The Oleaginous Toady

I have been praying for some time that the president will be removed from office but I admit that I don’t know whether the VP would be any better. I can’t imagine that he could be any worse than 45 but people who know Mike Pence say to be careful what you wish for. That thought was expressed this week in a scathing article by George F. Will, who wrote: Trump in no longer the worst person in government.

George Will is a smart man with an immense vocabulary. I heard that the day his article was published in the Washington Post, the frequency of Google searches for the word “oleaginous” soared. I was not familiar with the word myself but now know that it means “exaggeratedly and distastefully complimentary; obsequious,” or more simply, oily or greasy. Like oleo.

Will’s article would be a great source of words for a Reader’s Digest Word Power quiz:

  • Toady – an obsequious flatterer; sycophant
  • Obsequious – servilely compliant or deferential
  • Lickspittle – a contemptible, fawning person; a servile flatterer or toady
  • Groveling – humbling oneself or acting in an abject manner, as in utter servility
  • Unctuous – characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug
  • Pandering – gratifying or indulging (an immoral or distasteful desire, need, or habit or a person with such a desire, etc.)
  • Mobocratic – pertaining to political control by a mob

These words do not paint a flattering portrait of the first in line to Trump’s throne. He says he is a Christian. He proudly points out that the Cabinet gathers for prayer and Bible studies. Yet he shamelessly praises a man who is the antithesis of Jesus Christ. His over-the-top praise of a person as vile and corrupt as Trump makes me want to vomit.

One of the reasons Pence is considered worse than Trump is his hypocrisy. Why did Jesus speak so harshly about hypocrites?

  • They do not practice what they preach
  • They do all their deeds to be seen by others
  • They shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces
  • They corrupt the people that they convert to their religion
  • They give money to the church but ignore the more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness
  • They focus on outside appearance but are full of greed and self-indulgence

Trump simply has no shame. He has no moral compass. He is amoral. Pence, with his study of the Bible, should know better. He knows that Christ said we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Still, he praises people who are cruel and inhumane to other human beings – immigrants, refugees, gays, etc.

Pence is considered dangerous by many people because he knows better. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He passes himself off as a pious, moral person. And yet when it suits his political agenda, he is willing to lie. He is willing to compromise his integrity and his dignity. He chooses to flatter a narcissist to stay in favor with him and his supporters.

I agree with George Will that Mike Pence is a horrifying sycophant. Yet I am still not convinced that Pence would be any worse than Trump.

Scoffing at Deceit

Yesterday, I read the psalm David wrote after Doeg the Edomite, King Saul’s chief herdsman, betrayed the High Priest, Ahimelech (Psalm 52), which resulted in Ahimelech’s death. David’s description of Doeg reminds me of the wicked man I see in the news everyday. Like Doeg, he regularly practices deceit, loves evil rather than good, and loves falsehood rather than speaking the truth. When I hear him speak, I find myself laughing at the absurdity of his claims.

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
    Why do you boast all day long,
    you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
    your tongue plots destruction;
    it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
    falsehood rather than speaking the truth.    Selah
You love every harmful word,
    you deceitful tongue!

The evildoer of today is considered a hero to his followers, sadly even to millions of people who call themselves “evangelicals.” But surely he is a disgrace in the eyes of God.

David was sure that God would bring Doeg down to everlasting ruin. I also trust that God will judge this evildoer. And when the Lord brings him to his knees, this “hero” will beg for God’s mercy and the righteous will laugh saying (Psalm 52:6-7):

“Here now is the man
    who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
    and grew strong by destroying others!”

Knowing that God will eventually bring this man to justice does not fill me with joyful laughter. While I wait for God’s justice, the evildoer destroys others.

If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his riches. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his business successes. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his knowledge. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of ratings.

If he is going to boast, let him boast that he knows the heart of God (Jeremiah 9:24).

24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Selah

 

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Dear Younger Me

A couple of months ago, my childhood pen pal found me on Facebook. We got together for lunch to catch up on forty years of life. Lori gave me letters that I had written to her from 1974-1976 when we would have been in the sixth through eighth grades. You wouldn’t know it from my letters, but those were tumultuous times.

Coincidentally, my sixth grade teacher wrote me a message on Facebook saying I should share a blog post I wrote about the sixth grade to show kids that time has a way of taking care of things. The world is much different than it was when I was a kid, but kids still face many of the same challenges. Sometimes I hear adults say that they would like to be a kid again. I wouldn’t want to relive my childhood unless I could do it armed with the life experience I have now. What would the adult me tell the child me if she could?


Dear Younger Me:

I usually start out my letters with “I am fine. How are you?” I won’t ask how you are because I already know. I’m writing to let you know that although you have a bumpy road ahead of you, you will come out of it pretty much unscathed. Someday you’ll even be able to look back on these years without a feeling of angst.

If you feel like you don’t fit in right now, you are not alone. Shy people like you aren’t popular. You aren’t cool. You won’t be a star athlete; you won’t even have the opportunity to try out for the team. That’s okay. It is not unusual to feel like a misfit in school – look at all the movies that have been written about this! Yet kids who feel like misfits still grow up to be amazing, successful, functional adults.

Speaking of fitting in, I have to warn you that people are determined to force square pegs to fit in round holes even though there are slots that fit square pegs perfectly. People will try to change you into something that you are not. They already tell you to speak up, to be more social. It’s not working, is it? They have been calling you bashful and shy since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. The labels tell you that you are different; that you are not what you’re supposed to be. All it does is make you feel like there is something wrong with you. There isn’t.

Someday, you will find your tribe. You’ll discover that there are millions of people like you. Introverts are awesome! You’ll find a job that makes the most of your strengths. But in the meantime, you’ll have to put up with the pressure to conform to the “extrovert ideal.” You’ll have to participate in activities that were designed for extroverts – things that fill you with dread and anxiety. It won’t be easy but you have to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Facing your fears will make you even stronger!

I know that you are embarrassed and ashamed of being poor. Things are also a bit crazy at home. Take a walk in someone else’s shoes. You’re not the only one from a “broken” home. Unless you see the bruises, you don’t know what another child is going through. Count your blessings. 

You already know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But you have let a few snobby people convince you that your worth is determined by social status – how much money your parents have, the clothes you wear. They are wrong! (I’m going to let you in on a secret: you’ll be able to afford nice things when you grow up but you won’t even want them.)

The hardships you face today will teach you an invaluable lesson. Your worth is defined by the content of your character. Period. So be honest. Be reliable. Always do your best. Go the extra mile. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. You will regret a lot of things in your life, but you will never regret being kind.

There’s one more thing I want to bring up before I close. Your mom. Over the next few years, she’s going to frustrate the heck out of you. You won’t understand her choices. You’ll spend years trying to understand why she does the things she does. You don’t realize how young she is and how much weight she has on her shoulders. The only thing you need to know is this: she loves you and she’s doing the best she can. Give her a big hug for me, okay?

Your friend always,

Cathy

P.S. U-R 2-Nice 2-B 4-gotten

My sixth grade teacher is right. Time changes things. Forty-three years ago, I would not have shared what I write with strangers. In one of my letters, I wrote about something upsetting that happened in Reading class. My teacher asked me for all of the stories I had written. She had a committee of my peers read them to select one to put in the newspaper. I was mad because I didn’t want my stories to be published! I was very self-conscious and hated being the center of attention.

Time certainly changed my perspective on the struggles of my childhood. They say that adversity builds character. Perseverance. Determination. Empathy. If I could go back and relive my childhood, would I be willing to trade some measure of adversity for some measure of character building? No, I wouldn’t. Painful memories fade. The lessons you learn in a “hard knock life” last forever.

Snowpack and Rivulets

When I saw the daily word prompt this morning, I read a couple of posts to find out how the word of the day inspired other bloggers. Today someone wrote a short poem about rivulet being another boring, uninspiring word. Au contraire!

Rivulets: the little streams of water that trickle down the mountains when the snow melts or after it rains.

I love to run in the rain. Jumping over puddles and running in the rivulets, I am one with nature. I love bodies of water no matter the size: oceans, lakes, rivers, mountain streams, creeks, waterfalls, rivulets.

Living in a semi-arid environment, I don’t take rivulets for granted. I have experienced drought. This year, the Colorado snowpack is far below normal. Ninety percent of the state is abnormally dry. I worry about wildfires this summer. There won’t be as much runoff to supply the water we need. Not so many rivulets.

Seasons changing. Soil nourished by spring rains and rivulets of water from melting snow. The earth coming alive after a long winter. Flowers blooming.

I find this riveting.

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

To partake or not to partake

When my husband and I shop for our weekly groceries, we always walk down the bakery aisle to pick up bread and bagels. I sneak a peek at the donuts and cakes and pastries but rarely partake because I know they’re not good for me. Yesterday, the cinnamon rolls looked especially yummy.  We picked up a four-pack and each of us ate one for breakfast this morning.

Was it worth it? Yes and no.

Yes, because indulging myself once in a while keeps me from feeling deprived. I love the smell of cinnamon rolls. I savored every bite. If I ate sweets everyday, I would not enjoy them nearly as much. Knowing that I can afford to indulge myself occasionally motivates me to stick to my healthy habits the rest of the time. Partaking of treats now and then is a reward for being disciplined about diet and exercise.

No, because the cinnamon roll wasn’t as good as it looked. I have noticed that I often feel disappointed after eating a donut or a slice of cake. I don’t feel that way when I eat fruit or Greek yogurt or crunchy peanut granola bars. No, because I consumed a bunch of empty calories that will go straight to my gut and I work too hard to do that to myself.

There are two more cinnamon rolls left. They still look yummy. My husband can have them.

via Daily Prompt: Partake