Where is the Trumps’ new Bible?

On August 27, 2018, evangelical leaders from across the country gifted U.S. President Donald Trump and Mrs. Trump with a Bible signed by some 100 Evangelicals. The occasion was a state dinner that the Trumps held for evangelical leaders.

A note here: The Trumps can very well still have this Bible that fundamentalists gave them since it was given privately by American citizens. Public officers are forbidden by the Constitution to receive gifts from foreign citizens only. So what have the Trumps done with this Bible?

A couple of months ago, I addressed a letter to the White House asking where the Trumps keep this Bible and whether they had a photo of this Bible.
My interest is that when Trump went out to Lafayette Square for a photo op with him carrying a Bible, it almost certainly was not this Bible. (Let’s clear the air. Photos show that Trump was not carrying the Bible upside down.)

On June 1, 2020, Trump had the square north of the White House cleared of peaceful demonstrators so that he could stand with “a Bible” (Trump’s own words) in front of the vintage St. John’s Episcopal Church which faces the White House from across Lafayette Park.

And how can I say that this was not the gifted Bible? It was clearly seen in the photos to have been a Revised Standard Version. Fundamentalists generally won’t use this version since it is a translation by liberal Christians.

Fundamentalists would be expected to use the Authorized Version only. This version is commonly known as the King James Version, commissioned by the seventeenth century British monarch.

Regardless, take a look at the Bible that Trump holds in his hands. It does
not look like a gift. It looks as though it was lifted from a pew at a liberal church. Who had to grab this Bible when the Trump’s have their own? In fact, Trump’s spiritual advisor, Paula White, gave him a Bible for his 60th birthday in 2006 that was signed by the late minister Billy Graham. Where is that Bible? Again, not the one that Trump held up for cameras. Fundamentalist Billy Graham was not likely to have signed a Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

I’m still waiting for an answer from the White House about where Donald Trump keeps his gift Bibles. I’ll try to keep you posted.



With a photo: Molly Schwartz, “Oops—Trump Brought the Wrong Bible to His Church Stunt,” Mother Jones, Politics, June 3, 2020, retrieved September 29, 2020.

Stephanie Mencimer,”How Do You Get From the Trailer Park to a White House Job? Give Money to Trump’s Spiritual Adviser,” Mother Jones, Politics, February 17, 2020, retrieved September 29, 2020.

Remarks by President Trump at Dinner with Evangelical Leaders,” White House, Remarks, August 27, 2018, retrieved July 6, 2020.

Sunrise at the autumnal equinox in Phoenix

September 22, 2020 | on a rural road near Phoenix, Arizona

According to timeanddate.com, the autumnal equinox was today at 6:30 AM Mountain Standard Time here in Phoenix, Arizona, where I am. I took the following photos at about that time from the side of a rural road near Phoenix as the sun was rising.

At 6:13 AM Mountain Standard Time

At 6:14 AM

At 6:16 AM

A moment later

A moment later

Pictures were taken with a point-and-shoot camera without filters or a tripod.

My 3 phones

Yes, I have three phones. No, one of the three is not a business phone.

This is the set for my land line:


Note how this phone has large keys. It’s senior friendly. I plan to keep it for as long as I live.

This phone also has an answering machine. Nine out of ten calls that come in are robocalls. They don’t leave a message, so I don’t stop what I’m doing to grab the phone. I enjoy meditating or whatever else I’m doing without interruptions.

I maintain a land line for the emergency alert connected to the line. It’s a less expensive plan than one that uses cell technology. Also, I’m keeping electromagnetic radiation in my home to a minimum.

I like my legacy cell phone:

My first flip phone was a Motorola StarTAC. A friend was upgrading his phone and gave it to me. (There’s nothing like being frugal.)

This flip phone fits neatly in a pocket. I carry this phone with me when I’m out and about. I’ve dropped it without damaging it. It’s not practical to use for sending text messages, though. My service plan doesn’t include Internet access. I’ve never thought that I would want it for Internet access anyway. It doesn’t have a touch screen, of course.

I’ve never used it as a camera. My attitude is that for taking pictures I’ll use my camera. Similarly, if I want the Internet, I’ll get on a computer.

My current flip phone was manufactured by China’s Huawei – down with China.

The first cell phone in the family, a clunky one, was my late mother’s. She wanted to be safe when she was out driving. We went to the local Ameritech store – one of the Baby Bells that was later gobbled up by another Baby Bell. It has Chicago’s legacy area code, 312. I asked for a number whose last four digits were the same as the home phone of 40 years.

I inherited the phone when Mom passed away in 1999. I put the account under my name so that I could retain the number. I’ve had a cell phone ever since.

My third phone, a new addition, is a smart phone:


I decided on a pay-as-you-go provider while I tested uncharted waters. This type of phone is delicate, so it stays protected at home. Remember that I already dropped my flip phone more than once. Besides this consideration, a smart phone is clunky (to my way of thinking). Pockets are for wallets, keys, a small phone, and a camera, not for a mini computer that’s as large as my passport.

Maybe some other time I’ll tell you about a personal beeper that I had before the cell phone.

Ominous spam

Listen: You know I have a fundamental belief that people are good…

Really? And how do I know this, stranger?

However, I’ve seen stress, fear, and the mob mentality push people over the edge and make them commit violence they would never otherwise consider…

So you’re almost over the edge, eh?

If you are reading this, I know you are the type of person who is ready to stand up and protect those who can’t protect themselves…

If I’m reading this? How did I get here without reading this?

Yet do you have the skill to make a difference?

Goodness and kindness make a difference.

Fear and stress caused by this emergency is coming to a head…

Emergency? Everything is magnified by the media. Tune out. Get a life. Stop sending spam. Sit back and enjoy a cup of hot tea with sugar.

In these uncertain times the chances are increasing daily that you will be called upon to step up and do what has to be done in a violent situation.

What has to be done? Like go home and stay inside?

Don’t be caught unprepared…

My shoes are right next to the bed. You’re probably the most dangerous person to enter my life in a long time. Show me your face and I’ll stay away from you. Far away. And enjoy my cup of hot tea with sugar.

Go to ####.site to find out more.

I know enough about spam to stay away.

Another Red Sun in Phoenix

September 18, 2020 | Phoenix, Arizona

Am I obsessed with the rising sun?

To a certain extent. I found a beautiful place to view sunrise at this time of year, so I’ve been going there often for my morning walks around sunrise before the sun is too hot for me – which is not too long after sunrise during the summer.

I’m also looking forward to seeing the sun’s precise location at sunrise on the upcoming equinox.

It so happens that on several days the sun has been covered with a haze from the wildfires on the West Coast of the U.S. You might say that I’m documenting what we see some 300 miles due east of the coast.

6:22 AM Mountain Standard Time. Sunrise is at 6:10 at sea level. Phoenix lies at an elevation of about 1,400 feet (427 meters).
Moments later.

These photos are from a simple point and shoot camera. It doesn’t have any lens filters, and it’s not sitting on a tripod.

A red sun over Phoenix, Arizona, on 9/11

Friday, September 11, 2020

This first photo is not a picture of the full moon. It’s a picture of the sun rising over this hill. My guess * is that smoke from California’s wildfires has reached Phoenix causing a heavy haze:

This next picture shows the sun rising over the Four Peaks:

6:40 AM Mountain Standard Time; sunrise was at 6:07 AM.


* My guess – later confirmed by a Phoenix radio station.

Plenty of rabbits around

I spotted these rabbits the other day. This is not unusual on my early morning walks. Rabbits are active during the low light of dawn and dusk.


My early morning walks during the summer here in Phoenix, Arizona, are really early. I set out on foot somewhat before sunrise. Sometimes I drive even earlier to an attractive place and then start out walking before sunrise. All this is before the summer sun is brutal – which is about an hour after sunrise if not earlier. I’m in bed and asleep correspondingly early.

What people are missing in physical distancing

What we’re missing is a higher level of existence. We’re missing the dynamism of group activities. We’re not getting the experience of bees in the hive. Bees can’t survive alone or in pairs. We also need group experiences, and this is what is missing.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt introduces the idea that although humans are autonomous individuals who engage in one-on-one relationships, we are also “groupish” like the bees in their hives. The individual becomes simply part of the whole. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Haidt bases this hypothesis on Emile Durkheim’s sociology. Durkheim’s description of higher-level sentiments is “collective effervescence,” which describes the passion and ecstasy that group rituals can generate. Members of marching bands experience this. Their “muscular bonding” – everyone is physically synchronized – turns on what Haidt calls the “hive switch.” Members of popular bands and orchestras experience a sort of “electricity” which “quickly launches them to an extraordinary height of exaltation” like muscular bonding. The hive switch turns on something that is akin to the “sacred” when compared to the day-to-day, ordinary, mundane individualism – a sort of “profane.”

People attend sports events and experience collective effervescence because their hive switch turns on. All attendees are riveted to the action on the field (more or less) and this turns on the hive switch. Especially when all are cheering – sometimes the same chant together – sometimes booing. In the early winter, people will attend outdoor football games with weather gear and blankets rather than watch the game on television. The hive switch again.

Live theater and concerts turn on the hive switch.

But all this is missing. Stadiums, theaters, and comedy clubs are shut down in many places. In many places, bars are shut down.

My sense is that over this Labor Day weekend, Americans have congregated over barbecues and softball games. And doing these without physical distancing * and masks. It remains to be seen if there will be a spike in covid-19 cases in the next couple of weeks. People just want to turn on the hive switch, and fear of contagion doesn’t stop them. The effervescence and ecstasy of group activities are irresistible.

Beyond this, I want to suggest a possibility that the racial justice demonstrations in a number of American cities persist because these are hive experiences. Demonstrators, to their credit, from pictures that I’ve seen,  are mostly wearing masks. More power to them. We need social justice, and they need group experiences like the rest of us.


Based on: Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Pantheon Books, 2012) pp. 260-262.
Also see: Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Hivemind: the New Science of Tribalism in Our Divided World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2019).

* I call staying six feet apart and wearing masks “physical distancing.” Health restrictions don’t limit us in social interaction, even in person. Whatever you call this, it need not be social isolation. When you don’t have family or friends to call, that’s social isolation. When you work from home and have no contact with coworkers, that’s social isolation.

Families have social contact. Couples who live together have social contact. Roommates have social contact. People in these groups may get tired of each other, may get on each other’s nerves, but they are not socially isolated.

When students start living in dormitories, they’re not socially isolated, and they can still maintain distance and wear masks outside their rooms – outside their health bubbles. (I’m not addressing what they are likely to do.)

I do recognize, though, that many people don’t have access to meet safely out of doors unless they have a car and unless they are willing to put up with hassles of driving and parking. I didn’t even mention inclement weather. During the summer’s inclement weather here in central Arizona, Phoenix in particular, you can meet outdoors at dawn before the sun becomes oppressive and the air temperature reaches the low 90s. That amounts to no more than an hour after sunrise. And in a grassy area in the shade – before nearby pavements heat up.

However, in temperate climates – where most Americans live – inclement weather abounds and begins after Labor Day, and social isolation is more likely.

I’m not forgetting telephone calls, WhatsApp, Skype, or Zoom. There’s no risk of contracting a virus over these modalities. There’s no social distancing here. Just the ultimate physical distancing.

The full moon over Phoenix as the dawn progresses — next day

September 4, 2020 | 15 Elul 5780 | Phoenix, Arizona

The moon still looks full this morning. The moon is full when the sun, Earth, and the moon are fully aligned. In this case, the moon could look full two nights in a row because the alignment was sometime between the time I took the pictures one day and the next.

These photos were also made with a point-and-shoot camera without benefit of filters or a tripod.

5:52 AM Mountain Standard Time. Note the birds passing across the scene. I feel blessed.

5:54 AM Mountain Standard Time

5:56 AM Mountain Standard Time

5:58 AM Mountain Standard Time

Sunrise, behind mountains, was at 6:03 AM Mountain Standard Time. The sun first appears above the mountains at about 6:15 AM.