aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Deus vult?

I have several friends of the charismatic/pentecostal sort who have themselves received a word from God, or talk of others having done so, to the effect that Donald Trump was ordained to be re-elected. What they perceive and how they do so is opaque to me. I accept that they know what they know, but I’m not required to affirm every message from God they announce. Some of these folks are now hopping mad about election interference/cheating, which they think is robbing Trump of his chance for re-election. My take is, once you make it a matter of heavenly decree, of course the only possible explanation for failure to follow the plan is interference. “An enemy has done this,” as the Parable of the Wheat and Tares says (Matthew 13:28). The reason this is the explanation reached for is that to admit you were wrong would call into question what you know, and how you know it – deep matters of faith and perception. It’s easier to say that evildoers are interfering with God’s plan.

Now, secular progressives do much the same sort of thing. They know what they say they know, and cannot be argued out of it. Hillary Clinton says, “We still don’t know what happened” in the 2016 election, though she hints darkly at Russian interference. Which is rich, since the whole Trump-as-Russian-stooge thing came out of a fantasy dossier that she paid for. Likewise, the Russian Collusion investigation of Trump was launched by Obama (with Biden a full participant), even though the FBI said there was no there there. So these people know the real story, but choose to play dumb. But there are hordes of people out there -- smart people, too – who believe that Trump was and is working for Vladimir Putin. To admit that their preferred candidate lost because she was truly a more awful alternative than Donald Trump would mean they would have to re-evaluate all their certainties.

Both kinds of belief cause people to question the legitimacy of the other side. Democrats have been harping on this for ages: Bush v Gore; “stolen” Supreme Court seats; the myth of voter suppression; Cuban-Americans are really “white” (because they vote Republican). Now Republicans are getting into the act, too.

Legitimacy is an *ahem* legitimate thing to argue about. Conservatives are agitated over the Supreme Court, whose primary function is to determine the legitimacy of government actions through legal cases, just plain making stuff up. In the church, traditionalists are appalled at the heresies of the clergy, and the inability to hold anybody to account for their violations of doctrinal and behavioral standards. So, yeah, I’m all for emphasizing legitimacy. But something isn’t out of bounds just because you don’t like the result. We need to hear the force of Thomas Cromwell’s plea to the Scottish Parliament when they recognized Charles II: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.” Think it possible: waiting for evidence, admitting that you might be wrong, giving the benefit of the doubt to the other side (at least initially), these are all important things.

It’s not always about God’s will. It’s not always about the moral arc of the universe. It’s not always the last ditch and we need to be prepared to die in it. No, as someone I used to know liked to say, “Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you. And some days, you both go hungry.”

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