Below is a paper that I completed for the Starr King School for the Ministry on May 12, 2018.
1Barna Group, “Church Attendance Trends Around the Country,” Barna Group, 2017, https://www.barna.com/research/church-attendance-trends-around-country/.
2Christana Wille-McKnight, “The Problem of Retention in Unitarian Universalism – Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” The problem of retention in Unitarian Universalism – Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, July 11, 2011, https://www.danielharper.org/yauu/2011/07/the-problem-of-retention-in-unitarian-universalism/; Daniel Burke, “Can Unitarian Universalists Make It Another 50 Years?,” Huffington Post, August 29, 2011, sec. Religion, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html.
3UUA, “Unitarian Universalism’s Six Sources of Inspiration and Spiritual Growth,” UUA.org, February 19, 2015, https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/sources.
4Linda Woodhead, Christopher Partridge, and Hiroko Kawanami, Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations (UK: Routledge, 2001). pp 71-2.
George - It’s ok to say anyone who voted for Trump is racist. We have heard this from liberals.
Clovice - Trump is a racist. That does not mean that people who voted for Trump are racists. It is possible to dance to music without listening to the words.
George - Clovice that’s your opinion .
Clovice - George Yes, it is my opinion that Trump is a racist. I'd love to know your opinion. Here's the definition: a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
George - My opinion is Trump is not a racist. Trump wants AMERICANS to be successful. Don’t blame him for trying to fix our immigration problem. And it’s a problem. Obama fits the definition of racist better than Trump.
Clovice - George Racism is what is said and done to promote one race over another, to show or feel discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or demonstrate a belief, that a particular race is superior to another. I base my accusation of Trump as a racist on fact. Calling someone a racist is a serious thing, and I assure you, it is not a term I use without justification. Without proof, it is a slanderous thing to utter against another human being. I would like you to explain your slander against president Obama about how he fits the definition of racist better than Trump. Here is my evidence against Trump:
June 16, 2015 - Trump announced his campaign for president. On that day he said “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems.…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” Although fraught with insults, the main operator here is the phrase “They’re not sending you”. The racism exposed is the prejudice against people of other races by saying that non-Mexicans are not consuming drugs, are not criminals, and are not rapists.
December 7, 2015 - At a South Carolina rally five days after the San Bernardino terrorist attack
Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. To deny entry to the United States of all Muslims is discriminatory and unjust, especially when considering that the attack came from outside the United States. The action was discriminatory because it is predicated on the the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
February 28, 2016 - After disavowing the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Trump equivocated when he was asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would say flatly that he did not want the vote of Duke or other white supremacists. Most people would rightly conclude that because Trump did not instantly and unequivocally state his opposition to the endorsement, that he is comfortable with the views of the KKK.
June 3, 2016 - Pointing to a black man surrounded by white Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Redding Trump singled out the man and said: “Look at my African American over here. Look at him.” Self-evident.
June 5, 2016 - In a CBS interview Trump said the Mexican ancestry of a federal judge born in Indiana should disqualify him from presiding over a fraud lawsuit against Trump because of his proposed border wall. This statement is clearly prejudicial, and based upon the race of the judge.
June 2017 - At an Oval Office meeting, according to a New York Times report quoting unnamed officials. A White House spokeswoman denied the report. Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and Nigerian immigrants will never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Self-evident, pure racism.
August 15, 2017 - Days after a woman was killed and dozens injured in Charlottesville, VA, Trump said “You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.…Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” Aside from the insensitivity and sociopathy in his statements, the fact that Trump sympathized with white supremacists, and their views clearly demonstrated his racism.
September 22, 2017 - Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”. Not only is that an intended insult, it is a racist slur.
January 12, 2018 - Trump decries immigrants from “shithole countries” coming to the United States. He also asked why we want people from Haiti and more Africans in the US and added that the US should get more people from countries like Norway. Self-evident racism.
George Mumaw, my opinion about Trump being a racist is based upon his actions and words. Your opinion is baseless, meaningless, and puerile.
George - Wow, your Opinion is right and mine is wrong. Then you back it up with false
Clovice - That is a laughably lame retort George. What's the context of this photo? Was it taken while Obama was president? Was it in an open meeting? What did Obama say about the photograph? What has Obama said or done that is racist? I do know the answers to those questions, and can't wait for your next attempt at a response. Yes, my opinion about Trump being a racist is correct because it is based upon proven fact. Your opinion is wrong... and puerile... as evidenced by this pitiful posting. Oh, George, you're just too much fun!
George - Lame? Truth hurts. Good luck with your brilliant mind, I love my President and what he represents. 6 more years baby!!!
George - Clovice , I truly wish you the best in life. ✌️
Clovice - Why do you love this racist president so much? Could it really be that his racism reflects your values? You wrote that my posting proving that Trump is racist was backed up "with false", but you did not finish the statement. What is false about the facts that I presented? What has president Obama said or done that is racist? Indeed, how does Obama fit the definition of racist better than Trump?
It is fascinating to me that you make statements without actually defending them. I understand the "my team" allure, but really, don't you think we all deserve a truthful political discourse?
George - Oh it’s not fascinating at all to you.You call Trump a racist and say your opinions are fact. I defend him and you disagree. I give my opinion on Obama and consider my opinions as lame, your words. Good luck buddy, I m very comfortable in my own skin, I hope you are as well, sincerely.
Clovice - I call Trump a racist and prove the accusation, which you cannot, and do not refute with anything approaching a counter argument. In fact, you have not defended Trump in any way, except to state your unsupported opinion. Your opinion about Obama is noted, but you still have not been able to support that opinion with fact. What is clear is that, like the racist president that you claim to love, you do not consider facts to be an important component of your political position.
That is what is fascinating to me... and that you are comfortable that way. Unlike you, I am not. It makes me uncomfortable that fellow citizens do not care about facts, that they are perfectly willing to sling wild accusations around without proving them, and that they participate in transmitting untruthful graphic memes without context or analysis.
It is also interesting to me that, when given the opportunity to enter into a reasoned discourse with someone of an opposite position, you are unable to do so. You have not been able to discern Trump's racism, which you apparently support. If you are comfortable with that "skin", at least be honest about that.
George - What I find fascinating is that we disagree on opinions. The facts are debatable as to truth. Still your opinion is the only one that matters. The fact you can’t accept that says a lot. Best of luck.
Clovice - George We are not disagreeing about opinions. There is nothing "debatable" about Trump's statements. They are truly what he said. Your statement "The facts are debatable as to truth" is astonishing. That you cannot understand the difference between fact and opinion is what says a lot.
Instead of a long analysis of the memo, I wish to offer some observations about the use of it by Republicans and how it, like so many other actions of this administration, damages our institutions. First of all, I agree with what Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University professor of law and former Bush administration official, wrote in an email, “Having decided to cherry-pick, the Nunes team picked a bunch of the wrong cherries for its own narrative.”. It does not take much thought to come to a conclusion that many of the points made in the memo actually undercut the Republican member’s own arguments against the Mueller investigation. As Paul Calian, CNN Legal Analyst, writes of the memo, “If there is anything shocking in the Nunes memo, it can be found in its faulty reasoning, writing and sourcing.”
The memo is a political document... nothing more... and a lot less. As in a court case, this document is not intended to prove innocence, but to cast doubt.
The way this memo was released is highly unusual. Of course, memos by House and Senate committees have been issued in the past. However, if there is no bipartisan accord, there is always a “rebuttal” document issued on behalf of the minority position. This was not done in this case. When House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted last Monday to release their document, they voted against a series of motions by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), intended to ensure that the minority's rebuttal would be released, as well.
It is important to understand who the head of the House Intelligence Committee is, and what his role has been as a key obfuscater in defense of our embattled president. The 44 year old Devon Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Nunes also rejected calls that he request President Trump's tax returns. At the request of a White House communications aide, Nunes spoke to a Wall Street Journal reporter to challenge a story about the Trump campaign's connections to Russia. When Trump's national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled the Trump administration about his communication with Russian officials, Nunes said he would not seek to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia. In early 2017, he was criticized for bias in a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
On March 22, 2017, during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, Nunes held a press conference to announce that he had received information that communications of members of Trump's transition team had been "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community. Nunes was widely criticized for sharing this information with the media and the president before briefing his colleagues on the committee. In late March 2017, Nunes canceled a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Agency Director James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan were to testify. Democrats criticized Nunes' decision and said that he was trying to protect the White House from damaging revelations.
On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading the Russia investigation while being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics because he falsely claimed that the Obama administration wiretapped then candidate Trump.
Skip ahead a busy eight months for Devin Nunes. The memo released by the House Intelligence Committee, under his authorship is yet another example of the insidious and cynical nature of the Trump administration. It is also another example of how Trump corrupts American governmental institutions. When asked on February 2, 2018 if he has confidence in Rod Rosenstein, who now oversees the Mueller investigation, Trump relied “You figure that one out.”
You don’t have to be a political genius to understand what will happen next. In his own words, Trump declared by Tweet on Saturday morning, February 3, 2018,
“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian
Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there
was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year
of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead).
This is an American disgrace!”.
The next act in this fourth grade level, ham fisted political spectacle we are witnessing will be Trump’s use of the Nunes memo to justify his firing of Rosenstein.
Welcome to the era of the “Big Lie”. The cast of characters lined up in the Trump administration is like watching an episode of the Keystone Cops. This entire situation is tragically funny, but it also ominously portends a constitutional crisis like we have never faced in our nation. We are witnessing a president, and his confederates, who will do anything to remain in power... for the sheer sake of it. They seem to be not above any action to subvert our cherished institutions, twist fact, distort the truth, and deceive the American public, whom they certainly don’t give a damn about. The “American disgrace”, Mr. President, is you!
Clovice was featured on the Word Weavers show on the local public station KPFZ (88.1) on December 31, 2017. Carolyn Hawley conducted the interview, which covered a broad range of topics about Harlem Voices and the historical events that it addresses. Clovice described the inspiration that caused him to create the musical. Musical selections from the piece were also played during the interview.
I don’t believe that most people know Trump personally trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” in 2012. His campaign then filed for the rights to the slogan in 2015 when he launched his presidential bid. My knowledge of that fact must have prompted the dream I had last night:
In my dream I woke up one morning with an intense desire to own t-shirts and hats that read “Make America Kind Again” and “Make America Respected Again”. I got up and made coffee, but there must have been a little too much caffeine in my espresso. I started writing a huge list of other words to place in between “America” and “Again”. Words like smart, compassionate, loving, Trumpless, work, loved, brilliant, artistic, educated, factual, honest... and so on.
I got on line and ordered both t-shirts and baseball caps that read many “different” slogans based on Trump’s slogan, in every color except red. Then I posted on Facebook the name of the company I used and suggested that everyone start ordering their own versions of the slogan to be displayed against every color except red. On the day I received the package of t-shirts and hats, an email arrived from the Snickle & Burke Law firm in New York warning me to cease and desist my illegal trademark violation of Donald Trump’s slogan. I wrote back that I was exercising my first amendment rights, that what I did is protected speech because it is satire, and since I did not sell any merchandise or profit from its sale - they could stuff themselves. I spent that evening going around to my friends houses and giving away my t-shirts and hats. They loved the gifts that they all called “differents”. That name stuck.
Later, I was watching the news and saw a story that stopped me in my tracks. “In his latest tweet storm unleashed early this morning president Trump lashed out at a man named Clovice Lewis who is selling t-shirts and baseball caps that are in violation of president Trump’s trademarked ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.”, the newscaster said. Displayed on the screen was Trump’s tweet that read, “Clovice Lewis thinks he can stop America from being GREAT again. The constitittion has an answer for him and his fellow conspiracators and so do my lawyers. SAD!!!” Since I don’t have a twitter account I did not see this tweet from the president. When I went on Facebook I found hundreds of postings, both for and against me. I also got death threats in my email. One that I remember was, “Trump RULES. Your dead this time. I’ll find out were you live and plant a burning tshirt in your front yard while I explane to you with my fists how America is GREAT AGAIN.”
In the way dreams do, I found myself in front of a judge who said I could post bail for one million dollars or go to jail on a newly-minted charge of “Illegally Trying To Impede America’s Greatness”. I told the judge that I can’t pay the bail, but I’d happily go to jail as a still free man and that I look forward to my day in court. In the dead of night I was blindfolded and transported to another facility.
Months later my wife, Carol, visited me in Guantanamo. She told me companies that printed the “differents” were forced out of business. Millions of people began using press on lettering on colored t-shirts and hats to make their own “different” attire. Those businesses were also forced out of business or closed by the US government under the new “Make America Great Anti-Sedition” law. To purchase a permanent marker citizens had to sign a legally binding statement that they would not use it for making different slogans of any kind. People began calling themselves “differents”.
Guantanamo was rough, but I survived the ten years I was there. Carol met me at the airplane that would take us from the Naval airbase. Some of the ground personnel there wore colored armbands with different “Make America” slogans on them over their uniforms. When the plane landed at the San Francisco airport there were thousands of people proudly wearing t-shirts and caps of all the colors of the rainbow with many different “Make America” slogans. I asked Carol, “Honey, is this just in the Bay Area that people do this?”. “No”, she said, “Everyone in the entire world sports these now.” “I see a few red hats slinking around in the corners. Who are they?”, I asked. “Oh them... only assholes wear ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.”, she said, laughing.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!