- Fifty degrees of debasement
- A breath of fresh air
- Who’s still in bed with Trump update
- Constantine, King Cnut, Caligula and Diocletian
I’m not going to get into the debate over whether reading Fifty Shades of Grey and then condemning Trump is hypocritical.
But that kerfuffle set me to thinking in slightly different terms: Could a man like Donald Trump have been nominated to the office of President of the United States by a major party were the culture not gravely debased? To ask that is, I hope, to answer it.
It was no secret that Trump was a blowhard, a narcissist, multiply-bankrupted, owner of Miss Universe, cartoonish player in the world of professional “wrestling,” owner of casinos and at least one strip club. Although I wasn’t aware of it, it surely was known fairly widely that Trump had been on Howard Stern’s show.
What do you suppose those two talked about? Some middle-school Chess Club Trump was sponsoring?
Only the specific boasting, of getting away with sexual assault because he was a star, is news.
Trump helped create the culture where a man like him could be nominated to the office of President of the United States by a major party, but he was not alone — and the culture-makers are generally not “conservative” in any sense of that word.
Born of a Restorationist myth and long vilified by Evangelicals as a “cult,” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints now blows a breath of fresh and Biblical air into the faces of Evangelical Trump die-hards, who’ve been too long in smoke-filled rooms:
For 80 years, the Deseret News has not entered into the troubled waters of presidential endorsement. We are neutral on matters of partisan politics. We do, however, feel a duty to speak clearly on issues that affect the well-being and morals of the nation.
Accordingly, today we call on Donald Trump to step down from his pursuit of the American presidency.
In democratic elections, ideas have consequences, leadership matters and character counts.
The idea that women secretly welcome the unbridled and aggressive sexual advances of powerful men has led to the mistreatment, sorrow and subjugation of countless women for far too much of human history.
The notion that strength emanates from harsh, divisive and unbending rhetorical flourish mistakenly equates leadership with craven intimidation.
The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, “when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
(Deseret News, emphasis added)
A Monday Washington Post story, by the exemplary religion writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey, gives some breaking details on the 2016 political alignments in the hodgepodge tradition of Evangelicalism.
Zac Alstin at Mercatornet modulates and clarifies an inchoate (mostly Evangelical) 2016 theme, asking: Is Trump our Constantine? Is Hillary our Diocletian? What does it matter that we now elect our own Constantines and Diocletians? I highly recommend it
But there are other possibilities: Is Trump our Caligula, Hillary our King Cnut — or vice-versa for that matter?
When the Emperor Caligula had brought the Roman army to the English Channel, he had his troops bring artillery pieces and form a line of battle on the shore to intimidate Ocean. When King Cnut had attained “the summit of his power” over England, Scotland, Denmark, and Norway, he ordered a throne set up on the shore, commanding the waters neither to flow over his land nor to presume to wet his feet or clothing.
But Caligula declared victory over Ocean, commanding his soldiers to gather shells as spoils of conquest, and then fleeing. By contrast, when the waters poured over Cnut’s feet and legs, he rose, stepped backward, and cried to his courtiers, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. No one is worthy of the name but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”
As only one of these sovereigns admitted, it is God who compassed the sea with its bounds and set a law to the waters. Nature limits human laws, but by His laws nature came to be.
* * * * *
“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)