“Alternative Facts”

This week Trump’s spokeswoman Kellyann Conway introduced us to a new term…”Alternative Facts.”  At first I was amused.  Even joked that “alternative facts” might be useful.

For instance, I posted on Facebook that when I woke up and looked in the mirror, I saw that I lost 50 pounds overnight!  Chuckle, Chuckle.

But as the week wore on, more and more “alternative facts” were put out there by Trump and his cronies that made my head spin and my blood boil.

Estimates of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration were greatly exaggerated by his administration, especially after the Park Service said he drew a smaller crowd than Obama.  In spite, Trump shut down the National Park Service website after they backed up their claims by posting photos of the two events “side by side” clearly showing that Obama drew a much bigger crowd.

The Women’s March the next day also drew greater crowds than Trump’s inauguration and that infuriated him even more.  In fact, the big March in Washington was only one of the many that day.  There were protest marches in every state and many countries around the globe.  That really got under his thin skin.

Trump sent out his dogs, Sean Spicer and Kellyann Conway, to present “alternate facts.”  But everyone with could see that what they were really doing was lying about the numbers.
And then the Wall…he announced that he was going to have American taxpayers pay to build a wall between our country and Mexico after stating throughout his campaign that he was going to have Mexico pay for it.  “Alternative Fact”…America would get the money back by imposing tariffs on Mexican goods, so in fact Mexico would pay for the wall.  But that would mean that Americans would pay higher costs for products so indeed we really would be paying for the damn wall.

So much happened this week but the crowning blow was waking up to the news yesterday that Trump, by executive order, had closed our borders to people from seven countries, mostly in the Middle East…”in order to keep us safe.”  This is the biggest “alternative fact” of all.  This self-imposed Muslim Ban will do just the opposite.  Besides going against our national values and international interests, this executive order will make our country less safe and it even threatens the heart of our  democracy.

“Alternative Facts” are lies!  They will only bring our country down.  We must resist by telling the truth!!!

William Sparrow gave this advice to his students at Virginia Theological Seminary over 150 years ago: “Seek the truth; come whence it may, cost what it will.”  I am glad to follow in that tradition in the days and months and years ahead, so help me God.

Photo was taken at graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary, May 1989.

L to R: The Revs. Anne West, Gayle Marsh, Pat Earle, Anne McRae, and Mary Anne Dorner

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Signs of the Times

Yesterday was a day unlike any other in the life of our country.  Over One Million people took part in Women’s Marches in large cities and small towns throughout the United States.  Millions more joined in solidarity by participating in marches in all Seven Continents.  Most carried signs expressing their concerns and offering opinions on a diversity of issues.

This grass roots movement started the morning after Donald J. Trump was elected President.  While so many people were shocked by the election results, it was mainly women who reacted strongly and publicly on social media.  They had listened for months as Trump spewed vitriolic remarks about women, people of color, immigrants, those with disabilities, and members of the LGTBQ communities.  They feared that with Trump’s election, his bleak world view might become accepted and normalized.

Almost immediately, women took to social media and began organizing a Women’s March in Washington to express their concerns about a Trump administration.  At first, they wanted it to be held on inauguration day but they could not get a permit.  So they decided to organize a march for the day after the new president was sworn in.  The word spread, and soon women who couldn’t travel to Washington began organizing marches in their own home towns and cities.  The movement spread like wildfire and by yesterday women led marches in all 50 states!

From early morning, I started receiving texts and photos from family and friends as they traveled by bus, car, train and public transportation to events in Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Dallas.  I got personal reports that metro stations were jammed but people patiently waited in line as various cities added more cars to accommodate the larger than expected crowds.

I was captivated by the signs most women and some men were carrying.  With every sign, I felt more hopeful about our country!  

Thank you ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, young and old, straight and gay, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, for creating and then holding up your signs. 

With every one, my hopes began to rise higher and higher.  This felt like the beginning of something the likes of which our country has never seen…at least not in decades!

I am sharing photos of three of my favorite signs.  There were many more runner ups but these are priceless.  Drum roll please.

Number three: a mother and daughter in St. Louis with a sign: “My Body, My Choice, Her’s Too”

Number two: three friends in Dallas, one of which held up a sign: “Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Power.”

Number one: a bishop marching in Cincinnati holding up an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (by artist Yolanda Lopez) with the words “She is with us!  Fighting Oppression.”

As Donald Trump said: “I am starting a new movement the likes of which the world has never seen.”  You are right, Mr. Trump…you have started a movement and I have a feeling that it is only going to prosper and grow as women, and those who support them, take to the streets and social media.  We have only just begun creating “Signs of the Times.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I choose to speak out….

Family and friends have asked me why I have chosen to speak out so publicly this past year about my religious and political views.  I’ve thought a lot about that question.  Why do I feel compelled to speak out so forcefully?

In one week, our president-elect will be sworn into office.  In my opinion, he has sown seeds of division in our country that have now ripened into full-fledged dissention. You can either agree with him or he will label you an enemy and start calling you names and tweeting about you.  Sadly, I’ve decided that he’s not going to change once he becomes president.

It seems that Trump loves to play with us.  He says things like we are going to build a wall and that Mexico will pay for it.  People either cheer this idea wildly or think it is the stupidest thing he has ever said.  Of course now that he may have to make good on his promise, he says that Americans should pay for the wall and he’ll get the money back eventually from the Mexicans…who said they will never pay for it!  It is like a game for him.  And we let him play us.

He does the same with Russia.  He praises the leadership of Russian President Putin, the former head of the KGB, who murders his own people who disagree with him.  Then he says that our president is weak.  He used to get a rise out of his followers by promoting the “birther movement.” He was so convincing that the majority of his followers still believe that Obama was not born in Hawaii and that he is a secret Muslim.  In fact, he used these lies to attract people to himself.  Those who opposed Obama bought it hook, line and sinker.

Back to Trump and Putin.  He seems to be stacking his cabinet with pro-Russian candidates, one of whom is a candidate for Secretary of State even though he was awarded Russia’s highest honor by Putin himself.  Seriously, you cannot make up stuff like this.  I really cannot believe why anyone thinks that Russia wants to be our friend.  They are out to destroy our world view and to challenge us as the world’s leading super-power.

And Trump’s ethics violations…too numerous to mention.  Eventually that is what I think will eventually topple him.  He believes that he is above the law…that he can literally do anything he wants and no one will challenge him.  Remember when he said that he could stand on 5th avenue and shoot someone and no one would care.  Are these words of a president?  Statements like that just boggle my mind but his followers don’t seem to care.  In fact that say: “That is just Trump being Trump.”

Have we forgotten that no one in our country is above the law.  No one!

He makes such outrageous statements.  Remember when he said that he was the only one who could save us?  Really.  That man sure has an inflated ego that will eventually pop when he is forced to face reality.  Its only a matter of time.  But we will have to suffer his presence until finally he collapses under the weight of his own ego.

But why does all this bother me so?  Its not just his talk that I find offensive.  I’ve seen other braggarts in my life and even worked for a few.  What gets to me is how his actions will affect the lives of vulnerable people that come into his line of fire.

Very soon, perhaps even in the next few weeks, he and his party will take away access to affordable health care for millions of people.  It was supposed to be repeal and replace…but evidently they haven’t come up with a plan so they will just repeal and let people suffer the consequences.  Personally I think we should take away the health care of members of our congress until they come up with a plan.

Trump and his cronies in Congress, who seem to be falling in line despite all the things they said about him during the election,  will also start attacking Medicare and Social Security… all this in order to give tax benefits to the wealthy who already appear to be doing just fine.

In the midst of all this, mother earth will also suffer.  Our environmental protections will be dismantled and our move to clean energy will be hampered.  Clean air and water will become negotiable.  And our national parks will be sold off to mining companies with little regard for the impact that decision will have on wildlife and natural resources.

The list of my concerns could go on and on, but these are some of the major ones.

But why am I speaking out now?  Because it hurts.  It really hurts.  Things that I hold dear seem to be on the chopping block… and I feel unable to stop the process.

I have been an advocate for women’s rights my whole life, and now I see that Trump wants to take away a women’s right to make her own health care decisions.  Some of his advisors and even his Vice President have said that perhaps women don’t belong in the military, especially not in combat.  This is after we have elected distinguished military women combat heroes to congress!

I am also speaking out now in order to try to protect the gains we have made in civil rights over the years.  Equal access to education and good jobs and housing has afforded many to have the opportunity to climb up the ladder from poverty to the middle class.  Trump and congress not only want to move the ladder, they want to dismantle it.  And there are people cheering them on!

I have seen the plight of immigrants today…those fleeing from political turmoil overseas…just as my grandparents did over a century ago.  I have also witnessed the lives of migrant workers who have been recruited from Mexico and Central America to come to our country (often illegally) to harvest our crops, construct our houses, mow our lawns, and work at low paid jobs with the hope of providing a better life for their children and grandchildren.  Now they are being demonized and threatened with deportation.

I fear that Trump and his cabinet and administration will move to set back the clock…to a time before women’s rights and civil rights and efforts to control pollution and protect our land.

It is for all these reasons I have chosen to speak out in public…on Facebook and on social media, and also in private conversations.  I have lost a few friends because of this.  I’m sorry for that but I just cannot be silent in the wake of everything that is happening in our country.

What undergirds my personal and political beliefs is the Baptismal Covenant that I entered into soon after my birth, and which I reaffirm every year at the Easter Vigil when I am asked this question: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  And I answer: “I will with God’s help.”  (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 294)

And so I will speak out…so help me God.

 

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Once More, We Begin Anew

As we begin a New Year, I look back to the past with all its memories and also to the future whatever it may hold.

Looking back, I remember the day I was ordained to the priesthood, June 22, 1991.  Even though it is over 25 years ago, I remember it so vividly.  I received many gifts that day, and one of the most meaningful was a framed calligraphy that was written by my spiritual director at the time, The Rev. Dennis H. Warner.  He had stood by me while I stumbled through the final stages of the ordination process, and was there by my side to “vest me” on my ordination day and to share these words of wisdom that have upheld me for these many years.

“For all that has been, Thanks+++For all that will be, Yes.”  He chose this quote of Dag Hammarskjold especially for me.  He wanted me to always remember to give thanks for everything in my past…the good, the bad and the ugly.  He also wanted me to look ahead to the future, with open arms, and embrace the days ahead with a great big “Yes”!

I can’t think of a better way of framing this coming year.  The future looks so uncertain and at times downright scary.  But whatever it holds, its time to say “Yes”!

I give thanks for wise women and men who have mentored me and for family and friends whose love I cherish.  I give special thanks for my husband and children who were there with me twenty five years ago and who are with me still.  Who knows what we will each experience during 2017.  Whatever lies ahead, may we feel secure in our love of one another and our faith in God to see us through.

The key word for me this year of 2017 is Trust.  Trust that the God who created us will sustain us.  Trust that the many experiences we have had in the past will guide us as we move into the future.  And personally, I have come to Trust that God has already given me all that I need for the weeks and months and years ahead.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:3-4 RSV

 

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