Mania is Not Funny

I was listening to my morning podcast and Morning Joe as they discussed an interview on Fox and Friends with President Trump.

The interview was replayed a few times when a man on the Morning Joe said, “I heard a man in a manic state”. Mika agreed that he’s crazy, and said that she disliked him, but the panel was astounded by all of Mr. Trump’s behavior – how he kept talking, how his voice was high pitched, how the volume of his voice never went down, how he was saying things that hurt himself in court proceedings, and how the FOX crew couldn’t shut him down, no matter what.

The panel has gone through this before re: Trump. Early in his career as President, they had been tempted to call him sociopathic, narcissistic, and so on. Someone at the office told them to watch their language, because they were making “medical claims” that they had no basis to say this. There was, I believe, an APA group of psychiatrists who agreed with the Narcissist diagnosis. Still, the panel had backed off until today. This time, they said “I’m not a psychiatrist, but…”

This reminded me of the Charlie Sheen tapes a few years ago, when it turns out that, for three days, Sheen was in the middle of a manic episode. No one in the media had ever heard anyone talk or act like that. Comedians wrote jokes for days. The press waited for him to break down, or calm down or something. Was he doing cocaine? No one knew. He had in the past. He was with porn stars most of the time during this days-long-event. It turns out later that he now has HIV.

There has been recent talk in the New York Daily News (not the supposedly “Fake News” Times) that said Trump used to use cocaine in the New York Disco scene years ago. Mania and cocaine mirror each other in many ways, so in either case, the diagnosis doesn’t matter. The person with mania talks a-mile-a-minute, can’t or won’t stop, believes they are (literally) THE MOST INCREDIBLE PERSON ON THE PLANET and their ideas flow from one thing to another. They believe they are indestructible (literally) and so, maybe to prove that to themselves or others, they exhibit risky behaviors… gambling, risky sex, compulsive spending and so on.

I have no idea about Mr. Trump and a diagnosis of Mania (now called Bi-Polar Disorder). Nor do I know about any past or present cocaine use. In the present, it’s highly unlikely, due to medical tests he receives. In the past, in New York City’s up-and-coming disco world, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

What I can say is this: If someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms, they need help because when they stop being this way, they will have really unpleasant situations to deal with. They may get suicidal. They may “just” be depressed or they may just need a lot of sleep.  If you are responsible for their decisions legally, when this is all over you will have really unpleasant situations to deal with. In any case, having mentally ill people in your family is often really stressful. Professional help in coping may be necessary for you, and that’s OK. Professional help is definitely needed for them.

It’s not cute, or funny, or fun, or any of those things. If you know someone who is acting strangely, believe yourself that they are. Ask for help determining what specifically accounts for the behavior. Then get help for them or for you.

 

Resisting in Peace,

 

John

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An American To Do List…

During the Trump Presidency, the Ryan-led House and McConnell-led Senate, we’ve taken a lot of losses. I just want to keep track of all the things we will need to fix.

  • Acknowledge the truth of climate change and, now, work harder than the Paris Accords to fix it.
  • Fix any damage caused by the Dakota oil pipeline leaks.
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act.
  • Have, and use, paper ballots for all 50 states.
  • Fix healthcare, and if we’re into restorative justice, call it “Obamacare”
  • Pay off a larger national debt.
  • Make sure that anyone who wants to can serve in the military, while simultaneously making war less likely.
  • Fix our relationships with NATO
  • Return National Parks to their proper size.
  • Restore the Clean Water Act.
  • Give teachers a living wage in all 50 states.
  • Rebuild Puerto Rico and fix their financial structure
  • Fix and then use the department that does security clearances.
  • Stop school shootings
  • Reinstate the ban of severely mentally ill gun owners.
  • Start actually fixing our infrastructure.
  • Get coal miners jobs that will last.
  • Move the Israel embassy back to Tel Aviv
  • Build prisons big enough to hold all the people caught in the Russia scandal, and give Black men jobs guarding them.
  • Fix corrupt police departments
  • Allow women to make their own health care decisions, while making Viagra not covered by insurance.
  • Fix DACA. Give people who have suffered uncertainty full citizenship.
  • Hire as many ambassadors as we need, and teach diplomacy.
  • Require every generation after this to take civics.
  • Return to a clean energy policy.
  • Require police to shoot only as a last resort.
  • Remove the ill-gotten Neil Gorsuch.
  • Replace him with someone the full Senate can agree on.
  • Restore the Equal Pay act.
  • Restore the consumer protection bureau to full power.
  • Restore school lunch programs.
  • Feed the hungry.
  • House the homeless.
  • Give people a living wage for their work.
  • Make voter registration required.
  • Enforce sanctions against Russia.
  • Teach televangelists the gospel.
  • Stop telling lies on cable news.
  • Break up Sinclair broadcasting.
  • Get a Press Secretary who doesn’t lie.
  • Demand honesty from our entire government.
  • Restore HUD’s mission statement.
  • Take back any money Carl Icahn stole.
  • Shore up our support for the Iran deal.

We have lots of work to do. The sooner we can stop things from getting worse, the faster we can get to the list.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Resurrection People

Sermon given on Easter Sunday, 2018 “Resurrection”…

Years ago, in Bridgeport, I had an organist named Arthur. Arthur was a kind man, but a forgetful, and — as an organist — he was kind of slow.  I don’t mean intellectually. He was actually quite smart, but his fingers couldn’t play a song at less than a dirge. Arthur was old and this was probably going to be his last church, so I found it kind of ironic that Arthur, ever year at Easter would yell, “We are a resurrection people!”. He grew up working with Episcopalians, so he learned that from his priest and he never let go of it.

Arthur popped into my head when I prepared for this sermon on resurrection. That’s the way that resurrection people work. He said this thing. I liked him. Now, 25 years later, I’m saying it to you. Say it back to me now…”We are a resurrection people”. May it stick in your head now, like it did mine.

 

As I thought this week about resurrection and what it means, Mark’s original text doesn’t tell us much.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”.  So, by this, we know that believing in the resurrection means being scared out of your wits, and worrying that people will think you’re crazy.  I’m not sure that THAT is what makes us “resurrection people”, being scared,and feeling crazy. You can see why someone want to add in verse 8b or 9, whichever you call it: “[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. ]]. Now, that’s better.

 

We are resurrection people because we believe in “the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation”. Yes, it IS true, but it’s like something a lawyer would say, so it’s hard to figure out WHAT it means. Let’s be honest. In English, it’s “the holy and never ending saying out loud that people are saved forever”.

 

For some people that translates to “God loves you and you are saved from sin”. For me, it’s more like “you can’t keep a good man down”… at least the Best of humanity, as far as life on earth is concerned. I know lots and lots of people who have been run down over and over by life. I want them to know that they will, with God’s help, get up again.

In other words, because Jesus came out of that tomb 2,000 years ago, we win. All of us. Love wins. Peace wins. Forgiveness wins. Good wins. Ultimately, life wins. No matter how difficult it is to believe, no matter how twisted in knots our souls get, what’s left at the end of it all is we find peace, and love, and forgiveness and holiness and life forever.

Personally, I associate the resurrection with heaven. When you think of “heaven”, what do you think of? Seeing your loved ones again and being thrilled to see them? Seeing them put back in original shape, healed from whatever killed them? Do they have to worry? No. Do they have to eat? No. Do they have to sleep? No, but they could if they wanted to. (That’s my fantasy) Seeing every dog or cat you ever had? Seeing them happy and playful? If you believe in old metaphors, is there music? Heavenly choirs and lots and lots of harps?

 

Whatever you dream is in heaven because of the resurrection of Jesus… being “resurrection people” means that is what you believe earth should be like. That’s what being a Christian in this life means. Those ideas were planted in your heart and mind by God, as a model, as something to look for and expect — forever.

Do you dream of seeing your loved ones in the afterlife and being thrilled to do so? See the loved ones you have now and be thrilled to see them. Believe your loved ones’ll be healed? Heal others or help them heal. Support people who do that kind of thing. Believe they’ll be safe? Make the world safe. Believe they won’t have to worry? Bring peace to other people’s hearts. Believe they don’t have to eat in heaven? Make it so that people never worry about eating down here. If you believe in rest in heaven, then give people rest or take rest right here on earth. Believe you’ll be spending eternity with God? Spend time with God now.

 

Do you believe that dogs and cats will be happy and playful in heaven? Help them be happy and playful here. Take care of them here. If you think there’s music in heaven, play or sing music here. Now.

That’s what resurrection people do. They bring their dreams of heaven to earth — as Jesus said, “on earth as it is in heaven”.  What would it be like if all of the resurrection people in the world got together? The world would be full of people of people thrilled to see each other, treasuring others, Being healed and healing others, fighting whatever kills people. The world be full of calm people who experience and give forgiveness to others, people who don’t worry about what they’re going to eat or drink, a world where people rested in God’s loving embrace at night, where animals and humans were treated like they were loved. We’d live in a world full of music makers, of happy and playful people.

 

Will we get it right? Probably not. We’re still human, after all. But we’ll at least be going in the right direction… and when the resurrection comes, we’ll at least know what to do. Amen.