WE’RE CLONING WHO?? Nerd Rage #189

WE’RE CLONING WHO?? Nerd Rage #189

We discuss Kavanaugh and the US Open, along with Star Trek AND Star Wars! Just ignore that whole cloning thing…

Also, someone was tipsy. In vino veritas!

Enjoy!

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Star Trek Day

Today is my birthday.

Honestly, however, I don’t want to talk about my birthday. I want to, more importantly, remind everyone that it is Star Trek Day, the anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek: The Original Series.

In honor of this great day in Science Fiction history, I would share one of the greatest fan films ever made: Prelude to Axanar.

It’s All Falling Apart! Nerd Rage #188

Watch: It’s All Falling Apart! Nerd Rage #188

More McCain-ia!, plus gun-grabbers vs. gun rights advocates: who’s less civil? Political false equivalencies galore, emotionalism vs. stoicism, Osei’s review of The Incredible Hulk, and music theory/videogame and cinema music are all discussed in this episode of Nerd Rage! Watch, subscribe, like, comment, and share!

Porn Is Not Harmful, or So They Say

Hoo boy, where do I even start with this one?

Let’s start with “any man that tells you he doesn’t watch it is probably lying to you.” When you yourself watch pornography, it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing this statement. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that “everyone does it”? The problem with this statement is that it’s false.

I do believe it is true to say that most people intentionally consume porn; it has simply saturated our culture that thoroughly. But this idea that there isn’t a soul untouched by it, or uninterested in it, or willingly avoiding it? That’s ridiculous. Of course there is. Being inundated in porn culture leads us to believe that everyone is secretly a closet pervert like ourselves; we end up living in a (disturbingly large) bubble that keeps us from realizing that there is a world away from internet porn and that some people still live in it. There are still some people who want to live in it.

Let’s look at “insecurity,” as though it is simply blind paranoia that would lead to someone hating porn or refusing to date someone who has or still does consume it. But what do you have to be insecure about when it comes to porn consumption? Is it being compared against other attractive women (or men)? Is it fearing that your significant other’s eye is being drawn askance? Is it being replaced emotionally? How about physically?

Wait, but these are all things that can and do happen when someone watches porn. So is it insecurity or justified fear?

I’ve written before about my struggles with porn. I’ve spent the bulk of my life struggling with feelings of guilt and shame, disappointment and weariness. Pornography is harmful; I’m my own best example. But I don’t need to stop at myself.

When I started following Fight the New Drug, it made me conscientious of the fact that not all porn on the internet is fun. The performers aren’t always having a blast, they aren’t always doing things they really want to do or are comfortable with.

That’s when I started to notice; you can see it. You can see when performers are tired, when they’ve exhausted themselves, but have to keep going to finish a shoot. You can see when female performers are in pain, or when they’re disgusted by certain acts or actions. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes; what happens to these people before the camera is turned on or after its turned off? Have they been coerced? Are they desperate? Do they numb the pain with drugs?

The people you saw on that video on Pornhub are just that: people. They aren’t sex machines or gods. They aren’t just images on a screen; they’re flesh and blood human beings. Human beings who have either chosen to or been coerced into using their bodies for the basest of acts.

I mentioned my feelings of guilt over porn before, because porn has harmed me. It has shaped my character into something…small. A jaunt into the comments of these videos brings you to the other side of this coin. Whereas I hide what I do, the comments are filled with all forms of degeneracy.

Men (with the occasional woman) appraise the performers (most often the woman) on looks and how they act, treating them as a piece of meat hanging in a butchery. They ask for names, so that they might hunt down more videos of the person in question. Most are blind to what I can see. To the degradation and the humiliation. They comment gleefully on how “excited” and “into it” she seems to be, and certainly there are videos where they are. It is always striking, however, when the commenter is blind to the obvious.

It’s even worse when the commenter likes it. When they see that the woman on the screen is unhappy, is being humiliated. And they cheer it on. They write out the most vile ideas from the dark hole that is their minds. Yet people say porn causes no harm. They are wrong. It twists individuals into horrid gremlins, mutilating their souls, wringing from them empathy and humanity. On the outside, they still lead normal lives. But on the inside, they hide their darkest desires. And those desires may one day come out, often onto the shoulders of a girlfriend or boyfriend, wife or husband.

And what of the women who watch porn, a cohort the OP proudly declares herself a part of? Perhaps she believes herself to be fine, to be unharmed (I doubt it). But what about everyone else? What about the women who become what I described above? What about those who have their self-image tied directly to how large their breasts are, how curvy their bodies are, how long they can perform in bed, all because they saw another woman on a screen?

Porn is harmful. No matter what anyone says, it is harmful. Somewhere along the line, it is hurting someone. It debases humanity in the cruelest of ways, turning something beautiful and meaningful, the greatest act of intimacy on this planet, into something comparable to the rutting of dogs. Humanity should be better than that. We should see the nobility within ourselves and aspire to it.

Instead, we’ll burn ourselves to the ground, all for a little bit of empty pleasure.

FFXIV Selections III

It’s the midpoint of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood’s life, so it’s about time for me to add to the playlist! …Which I actually did four weeks ago or so, but who’s counting?

“Penitus”

I’ve mentioned before that I tended to gloss over A Realm Reborn’s soundtrack; I simply never found the game particularly engaging until the story-telling improved. Between that and the fact that my first run of this dungeon saw me get held up by watching a cutscene and subsequently getting lost, I never paid much attention to the music. Indeed, the music may be the only redeeming quality of a long, draggy dungeon. From bombastic brass to haunting vocals, Penitus is evocative and a fine final dungeon theme.

“Steel Reason”

A holdover from Final Fantasy XIV’s 1.0 era, Steel Reason is another tune I kind of tuned out. It wasn’t until mid-Heavensward when I really started to listen to it. I honestly want to say that the aspect of this song that stands out the most to me is how unique it feels. In a world of swords and magic, Nobuo Uematsu did a fantastic job of capturing the feel of fighting foes that wield advanced technology, from guns to armored walkers. Yet, it remains upbeat, as though even foes far above you can still fall.

“For the Sky”

For a change of pace, this is a theme I loved from when I first heard it. For the Sky perfectly captures the feeling of this time in the game’s story. When you have almost nothing, banished in a strange, war-torn land, still you drive forward.

“Even in our lowest low, we could cling to one thing: hope. Hope and the will to see our hopes realized. So did we enter Halatali, determined to save him, driven by the hope that, despite everything, there was still a chance to salvage this.”

“The Measure of His Reach (The Royal Menagerie)”

“Oh come ye wayward brothers,

bereft of hearth and home.

Beneath yon burning star there lies

a haven for the bold.”

This might be my favorite version of this song. I’ve always been a sucker for orchestral arrangements and this one is no different.

“Wayward Daughter”

I’ve always been fond of this style of music. There’s something about the haunting female vocals that arrest me. The song fits perfectly with its fight: it is face-paced without being too upbeat, somber without being too depressing. A fitting theme to end a tragic and wicked life.

I suppose I’ll be back in a few months to give the music one last look before 5.0’s launch…

Harmony and Free Will

I love Star Wars; it is not a stretch to say that it was the defining element of my childhood, far and above anything else. I wasn’t good at making or keeping friends. I didn’t have much interest in physical activity. No other franchise could grab and hold my attention the same way Star Wars would.

Whenever my mother’s siblings would visit us, I would arrange my Star Wars toys in my bedroom as a museum they could visit. I would watch the movies whenever they were on TV. I remember every summer, TNT would air the trilogy in a solid block; it was the only night my mother would let me stay up into the wee hours of the morning. I watched them on VHS. I played Star Wars: Tie Fighter and Yoda Stories obsessively.

When The Phantom Menace came out, I loved it. It was the first new Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi, a movie that was released six years before I was born (a concept I still didn’t get at that point). All I wanted was new Star Wars, and Episode I delivered for me. It wouldn’t be until I was in my twenties that I would realize how flawed Episode I was. I did not understand how poorly paced it was, how it focused on superfluous elements like politics, how tonally jarring and annoying Jar Jar Binks was.

But there was one thing I was lost on from the very beginning: the prophecy. Leaving aside the incredibly questionable decision to turn Anakin Skywalker from just a tragic hero to tragic Space Jesus™, I did not understand what it meant by bringing balance to the Force. How do you balance something by destroying half of it? The prophecy stated that the Chosen One would bring this balance by destroying the Sith. For years, I could not wrap my head around concept.

Space Jesus
“Are you saying this…boy is to be out lord and savior?”

Indeed, it was only recently that I rethought it in such a way that it finally made sense.

You see, balance in this case doesn’t mean Yin and Yang, light and dark balancing each other out.

It means harmony.

Balance means allowing the Force to flow through the universe, uninterrupted. There may be light and dark elements contained within, but those elements are not discordant. The life cycle naturally involves death and rebirth. However, there are not forces within the stream disrupting it, causing strife and suffering.

This, of course, was the central goal of the Jedi, both on an individual level and on the whole:

There is no emotion; there is peace.

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.

There is no passion; there is serenity.

There is no chaos; there is harmony.

There is no death; there is the Force.

The Jedi, in their purest form, seek only to maintain the harmony of the universe.

For the Sith, this was antithetical to their creed:

Peace is a lie. There is only passion.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory my chains are broken.

The Force shall free me.

For the Sith, the ultimate outcome of their actions, intentional or otherwise, would sow chaos and discord. The Sith would bring strife upon each other and war upon the innocent. At their very worst, the Sith would destroy entire worlds, stripping them clean of life and leaving wounds in the Force. And all the while, the forces of light and dark would battle against each other, dragging countless souls into the conflict.

Invasion_of_Alderaan
This wouldn’t be the last time Alderaan would burn at the hands of the Sith….

As ill-conceived as it was (from a storytelling and lore standpoint), the crux of the Chosen One prophecy is that this cycle would stop. The darkness seeded into the galaxy during the first great schism of the Jedi would finally come to an end with Anakin Skywalker. Even if there was still darkness in the galaxy (and there certainly would be), the destructive horrors perpetuated by the Sith would finally come to an end. After nearly thirty thousand years of conflict, there would be harmony again.

Which brings me to The Last Jedi.

“Oh no, haven’t you already spent seven hours talking about The Last Jedi?”

I would spend seven more, too. In a sad way, it’s precisely because there’s something I dislike so vehemently (Episode VIII) in a thing I love (Star Wars) that makes me so engaged in the topic. I wouldn’t talk about it so much if I didn’t care so much on every conceivable level, be it about in-universe canon or storycraft. It is fascinating, in its way.

The thing about The Last Jedi is that Rian Johnson took the simpler interpretation of balance being “light and dark” when trying to explain who Rey is. Supreme Leader Snoke says that she is the light that has risen to face Kylo Ren’s darkness. She is who the Force has chosen (after a fashion) to balance him out. There are plenty of things I could say about this, I could even say it was not a terrible creative choice, but there is one thing that stands out to me.

If Rey has in fact been chosen by the Force to be Kylo Ren’s opposite, to be the light to his dark, then Rey, in fact, has no agency. She is not in control of her destiny because she is a vessel for a greater power, a power that seems to be giving her no choice in the matter. This upends the storytelling in there Star Wars saga in a very fundamental way.

Part of Star Wars’ appeal to the audience is the fact that all of the characters within the movies are making choices. They are independent actors, choosing their actions not because the narrative demands they do, but because they want to. One of the core aspects of well-crafted stories is that the characters act because they have the motivation and will within the narrative to make the decisions that drive the story. Barring stories where the goal is to show that mortal men cannot escape destiny and/or the will of the gods, this is more often than not true.

Anakin Skywalker chooses to pursue his own selfish goals; he is the ultimate cause for his own downfall. There is never a point where an outside force beyond his ken is making him marry Padme, or making him choose the Sith over the Jedi. There is no element that creates attachments for him or makes him fearful of losing those things he loves. All of that, in the end, is Anakin’s doing.

AnakinVaderVision-GOM
Anakin contained the seeds to be either a hero or a villain.

The same applies to his son, Luke. Luke chooses to pursue the path of the Jedi. He chooses to fight for the Rebellion. He makes the most important choice of the saga when he chooses to try to redeem his father, the most hated, evil man in the entire galaxy, simply for love of family. The choices of these two Skywalkers in their respective trilogies are the why of Star Wars.

It is not hard to see these two characters making different choices, as well. One can very easily see and believe Anakin Skywalker choosing to instead let go of his affections for Padme and dedicating himself wholly to the Jedi. If circumstances had even been slightly different: if Qui-Gon lived, if Obi-Wan had been a better mentor, if Anakin himself had held himself more accountable…. Luke, on the other hand, could very easily have taken Vader’s hand in Cloud City. It is entirely believable in that moment of deep doubt and confusion, Luke could have made the choice to follow his father, a man he’d idolized all his life, because it was the only option that made sense to him. There is never a point where the narrative of either the original or prequel trilogy makes it feel as though Anakin and Luke are forced to act in a particular way. Their choices naturally flow.

What about Rey? Perhaps this is just a case of unfortunate implications and not intended at all, but it seems to me that her destiny is set, that there is no real choice for her.

As I’ve discussed in both my Last Jedi Rant series and on our Star Wars episode of Nerd Rage, Rey always seems to make the “right” choice, the “good” choice. Despite two big opportunities to break this mould in The Last Jedi, she simply seems to “revert” to the good choice. She doesn’t question her path when she discovers Luke’s deception nor does she seem to meaningfully consider Kylo Ren’s offer to join with him and forge a new course. Part of me can’t help but wonder if this is a consequence of Snoke’s assertion that she is the light opposing the dark. For me, at least, there seems to be a subtle implication that she may not be able to do wrong at all.

Whereas Anakin, even though a character who seemed to rise in opposition to darkness, made terrible mistakes, Rey seems to make none. Luke spends his movies making difficult choices, choosing to be the light rising in opposition to the Emperor’s darkness, but this role just seems to fall into Rey’s lap. Rey feels like she is getting pushed around by the universe instead of forging a path through the tempest. Even when she does make a choice, notably when she goes to confront Snoke on the Supremacy, it never quite feels like she is a free moral agent. Her destiny feels laid bare, thus robbing her journey of all emotion and potential.

Kylo's Offer
What if Rey had instead chosen to follow Kylo on his new path?

Star Wars, when you dig a bit, has always been about individuals making choices, for good or ill. For every Sith who chooses to destroy, there is a Jedi who chooses to meet them. The Force does not create heroes and champions, nor does it create villains; those individuals choose to use their gifts, they consciously choose harmony or discord.

Rey does not feel like she fits into this paradigm, leaving both her character and the story around her feeling…empty.

Spoiler Free Infinity Wars Movie Review

Written by @indepgirlism (Shane) and shared here with permission. 

Spoiler free (mostly) review of Avengers: Infinity War.

 
First off, this is incredibly difficult to write. Once you see the movie, you’ll understand. Secondly, this is a movie to see on the big screen. More on that in a minute. Lastly, the follow up movie CAN NOT COME SOON ENOUGH!!!

 
Ok, so let’s dive in.

 
The multitude of story lines is astounding. Between the complicated relationship between Gamora and Thanos, Thanos wanting to collect all the Infinity Stones, Thor trying to rebuild Asgaard, the Guardians doing their thing, the Avengers no longer working as a team, Spider-Man trying to prove himself, and all the side love stories, I thought they could never do it all in one movie. And I am right…sort of. There is another installment coming which should resolve any cliffhangers, but this installment handled everything brilliantly, carefully, and kept the humor Marvel movies are known for!

 
It is a long movie (2 hours and 30 minutes) though it does not feel that long.

 
Thanos is fleshed out as a truly 3 dimensional character. We learn about his drive, his plan, his pain, and his deep emotions. This is a villain who is not just evil for the sake of being evil. He has a purpose. You may disagree with his purpose, but there is no denying that he has thought this through in great detail! His motivation is solid, if flawed.

 
His relationship with Gamora is heart breaking. That’s all I can really divulge at this point.

 
In my estimation, the pivotal character throughout the film is Doctor Strange. He plays things very close to his chest and makes choices that seem contrary to the ultimate goal of stopping Thanos. His mystery and arrogance is masterfully portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

 
And can we talk about Steve Rodgers for a minute? His defection from Tony Stark is somewhat vindicated in this film. I am looking forward to a final resolution and/or battle between those two. Rodgers has aligned himself with T’Challa/Black Panther, and the pairing really works! Both men are pragmatic and powerful. Their partnership is one that I want to see more of.

 
IW brings in some new faces which I hope will play a bigger part in the next installment. I can see where the writers are going, though I have been wrong in the past.

 
Now on to the practical side of things. My kids have grown up with the Marvel movies. They know and love these characters through and through. My kids are ages 17, 14, and 12. The movie has a PG-13 rating. There are good reasons for this. My 17 year old loved the movie. I am ok with my 14 year old seeing it. My 12 year old is a hard no. This caused tears and some shouting (on her end, not mine), but I know she is not ready for this story to be told to her. If you have younger kids, I would recommend screening the movie first. Only you know your kids and what they can handle, so make a wise choice in whether or not they should see it on the big screen or at home.

 
There is only one end credit scene. It is at the bitter end of the credits, and needs to be seen. Trust me. It really is worth the wait.

 
Visually, this is a STUNNING film. Great locations, perfect CGI, and beautiful imagery. It’s not going to be nominated for the big Oscar categories (a shame really because Robert Downey, Jr. puts in his best performance as Tony Stark yet), but the whole of the film is fantastic. Solid story, great dialogue, good pacing, and spot on performances. I can’t say enough good things about the film.

 
One final note: this is not your typical Marvel movie. The humor is there, and is used perfectly through the film, but it is not the focus. Again, small children should be taken only IF you feel they can handle it AFTER you have screened it. I can not stress that enough.

 
Go see it. Then go see it again. It’s that good.

Tomorrow

“Live like there’s no tomorrow.” That’s how it is these days, right? You may be here today, but you may not be here tomorrow, so live like only today exists and will exist.

As a sentiment, it sounds nice. It is very easy to waste one’s life, to come to the end of it all and realize you did almost nothing. In that sense, to cry “carpe diem” and live is not such a bad way to go through life.

How does that manifest, though?

How many people, in their quest to live, instead waste their lives by pursuing the dangerous and the unhealthy? How many live to party, spending all of their free time drinking and sleeping with as many people as humanly possible? How many people jump from thrill to thrill, never satisfied, always seeking the next “adventure” as long as it’s loud and exciting? How many, in their quest to not be dull and uninteresting, take innumerable risks?

And how many end up not having a tomorrow, not because of happenstance, but because of their own decisions?

The problem with living like there’s no tomorrow is that there is a tomorrow. More often than not, we will live into that tomorrow and we shall have to live with the decisions of yesterday. We shall live and discover, one day, our quest for cheap thrills has led to addiction. To disease. To sorrow.

A few won’t see that tomorrow, it’s true. But what about the people that will? The people that loved the lost, that were with them? The people that must endure tomorrow without them? Time does not cease when we do.

Of course, that will not be everyone, probably not even most. Not all decisions are reckless, not all are bad or even (inherently) negative. Yet, when you have spent your entire youth chasing adventure and thirty rolls around and you have built nothing at all…what does tomorrow look like then? What does tomorrow look like when you suddenly have to start building what people a generation or two ago had established in their prime?

There is a tomorrow. Tomorrow matters. You may not want to think about tomorrow today…but today will not last forever. Is not today best spent preparing for tomorrow? Is it not better to carry ourselves with dignity and grace, with honor, instead of sacrificing these ideals in the quest for an ever-greater youthful high?

Indeed, there is never not a tomorrow.

How we choose to live will influence the ultimate tomorrow, the tomorrow without a tomorrow: eternity.

If we choose to live life like there are no consequences, we will discover there are. If we choose to live like nothing matters, we will discover that everything does. If we choose to live without Christ, we will discover He was there the entire time and that it is now too late.

The featured image for this is the empty tomb because Jesus walked out of His tomb to ensure we would have a tomorrow worth living for. He walked out to ensure that tomorrow would not be one full of suffering and fear of the unknown. After all, for the world at large, tomorrow can bring nothing but decay and death and, for that reason, one can fully understand living like it won’t come. But it will. And two thousand years ago, Jesus made a way for tomorrow to be worthwhile.

The Insidious Nature of Arrogance

I have been quietly observing the coverage and opinion sharing surrounding Trump and his salacious past for a while now. As his affairs have come to light, people have become ever more divided in their opinions over him. On one side, you have those who call Trump the worst kind of cad and liar, and on the other are those who insist they can and should overlook his past in favor of the good he may do now.

Both sides have valid points.

I have been reluctant to weigh in with my own opinion because I know that the people who are vehemently opposed to Trump will become apoplectic and will question my character by extension. It is similar to the irrational attacks levied by the hard core pro-Trump side whenever I have been critical of him, but oddly enough it is the antis who have been the most unpleasant since the election.

That is, I had been unwilling to weigh in… until today.

Earlier I saw this post and my immediate reaction was surprise that the NY Times should be concerned with character. They do, after all, have a history of blatant biasfabrication, and political spin. It is ironic, given their history, that they should have published an opinion on precisely this topic. If they were subject to their own standards, I would be compelled to assign them to the dust bin of the corrupt and unreadable. I suppose, then, that it is good to separate the publication itself from the succession of questionable posts and journalists that have been published within its periodicals. 

The post itself talks about Trump’s past and the support he gets from conservatives today despite what could politely be called a colorful history. It calls into question, specifically, the character of Mike Pence, but also that of the whole of conservatism and the right. 

As to the character of Pence, I can only say that you need not agree with him in all things to acknowledge he is a man of honor. I believe that he feels he can do some good in his position as VP, and that he could influence Trump’s life in a positive direction. 

I believe we can all agree that Trump could use all the positive influence he can get. Of course his past indiscretions are inexcusable. They may be understandable in a sense, but I wouldn’t attempt to justify them. Therein lies the source of the divide over support for Trump. He has been, at least, honest about his vices. That alone sets him apart from most politicians, many of whom behave exactly like Trump privately and then publicly play at being virtuous. 

It doesn’t help the discussion at all when one considers that the integrity of the presidency was utterly destroyed under Clinton, and that this was defended and approved by the very media outlets that have engaged in perpetual pearl-clutching since Trump’s nomination. Hypocrisy is alive and well and its most ardent champion is mainstream media. 

Which brings me back to the Divide, and the most common refrain associated with said divide, “Consistency!” “Character!” “Conviction!”

I found this quote from the Times post particularly telling: 

“Conservatives have twisted themselves into knots trying to excuse Trump’s vulgarities as acceptable and somehow set them apart from the supposed productivity of the man himself, somehow cleaving the sin from the sinner.”

Concerning the questions of character and convictions, and the contention within conservatism and particularly among Christians, is this not precisely what we ought to do?? Not make excuses, but to separate the sin from the sinner? Can we not acknowledge that things done may be unequivocally wrong while also acknowledging that people may be redeemed? 

Before you counter with, “Yes, but..,” let me reminded you that not one of us can redeem ourselves by our own power alone. If you have ever sought forgiveness or absolution then you cannot claim any more innate goodness or virtue than the President can. The act alone is proof that we are not good for goodness sake, whatever childhood songs may say. 

This brings me to what I perceive to be the insidious arrogance of “better than.” 

It is possible for a conservative Christian to support Trump’s presidency and abhor his dalliances. Jesus did not tell us to seek our salvation in politics, nor did he say that we should hawk our “fruits” in the public square by proudly proclaiming the superiority of our vote. When the elites of his day tried to trap him in an inconsistency, he merely said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” What our duty as a voter is, then, depends on a very personal conviction that is God’s alone to judge, as He alone is the one to place such convictions on us. 

It is disturbing to me to see such prideful and contentious interactions among otherwise delightful people. Yes, we should definitely be concerned with character, but first and foremost and always the character that concerns us most should be our own. If we cannot hold a mirror to our own pride and foibles, and seek always to remain humbled by what we find there, then we have no business becoming the arbiters of virtue in other people’s lives. 

We may not like what it says about us that our Representatives are such fallible and fallen individuals, but let us not delude ourselves with the fantasy that we each and all have not at some point been just as given to vice as they are. They are the reflection we turn away from. They are the beams we avoid in our search for specks

I can already predict the rebuttals to this opinion and I may in time address them, but I believe we can gain an understanding of what are simplistically called “inconsistencies” by remembering the many instances wherein God uses secular leaders to perform wise and good acts, and how sometimes a part can redeem the whole. These things did not come about by posturing, however; they were the result of real conviction, real faith, and constant prayer. I can’t help thinking our time would be better spent in the pursuit of self improvement and spiritual communion rather than in endless arguments over who is the “better” person based on whether or not they support the President as a politician or as a person.

To that end, I would leave you with a passage from The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis:

“We are deceived by looking on the outside of things. We suppose ourselves to be roughly not much worse than Y, whom all acknowledge for a decent sort of person, and certainly (though we should not claim it out loud) better than the abominable X. Even on the superficial level we are probably deceived about this. Don’t be too sure that your friends think you as good as Y. The very fact that you selected him for the comparison is suspicious: he is probably head and shoulders above you and your circle. But let us suppose that Y and yourself both appear “not bad”. How far Y’s appearance is deceptive, is between Y and God. His may not be deceptive: you know that yours is. 

In an instant of time -while your friend hesitates for a word- what things pass through your mind? We have never told the whole truth. We may confess ugly facts -the meanest cowardice or the shabbiest and most prosaic impurity- but the tone is false. The very act of confessing -an infinitesimally hypocritical glance- a dash of humour- all this contrives to disassociate the facts from your very self. No one could guess how familiar, and in a sense, congenial to your soul these things were, how much of a piece with all the rest: down there, in the dreaming inner warmth, they struck no such discordant note, were not nearly so odd and detachable from the rest of you, as they seem when they are turned into words. We imply, and often believe, that habitual vices are exceptional single acts, and make the opposite mistake about our virtues…”