The misuse of power by the”Pharisees and Scribes” in America today.

“Snakes and vipers are among us,” and very often they hold positions of power and influence as ordained shepherds of faith. They use their authority like the pharisees and scribes described in the New Testament. While attempting to honor God, they ignore the mandates of the faith. They manifest extremism and they ask their followers to manifest the same; they ignore the mandates of the faith to elevate religious doctrine. They ask us to ignore greed, inequality, hate, jealousy, maliciousness, the disenfranchised, and our responsibilities as stewards of the earth, and instead to prioritize the advancement of political platform issues consistent with the church’s teachings on abortion, the role of women, and homosexuality. They manipulate the Bible and the teachings of Christ to gain political power and influence over the government. Pharisees and scribes are everywhere, in every religion. Today they are front and center in political discussions and more influential with politicians who will become government leaders than ever before.

In September before the 2016 Presidential election, the Church of St. Mary in Providence, fired its gay music director of 5 years for … well … for being gay. Once run by the Franciscan order, the Church of St. Mary’s in Providence was now managed by the Diocese of Providence, a.k.a Bishop Thomas Tobin. Tobin didn’t just force the firing of Michael Templeton, a lifelong catholic, who has served as a music minister in catholic communities for 24 years, he used him as an example to his followers. The Pharisee is revealed! Tobin didn’t just allow Michael Templeton to go quietly and sadly into unemployment, he decided to use this private personnel issue to make an example out of Templeton – and on his Facebook page – of all places! It brought to mind the well recognized passage from the New Testament in which Jesus was baited by the Pharisees and Scribes to agree with the death sentence they had imposed on a young woman for adultery. By saying, “let he among you who has not sinned, cast the first stone,” Jesus was not advising religious leaders or the angry mob to ignore the law or a moral wrong. But, he also wasn’t using the opportunity to shine a light on the sin (of adultery in that case), as Tobin did with Templeton’s firing. Rather he used the opportunity to make an example out of the religious leaders for their manipulative use of the woman and her plight for their own example-making. He could see that they cared not for her soul or her well being. They cared only to prove a point in the advancement of their agenda. Jesus’ words and actions in that passage of the Bible instruct that instead of shaming this poor woman to advance their own political agenda against him, the Pharisees should have first recognized their own guilt and recognized their fellowship with this woman as sinners. A true christian would not have dismissed Templeton, callously adding him to the unemployment rolls, and especially not just to make a point. At the very least, they might have had the basic decency to keep it off Facebook.

Then one week before the 2016 election, after Trump had bragged about sexually assaulting women; after Trump had accused all Mexican immigrants of being rapists; after Trump had dismissed climate change – a reality that will destroy the poorest of the poor before it ever reaches the steps of his gold plated plane – as a scientific hoax; after Trump advanced his argument to withdraw from the world, and to “ban all muslims;” after Trump mocked the disabled; after Trump selected a running mate who used his “christian faith” as a justification for signing a law in Indiana that allows businesses to refuse services to gay people; after Trump threw gasoline on the smoldering fear, bigotry, and hate that exists in this country; after all of that, the Roman Catholic priest who married me and my husband, Fr. Robert Marciano, declared from the pulpit of a Warwick, RI church that a “vote for Hillary Clinton would put his immortal soul in peril.” Pan out to the image of a driver of a pick up truck with a confederate flag flying off the tail end, shouting “Praise Jesus Christ!” I’m sorry, but are there even enough ??????????? in my key board to insert in this blog at this point? Has hypocrisy smacked anyone else in the face as hard as it just smacked me? Meanwhile, in Rome, Pope Francis said: “we need to knock down walls and build bridges that can lessen inequality and boost freedom and rights … What we want is a fight against inequality, this is the biggest evil that exists in the world today.” Hmmm. What is going on?

Is Pope Francis all we have? Where have our American religious leaders gone? Have they forgotten that as shepherds, their first obligation is to their flock, not to the guy pouring the drinks at the local pub who can get them a seat near the musicians in the nearby village? Do they really believe that we “the sheep” are so unsophisticated, so uneducated, that we don’t all (every single human being) struggle with the complexities of the abortion issue? Just because we don’t believe the government should be in the business of telling women what to do with their bodies doesn’t mean we want to see babies “ripped from the womb.” It’s not that black and white. And, if the politicians want to throw voters into pro-life, pro-choice categories, or label us as pro-gay rights, or pro-traditional family/marriage voters, our religious leaders should have the moral courage to guide us away from these absolutisms.

You can’t protect human dignity or the human spirit by waving scare headlines in huge print at us from the pulpits and you can’t fight inequality while electing people who promise to promote it.

It is my personal belief that when I see intellectual dishonesty, commingled with agenda, presented as faith, I have no alternative but to reject it. Let’s start calling a spade a spade.

Roman Catholicism is the religion of my family. It has been for generations. It is beautiful and filled with comfort and ritual that connects me to the sacrifices and struggles of my ancestors, the hopes and dreams of my descendants, and the needs and gifts of my neighbors. Christianity is the faith of the hopeful. It is a faith that at its core is about redemption, tolerance, forgiveness and exposing the hypocrisy of the powerful. It is the faith of the poor and the marginalized. It is my faith. But the church in America is being mismanaged and it is deliberately using its religious doctrines as political weaponry. It may not have division as its goal, but it is nonetheless content with the resulting division.

I’m not sure when being Christian became synonymous with political conservatism. I honestly used to believe that the agenda of the Republican party was inconsistent with christianity. Now, it seems that the political right have hijacked christianity with a blessing from the Pharisees who lead the the Roman Catholic church in America. And, somehow, I have been cast aside as not Catholic enough to be christian or not christian enough to be Catholic or not republican enough to be either.

Well I won’t allow that. Donald Trump, Bannon, Cruz, Guliani and the tea party can’t have my faith or my religion. I am a Roman Catholic. I am a christian. I am a liberal. I am a steward of the earth. I will stand up to hatred and inequality wherever I see it until the “moral arc of the universe bends [back] toward justice.”


On Golden Pond

I brought my husband, Bret, to the Manor on Golden Pond for his 45th birthday.  I didn’t know when I booked this Veteran’s Day get-a-way for us to celebrate his birthday just how much “I” would need it.  Not for celebrating, but for recovering from the Presidential election and campaign season and mostly from Facebook.

I can’t see how we elected Donald J. Trump to the Office of President.  It really does blow my mind. Not just because he’s said and done vulgar things to women and carelessly insulted so many people I love during his campaign, but more so because he is surrounding himself with politicians I actually despise more than him, just as he promised to do his entire campaign. Rudy Guliani! Chris Christie! Jeff Sessions! Mike Pence! Facts and data about climate change – toss em. Facts and data about a broken health care system – flush em.  Protect the middle class from the “give corporations a soul and all of our constitutional rights as though they were actually people” movement – with these guys? Are you kidding me? Women’s rights? Holy balls. We just lost the Supreme Court – fugetabout it!  And, forgetting for a minute that all of these men are very very very very very very CONSERVATIVE on absolutely every issue I care about, and on environmental issues I have fought and won on for SEVENTEEN YEARS (only to watch them now dismantle the EPA and the National Parks) they are also all old, incredibly rich, white elitists.  Can someone please tell me how a country that wanted “change” more than anything else; a country that was willing to overlook “pussy grabbing” and “ban all muslims” for THAT change just went back in time 30 years with this group of men and his children? His children on his transition team. What in the hell?! I’m entitled to be upset about this. I really am. I’m not a baby or a bad sport for feeling not only like Trump doesn’t represent me, but for being afraid of his backwards policies, and a little worried about how so many of the people I know and love voted for him (not because he is a racist, elitist, sexist, demagogue, but in spite of those qualities). Frankly, I’m embarrassed by him.

Okay, so I’ve vented a little and ranted and I feel better. This is how writing is supposed to work.   Moving on …. Facebook destroyed my faith in humanity. Facebook was worse than Trump winning. Facebook right now is the more serious policy problem for this country.  It’s worse than climate change. Nice people, people I like and have known my whole life  demeaned and insulted and dismissed me with words and even memes (for the love of God). It’s like they forgot who I am. These people who I would have dinner with and laugh with and enjoy their company any day of the week with, demeaned, belittled, and took me down several notches every chance they got, in all of the many ways made possible by Facebook.

The first way you can hurt a “Facebook” friend is to ignore them.  You can pretend that you just didn’t catch that last post.  You did, however, just like my other post. You remember, the one of my daughter playing basketball? But, you didn’t like my picture with Hillary Clinton.  This choice “not to like,” creates two problems: 1) It hurts my feelings because even if you don’t like Hillary, my picture with her is pretty amazing and if you are my friend (or my family) and if you were at my house, you would say “that is a pretty amazing picture” before asking me to pass the salad; and, 2) because you didn’t just “not like” my picture of Hillary, but, you also liked one of my other posts, you are actually telling me what you think is appropriate for me to post in order to keep your friendship or gain your approval. WTF!?

The second way you can hurt a “Facebook” friend is by voting on their posts.  If you “like” the post, I get your approval. Hooray! You like me and my ideas.  Silliness.  If you don’t like my post, I’m left to wonder (and you know you are looking at all the people who like the things you say and all the people who don’t like them and forming “Facebook” conclusions about them. Utter nonsense. And, you can do something still even worse than  “not liking” my post. You can “like” someone else’s horrible comment about my post. Ouch!  Listen friends.  These are my ideas about the world. You don’t get to vote on them. Really, you don’t.  Facebook just makes you think you get to vote on them.  You can engage with me on them in a civilized way. That’s called conversation.  Remember that? Engage with me the way you would if I invited you over for a chicken dinner at my house. But you can’t call me “a sheep” or insult my intelligence in this very public forum and expect it not leave a mark. You just can’t. That’s not how friendships, or families, for that matter,  work.

Facebook made it quick and easy for all of us to throw our friends in boxes and stick labels on them, and by posting memes and bull shit news sources and liking and not liking each other’s posts, it seems that we all agreed to that social construct.  I guess you can say we did it for convenience sake.

I just want you to know that if you are my friend, you will always be my friend.  If you are my family, you will always be my family. Nothing you can do on Facebook could ever change that.  If you aren’t my friend, you won’t be reading this blog and I don’t really need Facebook to tell me that you didn’t care enough about me to stay in touch.

So, I am facebooking no more.  And, as I watch the sun setting over Squam Lake (Golden Pond), I can almost hear Katherine Hepburn yelling to Henry Fonda, “Come here, Norman. Hurry Up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.”

Excerpt from very first blog … read on.

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I just want you to know that if you are my friend, you will always be my friend. If you are my family, you will always be my family. Nothing you can do on Facebook could ever change that.  If you aren’t my friend, you won’t be reading this blog and I don’t really need Facebook to tell me that you didn’t care enough about me to stay in touch.