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A Tale of Two Cults


The Amazing Randi

The cult of Uri Geller should have died on August 1st, 1973.

It was the summer of Watergate. Johnny Carson lamented that the audience was sick of hearing about the scandal and didn’t want him to monologue about it again. But H.R. Haldeman’s haircut wasn’t going to get a pass. It was, odd as it sounds to say it, a simpler time. And in Carson’s defense, it was a very bad haircut.

Beyond obligatory jokes about the porcupine that had taken up residence atop Nixon’s Chief of Staff, the Tonight Show that evening evoked an eclectic, variety show feeling. There were four representatives of the “Eskimo Indian Olympics”, in full possession of a walrus baculum, which they proceeded to present to Johnny as a gift. As one does. There was Ricardo Montalbán, still well before his turn as Mr. Roarke and in between his portrayals of Khan. He was in full possession of his manifold manly powers, which he fearlessly deployed in movies about simian hegemony (the two bad ones, anyway) and every television series about…well, basically anything on TV between about 1956 and 1972.

And then there was Uri Geller, in full possession of his…um…psychokinetic powers?

If you don’t know the story, Geller’s excruciating twenty-two minute appearance on Carson that night is among the most awkward ever presented on television, whether scripted or otherwise. Beyond his purported ability to bend objects (spoons, mostly) with the power of his mind, Geller also claimed psychic, dowsing and other supernatural abilities at various points in his career as well. Carson, who was a practiced stage magician (and skeptic) himself, was excited to see these thrilling gifts in action.

After being invited on stage, Geller nervously observed various metal items arrayed on a table in front of him. He accordingly greeted Carson, McMahon and Montalbán with a confidence-inspiring “I’m scared.” You see, Geller expected an interview. As he later attested, a Tonight Show producer provided him with a list of 40 different questions he might be asked. He was instead being asked to give a demonstration of his powers. It was completely unfair and unsporting, which is to say, positively delightful.

When you watch the video, you can see the gears furiously turning from the very first moments of the interview.

When pressed by Carson to demonstrate his prowess, Geller briefly tries to detect water in containers, then attempts to bend metal and guess at the contents of an envelope. But for the most part, Uri spends an interminable twenty-two minutes halfheartedly begging to be asked questions instead of being asked to perform, complaining about promises from the producers, and coming up with a stream excuses and explanations for his ‘process’ that might excuse the absence of any demonstrable psychokinetic ability. He ends with pseudo-scientific explanations of the failure as the absence of “controlled conditions.” His utter inability to conjure the most basic supernatural phenomenon during the bit on Carson is rescued only on occasion by the preternatural charisma of Ricardo Montalbán.

In any real sense, it was a disaster.



There was a reason it was a disaster.

Yes, obviously it was a disaster because Geller couldn’t actually do any of the supernatural feats he said he could. That’s not what I mean. Clearly, under the right circumstances he was proficient at producing all sorts of illusions and stage magic. The “right circumstances” were those in which he had his own props, producers canvassing the audience and stagecraft elements to facilitate sleight of hand. In this case, however, before Geller’s appearance, Johnny Carson had reached out to a frequent guest of the show, a fellow skeptic and even better stage magician by the name of James Randi.

You may know him as the Amazing Randi, who died last week at the age of 92. Randi was a remarkable man. Far more than just an entertainer, he devoted his life to showing the unvarnished reality underlying abstractions and illusions.

Geller was one of his favorite and most deserving targets.

When Carson’s producers reached out, they asked the Amazing Randi what they needed to do to ensure that anything Geller did could only be achieved through the possession of true psychokinetic powers. His answer was simple: bring your own props, do it in secret, and don’t let Geller’s people near any of them.

The merciless video above was the result of this simple advice. Utter embarrassment, shame and ruin. Geller was mocked, ridiculed and laughed at. The people who believed that his sleight of hand and misdirection expertise were evidence of psychic powers received much the same treatment. In short, Johnny Carson’s call to the Amazing Randi destroyed the cult of Uri Geller.

Except that isn’t what happened. At all.

The nightmarish Carson appearance was NOT the end of Geller’s career. In a lot of ways, it was the beginning, at least to a sort of stardom in the United States that he had already achieved in Israel. He was booked to another show almost immediately. That began a career of getting mining company executives (who, it must be said, always remained the greatest charlatans in the room) to pay him for dowsing services, doing basic stage magic routines and calling them extraterrestrial powers, stopping Brexit with his mind and preventing the relegation of Exeter City F.C. with infused crystals. Oh, and divining the root causes of COVID-19.

The curtain on Uri Geller was pulled…and nothing happened. The powerful play went on, and he still got to contribute a verse. And that verse was, “I’m a literal wizard and also I got my powers from aliens.”


Groves, Richard

This behaloed figure is a man by the name of Richard B. Groves.

Reverend Groves was a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Navarro County, Texas throughout the post-bellum 1860s and 1870s. He preached in churches around Corsicana, about an hour southeast of Dallas. At the time, it was a market town growing around an emerging cotton industry. It remained sleepy indeed until the arrival of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad in 1871. Even under the influx of settlers, cotton remained king. That is, until the first real producing field in Texas emerged from beneath the very streets of Corsicana in 1894. Literally.

Texas oil boom downtown derricks in corsicana
Corsicana, Texas during the oil boom days

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church – which still exists – was a quintessential frontier denomination. Methodists and Baptists alike made discretion the better part of valor in staffing circuits and permanent posts in frontier denominations, which is a kind way of saying they took what they could get. If Methodists have a natural tendency towards big tent revivalism to begin with, this tendency was amplified in frontier America. Presbyterians, on the other hand, had less of this predisposition, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was formed from a group of expelled revivalist ministers who looked on with envy to what the Baptists and Methodists were doing with (mostly untrained) ministers throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas.

By contemporary accounts, Rev. Richard Groves, who moved to Texas from the Cumberland River Valley of Kentucky (by way of pre-Chicago frontier Illinois) with his extended family of ministers, was a good and well-respected man.

There was another [Cumberland Presbyterian] Preacher who attended this meeting, by the name of Richard Groves. His home was in the vicinity of Corsicana. He evidently enjoyed the blessing of holiness. I think he came into the experience of it under Bro. Sim’s preaching. He seemed to be a man of considerable forces of character, positive in his convictions for truth; one who would not be likely to be “carried about by every wind of doctrine, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

History of the Holiness Movement in Texas, and the Fanaticism Which Followed, by Rev. George McCulloch (1886)

It happened, however, that Groves and four other Cumberland Presbyterian ministers in Corsicana became convinced that they had discovered something new in the emerging “holiness doctrine,” a crystallizing force in most frontier churches in the late 19th century. The basic idea was simple Wesleyan theology – that Christianity is not only accepting salvation from Christ, but the ongoing process of sanctification, God empowering Christians to better resist sin. Groves et al took it further. A lot further. They reasoned that the process of sanctification would allow Christians to be immune to even the temptation of sin. They could become, well, literally perfect. It opens up a lot of paths to crazytown. If they were free of the penalties of sin and free of the potential for sin, how then could they be assailed by the things to which man’s fall in the Garden subjected him? How could they be assailed by illness? By age? By sickness? By the opposition of other preachers and politicians and citizens?

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Under the tents of meetings in Corsicana and elsewhere in 1878, Groves and company quickly began to embrace the implications of their discovery. But not just the implications of their discovery, but the meaning of it. Surely, if God chose to reveal this truth to these men at this point in time, there must be meaning in that, too. Surely, if they had been made perfect through sanctification, they could know all that God knew, including the date and time of Christ’s return and his judgment of the world.

So it was that Richard Groves became a millenialist cult leader.

In practical terms that probably seemed very reasonable to them at the time, they took a number of church elders, basically kidnapped two young women from the town and took an elderly minister away from his dying wife, and they locked themselves in the Groves farmhouse in Milford, Texas to further record the emerging perfection of their doctrine – and to await the imminent return of Christ. After a few days, the town sent a farmer to ask them if they might at least let the girls come back home before they returned to their various and sundry cult activities. They were refused, but after several calculated days for Christ’s return passed, all participants left the compound and went back to life as it was.

Only they didn’t, really. Wrong as they were in their predictions, their fervor simply led them to believe God was instructing them to expand the flock of those who knew the true doctrine. And so, during the winter of 1878 into 1879, each of the Corsicana Enthusiasts, as they came to be known, traveled all through Navarro and Limestone counties preaching the doctrine of absolute perfection and the imminent return of Christ.

Then, in the spring of 1879, Groves came across a pamphlet called Glad Tidings, published by one Henry T. Williams of Brooklyn, New York. It was a fanatical document of similar temperament – not, I think, associated with the later product of the Christadelphians of the same name. Richard Groves’s brother William got it in his head that he would travel to New York to have a missing finger replaced, which was apparently among the services on offer by Mr. Williams. It made for a good opportunity to test his power, as well.

So it was that the community raised the funds to send William Groves to New York. When he returned to Corsicana, he was changed. No, not the missing finger. Forget about the finger. The finger wasn’t important. He now had the ability to grant salvation. To forgive on God’s behalf. To condemn on God’s behalf. To hear God’s will directly in a way that might contradict scripture or law, but which must be obeyed. Now the Bibles were gone, doctrine was gone, and the brothers Groves and their new partner Henry T. Williams were the center of a new religion.

And what is a new religion built around a people set apart, perfected by God, without a compound? On behalf of Williams, the Groves brothers along with a small group of other elders directed their flock to collect all of their belongings and worldly wealth, to be contributed to the establishment of a community near Little Rock, Arkansas. In all, 50 or 60 people went. They sold their farms, homes, businesses and other property, and on arriving at The Home, as Williams called it, were denied entry unless they would immediately pledge the same to him.

The Home was the 19th Century version of the Fyre Festival. Gruel for meals, hard labor, meager accommodations. In the end, the organizer runs off with the money. It failed almost immediately. Everything fell apart. Reality set in.

The curtain on the Corsicana Enthusiasts was pulled…and everyone saw it for what it was.

And then something funny happened – things went back to normal. Sure, for a few years, one of the hangers-on lived a life of free love (he was perfect, after all) back on a farm he held on to in Corsicana about 100 years before that was in style. William Groves stayed in Brooklyn and (one presumes) helped Williams continue to take advantage of other enthusiasts. But for the most part, once The Home collapsed, Richard Groves and most of the other 50 or 60 participants came back to Corsicana, poorer, wiser, ashamed and embarrassed.

And while there were generational consequences, while life was never the same, the communities largely accepted the wanderers back, both sheep and shepherds alike. Multiple local churches accepted the families back. They found work and contributed. They married and had families and sent them to the new public schools that were established in 1880.

It’s a damn good thing too, if you ask me. Because while Richard Groves was leading a millenialist cult, he did so with his daughter in tow. And when Corsicana let him back into the fold, he did so with his daughter in tow.

My great-great grandmother.


But it raises an interesting question: how does it happen that revealing the lies painted over by narratives in one kind of cult only strengthens it, while in another it reveals it and destroys it utterly?

It’s complicated.

The deceptions of a charismatic stage magician and a religious cult fanatic operate on vastly different scales, with different implications and consequences. Obviously. But in those rarest of moments when the real world intersects with narrative world, regardless of the scale and scope, it is our perception of the consequences of shifting axes from narrative to a world revealed that usually guides our behavior. What might happen if we admit and repent our deception? What might we expect if we once again submit to the seductive memes of the narratives spun by our cult telling us that we were never really intersecting with the real world at all, but with someone else’s narrative? A narrative that must be defeated!

These weren’t controlled conditions!

These townspeople with torches looking to reclaim these two young women have clearly been sent by the devil to oppose us!

This is why the everyday cults of our lives, be they investment, political or social, thrive by presenting each issue and each intersection between real world and narrative world as existential. When the stakes attached to a narrative are infinite, it is infinitely difficult to divest ourselves from it.

But those are the narratives of consequences created by those cults themselves. There are also, I think, a range of consequences – often entirely just – created by those who oppose them. Beyond the gulf in the scale and scope of the cults I described to you above, this is the difference between them: that the community of Corsicana decided to relax the consequences for those led into error and ruin.

It was mercy, not wrath, that destroyed the cult of the Corsicana Enthusiasts.

As we continue to write on Epsilon Theory about what we mean by BITFD, many readers have asked whether we should be talking more about how we build the thing back up. Now, truth be told, that is a big part of what we mean by BITFD in the first place. But let’s take a reasonable observation at face value. Do you really want to build a functioning America the $!#@ up? Do you really? Because if you do, if you want to give fighting the Widening Gyre a fighting chance, you must do something that is a million times harder than laughing a self-important magician off the stage.

You must be merciful.

Don’t mistake me. You don’t have to forget. You shouldn’t forget. To people who broke laws or behaved corruptly, do justice. To those entrusted with much who failed in their trust, do your diligence. To institutions that failed, do your worst. And let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this shall always be the way. Sic semper tyrannis.

But to people who thought Wrong Things, show mercy.

To people who voted for the Wrong Person, show mercy.

To people who bought into Wrong Narratives, show mercy.

To people who got so over their skis that pivoting to the plain facts of [insert your favorite issue here] without obliterating ego integrity became impossible, show mercy.

I’ll get a lot of responses – from a lot of different cults who think I’m talking about their particular nemesis, and I assure you, I’m not – saying to screw off, that all These People had it coming and have it coming. They’ll get the shame they so richly deserve when the real world proves them wrong after [the election / COVID goes away / COVID gets worse / markets melt up / markets melt down]. Fine. You’re right. 100%. Enjoy being right.

Just know that, while we wallow in the slop of our rightness, this isn’t the path to build it back up. It’s the path that makes it increasingly necessary to tear down the institutions that don’t work in a polarized America. BITFU means worrying more about whether our town, state, country, world and markets are healthier, freer, more creative, more beautiful and more prosperous tomorrow than whether everyone agrees that we were right in the past.

There is a moment when the real world peeks through the narratives that surround us, and we convince ourselves that this will be the truth that frees our fellow citizens, investors and neighbors from their delusions.

But truth is only one of the necessary conditions for this kind of change. The other?

Mercy.

It will take both to BITFU. Do we have it in us?

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Comments

  1. Here it is – this is the post I’ve been waiting for. The complement to #BITFD. I predict that this is where you lose the fair-weather friends who have come for the burning, not for the building. The jackasses who just want to kick down the barn, not the good (and amateur but willing) carpenters who are ready to craft the new one.

    Everyone would happily have fought against slavery, had they been in Lincoln’s place. Much harder to follow Lincoln’s example in promoting former enemies – Seward, Chase, and Bates – to his cabinet. I hope that the Epsilon Theory pack (and beyond) can embrace that level of citizenship – putting aside the thrill of lording over a former opponent to instead join hands in building something better.

  2. Exactly right Rusty. We can’t move forward without mercy. Well written!

  3. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thanks, Daniel! You are totally right that the fire brings in some audience more than others, but interestingly, outside of social media channels (i.e. Twitter), our most widely circulated notes actually tend to be of the BITFU variety. It surprised me, too, but I found it more than a little bit encouraging.

  4. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thank you, Laurie!

  5. Thank you Rusty, I needed to hear that today. I love the idea of all sides believing that they are right, yet granting mercy to all. It sounds like a wonderful world, but one that will probably destroy Twitter. I hope Ben’s ok with that.

  6. It hit me after I posted my previous comment that our way forward is a so called “Circle of Mercy”, a positive feedback loop if you will… I don’t care who thinks they are right, I want to be involved in a Circle of Mercy, and today it starts with me. Thank you Rusty, I needed a reason to try and let go of my election angst, and you gave me a wonderful roadmap to my first step.

  7. I’ve actually been a bit turned off by the phrase BITFD (not the ideas behind it), so this one felt like ET oxygen to me as I can’t wait for BIBU.

    Rusty is spot on as it will take mercy to build it back up as does any damaged relationship. The victory dance feels good and can even be justified, but fair or not, it won’t lead to repair. The “no taunt” rule in football is a version of this (forced mercy, if you will) as the NFL wants to keep the game, season and league going forward.

    And great writing Rusty - the stories were engaging and, by the time you got there, your conclusion had already achieved reader buy-in because of them.

  8. Piety is a fickle friend.

  9. fascinating. Your family’s campfire stories had to be pretty interesting growing up.

  10. When judgement day comes , in this world or the next , what is it we all want? Judgment or Mercy?

    I have not met a soul yet you wants judgement.

    Maybe the Lords prayer is correct and we must first extend mercy-- before we can, in good faith, ask for it.

  11. The only way to go Rusty

  12. Thank you Rusty,

    I’ve found that people on both sides of the widening gyre passionately believe in their positions. They feel they are right, just and moral in expressing their views.

    As they scream in my face, I’ve found that I have to respect that. I learned that from my daughter 40 years ago, during her terrible twos. For some reason, fortunately, I didn’t scream back. I calmly said, “You’re right, it’s not fair, but…”

    BITFU is the way with respect and mercy.

    Jim Handshaw

  13. Rusty - your last question is the key. I admit to becoming jaded and perpetually angry at the sorry state of our country, so I pray I can find it in me. Your emphasis on mercy being key brought up a fond memory. A friend & former co-worker, Dr. V, raised his family in Lincoln NE. About 25 years ago we were discussing this same subject, and he told me that in his home there was signage in most every room that said “No put-downs - this is a safe place.” The kids in the neighborhood didn’t call it the V’s house - they would tell their parents that they were going over to ‘the safe place’ to play. That is a great reminder that I can & should carry that safe space with me; not for me but for those I come in contact with. Thanks again for the memory, and a reminder of what can be done to build people up. Dr. V, if you are reading this, I miss your family Christmas letters. Blessings.

  14. I’ve been reading Ben’s stuff since July 22, 2014. This is the post that convinced me to spend $20. So, if there’s some sort of bragging rights or office pool, you guys know who gets credit.

    “Show Mercy” the mirror image of “Turn the Other Cheek.” And it’s the only way to change the Competition Game back into the Cooperation Game. The opponent will exploit that at first. It will make us look and feel foolish on occasion. It will be a certain special kind of anguish sorting out those who are dead set on always taking advantage of that mercy from those who can learn to play the Cooperation Game again. It will take time, effort and pain, but it’s the price we will have to pay.

    Good note.

  15. Avatar for Kevin Kevin says:

    Excellent post Rusty!

    This is a trivial question, but did everyone on Johnny Carson agree that Uri Geller actually bent the spoon a little bit? I’ve heard about Uri’s failure on Carson before, but today I actually watched the clip and I was surprised that it didn’t seem to be a total failure. Of course, I don’t believe he could actually bend spoons, but it seems like he pulled off some kind of an illusion there.

  16. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Yes, Uri talks about that one a lot (I think his website mentions it specifically in a defensive sort of way), and I think Ricardo has publicly attested to it as well. By all accounts, he really is/was a proficient illusionist. The truth in service to the lie, as it were.

  17. Change is hard, very hard. Mercy is hard, very hard. I want to believe we can get there. The problem with getting there though, is it usually takes catastrophic events to catalyze that type of change. Pandemic doesn’t appear to be the catalyst, maybe it’s another 9/11 type event, maybe homegrown terrorism, possibly war. My fear, is death, as usual, will have to be what teaches us about life. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point, but it’s been my experience that most people never truly change. 22 years ago, and 2 days after my 1st daughter was born, my catalyst was a 3-story fall through a roof resulting in C4/5 spinal cord injury (quadriplegic), next 180 days on a ventilator with collapsed lungs and the last 22 years learning to live again. I don’t tell that story for sympathy, just not real sure I would’ve ever experienced true change and true contentment without the accident. Funny how the closer to death you get, the more precious life becomes. Hopefully, the rest of the world is literally not as hardheaded as I am and it won’t take that kind of catalyst to see truth and have mercy. As usual, after I read here, I’m always ready to run for President! :slight_smile:

  18. Rusty, thanks for this wonderful piece and I believe we will watch what you are discussing play out very soon. I think we will get a Blue Wave and then the Dems will be faced with a choice of how to treat Republicans: Forgive them their sins and delusions (personified by Trump) and welcome them Home (to the True Party) or Pack the Court and really stick it to them.

    If the Biden wing prevails I believe they choose mercy and effectively put an end to the Republican Party as a viable national force. Think post-Pete Wilson California. If the pressing question for public policy is whether to print $2 trillion to bail out people/small business/airlines/etc. impacted by Covid or print $7 trillion to bail out everybody (Cook County/student debt/medical debt/most of New Jersey/etc.), who needs a Republican perspective anyway?

  19. Avatar for Greg_S Greg_S says:

    Mercy, forbearance, putting yourself in another person’s shoes is certainly necessary to prevent the widening of the gyre. If we can’t summon it up in ourselves then the second stanza of The Second Coming may come into play. …The darkness drops again: but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethleham to be born?

  20. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thank you, Joseph, and thank you for putting it that way. It’s that exceedingly rare thing we actually do have some control over.

  21. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Haha you’d think, but actually most have no idea about any of this. Family moved a couple hundred miles north and did the 'ol sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened routine.

  22. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thanks, Clive!

  23. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thank you, Jim. Still learning it from my 4YO TBH.

  24. Like Tony, this was the tipping post that levered out my wallet. The anarchy of BITFD had / has to be met with creative “crearchy” of BITFU.
    The reason we’re in the fix we’re in is that parties (political and otherwise) cannot creatively and compellingly execute on a cooperative and attractive vision for the future.

    And whatever future we’re slouching toward, the response has always got to be forgiveness, mercy and love.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhAHDaOGHFI

    Good note!

  25. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    All the better that extending mercy also has the effect of making our present world eminently more livable, I say.

  26. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    I admit to the same, and I absolutely love that memory. May we all find more Dr. V in us.

  27. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Just so. It is the willingness to signal in the meta-game that you will lose games, lose credibility, lose “points” to pursue the return to coordination and cooperation. It will look like a loser until it works.

  28. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Carl, thank you for sharing that. It’s a powerful story of how catalysts CAN be the thing to change our minds. Just like in your experience, most of those catalysts in our social and political worlds would be traumatic. I am hopeful that we can achieve something - maybe not the whole hog, as it were, but something - without the need for that kind of catalyst.

    But that last question I ask is really the question of my heart. I really don’t know the answer. I don’t know if we can. I don’t know if I can.

  29. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    I suppose we shall see! My brain says that this has to be bottom-up, that the Widening Gyre has made all of our institutions incapable of expressing the citizen’s desire for mercy and grace. But my brain has been wrong before.

  30. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Certainly, the history of resolution of Widening Gyres is not one of gentle transition. Even if we can’t prevent that path through bottom-up action, the good we do for one another in the meantime still matters, I think.

  31. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Tony, Thank you on multiple dimensions. I’m so grateful that we’ve been on this journey together so long.

    I wrote a piece in 2017 (Before and After the Storm) that tried to articulate much of what I think you’ve said here. A willingness to lose respect, credibility, standing and “points” in our game of culture, society and politics is a prerequisite for breaking the cycle. And it’s so, so hard to do.

  32. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Ed, I’m so grateful that you’re here.

    I love the way you characterized the problem: “cannot creatively and compellingly execute on a cooperative and attractive vision for the future.” The key word is cannot. Not will not. Cannot. That’s the problem of the Widening Gyre. We have made it suicidal to cooperate and collaborate toward that vision.

    I’m not sure what the critical mass of personal action is to change that at a macro level, but for my part, I’m content that the micro results are enough to justify it.

  33. Avatar for Greg_S Greg_S says:

    The good we do for one another does matter. It matters greatly.

  34. Best article yet. Like someone else already said, Mercy starts with me. Today. I needed this. Thank you Rusty!

  35. It feels calculated at this point. Every election now must be some existential threat to ‘our way of life’. It would be ignorant to not knowledge that this is being pushed from both the left and the right. Vote or Die has become a permanent mantra.

    Everyone I know had an overwhelming anxious feeling. We want this to be over. We want things to go back to the ‘way they were’. But no matter the outcome, I don’t believe that is possible. There are no longer any undecided voters*. Now there are just unmotivated voters . So then the theory becomes you need to motivate your base to get them out and vote. There are a lot of ways to do that. Either through holding rallies, so the crowd can watch the crowd and motivate each other to go out and vote. (Trumps polling has gone up as his rallies have increased). Fear is a great motivator. Hope is also another motivator. But the take away shouldn’t be which is the better motivator. The take away is that politicians now know there are levers that they can pull to motivate people to vote. Those levers are not going away. Politicians will continued to be pull on those levers, to enrage, pester, annoy, encourage,discourage, cheer you on to vote. While not ever lever is designed for you, know that ever lever is designed for someone. You might think a certain lever is an obvious or obnoxious manipulation, that does not mean the other guy or gal will.

    • undecided voters just wont/don’t vote, so why try to motivate them to go to the polls too much work too little payoff.
  36. Avatar for twclix twclix says:

    I have always found that allowing forbearance to flow through you is more satisfying than allowing the negative stuff to just pop and sputter in its own grease.

    However, for those who have been horrified by the sociopathic malignant narcissist, the biggest challenge will be not to gloat. The temptation is huge. The payoff, transient.

    The word “mercy” conjures up (apologies to the Amazing Randi) visions of the powerful showing empathetic kindness to the powerless. And, if that was as far as it went, it would be fine.

    But human nature being what it is, once the rules of the game were changed into complete competition, then the gloating becomes a knee-jerk response on one side or the other.

    But, unlike basketball, where you have to play a three-point strategy these days, in politics, you don’t have to participate in the emotionally charge competition. This is where quiet forbearance comes into play. And, I emphasize the word “quiet.”

    Mercy, tempered with few words. Forbearance, patience, and mostly silence is the right thing to do here.

    Of course there’s no forgetting. But there is forgiving and forbearance. And these things are hard to do without practice. So, you’ve got to practice this stuff on a daily basis. In the workplace. In the family. With friends. And especially with “opponents.” It can be trying, but it’s the only way to master the difficult art of forbearance and forgiveness.

    It’s like the virtue of humility. As soon as you crow about being humble, you’ve broken the humility glass that can’t be glued back together without all the cracks showing.

  37. Avatar for tobinh tobinh says:

    I second Tony (and the whole ET community) that the long-game is not just a reaction against today’s malaise, but a movement for a better America.

    I was fortunate that Rusty and Ben gave me a free membership for a year because of my work in post-ISIL territory in Iraq. I have served 6 years in Iraq. If I get promoted (rather than losing my job), then I pledge to join Tony as a paying member of ET.

    Keep up the great work.

  38. I read this for the first time on Wednesday morning after election day , and it is consistent with my faith in the Pack - not as a thing, a structure or an institution but as a community of flesh and blood and soul. We can change the world, we can BITFU, through the heart. Love mercy. Act justly. Walk humbly.

  39. Great & Timely message, Rusty. Thanks for the re-frame.
    BiBU is something we must do in our hearts and minds first.
    Forgiveness and Mercy will be needed when we get around to our own Truth & Reconciliation movement. Aaaaany time now.

  40. Avatar for FFWA FFWA says:

    Well said.

  41. Brings to mind the efforts to heal Rwanda after the genocide. Forgiveness Councils and the Forgiveness Project. Lot’s of other things to be concerned about in that country but the recognition that a societal abuse cycle of division, retribution and hatred cannot heal itself and in fact stands to destroy a people is, by my view, something to take note of.

  42. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Definitely interesting. I admire several things that the Kochs have done. I think Ben would have a bone or two to pick around the political power their financial empire affords them, among other things.

    A coalition built around reducing foreign intervention, making immigration fairer and easier, and decriminalizing many drugs at the federal level is a very attractive intersection point IMO.

  43. Imagine being the legacy of William de Tracy. The tour guide shunned me on my admission.

  44. In my current situation, it’s extremely hard to gauge the point where some parties are ready for cooperation, beyond returning to their old ways, and before the fire #BITFD is so out of control that it destroys the necessary seeds of #BITFU. A win would take little effort, and be nearly certain, but is seems guaranteed to change nothing. Taking a loss seems like the only means to leave enough foundation to make it possible to #BITFU, but burn enough so that’s the only option. Giving up a tunic and a cloak leaves a person naked. And it takes a lot of faith, trust, and mercy to believe that the person holding your clothes will acknowledge the systemic failures and their role and the needed change instead of just laughing at your nakedness as The Widening Gyre is prone to do.

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