All posts by sainteleos

Jesus, american politics, and my heavy heart.

As a christian today it is difficult for me it is sometimes difficult for me to bear seeing the way many Christians represent Jesus. Jesus a man whose actions could be described as non materialistic, advocating for the oppressed and the dregs of society, and open and accepting of anyone. Today Christians are often seen as social conservatives who protect the economy, defend the status quo, and judgey or exclusionist in either their social stances or views on immigration.

I cant help but wonder sometimes, do these people who say they are Christians let their religious leader inform their political beliefs at all? Jesus opposed many practices that oppressed the poor, advocated for paying taxes, put people, relationships, and god first and all materials and money last. If helping the poor was supporting the economy surly there would be a lesson for it there, we would quote the parable about the land owner who saved his tenants with the market, but there is no such verse.

It seems clear to me that Jesus is either not informing Christians beliefs about politics or he has been so distorted that he has been made to stand for the opposite of what he spoke about. Distorting Jesus is inevitable, There will always be people that misunderstand him or people that will make him say what they want or need him to say rather than listen to what he intended. This is a known issue and there is a lot of writing on. But what I dont see alot of writing on is how many Christians seem to know Jesus stood for the weak, challenged the status quo, and asked people to give up there materialistic lifestyles and adopt a more communal lifestyle but dont let him touch their sense of politics. If your ideas of religion and politics are different and politics seems to dominate your values are you really a Christian or just an american? I myself love my faith and I love Jesus I also love my brothers and sisters in Christ but too often I feel the strain between all the variables and I dont understand how we got here.

Blog post #5

Racism is a popular discourse today and for many good reasons. There is always the danger that unacknowledged history becomes dangerous of repeating itself, a good quote from James Baldwin: “In the context of the Negro problem neither whites nor blacks, for excellent reasons of their own, have the faintest desire to look back; but I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”. As Baldwin notes not everyone wants to talk about racial relations and history and that has been a narrative for a long time.

People want to be safe, they do not want to engage in discourse that shames their neighbor and they especially do not want to talk about issues that imply they or their ancestors did something wrong and hurt another party. This is why the discourse for racism often happens on main street with people holding signs picketing or on the news with experts weighing in and explaining things. People would rather just continue their lives and not confront the past, they do not want their lives to be interpreted for something so painful and offers so little gain for them.

This is why Black Lives matters exist and why Martin Luther King staged protests; people did not want to acknowledge their oppressive lifestyles and history so King, the Black Lives Matter movement, and others pressed themselves into the national consciousness so that people could not ignore the issues. Indeed, the lives of Whites would in fact be easier if they never where made responsible for the extortion of their fellow man and their life more harmonious if they never had to confront their destructive history. But this is not true for the oppressed, the oppressed are hurt and damaged by their silence: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Remaining a part of the status quo only encourages the oppressor to oppress the victim and is why King often spoke about how resisting segregation would help Whites become better, more moral people but in the same way alcoholics do not want to recognize their alcoholism oppressors do not want to recognize their hurtful actions. Eisenhower was famously lukewarm to the social rights movement because of his fear of damaging his own image and power base.

Disenfranchising yourself from your own tribe in support of another will always connotate risk and vulnerability and it is a action that many are willing to talk about but many fewer take. It should also be noted that standing against the dominate tribe is also dangerous and Black Americans and others have been killed for nothing less than trying to be heard. Today that risk still exists and Black Americans still rely on interrupting the national consciousness for support and will continue to do so as long as they have issues and interrupting the national consciousness continues to help support their interests.

GMO’s: Blog post 4

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding GMO’s. Indeed I once listened to a podcast talk about GMO’s fro almost 20 minutes before one of the guests was asked to explain there understanding of what an GMO was and they had some powerful misconceptions about what it even means. It is easy even necessary to not understand all the issues year to year that crop [ha] up in our society and become talking points. I remember the first time the subject was made relevant in my life: Spring 2014 in a public speaking class. I was assigned a debate position to defend GMO’s against my opponent who volunteered to debate against them. The issue of GMO’s I was entirely ignorant of the subject {my first bit of research was too google what a GMO was] so I researched the issue. I learned about the first controversy in GMO’s when an ex employee of a GMO producing company demonstrated in an experiment that rats that ate GMO food developed cancerous tumors. I later read the experiment was a sham as the rats he selected were laboratory rats bred to have tumors for research purposes and in fact the rats that ate GMO’s developed less tumors than the control group. I also read about Monsanto corn where corn was bred to contain pesticides had become dangerously toxic. More research taught me that most plants have natural pesticides and this toxic feature was found during the testing phase which existed to screen out such possibility and that the toxin amounted to a mild upset stomach in humans. I learned that despite GMO’s doubling the food supply these where the major examples of GMO’s going off the deep end. The debate day came and I felt quite prepared for my opponent as I had done my research but also I knew I had been given the easier “right side” of the debating corner. I was not prepared for the arguments my opponent she had prepared. She argued that GMO’s were unnatural, addictive, and were dangerous to society. She told the audience that frog DNA was being inserted into strawberries. She told the audience that the GMO strawberries were found to be more addictive that normal strawberry. She also told the audience [as I expected] that they caused cancer in rats. A simple understanding of biology told me that sharing DNA with frogs means nothing as we share over 80% of our DNA with a banana so this was nothing more than information selection bias as the strawberry’s clearly shared DNA with a frog naturally. I asked her about what made the strawberries more addictive and according to the study they tasted better because they contained more sugar and thats why they were more “addictive”. Finally I countered her points about the rats with my own research. After the debate the teacher talked to both of us and I was curious as to where she found the information for her talking points and she told me they were from a website devoted to condemning the “dangerous of GMOS”. She my opponent told me that she was really surprised that her information was so easily found to be false as when she read them they were very convincing. The website dident say anything about how the rat study was a scientific farse and rejected by the academic community nor the other things about the frog DNA. Since that debate I have had many conversations about them since. My family are very health conscious and tend to prefer things organic and GMO free and I live at a christian Community with many of the same values for natural food. These conversations like the first debate almost always go the same. It starts off as nice but soon they quote these study’s and one dimensional non understood facts and thier argument falls apart very quickly and they get frustrated. The conversations feel very much like talking about anti-vax interests which dont hold up well to public discourse because its not scientific and there is a lot of evidence against it. Ive learned that this is not a coincidence, both are movements that are not scientific but have received a lot of money from agencies that are fearful of the sudden massive changes and fiance groups that spread whatever information they can that make vaccines or GMO’s look bad. It shouldn’t be surprising for me now in this age of “false news” that such groups exist but that does not mean they are not frustrating when I hear them at the dinner table. I hope that my blog post today was entertaining but I want to make a few points clear.
1 GMO;s are good for society. Having more cheaper food is good because the population is growing larger and we can really do a lot to be more Eco friendly with GMO’s.
2 People wrapped up in these arguments are the victims of groups that exist to spread misinformation. Sure many cling to these beliefs and are stubborn but it is hard to change your mind about subjects that you have a lifestyle based around.

Blog post #3

This article is a perfect example of a dangerous article to read. Its simple factual and provides a simple narrative. A man after being questioned by police about a murder left to murder a man at his ex-girlfriends house and then a police officer firing multiple rounds into the officers back. Every single paragraph is condemning in fact you would be hard pressed to find a sentence that does not condemn the suspect. The narrative is convincing and works hard to fulfill our expectations on previous criminal activity resulting in more crime and deaths. They quote him threatening police from years before and drug activity as far back as 2001. they include a statement “Civil court records also showed no signs that Kato’s girlfriend or anyone else had requested temporary protection from abuse, the newspaper reported” which on the one hand exonerates him of something wrong on the other hand Immediately associates him with more crime. Now in none of this do I mean to imply that he dident do anything they described or that his behavior is justified merely that there is an entirely untold story here. Despite all this information we have no understanding of his motives or experiences. We have data as far back as 18 years ago but no representation about why or what he was trying to accomplish. Whether he is guilty or innocent it is still important that we hear both sides of the story. This for me is less about finding out right and wrong more so if we look into learning about these events we should at least understand something about what is going on not carefully selected facts. Lets learn and understand what we read about not just hear a caricature what of what happened even if it doesint free or condom anyone.

Blog post #2 connecting

I am personally a political outsider. I do not owe much if any allegiance to the liberal or conservative party. I personally choose to always vote my conscience or really ask myself what Jesus would do as described by the the four gospels. It feels a lonely life sometimes not voting with my church or family or friends depending on the issue but My own beliefs demand I stand for what I think is right even if inconvenient. This makes it really easy for me to be critical of either party without necessarily being very helpful. Pointing out mistakes that a party makes with its wide audience is easy and even young children can find an example of something a member of a party said that was wrong and condemn the whole party, pointing out insufficiencys is easy when your on the outside.
Ive been trying to work more lately as a bridge between the parts of late. As an outsider its easy for me to acknowledge the merits of both sides and help both sides see that their opponents stand for good important things not just the tearing down of what they believe. I want the party’s to see that they are more the same rather than how they are different both in the good ways but also the bad.
When we read books or movies the anti hero is a popular character. This character contains both the traits of a marvelous rescuer to some degree but also bad or loner characteristics that allows that rich character diversity that makes our minds work hard to and long to decide how we value this character. In the real world we rarely get a hero that is all good [in fact I would say we have none] might I say that all we have are combinations of anti-heros with real dangerous weakness that we support because there is no perfect person to support. In fact it could be felt that we actually are choosing between villains when selecting our leaders [This is especially the case for outsiders such as myself] instead of picking people for the good qualities they possess we select them for the bad qualities they do not possess.
I was reading a triple threat selection of articles and I could not help but feel overwhelmed by the hypocrisy as each side worked to condemn the other for the same crime they found themselves guilty of. I feel it is a losing mindset to do politics this way. perhaps I could describe it: “its okay for my candidate to have problems as long as the other guy gets brought down” or from a more personal fear based perspective “we cant have that other bad person in office so we have to accept our bad person”. All while this is happening they condemn the other side for supporting someone with clear problems [which to be fair is true] but they are completely unaware that they are both in an desperate situation clinging to what they have not what they wish they had like two people stranded in a lifeboat fighting for a broken oar. I wish for less fighting between the sides and more empathy, for themselves who wont admit they are in a bad position but also their opponents who are in the same lifeboat fighting for the same oar believing they know the way to safety. In this age of misinformation we need understanding and composure to see beyond the felt desperation and see that we are in one boat with one oar and in that boat sits not a tiger or a bear but a virtually identical person raised to think about things differently. We cannot have perfect politicians but we can find and elect better men if we are willing to break from this safety of the heard mentality and realize we are strong enough to carry on even if we dont get what we want today.

Blog #1

It is easy to think that we are in a time of history with no parallel. I recently participated in a conversation about Donald Trump where the person I was talking to felt that Trump was unlike any other president we have had in history. Surly Donald is a unique individual, his loud boisterous action draws the attention of the entire nation.  But this isn’t the case, countries in general often turn to high personality political outsiders and they do tend to make big waves in the system. Andrew Jackson was a huge divisive force in American politics for his time. He expanded federal power despite opposing it, He often was very aggressive on issues that most politicians were more careful, and participated in many famous events like the trail of tears. It is appealing to the voter in turbulent times to choose someone who is less invested in the political process and instead is more of a powerful forceful personality. The reason I think this is important is that we often feel powerless in the face of these never before experienced events like for instance a president who seems beyond historical or that we are living in an age of unparalleled technological advancement. But the thing is that is exactly how people felt during Andrew Jackson’s time. The US was changing profoundly and people were afraid of rapidly expanding elite power so they choose Jackson the candidate who was a self-made man, a political outsider and rebel, and seen as a champion of the common people. If we see Trump as a typical example of a political outsider being elect as a head of state making big changes to the system in a short amount of time a situation that has happened before and will happen again. Not to say people shouldn’t be concerned for times of change for their political system but I know it helps me to understand and take assurance that this is not history being derailed but rather an example of the repeating cycles of history. It can be hard to see through the mythology of our past and realize our founding fathers were involved in scandals and battle just as sensational as they are today. We as students [and teacher] should consider ourselves learners attempting to  understand events and mechanisms beyond what they first appear to be. The sooner we can see ourselves less as people being ruled by current historical events and more as people living in a time of predictable yet changeable historical events the sooner we may shape history as we are also shaped by it.

John Green has a great Video about Jackson