CONGRESS' HOLIDAY MESSAGE TO THE FURLOUGHED GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES:
"You Signed Up for This. [Merry Christmas or Whatever. Oh, and F#$% You]"
Rep. Meadows (R-N.C.)
The Silvery Moon, Watercolor, 28" x 50", Richard J Van Wagoner, 1997, Courtesy of an Anonymous Collector**
In this instance, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The combined hubris, stupidity and cruelty of worshipers at the altar of the White House Golden Calf finds few equivalencies in magnitude. Maybe the national debt. Maybe Mr. Trump’s desperate need for faint praise from a diminishing, white, racist, fear-based, misogynist base to fill his bottomless void. His lack of empathy, leadership, stewardship? Maybe the corruption of the Trump Crime Family Syndicate (RICO).
Among the telling signs of a growing farcity of Christianity in America is those who demand greater involvement of their Christian god in public life and discourse while insisting their government reject “the least of these” and treat them with hatred, cruelty and contempt; those who rationalize and excuse or insist on breaching every Christian norm and dogma by government and so-called religious leaders; those who blame others for their own betrayal and crucifixion of Christ. At least one interpretation of the epic poem The Grand Inquisitor as told by Ivan in Dostaevski’s The Brothers Karamazov, finds distinct parallels to Christianity in many American quarters. Mr. Trump relishes the prospect of explaining to Christ why His return would interfere with the mission of the United States government and, according to Mr. Trump's many devotees, the church.
There ought not be all that much to debate. Should the United States, or should it not, engage in fundamental human rights violations? Trump and a large percentage of what once was the Republican Party appear to say yes unless, of course, it does not pay or play well politically.
People fleeing horrific violence, abuse, poverty, oppression and other atrocities and seeking asylum here or otherwise stepping across an arbitrary boundary commit no moral infraction. God-given fundamental human rights, including life and liberty in maintaining and preserving family, parent/child relationships, were concepts once championed by Republicans. The consequence to those seeking safety and an improved life here is the very inhumanity of those who purport to champion America as a Christian nation, whatever the fuck that means.
Racism and white nationalism are the core of Trump and his minions. They must fear that decisions in the future will be made on merit rather than their accidents of birth as Caucasian and eventual white elitists. This is a stunt, ransoming the lives and well-being of hundreds of thousands of furloughed government workers for a fucking wall. This straw remedy is only so Trump appears less impotent to a voracious, carnivorous and morally repugnant base.
So, Merry Christmas or whatever to Money Ministries, Bible-based science and common-sense deniers, those who insist America equates Christianity, those who hide behind religious dogma to justify their hatred, discrimination and cruelty, those who blur the lines between government and religion—so long as their belief system and none other receives official endorsement, those who preach Christ was a xenophobe.
Christ, Christ, Christ . . . ., Watercolor, 21.5" x 29", Richard J Van Wagoner, Circa 2000, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
I have posted a part of the following discussion before. My guess, and it's only a guess, is Christ, Christ, Christ . . . . is a product of a period in which the artist mourned the realization that portions of his received belief system were deeply flawed. His artwork was both manifestation and integral component of his deconstruction and reformation of that system. In the resultant pressure chamber his artistic process and product evolved to honor the complex unwinding of his longstanding internal conflicts, an unwinding that ultimately better aligned his system with his naked sense of how people ought to behave toward, regard and treat others. Seldom outwardly cynical, the artist might be projecting a suspicion of the sincerity and veracity that underpin the confirmation filters through which believers see and interpret the world and Christianity's commoditization and customization.
My father the artist was Mormon throughout his life. I suggested in earlier posts he entered a period of broad destabilization from the religious and social hostilities surrounding his son’s gayness. He grieved, I believe, for his son and for himself, his son for having been alone and himself for having been complicit. He had, after all, been a Mormon Bishop which required his most loving advocacy of institutional abuse, the spiritual kind of course, of "our homosexual brothers and sisters" who had the courage to live authentic lives or were outed. My guess, and again it’s only a guess, is he concluded one or both of two things: laws and ethics exist independent of any Lawgiver; and/or the Lawgiver he eventually came to know in his own imperfect mind didn’t correspond with the image projected by religious institutions whose motives for doing so often proved ulterior.
Saying I’m not much of a believer in consciousness before life or after death would be an understatement. I value law and morality themselves, independent of some lawgiver, goodness for its own sake. Yes, there are people who find meaning in and about itself without sourcing it to some god. For me, at least, this makes the present more relevant, more present, more intrinsic. Plus, without the construct of some mythical overlay, I have no ability to use or find some external excuse to justify my bad behavior. I must own it. I do.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamend