A Hidden Wholeness (Richard Rohr)

At the more mature stages of life, we are even able to allow the painful and the formerly excluded parts to belong to a slowly growing and unified field. This shows itself as a foundational compassion, especially toward all things different from us and those many people who don’t fit society’s standards. If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect, you can now do it for everybody else too. If you have not forgiven yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others. What comes around goes around.

Many who are judgmental and unforgiving seem to have missed out on the joy and clarity of the first childhood simplicity, perhaps avoided the suffering of the mid-life complexity, and thus lost the great freedom and magnanimity of the second naïveté as well. We need to hold together all of the stages of life, and for some strange, wonderful reason, it all becomes quite “simple” as we approach our later years. The great irony is that we must go through a lot of complexity and disorder (another word for necessary suffering) to return to the second simplicity. We must go through the pain of disorder to grow up and switch our loyalties from self to God. Most people just try to maintain their initial “order” at all costs, even if it is killing them.

As we grow in wisdom, we realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. We see that life and death are not opposites. They do not cancel one another out; neither do goodness and badness. There is now room for everything to belong. A radical, almost nonsensical “okayness” characterizes the mature believer, which is why they are often called “holy fools.” We don’t have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore reality anymore. What is, is gradually okay. What is, is the greatest of teachers. At the bottom of all reality is always a deep goodness, or what Thomas Merton called “a hidden wholeness.” [1]

As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up

Despite the fervor of President Trump’s Republican opponents, the president’s brand of hard-edge nationalism — with its gut-level cultural appeals and hard lines on trade and immigration — is taking root within his adopted party, and those uneasy with grievance politics are either giving in or giving up the fight.

.. The Grand Old Party risks a longer-term transformation into the Party of Trump.

There is zero appetite for the ‘Never Trump’ movement in the Republican Party of today,” said Andy Surabian, an adviser to Great America Alliance, the “super PAC” that is aiding primary races against Republican incumbents. “This party is now defined by President Trump and his movement.”

.. Many of those who remain will have to accommodate the president to survive primaries from the pro-Trump right.

.. governor races in Virginia and New Jersey and a special Senate race in Alabama — Republican candidates are mirroring Mr. Trump’s racially tinged campaign tactics.

.. Many of their voters prefer the Trump way.

“We’re not an element,” said Laura Ingraham, a pro-Trump talk show host. “We’re the party.”

.. Ms. Ingraham .. the conservatism of market-oriented internationalism simply has little mass appeal.

“There’s no constituency for open borders, endless war and these international trade deals that are skewed against the United States,” she said.

.. As for the limited government pitch that defined Mr. Flake’s career, Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, scoffed.

.. “It’s very nice. But it’s a theoretical exercise. It can’t win national elections.”

.. “We have a leader who has a personality disorder,” said former Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, “but he’s done what he actually told the people he was going to do, and they’re not going to abandon him.”

.. “I don’t think the rank-and-file Republican believes that corporations are people,” said Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to the Trump campaign who has also worked with Mr. Bannon.

.. For now, though, the vision for a more populist-nationalist party sketched out by Mr. Bannon is being won as much through intimidation as through actual purges in Republican primaries.

.. “The message they’re sending is: The way to survive is by accommodating him, changing their tone and professing loyalty to Trump,” said William Kristol
.. former Representative Tom Tancredo, who was shunned by the Bush-era Republican Party for his harsh anti-immigration views, is considering a comeback bid for governor in 2018.

.. Mr. Graham believes that the president is not as wedded to some of his nationalist policies as his supporters want to believe.

“The best thing that could happen to Trump and the future of the Republican Party is for Trump to fix a broken immigration system,” Mr. Graham said.

.. Establishment Republicans are attempting to convince Mr. Trump that “if you join with Bannon, you cut your own throat,” Mr. Graham said, because it could lead to an impeachment effort by a Democratic-controlled Congress.

But these arguments cause the early Trump enthusiasts only to roll their eyes. The party establishment, these Trump backers say, wants to govern as if the election never happened.

“They still think the election was about Trump’s personality,” Ms. Ingraham said. “It wasn’t. It was his ideas.”

Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America? Psychiatrists weigh in.

Review of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” by Bandy X. Lee (ed.), “Twilight of American Sanity” by Allen Frances, and “Fantasyland” by Kurt Andersen.

“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” features more than two dozen essays breaking down the president’s perceived traits, which the contributors find consistent with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and other maladies.

.. In his new book, “Twilight of American Sanity,” psychiatrist Allen Frances asserts that Trump is not mentally ill — we are. “Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society,” he writes. “We can’t expect to change Trump, but we must work to undo the societal delusions that created him.”

.. And those delusions, Kurt Andersen contends in “Fantasyland,” have been around for a long time. “People tend to regard the Trump moment — this post-truth, alternative facts moment — as some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon,” he writes. “In fact, what’s happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of attitudes and instincts that have made America exceptional for its entire history.”

.. The volume’s contributors take solace in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a 1976 case in which the California Supreme Court held that mental-health experts have a responsibility to speak out when they determine that someone poses a physical danger to others.

.. “The majority of mental health professionals tend to be liberal in their leanings,”

.. Noam Chomsky makes an odd cameo in the book’s epilogue, warning that the Trump administration may stage a fake terrorist attack.

.. Allen Frances wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and he doesn’t think Trump qualifies. In “Twilight of American Sanity,” Frances says the diagnosis requires the patient to experience significant distress because of his condition. But throughout his life, Trump “has been generously rewarded for his Trumpism, not impaired by it,” Frances writes. “Trump is a threat to the United States, and to the world, not because he is clinically mad, but because he is very bad.”

.. He trashes Trump as a “secular antichrist,” a “two-bit, would-be Mussolini,” even an instrument of divine vengeance. “If you were assigned the task of punishing humanity for its original sins,” he thunders, “you could do no better than invent a Donald Trump and give him extraordinary power.”

.. America is delusional not just because it elected Trump, but because it doesn’t conform to Frances’s views on climate change, population growth, technology, privacy, war, economics and guns.

.. Kurt Andersen is here to tell us that America has featured magical thinking and nutty impulses for centuries. Thanks to our mix of religiosity and Enlightenment values — plus the do-your-own-thing vibe of the 1960s and the super-powered distribution channel known as the Internet — Americans have developed a “promiscuous devotion to the untrue,”

.. he chronicles those he considers purveyors of secular and religious pipe dreams, from Cotton Mather to P.T. Barnum, from Walt Disney to Oprah Winfrey. And, of course, from Donald Trump the real estate huckster to Donald Trump the commander in chief.

.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.

.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.

.. “Trump waited to run for president until he sensed that a critical mass of Americans had decided politics were all a show and a sham,” Andersen explains.

At that point, Trump fit right in.

.. writing books lamenting America’s generalized insanity — and the delusions of Trump supporters in particular — may not be the ideal first step to win that trust. For all their expertise in human behavior, these psychiatrists don’t seem well-equipped to coax us out of our current political madness.

Trump’s rhetorical schizophrenia is easy to see through

And so, on one day, we had an unhinged and divisive rant by President Trump in Phoenix. Then, the next day in Reno, Nev., a call for national unity and reconciliation. Multiple political personality disorder. Rhetorical schizophrenia.

The gap between Trump extemporaneous and Trump scripted is canyon-like. The normal role of a speechwriter is to find, refine and elevate the voice of a leader. The greatest professional victory comes when a president thinks: This is the way I would sound if I had more time to write and more talent with language. In these circumstances, speechwriting is not deception; it is amplification.

.. But what about speechwriting that is designed to give a leader a different voice? Here moral issues begin to lurk. Is it ethical to make a cynical leader appear principled? A violent leader seem pacific? A cruel leader seem compassionate?

.. Or maybe a speechwriter can hope a president will eventually rise to the level of his teleprompter.

.. he plays rhetorical games with the artificial (for him) constraints of being presidential. “Nobody wants me to talk about your other senator — who’s weak on borders, weak on crime,” he said of (conservative Republican) Jeff Flake. “Now everybody’s happy.” Here the “nobody” clearly included his own concerned advisers. Trump often uses speeches (and Twitter) to cut the strings of their counsel.
  • .. So it was the real voice that we heard in Phoenix, attacking a man with brain cancer — Republican Sen. John McCain — without any wish for his recovery.
  • The real voice defending a supporter who had been fired by CNN for writing “Sieg Heil” on Twitter.
  • The real voice making fun of a TV anchor’s height. The real voice again widening racial divisions by defending Confederate monuments as “our history and our heritage.
  • It was the real voice expressing greater passion in criticizing journalists than white supremacists.

.. his transparency reveals a disordered personality.

his Phoenix remarks indicate a loose connection to reality.

  • His response to the violence in Charlottesville was, in his view, “perfect.”
  • The North Koreans, he claimed, are learning to “respect” America (for which there is no evidence).
  • “I don’t believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months,” Trump claimed of himself. “I really do not believe it.”

What if Trump really believes what he claims? Then he would be not deceptive, but deluded.

.. Trump is not merely acting unpresidential; he is erratic and grandiose.

On the evidence of the Phoenix speech, Trump believes that a government shutdown is preferable to giving up on funding for the southern border wall. This involves a different type of delusion. Poll after poll demonstrates that about 35 percent of Americans support Trump’s wall. You can’t hold national parks and veterans’ payments hostage over an issue like this and expect to win.

..  “It also takes careful management of the levers available to the administration in a shutdown to keep it from becoming a nightmare immediately, and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is not doing the work to prepare. Incompetence is the death of these guys over and over.”

.. The unified control of House, Senate and presidency means little when the president lives in a reality of his own.

‘Bannon’s War’ Review: Captain Chaos

A ‘Frontline’ documentary looks at the life and career of Trump’s chief strategist.

 The subject of this documentary has never yielded in his regard for the infliction of shock and chaos as a political tactic, according to the commentators, mainly journalists, assembled for “ Bannon’s War,” a “Frontline” film on the life and career of Steve Bannon.
.. an enduring belief in the value of chaos and disorder to undermine the establishment, usurp its power.
.. he ran for student body president and won a surprise victory by running on a platform in which he attacked his rivals as tools of the administration—of the establishment—and by claiming for himself the mantle of “an outsider.”
.. The young Bannon who emerges from this background is an omnivorous reader—a devourer, especially, of philosophy and history that yielded clues to the future. Future calamities, in particular. No danger preoccupied him more than the one posed by the Islamic world, which would in his view forever be a mortal threat to the West.
.. nothing would have greater impact on him than the Sept. 11 attacks, proof to him of Islam’s continuing war against Western civilization.
.. had lost none of his ingrained belief in the value of disruption.
.. Mr. Bannon and President Trump, the film notes, wanted the ensuing outrage, the protests, the shock and, not least, the media’s cameras. They were sending a message: Change had come; Trump was making good on his promises.

The Three Boxes: Order, Disorder, Re-order

We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. In the great spiritual traditions, the wounds to our ego are our teachers to be welcomed. They should be paid attention to, not litigated or even perfectly resolved. How can a Christian look at the Crucified One and not get this essential point?

.. Once we can learn to live in this third spacious place, neither fighting nor fleeing reality but holding the creative tension itself, we are in the spacious place of grace out of which all newness comes.

.. There is no direct flight from order to reorder, you must go through disorder, which is surely why Jesus dramatically and shockingly endured it on the cross.  He knew we would all want to deny disorder unless he made it clear.

Trump: Putting Out Fires, or Starting Them?

Republicans don’t face a particularly heavy lift at their national convention this week convincing Americans that when it comes to security, the house is on fire. The harder test may be convincing them that Donald Trump is more fireman than arsonist.

.. “I think they will do a great job [this week] of reinforcing all the scary stuff,” says the long-time GOP strategist Mike Murphy, a frequent Trump critic. “The question is how they make Trump the answer.

.. Trump suggested to O’Reilly that if elected he would direct the attorney general to investigate the BLM movement. “I have seen them marching down the street essentially calling death to the police,” Trump said. “And I think we’re going to have to look into that.”

.. Indeed, analysts in both parties believe one of the principal hurdles Trump faces is the sense among many voters that at a time when the seams appear to be loosening in America, he would intensify racial, ethnic, and cultural divisions.

.. “One of the big fears about Trump is that he will make a divided country even more divided. And that he exacerbates the divisions for his own political benefit.”