WHEN THE VICTORY of a political party becomes confused with the end of the world, society has a problem. Democracy, if it’s anything, is an agreement to surrender power without a fight. If an election ends with anything other than an uncomplicated re-confirmation of the status-quo, or the peaceful transfer of political authority, then democracy, like Elvis, has left the building. What remains inside the building is seldom pretty.
That President Donald Trump has refused to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the 3 November election bodes very ill for the American republic. At the very least, it signals his unshakeable conviction that he is politically invincible in a “free and fair” fight. It serves no purpose for Trump’s opponents to point out that, in a democracy, acknowledging the possibility of defeat is almost as important as accepting it. Trump is so certain that he speaks for the “real” America, that he “knows” he can’t be beaten.
Who is the “real” America? We all know the answer to that question. The real America is white. The real America repels “socialism” as naturally as water repels oil. The real America puts its trust in God – and in the special people He chooses to do His will. What’s more, we all know who Donald Trump does not count as real Americans. They are Blacks. They are Hispanic. They are Muslims. And, they include all those who challenge the idea that White, Christian, Capitalist America is an unequivocal force for good in the world.
It’s that idea of the United States being a “force for good” that holds the key to understanding the formidable threat to democracy which Trump has become. At the very heart of the President’s electoral coalition are the evangelical Christian churches who see the USA as God’s chosen instrument: the means by which the ancient prophecies contained in the Bible will be fulfilled. That’s why there are no more fervent defenders of the State of Israel than American evangelicals. Israel, they are certain, is destined, alongside the USA, to usher-in the great reckoning described in the Book of Revelation.
Unbelievers are often puzzled by the evangelicals’ unswerving support for Trump. How can they tolerate such a self-confessed sinner at the head of God’s chosen nation? Their two-word rejoinder: King David.
The ancient Israeli king was not a good man. David spied on Bathsheba as she bathed and was consumed with lust for her body. Her soldier husband, Uriah, he ordered into the front lines, thus ensuring his death, and making it possible for the Hittite’s wife to be enjoyed by her king undisturbed. Covetousness, murder and fornication! And yet, God loved David, and David loved the Lord. If God could overlook the sins of King David, then he will overlook the sins of President Trump. The Lord moves in mysterious ways!
Perhaps He was at work in the Republican Party-controlled state legislatures when all those voter-suppression laws were passed. Perhaps He was guiding the hands of Republican Governors when they signed the contracts tasking Republican Party-friendly companies with purging the voter rolls. Perhaps it’s His voice that speaks through the mouths of all those Fox News “journalists”.
You can’t be an evangelical Christian without believing fervently that God reveals his will through his chosen servants. That all human history positively snaps, crackles and pops with the electricity of His divine will. Right now, the evangelicals of America are looking at Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Christian who will turn America away from what she and her co-religionists regard as the sinful judicial decisions of the last 50 years. On their knees, with fervent devotion, they will thank God for his perfectly-timed decision to send Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the everlasting reward she so richly deserves.
The ancient Greek word apokalypsis, is best translated as “unveiling”. “Apocalyptic” thinking, therefore, is all about what you think you’ve been shown of the “End Times”. For the evangelical Christian, the showman, obviously, is God himself. For those Trump supporters who prefer not to live on their knees, however, the unveiling of hidden truths requires a slightly less supernatural agent. No worries, if God won’t do, then there’s always the anonymous “Q”.
God, or no God, if Trump loses, their world ends.
This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 2 October 2020.
I would say on the other hand that Trump is a problem with the other side because perhaps (just perhaps) they may be a religion themselves. It was in the 1960's that they decided being exclusive based on ethnic origin was wrong. Clearly if you are a racial phenotype you must have a long common history (= "one of us"). It was that "us" that was considered evil.
Jacinda Ardern says "humans organise into "us" and "them" "even on the toss of a coin" but "what if we changed who us is" "based on our common humanity"? Humans are also hierarchal. What happens to the hierarchy as migrants arrive. The Arderns, Goffs, Dalzeills stay intact but the bus driver (say) has to battle for facilities with Chinese and Koreans. The pride of that unique connection with place is swept away. Jordan Peterson says humans are obsessed with hierarchy. We are talking "diversity" as social policy here.
Jim Bolger (A Slice of Heaven) RNZ says that's because someone hasn't done well "and you always blame the migrant", but that is only half true, there is a gated institutional narrative that migration is beneficial and a morality has grown up around it (anti-racism) the economic "facts" are just the justification (and self-interest of the powerful, as the benefits of immigration are concentrated and the costs dispersed). Devloped countriies no longer have expanding horizons.
So you have a loss of status and a loss of sense of belonging. Those in charge feel entitled to "decolonise" (erase white culture) because an (alleged) Maori feels he isn't in Te Waipounamu. An academic at UC goes outside and every "***" day he experiences racism (perhaps because he's a phoney?). 121 after Christchurch was built Maori were less that 2% of the population, now Stuff journalists suggest changing the name to "Otautahi" and journalists wet their pants saying "Otautahi/Christchurch".
This (of course) is not the US but the ideology is exactly the same.
I think it is time to withdraw from bashing Christianity as a group. It has been one of the forces for good since Jesus came. Jesus came after having his way prepared for him, by the happenings, thoughts and prophets in the Old Testament. TOT was vocal about the concerns, wishes, desires for good and bad about people and leaders that were in the memory and understanding of people at that time. Jesus threw his different ideas into the mix causing shaking and changing of those; he started ripples like a stone in the pond and ended up dying for being a smart-arse.
Those who follow the Old Testament like it because its ambiguities are more extensive than Jesus'. And in the New Testament they can't understand Jesus' analogies. For instance, he talks about a vineyard owner employing workers for a day, first thing in the morning, and again about lunchtime.
He offers the latter, the same day's wages that the others, having worked hard all morning, will receive. Employers can quote that as saying, be grateful for what you get and don't complain. Unions find it wrong, and illogical from a worker's earnings POV. The story isn't about work and money at all; it is that the Kingdom of Heaven, a state of goodness and being refined by higher thought and action, is open to both long-term followers and newcomers.
That conception has led to a lot of problems in the christian community, and only some rise above the melee' to become true Christians. Please do not throw stones at those trying to follow the good way.
You can’t be an evangelical Christian without believing fervently that God reveals his will through his chosen servants.
I am an Evangelical Christian. I definitely believe this.
I believe that Trump is serving his God given purpose...exposing the hideous reality of violent Imperial America shorn of the oleaginous good manners that served as its fragile figleaf.
Once the Western world's leaders know that continuing to grease up to US geopolitics is dangerous politically, there's no way back for Washington.
Republicans and Democrats have been talking this up as if this election is a tipping point in history. The language is dangerous. It worries me that it is even filtering through to New Zealand now with supporters of both sides starting to claim that voting the other team in will be a point of no return for New Zealand.
Now the president has been struck down with the virus. Is this God's way of saying "hold on, chaps, you've got it all wrong."
I once had the pleasure and privilege of working with one of those "phony" Maori academics – Pou Temara. A real snowflake who served in the Army and worked in the freezing works, grew up hunting and fishing on his ancestral land, and taught in one of the toughest schools in the greater Wellington area. (Incidentally if my memory serves, he got the nickname Pou because he was such a short arse, but that made him even tougher given the environment he grew up in. I went hunting with him once or twice, and while he was extremely polite it was obvious that I didn't have his bushcraft. I guarantee he could disappear into the bush with an axe and rifle and come out a year later fatter than when you went in.
In his prime, I would bet on him in a purely physical confrontation between him and any of the pseudo-tough conservatives who post here. In fact as old as he is I would probably bet on him even today if I could get decent odds. Intellectually of course there is no contest, because always was and still is pretty damn bright. I can tell you one thing though – if prof Temara as he now, says there is institutional racism in the education system, you can take it to the fucking bank.
Honestly for Christ's sake whining about a changing to a Maori name. Obviously "Hell hath no fury like a white person mildly inconvenienced." In fact pseudo-inconvenienced, because you don't have to use it yourself at all.
"Now the president has been struck down with the virus. Is this God's way of saying "hold on, chaps, you've got it all wrong.""
Nah...It's just jumped species again.
To: Guerilla Surgeon.
Andrew Nichols, well said. But you could always do rationality straightforward.
Mebbe I missed irony in your comment. Hard to take ev.chr. seriously -- since 'Silas Marner'.
Grey Warbler: "He offers the latter, the same day's wages that the others, having worked hard all morning, will receive. Employers can quote that as saying, be grateful for what you get and don't complain. Unions find it wrong, and illogical from a worker's earnings POV. The story isn't about work and money at all; it is that the Kingdom of Heaven, a state of goodness and being refined by higher thought and action, is open to both long-term followers and newcomers"
The same system was used for the employment of casual waterside labour in New Zealand. The rationale being that those who waited at the muster station in the hope of work becoming available later in the day should be adequately compensated in the event that there labour was required. This system encouraged a pool of labour to remain on stand-by through the day, which benefited the employer as well as the workers.
Those employed from the start of the day did not complain. They made a living wage, they did not have to put up with the uncertainty and tedium of waiting for work, and they were happy to see that those who were less lucky at the outset also received a living wage.
Complaining would have been mean-spirited, which most working class folk are not. In a similar vein, working class people don't complain about those who are paid the dole when not working, but available to work. I can't speak for the unions however.
The spiritual point of the parable is also clear. If you come to God early in life, you enjoy all the benefits of Christian faith and fellowship through your life, but those who come late are saved along with all those who have been Christian from the beginning. That is as is should be and as every Christian would want it to be. The same logic would be accepted by virtually every other religion. For starters, a religion would gain few converts if it taught that those who came late were to be effectively denied salvation in this life or the next.
The logic of the workers in the vineyard does not only apply to religion and religious institutions. Any club, political party or nation will do well to grant its new arrivals the same rights and status as the old hands.
So like most scripture, its wisdom applies in both the spiritual and temporal realms.
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