James G. Gilmore

Ideologue. Polemicist. Episcopalian. Curmudgeon.

Amorality Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

From Jonathan Swan at Axios: Why Trump’s White House never says sorry

Unsurprisingly, one thing that doesn’t seem to enter into the calculus of either trump or his cronies in all of this is the idea that when you hurt or wrong someone, apologizing is simply the right thing to do. This is something we teach three-year-olds, yet these supposed adults don’t seem to have any conception of it.

This is a revealing anecdote about this administration, a tacit admission that they see morality as performative rather than absolute. They think everyone is just as self-indulgent, cynical, and monstrous as they are, but that some of us pretend to have a moral compass in order to gain an advantage over others.

Hence the constant hailstorm from right-wingers about “virtue signaling” whenever anyone criticizes their words or actions on moral grounds. The idea of virtue, that one might do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do, is alien and incomprehensible to them.

Trumpists Enforcing Political Correctness

The right-wing hate machine is ramping up its campaign of political correctness to silence academia.

In part, this is because they hate liberals, of course; particularly in the age of little donnie, when most of the so-called “conservatives” have jettisoned principles, patriotism, and any semblance of a moral compass, their seething resentment toward liberals, and particularly educated liberals, is really the only thing they have left to unite around.

But let’s not lose sight of what’s happening on a deeper level: They’re attacking academia precisely because academics have authority and expertise, from their careers of study, which represents a threat to the bedrock of lies upon which the Trumpist hate movement is built.

Trumpist authoritarianism will not tolerate the existence of any expert whose knowledge or experience could possibly gainsay Trump or the other leader-figures. It is for that very reason that every authoritarian/totalitarian movement begins with an attack on academics.

If this were happening anywhere else, we’d have no problem calling it fascism. So why aren’t we doing it here?

Irreligious Christians and Donald Trump

“Why did these religiously unaffiliated Republicans embrace Trump’s bleak view of America more readily than their churchgoing peers? Has the absence of church made their lives worse? Or are people with troubled lives more likely to stop attending services in the first place? Establishing causation is difficult, but we know that culturally conservative white Americans who are disengaged from church experience less economic success and more family breakdown than those who remain connected, and they grow more pessimistic and resentful.”


John Pavlovitz: “It’s Time We Stopped Calling Donald Trump a Christian”

“Jesus says that we can judge people. We should evaluate the things we can see. We can measure devotion to God by what is manifested outwardly. We look at the ‘fruit’.

What is the fruit of Donald Trump’s life, of his marriages, his business dealings, his campaign, of his young Presidency? […]

It’s rotten fruit, that’s what it is.

It’s exactly the kind of greedy, bloated, bitter, violent, self-centered, myopic existence that Jesus spent his life calling us to reject. So no, I don’t know the President’s heart or his inner confession of faith, but I have eyes and they see no love or benevolence or compassion—and that does matter to Jesus.”

Depressing Poll Numbers: A Failure of Church Leadership

“According to a Pew survey conducted before the election, about two-thirds of white evangelicals (67%) and mainline Protestants (65%) believe that America does not have a moral responsibility to accept Syrian refugees.

This represents a failure on the part of evangelical and mainline clergy.

In some cases (likely the bulk of mainline cases, in my opinion), it’s a matter of what is preached: the clergy know and understand that the Bible commands us to welcome the refugee and give shelter to those who are fleeing persecution, but don’t preach this truth to their congregations for whatever reason.

In other cases (probably more prevalent among white evangelicals), it’s because the clergy themselves hold unbiblical and heretical views, believing that God restricts that commandment to refugees of certain ethnicities or religions, and intends (or doesn’t particularly care) that we refuse shelter and safety to those of the “wrong” ethnicity or religion.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” -James 3:1

Moral Leadership from Pope Francis

“You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he said. “You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25. […] It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”

Concerning the Inauguration of Little Donnie

Just like our nation’s rituals, traditions, and customs for campaigns and elections, our nation’s rituals, traditions, and customs for the inauguration of a new president—the prayer services, the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance—make certain assumptions about the person who is being inaugurated.

Our rituals assume that the person being inaugurated at least believes that truth exists, and considers themselves in some way morally bound to tell it.

Our rituals assume that the person being inaugurated has at least some shred of concern for the country and its people rather than his or her own self-indulgence.

Our rituals assume that the person being inaugurated has at least some semblance of a moral compass, believes in the existence of good and evil, and believes that they are morally bound to do good.

And just as the moral wasteland of Little Donnie’s candidacy put the lie to the assumptions behind our nation’s campaign and election traditions, so too is the impending moral abyss of Little Donnie’s presidency putting the lie to the assumptions behind our nation’s inauguration traditions.

And so, we too must change our approach—particularly those of us who are part of the Episcopal Church, the denomination that has historically been most closely linked with many of those traditions and rituals.

We cannot uncritically laud someone who has demonstrated exactly none of the fruits of the Spirit, who proclaims himself a Christian while standing against everything Jesus Christ preached and lived, who has said countless hateful and vile things and repented of exactly none of them.

We cannot uncritically laud the rhetorical and civil structures of this country that so utterly failed in their moral duty to speak truth to the American people and challenge Little Donnie’s lies, omissions, pretensions, and falsehoods.

And we cannot uncritically laud a political system that would enable such a person to take power in defiance of the will of the people and give him such unfettered ability to sow hatred, cruelty, violence, and chaos in this nation and around the world.

No, we must change our approach. We must be prophetic, not just priestly. We must do everything we can to throw our bodies and our institutions in between Little Donnie and his henchmen, and the vulnerable children of God they would seek to oppress, harm, expel, or kill.

And we must loudly proclaim, in word and deed, the same message Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel of Matthew: The Kingdom of God is coming, when charlatans and tyrants like Little Donnie will be humbled and laid low, when the lowly and oppressed will be lifted up and honored.

To continue as we have, and pretend that all of this is normal, would be a profound abdication of our moral responsibility. The center has fallen and all of our assumptions and our patriotic pieties are laid waste, in the wake of Little Donnie’s earthquake of immorality.

We must repent, we must resist, we must reclaim, we must renew, and we must rebuild—or we will surely fall.

“The birth pangs of a Third Reconstruction”

“We can’t succumb to those who bought Christianity. Nor can we yield the moral high ground because we’re angry with them. Deep religious and moral values have been the backbone of every great progressive movement; prophetic imagination must come before we see political implementation. When the social gospel looked at children dying from child labor and people dying without labor rights and people in slums and poverty and not having a minimum wage and they asked, ‘What would Jesus do?'”

The Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Witness In Supporting Trump

“In their naked grab to be kings of the world, evangelicals traded the real Kingdom. The Good News was exchanged for a golden ticket. Cardinal church views on money, sex and power were rejected for a seat at the head table. Long after Donald Trump is inaugurated, long after his first presidential term and long after whomever will hold the following term, a closely watching world will remember, millennials will remember, and today’s children will remember the evangelical church’s disgraceful posture in the 2016 election: bowing to Trump, rather than bowing to Christ.”