The Bible’s #MeToo Problem

Dr. Trible labels such stories “texts of terror.”

.. When we remember that a third or more of the women sitting in our pews have been sexually assaulted and the majority of them have been sexually harassed, the absence of biblical women’s stories is telling.

..  almost half of transgender individuals report being sexually assaulted.

.. The muting of the #MeToos of the Bible is a direct reflection of the culture of silence at work in our congregations. An assumption is woven into our sacred texts: that the experiences of women don’t matter. If religious communities fail to tell stories that reflect the experience of the women of our past, we will inevitably fail to address the sense of entitlement, assumption of superiority and lust for punishment carried through those stories and inherited by men of the present.

.. Statistically, perpetrators do not lurk in shadowy corners, waiting to pounce. They are men who have a hint of power, or wish they did, who understand women in much the same way so many of the stories of the Bible do — as objects to be penetrated, traded, bought or sold. They are sitting in our pews, or, sometimes, standing in our pulpits.

.. Abuse takes place when one person fails to see the humanity of another, taking what he wants in order to experience control, disordered intimacy or power. It is the symptom of an illness that is fundamentally spiritual: a kind of narcissism that allows him to focus only on sating his need, blind to the pain of the victim. This same narcissism caused the editors of our sacred stories to limit the rape of Dinah to only nine words in a book of thousands.

.. abusive narcissism must be unraveled through a transformation of heart and mind.

.. If I were preaching the story of Dinah, I might simply ask, “How do you think she felt?” It’s a question that some men have never considered. Though some abusers are beyond the reach of compassion, I have in my work as a pastor witnessed the ways hearts can open when someone tells a story. It is empathy, not regulations, that will create a different vision for masculinity in our nation, rooted in love instead of dominance.

.. But transformation happens only in the hard light of truth.

I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous

Jordan has studied and understands authoritarian demagogic leaders. They know how to attract a following. In an interview with Ethan Klein in an H3 Podcast, Jordan describes how such leaders learn to repeat those things which make the crowd roar, and not repeat those things that do not. The crowd roared the first time Jordan opposed the so-called “transgender agenda.” Perhaps they would roar again, whether it made sense or not.

.. Jordan cites Carl Jung, who talked about the effectiveness of powerful emotional oratorical skills to tap into the collective unconscious of a people, and into their anger, resentment, fear of chaos and need for order. He talked about how those demagogic leaders led by acting out the dark desires of the mob.

.. Consciously or not, Jordan may have understood that transgender people tap into society’s “collective unconscious” and would become a lightning rod for attention loaded with anger and resentment. And it did.

.. when questioned about the merits of 12 Rules for Life, Jordan answered that he must be doing something right because of the huge response the book has received. How odd given what he said in that same interview about demagogues and cheering crowds.

.. I have no way of knowing whether Jordan is aware that he is playing out of the same authoritarian demagogue handbook that he himself has described. If he is unaware, then his ironic failure, unwillingness, or inability to see in himself what he attributes to them is very disconcerting.

.. Calling Marxism, a respectable political and philosophical tradition, “murderous” conflates it with the perversion of those ideas in Stalinist Russia and elsewhere where they were. That is like calling Christianity a murderous ideology because of the blood that was shed in its name during the Inquisition, the Crusades and the great wars of Europe. That is ridiculous.

.. Jordan, our “free speech warrior,” decided to launch a website that listed “postmodern neo-Marxist” professors and “corrupt” academic disciplines, warning students and their parents to avoid them. Those disciplines, postmodern or not, included women’s, ethnic and racial studies. Those “left-wing” professors were trying to “indoctrinate their students into a cult” and, worse, create “anarchical social revolutionaries.”

.. I do think Jordan believes what he says, but it’s not clear from the language he uses whether he is being manipulative and trying to induce fear, or whether he is walking a fine line between concern and paranoia.

.. Jordan has a complex relationship to freedom of speech. He wants to effectively silence those left-wing professors by keeping students away from their courses because the students may one day become “anarchical social revolutionaries” who may bring upon us disruption and violence.

At the same time he was advocating cutting funds to universities that did not protect free speech on their campuses.

He defended the rights of “alt right” voices to speak at universities even though their presence has given rise to disruption and violence. For Jordan, it appears, not all speech is equal, and not all disruption and violence are equal, either.

If Jordan is not a true free speech warrior, then what is he?

.. What same-sex families and transgender people have in common is their upset of the social order. In Maps of Meaning, Jordan’s first book, he is exercised by the breakdown of the social order and the chaos that he believes would result. Jordan is fighting to maintain the status quo to keep chaos at bay, or so he believes. He is not a free speech warrior. He is a social order warrior.

.. In the end, Jordan postponed his plan to blacklist courses after many of his colleagues signed a petition objecting to it. He said it was too polarizing. Curiously, that had never stopped him before. He appears to thrive on polarization.

.. He cheapens the intellectual life with self-serving misrepresentations of important ideas and scientific findings. He has also done disservice to the institutions which have supported him. He plays to “victimhood” but also plays the victim.

.. Jordan may have, however, welcomed being fired, which would have made him a martyr in the battle for free speech. He certainly presented himself as prepared to do that. A true warrior, of whatever.

.. Jordan is seen here to be emotionally explosive when faced with legitimate criticism, in contrast to his being so self-possessed at other times. He is erratic.

.. Jordan exhibits a great range of emotional states, from anger and abusive speech to evangelical fierceness, ministerial solemnity and avuncular charm. It is misleading to come to quick conclusions about who he is, and potentially dangerous if you have seen only the good and thoughtful Jordan, and not seen the bad.

.. “Bernie. Tammy had a dream, and sometimes her dreams are prophetic. She dreamed that it was five minutes to midnight.”

.. He was playing out the ideas that appeared in his first book. The social order is coming apart. We are on the edge of chaos. He is the prophet, and he would be the martyr. Jordan would be our saviour. I think he believes that.

.. He may be driven by a great and genuine fear of our impending doom, and a passionate conviction that he can save us from it. He may believe that his ends justify his questionable means, and he may not be aware that he mimics those figures from whom he wants to protect us.

.. “What they do have in common is … that they have the answers and that their instincts are good, that they are smarter than everybody else and can do things by themselves.” This was Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state in an recent interview with the New York Times referring to the authoritarian leaders discussed in her new book, Fascism: A Warning.

.. Jordan is not part of the alt-right. He fits no mould. But he should be concerned about what the “dark desires” of the alt-right might be. He could be, perhaps unwittingly, activating “the dark desires” of that mob.

.. I discovered while writing this essay a shocking climate of fear among women writers and academics who would not attach their names to opinions or data which were critical of Jordan. All of Jordan’s critics receive nasty feedback from some of his followers, but women writers have felt personally threatened.

.. Given Jordan’s tendency toward grandiosity, it should not be surprising to learn that he is politically ambitious. He would have run for the leadership of the federal Conservative party but was dissuaded by influential friends. He has not, however, lost interest in the political life.

.. cut University funding by 25 per cent until politically correct cult at schools reined in.

.. On March 19, Jordan was in the Toronto Sun saying that Premier Kathleen Wynne “is the most dangerous woman in Canada.”

.. There was nothing new in the article, but those words are signature Jordan, the language of fear.

.. Jordan is a powerful orator. He is smart, compelling and convincing. His messages can be strong and clear, oversimplified as they often are, to be very accessible.

.. He has studied demagogues and authoritarians and understands the power of their methods. Fear and danger were their fertile soil. He frightens by invoking murderous bogeymen on the left and warning they are out to destroy the social order, which will bring chaos and destruction.

Jordan’s view of the social order is now well known.

He is a biological and Darwinian determinist. Gender, gender roles, dominance hierarchies, parenthood, all firmly entrenched in our biological heritage and not to be toyed with. Years ago when he was living in my house, he said children are little monkeys trying to clamber up the dominance hierarchy and need to be kept in their place. I thought he was being ironic. Apparently, not.

He is also very much like the classic Social Darwinists who believe that “attempts to reform society through state intervention or other means would … interfere with natural processes; unrestricted competition and defence of the status quo were in accord with biological selection.”

.. Social Darwinism declined during the 20th century as an expanded knowledge of biological, social and cultural phenomena undermined, rather than supported, its basic tenets.” Jordan remains stuck in and enthralled by The Call of the Wild.

.. What I am seeing now is a darker, angrier Jordan than the man I knew.

.. In Karen Heller’s recent profile in the Washington Post he is candid about his long history of depression.

.. It is a cognitive disorder that casts a dark shadow over everything. His view of life, as nasty and brutish, may very well not be an idea, but a description of his experience, which became for him the truth.

.. “You have an evil heart — like the person next to you,” she quotes him as telling a sold-out crowd. “Kids are not innately good — and neither are you.” This from the loving and attentive father I knew? That makes no sense at all.

.. It could be his dark view of life, wherever it comes from, that the aggressive group of young men among his followers identify with. They may feel recognized, affirmed, justified and enabled. By validating them he does indeed save them, and little wonder they then fall into line enthusiastically, marching lockstep behind him.

.. These devoted followers are notorious for attacking Jordan’s critics, but this was different. It was more persistent and more intense. That was not outrage in defence of their leader who needed none; she was the fallen victim and it was as if they had come in for the final kill

.. “When someone claims to be acting from the highest principles for the good of others, there is no reason to assume that the person’s motives are genuine. People motivated to make things better usually aren’t concerned with changing other people — or if they are they take responsibility for making the same changes to themselves (and first).

.. I believe that Jordan has not lived up to at least four of his rules.

Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

Rule 8: Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Rule 10: Be precise in your speech

 

Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore.

For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way.

That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.

.. “Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr.

..  Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials

.. The trove included documents dating back decades

.. since the raid Mr. Cohen has told associates he feels isolated.

.. Mr. Trump has long felt he had leverage over Mr. Cohen, but people who have worked for the president said the raid has changed all that.

.. “Ironically, Michael now holds the leverage over Trump,” said Sam Nunberg

.. Mr. Nunberg said that Mr. Cohen “should maximize” that leverage.

.. “The softer side of the president genuinely has an affection for Michael,” Mr. Nunberg said. For instance, Mr. Trump attended the bar and bat mitzvahs of Mr. Cohen’s children. “However, the president has also taken Michael for granted.” Mr. Nunberg added that “whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflexive response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael.”

..Mr. Stone recalled Mr. Trump saying of Mr. Cohen, “He owns some of the finest Trump real estate in the country — paid top dollar for it, too.” In Mr. Trump’s worldview, there are few insults more devastating than saying someone overpaid.

.. whom he has admired since high school.

.. He has told interviewers that he has never heard Mr. Trump utter an inaccuracy or break a promise.

.. “He clearly doesn’t think that Michael Cohen is his Roy Cohn,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, referring to Mr. Trump’s former mentor and the president’s ideal for a pit bull-like defender. “I think his abusive behavior to Michael is animated by his feeling that Michael is inadequate.”

.. Prosecutors have argued that Mr. Cohen did little actual legal work for Mr. Trump

.. When Mr. Trump ran for president in 2016, Mr. Cohen was given no official role on the campaign.

.. Particularly hurtful to Mr. Cohen was the way Mr. Trump lavished approval on Mr. Lewandowski in a way he never did for Mr. Cohen. When Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump that he believed that Mr. Lewandowski had been behind a negative story about Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump dismissed the comments as simple jealousy, and didn’t pay attention, according to two people familiar with the incident.

When Republicans Rejected John Bolton

in 2005, the extraordinary refusal to confirm his nomination to be President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations by a Republican-controlled committee is worth revisiting for what it revealed about Mr. Bolton and what it may portend for our national security.

.. Testifying before the usually staid Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 2005, Carl W. Ford Jr. — the former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research — called Mr. Bolton a “kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy” and a “serial abuser” of people beneath him in the chain of command. Mr. Ford — a self-described conservative Republican and Bush supporter — made vivid an emerging portrait of Mr. Bolton as a bully who repeatedly sought retribution against career intelligence analysts with the temerity to contradict him.

.. As under secretary of state, Mr. Bolton insisted that Cuba was attempting to build a biological weapons program. The national intelligence officer for Latin America and the State Department’s top biological weapons expert disagreed. In a fit of rage, Mr. Bolton tried to have both reassigned.

.. Mr. Bolton also was accused of attempting to inflate the dangers of Syria’s biological and nuclear weapons programs, by trying to sneak exaggerated assertions into speeches and congressional testimony before being called on it by intelligence officials. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage reportedly issued an extraordinary decree that required Mr. Bolton to clear all of his public utterances with Mr. Armitage himself.

.. Mr. Bolton also accused a State Department subordinate of not sharing with him a cable about weapons inspections in Iraq. The same official had managed to delete some of the more extreme claims about Iraq’s weapons programs from Mr. Powell’s infamous presentation to the United Nations. Mr. Bolton ordered him removed from his duties, which State Department officials reportedly saw as an another instance of Mr. Bolton trying to marginalize dissent.

Mr. Bolton made it something of a habit to request the identity of American officials whose names had been blacked out of sensitive intelligence intercepts. Some members of the Foreign Relations Committee were concerned that he was seeking information to use against those who disagreed with him — the very kind of improper “unmasking” that President Trump has falsely accused some members of the Obama administration of pursuing.

Other witnesses came forward to allege abusive behavior by Mr. Bolton during his time as a lawyer in the private sector — screaming, threatening, throwing documents and, in the words of one woman, “genuinely behaving like a madman.”

All of this ultimately proved too much for Senator Voinovich. In a remarkable speech to his colleagues on the committee, a visibly pained Mr. Voinovich explained his decision to vote against Mr. Bolton, effectively killing the nomination. We’ve heard, he said, that Mr. Bolton is “an ideologue and fosters an atmosphere of intimidation. He does not tolerate disagreement. He does not tolerate dissent.”

.. Though he has advocated tough policies on Russia, he has also reportedly suggested that Vladimir Putin’s effort to undermine the 2016 election was a false-flag operation orchestrated by the Obama administration.

Weighing the Good and the Bad in the Spending-Caps Deal

Republicans dislike “increased domestic spending” in general, but once you see the specifics, you understand why Republican leaders signed off on it: $80 billion in disaster relief funding, $6 billion toward opioid and mental health treatment, $4 billion to the Veterans Administration to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics, $2 billion toward research at the National Institutes of Health.

.. It was always a stretch to claim that Republicans had “basically repealed Obamacare” just by repealing the individual mandate. But getting rid of the individual mandate and the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board? Now we’re getting somewhere. The IPAB was created under Obamacare and given the duty to slow the growth of Medicare spending, but no board members were ever nominated. But as written under the law, IPAB would have enjoyed a lot of power over what Medicare was willing to pay for and how much, with little opportunity for Congress to overrule their decisions. This deal gets rid of IPAB for good.

.. An abusive person will often become a lot calmer when confronted with an authority figure they cannot abuse, such as a cop at the door. Abusive people can usually recognize the difference between the consequences of hitting a partner or spouse in public — where someone may see and confront them or call the cops — and doing so in private, and thus they keep those impulses in check in public. This is, in fact, one of the traits that can emotionally and psychologically trap the victim; the victim finds herself baffled and wondering, “he’s so nice and normal sometimes, so what am I doing that’s setting him off?”

.. Abusive people are generally pretty good at measuring what they can get away with in a given circumstance. They want to indulge their impulses right up to the point where it generates a permanent consequence. For example, if the abuser picks up a knife and begins chasing his partner around the house pledging to stab the partner, the partner is almost always going to flee and end the relationship, and/or file a restraining order.

.. restraining orders usually only work on the kind of people who don’t require restraining orders.) A man who is violently angry on the first date is not going to get a second date.

.. The creepy guy who hangs around a playground and stares at the children is going to get reported and caught pretty quickly. The creepy guy who works his way into a position of trusted authority, and who manages to seem kind, caring, and all of those other good traits around other adults, can pursue prey at will for a long time, because accusations of abuse will seem so unthinkable to other adults.

.. Many people have a hard time rectifying the two, and we should have a bit of sympathy for the friends and co-workers experiencing that cognitive dissonance upon learning of a person’s private sins.

The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette

Remember the hand-wringing when Barack Obama wore a tan suit or tossed a football in the Oval Office?

 .. As part of our continuing effort to resist the exhausting and numbing effects of living under a relentlessly abusive and degrading president, we present, for the third time in nine months, an updated guide to what Republicans now consider to be acceptable behavior from the commander in chief. As before, these examples, drawn from incidents or disclosures in the last three-plus months, do not concern policy decisions — only the president’s words and actions.

Question the authenticity of a recording of you bragging about sexual assault, even though you previously admitted it was real

.. Call the American justice system a “joke” and a “laughingstock”

Have your lawyer pay $130,000 in hush money to a porn star with whom you had an affair while your wife was at home caring for your new son

.. Continue to call for a criminal investigation of your former political opponent, whom you call the “worst (and biggest) loser of all time” a year after the election

.. Tell your rich friends after your tax bill passes, “You all just got a lot richer

Boast that you have a higher I.Q. than your secretary of state, who fails to deny that he called you a “moron”

.. Defend your mental competency by saying that you are “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius”

Tell your attorney general not to recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into your campaign, then when he does anyway, call it “a terrible thing”

.. Falsely claim that your predecessor failed to contact the families of fallen soldiers, and then exploit the death of your chief of staff’s son to defend yourself

.. Threaten to take away a TV network’s broadcast license for reporting on your deliberations about the nation’s nuclear arsenal
.. Threaten to use federal tax law to punish a professional sports league for letting its players express political opinions

Tell reporters that “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it”

Warn American citizens in Puerto Rico, only weeks after a catastrophic hurricane, that the federal government can’t help them out “forever,” even as you tell victims of a hurricane in Texas, “We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!”

.. Spend one-third of the first year of your taxpayer-funded presidency visiting your own golf courses or properties
.. While debating policy with lawmakers on live television, accidentally agree to a deal that is the opposite of what your party wants, get corrected by the House majority leader, and then release an official White House transcript that omits the exchange

.. Say that your former White House adviser and campaign chief has “lost his mind,” after another former adviser and campaign manager is indicted on money laundering and other federal charges

.. Claim that a new tax bill you support will “cost me a fortune,” even though it will probably save you millions, but who knows since you refuse to release your tax returns

.. Take credit for the fact that no one died on a domestic commercial airliner during your first year in office

.. Continue to mock foreign leaders by implying that they are, among other things, “short and fat”

.. Try to stop the publication of a book that says critical things about you and your administration
.. Accuse an F.B.I. agent of treason without evidence
.. Watch four to eight hours of cable television a day, mostly the channel that feeds you self-serving propaganda
 .. Choose for federal judgeships nominees who cannot identify or explain basic legal concepts, and who were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association
.. Falsely claim that you have signed more legislation than any first-year president, when in fact you have signed less than any post-World War II president
.. Taunt a foreign leader who claims he has nuclear weapons by saying your “nuclear button” is “a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
.. Criticize a law that your party firmly supports, then, two hours later, reverse yourself
.. Pick nominees to the federal bench who call a sitting Supreme Court justice a “judicial prostitute” and refer to transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan”
.. Campaign hard for a Senate candidate; then when he appears likely to lose, say “I might have made a mistake” and later delete your tweets supporting him .. Behave so erratically and irresponsibly that senators of your own party resort to saying you’re treated like someone at “an adult day-care center” to keep you from starting World War III
.. Spend one of every three days as president visiting at least one of your own properties
.. Publicly and privately humiliate your own attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation into your campaign
.. Say nothing when a foreign leader’s bodyguards brutally attack peaceful protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C.
.. Tweet GIFs of yourself violently attacking the media and your former political opponent
.. Encourage police officers not to be “too nice” when apprehending criminal suspects
.. Help draft a misleading statement about the purpose of a meeting between your son, other top campaign aides and representatives of a rival foreign power intent on interfering in the election

Deliver a speech to the Boy Scouts of America that includes mockery of a former president and winking references to sexual orgies, and then lie by claiming that the head of that organization called and told you it was the best speech ever delivered in Boy Scout history

Hang a framed copy of a fake Time magazine cover celebrating your business acumen in your golf clubs around the world

Mock a female television anchor’s appearance, saying the anchor was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” at a holiday gathering at your private resort

Force your cabinet members to take turns extolling your virtues in front of television cameras

Welcome into the Oval Office a man who threatened to assassinate your predecessor, whom he called a “subhuman mongrel,” and who referred to your political opponent as a “worthless bitch”

Continue to deny that Russia attempted to influence the presidential election, despite the consensus of the American intelligence community — and yet also blame your predecessor for not doing anything to stop that interference

Grant temporary White House press credentials to a website that, among other things, claims that Sept. 11 was an “inside job” and that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax

.. Pardon a former sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey the law

Continue to repeat, with admiration, a false story about an American military general committing war crimes

Mock the mayor of a world city for his careful, sober response to a terrorist attack

 .. Admit to trying to intimidate a key witness in a federal investigation
.. Profit off the presidency, accepting millions of dollars from foreign government officials, businesses, politicians and other supporters who pay a premium to patronize your properties and get access to you — while also attempting to hide the visitor lists at some of those properties from the public
.. Promise to drain the swamp, then quietly grant ethics waivers to multiple former industry lobbyists who want to work in your administration
.. Call for criminal investigations of your former political opponent, seven months after winning the election

Appoint your family wedding planner to head a federal housing office

Shove aside a fellow head of state at a photo-op

Accuse a former president, without evidence, of an impeachable offense

.. Employ top aides with financial and other connections to a hostile foreign power

.. Call the media “the enemy of the American people”

Demand personal loyalty from the F.B.I. director

Threaten the former F.B.I. director

.. Allow White House staff members to use their personal email for government business

Claim, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally

Fail to fire high-ranking members of your national security team for weeks, even after knowing they lied to your vice president and exposed themselves to blackmail

Refuse to release tax returns

Hide the White House visitors’ list from the public

Vacation at one of your private residences nearly every weekend

Use an unsecured personal cellphone

Criticize specific businesses for dropping your family members’ products

Review and discuss highly sensitive intelligence in a restaurant, and allow the Army officer carrying the “nuclear football” to be photographed and identified by name

.. Hire relatives for key White House posts, and let them meet with foreign officials and engage in business at the same time

Promote family businesses on federal government websites

.. Compare the U.S. intelligence community to Nazis
.. Share highly classified information with a hostile foreign power without the source’s permission