In my 60 years on this blue marble in the vast universe, I’ve encountered evil, goodness, cruelty and kindness. I’ve listened to great classical compositions that were penned by a deaf man and ridiculous oratory from speeches to campfire tales from people who could hear. Hear, but never able to listen. Or think.
Being half a century old or more can be painful. Nobody can deny that. I went to a specialist for arthritis. He tried everything he could throw at me but nothing worked. He finally diagnosed fibromyalgia and tried treating that. Now I can’t take the drug I was on because I would fall, pass out and lose my memory. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s fibro or not; it hurts. Old bone fractures hurt. I get lower back pain like the devil. Dignity leaves bit by bit as you age too; accidents before you can get to the latrine are humiliating and can drive you to tears with shame even if you’re alone. The things my body has endured…over 35 traffic accidents, being squashed, falling from heights that should have killed me, drugs, fights, and of course smoking and heart attacks…have all combined to make me take aspirin and Tylenol three times a day, and those only barely moderate the pain.
None of that bothers me nearly as much as what my mind has had to go through. Brainwashing. Terror. Trauma. Nightmares. Anxiety and panic attacks. Self-loathing. Self doubt. Not being able to trust my own mind, never knowing what my mood would be, never being happy. Being scared of everything and brave about nothing. Certain that leaving the military was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Had I stayed my marriage would have survived and my kids would be alive today.
It pains me then, that I’m seeing something so outside my experience, awful though that experience is, that I find it astounding.
You know what I’m talking about? Yeah, the elephant in the room. On March fourth, according to QAnon, the real inauguration was to take place in Washington. It didn’t happen but that’s not the end of it.
The theories are nuts: that Trump and Biden are working together. That they have switched bodies. That Trump would be inaugurated for real. That Grant was the last US president who was legitimate.
There’s more. The age-old myth has returned that the Rothschild family runs all but 7 countries in the world; that they own the US Federal Reserve, that they started the War of 1812 to begin consolidation of assets and power. Then there’s the ones about the illuminati and new world order. Blaming the Rothschilds is exactly the kind of trick the Koch brothers want you to believe.
Today I found this. If you can get through the statistics, what you will get out of it shouldn’t surprise you. But it should cause you at least some degree of worry.
It’s never been clear which Roman imperator (emperor) began the persecution of Christians. Was it Caligula, who followed the demented and isolated Tiberius, who spent his last years chasing nude children through the woods of Capri? There’s no way to know; Caligula was not in power very long when he fell ill from a mysterious malady which changed him dramatically. It could have started then, but months after his “recovery” he was assassinated while taking a bath.
People usually blame Nero. He was a real character whom the common people loved, at least at first. He took care of them and yet that changed. Probably following the great fire, which he was blamed for starting. He wasn’t in Rome at the time, which gave scholars a chance to call such circumstances an alibi; as imperator he could have left town and simply left orders for soldiers to torch the wooden buildings of the mostly poor sector. I personally doubt this; he is known to have received a dispatch during his performance and that he rushed back to Rome and at his own risk pulled people to safety. That would have been enough to unhinge any leader. What he saw, burned people, what he heard, people screaming, and what he smelled that night was traumatic.
When it comes to the theory that he was urged to blame the fire on Christians we have no real proof. But afterward, we have equally difficult stories to confirm that at evening dinner parties in his personal garden, he impaled Christians high on stakes and burned them for light to see by. The sources are too few and we don’t know. What we do know is, he built a lavish, even by Roman standards, palace on grounds once occupied by the commoners, and this changed his esteem with them and the Praetorian guards as well. When an emperor lost the loyalty and faith of the Praetorian Guard, he was doomed. So it was with Nero, as with many imperators who followed him. That particular body of Roman legionaries was the only one allowed in the city proper; should another division or element thereof ride or march into Rome, it was considered an invasion, no questions asked. The guard turned on Nero before that became necessary and with some maneuvering by people he trusted, his fate was sealed. He committed suicide to prevent his assassination.
Other emperors would follow who did in fact view Christianity as a cult and a threat to the empire; undermining taxation and monetary tribute to the gods of Rome, many of which were from the Greco-Roman contact hundreds of years earlier, before Sparta fell to the Republic.
Religion had its price, always has. With first century CE growth of Christianity, it became more brutal than ever.
When You Become The Thing You Hate
It would turn out that as with all things, men of power, wealth and influence changed the simple tenets of Christ to something twisted and obscene. When it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the story of Jesus had already been modified. To what extent we will never know, but now instead of a few men in sandals walking between Jerusalem, Rome and Antioch with a simple message, it was a monied movement and a major business.
Churches were built until cathedrals were the preferred style, but big or little, simple or intricately constructed, they covered the land after the last of the mighty Roman Empire. That’s when things got weird.
The Crusades. The inquisitions. Dear God, the Christian church turned into a place where people were terrorized to become Christians and murdered if they refused. How did that happen? Where had faith in the peaceful Jesus of Nazareth gone? That man who dared anyone to stone an adulteress, who preached love and forgiveness, the guy they quoted from pulpit and pew, had become nothing more than an alibi for their grotesque lifestyle. “I’m forgiven” they would say. “I’m upholding Christ’s values”, they’d scream. This, while coming into post secular modern day, has become a battle cry for all who advocate death and suffering, obscenity and every evil thing in the book.
Pat Robertson has been a Christian Evangelical TV host for decades. In that time he has done a lot of damage. He’s contradictory, never sticking to any value: he once showed a photograph of Michelle Obama and declared, “That’s not a First Lady.”
When faced with pornographic photographs of Melania Trump, he called them “art”. Which is scummy, to say the least and purely hypocritical to say the most. Pat has called for the assassination of foreign leaders, among others. Perhaps his most deranged bit of doggerel, though, came when he said that “To be against Trump is to be against God,” and that Trump was ordained by God.
He was hardly alone, merely one of the biggest blowhards in a pile of human flotsam. But the white, right-wing voters clung to Trump especially in the Christian community. Other Christian leaders screamed that this was all wrong, but it was too late. The Trump cult was a reality. It wasn’t a passing fad, nor was it trivial in the least. On the day the US Capitol was attacked by domestic terrorists, we found out how serious it really is. The terrorist group consisted of a variety of people from military veterans, police officers, firefighters, QAnon “operatives”, and more. As shameful as it was, most are without a shred of remorse, instead encouraged by how far they got that day. And now, more militia groups are planning to join the next act of terrorism.
I’m not bullshitting here: be vigilant. Be on the lookout. Anyone you know can be getting fired up right now. They may not have been in Washington that day. They may not have been a Q adherent that day. But people are too often emotionally changed by evil. They see it as desirable. Some feel apart and isolated and are desperate for a sense of belonging, and will listen to the most vile rhetoric and act on it. Others fear the “blacking” of America, a myth and a tool of manipulation against weak, bigoted, scared people who grew up in white neighborhoods or, conversely, in mixed neighborhoods and had bad experiences. Fear and hate mixed with bitterness are the ingredients of the white supremacist; weak, closed-minded and predisposed to extreme thinking, they now represent the biggest threat to this country.
And not one of them is a Christian. Never forget that.
They’re actually using Jesus as a mascot. Think about it.