(Warning: Foul language actually printed out in this post.  Not something I usually do with this blog.  Read at your own risk.  Sorry, and thanx.)

I posted last week about our recent COVID camping trip out of town and painted a lovely little picture of our family’s little victories amid growing pains.  Every bit of that post was honest, but they certainly were not the whole story.  That post was more introspective, and looked inward at our family’s spiritual life.  However, I felt like a foreigner in a foreign land too.  I felt like aliens had abducted me, zapped me to an earth in a parallel universe where everything was recognizable, but where everyone was just off a cog.  My country is sick and went out and got seven demons worse than the first.  We need Jesus desperately.

We took our family on a little trip to the mountains in eastern New Mexico, a part of the state I personally call New Texico, since in my estimation for the last 3 decades, despite the fact that the majority of New Mexico repeatedly votes Democrat, the people of eastern New Mexico always seem to me to envy Texas and Texas conservatism.  In fact, they seem to me to out Texan the real Texas.  The fervent, gritty, rugged individualism, independence, and pride of these people are so thick you can smell it in the air.  And this has been my personal assessment for the last thirty years.

I never lived and kept an address in the state of New Mexico, but over the course of my life, I have lived multiple times in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas (in addition to California and Missouri).  I have kin folx who live in New Mexico as well.  So even though I never lived there, I have crisscrossed that state more than even the ones I lived in and more times than I can count.  However, I have not visited the state in the last two years (thanx largely to COVID).  So, the level of fervent conservatism I found last week at every stop and every bend in the road along the way was just more than I ever dreamed.

Especially the cult of Trump.

We have that cult here in Texas too, but eastern New Mexico is plastered with it.  “Trump 2020” flags blowing in the wind on nearly every fence post, it seemed.  Many of them old and tattered and blown to mere ribbons.  Many of them joined by new ones, by Old Glory, and by “Don’t Tread On Me” and other patriotic flags.  

(Now… Let me pause my thrust right here a moment and discuss a side note.  I want to make sure and stop short of arguing against Donald Trump or against Second Amendment Rights – per se.  I will come clean and say that I am not FOR either one of these things, but I fully recognize that according to the laws of our land, both are completely legal and culturally acceptable.  Either one or both are completely appropriate for the wider culture, in a secular cultural sense, and I have no desire to pressure a congressperson or a judge to limit either one.  However, their appropriateness for Christians is another thing, and I am interested in preaching the limits of both among disciples, and I am interested in praying for Jesus’s lordship to extend over both.  (Ask questions if I need to clear that up more.))

So, I am driving up the twisty mountain roads chugging a camper along behind us and seeing all these flags flowing in the wind, when suddenly near the gate at one ranch we observe a line of flagpoles with their flags unfurled, as they are apt to be in the breeze, and the first one, in bold colors and letters reminiscent of a Trump 2020 flag, says, “FUCK BIDEN.”  

That’s about as contemptuous as you can get.

I complained a couple of years ago about a Trump supporter posting a “No More Bullshit” Trump flag in the yard around the corner from my home.  Gotta love a message like that right out the car window for my kids to see, right?  The “FUCK BIDEN” flag wasn’t in my neighborhood, but right there in the mountains of God’s country. 

Not exactly the spiritual vibe I was looking for with my family.

That one flag, of course, was the single worst sign I found on our little trip, but there were others, others that when taken all together conveyed an unmistakable message about the anger and bitterness palpable in the wider community.  We are not done with this pandemic yet, and I personally have suffered bitter feuds with family members and friends who want to come to my home and visit me and my kids without wearing a mask.  My house, not theirs, mine!  They just aren’t satisfied coming to visit without a mask and putting our home at risk of infection. 

When it gets to that point, there just is no reasoning with people.

And it seems that there are plenty of people who don’t want to reason or be reasonable about much.  Again, seven demons worse than the first!  How it is that we haven’t killed more of each other, is hard to explain at this point.

So, when I found a small mom -n- pop shop at one village with a sign saying they had “new owners” and “now all are welcome,” I sensed some bitter developments that little town had only recently resolved – if in fact they actually have.  I am betting it was a dispute about wearing masks there which led to new ownership. 

That’s gotta be a painful story.

I was able to take snapshots of a handful of other signs which added to this story in vague ways, but again emphasized for me the politics of rugged individualism which has become a rather hostile form of freedom.  I am sure if it was me expressing sentiments of this nature, people would say I have a bad attitude.

Ever so often, amid the towns and countryside (as I have seen in this country ALL MY LIFE), I would find more traditional signs announcing “The Church of Christ Welcomes You” or “First Baptist Church two blocks ->” or just “Church.”  These kinds of signs still look the same as they always did, but under the shadows of all those steeples, amid all the people those churches minister among, are all these other signs – newer, more caustic, gritty and hostile and pissed off.

I can’t help but think: What is the message of Jesus in these churches for this community?  

Does the pastor ever preach about how to forgive a liberal?  Does the church seek to beat weapons into plowshares?  Do the good Christian neighbors ever approach their neighbor with the “FUCK BIDEN” flag out at the edge of the highway and say, “That’s not language that reflects our meek, Christian community”???

Where’s the salt and light?

Or does the church of eastern New Mexico pretty much hitch their wagon to this culture of hostility and hope in one politician while hating another?

(I hate to point this out, but that sounds like Pharisees from Jesus’ day.)

I am dreadfully sad to see such sentiment overwhelm the lovely mountain forests.  But I am far more alarmed at the impotence of the Body of Christ in this community to have the sway it once did to temper this kind of stuff.  Love for enemy certainly is not the overriding message I get from these mountain villages, and I wonder if we don’t have yet another new mission field right here in America.

Who wants to Make America Christian Again?



  1. therooflesschurch · April 12

    Glad you’re back at it making people think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. harolene · April 12

    Who?? Me!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · April 12

      Thanx Harolene, I knew I could count on you.

      I have been just thinking and thinking about that little vacation and the sights I saw. There’s no way this post can address every thought and feeling. No way I can address every aspect. Especially from a blog. Especially a blog almost no one reads.

      How I wish we were engaged in “dialog” with numerous people. Caring dialog that addresses hearts as well as minds… that gets down under defenses and draws people closer to God and one another.

      As it is, I am most alarmed about how the bluff is called on the “church” of today. There is no spine there, not that I see.

      I could list off half a dozen ways that is manifest to my way of thinking, but perhaps that is not as helpful as it seems.

      In my heart, I am fearful, really. If the church is so lost in this, then where is Jesus? And if Jesus isn’t in church, why am I?

      That kind of thinking seems warranted to me. It also makes me tremble a bit.

      Jesus did not say, “Pick up a Smith & Wesson and follow me.” All those picking up and following with Smith & Wesson are not following Jesus.

      I remember in the sixth grade when our teacher would frequently recite the proverbial wisdom of asking, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you too?”

      I find myself and my church in a very stark light. We don’t really love the light, we love our darkness, and I am exposed to this. I am scared too.

      But dwelling right there a bit causes me to think about that FUCK BIDEN message and all those pro gun messages and all that hypercritical messaging about politics in general. I think those are MY PEOPLE, caught up in that. They ARE ME. And while I have a different perspective, I AM THEM too.

      White, middle-class people stand to LOSE a lot in today’s globalization and liberal agendas. As Christian, I am called to lose my life in order to gain it, and in theory that sounds nice. But increasingly, that kind of talk is spiritual and tangential. And not all that much tangential really. It is all but cut loose from me and everything else I am and stand for… as a white, middle-class American.

      Suddenly, especially since I AM them too, I think I FEEL them a bit. WE ARE ALL SCARED. That FUCK BIDEN flag is the fear talking. Its not moral courage or conviction. It’s fear. Clinging to my gun is fear talking. It’s not hunting and observing my heritage and wildlife conservation nearly so much as it is my FEAR talking. “Pry it from my cold dead hands!” while I burn in hell for hating and shooting at you with my dying breath!!!

      That is fear. That is loving the darkness and hating the light.

      I think the church needs to address these fears. I think.

      Maybe I am wrong.

      Maybe we need to yell a little louder, talk a little nastier, cling to myths about stolen elections and all that nonsense. Maybe I need to write these people off as stupid.

      But maybe not.

      This does not mean my new observation is entirely right, but it surely is worth considering. Where is the comfort of Jesus for a gun nut? Is it possible to share that with him? Shouldn’t the shepherds of the Lord’s flock try?

      I can’t help but recall The Evangelical Gigolo from so long ago. I should repost that here now, but I will have to find it to do it. But the last thought, the last line in that poem says that in the world, everyone wants to play the part of the wolf and NOT the sheep. But the world cannot go on without this sacrifice.

      The church in America, especially since post war times of 1950s, has enjoyed a lot of not too much sacrifice. But we are called the play the part of the sheep, not the wolf. The world cannot live without this sacrifice.

      Liked by 2 people

      • harolene · April 12

        OK Braveheart, take a breath… did you do it? OK.
        Our mission is to plant and whether anyone else harvest is not our problem. Our mission is to reap the harvest those before us have already planted, or to water and tend to the crop as best we can. We can’t go in tearing at the tares without hurting the wheat crop.
        I am in total agreement with you in this whole gun thing…and I do know of churches where even the pastor wears a gun strapped to his ankle and all the ushers carry…then I remember the story of John Hagee (I believe) that was preaching when a man started down the center aisle with a gun pointed right at him, I don’t remember what the pastor said but he did not get shot. My dad was threatened once as the pastor of a community where the pianist carried a bullet in her head as a result of the moonshine war on the mountain and the main perpetrator, Pap Parker’s whole family were members of the church, the pianist being his wife. A man started down the center aisle shouting threats at my dad and as a girl of 8 I vividly remember what happened, my dad stood straight and pointed his finger at him and said loudly “Sit down, you are out of order” suddenly it looked like someone had hit the man across the face and chest with a 2 by 4, he fell flat on his back as daddy told everyone in the church to remain seated… when the man sat up he looked around and then got the hell out of there. So I know God will protect us in all situations.
        All you can do is put the good word out there, if it falls on the walk, gets eaten by birds or buries into the ground to produce you have done your job. I totally admire you and think you are doing a wonderful job. More people probably read you that you imagine, they are just afraid to be associated… didn’t the disciples do the same to Jesus?
        Believe me dear friend, Jesus is every present and what people do not realize is that He actually IS coming soon and yes, in case you wondered, I am looking for a whole in the sky!! 🙂 Let me tell you what my granddad would say, mighty prophet of God who foretold many many things that came to pass and caused him to get investigated after he prophesied to a congregation in Virginia that the president would be assassinated a few weeks before it happened in 1963… Keep on Keeping on… your job is not to get agreement, maybe not to even see the result it is to simply put it out there. Hebrews tells us after chapter 11’s hall of fame that these did not see the promise, they had to wait for us… imagine that!!
        Love and prayers my Warrior friend! h

        Liked by 1 person

  3. laceduplutheran · April 13

    Amen to all of this. I’m still perplexed by some of the flags that continue to fly in our area of PA – which is a pretty Trump area of PA. I don’t say conservative area anymore, because I don’t buy the notion that conservatism is equal to loyalty to Trump. Conservatism is about ideas. Trump is about a cult of personality. The “no more bullshit” flags as well as the signs that were in this area that said “Fuck your Feelings” were appalling. Every time I drove by I shook my head and wondered if these people were church people. What church did they go to? What Gospel message did they hear? Did they just compartmentalize faith to a small portion of their life – an hour on Sunday? How does this match up with Jesus as Lord and people being followers of Jesus? It doesn’t in any sense of the word. It’s immensely sad to see these things, to hear the hatred that people have for others. It’s sad to see people to desire to be like Trump and desire t0 have F you money. It’s so short sighted. I think that’s a part of all of this – the short sightedness of it all. It’s all about immediate wants. No thought about long term consequences, or impact.

    A month or so ago, I wrote a piece on poverty. Poverty has a relationship with time – the only time that exists for those in poverty is the present. And poverty goes far beyond financial matters. I think what we are encountering is a poverty of politics, poverty of ideology, poverty of faith, poverty of maturity. The poverty that is caused by toxic individualism that only cares about getting what I can get right now. That’s just sad. There’s no other word that really fits for this. It’s sad when I encounter people who are trapped in these forms of poverty and have no desire for a better life.


    • Agent X · April 13

      Oh man…

      Thanx for responding.

      Yeah. The mountain villagers are having a “freedom rally” out on HWY 82. I wonder if Jesus would attend. If he did, what would the rallyers think about him coming?

      On the one hand, that little sign, more than all the others, tells me that these people aren’t just sitting there toggling between internet porn sites and hate sites, they are getting together to pump up their passions. Mini Trump rallies, I figure. And that suggests that at least SOME of them, well armed to be sure, will take “actions” which will surprise the headlines in a few weeks. (Sure hope my loved ones aren’t in the line of fire when that happens.) I think there is trouble brewing there, and my CBS and ABC nightly news ain’t carrying the story AT THIS STAGE. But they will soon enough.

      On the other hand, RIGHT NOW, there is still time for pastors of the flock(s) in that area to be addressing SOME of those attendees, many of their family and friends with a message from Jesus about the fears which cook off these passions.

      I remember when Hillary lost. I remember what a sucker punch that was for so many people. I remember when passions ran high and people claimed of Trump – “NOT MY PRESIDENT” and the like.

      I remember feeling like THAT rhetoric went too far. I wasn’t happy with the results either. Like the majority of Americans who voted for Hillary, I felt the electoral college system sure proved to be unfair.

      However, I also remember thinking that was an agreed upon system BEFORE the election, and thus this NOT MY PRES rhetoric was just the dangerous rhetoric of sore losers.

      Now tables have turned.

      Only the sore losers now are well armed, they have stormed the capitol once already, they still engage in THE BIG LIE, and they are meeting in the hills with guns and warpaint to plan for the unrest the rest of us will soon have to deal with.


      You heard it here first.

      Liked by 1 person

      • laceduplutheran · April 15

        Unfortunately, this has been building for decades. I remember these sentiments during the Obama, Bush, and Clinton years. Same labels applied, just depended on which party they came from (whoever lost).

        Awhile ago I read the book “Politics Lost” by Joe Klein. It’s pretty good and talks about how politics changed during the Carter years, thanks to the hired pollsters and strategist. It was then that the messages were tailored in a more populist way than previously. Add isn the Reagan campaign and it’s focus on the Southern strategy that Nixon started as well as the Moral Majority, and you have the recipe of how it started. Although I think that doesn’t go back far enough.

        I think the modern roots go back to the world war years – especially the second world war in which we came out of that as a superpower. Power was the key.


  4. revolsen · April 17

    You have written a strking piece that is eye opening for me. Where I live up here on Cape Cod, the culture is far more liberal/progressive. The owner of a seafood establishment here suffered some significant financial reprocusions when he posted on Facebook selfies taken at the January 6th Capital riot. There are two homes I know of sporting huge (and I do mean huge!) Trump flags. These folks are clearly trying to make a statement and I doubt they are doing themselves any favor as far as getting on with the locals. If the Trump supporters in solidly Trump country view themselves as “under attack,” these folks must feel under siege. Trouble is, I honestly don’t know how to talk to these folks. The few Trump supporters I know who still talk to me are convinced I have been brainwashed by the liberal media and so nothing I say is worthy of consideration. I understand, of course, that two reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and form very different opinions about what those facts mean, how they are to be contextualized and what action, if any, they require of us. But when we can’t even agree on what the facts are, where do we go from there? The tempreture has gone up radically since 2016. For almost a decade I served a congregation in which there were folks who were pro-gun, anti-abortion and took a dim view of homosexuality. They knew, of course, where I stood on these issues, though they were never the focus of my preaching. Still, that never got in the way of my baptizing their children, marrying them and burying their loved ones. But after 2016, things got ugly. Everything I said seemed to them to have a political slant and constituted an “attack” on them, though, truthfully, I don’t believe my preaching changed. I did not ever mention, much less support any political candidate. I never promoted any political initiative. But somehow, I became the enemy and a number of these folks wound up leaving the church-notwithstanding numerous efforts to talk these matters out. I am at a point where I would love to open up a dialogue, but I just don’t know how to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · April 17

      Rev. Olsen, thanx so very much for visiting and joining the comments! Honored to have you here.

      The part you offer here is important, and I don’t have ready answers – at least not any that feel satisfactory to me. Wish I did, because I get a sense from my little mountain trek that more trouble like Jan. 6 and or the siege of the Michigan capitol is brewing even now. And I have family and friends who just insist on perpetuating the Big Lie and other agendas, people I love and otherwise respect.

      I AM one of these conservatives. Obviously not entirely like the loud ones, but I am FROM them. No doubt my voice will draw disdain from many/most of THEM (us, in this case). But, perhaps I have some valuable insight from my vantage point.

      Like you, I don’t know how to talk to them. I got on the phone with a family member living in NM several months ago in the middle of pandemic and in a rare unguarded moment, I really let loose on TRUMP with her. To be frank, I really wasn’t LISTENING well on that occasion either, but neither did she. I later apologized, and now I just avoid the issues with her and that household for all I am worth because I don’t know how to have an intelligent, meaningful conversation. And, I kinda blew it… assuming I had the chance.

      I heard an “expert” a while back, addressing people who get sucked into Qanon, saying that there isn’t much you can say to that locked in mindset. That you have to have great patience and mostly let them work their way out of it, however the little foothold this expert highlighted was this: Don’t talk about things you or they believe. Leave that off the table. Instead, to the extent you can, get such people talking about what they FEAR. The truth is buried down in there somewhere, and their vulnerabilities are there with it. But even still, you mustn’t be arrogant and think you can just fix them. It takes time.

      That sounded wise to me.

      Yet as a conservative, and especially a Bible conservative (labels that need tons of qualification to be accurately understood, I think), I value what the Bible says to this stuff. But of course the Bible doesn’t come out in some straightforward address of Dems and Republicans and so forth.

      I think the answer is in demonology. But even that needs qualification, since I am not one of these who thinks that is about devils with horns and pitchforks (necessarily). I see demons in the principalities and powers, in idolatry and the like. Somewhere in a Walter Wink framework. But, of course, I find that even the Bible uses different terms at different times, and while I see demons in THAT frame of ref, I still think mostly about the passages where Jesus is casting demons out and so forth.

      This kind only comes out with prayer.

      In my view, the demon Jesus was referencing in that instance was distinctly Jewish in nature. A pride in race/ethnicity/nationality soup. This son of the father (echoes of Son of the Father) has been infested with this from his youth and it tries to destroy him. The other was Legion, and distinctly Roman.

      As a Christian, I think the Jewish demon is the Demon of US and the Roman demon is the Demon of THEM. Us and Them demons, but this one is OURS. And it only comes out with prayer.

      This seems to hover very near blaspheme of the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin. It’s not a matter of saying some grievous slur against the Holy Spirit as much as it is calling evil good and good evil… of getting these turned around and then embracing the wrong one. As long as I see you, my doctor, as a boogeyman, I will not submit to the healing touch you bring. Thus, it is unforgivable in THAT sense.

      I think the Cult of Trump puts my kind in that sort of jam.

      It is my own personal observation, and thus not worth nearly as much in cash value, but who knows? Maybe I have stumbled across something truly insightful… Anyway, I posted recently about my life with Fake News, and a big feature of that was Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central. Stewart was amazing. Liberal, but amazing and insightful and educational, AND he was honest. He retracted mistakes when he made them!

      And along came his buddy Stephen Colbert who likewise was incredible. And Colbert, of course, went on to CBS to host the Late Show, for a bigger market, and he changed his act a lot. But, I know his capability.

      He is very liberal, as are most comedy acts, in my view. But when candidate Trump visited his show in 2015/16 (I don’t recall the date), his audience booed Trump just for showing up. Colbert had the presence of mind to challenge his own audience about that and insisted they treat him graciously.

      Colbert has since changed his tune, but I very much admired him on that occasion. He extended generosity and grace, even defended his guest, when it wasn’t a popular idea. He showed respect, even where respect was NOT due, and did it from a place of integrity.

      I mention all of that so that I can then make my humble observation on that back drop. I love Colbert and a lot of other comedy acts. I sometimes find them insightful, even helpful, as well as funny. However, I have really come to question the liberal contempt for conservatives. Conservatives seem stupid to most liberals most of the time, I think, and the comedians make the most of that. I think that cutting edge is actually damaging to the “dialog” we might otherwise wish for.

      I studied up on the Scopes Monkey Trial a while back. Cant remember all the important stuff I learned from that now, but a year or two out, and I recall that event really highlighted the stupidity of country, simple hayseed types who tend to make up the conservatives a lot. I think us conservatives thoroughly earned that sense of stupidity too. When you act and talk both stupid and mean, you really brand yourself as a jerk. We did that.

      But that does not make all conservative values bad or stupid. And for that matter, some of them are quite smart. Maybe they need to be handled differently, but you know??? Contempt for that, even if earned, is just not helpful.

      I think I need to quite watching the comics. They keep me laughing at the stupidity of my own people. (I try to be big enough to laugh at ourselves.) But there are some points where we have meaningful values, and once we are treated as stupid by other potential dialog partners, we find it easy not to care what you think about our values, we will just put a gun in your face and see how that changes the conversation. It usually does.

      Of course, the moment we do that, we betray Jesus. But even Judas sat at the table, and he dipped in the bowl. It can be hard to see that betrayal from a lot of vantage points, and when I am mad and shooting, I am not apt to care about fine tuning my viewpoints.

      I dunno if any of that is helpful, but I hope it is. And I hope people come here and read the give and take of this conversation. I hope.

      Thanx to YOU for contributing.

      It means a lot to me.

      God bless…



  5. Agent X · April 17

    ********NOTICE TO ALL********

    This blog post, maybe even more than others on this blog, is intented to promote “dialog” and “DISCUSSION.”

    If you are reading here, please consider joining in. All respectful comments are welcome here. Thoughtful responses, even challenging ones, are especially desired. But do your best to be persuasive and caring for other points of view even when you think they stink.




  6. calhouns2013 · May 23

    X, I love you brother. I’m afraid too. I think we are reaping a harvest of decades of cultural Christianity preached in our churches. As a result the church doesn’t even recognize the disparity between who we are and who we’re called to be. I’m afraid that church will never look like it used to. But it may be for the best. No more illusions. The church is as strong as it’s ever been, evidenced by the sweet people in these comments. It’s just smaller than we ever imagined. Blessings.


    • Agent X · May 23

      Thanx for your comment. It’s encouraging.

      God bless you…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s