Still, I’ve spent over forty years listening to ordinary people’s crank ideas, both political and religious. People believe all kinds of things, despite floods of evidence. People believe in Biblical prophecies which are frequently found nowhere in the Bible. People believe in hidden, shadowy figures who control world events. People believe in all kinds of weird diets, home remedies, alien abductions, and that Communism works but has never really been implemented. Shoot, ordinary people believe that Social Security benefits were earned like ordinary pensions and get indignant when you tell them they are an unsecured government redistribution plan. No amount of evidence shakes their convictions.
And people are sure that they are being lied to. Very often, they are; but that doesn’t mean that everything is a lie, or that you can make something true just by believing in it hard enough. And far, far too often, those who are intent on “seeing through” all the lies just set themselves up for the comfortable lies the people they trust tell them. Trump isn’t the first politician to tell people things that aren’t so. He is the first President of the United States to incite a riot and aim it at the Congress. His name will stink for a hundred years to come.
As a pastor, I always tried to tell people the truth. Not just “my” truth: the Truth, at least so far as I knew it. And I tried to build connections with people so that we shared truth together. We might disagree, but at least we disagreed over the meaning of the facts, not the facts themselves. Sadly, more and more people want to believe in different facts. And worse, they despise those who believe differently from themselves. And when Trump is finally gone from the scene, we will all still be stuck with each other, believing different things and despising each other for it. That is even more disheartening than Trump’s blithely sending people off to sack the Capitol, for it means that things will not be better when this is over.
*Title quote is from an old TV movie about a couple of scam artists with a religious gig. The couple rip people off, and revel in their ability to do so. The woman says this to the man in a romantic moment.