Cognitive Psychology

Making Explicable the Inexplicable: the Waves of the #COVID19 Pandemic are Natural Waves of Terror


We’ve been scratching our collective asses looking at the rank and vile of MAGA Nation as they decry masks and vaccines and warp the interpretation of individual rights and freedoms to mean acting without any responsibility for how our behaviors affect those around us. I mean since we’ve had multiple effective and demonstrably safe vaccines for #COVID19 that Trump championed the development of, you’d think MAGA Nation would use it as an occasion to sing Trump’s praises and PROUDLY line up for the shot just to own the libs if for no other reason. You’d think the Ol’ Pussy Grabber would be crowing about the vaccine how wonderful it is, the best vaccine ever invented, many people are saying it, undevelopable without him ,everyone asks him how he does it and it’s just natural talent, he’s so humble. You’d think that would be that would go for the narcissist and his sycophants, but it isn’t.

You’d think GQP governors would be organizing their own state vaccine drives that exclude Biden and the federal government or at least rebrand it as a GQP state vaccine initiative and urge their populations to get vaccinated, the end of the #COVID19 pandemic brought to you by the GQP. Instead they are opposing masks in school for children who are too young to be vaccinated, denying the efficacy of vaccine mandates and passports, and urging individual responsibility. Instead of vaccines, they are promoting the use of expensive and largely unavailable early treatments like monoclonal antibodies and Regeneron, oh, and by the way, they just happen to own lots of stock in those companies. They are promoting super-spreader events, yes we’re looking at you South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that resulted again this year in a surge of #COVID19 infections this time with the Delta variant. It’s like they want a vaccine resistant variant to develop.

It makes no sense.

Stewing in Fear, Anger, and Agitation

It makes no sense unless and until you consider the effects of living with constant negative emotions on the human brain. For decades, conservative media has kept their ever growing audience of listeners and viewers steeping in a stew of stress hormones, pickling their brains. The corroding effects of living in a continuous state of anxiety, fear, agitation, and anger literally prevents the brain from engaging its rational thinking parts. It promotes irrational and immoral behavior.

A group of people who have lived in with such extreme states of negative emotions begin to think irrationally and behave immorally. As Joost Meerloo  noted in his book,  Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, a logical argument can be met with a logical counter argument, but what counters an illogical argument? What counters the lies? Logic and truth are so much harder to articulate and explain than the overly simplistic rhetoric and black-and-white propaganda that the GQP is promoting around the #COVID19 pandemic — individual rights and freedoms, personal responsibility vs. having a responsibility towards our fellow citizens — it makes it so much easier for people without the rational and moral parts of their brains being fully functioning to succumb to the seductive siren call of the authoritarian delusion.

The reaction of the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers is irrational and immoral and completely un-understandable. Until you realize that we’re seeing the cumulative effect decades of living in constant anger, fear, anxiety, angst, and agitation. We are seeing people acting with no ability to use their higher thinking skills and moral decision making.

Waves of Terror

You cannot understand the opposition of GQP governors and other politicians — who are all vaccinated and have access to the best medical care in the world, by the way — to public policies and laws that would mitigate the pandemic through masking and vaxxing until you realize the way that the waves of terror intensify the effects of decades of living in a constant state of negative emotions.

Waves of Terror — Screengrab from Mass Psychosis by After Skool

Typically a would-be authoritarian softens up a population with massive doses of scary rhetoric and propaganda keeping people agitated and angst ridden. Such a situation will cause them to behave irrationally. It makes it easier to accept more outrageous lies and wilder accusations of nefarious intent.

Then, the authoritarian engineers or manufactures waves of terror by allowing a moment of respite between each successive wave of fear. Each succeeding wave is worse than the last. The moment of calm before the next storm breaks intensifies the effect of the next wave of fear.

The fear is ratcheted up by propaganda and disinformation. Friendly media outlets are typically used to propagate the disinformation; allied politicians, the propaganda.

If the irrational behavior and immoral behavior of the populace was bad before the waves of terror hit them, they become infinitely worse during and after. Now, believing anything, no matter how ridiculous, becomes possible. Now, the population is willing to do things that they never dreamed possible before, committing horrid acts of violence or condemning helpless people to their hopeless fates without mercy.

Waves of #COVID19 as Waves of Terror

Like most of the world, we had our first wave of #COVID19 in the spring of 2020. It was terrifying. No one knew what to expect or do exactly. As it turns out, it was relatively small. It seemed to have subsided by June, and we had rosy pictures of the “return to normality” dancing in our heads. Then the second wave hit in July with outbreaks sweeping across the heartland of the nation. Not only was it was worse than the first wave, because more people were ill and more died, but because it was preventable through the use simple mitigating tactics like wearing a mask, testing, contact tracing, and social distancing, which many refused to do. Still, it tapered off during the fall, and we had a moment’s respite.

Then, the horrifying third wave came in the winter of ’21 with thousands dying and hundreds of thousands being infected per day. In the middle of it all, the FDA gave the vaccines emergency use authorization and the glorious day in December when they rolled out of the warehouses and were delivered to vaccination centers around the country. As the numbers fell during the waning days of the winter, we had real hope that we could beat the pandemic through vaccination.

Biden was elected and electrified the country by getting two million people their first dose in his first one hundred days. We had hope for the first time in a year. By summer our numbers were reaching real lows. For about a week there in July, it seemed like we might have beat the virus, but then the fourth wave rolled through infections and deaths climbing quickly.

In the middle of the fourth wave, the FDA granted the Pfizer vaccine full approval, and, incredibly, Gov. Abbott of Texas banned any sort of vaccine mandate by any private or state organization in the state of Texas. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin inexplicably said, “I don’t care what drug will work. Try a bunch of them.” He has endorsed the use of the horse and cow dewormer, ivermectin, so often that Youtube suspended his account for a measly week. And a doctor treating prisoners in Arkansas is prescribing ivermectin in what amounts to a bizarre field experiment.

With the delta variant being much more transmissible — even by people who are vaccinated — affecting young adults and children much more frequently and severely, and killing the unvaccinated, doing anything other than urging people to take the FDA approved vaccine is irrational and immoral.

It is clear that the GQP is using the #COVID19 pandemic as a naturally occuring wave of terror to radicalize its base and get them to commit acts of violence.

We are now reaping the fruit of this effort. Anyone with temerity to speak publicly in support of the vaccines is immediately booed and often heckled, receives death threats against themselves and their families, and are physically intimidated by people following them. These acts of aggression, violence, and intimidation have happened against health officials, medical professionals, and teachers.

We are watching MAGA Nation descend into mass psychosis. The bad news is that we can expect much more irrational and immoral behavior from the rank and vile of MAGA Nation. The good news is that the severity of the suffering of the unvaccinated from #COVID19 is piercing the delusion and peeling people away from MAGA Nation true believers. It may be sufficient to burst the bubble of cognitive dissonance needed to continue believing in the authoritarian delusion.

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Image Attribution

“Waves II by Peter Kaminski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

46 replies »

  1. Those GOP governors and other office holders are also behaving irrationally, unless they actually believe that the virus will kill enough more POC to offset the death toll among their own voters. The only other more or less rational explanation is that they are terrified of confronting the madness of their base.

    I’ve been trying to understand how it was that Trump did not celebrate “his” vaccine. The rational thing for him to have done in response to the first wave and onward would have been to have huge numbers of masks printed up with his name on them or the MAGA slogan and pass them out at rallies, urging his followers to wear them and join the “Whip COVID’s Ass” army, and promise to bring the vaccine to the rallies as soon as possible. He would probably still be President if he had done that, and we would be in much better shape with the virus. He didn’t, He faced an adversary he could not gasslight, intimidate, grab the sensitive parts of, or wish away. He couldn’t even sue the damned thing. None of his accustomed tactics were possible and he couldn’t think, just react to it as a narcissistic injury. The GOP has not recovered from that failure.

    I have, at Walmart, seen someone wearing a MAGA hat and a mask. Maybe there is hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      I like to think as death stalks MAGA Nation almost exclusively now, that reality will break through the fog of stupefied delusional thinking and the base will dwindle down to a small enough number that the GQP will topple. It would be lovely to see the populace rise up and wipe the Republicans from offices in Texas, Florida, South Dakota, and across the South. The GQP strategy right now is to run on scary immigrants — Biden “lost” the Afghan War on purpose so he could bring millions of Afghan refugees to vote Democratic! — and crime — the Blacks are out of control! Lock up your wives and daughters! Buy more guns! We’ll see if white people fall for it AGAIN.

      But, with the stakes being vote Republican and bring more death to your house or Democratic and vaccinate our way out of the pandemic, people may choose life.

      Either the GQP governors are behaving irrationally and immorally as groupthink predicts, they are in on the waves of terror scheme, or they think they are pandering to the base. Either way, they are killing people unnecessarily. The only thing even remotely defensible is that they are as gaslit by the BS as the base is, but elected officials are in office to do better.

      I wrote extensively about Trump’s reaction to the virus. I think his Achilles’ heel is that he is a germophobe and the mere fact that a virus was lose in the country was a narcissistic injury to him. His ability to mitigate the pandemic with the powers of the federal government appealed to hs Machiavellian and sadistic tendencies. He enjoyed and still does enjoy knowing that his inaction caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions to live in misery. He enjoys knowing that he really screwed Biden in many ways.

      I think the narcissistic injury of a virus disrupting the country (the germophobe in him and the possibility of a very public failure) negated any ability to take credit for the vaccine, promoting vaccination, or using the MAGA brand and rallies to mitigate the virus. He could not associate himself with it in any way other than to say he could use magical thinking to end it.

      Trump is really.a bit player — maybe another blog post — in all of this now. He never wanted the office to begin with. He never liked fulfilling the duties of the office. He ran in 2016 to promote his brand and make money. He used his time in office to make money. He’s using the threat of running in 2024 and election fraud the MAGA resistance to make money. He’s concerned about himself and himself only.

      The Republican Party is making an authoritarian grab. They used Trump, once he was on the scene and showed what he could do, to destroy and weaken our democratic institutions, especially those in the Executive Branch and the Judiciary Branch. They have been working the base with the authoritarian tactics of fear mongering and demagoguery. The hype the economic threat of deficit spending when Dems are in office, but their stock-in-trade is peddling fear of immigrants and Blacks and the loss of country through displacement of their culture and electoral predominance.

      I think that is it in a nutshell.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stephen Miller is a much better example of the current GOP than Trump ever could be. I think you are right that Trump was/is for that level of the party exactly what he was for Putin, a bull to set lose in the china shop.

        The depth of Trump’s narcissistic need popped up in a truly bizarre example this past week in response to the situation in Afghanistan, commenting that Bin Ladin was no big deal because he was, with 9/11, a “one hit wonder”, thus dismissing not only that attack, but all that followed from it as somehow inconsequential compared to his own accomplishments.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          I think you’re right. Miller is exactly what the Republicans stand for a white nationalist minority rule autocracy like they had in South Africa.

          I think Biden must be one long continuous narcissistic wound for Trump. First, he won. That is narcissistic wound enough for Trump. Second, he is addressing the pandemic and got the vaccine distributed efficiently and successfully. And third, he is doing a heroic job of ending the war in Afghanistan on Trump’s terms. Everything Trump did to screw Biden over and put him in a no win, Biden has handled. Trump must just be twisting in the wind down there in Merde-de-Lardo or wherever he is spending his twilight years.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, he tried the gambit of recommending the vaccine at a rally and got booed. That must have hurt.

            Trump will never give up on the election being stolen from him, both for the narcissistic reason and his basic understanding of the world. His whole life has been about real estate. All he knows is the buying and selling of property. To him, the presidency (and with it, the country) was a piece of property (symbolized by a building, the White House) that he either bought or won. It was taken from him against his will and not paid for, stolen.

            Various people complain that Biden should have started the evacuation earlier. If he had, that would have brought on the collapse of the Afghan government and army by signaling that we considered them doomed in short order. Unless the Taliban were ready at that point to rush in to control the streets of the cities, there would have been utter chaos which we had too few troops in the country to control. Once the decision was made to get out, it was not a matter of choosing the best way, but the least bad. Many of those who had served on the ground knew exactly what would happen. This veteran was interviewed today on NPR – https://laurajedeed.medium.com/afghanistan-meant-nothing-9e3f099b00e5

            Also, On The Media did the whole hour today on the First Amendment and Free Speech.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              You’re right Trump cannot give up the election was stolen schtick because narcissism, the transactional way he views the world, and because he’s stolen and cheated at everything and just assumes everyone else does, too. Also, the grift. For him, it’s a perfect storm.

              It’s easy to arm-chair quarterback Biden’s withdraw. I hear people — military people — saying all kinds of wild and crazy stuff like we should re-take all the airports. I’m no expert. I must accept that the military advice Biden got to give up Bagram AB and to avoid a very public evacuation was sound. However, having lived abroad for almost thirty years now, I know that everyone should have their go-bag ready and pay attention to the news… just in case. Americans and Afghans who worked with the US should have seen this coming and gotten themselves to Kabul in anticipation of the evacuation. Trump stopped the visa program, but once the rapid collapse of the countryside commenced, they should’ve been less cautious and just pulled up stakes. It’s hard to make that decision. It is similar to how we had to think about the #COVID19 pandemic in China in March 2020. How bad will it get? Are we safer leaving the country? Will we be stuck here if they close the border and the virus reaches pandemic levels throughout the country?

              Looking back, we decided to stay and it was a good choice. I thought it was a good choice because from almost the beginning it seemed like the Chinese had kept it to Wuhan with small outbreaks in various cities and provinces; they had strong authoritarian containment measures; and that it would get out of the country and other countries might not do so well with it.

              Also, when the world gets scary, the instinct is to stay home. That worked in China with #COVID19, but it didn’t work in Afghanistan with the collapse of the government.

              Thanks for the link and the tip to On The Media. Good podcast, by the way that I don’t listen to often enough.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • I think that a lot of the people who are leaving or trying to leave Afghanistan did know, but still fell into the same wishful thinking their and our governments did that there would be time, until there wasn’t.

                The Go Bag is on its way to becoming a standard item in a lot of places, whether because of politics, disease, fire, flood, or other causes. Hurricane Nora is bearing down on New Orleans at Category 4 (might hit 5?) on the anniversary of Katrina. Lots of go bags.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  I understand the instinct, really, to think that you’ve still got time. It’s part cognitive dissonance and part avoidance. In my life, procrastination has most often paid off. Things get cancelled or changed. Unfortunately, this time the door closed a lot faster than anyone imagined it would.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Yes, although I strongly suspect the Taliban knew best how fast the collapse could be and that they needed to get into the cities when it did happen to keep something like order because there wouldn’t be anybody else to do it and ISIS-K would have a field day if there was real chaos. They may be authoritarian theocratic jerks, but they are clearly not stupid. They also knew where and with whom they had made deals to accept surrenders, which the government forces were not telling us.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Most people seem to discount the effects that time might have had on the Taliban. Time and struggle. Of course, the leadership and many of the rank and file members are not the same as they were 20 years ago. The original co-founder is still there because Trump got him out of the Pakistani prison we sent him to, but many of have changed. Also, those that were there from 20 years ago have aged and matured.

                      The country is also different. Culture changes slowly, but it has changed. The Taliban don’t face the same population that they had before. They also see themselves as being the government and needing international aide, which will place certain limits on their excesses.

                      One relationship to watch is that with China. I’ve been trying to find out how the Taliban specifically, but Muslims in particular are feeling about the Chinese Muslim Uighurs that they are so brutally suppressing. Afghanistan and Pakistan share a border with China — I’ve actually been there; insanely rugged and beautiful country. If the Taliban wanted to help liberate the Uighurs, it could make life in Xin Jiang and other parts of China pretty ugly. I suspect, China is attempting to buy them off with lots of aide like they are with Pakistan and all along the Old Silk Road with their Belt and Road project.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It seems that the Taliban are quite willing to work with China, but China will expect them to prevent other groups from using their territory to launch or support actions in China. That will not be easy.

                      The Taliban leadership also have the problem of getting their more radical and conservative members to really go along with their official amnesty and even slightly greater rights for women. They will probably lose some members to ISIS-K or other groups as a result. And, to build a government credible to the Afghan people, they need to avoid getting sucked into the tradition of corruption that so marked the former government. If they get the foreign aid they need, there will be tempting money floating around.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      The Chinese have really clamped down on the Uighurs. They’ve cut them off from their neighbors and relations in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. They limit their travel within the country. The few that do travel get visited by the police often. They’ve got millions being re-educated. They place government officers in homestays to keep an eye on families and their neighbors. It really is horrible.

                      The Uighurs have mounted a few terrorist attacks. A few years ago there was a knifing in a Guangzhou metro station for example.

                      It’s bad enough that you’d think the Islamic freedom fighters and avengers would be outraged by their treatment and stop at nothing to liberate them, but, apparently, Chinese money buys a lot of looking the other direction.

                      This iteration of the Taliban is going to be interesting. Governing is much more difficult than revolting. There are lots of examples of movements that win their struggle against a central government and then struggle to govern, not that they lose their position as governing parties, they just struggle and the populace struggles. The one thing these groups do well is violently oppress opposition.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I agree that for the Taliban, the easy part is done. The Americans are gone (but lurking over head). Now the hard part begins, the part that nobody has gotten right (if right is even possible) for forty years or maybe forty centuries. One thing sure is that ISIS-K wants to rule the place instead and will be trying, and none of the various ethnic and tribal rivalries and grudges have gone away. Some level of civil war is pretty nearly guaranteed. Pakistan and India will continue competing for influence with money and support of one faction or another. Any direct intervention by a Great Power is unlikely. Russia and the West have been burned once each, which leaves China using mostly money and “technical assistance”.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • From what I understand from a group of Middle East scholars that I follow on Twitter, various ethnic and tribal rivalries and grudges is the way of Afghan life. It is just a Tuesday for them. Shifting alliances is the way of doing business. It all depends on who can offer the better deal and out maneuver who. It is one reason why “taking over” Afghanistan has been such a mirage for the Western powers that have tried. As soon as you think you’ve got an alliance with a group, it shifts away from you without you even realizing it.

                      We may not have gotten governance right, yet, but we certainly know many ways that haven’t worked. Not that it has ever stopped anyone from trying one of them again.

                      Even China’s money and technical assistance will only buy them temporary access and respite from the troubles of Afghanistan if they chose to do anything more than build a fast train through the country.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That system of shifting alliances is always a bad place to get involved. Alexander ran afoul of the same thing when he went to conquer India among the kingdoms and principalities of the Indus valley. Of course, he nd his troops had never seen anything like the Indian war elephants and that freaked them out, but it was by thinking that allies would remain allies that he got his ass handed to him. He didn’t even consider trying to govern Afghanistan, just recruited on his way through.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      You’d think that part of the War College preparation for commanders and top military brass would be taking culture and history into consideration when conducting operations. We clearly did not know the first thing about Afghan culture and how it functioned. We clearly did not try to adapt our methods to that situation. Instead, we tried to make Afghanistan into a liberal centralized law abiding democracy when the culture was conservative, decentralized, customs-following.

                      We shoulda known better but we let ourselves get sucked into mission creep, confirmation bias, and the just-one-more-and-it-will-work-I-just-know-it syndrome.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yep. That’s why the Taliban won. They are from, in, and of that culture. A lot of what we call “corruption” there is the traditional way of making deals, with gifts exchanged, lots of tea drunk, and old men sitting around catching up on family matters between families, clans, and tribes connected by marriages and battles fought over many generations. If you are the Taliban wanting to arrange for an exhausted and demoralized army unit to surrender or just disappear, you send somebody’s cousin, or uncle, or brother-in-law, or clan elder. Then, the word is passed and it happens when it is supposed to happen. And, who did we put in place at the top of the government? Western educated long-term expats with resumes listing the UN, World Bank, think tanks, universities, and corporations, men already embedded in our groupthink and also with the agenda of changing the culture.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Ghani recognizes a mark when he sees one. Now, he won’t ever have to worry about it again, though. There was a reason that those guys left Afghanistan to work in the upper echelons of Western and international institutions. They knew they would never be able to deliver on their promises to the US. We should’ve known all of that. But, we’ve a long history of backing “leaders” and parties that have little to no support or even connection to the countries we are propping them up to govern. I doubt we’ll ever learn these lessons.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • We want to give leaders to other countries who are not only acculturated with us, but assimilated as well. We trust them because they have become like us, or rather like the politicians and advisors who are choosing them.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There is something to that. As a species, we are really attracted to things that look like us… or at least what we think we look like, but in American culture, there is a particular kind of snobby xenophobia where we think everyone else is much stupider than we are. I remember realizing how this worked in Korea when I was teaching a group of elementary school children English in a cram school one evening. It just suddenly hit me that it wasn’t that they didn’t know it, they just couldn’t say it English, and it wasn’t that the way they did things was wrong or bad, it was just different. For whatever reason, that was an epiphany for me. I think it helped me avoid the tough time that many of compatriots experienced there.

                      In fact, looking back on that whole experience, I definitely was assimilating more of Korean culture than many of my comrades. They were fighting the culture. After that I was looking for ways to understand it and use it to help me in my job. Kinda parallel to our military’s trouble in Afghanistan.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • A culture is like the proverbial super tanker that is so hard to turn or stop. There is a lot of behavioral momentum. It generally works better to follow the principles of Judo and Akido of redirecting by following and using that momentum than by opposing it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Culture does indeed change slowly. The supertanker and martial arts analogies are both very apt. Unfortunately, Western response to challenges is to try to “destroy” it, punish it, stop it in its tracks. There is a deep and abiding belief that a harsh enough punishment will deter behavior. I guess there is an instinctive connection there — but it might not be a universal reaction which would suggest that it is culturally based — so when we encounter a culture that we don’t understand we want to squash it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There is that. The American reaction to others who insist on being themselves instead of begging to be allowed to be like us (Yes, we do want them to beg.) smells of narcissistic injury. The myth of exceptionalism is that fragile. That is also why there is a narcissistic panic at the prospect of having to deal with the analysis of Critical Race Theory.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      And such racial animosity at the prospect of becoming a minority-majority country. Many people speak of the narcissism of white supremacy. Given the place that racism has in American deep culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that narcissism plays a large role in American identity. Looking at the reaction of folks to Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan speaks to this narcissism. The incredible cognitive dissonance around #COVID19 speaks to this narcissism.

                      The slowness with which culture changes is demonstrated by how long it is taking us to remove the racism from ours. If you mark the beginning of the effort the debate the Founding Fathers had over slavery and the Constitution and the writing of the Declaration of Independence then it is almost 250 years in the offing. Not nearly long enough. If we can keep it together, we might achieve it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Like

                    • The narcissistic roots of European, not just American racism go back to the very beginning of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism by Portugal with the assertion that Africans were people without culture, savages in need of being “civilized” as slaves and at home by colonial domination and Christian missionaries. The colonies which became the US were created from that world view and this country came to view itself as on a divine mission to take over that civilizing project from the fading European powers. Bob Dylan put it so well:

                      “Oh my name it ain’t nothin’
                      My age it means less
                      The country I come from
                      Is called the Midwest
                      I was taught and brought up there
                      The laws to abide
                      And that land that I live in
                      Has God on its side”

                      Of course, that’s a White God and a White Jesus. Their pictures are in all the churches. Some of us even found ways to believe that we, not the ancient Hebrews, are the Chosen People of scripture. That is a pretty intense bit of deep culture to change, even loss of empire and such don’t wipe it out. After all, in England they still sing, “Britannia rules the waves”.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      The problem of White Jesus is just more confirmation bias and information avoidance and motivated reasoning. People do tend to hold onto the past, especially when the present and future are bleak. It paved the way for Margaret Thatcher.

                      It is the deep and abiding belief that we are not just right but have god’s favor that provides the narcissism and recklessness that has characterized so much of what we’ve done.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The followers of the various polytheistic traditions through history found a lot of reasons to kill, enslave, dominate, pillage, and abuse their neighbors, but there was one reason they did not seem to come up with. They did not do any of that to save the victims’ souls, or make the world perfect and pure. Only the two aggressive monotheisms, Christianity and Islam came up with that. Occasionally some sect of another tradition has come up with it, but it didn’t take with the majority or last long. The logic is simple. If there is only one God, there can be only one true religion and way of worship. And, if the entire drama of creation is a war between Pure Good and Pure Evil, then you have to get everybody else to your (the Good) side whether they like it or not and by any means necessary.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      As I recall the earliest years of Judaism, at the time in the Levant, the tradition was for gods and religions to be associated with the areas and regions that they were worshipped in. When people migrated, they adopted the religion of the area that they settled in. Then Judaism arrived. They wanted god to follow the believers. Of course, it changed the region forever. Eventually, it completely displaced the original tradition.

                      Of course, Christianity and Islam grew from Judaism. They were all the People of the Book according to early Muslims.

                      Now, things are very different, and we are the worse for it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think it was inevitable that the Christian western barbarians would clash with Islam, and that relationship has never recovered from the Crusades. And barbarians they were too. The troops of the Caliphate found they had to introduce captured Crusaders to a thing called soap and get them cleaned up and de-loused before even interrogating them. At the time, the largest collection of knowledge west of Beijing was the library at Baghdad.

                      Another difference between the polytheisms and the monotheisms is that the stories of the former are family dramas with complex characters, fallible characters who can make mistakes and have to navigate relationships. The universes of the monotheism don’t even have a couple running things, just a father/king with no mother/queen. It is odd that even coming from very deeply patriarchal and even misogynistic cultures, they all have some strong and formidable goddesses.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      It is interesting how culture is reflected in poly or monotheism. Monotheism has won out to such a degree that we can’t even fathom that polytheism could be correct or beneficial.

                      It is funny, though, that neither Judaism or Islam became a fierce suppressing and violently expansive culture until they met deprivation and degradation at the hands of Christians. When Christianity mixed with Roman culture, maybe the Romans infected it with a bit of divide and conquer which pushed out the love thy neighbor and help the stranger.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • For Chrisianity, the turning point seems to have been the Council Of Nicaea. Emperor Constantine had embraced the new faith, claiming a vision that promised victory in a battle. The problem was that Christian teaching was generally pacifist and the membership largely among women and slaves. He needed the Church leaders to make it ok for Christians to be soldiers (At the time, the dominant and official practice of the military was the cult of Mithrias, a bull god.) and to make the Church an arm of the empire. So, the Church had to become strictly hierarchical and militant, and expel several branches that were not so as heretics (most notably the Gnostics). Later, the schism between the western (Latin) and eastern (Greek) branches of the church only made things worse. Then, the intolerance and violence metastasized in the wars and persecutions of the Reformation and Counter Reformation.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I hadn’t realized the details of the history, so it is much appreciated. I do remember being thrown out of Sunday school because I refused to stand up and sing, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” with the rest of the class and wondering aloud why Christ who preached peace would want or need soldiers. The teacher wasn’t appreciative of my dissent. Neither was my mother.

                      The Gnostics, however, were always one of my favorite branches of the faithful. It is a shame that they lost out and that Christianity carried on with its militaristic culture.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It is interesting too that the eastern church lost a lot of its militancy with the decline and end of the Byzantine Empire, until they converted the Russians and joined the empire building of the rulers in Moscow.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Our Founders knew well the history of what happens when religion gets hold of state power. They were only a few generations removed from the horrors of the English Civil War. That knowledge led to their erection of a wall between church and state. Fascists and theocrats have always hated that wall and are very near to tearing it down completely.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Our Founding Fathers were Enlightenment thinkers and philosophers. They believed in rational thought and reconciled it with religion. Religion, especially the fundamentalist versions of it, require acts of faith not acts of reason. There is a thin line that separates acting on faith from acting irrationally, and we’re seeing what happens when a large group of people cross that line enmass.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Like

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