I am fully aware of the fact that I am at least partly to blame for the rise of Donald Trump

I am fully aware of the fact that I am at least partly to blame for the rise of Donald Trump. I ranted and raved and subscribed to liberal political magazines and volunteered for and donated to political campaigns quite a bit between 2000-2008, and once Obama won, I stopped worrying. I got a little agitated when Cruz tried to shut the government down and Trump started winning primaries, but I thought for certain that the American people were smart enough to pull us through in the end, and make the right choice for President. I assumed that people would understand that not voting for Hillary meant voting for Trump, no matter how much they despised Hillary. And that people would see just how much worse our country would be under Trump than Hillary. I assumed that the number of people now living in the United States who would make the right decision would far outweigh those who wouldn’t. Yes, Hillary won the popular vote, but I mean to say that I assumed Trump wouldn’t even come close to getting the number of votes needed to win the White House.

I am no longer assuming anything, except that my future and my son’s future will probably be dark and unhappy. I get how everyone talks about getting up off my ass and doing something, but I also lived through the Bush years and watched the results of so many efforts to do and say something to take Bush and Co. down. Even Alex Jones was anti-Bush. Nothing took Bush down except for the charisma of Barack Obama. Nothing changed things this year for the Tea Party set except for the charisma of Donald Trump. Sure, they put some people into other offices, and yes, they got Ted Cruz to pull a stunt a few years ago. But, the crowning victory came once a charismatic personality lent his name to the spirit of the movement if not directly to that particular movement. I wholeheartedly believe that if the woman’s march of a week or so ago had taken place back in August and had made Hillary its figurehead, and she had properly taken the mantle of charismatic leader of that movement, then Donald Trump would not have been elected. Showing that you have strength, voice and power against the establishment on the day after it takes office isn’t as helpful as showing it during the time leading up to the election that will hopefully upend the establishment.

And let’s be clear: Donald Trump is part of the establishment. He is not draining any swamps, he isn’t going to Make America Great again for anyone except himself and his family, and it is even dubious if he will succeed at that given his track record of terrible business decisions and corruption. A best case scenario will be that he convinces Congress to end presidential term limits, and spends the next fifteen years in office living like Berlusconi until he croaks and people finally get a clue and vote for someone more sane. A more likely scenario is that with the coming martial law, Trump will more or less set up a dynasty and his children will rule after he leaves office.

What I am actually witnessing in my lifetime is the process by which the United States of America undergoes what the Republic of Rome did as it transitioned to an empire. My best hope for me and my family is that we are so utterly inconsequential and insignificant that all of the ranting on blogs and Facebook and Twitter and letters to Congresspeople and Editors and marches, etc. will go largely unnoticed. We will quietly live under the radar and cross our fingers that Trump will not set up a National ID system in which you are microchipped or tattooed with a special Mark of Allegiance to the American Way and the Economy and other things sacred, but now utterly meaningless given that the word America is fast becoming nothing more than a proper name. When Trump began saying that if we don’t do something soon, we wouldn’t have a country at the start of his campaign–it was, of course, a dog whistle for racists, but it was also a signal of his real intentions: Donald Trump has no desire for the U.S. continuing to exist as the country of liberties and freedoms we claim to know and love. When it comes to the kinds of Executive Orders he is pushing and the people he is putting in charge, it is not even close to what Obama and past presidents have done in the past.

To be for sure, the Executive Branch has continued to witness more and more power flowing to it, and the efforts of Congress and the Supreme Court to check that power, along with the efforts of States and local governments to check the power of the Federal Government have been slowly eroding over time. All of us citizens are responsible for this, when we take interest only in who will be President and then mostly ignore all other elections and political and government activity. We have all enabled the monster that is Trump to arrive, and frankly, if it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else. Hillary probably would have tested the waters a little less overtly, but she surely would have contributed to the erosion of the system of checks and balances.

Will the ultimate end to the U.S.A. as our founding fathers intended it to work happen during the office of Donald Trump? He is certainly to my reckoning the best candidate we’ve had for this to happen since FDR. However, no one knows what is really in Trump’s heart. I would still like to hold out a little bit of hope that the man is sincere in helping America to return to whatever he thinks it’s supposed to be to make it great, and has enough reverence for our original founding principles that he wouldn’t make himself a dictator, but I am only holding out a tiny bit of hope. I certainly was wrong about Bush being as bad as he ended up being–he was largely more dumb and incompetent than evil. I was definitely wrong about Obama coming next after Bush–how could anyone see Obama coming in an era when everyone equated a man named Osama with Satan, and a man named Hussein with Satan’s best buddy? To have a name like Barack Hussein Obama seemed like the worst possible name to have to become president. At times, I was pretty certain I stood a better chance of being president, simply by virtue of being white and having an Anglo Protestant name.

So, fortunately, I am wrong a lot in my dark assessments of what the future will bring. But, I don’t think I am incorrect in saying that Trump has take abuse of the Executive power to a whole new level, and too many Republicans like Paul Ryan are enabling it because they think they will get a good deal in the end of their deal they are making with the devil. As an aside, I should state that I find it utterly absurd that you cannot directly contact members of the House unless you lie about your zip code–as most of these men and women, especially ones like Ryan, are more than willing to weigh in on national and international issues, it has never really been the case that he simply represents some tiny little backwoods section of Wisconsin.

In a lot of ways, men like Paul Ryan are worse than Donald Trump. Trump is more or less a WYSYWIG–he may have some more evil tricks up his sleeve than the evil that’s come out of his mouth and been signed by his pen so far, but whatever Trump has done or said in the past few weeks has not in the least been out of character or astonishing. Someone like Paul Ryan will occasionally show flashes of integrity and respect for the job that has been entrusted to him, but your average Paul Ryan inevitably caves to men like Trump because at the end of the day he cares more about his job and money than he does about his country. As so-called Christians, I must say that these evangelical types and conservative Catholics have made their priorities very clear: Mammon first, then Country, then probably a lot of other things that they would hate to give up before giving up their faith like Football and Guns and red meat, then Christ. This is not a statement about whether or not I am more Christian than them–I am fully aware of the fact that my priorities don’t always put Christ first–however, I don’t think these holier-than-thou types are nearly as self aware about just how much they put a love of money over even a love of country.

To say that our Founding Fathers would be appalled at Trump is a bit of an oversimplification, of course. Our Founding Fathers were a diverse (in opinions, not ethnic backgrounds, of course) bunch of smart guys who differed on the amount of power the President should have. I am pretty sure that more than a few of them would have been okay with banning Muslims and building a wall–the idea of religious freedom was a lot more narrow in a lot of these men’s minds, and the idea of who was actually fully human was pretty different as well. However, I do think that most of the Founding Fathers wanted what was best for this country in the long time, and they were products of their time. It is easy to knock people who don’t think like you do when they didn’t have the same opportunities for enlightenment that you did. It could even be argued that poor Donald Trump has been sheltered and suffocated intellectually by his own particular environment, and he is in some perverse way a victim as much as someone born in war-torn country trying to get to a better life. Obviously, this is absurd and Donald Trump has had access to the entire world–in his lifetime he could have traveled everywhere and taken dozens of classes to better himself and make himself a more enlightened person. What’s more, his sheltered world is the kind of world not many would object to, were they to find themselves living in it tomorrow.

Really, what am I getting at with all of this? There is clearly a problem now of some magnitude. As a father and husband and citizen of the U.S., I feel that it is incumbent upon me to assess the gravity of the threat and make the best decisions for myself and my family, but not become so utterly quick to run off to some other country to work and live that I turn my back on those who may need some kind of support or advocacy from me. I am not nearly concerned about the threat to my own neck as I am about the threat to my son’s future. I don’t want him growing up in a country where he pretty much sees his best opportunities as being part of the Trump Youth, or joining the Trump Party, or what have you. Of course, if Trump is the Antichrist, then moving to a place like New Zealand only delays the inevitable–we are in the end times, and Jesus will be back soon to set things right.

In all fairness, I have tried to stick with the general truism that it’s better to only write about what you know

In all fairness, I have tried to stick with the general truism that it’s better to only write about what you know. My attempts at fiction and my assertions about what it takes to be successful as a human being are pretty one dimensional, because it is rather difficult for me to develop and hold together a complex world that is not my own. If my writing seems overly self-absorbed and/or boring, it’s because I strive to only write about what I know.

In complete and sober honesty, I have not been a very successful prophet, when it comes to predicting the future. At one time, I honestly believed that George W. Bush was going to declare martial law as he mustered in the Patriot Act and ramped up the country for war with Iraq. I believed that he was a sinister man from a dark cabal of a family who played the role of the buffoon and verbally inadequate public speaker to make people think he was a lot dumber than he really was.

I can say truthfully that I only once believed that Obama was going to radically change America for the better, and that was after his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Every speech he uttered after that seemed to indicate a man who was not quite prepared to take the office of President, but between him and Biden, there was more qualification than McCain plus Palin. There were a few times where I was marginally concerned that Obama might even be the Antichrist, that he was overstepping his bounds of power too much, and at the beginning when he held such a strong majority America having a favorable opinion of him.

I never have been convinced that Hillary is as bad as those on the right say that she is, nor has the left ever done a good enough job of convincing me that she is as great as they say she is. I am too jaded to believe in third party candidates and Bernie Sanders types. Once again, in 2016, I basically weighed the qualifications and competancies of the two people from each party, and the Democrats seemed to be slightly more favorable. Also, Trump frankly terrifies me because of his lack of predictability. Who knows what he will ultimately end up doing? In all of my attempts to objectively assess Trump and Clinton, Trump seemed more likely to be the kind of individual who would declare martial law and crown himself king–and also have the backing of a bunch of fearful Americans following some kind of Reichstag burning event.

But, from where I sit now, I hold no more illusions that I can change anything that happens at those levels of power. I am having a hard enough time changing myself for the better–making myself into a more sociable and likeable person who would excel at being the associate pastor of a medium-sized mainline Protestant church in a small city or large town that was predominantly a college town somewhere in the Midwest, Northwest or Southeast.

At seminary, I have met some genuinely good people. I have gotten an opportunity to see what really good, decent, giving and caring people look like. I know that I have an enormous amount of work to do before I could call myself one of these people.

I still have some faith in the Lord. I wish I had more than I do. I think I am going to need a lot more faith to get me through the next few years. I believe that God ultimately has a plan for me and my family, and for humanity as well. I just can’t read the news anymore and see it at work. As a Christian, for me, the most important thing is being a good Samaritan, a loving neighbor. This comes before any sense of what is best for my country. Maybe it is heresy for me to say that as an American who is supposed to put country slightly before God or family these days, but I think that any careful reading of Christ tells you to put Christ first, and country and family second. This isn’t about leaving your family to a pack of wolves, but about putting yourself and your family in God’s hands instead of in the hands of the President or the military.

As a Christian, then, the idea of refusing hospitality to those who are in most need of it is exceptionally abhorrent. When Trump said things like, “We aren’t going to have a country soon, if things keep going they way they have…” I first of all don’t believe such rhetoric for a minute. But, secondly, if I did, I shouldn’t care, because those who would put country first have created an idol of their patriotism, and they are now worshiping that idol. I firmly believe that those who would put their gun rights over the safety of children worship guns as idols. I believe that those who are concerned about too many brown people in their country have made an idol out of their own white skin and their flag and all of the myths that accompany this country that would prop up the idols they worship first (including football, pickup trucks, guns, etc.) before they would consider what it means to follow Christ.

“If you don’t like it, you can leave…” is a common response. There are many things you can say to that. First of all, why didn’t all of Obama’s detractors leave during Obama’s presidency? That would have been helpful. Why do these people insist on following the laws of the land and quote Jesus’ saying “give to Ceasar’s what is Ceasar’s” when the laws are in their favor, but seek to abolish the laws and change them when the laws aren’t? But, my response these days is: “no, I don’t have to leave, because God put me here on this earth in this time and place. I follow Christ first, who the hell do you follow? Mammon? Guns? A flag? Your own warped ideas about who belongs here?” And, more realistically, I still do keep on the table leaving as a possibility. I don’t have any qualms about becoming a citizen of New Zealand, except for how hard it would be on my wife’s parents who seek to have an active role in my son’s life.

Today, I am prepared to die for Christ, if it were to come to that. I am not quite ready to offer up my family as additional martyrs, though I must contend that having faith in an ultimate afterlife means that I must be prepared to lose everything during a relationship with Christ. I do believe that most evangelical Christians who support Trump have lost their way. They have made a bargain with the devil in hopes that it won’t hurt too much and that the devil will keep his promise to put a judge on the Supreme Court bench who will do away with abortion. They have chosen a man who has spent his entire life lost in a love of mammon and sin as their President, because a few of their leaders like Dobson and Falwell believe Trump has sincerely converted to their so-called authentic form of Christianity in the past year.

We’ll see what happens. I think a lot of people are going to be very disappointed when their Mexican wall and their ending of Obamacare doesn’t net them the golden calf of more manufacturing jobs they were hoping for. They will, of course, buy hook line and sinker Trump’s assertions that the jobs didn’t come back due to Obama and Bill Clinton, and then before people get too mad, Trump will allow a terrorist attack on our soil that is on the level of 9/11, and people will get scared, and Trump’s approval ratings will go through the roof–Herr Trump, we are so sorry we ever doubted you. Trump will even have Alex Jones believing his false flag is the real deal–the one false flag Alex Jones should have seen coming is the one that fat sack of shit will miss.

One thing that I keep swearing I will stop writing about and obsessing over is Donald Trump and the news articles that are coming out daily about how bad things are. It makes me feel better temporarily to drop some random opinion down about everything, but I’m not really changing anything. Nobody will read what I write until after I’ve been dead for a long time.

Inevitably, my thoughts return to politics, because it is that odd sort of world where I can maintain the illusion that I have some control over what is about to happen when I really don’t. I don’t have any more control over what Trump will do next than I do over what God will do next, but saying shit about Trump feels better most of the time than talking smack about God.

Most days, I don’t feel very powerful

Most days, I don’t feel very powerful. I don’t relate to people who hold power and wealth. I spent a small portion of my life trying to succeed like I saw people my age trying to succeed. I liked the idea of climbing a corporate ladder, finding myself managing a team of technology, marketing or salespeople at a well-known company. I liked the idea of having the next big thing–creating my own startup to become another Facebook or Twitter, or even a non-profit big thing like Wikipedia or Craigslist. Mostly, I wanted people to look up to me as being especially important and smart, and touched with some kind of cosmic greatness–but not too touched, because obviously, I wanted to be known for having accomplished much of it on my own by using my own gumption and bootstraps. I liked watching CNBC, and wanted to know more about playing the markets so that I could be like the guy who took $10K of his bar mitzvah money and turned it into $2 mil playing penny stocks every day.

I didn’t really pay much attention to my whiteness or maleness or middle-class upbringing during those years, because I worked in a lot of environments that were mostly managed by women, and I never felt as if my own individual voice was the most powerful voice in the room. I was raised by a mother who had a strong personality, and was very much against the concept of self esteem, preferring to believe that God gave you all of your gifts and strength.

I would rather not have my voice even in the room, if my voice is simply heard as another voice of privilege speaking. I’ve always wanted to talk about my own self from the perspective of being a spiritual being trying to discover what it means to be a human being. I don’t suppose that I worked nearly hard enough to listen to what other people have to say, and come to a new understanding about what it means to be human when you are not white and male.

I could blame my lack of attention to the other on my culture–I was raised in the eighties and nineties to believe that the world would more or less always run like the universe of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton–the action heroes would look like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and families would be either like the families of Growing Pains and Family Ties or they would be like the Cosbys or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Perhaps, some of the more redneck and working class families would look like the Simpsons, but for the most part, everyone would agree that this particular America was the best America we could ever have.

I probably complained more than a little in my teens and twenties about the world not being fair and perfect, but I mostly saw the unfairness of things through the lens of someone who was just a little too bookish and shy to fit in properly, rather than opting to open my eyes and see why other people from very diverse backgrounds might see things as being not quite right.

I for one have never really seen Mexican immigrants or Muslim immigrants as being threats to my jobs and way of life. I have never felt like any particular job I was seeking was denied me due to an undocumented worker stealing it away from me. This, too, could be due to my privilege. My education has enabled me to gain access to white collar jobs during almost any kind of economy. I may not have gotten the kind of degree where I can pack up and take a six figure salary, but I have enough skills and education to be gainfully employed when I need to be.

I don’t think that the American way of life is threatened so much is that it will inevitably shift into being something else, something other than what it looked like during the Reagan and Clinton years. My gut says that Trump will ultimately do more to harm the American way of life than help it, but I hope that he proves me wrong. I am not someone who hopes that Trump wrecks the country, because it would be very bad for me and my family if he did.

The reason that I write so much has less to do with being ever hopeful that my voice will one day be heard by many, and more to do with this sense of it being an inevitable and necessary thing to do. A psychologist might argue that I am writing purely for comfort–that I feel a warm and cozy feeling when I see my thoughts appear as words on a screen, and I feel some kind of validation when I re-read something I wrote and believe that it is of some quality. There is probably some truth to this, but I think there is also the sense of needing to do something, rather than nothing. Just sitting around the house picking at books and articles and contemplating my existence or trying to meditatively purge those character flaws that are still within me is not enough. I want someone out there, either now or in the distant future, to know that when I lived on this earth, I did something.

I do feel like I am mostly powerless against the forces of change that are taking place in the world right now. I don’t feel like my voice is really welcome in the liberal circles I mostly associate myself with, and I look back on my attempts to do something socially active for change during the Bush years, and see just how little of a difference any of my political activity really made. Yes I was hyperinformed, and I wrote letters and I volunteered with political campaigns and parties, but the charisma of Obama is what swept in the change that was needed. It was rather daunting to see all of the faces that turned up for Obama rallies who were mostly absent from the political arena during most of the Bush years. Who are these people, who get excited for someone like Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, Obama or Bernie, but then go back home when they realize their candidate can’t possibly win, and do nothing to change anything until the next magnificent would-be savior comes along? I should know, I was one of them, back when I knew nothing at all about politics and thought that Ralph Nader and Howard Dean were pretty great.

What is it about us humans that makes us feel like we need some kind of messiah or savior or single man or woman to come along and be our advocate, our voice? For a society that has mostly become non-religious, we certainly do like to hold up individual humans as being demigods–we like to assign so much more power and authority to single individuals than they really deserve. Another characteristic of humans may help explain this. We weep openly when we see an individual child or mother suffering in a commercial for a non-profit, but we just sigh and shake our heads in disbelief when we read about the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people. The same sort of thing must be at play when we seek out agents of change and those who we would give our assent to rule over us–it is much easier to think of a single, wise and noble king ruling over us and being our advocate than a large group of people. So many movements end up going nowhere without a person like MLK, Obama or even Donald Trump taking it upon themselves to be the spokesperson for and embodiment of the movement. If all of the women who had marched recently had connected themselves in a similar concrete fashion with Hillary, and Hillary had taken it upon herself to embody the movement rather than simply be a “her” we could opt in to be with, we might very well have seen Hillary elected, or at least have seen her win a few more states. Hillary Clinton may have been too utterly incapable of seizing this charismatic mantle, though–as much as people accuse her of lying and being duplicitous, I think she may have just been an average, boring politician and not enough people could get excited about that.

I still don’t think I am even close to understanding what it is about the charismatic individual that can connect with a particular movement and get people deliriously excited and willing to do more than they thought humanly capable to support that person. Is it really the case that we are endowed with a “god sense” inside of us, a need to worship a deity-as-human? Or, is it simply that evolution has seen us benefit time and again from having a strong tribal leader become the face and voice of all of the dreams and hopes of the collective group?

I can’t say as I was ever completely swayed in the sense of becoming a true believer about Ralph Nader, Howard Dean or Barack Obama. I could see the effect their words and actions were having upon the crowds who listened to them speak, and then went home and took up volunteer positions of blockwalking and phonebanking for these people. By the time 2016 arrived, I was pretty immune and indifferent to such charismatic characteristics, and I could only sort of understand why Bernie and Trump became so popular and Hillary didn’t. I know that it is a well-known truism in sales that people buy emotionally and justify rationally, but I guess I am just too far removed from my youthful emotions to have the kind of radar I would have needed to understand just why Trump was going to win the general election and Hillary wasn’t.

I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about what the world could look like for me and my child(ren?) in ten to fifty years. I have tried to envision all kinds of scenarios for the United States–where we end up like Great Britain during the post WWII years, or Germany between the two World Wars, or Russia from 1900 to the end of the Stalin era, or perhaps Japan of the past ten to twenty years, or maybe even a flat out apocalyptic scenario for when a bunch of countries, including the U.S., start lobbing nukes at each other. In some scenarios, it makes perfect sense to flee to Canada or New Zealand, in others it doesn’t. If things get really bad, they will follow us to those countries, if things are moderately bad, I probably won’t notice them much, being a person who has never known especially great wealth. There is a kind of sweet spot for how bad things could be which dictates leaving the country. Obviously, I don’t want to be tattooed or microchipped to participate in the economy, or renounce my faith, if it were to come down to that. I would rather see myself and my family die as wretched martyrs for Christ, than to curse Christ for the sake of a few years of earthly comfort. I don’t know if my wife feels exactly the same way or not–but I argue that there is no point in having Christian faith if you are unwilling to express it in an extreme circumstance. Why not just be an atheist, agnostic or Buddhist if you are unwilling to die for Christ?

Who knows what Trump will do? Perhaps he doesn’t know himself. Perhaps a bright and shining light will emerge forth from the ranks of the Democratic Party, and this individual will be super-charismatic and smooth talking, making Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan look like stuttering yokels. Such a person would most certainly be adored by many, but I would probably trust him or her very little. People really need to have their innate need for a king or demigod to be met and dealt with and annihilated, in my opinion, and I think both liberals and conservatives still hold too many individuals in their corners who crave a savior.

I would almost argue that the myth-making around the creation of the United States has saved the world and prolonged it from seeing an anti-Christ spring forth. But, too many of us have not bothered to pay attention in our history classes and learn about how this country was founded on principles of not having a king rule us. Historically, it seems like every republic or democracy inevitably succumbs to the people’s desire for a king. It is deeply ingrained in our nature. Maybe we are just lazy and don’t want to take on any civic responsibility, or maybe we our simply too fearful of the Other who would come to invade our pristine civilizations. The threat of the Other, coupled with people’s complacency, seems to always be the winning combination for the crowning of kings, ceasars, czars, etc. Yessir, please come and rule over us, because we are too lazy and fearful to face each other head on and work out our disagreements as civilized adults. Also, we are too lazy and fearful to muster up a response to the invasion of the Other–whether the Other comes to us in peace or not, we are frightened by how the Other will take away our cherished customs.

It is antithetical and completely against what it means to be an American to ask for a king, but each presidential election in my lifetime seems to have seen its winner be the one who would most closely be like a king for us, who would prefer to feel safe and comforted knowing such a person is ruling over us, representing us, and fighting our battles for us so that we can go about our business without worry of any sort of Other invading it.

And, it seems like we never run out of an Other to blame for all of our problems. Some Others may be legitimate threats, but most are not. I think that when we die and go to heaven we will be shocked at the variety of people who join us there. Those of us who are white may very well be among the minority of faces we encounter up in heaven, if God even bothers to clothe our spiritual selves in recognizable human forms.

I sit in endless expectation, waiting to be radically transformed

I sit in endless expectation, waiting to be radically transformed. I age. I forget almost everything I read and dream.

I hope for magic, for adventures into mystic realms. I nap. I wake up refreshed mentally and physically, but there are no big revelations, no cosmic interludes, just asleep and then awake.

I barge into the group at the table with a big grin on my face hoping to make new friends. Soon, the conversation is ping-ponging around me and I can’t keep up. I walk home alone.

I sign up to volunteer here and there, hoping to change the world. I am asked to fetch things and stand around patiently, waiting, just in case they need me, the extra.

I sit down with coffee and pen and paper or computer and word processor, and hope that the words will just flow forth in gorgeous prose. I complain about my day, my life, the people that are in it, and all of the things that are wrong with me that I can’t seem to fix.

I beg the Lord for signs and wonders, for surefire proof that I am being called to take up the Cross and join the disciples and preach the Word and feed the hungry, clothe orphans and give comfort to the widows. The Lord says nothing, and I get the sense that perhaps the Lord just wants me to be happy with the things he’s given me and stop asking for more.

Maybe there are enough workers and fishers of men. Maybe the world of the Anti-Christ and tribulation really did come and go with the fall of the Second Temple and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. I don’t know.

I do know that I have done what I could in terms of trying to get my childhood spirituality back, and add my adult sense of social and familial responsibilities to it. I do know that I have called out much and listened much, and mostly what I’ve heard is the sound of my own voice. Maybe one day I’ll be asked to beg for forgiveness for polluting the world with so much of my own voice. I hope at least a few words here and there came from some place far above and beyond my selfish brain, but then, who knows?

The will to be conscious in a crystal clear fashion even if the body is tired

The will to be conscious in a crystal clear fashion even if the body is tired. To separate myself from the messiness of being human and the chaos of memories, and align completely with polished surfaces, bright colors, manic lucidity. To be awake even when every fiber of the being says to sleep. To let the organism knit and repair itself in sleep, but to have the consciousness realize complete alertness during this time period. To cease to have incomprehensible dreams–dreams must by utterly crisp and perfectly understandable. If it is I who am too messy for this world of clarity, then the will is to become clean and pure. If this world of clarity doesn’t exist, and the land of dreams and spiritual things insists on being rife with riddles and nonsensical metaphors, then I must invent a land of clarity to inhabit when I die.

Is this so wrong? Is this a will that tends toward the antichrist, or a will toward heavenly perfection? There are no straight lines in nature, but everywhere you see manmade things, you see straight lines. If we are children of God, then surely heaven is full of straight lines–unless, of course, this is merely our own wayward nature–a kind of rebelious insistence on making God be something God is not.

Alas, I am nowhere near being as crisp as I long to be. I am messy, paradoxical, full of amorphous shapes and dreams that don’t add up correctly when held to the light of math and reason. I seek the past when I am presented with too many future problems. I dream of a better future when the present becomes unbearable. I scream at myself to focus solely on the present after I spend a day drifting in and out of temporal zones that are clearly uninhabitable.

Mostly, I insist upon freedoms that are not afforded to me. The freedom to instantly be anyone, anywhere, anywhen on demand. The freedom to alternately be full of love and fear without any consequences. The freedom to never age, never die–or to age and die again repeatedly and to remember every bit of every life lived. The freedom to be immoral without punishment and to reap rewards where I didn’t sow a single seed.

I want the phrase “to be” to mean almost anything I will it to be. When I will myself to be whomever or whatever I wish to be, so it is that this is what I shall be. Of course, I know this is not for me, but the will to be a demigod never completely escapes me. Of course, any time my wish is actually granted, I immediately feel as if I am imprisoned for all eternity in this prison of being something particular from which I can’t ever find the key to spring me free.

The most difficult thing to accept

The most difficult thing to accept is the real and ever-unfolding truth that the future will not be exactly as I expected it to be. I am not a prophet, and I am not even that good at gauging human nature on a large scale to predict which way our present day society will go. It isn’t hard to envision a future scenario fifty years from now where the entire country has been mostly decimated by nuclear and civil war, or a New World Order manifestation of the progress toward the first global leader of humanity, who is in all likelihood the Antichrist. It is easy to imagine a future where people pretty much live the same way that they do today, with perhaps a few adjustments here and there that can be expected as the earth’s natural resources continue to be depleted and technology fails to keep up with sequestering carbon and removing plastic from the ocean. But, it is much harder to imagine a world where none of this happens, and America simply sinks into an ignominious oblivion, pretending that it can still manifest itself on the world stage as a glorious superpower, but not really–sort of like a poor man’s Great Britain. It is harder to imagine a country where life expectancy begins to diminish, but no one really does much of anything about it.

I never would have predicted that popular culture would end up being what it is today. The combination of technology and humans’ willingness to indulge themselves in utterly shallow music and motion picture entertainment seems to be boundless. And yet, there are well-crafted television shows–probably more of these than there are well-made movies now. Except, you can’t get most of these shows with a basic cable package. Are people dumber in 2016 than they were in 1986, or is the country simply polarized around these insular realities where truth and facts are completely denied altogether by individuals who want so very badly for their reality to be the correct one, or at least the winning one?

I can’t make any great predictions about what will happen to this country under Trump. Every bit of my gut instinct says that things will be terrible–that we will be lucky to get out of the Trump years without him declaring martial law, pushing nuclear buttons, starting any significant wars, wrecking the economy in a major way. I fear for my son’s future, and I feel less empowered to change my world than I ever have. I think that most empowerment young people receive to change their world is utter bunk–only a select few will find themselves in positions where they really feel like they have mastered their environments. Most of us will slide off into a latter period of life where we are utterly at the mercy of forces beyond our control and mostly beyond our comprehension. The feeling of being incapable of controlling much of anything that will happen in the future can be a liberating one, until the day arrives when you have to choose between seeing your family starve and going down to some bureau to have your forehead or hand stamped with a permanent tattoo and microchip.

This week has made me literally sick

This week has made me literally sick. The uneasy fear that I am about to step into a world where the wrong decision will see me lose my head or lose my soul is a fear that will be with me now for years to come. For the past few weeks, I was caught up in my personal issues around whether I even wanted to bother becoming an ordained minister. I was bothered by things that seem to be mostly non-starters now.

Trump reminds me of the leader of the people in Las Vegas in the book The Stand. The Walkin’ Dude. Only, he’s not out in Vegas while we are on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. He’s in Washington, and we are sitting in his crosshairs whether we like it or not. Is Trump the Antichrist? Quite possibly. There haven’t been any other Presidential candidates who have come close. And now, he is going to be the President.

Maybe he won’t be so bad as the Antichrist, perhaps just another Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin. Maybe he won’t be quite that bad, but just be like Berlusconi, or perhaps a run-of-the-mill bad guy dictator who declares martial law, makes the U.S. his little fiefdom, and drains all of the natural resources to benefit his children and his friends.

Would running off to New Zealand do us any good? Only in a limited scenario where Trump is as bad as Hitler, and somehow the global economy manages to be a certain way that enables me to continue living and working in New Zealand with my family. Almost any other scenario would either see NZ not being enough, or overkill as a response to the Trump presidency.