualities and the very iota of a mathematical chance that he could become president made it a psychological potential reality. Meaning the very fact that it could happen, meant it might happen.
So here we are. He is President, Cosby is going to jail, Harvey will soon, and fame is on the way out. Sure people can like things, have taste in different things and emulate public figures for their work but the age of demigods, the myth of celebrity, and the illusion of fame is slowly dying and might never return with such societal stock. Content will change, conversations will change, and the requirement to be a decent human being first will trump all other 'talents'. Ways to help this process are simple and abundant. We as a society can begin to shine the light on different types of amazing individuals. Teachers, public service workers, sanitation workers, architects, farmers, the people who build a society should begin to receive simply more attention for their contributions to society. No one person should receive preferential treatment for the amount of people who know of them and with the power of social media, we can reroute who gets respect for what things.
That's all I'm tired now! More to come.
God Is Dying In The West and Christians Aren't Helping.
We’ve all been witness to the chaos that is post-Obama America but one of the most dissonant trends seems to be the silence from the good ole' Christian congregation. For decades religion has posed a communal staple, vital for a community’s sense of growth, equality, and spiritual enlightenment; comparable to seeing the weekend tee ball games in full swing, a nice reminder of human evolution taking its course. Recently however, churches and religious symbols are migrating closer to relic status, losing interest from younger generations due to lack of clear direction, understanding and willingness to adapt.
Growing up, religion was a lot like Santa Claus to me, a super fun idea and a witty way to keep children in line but also something to eventually grow out of. Most teenagers learn Santa Claus isn’t real and most adults soon accept that God isn’t real either. Yet no adult is going to tell a kid Santa isn’t real and most adults don’t venture into religious discussions because free speech and fantasies are what make America great. So, for a long time societies have allowed religion and spiritual practice to take place. Allowed being key word because for the most part the church didn’t impede the corporation, the school, the tee-ball game, the boy scout meeting, no, religious people got to play God every Sunday and everyone else got to play their own games...the way America is meant to be.
Now things are different. Now the shadow of the cross is starting to shade a little too much of the country's backyard and if the government continues to use biblical passages and God as a way to sway their base I’m afraid religion can’t sustain enough soft power to continue as a viable option for equal societies. Like Neitzsche said, ‘God is Dead’, however now it seems that the only ones who can save him are non-religious people.
AMERICA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION v. WINN
In 2010, Arizona taxpayers challenged the constitutionality of Arizona's tuition tax credit in an Arizona federal district court. They alleged the tax credit violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it funneled money to private religious schools. The district court dismissed the case. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the taxpayers had standing to bring their suit and had alleged a viable Establishment Clause claim.
Former Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the deciding vote as Winn lost the case on account that the Arizona tax payers were spending their own money and by it being a voluntary transaction the court could not claim any violation of the Establishment Clause; the clause in the 1st Amendment that prohibits the formation of Religion by Congress.
I use this case to shed light on how the western decline in religion started in the schools. Now, George W. Bush might not have been the most popular President and he sure got a lot of flack for his seemingly incoherent manner of being, but no one an deny that the former President stacked his Department of Education with powerful players in the Private School/Voucher sector. Lets start with his Secretary of Education, Rod Paige who was an officer of HISD (The Houston Independent School District) and fought for an 'accountability on all levels' attitude towards reforming and rebuilding poor performing schools. Early in his career he took over as Superintendent of HISD and quickly constructed the Peer Examination, Evaluation, and Redesign program (PEER) which sounds scholastic but really was a way for business and community leaders/professionals to be consulted on decisions regarding regulating and reviving the school system. This led to Paige operating a number of charter schools and making the HISD adopt policies that offered pay incentives based off of teacher performance and individual classroom test scores. Which most school systems consider now to be a curve system. His work in crafting and remodeling the Houston school systems would pave the way for Bush's 'No Child Left Behind Act'. Moving on we have the former Secretary of Education for George Bush Sr., Lamar Alexander, who was a only part of the team that helped Paige get his position. Alexander, known for many things, ignited political controversy with his authorization of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) which is an organization under the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) with a mission to battle prejudice against creation science and aid Christian colleges in qualifying for accreditation. Bush Sr. approved of TRACS and ICR under heavy disapproval, so mush so it lead to TRACS being put on probation in 95'. Stay with me there is a point. Next on the transition team was Frank Brogan, former running mate for George W. Bush's brother, mopey old Jeb Bush. Florida, Jeb Bush, and George W. Bush took a liking to Brogan cause he was pro 'voluntary prayer' in schools along with the teaching of 'creation theory'. Low and behold he was and is an avid supporter of the charter school system and is now under Trump as leader of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Next on the dream team is Chester Finn jr. and Paul Vallos but their cool. However, Lisa Graham Keegan, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction might be the most influential of the entire transition team. Keegan, fueled Arizona as they became fastest growing charter school states in the nation and was instrumental in the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Bill becoming law; the law in the aforementioned case atop this section. The STOTC was a bill that allowed tax exempt funding for private school scholarships and enrichment programs for public schools. Which sounds nice to a mass public but was an ingenious way to basically implement a voucher program escaping legal scrutiny for being only donations encouraged by tax credit. Why does this matter to religion, Christianity, and its lifespan in the west. I will continue to bring up Supreme Court rulings and how Republicans ingeniously found ways to work within the system to allow companies to fund religious schools (institutions) but I wanted to open a dialogue to ensure the reader understands that this will never be an attack on the free practice of religion but more an examination of how religion and it's public power is being manipulated for public office, societal divide, and corporate profit.
REYNOLDS V. UNITED STATES (1879)
This Supreme Court Case focuses on a case which tested the limits of religious liberty: Reynolds v. United States(1879). The Court ruled unanimously that a law banning polygamy was constitutional, and did not infringe upon individuals’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
This position could become increasingly relevant during his term in the White House. Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) introduced a school prayer amendment to the Constitution in 1997, and even garnered the support of a majority of the House of Representatives when it came to the floor for a vote. (The amendment fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the Constitution). Istook announced at the time, and has repeated since, that he intends to push for his proposal in the future, and if Bush supports a change to the First Amendment, the political support could help Istook's efforts in the House
The comments served as something of an embarrassment for Reagan. Yet his wishes, and those of creationists nationwide, were dashed by the Supreme Court in 1987 in Edwards v. Aguillard when the high court ruled that teaching creationism alongside evolution was unconstitutional
I want readers to understand that I've never had a problem with God, quite the opposite actually. I’ve always marveled at the idea of having someone play us all like some wicked SIMS video game. I’ve always championed one’s need to utilize the approachable welcoming grace of a God like spirit. All parts of me would love to be swept away from responsibility and be able to give in to self-doubt and tribulation thus needing a bearded white knight to collect my thoughts and make dreams of them. Luckily common sense slapped me in the face early on and I was freed from the haunting concept of a man in the clouds watching me, pressuring me to live his way in order to have a brighter shot at living eternally after death. Long story short, my Grandmother was a loving, kind teacher her entire life and got diagnosed with Alzheimers a decade before her death. The Alzheimers took everything from her and forced her Husband, my grandfather to sit with her day in and day out watching her disappear. Having watched her final breaths, watching her brain forget how to breathe, I came to the conclusion that no omnipotent being can be watching this take place, if an omnipotent being was, no one should want anything to do with them. Now before you turn away in disgust at my pedantic shallow myopic way of rehashing the same narrative that God can't be all powerful and all good, let's talk out common Christian rebuttals to these inquiries.
John 16:33 he said, "You will have suffering in this world." - So, no one is saying that people won't suffer, quite the opposite God tells us we will suffer.
Corinthians 13:12 we're told, "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity." - A common equivocation to why God doesn't help those in need. This passage expresses the message that just because God hasn't helped, doesn't mean he won't or can't.
Genesis 1:31 says: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." - OK, so a generic claim made by pastors is that the world God created is perfect and Satan made humans evil.
Ezekiel 28:17: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you."
Satan, like all other angels was created by God but Satan grew tired of being ruled and due to his expedient wit and charm he was able to rebel against God before eventually being cast down from the heavens.
This logic isn't airtight because according to them God made people and if God made people/angels and if people are evil than God created evil. Satan is on record 'creating' evil but one of his main issues was jealousy and wanting higher power than God. God must grant free will to all but he isn't absolved from guilt when someone does harm with their free will. It's simple unequivocal relation, by not having nothing to do with something, you in actuality have something to do with the thing you don't have nothing to do with. Not as simple as I thought. Think about it like this, I eat a cheeseburger that tastes amazing and shortly afterwards I recycle a huge garbage bag of plastic cups because I'm attempting to be environmentally friendly. Well, since eating meat supports the meat industry and since the meat industry's practices dramatically increase the negative effects of climate change through unequivocal relation me eating a cheeseburger connects me to negatively aiding the toxic effects of climate change. Since mathematically I can't be said to have NOTHING to do with global warming by eating a cheeseburger, it can no longer be said that my eating a cheeseburger doesn't improve the negative effects of global warming. Another example would be, a ton of people went into building the car you drive, meaning all of those involved in building the car you drive are unequivocally related to you now driving from point A to point B. I utilize this concept to showcase how when discussing God in terms of right or wrong, it becomes very difficult not to run into situations that deem the argument for his distance as 'imaginatively optimistic' in the sense that having to stretch the imagination for ones point doesn't aid the point very well. To these arguments come the oceanic girth of 'free will' and this idea that God gave us free will to love but through free will humans ran off and ruined everything. Again, awkwardly convenient to assume that God's intentions were to give us free will and have zero inkling into how the idea of love would evolve over time. These claims of how God saw love 3500 years ago don't account for what love means today. Free will so we can love doesn't take into account what is 'love' to an individual. Saying we were given free will to love disregards all subconscious purpose surrounding love, meaning it may be out of love for someone to hurt another or to do something not popularly associated with love. Where is the chart that shows all the connected bits of love God is referring to and how are followers supposed to differentiate? Are followers of God all expected to have faith that the love they deem the love God meant to be the absolute love and if so doesn't that open the doorway to each individual having their own concept of love making it nearly impossible for them all to adhere to a love God meant by giving us Free will?
Some religious adhere to this idea that God created the universe but should not be responsible for what happens on it. An analogy often made is, humans know full well the dangers of the real world and the proclivity towards trauma and yet still procreate. Almost as if since it is in our nature to procreate, we are obligated to do so. Again, this cancels out God from responsibility and grants him a 'Get out of guilt' free card. It surely isn't as easy as, 'well, there is bad in this world but I have to have kids cause that's my evolutional purpose'. Quite the opposite, in fact now more than ever there is a major dialogue on what having kids means to society. With global population showing no signs of retreating, social media connecting us on more levels allowing for more accessibility to different perspectives and experiences with having kids, and the universal knowledge that dogs suffice and in ways outweigh the positives of having an actual child. The last one is a joke but the other two are very real and this dialogue on how, why, where, and when to have kids is no longer a singular, answerable question. Humans know full well the dangers and responsibilities of having kids but saying us having kids is comparable to God's dilemma on whether or not to create an entire universe risking pain and suffering for billions of sentient beings is to assume the weight of the decision is at all comparable. Having to be responsible for one child is not the same as potentially being responsible for the pain of a planet. Right?
Romans 8:28 the Bible promises, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:18 we read: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
'Glory that will be revealed to us' - We need to discuss the promises made by religion and how they can pose serious psychological issues over time. Granted, earning things and waiting patiently are strong lessons that amount to good character but this is different. All glory that can be revealed is done so on a logical level, someone prays for a raise and gets it, someone prays for the affection of another and receives it, someone prays for the healing of another and they heal, these are all practical reasonable situations that have a numerous amount of logical reasons behind their occurrence. The boss was feeling nice, the one being courted happened to be ready for that particular relationship, and the person prayed for to heal healed under medical care. Now I don't need to dissect the lack of divine intervention within practical situations but I am painting a larger portrait of an individual's ability to acquiesce to notions that fit within their desired ideal. Like Romans 8:18, basically don't worry about the failings of God and your congregation for as long as you serve him and are patient, you will be met with golden arms. In a sense passages like this act as scapegoats for promoters of the speech by cancelling out the option for consequential responsibility by simply making it the duty of the receiver to 'wait for it'.
This all being said, we can no longer stand idly by and watch as the majority of the country’s spiritual voice stay silent as their morals blur into authoritarian systems of racist normalization. Granted, not all Christians are pro-Trump or align themselves with his policies but we’ve entered a realm of dialogue that constitutes absolutes out of a need to draw lines as to what is acceptable. In other words, things are black and white now, the grey area has been completely ripped from under our day to day life and our beliefs now dictate the tribe we reside. A tribal mentality poses many dangerous evolutions but none more dangerous than to religion staying crucial to a well-working community. When the dust settles, if the Christian voice doesn’t ignite a stronger opinion towards moral equality, younger generations will have no choice but to deem it, simply put, lame. Before you scoff at the simplicity of the adjective and it’s anti-climactic use within a distressing essay keep in mind that on a massive scale a populous tends to agree with what the culture deems ‘popular’. Pop-culture might be the only thing keeping America’s image within the world stage afloat and without redirection soon, religion being lame will be as detrimental to it's long term life span as The Last Jedi was to the Star Wars Franchise.
Now lets talk stats for the mathematical types.
7-10 American Seniors 65 and older are White Christians while fewer than 3-10 are young adults aged 18-29. (67% compared to 29%)
Given that only 17% of Christians in America are 18-29, it’s safe to say that Christianity isn’t hip with the cool kids. In a poll taken by the Pew Research Center it shows that from 2007 to 2014 the only groups among Christians to increase were ages 50 and above. Meaning as Christians get older they figure they can’t jump off the ship now might as well ride it out as long as they can, God willing.
Don’t be fooled, it isn’t just America that is seeing harsh decline in Religious ideologies.
* 70% of Dutch are unaffliated with any religion.
* 0% of Icelanders believe God created the Earth.
* More atheists and agnostics in Norway than believers of God
* 24% of Canadians claimed to have no religion when in 1991 that percentage was 12%
* In Major Japanese cities in 2006 only 26% claimed to hold personal religious beliefs.
Contrary to the rhetoric spewed by our current commander in chief, religion is in fact, losing. I say losing in jest however it does seem to resonate with the current national dialogue; winning and losing being things groups of individuals who hold certain political or religious beliefs can do now, I guess. When, in our history have we ever, outside of war, deemed it a win to overpower less fortunate at the cost of moral values while hoisting a cross as if religion is winning?
Take your own stroll down research lane and you’ll discover the harsh reality, religion is dying, not Islam as much, but religion in general. So, we’re here to help, hence this long winded essay. Here are 4 ways to help save religion and our equal opportunity communities:
1. Separate your religious beliefs from political discussion.
- To truly grow as an individual one has to accept that they aren’t the center of the universe and that other people’s hardship can have negative effects on an entire country. Too often genuine political debates are squelched by someone stating something from the Bible or abusing this idea that the authors of the bible had any inkling into how progressive humans would become over time. Seriously, the religious imagination is obviously quite vast so go back in time for a second and tell me conclusively that the authors of the bible envisioned homosexuality, gender politics, immigration, and other conservative values as being vital to ones ability to be a ‘good ole Christian’. Try and have non-religious political beliefs that have to do with your core values as a person and stop allowing God to interfere with society because at this point in our technologically advance super future, there isn’t much humans haven’t/can’t do/done that God could conceive at the time, he was, as a character conceived. In other words, God was made up by a bunch of people and at the time he was created humans had no way of knowing or understanding how complex human evolution would be. So be on your merry way and believe what you want but be very cautious when it starts to enter into common political rhetoric because the repercussions aren't tiny little scratches on and old lemon, no, they are monumentally detrimental to your end goal; which I hope for most religious people is equality and loving thy neighbor. The American Constitution very clearly separates church and state but don't be fooled, this has bolstered religion in America by allowing churches and religions to become private tax free entities. That's right, religion makes money, and by being separated from state government they actually stand to gain more money. See, we're on your side, we're trying to tell you that the founding father's had your backs and were aware that if religion played too much of a role in politics, religion would die. I'm fully aware of some of the benefits to religious motivation in politics and a society. Religion serves as an easy road map for people and can help them affirm positive interactions with other humans and evoke a more empathic approach to civil discourse. However the other glaring piece of text that informs a societies decisions are their laws, put in place by people chosen by the people to handle the needs of the people. See is religion cozies up next to lawmakers than the lines will blur and the words from the Bible will begin to take on deeper darker meanings as if to say those who don't adhere to the Bibles text are breaking the law. This is why I discussed unequivocal relation earlier in the essay. Of course no one can without a doubt subscribe to the idea that bible versus being used on a political stage will lead to the abuse of religious power to condemn those who don't believe or choose not to sign their core values to a particular religion but given our current climate no one can deny that this trend is not helping dissuade the nation away from abusing biblical text to trivialize races, genders, communities, friendships, and families at the border please don't forget that that is happening and happening as you are reading this.
2. Accept that Trump is using your belief and doesn’t care about you or your Sunday best.
- We can all agree as a united educated society that outside of political party, Donald Trump isn’t the golden standard for empathic good. Not here to bash Trump, no one has to at this point, he’s exactly who we thought he was, but it has to be said that what he’s best at, is using your emotions against you. A man like Trump hasn’t lived an ounce of his life under the spirit of God and surely has done enough to prove that he may be the least spiritual religious person stuck claiming to be. Go forth and continue to praise and love him for validating your beliefs but be aware of how easy it is to agree with someone who agrees with you. Psychologically why wouldn’t you take side with someone who validates your beliefs; it’s human nature. However the downside is having to constantly equivocate his behavior until you no longer know what you stand for, you only know that you have to stand with him because it’s embedded in one's respect for religious values. Ironically enough, equivocating unethical behaviors has been a staple of mega-churches, and mini-churches with pastors going so far as to start a #rethink religion movement to try and coerce younger people that the world is wrong about religion and that they don’t adhere to the political rhetoric of Trump’s Administration. Look it up, #rethink religion is one of many new trends in religion trying to pin blame on the non-religious for why young people are leaving. I’ve listened to some lectures and the main concept is essentially apologizing for Trump’s rhetoric, saying that everyone else just ‘doesn’t understand’ real Christianity. Which, in a lot of ways is extremely offense and backwards. So, it’s everyone else fault that people are leaving religion due to it’s connection to a demigod abusing power to push tribalistic ideologies? No. It isn’t everyone else’s fault for not understanding religion, quite the contrary, we all understand it very well, enough to tell you that Trump is lying to you and using religion against you. Again, we’re trying to help, because the deeper in bed you get with Trump, the farther away from God you’ll be and like Wilson in Cast Away, it’s going to suck trying to call him back and tell everyone it was in God’s word and a part of God’s plan to rip children from their parents. Which again, through unequivocal relation, is not NOT Trump's fault, making it definitely his fault. Also, for the record, through unequivocal relation it can also be said that anyone who voted for Trump or decided against voting for Clinton is also responsible for children being taken away from their parents at the border. Sorry no sorry.
3. Avoid the idea that God is watching you and has a plan for you specifically.
- This is important and I think discussed the least. Christianity believes in God, believing in God means you believe someone is watching over you at all times, believing that someone is watching over you at all times invites an unearned sense of importance and self-worth. Were going to take a stroll down psychology 101 and break down how infectious it is to believe one is above all else, important. Believing that you are special, unique, important, etc, can lead the brain to normalize mistreatment of others. This isn’t to say that one becomes a violent or an unethical person by believing in God, but subconsciously if you are the center of the universe, everyone else isn’t. See how this works? If everyone is special, no one is really special, and if you find God, adhere to his every word, and exist thanks to his blessing you are shutting yourself off from responsibility to others. Granted, no one is responsible for anyone else’s actions but if you believe to be on a God set path and off the beaten path are issues that could use your help, I would imagine it more difficult to stray from God’s path to invent your own and exist within your own path. I don’t speak for anyone but I know from experience that humans will find ways to equivocate and normalize evil if they believe themselves to be of higher purpose, worth, or religious standing. We’ve seen the headlines of people condemning homosexuals after being killed saying they were killed for being gay, or legislators having the gull to claim fault of rape victims for their wardrobe. See? This isn’t a God problem, it’s a human’s abusing the holy word to structure their egotistic sentimentalities as a way to normalize harsh skews in the socio-political power divide. In a sense, Christians are using God to blame and discriminate against people for no reason other than their want to be dominant. This is why it is up to Christians to save Christianity. Have your God, be on his path for that is your right as an American citizen, but have the wherewithal to embrace action outside of your religious responsibilities if outside of them you are capable of genuinely helping those in need. I get it, it's super easy for anyone to throw things aside as if they aren't 'our' problems but again, by unequivocal relation it IS your problem. If God is watching you, he's watching you not help current dialogues, so by the logic set by your own beliefs it would behoove you not to act upon the greater good of mankind, for God's sake.
4. You picked your team, your team is making a fool of itself, so change teams.
- I’ve been a football fan my entire life, love the game inside and out. However, recently the game of football has posed more problems than solutions. The concussion issue is so terrible that to watch football is to engage in watching adults all aid each other in their eventual suicide. This alone should make anyone turn off the T.V. But given how poorly the league dealt with the kneeling situation it’s safe to say the Football is attaching itself to Christianity and sinking the ship even quicker.
My point in all of this is that I don’t like Football anymore. I don’t watch football anymore. I don’t believe it’s a good sport and I feel sorry for anyone who plays or participates in it. Outside of bringing much needed economy to some great cities and local vendors, I can’t see any reason on a humanitarian evolutionary level that we as a society continue the sport. Same goes for the team of religion. It’s not doing enough to fight the tide or redirect it’s image. Instead it’s doubling down on representatives that spread the most negative image of the religion. Take the Mega-church scandal when Joel Osteen shut his church after the major flood, hell take the catholic church and their mistreatment of little boys...imagine if The Chicago Bears (super famous football team) had been investigated for child molestation and it was uncovered that half the team sexually assaulted little boys, would you still root for that team? If so, why would you still root for that team? Hell, football did have it’s own pervert in Jerry Sandusky and that whole thing should have ended football for that school and for college in general, but it didn’t, it doesn’t. Why? Because people don’t want to leave their team even if it isn’t playing by the rules anymore. The issue with this is when your team fumbles and you’re stuck having to pick up the pieces and excuse the behavior, nobody wins. When a team fumbles people scramble and chaos ensues. When nations fumble under the microscope of biblical text being used to sway image, people scramble and have a harder time connecting to common good. COMMON GOOD, the accepted good of a group of individuals usually that of a larger society. This good can range from tolerable minimum wages, after school programs, genuine courtesy, and an underbelly of honest discourse and civil obedience. If common good becomes the exception to behavioral tendencies AND has, in writing, support from the government and the church, it purports extremely dangerous road blocks. The longer you excuse terrible behavior the closer you become to not knowing the difference between religious belief for spiritual connection and religious belief for power. Two very different, very different things.
Phew, this is a lot to digest and I appreciate you reading so far. I am not saying that religion is bad, I am not saying that people who believe in God are wrong, I am asking that the religious majority speak up and become more vocal in this time of dire consequence. I’m afraid the lack of voice from those standing to benefit most from certain new policies is not in your best interest. You have one life and within this life we only have each other. If we can’t focus our energy on the humanitarian good and separate from belief as an absolute right, than we will make it more difficult for us to grow as a nation. We are a nation of immigrants, builders, speakers, lovers, and those who don’t hold religious ties are not trying to impede your right to believe, we are asking you to separate God from all of this, for your sake.
OTHER FUN FACTS!:
- Among Millennials - Americans in their 20s - over 35% are non-religious, constituting the largest cohort of secular men and women in the nation’s history. In Canada, back in 1991, 12% of adults stated “none,” when asked their religion - today that is up to 24%.
- A recent survey found that 0% of Icelanders believe that God created the Earth. That’s correct: 0%. And whereas 20 years ago, 90% of Icelanders claimed to be religious, today less than 50% claim to be. - For the first time in Norwegian history, there are more atheists and agnostics than believers in God. - For the first time in British history, there are now more atheists and agnostics than believers in God. And church attendance rates in the UK are at an all-time low, with less than 2% of British men and women attending church on any given Sunday.
- Some researchers argue that the number has decreased simply because Americans are more comfortable now than they were in the 60s admitting that they don’t believe in God.
- In 1948, Gallup found that about 91 percent of Americans identified as Christian. That number took a big dip in subsequent decades and continues to decline in recent years. From 2007 to 2014 alone, the percentage of Americans who identified as Christian fell from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent.
- In 2007, 56 percent of Americans said religion was very important in their lives. Measures of this question from the 1950s and 1960s showed that at that time, over 70 percent of Americans said religion was very important in their daily lives.
- In 2007, when the Pew Research Center did their last Religious Landscape Survey and these adults were just entering adulthood, 25 percent of them did not affiliate with a religion, but this grew to 34 percent in the latest survey.
- There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans (23 percent) than Catholics (21 percent) and mainline Protestants (15 percent). “That’s a striking and important note