Archive for October, 2016

The Gospel or Blasphemy?  

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags , , on October 16, 2016 by playthell


Donald Trump: God’s Flawed Instrument?

 On The Pulpit and Politics: Negotiating the Fine Line

During the last election here in Canada, I often stated from the pulpit that it was not my place to take a party line and tell people how to vote. Rather, as a spiritual leader, it was my job to remind the congregation of the basic tenets that should form our world view, our decisions and our actions as Christ-followers. In other words, if Christianity is based on what Jesus walked around showing us, then we should choose our political candidates in terms of who’s supporting those tenets.

So what are the things that were most important to the one we say that we follow? It’s quite simple, really; caring generously for the vulnerable, the weak, the poor, the sick, the anxious, the mentally ill, the victims of natural disasters, war, famine, political prisoners and children, peace rather than violence, and the radical inclusion of all people of all races and cultures. Jesus taught us to live as if everyone else in the world is just as important as we are. Quite simply, everyone belongs – every created being deserves to have life’s basic needs met, and they deserve dignity and respect.

But what is an authentic relationship between religion and politics? In the early part of the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine made a ruling for tolerance of Christianity, a moment in history which many have considered a disaster for Christianity. Religion and politics got into bed together in a relationship that would become complex and corrupt. The Church gained power on the playing field, at a great cost to its basic teachings. Just watch The Borgias to get an entertaining look at how that worked. But all through the centuries, there were always Christians who spoke up from the edges of society against both systems to call for a return to the heart of Christianity. The monastic communities set themselves apart from society in order to remain true to their faith, and to be a voice calling out to mainstream Christian leaders and to the political leaders, constantly challenging them to remember the vulnerable.

Over the centuries, the Church has gradually lost its public status and power, as we’re now living in an age we call “post-Christendom”. This is partly a very good thing, when one thinks of some of the atrocities carried out in the name of God and the Church, not to mention the way in which some (not all by any means) Christian missionaries have bullied various cultures, thinking they were civilizing them.

But this loss of power has not stopped certain evangelical leaders from publicly endorsing conservative political candidates who make a lot of noise about being Christians; regardless of what they stand for. During George W. Bush’s time, Christian author Jim Wallis wrote God’s Politics (2006) wherein he challenged evangelicals for blindly jumping on the Bush train simply because he claimed to be a Christian, when his policies were so far removed from basic Christian teaching that it was hard to make the connection.

And now, my neighbours to the South, you have Trump. And so far, the evangelical right has flocked to the Trump Tower to genuflect in awe and wonder. The constant flow of information about how he has stiffed many of his own workers, is currently involved in over 3,500 lawsuits (some involving accusations of sexual assault) the many lies in which he’s been caught red-handed – none of this seems to deter them from blindly following the one who will punish women for having abortions, and keep to their conservative agenda.

But today I was encouraged by an article in the famous magazine of the Bible Belt called Christianity Today (October 10, 2016) wherein Executive Editor Andy Crouch, in response to the lewd tape of Trump in an Access Hollywood bus, hit evangelical America with a bang in his article, Speak Truth to Trump. (See link below) Crouch says, “Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump’s blatant immorality.” Crouch was surprised at how long it took evangelicals to use the “…same critical judgment when it [came] to the Republican nominee…” that they’d used on Hillary Clinton.

He went on to describe the ways in which Trump was a blatant example of the kind of lifestyle the Bible warns us about; “…sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Crouch ended with a challenge for every evangelical, warning of the folly of allying themselves “…with someone who violates all that is sacred to us.” Trump’s hope for the continuing support of the evangelicals is clearly compromised since this latest display of lewd behavior.

I’m not an evangelical in the general identifying sense of the word – I’m a mainline Anglican. I would not express things in a way that would please Christianity Today. But I applaud Andy Couch for having the courage to ask the vast membership of the Bible Belt to think clearly and critically about what kind of leadership they want, and to take care in their decisions for this election.

As a spiritual leader, I will never tell people what party they should support, or who they should vote for. But I would be falling down on the job if I failed to join those desert fathers and monastic communities in reminding both the church and the political arena of what the Christ followers are looking for in a political leader – someone who will commit to caring for the weakest members of our society – someone who will work for peace instead of war – someone who will take a stand for justice – someone who will agree that everyone belongs, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or economic position.

What good is it if we gather on Sunday to hear these teachings and sing about them, if they don’t influence the decisions and actions we undertake? If Jesus modeled radical inclusion, justice and peace, then that’s what we should seek in candidates at election time.

Rev. Susanne
October 16, 2016
Click on link elow for artile in Cheistanity Today


An Open Letter to a Black Friend

Posted in On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags on October 13, 2016 by playthell
at-bills-place-104Samaad and Playthell chillin at Bill’s Place in Harlem

Listen Up Black America!

Recently an Afro-American friend told me he was not going to vote in the coming Presidential election.  It was a shocking revelation coming from the thoughtful and intelligent he had otherwise demonstrated himself to be.   The reasons he gave for his decision seemed to be reasonable at first glance, but when subjected to rigorous critique they reveal themselves to be transparent sophistry – which is to say they crumble when confronted with political reality.  While his argument was full of suitable examples to prove my point, I will point out just a couple that I think are sufficient to expose the foolishness of his decision not to vote.  For instance he argued “! I see a woman who DESPERATELY needs the Black vote.”  And he buttresses this point with the following: “But she has not made any promises or a single concession in her platform to address the ACUTE needs of African Americans.”   And based on this he concludes: ” I would say undoubtedly that the PRACTICAL AND SENSIBLE thing to do is vote for Hillary UNLESS you simply cannot bring yourself too, I personally cannot!!”   This is my response below.

Dear Friend

Your position represents the worst sort of self-righteous, self-defeating, pious piffle! As a political analysis it is madness. What we must understand my friend is that we are a MINORITY in the US – if you want to have the advantage of living in a country with a black majority I’m afraid you will have to move to the Caribbean or Africa, although you must have noticed that vast numbers of citizens of those countries are desperately trying to get here. Thus as a minority we cannot achieve ANYTHING politically on our own. Furthermore, in a country where millions of whites are also facing desperate economic conditions why do you think they would support an agenda aimed solely at black folks?

You obviously have not asked yourself this question. Do you know that the demographic with the fastest rising mortality rate – from drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, etc – is the WHITE working and lower middle classes! And you think these people want to hear about an agenda that is designed to address only black problems? We are beyond that:NOBODY CAN WIN THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY RUNNING ON SUCH A PLATFORM!!!!

Anybody running for president must advocate programs that address the needs of all Americans, and we need to think more in terms of CLASS rather than race!!!! The so-called black “progressives” who always wanted president Obama to engage the Republicans in an argument about race failed to understand that this was also what the Republicans wanted because once an issue becomes racialized we ARE GOING TO LOSE! One does not have to be a profound thinker to recognize this: IT IS A MATTER OF SIMPLE ARITHMETIC!!!

Hence we must fight for things like single payer medical insurance, free college tuition and full employment. Beyond these, in the face of the growing robotization of the economy we need to fight for a living wage with benefits for everyone who cannot find work. All of these things will benefit Afro-Americans as much -if not more – than any other community! We must also fight for laws to check climate change and nuclear disarmament. Some black people talk as if we live on another planet so the fate of this one is of no concern to us. The term that I use that you can’t quite remember is :POLITICS IS THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE!!!

You need to sit in a corner and recite it until it is burned into your brain because without understanding this concept you will be like Jack the Bear: “Makin tracks but getting NOWHERE! You talk like the generals who are planning for the LAST WAR not the next war. The worst thing that Hillary Clinton could do is come out strongly with a specifically “black agenda” when Trump is aiming his message at a white working class electorate who is already scared, outraged, abysmally ignorant, and convinced they have been screwed at the expense of “minorities.” So my question to you is are you interested in defeating Trump or just letting off steam in a public temper tantrum?

You are far too emotional; success in politics requires a cool head and a calculating strategy based on the political realities of the moment. You say that Hillary is “desperately in need of the black vote” but the fact is whether Hillary wins or loses she will still be Hillary Clinton – a rich and famous white woman who remains a powerful presence in American politics and a speaker in demand world-wide for generous fees. BUT WE WILL BE FUCKED!!!!!!!!!!

So who needs whom the most? You seem to believe that it is a wise course of action to use our position to force her to adopt a losing strategy….which is damned foolishness. So calm down and THINK realistically; promote a strategy for victory instead of sabotaging our ally in this race!. I have no interest in dying for any cause…I want to live and WIN!!!!


Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 13, 2016


The Saint Louis Blues

Posted in On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags on October 11, 2016 by playthell


Starring: Hillary Clinton Droppin Science….
…and Donald Trump
___trump_31451956090Shameless Charlatan, Arrogant Ignoramus and Verbal Arsonist!

On the Second Presidential Debate: Hillary vs Donnie

This debate proved several things: Hillary Clinton is eminently qualified to be president; Trump is a shameless bullshit artist who cannot restrain his contempt for women even in a presidential debate; the commentators are intellectual light weights! I am listening to MSNBC, which has some of the smarter commentators in broadcast media, and the conversation is mostly mindless BLATHER!!!!!!!

Again it proves that if you are white in America you can be mediocre and still get over like a fat rat in cheese factory on a holiday! Already Trump’s camp is claiming victory. The amazing thing is that they are grading the candidate’s performance mostly on STYLE NOT SUBSTANCE! Hillary Clinton gave precise answers while Trump trafficked in lies and scandalous invective that dishonored the high office he seeks.  On the other hand Hillary avoided personal insult – far too much for my taste considering “The Donald’s” thuggish behavior: He demonstrated once again that despite his abundant coin he remains not a jot or tittle more than white trash with money!

I am not arguing that Hillary should have stooped to Donnie’s level – “get down in the gutter with him” as the old folks used to say when I was a boy.   But when he kept declaring “Bernie Saunders says you have bad judgement,” which he repeated about five times,  she should have replied: “Yes but Bernie – who is enthusiastically supporting my candidacy – also said on my worse day I will make a far better President than you on your best days! And your fellow Republicans, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, says anybody who has declared bankruptcy as often as you is no business genius and that you are in fact a con man. And unlike me and Bernie they are NOT supporting you!  So I’d remind Donald that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But enough of the name calling, I’d rather engage in a substantive discussion of the issues; which my opponent understandably wishes to avoid since this is the area where he has the least to contribute.”

Then she should have kept on DROPPIN SCIENCE ON HIS IGNORANT ASS!!!!!

Finally, after much superficial prattle, the level of the discussion was dramatically elevated by the two black analyst: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and Associate Editor of the Washington Post, and MSNBC reporter/commentator Joy Reid – who was brilliant! But to reduce my assessment of the debate to its simplest terms: Hillary is hot and Trump ain’t squat!

Trump’s wife Melania looked like she would rather have been ANYWHERE but by his side! And why shouldn’t she, after the whole wide world has listened to her husband bragging about harassing another woman for pussy while she was sittin home pregnant with his child! I’b bet if she had a good pre-nup she would get in the wind faster than Hop-along- Cassidy could draw his guns! Melania’s expression and body language was perfect for the airline commercial that asks: “WANNA GET AWAY?”

Furthermore “Dirty Nose” Donnie’s surrogate Rudy Giuliani is a shameless charlatan! How dare he come on national television acting all high and mighty criticizing Bill Clinton when millions of New Yorkers – the present writer prominently among them – vividly remember that he DUMPED HIS WIFE Dona Hanover, a highly respected television journalist, for another woman who he even banged in Gracy Mansion when he was a married Mayor!

Rude Bwai Rudy’s own children said they would vote for Barack Obama when their daddy was briefly the leading candidate for President in the Republican Primary race. They issued a statement saying “Our father knows NOTHING about family values, everything we know about family values we learned from the our mother!”

Furthermore his constant touting of his experience as a federal prosecutor, which he claims gives him special expertise in determining the Hillary Clinton should be charged with federal crimes, yet during his tenure as Federal Attorney for the Southern District of New York he could not find a single case of racial discrimination…although it was so prevalent even Stevie Wonder could see it!

I was an Editorial Page columnist for the New York Daily News when Rudy was elected Mayor and I watched him as closely as the FBI watches terror suspects.   Hence I know whereof I speak.  He was the most racially divisive Mayor I have seen in the decades that I have been an observer of New York politics.  And he used his experience as a Federal Attorney to systematically destroy the records women and minorities would require as evidence in order to fire class action discrimination suits against the city agencies by ordering those agencies not to keep records of contracts they awarded by race and gender!

Reactionary Rudy was a disgrace to his office in more ways than one, and it is no surprise that chose a mobbed up sleazebag like Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security.   It was the FBI investigation into Kerik’s fitness for this critical job that exposed his mob ties.  And this is the guy who wats to stand in judgement on Hillary Clinton’s character…this deeply flawed cretin…this goombah in a lawyer’s disguise?

Added to his myriad sins and odious transgressions, Rudy also dishonors his position as a member of the legal profession by pronouncing Hillary Clinton guilty of crimes in the absence of even an indictment, let alone a conviction, for a crime.  What happened to the presumption of innocence until a jury finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

This a a fundamental right guaranteed by the US Constitution!  While we should not be surprised that a verbose foul mouthed ignoramus like Donald Trump does not understand this – since he has previously demonstrated that he don’t know shit about the Constitution – it is inexcusable in a former US Attorney charged with upholding our constitutional rights.

Rudy Giuliani is a man without honor, a 21st century Dr. Faust who is all too willing to barter his soul with the Devil to remain in the limelight and retain the trappings of power.  If he had any sense of decency or shame Rudy would take his silly old pie-face racist ass and fiendish shit eatin grin, go sit down somewhere, then STFU!!!!!

Rudy Guiliani

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani gestures during his speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Rabid Rudy a Shameless, Souless hypocrite!

Predictably, the fact checkers gave Donnie Dimwit a sound drubbing the day after.  Politi-facts even gave him a “pants on fire “rating, which is their most severe grade – as in the old children’s ditty “Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!”  But during interviews with some of Trump’s hardcore followers conducted after the debate, some of Trump’s acolytes conceded that although he bombed in the debate – a refreshing concession to reality – they said they were still going to vote for him.  Herein lies the crux of our problem as a society at this moment in history. There was little serious discussion of policy, but when there was such as all too brief discussions of tax policy; Obamacare and Syria.

As I write it has come to my attention that claims are being made that an American Naval vessel, a destroyer class Man O war has been fired on by missiles from the tiny nation of Yeman, which is controlled by revolutionary Shiites aligned with Iran.  The report says they missed the massive ship…we should thank out lucky stars that Donald Trump is NOT the Commander-In-Chief just now!   This is a man who recently aid that US Naval Ships illegally traversing Iranian waters should have fired on Iranian patrol boats because the Iranian sailors made some rude gestures toward “out beautiful American ships.”  No shit; he actually said that!

It does not take a great strategic thinker to see that Herr Trumfp is a man that can be easily baited into starting a war.  Hence he must NEVER get into the Oval Office!  It takes a seasoned stateswoman to guide us through the perils of the contemporary world.  The assessment of the candidates by this writer was echoed today by the Editors of Foreign Policy Magazine, the canonical text on the subject.  They say that Trump is the most dangerous candidate for President ever nominated by a major political party, and Hillary Clinton is the best,  so there we have it.

Too bad the format of the debate, which was town hall style where the audience asked the questions, did not afford her an adequate opportunity to fully display her qualifications for Commander-IN-Chief.  And while I have some serious disagreements with Hillary’s foreign policy views – See: ‘The World According to Hillary” on this site – she displays Solomonic wisdom when compared to the scatterbrained view of the world envisioned by Donald Trump.

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 10th, 2016