News you can’t use

Flash! This just in! A Charismatic Magazine says that James Dobson says that an anonymous businessman says that Donald Trump (says he?) fairly recently did something invisible, unverifiable, and equivocal that makes him part of The Tribe now.

And you can take that to the bank ballot box.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to say this humorously, but I think a direct approach is best: If Donald Trump was not the presumptive Republican nominee for President, his complete lack of mastery of the approved argot and the absence of any visible change in his life would be judged conclusive proof that his conversion is fake. There would be no “baby Christian” waving away of objections to his utter inability to articulate even the most basic Christian doctrine, like “sin” or the personal necessity of “repentance” (at least once).

That would not be fair, but neither was it fair for most of my life when Evangelicals at a minimum questioned the authenticity of Christian faith of anyone who couldn’t master the shibboleths — which ironically would exclude from the tribe virtually all saints through the ages. Sadly, I played that game myself.

Heck, if you took a Saint from before 1800 and plopped him down in an Evangelical church, he would have no idea that he was in a “church,” or that this assault on the eyes and ears is what they call “worship” now.

I should have seen this coming clearly. You can’t “help Trump more convincingly pretend to be an observant Christian” among Evangelicals without an “accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior” story.

These days (as in the last 20 years or so), I put virtually no stock in “accepted Jesus” stories, not because they’re exactly false, but because they are about as weak an endorsement, standing alone, as “he said he’d respect her in the morning.” Remember Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Allen Zimmerman? Remember when “born-again” Dubya announced as national policy the eradication of tyranny in the world?

If I were really convinced that Donald Trump had prayed the magic sinner’s prayer, meant it when he said it, and uncharacteristically did not change his mind the next day, it would make me maybe 5% likelier to vote for him than I am now (i.e., 1.05%). But if Trump’s elected President, I will pray for him as I pray for Barack Obama and would pray for Hillary Clinton if she should be elected.

You may insert “God forbid” into both options.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.