The Brain Surgeon and the Carnival Barker


You find out your child has a brain tumor and needs life-saving surgery. You have a decision to make.

You could go with a well-known brain surgeon. She is educated, experienced, highly skilled, and she understands the procedure inside and out. She’s been at it a long time, at a very high level. But you claim she rubs you the wrong way, that she isn’t “likable”, that something about her bedside manner is off-putting to you. Her chilly demeanor somehow makes her experience a liability. Because she is a “career physician” and too much a part of the hospital system for you—you reject her. You’ve decided you’ve had it with doctors performing surgery.

You notice the carnival barker standing in the street outside the big top; the wild-haired man with the sweaty hands and greasy knives, who he says he can do that surgery, that he can do it better than any doctor can. He’ll save your boy—just because. He says it so matter-of-factly, loudly repeating himself as if amen-ing his every blustery word, and you begin to believe him. Never mind that he has no experience, no training, and not even a basic understanding of human anatomy. He’s bombastic and self-assured and he doesn’t bore you with all sorts of complicated medical terms, so you willingly put your child’s sickly body in his care. You let the carnival barker open him up. 

Of course you don’t. 

That would be reckless and wasteful and negligent.

You choose the surgeon; the person with the experience, the intelligence, the temperament, and the steady hands, because this is the life of your child we’re talking about, not some inconsequential, useless thing to toy with. It isn’t a moment to be petty or spiteful or cavalier. It is a time for sobriety and sense and reason. You don’t hold the surgeon’s medical training or experience against her, because you realize that brain surgery is complicated, intricate, life and death stuff that most people simply can’t handle—and you know that loud men with sweaty hands and greasy knives will get your kid killed every single time. 

You understand that people can’t do brain surgery just because they say they can, and that they don’t become smarter merely because they get louder. You realize that the delicate, elaborate folds of the brain have no use for the carnival barker’s noise, no need for his entertaining wordplay. You know that all the volume and bombast and histrionics in the world won’t matter when there is chaos in the room and everything’s falling apart and millisecond decisions need to be made to save your child’s life. All the bluntness and charisma he can muster won’t be worth a dime then. In that moment, bedside manner doesn’t matter, only operating table competency. Experience counts here. Expertise is a an asset. There is no shortcut to this. You don’t shout or gesticulate your way out of these life-altering decisions—you have to put your head down and do the treacherous work of navigating the maze of blood vessels and grey matter in front of you.

This is what the surgeon does and has always done: she learns, she prepares, she endures the tedious, repetitive, minutia that most people, including the carnival barker could never sit through, because this is what this calling is about. She puts in the thousands of hours outside of that single moment of gravity, doing the kind of work that the yelling man will never understand, because he’s never had to. Maybe that’s why she appears so serious: because she’s concentrating on stuff he’s never even considered and can’t fathom—like brain surgery. 

The carnival barker is not the one who gets to stand over the body of someone you love laid open and vulnerable, and in your heart you know this. He does not deserve it. He is not qualified. He is unsteady. He is cheap sideshow entertainment; the person you briefly laugh at while you’re passing through the midway.

He is made for the big top, not the big moment.

And this is the biggest moment there is.

(But sadly, 62 million people chose the Carnival Barker—and now we all have to live in the circus.)


142 thoughts on “The Brain Surgeon and the Carnival Barker

  1. It is frightening that so many are attracted to the cheap sideshow entertainment when it is the life of our country at stake!

  2. “He says it so matter-of-factly, loudly repeating himself as if amen-ing his every blustery word, and you begin to believe him.” It’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why people support him – that and watching too much Fox News for too many years. God help us all.

  3. This is less than your best John. This is a silly analogy. You know Jesus loves Donald and yet you don’t. God is in control and it doesn’t really matter who is President because God Is In Control.

    • You say “this is a silly analogy” and “you know Jesus loves Donald”

      Why? I don’t mean it in a hostile way, but…why? To both? Saying something is does not make it so.

        • Why does Jesus love Donald? Apart from “God loves all etc”. Why in Jesus’ view is he a better candidate? And the brain surgeon part is the analogy – why is Secretary Clinton nothing like one?

          • Lynne C, with all these red herrings you only demonstrate your failure to understand the meaning of the word “analogy.” Please google it, educate yourself, and then come back to have an informed conversation.

        • That isn’t the point. You don’t choose someone who is ill-equipped or in experienced to do a highly skilled job. “Heck of a job, Brownie,” after Hurricane Katrina comes to mind.

        • Well said, John and LH. Not so much Lynne. You can’t possibly “know” what you say you do.
          And, compared to Trump, Hillary is like a brain surgeon.

      • LH, Of course, Jesus loves Donald. It is basic Christian teaching that God is love and God loves everyone.

        What is the issue is the many ways Donald has grieved Jesus. As this is true of all of us, indisputably true that all of us are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, Lynne C’s comment is one of those red herrings I warned about in my response to her. It is a red herring because the issue is not about God’s love but about who is qualified.

        Sadly, people fall for the red herring and the conversation is diverted from the truly excellent things John P. wrote.

          • I’ve never been face to face with any herring except pickled and they are always silver.

            According to Wikipedia “In 1807, William Cobbett wrote how he used red herrings to lay a false trail, while training hunting dogs—an apocryphal story that was probably the origin of the idiom. A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue. … The origin of the expression is unknown.”

    • Did he say he didn’t love Donald? No. In this analogy, he said he wouldn’t choose him to run the country. Stop using the “you don’t love him” card. That’s too easy.

    • I am sorry you disagree with what John P has written. I didn’t find it silly at all. John P asks us a very important question. Do we want someone competent? Do we want someone incompetent? This choice is the point of the analogy.

      It does deeply matter who is President because God is clearly not controlling events. God certainly knows everything that is happening. God knows the number of hairs on my head, which according to my hairbrush is fewer every day but God doesn’t stop the loss because that is how God created my body to work.

      God gave us free will and God honors our free will even as it apparently is leading us to destroy our island home, this fragile earth. God is allowing us to do this because God gave us free will.

      God also gave us the ability to reason. Jesus tells us all the law and all the commandments are summed up in loving God with every fiber of our being. Jesus also tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus tell us what loving our neighbor looks like. So I vote for the politicians who seem, as far as I can tell, to care about loving our neighbors as I understand the Prophets and Jesus.

      Does the politician show hospitality to strangers?

      Does the politician help the poor?

      Does the politician feed the hungry?

      Does the politician care for the sick?

      Does the politician clothe the naked?

      Does the politician provide for those at the moment are unable to provide for themselves?
 BTW, Congress announced yesterday that most of them could not possibly care less for the most marginalized of citizens and those dependent upon Social Security. We elderly and the children are getting a mere .03% increase in our Social Security. That is about $5 month. Considering we received zero Cost of Living Adjustment last year, this is a slap in the face, communication high, wide, and wonderful that the plight of the poor just doesn’t matter to the majority of Congress. Oh, and also by the way, one of the candidates says Social Security is immoral and should be ended.

      Does the politician believe women to be first-class citizens with enough sense to choose her own way in life without any portion of that life being dictated by a man or men?

      Does the politician avoid worshipping the god of an idolatry, such as money?

      Does the politician believe in the sanctity of all human beings, regardless of color, or creed?

      Does the politician care for the environment, animals, climate, all the things which make us good stewards of this country?

      Does the politician stand against everyone who worships the Big Fat Bottom Line as the god of their idolatry, instead investing in the common good?

      if the answer is yes, I support that politician. If the answer is no, then I don’t.

      We have also been told this by the Early Church Fathers, the Didache, the many saints who have lived before us.

      All of them teach us that if a believer is truly filled with the love of God, the love the believer and God share must flow out of the believer’s very pores to love all of humanity and to serve humanity.
      Hillary Clinton said recently “I know it’s not popular, but we really need more kindness and empathy for one another.”

      No politician is perfect, none of us are. And too many politicians are much less than perfect. Some politicians appeal to our better nature and remind us that our country’s strength is our goodness. Our greatest leaders have always inspired us to be our best selves. I pray we will keep this tradition.

      Kindness and empathy are two principle ways love between God and believer shower other people with love. Yes, our greatest leaders have inspired us to be our best selves. We need those kinds of leaders.

I cannot support any politician or person running for office who demonstrates authoritarianism, bigotry, discrimination, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance of that which is different, intolerance of those who are different from one’s self, intolerance of those who disagree with one’s self, misogyny, racism, sexism, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia.
 Anyone who votes for such a candidate reveals that person is like the candidate.

      I can’t support such people because such people do not love their neighbors as themselves. I can’t support such people because God is Love and perfect love casts out all fear.

      All I can say is that I know what I believe the Bible, the writers of the early Church, the Fathers of the Early Church, the Doctors of the Church, to be telling me and I support those politicians who tell me they are Christians who demonstrate that they believe as I what the Bible teaches. I have supported politicians who are not Christians because they hold the same values be they Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish.

      The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” dates back to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, two thousand years before the Incarnation. It seems to me a good basic value against which we can measure our politicians.

      I know which of the two Presidential nominees measure the highest on my yardstick.

      As many people have revealed themselves to be trolls in their choice to write using disrespectful, invalidation language, perpetuating lies, and rumors without ever providing actual evidence and facts to support their claims, I will not be feeding any trolls today.

      If you wish to converse in a respectful, validating manner without coarse language and without the use of condescending, patronizing language, I will discuss. But only on those terms. If you choose otherwise, “TROLL ALERT TROLL ALERT” is the only response you will get.

      Too many show up in these comments full of hate and vitriolic, accusing John of what he never said, dragging in red herrings, and refusing to discuss what John P actually writes.

      • Which one opposes the murder of life in the womb? 3,000 are murdered each day in the US for the sake of convenience. What will Hillary the “brain surgeon” who “cares about people” do to protect these innocents?

        • So, Benny, (please note I pay you the respect of spelling your name correctly) let me get this straight.

          You will not vote for Hillary because of abortion, but you will vote for Trump despite all the evidence and facts that I have given you that he is a con artist who has no idea how to run a business let alone a country.

          You would rather vote for authoritarianism, bigotry, discrimination, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault of women, sexism, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia because all of these are more in keeping with your Catholic values?

          I don’t think Pope Francis I agrees with you at all.

          • I have to put the basic right to life above all else, besides the fact that your “litany of lies” is just that–lies.

            Pope Francis and all those in union with the Catholic Church would agree that my vote and support is properly motivated.

            • In other words, Benny, you would rather vote for authoritarianism, bigotry, discrimination, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault of women, sexism, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia .

              If you are unable to see that all of those qualities oppose life, then I feel very sorry for you. You really don’t appear to me to believe in a right to life if all you care about is a fetus getting born. Life is so much more complicated than getting born.

              Apparently you have no interest in any fetus actully thriving because you won’t vote for politicans who want the common good but you will vote for authoritarianism, bigotry, discrimination, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault of women, sexism, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia.

              Sucha shame you will not allow evidence and facts to break through.

        • The same thing you did—kill 60,000,000 fetuses when your 1970s pro-life buddies were offered a political compromise on a silver platter to pass a law to restrict abortion nationwide to only rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. All the Congressional votes were lined up and ready in its favor. Your side said—NO. You insisted on ending all abortions or nothing. Your side said NO and got nothing—and killed 55,000,000 fetuses you could have easily—-easily—easily saved. DO NOT blame other people when the blood is on YOUR hands. You people were given an opportunity to save them—and you turned it down.

        • The simple fact is, DT couldn’t care less about abortion or about the fetuses who are subjected to it. He made some noise about it during the campaign because some of the Republicans helping him push his candidacy wanted him to, but there’s no indication he has any real scruples about it.
          As for protecting those innocents, available health care for women, including birth control, goes a long way toward preventing abortion, as does making sure existing children are cared for so their mothers are less likely to find themselves having to make agonizing choices.

    • yes Jesus loves Donald … but that really has nothing to do with Donald’s competency to run the country and be our Commander-In-Chief. God loves me and you, too … but this has nothing to do with the presidency. Just as a side note, no where in this blog did Mr. Pavlovitz say that he didn’t love Donald Trump. Nowhere. God is in control, yes, but he also gave us minds and a certain amount of responsibility to make tough decisions that affect both our lives, and the lives around us.. To say that God is in control is one thing – but to use it as way of sidestepping our responsibilities as U.S. citizens is a bit irresponsible. I say this with love, and I can only hope it’s taken that way.

      • Charles,
        I just read your visions and now know that I am affirmed in the verse that God gave to me the day after the election: Isaiah 41: 9,10
        “you whom I took from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘you are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’; do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
        I must admit that as the past month-plus has unfolded I am very prone to wonder if somehow I have “misheard” the message. Your blog gives me hope. Thank you.

    • You’ve got to be kidding! How in the world can you say the other person is not loved by God, too. But just because God loves someone, that doesn’t mean God will excuse his ignorance, ill-mannered actions, his lack of experience. God loves us all, true. But God is not ignorant. Nor should we be.

    • “This is less than your best John. This is a silly analogy. You know Jesus loves Donald and yet you don’t. God is in control and it doesn’t really matter who is President because God Is In Control.”

      I never heard such rubbish. “SILLY analogy?” I suppose you had your television turned off during all of the Trump’s rants.

      “…God is in control”

      Now THAT’S the silly statement. God isn’t a puppet master pulling strings on three hundred million marionettes. We are not puppets; we are autonomous beings capable of making our own decisions and if this presidency turns sour on us we have nobody to blame but the people who voted the bastard in.

    • Yes, Jesus loves Donald. Jesus also loved Pontius Pilate. Unless you’re planning on God taking that oath of office next month, this matters.

  4. John, Another brilliant analogy and I thank you for it even as I know it will bring the trolls out in force.

    Yes, when it comes to this country, I go with the proven track star, not the reality TV joke.

  5. I’m using an Android tablet and lately the popups have been coming on so fast, one after another, on John’s blog & now there’s no way to turn them off. anybody else experiencing this? This isn’t happening to me on Disqus.

  6. The analogy of Donald Trump as a circus barker, although a good one, is not a joke. He is manipulating the crowds of his followers expertly. All you have to do is look at his campaign rallies to see that he is inciting people to violence and planting the seeds of rebellion. Even if Hillary wins (and the polls right now show that she will) there will possibly be untold repercussions as a result. I hope people following Trump in the U.S. will come to their senses. How can any Christian support or vote for someone like that?

    • Kathy,
      You are so right, This analogy, In my opinion is brilliant. As a Canadian, who loves our Neighbours to the South am so concerned, that we have lost friends over the discussions we have been having in trying to make them see how destructive this poor excuse for a man would be for the U.S.A.
      Yes, not everything that Hillary has done, appears to be what we want in a person in her position, but WE ARE NOT IN HER POSITION, as Secretary of State and all of the dreadful and hurtful and complicated decisions she must make, IN THE INTERESTS OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS AND THE WORLD. What an awesome responsibility, I would not want it., and I do not wantit in the hands of a maniac, childish, narcissist, or sexual predator.
      The next 4 years is going to be so important, just look at World Events., We in the World need the SURGEON , not the Circus Barker. Let’s pray, even though I know that God is no respecter of persons, but that he too would want the Surgeon. Another wonderful and “right-on post” by John. Thanks John, will be sharing this on e too..

      • Yes Bob! I am Canadian as well and I am grieving for my American friends and for those calling for a revolt against civility; and for all the ways in which Trump plants evil thoughts in the minds of those following him; urging people to do evil against their fellow citizens and planting false ideas in their minds. All the signs are there that he would misuse his position and that no one would be able to advise him. When you are spoon fed conspiracy theories for years it’s no wonder people are ready to believe anything. It would be terrible gamble for the American people to elect Trump.

          • Donald Trump’s words not mine:

            “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folk. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is I don’t know.”

            “The audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of.”

            “I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will.”

            “In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough.”

            “Knock the crap out of them.”

            • Kathy, the language you quote above is language that incites violence. Two you omitted are the ones where Trump threatens Hillary’s life twice.

              Please google: Donald Trump: ‘Second Amendment’ gun advocates could deal with Hillary Clinton

              Please google: Donald Trump’s fearmongering speech at Miami campaign suggest that gun owners may take aim at Hillary Clinton — again

              These are evil thoughts to plant in people’s mind and can only come from a place of evil.

              That’s my take, Kathy. What’s yours?

              • Well, with respect to evil, I try to avoid judging someone’s heart because we are warned to not do that. We can call people out for the things they do when they are harmful and disruptive. Donald Trump is a good example because he has directly incited violence at his rallies. I don’t know if he is self aware or if he is a product of his generation or if he is being encouraged by those around him. In my mind there is no excuse for egging people on to attack someone. I used to see that kind of behaviour in the school yards as a kid. It’s juvenile. So there is a point when we need to speak up and act to prevent evil from flourishing but it takes maturity of character to meet aggression with diplomacy. We fail so often at that.

                Sometimes we need to give people space and let them calm down or stew in their juices, other times we need to soundly refute them. Where are the sensible people at Donald Trump’s rallies?

                • ” I don’t know if he is self aware or if he is a product of his generation or if he is being encouraged by those around him. In my mind there is no excuse for egging people on to attack someone. ”

                  Kathy, I don’t think he is very self-aware. I think it is all about feeding his ego. He is going to greater and greater lengths to get the ego strokes. It’s as if his narcissism has been increased by all the attention he has been getting.

                  He says outrageous things to get attention and unfortunately, his supporters take what he says seriously.

                  Did you ever read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis? It’s a short book. In it one of his characters is a complainer to the point that her personality is gone and all that is left is A Complaint. I feel like that about Trump, all he is now is ego.

                  He made it clear yet again last night that he has no understanding of the Constitution or constitutional process. He would not agree to concede the election when he loses and he has said enough about how his supporters will react if he loses that has People Who Know About This Stuff very worried.

                  He has allied himself with evil. That’s what it looks like to me. I would like to be wrong because I don’t want to say that about anyone. But I also have to weigh the evidence in front of me.

                  • The Great Divorce is full of people who are stuck and some who are eventually set free from their burdens and chains. My hope for Donald Trump and all people is to be set free. In my house the door is always open.

                • You’re only seeing what the liberal media wants you to see. You’re getting a very distorted view of him and his supporters. The media is totally all-in for Clinton and will do anything it can to invalidate our votes (those of we Trump supporters).

    • Kathy, I agree the analogy is not a joke,. I believe John P selected it for very serious reasons. Trump indeed acts very much as a circus barker. A circus barker is above all, a con man who does exactly as you have written above.

      What this campaign has revealed is how many people are ready and willing to practice hate on people who are different. It reveals how easily we have allowed politicians to manipulate us with fear, starting with the Regan administration and picked by the two Bush administrations. Fear and lies caused use to invade a country we were at piece with, Iraq, which led directly to the rise of ISIS, whatever lies the GOP tells us. The GOP caused ISiS.

      I had thought with the first election and then the reelection of Obama that the USA had grown up and thrown off the shackles of racism and xenophobia.

      All the GOP throughout the campaign and now Trump demonstrate that they are ruled by a being of hate and not the God of love.

      Kathy, you wrote “How can any Christian support or vote for someone like that?” That question burdens my heart also.

      • On this we agree, Gloriamarie. I would like to hear from Christians who have actually gone to a Trump rally? And if you have do you approve of the animosity and violence being applauded there?

        • Kathy, I would certainly never attend such a rally but I can tell you from various news reports here in the USA, that not only have Christians approved, they have also incited violence.

          You may google: “Trump jokes: ‘Raise your hand if you’re not a Christian conservative'”

          Or “Warnings of conspiracy stoke anger among Trump faithful”

          When I google Christians inciting violence at Trump rallies, I find a number of articles from biased and partisan sources spouting conspiracy theories that the Dems are hiring people to incite violence at the rallies, but I could not find any corroboration from non-biased, non-partisan news sources.

          While Daily Kos is liberal, there is video and tweets from Trump if you google “Trump disagrees with Maureen Dowd about inciting violence. Says it adds excitement at his rallies.”

          For this article, I recommend following the embedded links: “10 Hate Crimes Inspired by Donald Trump’s Hateful Rhetoric”

          Then there is this article: “13 Things to Consider About Donald Trump Right Now”

          I hope this helps.

        • You’re seeing what the Clinton-complicit media want you to see. In the US our media is corrupt and not at all “objective.” They are part of the Clinton campaign.

          The Clinton campaign hires goons to disrupt Trump rallies.

          Violence is not “applauded” but Trump supporters, but some have been on the receiving end of it.

          • “The Clinton campaign hires goons to disrupt Trump rallies.”

            The only reports of this are in partisan, pro-Trumpo fake news sources. There is no evidence of this in ANY non-partisan sources. So I point out yet another lie.

            “Violence is not “applauded” but Trump supporters, but some have been on the receiving end of it.”

            Three of them in KS just tried to murder Muslims.

            What about his encouraging people to exercise their second amendment rights and shoot Hillary.

            Please google and watch the video where you hear him say in his own words that he likes to incite violence: Trump disagrees with Maureen Dowd about inciting violence. Says it adds excitement at his rallies.

            Please google: The rhetorical tool that allows Trump to incite violence without ‘inciting violence’

            Please google: Opinions
            The singular danger of Trump

    • One of the things overlooked here is that leaders need to make friends in all levels of society in order to influence reform and stable progress of a nations economy and social programs. Hillary has that depth.

      • Hillary supports legal baby-killing. Trump opposes it.

        That’s enough of a reason to vote against the particular “brain surgeon,” but there are plenty of others.

        She’s in this for power and money.

        • Mounting body of evidence that Trump’s run for the Presidency is the biggest possible con of all his other cons and that he always intended to lose so he could instead have the constant ego strokes his Narcissistic Personality Disorder requires.

          Please google: Trump’s son-in-law reportedly working on post-election Trump media empire

          Please google: The Trump Channel Is Coming to a Cable Lineup Near You!

          Please google: Trump’s Media Empire Takes Shape


          Please google: Forget The White House, This Is What Trump Really Wants

          Not I suppose those will who find nothing wrong with voting for an authoritarian, bigoted, discriminating, fascist, gynophobic, homophobic, intolerant, misogynistic, racist, sexist, transgenderphobic, white supremacist xenophobe, because dress it up however you want, anyone who supports Trump is the above kind of person.

        • REALLY?! And with all of the affairs and liaisons Donald has bragged about having, yet not a tribe of love children running around, how does THAT work? I’ll tell you. Men like Trump oay for abortions. They love to play but not to pay for the longterm the consequences when they don’t suit them.

          So how you can moralize that Trump, who uses and publicly denigrates women at every opportunity, is the superior choice over Hillary, who does not ADVOCATE for abortion but simply believes that medical and reproductive decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, is unbelievable.

          You give a pass to men who gallavant around trying to have, and sometimes forcing, sex with women and condone them walking away with women bearing all of the fallout.

          I was in an abusive relationship, we’d planned to have children, yet when I did become pregnant, he tried to force me to have an abortion, even going so far as to have his lawyer call me to inform me that if I made him a father against his wishes, all hell would rain down on me in divorce court. When that didn’t work, he hit me in the stomach with a heavy object hoping I’d miscarry. Thankfully, I didn’t.

          I fled. And all that these “Pro Life” people had to offer ever was some free, used baby clothes and a package of diapers now and then. SECULAR groups helped me get back on my feet, find legal representation, and health care for myself and my baby until I could once again resume my career.

          I know first-hand how difficult it is, how men like Trump operate, how hypocritical many Pro-Life people are, and how courageous women HAVE to be. Because it’s all on the women in most of these cases. The men bluster and judge and make demands, and RUN AWAY.

          Hillary doesn’t push abortion. She pushes for women to have resources and help in making decisions in often terrible circumstances. With their doctors. And that is how it should be.

          • txteatime, I am sorry to read of your abuse. I wished it hadn’t happened to you.

            Pro-choice is not the same thing as pro-abortion even though the sick minds of the Religious Right try to make them the same.

            Pro-choice means a woman is free to decide her own life without coercion of anyone, and especially not men. Pro-choice means we women have brains and know how to use them.

            Hillary, let us be very clear, is pro-choice. Which requires her to push for women to have resources and help in making decisions in often terrible circumstances. Indeed, txteatime.

            • Pro-choice means we will have a million abortions every year. Pro-choice is a euphemism for “pro-abortion.” There is absolutely no concern or compassion for the victim of the abortion.

              Why are you going against your professed religion to support this outrage? Your own church opposes abortion for the sake of convenience.

              • Benny, when the term “pro-choice” was created, it meant a woman’s right to choose her own life without being dictated to by a man, men, or society.

                That is what the term means. That and nothing else.

                The Religious Right have attempted to high-jack the term to suit their own convenience.

                By your own admission you are too young to remember for yourself.

                • Are you a “sister” under the authority of the Episcopalian Church?

                  Whether or not you are, you have not answered my question. You profess to be an Episcopalian, yet the Episcopalian Church opposes most abortions.

                  Why do they oppose those abortions? Why do you oppose your own church?

                  • Yes, I am a Sister within the Episcopal Church.

                    I refuse to discuss abortion with you because you have demonstrated you have an unhealthy obsession with the subject and I will not enable you.

      • I’d be tempted to make friends with big banks if they paid me $250,000 for a 20 minute speech. They have her friendship, I’m sure.



      Despite being evidence and facts that he lies about how much Hillary makes per speech, the amount he cites is actually the combined income of both Clinton’s as evidenced by their TAX RETURNS which Trump has yet to produce.

      It also overlooks that his candidate makes more than anyone else when giving a speech. Here’s a chart for those who wish to be informed by actual facts, even though they are irrelevant to what John P wrote.

      “Has Donald Trump ever been paid by a bank to speak? What might his speaker fee have been for banks, universities or other organizations?”

      • Gloriamarie, I don’t mind reasoning with trolls (if that is what he is) because trolls are people too. I think the challenge is how we respond to others.

        For example: If you had a next door neighbour who acted like an idiot would you proclaim ” Idiot Alert!” every time they opened their mouth? Or would you try to get along with them even though you disagreed on many points. I have had challenging neighbours who I sought to make friends with despite their obnoxiously loud music, idling car running exhaust through my open wind, the garbage they didn’t clean up ect… Despite not being able to become best friend with them, I was able to have civil conversations eventually. It took time to achieve that.

        Gloriamarie, one of the reasons I am saying this to you is because I have experienced the same kind of dismissiveness from traditionalist Christians who remind every time we talk that I am not a gay Christian; that my lifestyle is sinful and I still need to repent. I know what it is like to be dismissed. The commenter named Benny has something to say. Let him wear himself out saying it.

        Hopefully we will all learn something from this eventually. Any thoughts?

        • Kathy, I have provided evidence, facts, truth, which Benny ignores to talk about his two obsessions.

          Perhaps you are gifted to talk to him in a way I am not. For the benefit of others like me, I say troll alert, and please don’t waste the energy.

          In my experience, there is no reasoning with such a person. I am not able to do it. If you are, good luck to you.

          But I am called to crusade as best I can against Trump on behalf of everyone who have been conned and manipulated by him to believe a pack of lies.

        • Thank you for being reasonable. Sadly, GM doesn’t have anything better to do then follow other posters around with her “TROLL ALLERTS” which are much more trollish than just leaving those posts alone.

          Hillary is a career politician and is totally “establishment.” There has been a movement within each party to dismantle the establishment. We voted for Trump to do that. The Dems wanted Sanders, but he was unfairly quashed by the Clinton machine. It was rigged in her favor from the beginning. The press is now cooperating with her to hide her faults and magnify those of Trump. This election is rigged in her favor. Hopefully there are enough Americans good enough and smart enough to see through that.

          The brain surgeon analogy fails, especially since she will use her skills to do all the things I don’t want her to do. For JP, she’s wonderful, because he’s rejected all the tenets of Christianity and has made peace with the world and wants to be liked by the world (and make money by being a professional Christian-denigrater).

          • Here is another reason Benny is a troll.

            He has been repeatedly asked to address me by either my full name or my title and he refused to do either, demonstrating he has no interest in any kind of respectful conversation. He deliberately chooses to disrespect me.

            • You call me “troll” and I call you “gm.” I think I’m demonstrating the greater respectfulness. It’s easier to abbreviate a name. That’s not disrespectful?

              But why the title? Are you a member of a religious order? All the women I know who are called “Sister” would not demean life in the womb or deny that it’s a person until it takes its first breath, let alone support killing it for the sake of convenience.

              • ” I call you “gm.” I think I’m demonstrating the greater respectfulness. It’s easier to abbreviate a name. That’s not disrespectful?” Since you have been reperatedly asked not to refer to me in this manner, it is only further proof of your disrespect and it is your disrepectful and invalidating laguage that makes you a troll. Also your refusal to read the many aritcles I dirtect you to which prove just how awful Trump is.

                I am under religious vows and am under no vow which required me to conform to your idea of my obedience is to my vows.

                THis is only another form of disrespect to question my vows.

        • Sorry Kathy. Benny really is a troll. Sometimes you have to just understand that the word “troll” is in the social media dictionary for a reason. His sole desire is to perpetually stir the pot like a broken record.

        • Yes. Shouting “troll alert” is offensive and dismissive. And applied whenever said person doesn’t happen to like what’s posted. As an ardent believer in a free exchange of ideas, I am repulsed by self-appointed censors of this sort and steer clear of them.

          And I’m sure this sentiment will trigger a “troll alert.” Whatever.

          • “And applied whenever said person doesn’t happen to like what’s posted. ”

            Nope. That is not what makes a person a troll. If you’d bother to read what I have said over and over and over again is what distinguishes a troll is the consistent use of disrespectful and validating language.

            Benny has never once spoken his disagreements in a polite manner. It is always a screed and no matter how irrelevant to what John P. says, drags in his two obsessions: abortion and voting for Trump.

            “As an ardent believer in a free exchange of ideas, I am repulsed by self-appointed censors of this sort and steer clear of them.”

            Does your ardent support also extend to makign fun of a person’s religious vows? Because both “Benny”, aka Danny, and “Paul Inberea,” aka Leslie Marshall have mocked mine. All I requested was that they either use my full forst name or call me Sister.

            And since you chose to write politely, no, you will not outed as troll. Please try ti comprehend the difference.

  7. But you just never know that the surgeon, after you sign the waiver and being put you under, will harvest your vital organs for whatever she can get for them.

    She may be “qualified” but that’s no guarantee she won’t sell you out.

    • As you offer no evidence or facts to support your opinion that she would sell us out, I offer a great deal of evidence from non-partisan sources that Trump will sell out all Americans except rich, straight, white men. And the world.

      Please google: Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Says Donald Trump Doesn’t Get Econ 101

      Please goggle: Why Trump’s Economic Policies Would Be a Disaster

      Please google: Donald Trump Would Be a Disaster for Our Environment

      Please google: 4 Reasons Trump’s Economic Policies Would Be a Disaster

      Please google: Donald Trump’s dangerous, nonsensical energy plan

      Please google: 70 Nobel Laureates Endorse Hillary Clinton

      Please google: Trump’s foreign policy is a disaster

      Please google: Five things we learnt from Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech

      Please google: Trump’s ‘America first’ speech alarms U.S. allies

      • One word – Benghazi

        And her famous quote “What difference at this point does it make?”
        Translation: (her version)You shouldn’t hold me accountable for something that I had no control over.
        Truth – She did have control over the situation and she, like it or not, was responsible for those people in their life or death.

        Yup, just imagine you being able to hear those words from your duly qualified “surgeon” when you are laying on the table and not being able to do anything at that point. She will flush all the evidence of a botched job quicker than you can say Roe vs. Wade, in order to keep her appearance of a “qualified” leader.

        Get a clue a get your head out of your posterior Gloria. There’s marsh gas in there and it’s causing you to suffer hallucinations.

        • The entire quote: “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans,” Clinton said. “What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?”

          It makes a difference.

          Other points to remember about Benghazi:
          this event took place at a CIA installation.
          Congress cut embassy/consulate budgets
          And from the House Benghazi Committee report:
          The 800-page report found that despite President Obama and then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s “clear orders,” the military failed to immediately send a force to Benghazi and that nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed.


          The report says none of the relevant military forces met their deployment timelines to respond to the attack and that a “Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.”

          Still, Mrs. Clinton did, in fact, did accept responsibility for what occurred.

          But–we’re John is talking about Mr. Smarmy Deal Trump. Try doing some research on him. Start with Trump Revealed. It’s a real eye-opener.

          • Rainsong, thank you. I would also like to add that in the NYT six-part article on Benghazi, Ambassador Stevens was clearly and unequivocally told to leave Benghazi by people there who told him there would be an attack. He chose to stay and tragically lost his life along with three other people.

            As far as I am concerned, the responsibility ultimately rests on the late Ambassador Stevens, as reluctant as I am to say it.

            Please google: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi
            December 28, 2013

            • I am happy to see that at least two other people here have read up on this subject. I honestly believe that if a man had been in her position no one would even bring up Bengazi.

        • “Get a clue a get your head out of your posterior Gloria. There’s marsh gas in there and it’s causing you to suffer hallucinations.”


          I provided evidence, facts, and truth and this is the disrespectful, invalidating, disgusting reponse? Did your mother fail to teach you how to speak to a lady.

          In response to Bengahzi, I give you 9/11 for which there is ample CIA evidence that the Bush 2 administration allowed it.

          Please google:
          For Reasons They Will Never Admit Republicans Are Responsible For The Attack on Benghazi

          And I guess you don’t care about the substantially greater number of people killed in addition to 9/11 during the Bush2 administration.

          Please google: A List of Deadly Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Diplomatic Targets Under President George W. Bush, 2001-2009

          Please google: Prior to Benghazi, were there 13 attacks on embassies and 60 deaths under President George W. Bush?

      • The biggest master of brainwashing is Donald Trump.

        I have supplied a great deal of evidence and facts which people refuse to read.

        I just posted a whole lotta evidence that Trump has conned you into thinking he wants to be President.

  8. I understand the analogy. But I don’t think it applies.

    Americans aren’t in need of a brain surgeon. We need a Farmer. Someone who knows about finding good seed, knows when to fertilize , water, & wait. Someone who knows how to dig a post hole for fences. Someone that knows when to harvest, take it to a high market & set the family table. Repeat.

    All [44] of our Presidents have had previous professions, i.e., Land surveyor, Lawyer, Theologian , Farmer, Teacher, Business owner, Inventor, Minister, Writer, Engineer, Newspaper Editor, Peanut farmer, Football player, Actor, Pilot, Community Organizer.

    • Thank you for this additionally fine analogy which demonstrates that Hillary is still the more qualified candidate.

      Since so many of Trump’s business ventures have failed, his hotels seem headed to bankruptcy because there is a 59% vacancy rate in most of them, he has demonstrated that he has no idea how to manage a company, let alone the country.

      Thank you for your words of support for Hillary.

    • Good point Leslie. But the analogy is not speaking to Donald Trump’s real resume but how he is acting on the campaign trail. And Clinton is not really a surgeon either. I think JP is speaking to an analogy someone brought up in a comment on a previous post of his.

      • I get that Trump is Neanderthal (no offense to Neanderthals). I would not want to invite him to my house for dinner (his wife & kids, yes).

        Donald Trump is a simple man. But there is nothing wrong with simple. I like how he has expanded the conversation by throwing PC out the window. [tired of our ‘trigger-warning’ loving Culture.]

        I LOVED Bernie Sanders. I thought he was terrific and he deserved the nomination. I disagree w/ him, but I RESPECTED his honesty and his commitment to what HE believed in.

        Conservatives are Simple:
        –school choice
        –slash regulations
        –strengthen military
        –Conservative Judges
        –Freedom of Religion
        –Freedom of Speech
        –Secure borders
        –Defend American from Jihadists
        –Energy Development
        –Stop funding Planned Parenthood w/ public’s money

        • And yet you are on record that you will vote for Trump, who ios not at all a simple man but a devious con artist, liar and manipulator.

          As well as authoritarianism, bigotry, discrimination, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault of women, sexism, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia.

          To vote for Trump is to ally one’s self with these bits of hate.

        • Well Paul Inbeara,

          It’s a tall list but nothing wrong with finding middle ground. Being conservative does not mean one is inflexible. I’ve worked in politics and the best solutions happen when conservative and liberals come together. As well, the most work gets done not when people agree (because people will never agree) but when people make room for each other and work out legislation that accommodates everyone. It can be done. I’ve seen it happen, once in a while 😉

          • Kathy, it used to happen here in the USA when Congress prided itself in non-partisan initiatives that were for the common good of the nation. Good stuff happened because people were willing to compromise and not insist their way or the highway.

            During the two Bush administrations, it was very hard to work on non-partisan initiatives because both Bushs proclaimed that the only people they would speak to were those that agreed with them. Kind of hard to create room for compromise there.

            Non-partisan stuff went into sharper decline as of November, 2008, the very night Obama was elected. The Republican National Committee and a bunch of other Republicans meet and promised that no matter what, they would not pass any legislation Obama wanted.

            This made partisanship, not the good of the USA, their goal. Everything they have done for the past 8 years has been to obstruct Obama, not serve the USA, and certainly not doing their jobs. They have done things that border on treason, such as that letter to Iran.

            It’s hard to imagine any longer that conservatives are interested in anything but getting their own way, foisting a draconian budget of such austerity that a number of us, including me, are afraid we will be forced to live in our cars.

            As I am a disabled, handicapped, senior citizen, I am confident living in my car would be a death sentence. But then it would appear that the conservatives want to eliminate the poor.

  9. Nope. Not lying. Trump is homophobic and transgenderphobic. Interesting these are the only two you select. You must agree he is everything else.

    When someone puts “the” in front of a word for a demographic, that is bigotry.

    Please google: ‘The blacks,’ ‘the gays,’ ‘the Muslims’ — linguists explain one of Donald Trump’s most unusual speech tics

    Please google: The top ten worst comments Donald Trump has made about LGBTQ people

    Please google: Trump to Join Titans of Homophobia at Orlando Conference

    Please google: Donald Trump Is Proving How Mortally Dangerous He Is To LGBT Equality

    • I picked those two because Trump went out of his way to address them at his convention. What policies does he propose that would go against either group?

        • gloriamarie…. et al, please cease and desist re my name & what street i live on. I require a level of anonymity due to being a crime victim. Millions of commenters use nom de plumes. It’s a common & accepted practice. It harms no one. And it protects me & my family. No reply.

          • Frankly, I find it hard to believe that you are doing this, “Paul.”

            #1) If I were going to hide my identity, I would select a pseudonym that was not such an obvious pseudonym. Yours just calls attention to itself and

            #2) arouses curiosity to click on the quilt icon which

            #3) reveals your real name and your location.

            So , really it looks to me that you have created this identity so you could attempt to undermine John P’s good work. Which makes you a troll.

            • He’s doing the work of the devil. He tears down Christians and Christianity and elevates liberal politics to the level of dogma and doctrine.

              He’s a con man.

              • Tell me, what is wrong with questioning and criticizing any christian, christianity as a whole or any church?

                Serious, benny, tell me what harm is being done by JP’s blog and be specific.

  10. Thank you, John, for a clear, accurate, setting forth of the reasons I will not be voting for Donald Trump in November. Government at its highest levels requires professionals. Experience, goals, flexibility, intelligence, and clear thinking are not optional assets for a world leader, and Hillary has them all. She’ll get my vote on November 8, and Trump can go back to stiffing other people’s businesses and profiting from bankrupting his own .

  11. Excellent post john Pavlovitz. Our whole family is looking forward to the debate tonight just to see how much fodder Trump will provide to Saturday Night Live. He’s not much on substance for anything else.

  12. I had a warm, caring, nurturing oncologist. I loved that she cared for my family and me. That she gave us hugs and teared up if I had a bad scan. Later, however, I learned that she did not have me on the treatment that represents the latest research of the world’s brightest and best cancer researchers. Today, I have an oncologist who could not be described as warm. She does not ask me how my family is doing or make small talk. But she is the head of her division at one of our country’s major cancer centers, and president-elect of the national association in her discipline. She immediately corrected my treatment plan to what it should have been, based on the latest research, and my scans have been steadily improving ever since. And here’s another thing. She knows she isn’t a touchy-feely person…but being a brilliant person, she hires some touchy-feely people for her team, as she knows patients need that too. I will take the smartest, most experienced doctor any day, regardless of bedside manner.

  13. Just a salient word on last nights presidential debate and the surgeon. Trump did pretty well in this last debate. One could argue that he was the surgeon for a while. However, the problem with surgery is that just one or two tiny, abnormal slips in a surgical procedure can botch the whole matter—and the patient still dies or is maimed in one way or another. Trump made two big slips—using the word “hombre” to describe certain Hispanic people and refusing to say whether he would concede the election if he does not have a majority of votes in the electoral college. The latter seemed to offend a lot of people, but it did not bother me much. The final numbers are the final numbers—and it really does not matter if a person concedes. It’s the numbers that make you President-elect—not an oral concession. Your concession might as well be popcorn and a Coca-Cola. Just sayin’.

    I would also like to offer a writing tip because so many people get this wrong. Take these two sentences:

    “Some people prefer a gas range in their kitchen, and others prefer an electric range. He prefers the former one, and I prefer the latter one. ”

    Gazillions of people seem to think the “latter” one is the gas range because they see themselves standing on the period at the end of the first sentence and are looking backwards down the sentence toward the first item that was mentioned. That is NOT the way you do it.

    The first item mentioned going forward in the sentence is always the “former,” and the last item mentioned going forward in the sentence is always the “latter.”

    It baffles me how so many people can be confused by this and how often people get it wrong.


    • Charles, I thought Trump acted the bully yet again what with interrupting her so often. What I found particularly revealing was his total ignorance of the Constitution and how things work in government. He kept blaming Hillary for not getting things done, as if she did not have to work with everyone else in the Senate, the House, the government.

      I think it is yet another indication that Trump thinks being elected President is the same thing as being elected emperor or dictator. He seems ignorant of the checks and balances within the Constitution. He has over and over and over again shown us he doesn’t understand the Constitution at all except for his delusional grasp of the Second Amendment.

  14. Dear John, I am a relatively new reader of your blog and I want to thank you. You describe the Christianity that moves my heart and saves my soul: the Christianity of love, the Christianity of Shalom, the Christianity of compassion and mercy for those different than us and troubled. Christianity that asks us to address fear-mongers, as we seek a merciful understanding of them, and not accept hateful diatribes that separate and incite AND instead ask for strong, bonding, thoughtful solutions from leaders to these incredibly difficult times. Insist they lead us in stewardship of our planet, by that action giving gratitude to our Creator/(or to creation, for non-believers) for making this beautiful world that we must venerate for the sacred place that it is. Thank you for what you write. Sincerely, Bess from Indiana

    • Dear Bess, Welcome to John’s blog. It is great that you get what John writes. So refreshing to find another who does. There are a number of us. Can’t ever have too many who ponder and reflect and profit from John’s gifts.

  15. Never better said! This call to clarity is precise and has a picture that anyone can understand…even the “entitled ones.” Thank you. I have NEVER replied to a blog before…THIS ONE was so very transparent that even the politically blind could get a glimpse of the real deal.
    It also reminds us that ONE decision can affect ALL people…
    and I don’t mean the carnival barker or the surgeon…ultimately the decision on whether the patient lives or dies (based on MY idea of critical thinking) is mine. Thank you. You are doing good work here.
    I remain faithful…

  16. I am an evangelical Christian. I believe abortion is a sin. But I reject the idea that I therefore must not vote for any politician that is pro-choice. I believe that the sin of abortion is borne by the mother who seeks it, and the doctor who performs it, not by the nation whose laws allow it. Consider: if abortion is totally legal, but no abortion is performed, what sin is committed? American laws allow many things that are sin. But America will not be in heave or hell. Jesus did not die for America.

    • Finally another person who gets it! This was also my mother’s stance on abortion; while we would argue about it, I could respect her beliefs and she mine. I know it’s terribly irreverent, but sometimes I want to say to people who spout vitriol against what others do with their own bodies – Who died and made you God? What you do with your body, what I do with my body, what Joe Smith down the road does with his, is none of mine nor anyone else’s concern; it is between God and that person. It’s sad and discouraging to me – and part of the reason I call myself agnostic – that so many Christians I know want to be jury and judge over everyone else’s business. Thank you so much for being a person I can respect and admire.

  17. Reading this two weeks after the Carnival barker’s inauguration, I see how well you described what we are now living. Oh, I agreed with you before, but now I shudder for our poor country and all of the people — within and outside.

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