My Spiritual Journey with Donald Trump

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Donald Trump is not my spiritual adviser, but I find myself on an enlightening journey with the man.

From the beginning, Trump hasn’t exactly acted like a statesman. In fact, he makes Ferris Bueller look like John Foster Dulles. But then, he beat my guy fair and square. So unlike the Republican establishment, I got behind him.

My doubts grew as I learned more. The disclosure of his shabby words about women was the last of a whole bale of ugly straws, and it finally broke me.

Initially, it felt good to break with Trump. He’s just not a gentleman, I sniffed. I’m better than him, I boasted to myself.

Moral sanctimony is a buzz, and it’s addictive. I was not just high on my horse; I was just plain high.

But I thought more about it. I talked with friends I’ve made in other journeys, with professional women and with religious people. I even prayed a little, which for me is praying a lot. Continue reading

Millennials are Wimps

My grandfather died suddenly in the depths of the Great Depression when his son — my father — was 5 years old.

It was the second time my grandmother had been widowed. Later, in the eighth grade, my father quit school to go to work to help support her. At 17, he joined the army and eventually earned a GED.

My mother’s father also died in the Great Depression, when she was 4. She completed high school while her mother — my other grandmother — worked in a gun factory.

My parents eventually worked their way into the middle class and helped their four children earn nine college degrees.

My father was, and my mother is, extraordinary by our standards, but they were not unusual for their generation. They survived the Great Depression, saved the world from the Nazis and won the Cold War. They raised large families and still produced the greatest prosperity in history. In their spare time, they put a man on the moon.

They were rightly dubbed the “greatest generation.” Their hard childhoods made them rugged adults. They were grown-ups, sometimes even before they grew up.

My own generation — the “baby boomers” — were the beginning of the end. We did produce the best popular music, before or since, but not much else. We did manage one first: we were the first Americans (unless you count the Confederacy) to lose a war.

But if my generation was the beginning of the end, the current generation — the “millennials” — are the end of the end. Continue reading

Potheads and Potty-mouths in Paradise

My recent column titled “Potheads in Paradise” (Commentary, Sept. 18, The Aspen Times) described my experience in a pot shop in pot-legal Colorado. (It wasn’t one of the dozen here in Aspen, I’m glad to report.) If you want to read about it again, it’s at

That column generated a lot of, let’s say, rebuttals. Fairness requires that I pass these rebuttals on to my readers.

By way of background, my first column explained that the pot store I visited assaulted my senses — my nose with a weedy smell, my ears with pervasive and inexplicable shouting and my eyes with long and unkempt beards, tattoos, piercings and dirty t-shirts.

These Jethro get-ups were apparently some kind of uniform of non-conformity. The funniest part were the baseball caps worn backward in that manner that weirdly reduces the IQ of the wearer.

Now let’s get to those rebuttals left in the form of comments online, in social media and through correspondence. I haven’t corrected them for spelling or grammar but have edited some of the unsavory language with asterisks. After each of the quoted comments, I’ve offered my response.

Commenter: “When do you want to meet douche bag?”

The Aspen Beat: I don’t think I want to meet you.

Commenter: “I want to pull my plant out of the ground and beat you’re a** with it you dripping douche. I wont flip the ballcap around-I’ll just flip your head around instead.” Continue reading