Saturday, November 26, 2016

Slouching to Armageddon?

by Jim Rapp

Slouching, stumbling or
groping; it really mattered
zero to not at all,

for, to the end, more
and more intolerants chattered
Gog and Magog's call.

"Slam the nation's doors,
we will not truck with tattered
strangers  - BUILD THE WALL!"

Emanuel, or
God with us, himself a scattered
one, once spoke for all.

"I stand before your door;
in the person of shattered
humanity, I call."

The walls rose more
precipitous when battered
by the Savior's call.

Stopping their ears – or
closing their hearts – they shuttered
Him outside their wall.

"You're a fool's god! More,
what fool would heed the call you've uttered?
Our god bellows, 'BUILD A WALL!'"

So blow, Trumpet, roar!
Christ, smash their walls and enter,
tattered ones and all.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Getting One's Reputation Back

Raymond J. Donovan was Secretary of Labor during Ronald Reagan's first term in office. Donovan and several of his business associates were caught up in a criminal investigation of their part in an allegedly fraudulent transaction dealing with the building of a new rail line into New York City. During the ensuing trial the men were portrayed in harsh and sinister terms and assumed to be guilty. But when the case went to the jury all defendants were acquitted of all charges. When Donovan emerged from the court room and faced the bank of cameras and reporters he famously asked: "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?"

Our recent election has been a bruising affair. Mr. Trump has left a trail of battered opponents whom he has maligned unmercifully, and usually untruthfully. Hillary Clinton was attacked during the campaign, as she has been over the length of her political career, with accusations, most of which were patently false or, at best, not subject to verification. And even Donald Trump himself had to endure his share of slings and arrows, though in most cases, he invited public scrutiny unfavorable to his own reputation.

So now that the election is over, where do these people – most of them very decent, patriotic, and basically honest people – go to get their reputations back? Will those who started the ruinous rumors publicly admit that they were fabrications, not facts? Will those who mindlessly – or in too many cases maliciously – passed on such garbage now tell or e-mail those they spread the lies to that they were indeed lies? Or does the nation walk away from these whose character has been assaulted as though it doesn't matter at all? When the next election rolls around do we simply pick up where this one left off, manufacturing half-truths and outright, pants-on-fire lies that serve only the purpose of destroying someone's good name?

Most importantly, can truth ever make a comeback in our society that values winning at any cost more than truth? Every person who fashions himself a lover and defender of truth must, at the very least, vow never again to become the hewer of wood and the carrier of water for political assassins.

It has long been prophesied that America will not fall to an external enemy but that it will be destroyed by the evils we allow to exist in ourselves. The rot is almost complete. The timbers are sagging. The structure is groaning under a weight of immoralities, not the least of which are our inability to tell or recognize the truth; our unwillingness to see in our opponent humanity and good will; our maniacal desire to have things go our way regardless of the cost to ourselves or our community.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Am I Being Paranoid?

(Paranoia: A psychological disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur)

All of my adult life I've struggled to understand the paranoia expressed by conservative Christians toward Democratic candidates, particularly Presidential Candidates. Since the time of Harry Truman I've heard, during every Presidential election, that the Democratic candidate is a very evil person with plans, if elected, to do awful things to Christians. At the least he/she would take away everyone's guns and would very likely shut down all religious broadcasting, round up Christians and herd them off to concentration camps. And when a Democrat won the election I've endure four or eight years being assured that it was only a matter of time before he turned on Christians and swept away their rights to worship as they wished. I wish I had exercised the foresight to keep the hundreds of brochures and e-mails promoting such fears. They could form the basis for a very interesting (and important) study of the conservative Christian psyche.

The interesting thing to me was that nothing I could uncover – beyond the spurious brochures and e-mails – would give a reasonable person cause to believe the accused presidents had such sinister objectives in mind. None of them ever proposed anything remotely resembling the things they were accused of promoting.

Now, with the election of Donald Trump, and as I watch him put together his governing team, I'm experiencing some of the same fears my conservative Christian friends and acquaintances expressed over the years. Am I becoming paranoid?

I've labeled my friends fears "paranoia" because it does not seem to me that there was any rational reason to believe the things they did. Time has proven their fears to be, if not irrational, at the very least, unfounded. No Democratic President ever proposed to do the things they suggested or attempted to do them.

But what about President-elect Trump? Is one paranoid if they believe that he would single out Muslims and other minorities for "special treatment?" He has said that he would. Is it paranoid to hear in his harsh denunciations of those who oppose him a tendency to "get even" when he has the power to do so? Should I fear that, once in office he might decide to do what no other president has ever done and seek to criminalize and imprison his political opponents? He has suggested that he would do so. When he proposes to limit the right of the press to print unfavorable stories about him is that reason for me to believe he might institute a regime of repression of our free press? (Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogen, president of Turkey has recently arrested 200,000 Turkish citizens, closed down 120 news outlets and has complete control over those that remain.) Am I paranoid when I am apprehensive about the repressive people he is putting into places of great power and authority; people whose racist speech is a matter of public record? Is it paranoia that causes me to fear his apparent attempts to override past law and precedent by bringing members of his immediate family into the government?

The President-elect could help to allay some of my apprehension by being more open during this time of transition, allowing the public to know his thinking and his plans. Of course there is some suspicion that he doesn't have clear plans in mind and is struggling to formulate them on the fly. But we have heard little from him personally since his rather amorphous acceptance speech the night of the election.

So I am fearful! I am fearful that Donald Trump will be the president he told us he would be. I don't think I'm being paranoid, I have his word for it. I'm willing to allow his future words and actions to allay my fears. But right now I'm extremely anxious for the future of our democracy and for the safety and freedom of those Americans to whom he has threatened (or promised) to do ill.

Someone recently said that the press failed to take Mr. Trump seriously but did take his statements literally. His followers took him seriously but did not take him literally. I am taking him both seriously and literally. And the rest of America had better do so too.

I'm wearing a safety pin to show my solidarity with all others who are feeling vulnerable in the face of Donald Trump's rise to power.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Winter's Forgiveness

by Jim Rapp

The worst time of the year;
those days between the last leaf-fall
and advent of the winter's snow.

Daylight grows more dear
as shadows race along the wall
mocking things that used to grow.

Hoarfrost imbues the evening air
and we endure the naked fall,
waiting for forgiving snow.

The winds that bring it bear
a pardon, shrouding all
the weeds the warmer seasons grow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pardon Me, Mr. President, Please Pardon Donald Trump

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

Mr. Obama,
before you leave office please
pardon Donald Trump.

Who knows the crimes he
has or will commit, so please
pardon the poor schmuck.

How would it look to
have our sitting president
locked away in jail?

Think how relaxed he'll
be knowing his sins have been

Thursday, November 10, 2016


(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

Does the human race
ever act in its own
knowable interest?

Or does it always
gnaw, in ignorance, the bone
on which it must rest?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Worst Time To Die: Between Good Friday and Easter

by Jim Rapp

Life went on between Friday and Sunday;
some died, sure that all was lost.
Did they go, conceding that death at last
was victor – life the loser?

Of thousands who had started on the Way –
signed on 'spite daunting cost –
some, attending to His death, would miscast
the dying One a poser.

His death, entombed, gave credence to death's sway;
made dying seem less a loss,
and living too, a death too hard to mask,
a loss above all other.*

Did those who died before Easter Sunday
pass believing all was lost?
Were they glad that, in going, they, at last,
could leave behind earth's pother?
*If our hope in Christ is for this life alone,
we are to be pitied more than all men.
(I Cor. 15:19 Berean Study Bible)