Surrendering the ‘War on Christmas’

‘Tis the season of war- the ‘War on Christmas’. This is the time of year when, traditionally, conservative media outlets employ that phrase to describe what they see as a supposed marginalization of Christmas and a relentless attack against Christmas symbolism, greetings, displays, and spirituality. Their goal in calling this out, they say, is to restore Christmas to its rightful position as a Christian holiday in a Christian America. They seek to do away with the secular trappings of Christmas, … Read more

Letter From America- Christianity without ‘Jesus’: American Religion in the Age of Trump

Since the inception of a distinctly right-wing Evangelical Christian spirituality and politics in the 70s and 80s- and particularly now in the wake of Donald Trump’s rise to power, with unwavering support from so many on the Christian Right- many have pointed out how little of that movement’s beliefs and practices have to do with the actual words and actions of the person of Jesus; Jesus, they point out, was a Middle Eastern man, when Evangelicals look with distain and … Read more

Letter From America: The Love Affair with the Ten Commandments…

 One thing that I see a lot of in America is signs. Advertising billboards are everywhere, a lot more than in Europe. Drive for any distance in a populated area in the US and you’ll see hundreds. However, there’s one particular type of sign that I see a lot of in my area and it’s not (technically, anyway) an advertisement. It’s the Ten Commandments. They’re all the same design and are available from a website (which is also advertised on … Read more

Letter From America: Health Care (and why it doesn’t work…)

For the past several years, I’ve been a guest speaker in our local high school’s ‘Culture Week’, when they ask people from overseas to come in and give presentations on life in their home country- food, sport, politics, art, and history- and the student’s then write reports on what they’ve learned. A frequently recurring question each year is, ‘What’s something you miss from there?’ When I started doing this, I tended to give light, fun answers- Tayto cheese and onions, … Read more

Letters From America: My Life Among the Trump Supporters…

‘Trump’s America’, day 103… People back in Ireland and Northern Ireland ask me a lot of questions about Trump’s supporters, in a tone that’s similar to what they might ask someone who’s seen African elephants- incredible creatures they’ve seen on TV, but still wonder what they’re like close up. Talk to any political scientist or polling strategist, and they’ll tell you that Trump voters actually covered a pretty broad spectrum- young and old, ignorant and intelligent, poor and well-off, and … Read more

Support – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…”

Since moving to the US, I’ve been working as a supply teacher; in the US, it’s referred to as a ‘substitute teacher’ or simply a ‘sub’. Basically, I’m there if the regular teacher isn’t, taking the class, teaching the lessons, and making sure the work gets done. I don’t mind the work; it can be challenging but also quite rewarding. In the best instances, I can be a pleasant break in continuity, which gives me the opportunity to speak into … Read more

Playing the Long Game – Conservative Evangelicals and the US Supreme Court

Many observers of American politics are utterly befuddled by the reaction of many Republicans, first to the candidacy and then the actual presidency of Donald Trump. Why, so many wonder, do they tolerate, and even defend, a candidate who has so often been openly contemptuous of them and their party? He has belittled, insulted, denigrated, and bullied them, not to mention lied about them at almost every turn. And since he’s not demonstrated any discernible ideological core- other than the … Read more