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Look who’s a mommie!



Click here for higher-resolution version.

The white deer has been around for several years now, bless her heart. It’s possible that there are even two white deer in this little hidden valley. This is the first time I’ve ever seen her with a fawn. The photo was taken from an upstairs front-facing window. I got a good look at her this morning. She’s a very pretty deer, and she looks healthy.


Click here for higher-resolution version.

If you’ve got too much of it, baba ganoush it


Are we tired of squash and okra yet? It could happen.

Baba ganoush is not just for eggplant. Any vegetable that likes to be roasted can be turned into baba ganoush. This one is made from roasted yellow squash and roasted okra.

Are we tired of pesto yet? I hope not, because the basil is the most vigorous thing in the garden now that the usual July heat stress and water stress are setting in.

This was a very rich meal. I couldn’t eat it all.

A boys’ answer to #metoo


Yes, #metoo has exposed some ugly abuses of male power and male impunity. But most men are not like that. And there is nothing wrong with boys.

I won’t waste any words of my own. These young men sing the point quite beautifully.

In French:

Abandon entouré d’abandon, tendresse touchant aux tendresses…
C’est ton intérieur qui sans cesse se caresse, dirait-on;
se caresse en soi-même, par son propre reflet éclairé.
Ainsi tu inventes le thème du Narcisse exaucé.

I cannot find either a literal or poetic translation of the French that I like very much. So I will have a go at a poetic translation of my own:

Wildness surrounded by wildness, tenderness touching tendernesses …
It is your own self that ceaselessly caresses you, one might say;
Caressed inside yourself, lit by your own reflection.
Thus you find the answer to the prayers of Narcissus.
One might say, one might say, one might say …

The poem is by the Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926. The poem ostensibly is about a rose. But like most poems about roses, I don’t think it’s about roses at all.


Hiding in the woods indeed



I watched this doe for a good while yesterday. She couldn’t see me. I was at a window facing the orchard gate. She skulked out of the woods and made for the nearest patch of clover. Then she tore at the clover as though she was starving.

Though her ribs were slightly visible, I don’t think she was eating so fast because she was starving. It’s a lush summer; there is plenty of food. Rather, she was trying to pound down a good meal of clover before she skulked back into the cover of the woods. There’s no clover in the woods! She has to venture out for it. I’m almost certain that she has a fawn. Her udder is visible in the photo. She probably left the fawn in hiding in the woods, though I often see does and fawns in the yard.

I felt sorry for her. She’s not a particularly pretty deer. If I were a poet, I’d have written her a little poem. I’d have told her: Take your time. Eat all the clover you want. Don’t be so jumpy. No one will shoot you here. You and your little one can relax for a while. Help yourself to the other stuff, but mightn’t you leave the day lilies alone?

Some of the local menfolk who hunt joke about why the deer like this place so much. Not only is there good food here, they feel safer here (though clearly they never feel truly safe). “They know,” the hunters say.

Then as the poem that I didn’t write wound back on me, I saw into the metaphor. I’m hiding in the woods, too, just like she is. I skulk out of the cover of the woods sometimes, too, when I don’t have any choice. We’ve lost the Supreme Court. It was stolen. The right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has urged right-wing vigilantes to start gunning down journalists. Every day, we find ourselves farther down the slippery slope toward fascism. Pundits urge us to be “civil,” even as savages double down on the work of destroying the American democracy.

But the metaphor doesn’t hold. Deer have only one defense: to run and hide. We are not deer. We have other options. And I am not feeling civil.


Update:

Here’s one of the little scamps who helped eat my day lilies, standing in the now-bloomless day lily patch. The photo was taken from an upstairs, front-facing window.

There is a grove of trees between the house and road, and the deer families spend a lot of time there. I think this is because the grove is mostly open on all sides, and thus any predators would have to cross open space to get into the grove.

Old Scotland and the modern world



How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The true story of how Western Europe’s poorest nation created our world and everything in it. By Arthur Herman. Random House, 2001. 472 pages.


The title and subtitle of this book contain quite a lot of hyperbole. Of course the Scots didn’t create the modern world and everything in it. But the Scots did have a great deal to do with lifting Western Civilization out of the darkness of Calvinism and into the Enlightenment. This is an excellent book that aims to tell that story.

The book covers two centuries. The story is complicated, too complicated to try to summarize here. The cast of characters is large, but I will name some of them: John Knox, Francis Hutcheson, Henry Home (Lord Kames), James Boswell, David Hume, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, James Watt, John Loudon McAdam, David Livingstone, and many more.

Why was it that Scotland punched so far above its weight during such an important period in history? If you had to choose one word for it, then that word would be education. The Scottish emphasis on education probably has its roots in Scottish Calvinism and the view that everyone ought to be able to read the Bible for themselves. Early on, Scotland invested not only in public education, but also in its universities. It would be impossible to talk about the Enlightenment without talking a great deal about the University of Edinburgh. During the Enlightenment, a hunger for learning somehow became a part of the national character. Even for people of humble origins, paths based on merit existed for attaining higher education. The Scottish universities also tilted toward pragmatism much more than the classicism (and classism) of England’s universities. That set the stage for Scottish advances in science and engineering.

For those like me with a particular interest in Britain and Ireland, there is a lot of good stuff in this book — the tension between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the tension between Scotland and England, affinities and tensions between Scotland and Ireland, some history of Highland culture, and cultural factors relating to language and dialect.

This history actually brings us as far forward as 1981, when Scotland’s economy had fallen apart. Between 1979 and 1981, Herman writes, Scotland lost 11 percent of its industrial output and 20 percent of its jobs. That was the Scotland I encountered on my first trip to the British Isles in 1983. Edinburgh was lovely (and affordable). But upon getting off the train in Glasgow, I felt so overwhelmed by decay and dreariness that I got back on the train and returned to England. That was 35 years ago. In a few weeks, I will be passing through Glasgow on the train, going from Edinburgh to Oban. Glasgow, I believe, has changed a great deal since 1983.

Tourism is a big part of many economies. The World Travel & Tourism Council says that travel and tourism contribute about $2.3 trillion to the global economy each year and accounts for 109 million jobs worldwide. Those parts of the world that strive to remain old, so that the rest of us can go there and thus better imagine the past, are doing us a huge favor. Scotland’s Highlands are particularly suited for that. There is no shame in trying to preserve as much of the world as possible as a museum. Sir Walter Scott’s novels, actually, were a much earlier effort to preserve and romanticize Scotland’s Highland history. After a few days in Edinburgh, most of my trip to Scotland will be spent on the isle of Mull. With luck, I might be able to hear Scottish Gaelic spoken for the first time. As always, I will pay particular attention to language, food, and culture. And of course I’ll have lots of photos when I get back home in mid-September.

The paradoxes of purity


Jakub Józef Orliński, YouTube. What is he singing? Please don’t play the video yet. We’ll watch it in a second.


Far more than we realize, the idea of purity affects how we see, and how we react to, the world. Yet we’re barely conscious of our reactions based on purity. We can’t talk about purity without also talking about disgust, which is what people feel when their idea of purity is violated. Disgust is not a rational, thinking response. It’s an emotion, and it arises without conscious control. Disgust also has a milder form — mere discomfort. Conservatives care a great deal about purity. Liberals care far less.

I have posted in the past about Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations theory. Haidt posits that the predominant moral values of liberals are caring and fairness. For conservatives, the predominant moral values are loyalty, authority, and purity.

Purity, it seems, is very divisive as a moral value, possibly even the most divisive. Purity and disgust feed heavily into our politics. My guess would be that this is because disgust is unconscious and irrational — not to mention powerful. People usually assume that their feelings of disgust or discomfort have moral meaning. Rational people who examine and question their feelings will find that that is not always true.

Psychologists actually have studied how the social divisiveness of purity works. Think about, for example, the American controversy around which bathrooms transgender people are expected to use. Conservatives, with their much more rigid views about sex, sexuality, and gender, can get whipped into a white-hot rage over the bathroom issue. Liberals couldn’t care less. I am old enough as a Southerner to remember “white only” restrooms. Trump’s wall on the Mexican border reeks of purity. Brown-skinned people threaten the identities of, and evoke fear in, conservative white people. Those white people want to be separated from brown-skinned people to preserve the purity of their white culture, even if that means putting brown-skinned children in cages. They would never put white children in cages out in the Texas sun. Purity is the primary moral value that right-wing propagandists and right-wing politicians use to motivate followers.

Liberals feel disgust, too, but for very different reasons. Putting children in cages, for example, is disgusting to liberals, because it’s unjust, unfair, and uncaring. Appealing to purity will get you nowhere with liberals.

I often wonder why I have such undetectable reactions where matters of purity — social purity, at least — are concerned. Is something wrong with me? Or is something wrong with conservatives?

For decades, actually, I have reflected on the idea of purity. For sport, many years ago, I used to carry on debates with a friend who considered himself a Christian and a Calvinist. He was very smart and loved a good debate, though. He has since lost his religion, by the way. I noticed back then that he had an odd fixation on purity — for example, the purity of Christian orthodoxy, as well as sexual purity. (He was, at the time, struggling to retain his virgin purity until marriage. I believe he lost that battle, too.)

I tried to reach him with a metaphor. Imagine, I said, that the earth is one large diamond, utterly enormous and utterly pure. Purity, I argued, is inert. If the earth was pure diamond, it would be hopelessly dead. Interesting stuff can happen — stuff such as evolution and transformation, or life — only in a messy, volatile environment. The elements and molecules of life are extremely reactive. Purity, I said, stands in the way of reactions of every type. Purity leads to inertness. Life is inherently impure. Evolution can occur only in an environment of complexity, experimentation, mixing, and the new things that come of it. Give me messiness and ebullience, I said, and to hell with purity. As for God, I argued, if God loved purity, then he could have created a pure universe of diamond, gold, helium, and all sorts of inert things. Instead, the universe is explosively reactive. It would seem to me, I said, that God abhors purity.

This brings me to Jakub Józef Orliński. He is Polish. He’s 27 years old. He is a superb, heart-stopping singer, trained in Europe and at the Juilliard school in New York. He’s obviously athletic and masculine. My radar would identify him as straight. But:

Now click on the YouTube link at the top and listen to him sing.

Does it make you uncomfortable?

Orliński is a countertenor. The natural voice of a countertenor is usually baritone. But through certain techniques of managing the vocal chords, countertenors can sing in the mezzo-soprano range, which is natural to the female voice. Countertenors with operatic training can do it superbly, but any human male can do it. Orliński is singing an aria from a Vivaldi opera (1724). In 1724, this female part would have been sung by a castrato. The castrati were, of course, castrated males. They were preferred as musical performers partly because the stage was seen as inappropriate for women and partly because the sound that the castrati could produce had a timbre and power that the female voice could not attain. The last castrato singer died in 1922. Countertenor singing is largely a 20th Century development. The idea is to do the best job possible of reproducing early music without castrating children. That’s moral progress, though the sound is not quite the same.

To the degree that we are slightly uncomfortable with an athletic, masculine young man imitating the female voice (for the sake of art), we probably have unexamined (and socially constructed) hangups about gender and sexuality.

But the more I’ve thought about the issue of purity, the more I encounter a paradox.

A conservative might feel that a man sounding like a woman contains an element of disgrace and unmanliness, though Orliński is probably more manly that most of the men who feel that way. Conservatives are greatly offended by anything that violates their binary values of gender and sexuality. But those are socially constructed values. If we look beyond the socially constructed values, might we glimpse a higher, more Platonic form of purity, a purity with a whiff of something universal and cosmic that relates to human expressiveness and the transcendent qualities of art? What about the ideal purity of the sound of a soprano voice, abstracted from the singer who produces that sound? The socially constructed binary values of gender and sexuality are being challenged today from many sides, by many varieties of people who didn’t get a fair deal under the old rules. There’s the issue of fairness versus purity again. And that, of course, is why these are such controversial issues in today’s culture wars. Identity, by the way, clearly has a problematic relationship with purity, which helps explain why we are learning that identity politics can be so destructive and divisive.

What about race? The actual biological differences are trivial and meaningless, and yet the socially constructed differences are enormous. If we look beyond the socially constructed differences, might we glimpse a higher purity? We are all humans, after all.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have not made a secret of my belief that conservative moral values are not just weaker moral values, but that they are applied in ways that are dangerously wrong. So this is my claim: The conservative fixation on purity is not about purity at all. Rather, it’s about sorting and segregating. It’s about a vast raft of socially constructed hoo-hah about differences. It’s about us versus them. It’s about fear. It’s about privilege, discrimination, and inequality. But beyond all that lies a higher form of purity. And in the direction of that higher, archetypal form of purity, precisely because of the mixing and messiness, lie evolution and progress.

For extra credit, here’s another Jakub Józef Orliński. I hope it doesn’t make you quite as uncomfortable this time.

As an interesting musical aside here, listen to the bass voice. (In music, the word “voice” is used for any line of music, whether sung or from an instrument.) The bass voice here is played pizzicato (plucking) on a cello. Notice how the bass line moves constantly, supplies a melody of its own, and provides a bass counterpoint to Orliński’s mezzo-soprano. Vivaldi was a genius.

The lingering darkness



The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. Catherine Nixey, Houghton Miflin Harcourt, 316 pages.


It is remarkably difficult, even with rational and educated contemporary minds, to challenge the belief that the church and the Christian religion have been a force of steady moral progress in the world. Yet that belief is easy to challenge. The opposing claim — that the church is, and always has been, an impediment to moral progress, a destroyer of superior systems, and all too often an engine of evil — is far from impossible to defend.

Early on in this book, Nixey writes, “Little of what is covered in this book is well known outside academic circles.” That is certainly true. The power and monopoly of the church flooded the world with church propaganda and suppressed the voices of any who dared to dissent. The church, and church people, wrote history. Yes, there have been movements such as the Enlightenment that have brought great moral and intellectual progress. But, where the church exists, there will be (and always has been) active resistance. American fundamentalism’s project of rolling back the Enlightenment (we now use the whitewashed term “evangelicalism”) shows clearly how the church operates to impede moral progress, to embed itself with the worst kind of political authority, and to maintain the power of the church.

It is inevitable that a book like this would attract criticism. Some critics have said that the book is one-sided. It’s not. Some have said that it’s a polemic. It’s not. Sneakier and more sophisticated critics have attacked the book for not being an academic book, as though that somehow discredits the book’s sources. But with 21 pages of notes, it’s easy enough to check Nixey’s sources. As I mentioned above, academics already know. What was lacking was a popular history to bring this historical material to the many who don’t yet know. Based on the Amazon rankings, the book is selling quite well.

Just what does the church have to offer to justify its existence, other than “salvation,” the bestselling product of charlatans (and not just Christian charlatans) for centuries?

It’s important to keep in mind that the New Testament contains no moral teachings that were truly new. All of the New Testament’s moral teachings are easily traced to earlier cults or philosophies, as I learned 50 years ago in Religion 101 and Religion 102. (That was a required course then at High Point College, now High Point University. I have written about my religion professor here.) The church’s early writings merely borrowed from other cults such as the Gnostics, or from pagan philosophy. Nor were those teachings state of the art, even then. The pagan philosophers of Athens and Antioch and Alexandria, and the intellectuals of Rome, correctly saw the Christian cult as embarrassingly hickish and backward. The church’s early texts were sorry work, poorly written by uneducated men. One of the services provided by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), and one of the things that established Augustine as such an important figure in the early church, was that Augustine was among the first to bring a state-of-the-art education to the writing of Christian texts. That, given that Augustine was one of the foremost whack jobs in history, only made things worse.

In one important sense, though, the Christian religion and the church did innovate. Judaism was monotheistic, but Judaism did not proselytize. But not only did Christians proselytize, they also set out to destroy the competition. In the classical world, there was room for many gods and many philosophies. Philosophical inquiry was ongoing and ever-evolving. But the church insisted that there was one god and one true religion. Its truths were fixed, permanent, ossified, and unchallengeable. Everything else had to be eliminated. Even worse, anything was permissible to accomplish the elimination. That meant burning books, destroying pagan temples, and building a highly evolved system of persecution. To torture or burn a heretic’s body to save his soul was thought to be a Christian kindness. To burn books, to tear down temples, to destroy art, to force people to convert to Christianity (or else) was to serve God. This destruction and persecution is the subject of this book.

It is estimated that only 10 percent of classical literature survives. For Latin literature, the estimate is even worse — only 1 percent survives. Much of this was systematic destruction. Some of it was neglect.

At this point, I’m going to digress from the subject of Catherine Nixey’s book and indulge, just for amusement, in some existential speculation.

The church has been such a regressive force for so many centuries that we are obliged to use our imaginations to understand the scope of what the church has done. Just for the fun of it, here are two directions in which I let my own imagination run.

First:

The cosmos is an awfully big place. An article in Scientific American writes:

“If life can only arise under a narrow set of initial conditions, Forgan estimates there should be 361 advanced, stable civilizations in the Milky Way. If life can spread from one planet to another through biological molecules embedded in asteroids, though, the number jumps to nearly 38,000.”

Keep in mind that our own Milky Way galaxy is only one of something like 100 billion galaxies in the universe. In that context, what can we earthlings say about “God”? Some existential and intellectual modesty are called for here. And yet the Christian religion has taught every little mediocre-minded fundamentalist preacher in the American South to believe that he is qualified to instruct us on the mind of God. I can only laugh, though it isn’t funny.

Second:

What might the world be like if Christianity had never existed? We can never know, of course. But Christianity’s systematic destruction of the classical world, as well as its systematic destruction of the provincial cultures of western Europe (for example, the Celts), clearly imply that those cultures would have continued to exist and would have continued to evolve. Western civilization today would be much more classical and Celtic. Philosophy — and therefore moral progress — would have evolved much faster. It is impossible to imagine what our artists would have accomplished, in a world of philosophy and moral progress rather than dogma. Peace would have been easier to negotiate where plurality and reason are valued, so I think there would have been less war. Science would have advanced much more quickly. Yes, the ancients had slaves. So did we, until 150 years go. But without the church and its regressive influence, the arc of justice would have bent much more readily. Nature, earthly happiness, and life in general, would be honored rather than devalued and “fallen.” I doubt that the continued existence of our planet and species would be threatened as it is today.

I don’t propose book-burnings and persecution, though frankly that is just the kind of payback that the church has earned and deserves. But I do believe that civilized people have a moral, philosophical, and even religious duty to imagine the church and its products out of existence, to render the church forgotten. I believe that the Christian era was the worst wrong turn that history has ever taken. As rational, breathing, connected, upward-striving living creatures in a very large cosmos, we pay the price every day. “Where there is terror,” wrote Augustine, “there is salvation.” It’s hard to imagine a theology more depraved than that, and more deserving of oblivion.

The elusive okra bloom



An okra flower. Click here for high-resolution version.

I have been trying to get a photo of a fully open okra flower, but I still have not succeeded. Okra is a relative of hibiscus, and its flowers are much like hibiscus flowers. The photo above, of a not-yet-fully-open flower, was taken at 9 a.m. two days ago. At 8 p.m. the same day, I returned with the camera expecting to see a fully open flower. Instead, the flower already had wilted. I’ll keep trying. Okra flowers, I think, are the most beautiful flower in the vegetable garden.

I’m also doing my best to understand the morphology of how the okra flower relates to the okra seed pod (which is the edible part). That, too, is going to require more observation.

A note on flower photography: A tripod is almost always necessary, otherwise blurring occurs when maximum sharpness is needed. Wind is often a problem and also can cause blurring, because narrow apertures (and therefore longer exposures) are often necessary to manage depth of field. I usually shoot flower photos at different aperture settings, then determine in Photoshop which aperture setting worked best. The idea is to get the objects of interest sharply in focus, while blurring secondary objects that are closer to, or farther away from, the camera.


Blooming elsewhere at the abbey. Click here for high-resolution version.

Two theories of gardening



A thriving squash plant, with lots of room and some pampering. Notice how dry the soil is.

I’ve already learned a lot from my experiments with this year’s garden. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my plan this year was to plant sparsely, leaving plenty of space between things for cultivating and for weed control. This type of gardening also is water-frugal.

One of my favorite gardening books is Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon. This sparse, water-frugal type of gardening is what he recommends when life depends on your garden. I believe I am sold.

That’s not to say that a hard-working gardener with irrigation cannot pack a garden densely and get great yields. But I’m not a hard-working gardener, and this year I resolved to not do any irrigation.

May was a wet month with 8.69 inches of rainfall. June has been dry, with only 1.29 inches of rain in the last 17 days. Gardens really ought to have an inch of rain or more per week. So we are on the dry side. But, so far, nothing in the garden is showing signs of water stress. Weed control has been easier now that the weather is dryer. The plants, with little competition from weeds and from other plants, seem to be pulling enough water from deeper in the soil without any problem. My yields have been terrific. And insect pests, so far, have not been a problem.

I think I’m also realizing that a productive garden is not just about soil and water. It’s also about sun. No plant can make a lot of vegetables without a lot of leaves and a lot of sun to do the metabolism. So sparse gardening also gives plants plenty of room to spread their leaves and get their sun. Soil, sun, and water: the sparse-garden theory is all about not forcing plants to compete with other plants for what they need. That makes sense to me.

The eve of self-destruction



Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, Paige Patterson, Paul Presslar

Slogging through the news each morning (and afternoon, and evening) is increasingly dangerous to the mental health of rational, morally sane people. Yet I hold my nose and continue to do it. Whether we acknowledge it or not, Americans really are living through a Manichaean period of good versus evil. How this all turns out probably will be the most important inflection point in American history.

Part of what nauseates me is the sheer ugliness and depravity of the people we now have to read about each day in the news. In a post eleven months ago, I floated the idea that conservatism is not just a way of seeing the world, but that conservatism is inherently pathological and is a symptom of moral defect. The farther to the right one goes, the greater the pathology and the greater the defect.

Why do so many morally defective people crave power? Some attain it; most don’t. Why is it that the ever-present flip side of a craving for power is a craving to be submissive to “authority”? Why do morally defective people who are unable to attain power lust to submit to a morally defective big man who will act out their defectiveness for them? When morally defective men do attain power, why do they fail to grasp that power brings scrutiny and resistance, and that scrutiny and resistance will eventually expose their secret crimes, their foibles, and their evil? Why do they fail to grasp that they will never acquire the absolute power and the absolute truth-control that they crave and that eventually they will be exposed and brought down? What is is about morally defective men that causes them to cloak themselves in religion? Why are religious people so easily duped by, and led by, morally defective men? The obvious answer is that these things are just the inherent nature of authoritarian moral defectiveness, which always gets entangled in dominance and dogma.

Some of these thoughts were amplified this morning when I came across a piece in The Atlantic with the headline “Southern Baptists Call Off the Culture War.” I hope that is true, because Southern Baptists have been — I will not mince words, and I must resort to Manichaean language — a powerful force for evil for decades. The Atlantic piece sets the date for when this evil began, and it names two of the evil men who launched it:

“In 1967, at New Orleans’s historic Café du Monde, a young seminary student named Paige Patterson and Texas Judge Paul Pressler met over a plate of beignets to hatch a plan to unite conservative Southern Baptists and take over America’s largest Protestant denomination.

“The two men successfully executed their strategy in the subsequent decades, a movement they labeled the ‘Conservative Resurgence’ and their opponents dubbed the ‘Fundamentalist Takeover.’ Whatever one calls it, the result was a purging of moderates from among denominational ranks, the codifying of literal interpretations of the Bible, and the transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention into a powerful ally of the Republican Party.”

The exposure and the bringing-down took decades, but eventually even Southern Baptists — people of little intellectual or moral achievement — managed it, probably after women and people of color asserted themselves against the old white men. Paige Patterson was recently ruined and disempowered for covering up rape and abuse, among other things. Paul Presslar is in a heap of trouble, accused of molesting children and raping boys. None of this would have gone on for so long if so many people had not looked the other way. As with Catholicism in Ireland, a country that was once so priest-ridden, and where nuns once trafficked in children and pregnant young women, a reckoning and rethinking may be beginning, even among slow-on-the-uptake white people in the American South. I cannot let up on hammering those people who think that the church and its God-besotted people can do no wrong. Religion attracts, and provides cover for, the wicked. The wicked and their enablers are entirely capable of destroying the American democracy while believing that God put these big men here to save us.

I’d have a question for Southern Baptists, who, according to The Atlantic piece, are trying to reconstitute themselves in a better way. That question is: Why were you (as with Trump) unable to see what those men are? It was right under your God-besotted noses for years.

The story about Presslar in the Houston Chronicle contains a quote from a Baptist preacher from around 1978 that is very telling. The reference to high school students seems to have to do with Presslar’s pursuit of boys:

“Are you going to minister to 250 high-school students or 13 million Southern Baptists?”

Reports are that some evangelicals are losing their enthusiasm for Donald Trump. Every little shred of decency helps. Maybe that decency could even grow, with fewer evil men to feed moral defectiveness.

Stephen Miller, by the way, is the moral monster who apparently talked Trump into putting little brown-skinned children into concentration camps. Miller’s destruction will be particularly satisfying to watch.

Between 35 and 40 percent of the people in this country remain in a state of depravity and delusion, cheering the deeds of morally depraved men. Partly because of this army of losers’ steady diet of propaganda — not to mention their need for scapegoats — they still don’t see what Donald Trump is, and they still don’t see what is going to happen. Their propaganda system is potent enough not only to make millions of people believe that Donald Trump was “sent by God.” It’s also potent enough, thanks partly to racism, to demonize, and to blame the bad stuff on, honorable men like Barack Obama. Still need scapegoats? Try billionaires and oligarchs instead of little brown-skinned children.

As for what is going to happen, Donald Trump (and many members of his criminal syndicate) are going to prison (some have already gone) for corruption and treason. The danger — and this is why I can’t turn away from the news — is in how much damage they will do before they are exposed and brought to justice. As for Trump’s God-besotted enablers, it’s up to us to rub their God-besotted noses in the consequences of their moral defects.