Après moi, le déluge
"The business of saving souls at high speed has never been dull-but there has nonetheless been a feeling of angst and unfulfilled dreams in recent years, among even the most serious Jesus People, as more and more of them have come to suspect that God's all-powerful will might be better dispensed - and be made even more powerful, for that matter - if his servants lived in the White House, instead of some dingy church in Moline."
-Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine, 1986
"We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm."
-Sonny Perdue, Interfaith Vigil, Georgia 2007
There are rumors that Donald Trump will nominate Sonny Perdue to a big-time position in his government, as Secretary of Agriculture. What a perfect way for the degradation of the separation of church and state to continue unfolding - appointing a man whose solution to a drought crisis was to pray for rain. The big-money soul-savers of the 1980s would be proud to see the fruits of their struggles: A government run by a false prophet who sees himself as a God, a man with no hesitation in appointing fake Christian zealots to important government positions.
There has always been influence by the hardcore Christian right. The fervor of the Jesus crew played a strong role in the Reagan administration, and it continued through the first Bush. Clinton was no stranger to it, and of course George W. was a born-again Christian, washed pure of his sins by way of confession, free of his past transgressions because he said he was sorry to the man in the sky. It used to be that you had to pretend to repent in order to be accepted by the Christian community in the United States. No longer is that the case. Bush had to put on a fancy label and package his confessions to the American people, Trump has made no such efforts. He runs contrary to all for which Jesus stood and hung, unreserved and openly unrepentant. None of that mattered, however, when it came time to mark names in the ballot booth, and this staggering trip to the dark side has paid off royally for the Christian zealots of the United States.
I was biking to work this morning and it was gloomy and overcast. The sky was varying shades of grey, a stark wind greeted me from the left as I made my way down the sidewalk. I noticed trees in the distance. Leaves were rustling and branches were swinging as the wind from the dark grey sky blew them about. A new storm was rolling in, with sharp winds and violent rains. A few of the trees seemed to be suffering worse than others - I could see their appendages had taken damage. Green and brown became one to my eye as my perspective shifted back toward the road ahead. I had to get to work.
Sonny Perdue finally got the storm for which he had prayed, be it not displaced by a few thousand miles to the West. Wet from the ride, I reached the trolley station and pulled out my smartphone. It is always in my left pocket and I wield it with reflexive ease. I saw the headlines of the day and it looked bleak: Jared Kushner was appointed to senior White House adviser in a stunning case of nepotism, details continue to emerge linking Russia to election hacking, there was a campaign straight from the Kremlin to promulgate pro-Trump propaganda, a number of devout Christian Republicans are planning 'religious-freedom' laws for the upcoming congressional year, and the President-elect is feuding with Meryl Streep. My brain stewed over those news items subconsciously as the day in the office passed by like a speck of sand tumbling aimlessly through the hourglass that is my life.
In this post-truth era one thing is certain: like trees, we will all need a strong foundation to weather the incoming storm. It's hard to discern between fact and fiction in this dizzying age of technoreality so I may indeed look to the natural environment as guidance, get my eyes off the screen. At least the trees in front of me aren't a clickbait headline, not yet at least. There is a profound sense of virtue and integrity and truth when you look at nature.
No longer was it raining as I headed home that evening. A fresh warm smell wafted up from the vibrant green grass. The storm-stricken skies of the morning had passed, replaced by the last orange rays of a setting sun, juxtaposed against a serene light-blue sky. I saw the same tree again and it was standing resiliently, as if it were in a state of meditation. It was calm for the moment.