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To see the lead image from the original post – January 28, 2021 – click on “The Nightmare (Henry Fuseli, 1781).” (It’s really ugly.) I added my own caption: “Asked before the 2016 election: ‘Are we in for a new ‘national nightmare?‘ Well yes, but…“ (Meaning we were, but now it’s over…)
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Four years ago I asked the musical question: “Are we in for a new ‘national nightmare?” Today’s answer is, “Well yes we were, but…” That is, these past four years have been a long national nightmare, but we’ve come through.
That is, four years ago – September 26, 2016, five weeks before the presidential election – I posted “With God’s help, we can get through ANYTHING.” In that pre-election post I asked, as noted, “Are we in for a new national nightmare?” My answer at the time? “Yes, because whoever wins, half the voters in the 2016 election will think so.”
But now after further review – and American democracy having survived various Trumpian constitutional crises – there’s a “new and improved” answer. It came after the inauguration on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. (Finally!) That new and improved answer? We HAVE Overcome.
That brings up the old Gospel song illustrated – and addressed – at the end of the main text.
But back to that question, “Were we in for a new ‘national nightmare?” Today’s answer, expanded, is “Well yes, but…” That is, “Well yes, we did live through four years of a long national nightmare, but American constitutional democracy has prevailed.” That, and at least some semblance of genuine American Christianity. Kind of. (See Evangelicals in Midwest Who Ditched Trump Cost Him the Election, and A Christian Case Against Donald Trump.)
Which brings up one big benefit from the last four years. I myself have “come out of the closet,” so to speak, in the sense of becoming much more vocal about my “real Christian” faith. In Facebook and elsewhere I have quoted the Bible much more, and tried to convey the real meaning of the Christian faith. (In keeping with Ezekiel 3:16-21. “Ezekiel’s Task as a Watchman.”)
Not that it always did a whole lot of good. (With some people anyway.) Which means that even with Donald Trump “bidding adieu,” there’s still a lot of work to do…
And lest you think I’m being too political for a “good Christian,” see Televangelist Pat Robertson says God told him Trump will win. (Or Google “pastor God Trump win,” for some interesting results.) But getting back to 2016’s “With God’s help,” I wrote that no matter who won, Donald or Hillary would face “intense – if not rabid – opposition from close to half the American people.”
If you think I’m exaggerating, check these four links: For Trump, Trump presidency would be a ‘nightmare,’ says Joseph Stiglitz, and The Trump nightmare is real. Clinton could lose this. From the other side of the aisle, consider these: The Nightmare World of a Hillary Clinton Presidency, and A Clinton Presidency: Humanity’s Worst Nightmare. Or you could Google the term “presidency nightmare,” and add either candidate’s name.
Which is where a strong Christian faith can help. For one thing, and as I noted in 2016:
We’ve been through worse before!
That quote came from Gerald Ford, when he was sworn in as president after Richard Nixon resigned. (A result of the Watergate scandal. For more on Ford’s speech see This Day in Quotes: “Our long national nightmare is over.” But see also a parody of the phrase – from The Onion, a “digital media company and news satire organization” – which quoted President George W. Bush as saying – on his taking office – “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity is Finally Over.”)
And by the way, that last tidbit in parentheses is an example of Using Humor to Get Through Difficult Times. But getting back to 2016, I wrote that Gerald Ford’s comments about the 1974 national nightmare “could foreshadow” what would happen on January 20, 2021.
It could well foreshadow how those 40% [or more] of voters – disappointed by the outcome of the 2016 election – will feel when – it is entirely possible – a new president takes office. (And when it is entirely possible that new president will be neither Donald Trump nor Hillary…)
And so it has turned out…
That “stupid darkness” cartoon was a nod to a book by Chris Matthews, titled Life’s a Campaign. (I did the “book on CD.”) One chapter was “Great politicians sell hope.” That became the subject of my post on June 12, 2015. (And which led to my first thought, “What rock have you been living under?“) But one good point I got from the book was that the 2020 presidential candidate “who offers hope rather than fear will win.” (Together with this: “Maybe today’s politicians are simply a reflection of the nastiness that seems to have taken hold of a large part of our population.”)
In part because of that general, widespread nastiness – and both to fight the good fight and take the high road – I figured it’d help to go back to our Baptismal Covenant. The question-and-answer statement of faith on “how we, as Christians, are called to live out our faith”*:
[Celebrant:] Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
[People:] I will, with God’s help…
[Celebrant:] Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
[People:] I will, with God’s help.
[Celebrant:] Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
[People:] I will, with God’s help.
I wrote in 2016 that the point was this: Each of the three questions – in the question-answer format – has the same answer: “I will, with God’s help.” So in the face of that upcoming 2016 presidential election, we should [I wrote] keep this in mind: “With God’s help, we can get through anything. Even if – God forbid! – [fill in the blank] gets elected!”
Which I did keep in mind, though not without some sleepless nights. And quite often – in those long four years – my mind went back to the old Gospel tune, We Shall Overcome. But there’s a difference today. Today we can sing, if only for a moment, and with so much work left to do:
We HAVE overcome!
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Since its creation, it has remained Fuseli’s best-known work… Due to its fame, Fuseli painted at least three other versions… The canvas seems to portray simultaneously a dreaming woman and the content of her nightmare. The incubus and the horse’s head refer to contemporary belief and folklore about nightmares, but … critics were [also] taken aback by the overt sexuality of the painting…
After noting again that contemporary critics “found the work scandalous due to its sexual themes,” the link pointed out that the main subject of the painting – the woman – seems to have been prompted by “unrequited love.” It seems that Fuseli had “fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich … the niece of his friend, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater.” However, Landholdt “married a family friend” soon after the artist proposed to her…
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Re: “Come out of the closet.” BTW: That was either a metaphor or hyperbole, “exaggeration for dramatic impact.” And research led to this meme, “come out of the closet lindsey graham.” Which brings up the Internet and truth; See “Bonjour!”
The second image in the text is courtesy of Ezekiel Watchman – Image Results. It’s with an article, What about a watchman? – BibleTruths. It cited Ezekiel 33:7 – in the image – but then went back to Ezekiel 3:16-21. The article began with a man who sincerely believed God called him “to be a Watchman” for his local church, but used that “to justify enforcing harsh Pharisaical rules and regulations” on other members.” Faithful readers of this blog will note such a view is precisely what this blog opposes. For myself, I believe we are called to be “watchmen” to each other, and that by and through such fruitful dialog we can all be better “practicing Christians.” See On St. James (“10/23”) – and the 7 blind men, which included the “parable of the Blind men and elephant,” and this:
Good Christians should be able to “argue” with each other – in the good sense. (The sense of “civil” lawyers presenting concise and reasoned bases to support their position, and not resorting to name-calling or “ad hominem” attacks.)
Re: Gerald Ford’s 1974 comments “foreshadowing.” In the 2016 post I wrote that the comments could foreshadow what happened on “January 20, 2020.” (Needless to say, I’m embarrassed but will leave the 2016-post wording as it is.)
Re: “Fight the good fight.” The reference is to 2 Timothy 4:7, where Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Re: “We shall overcome,” Youtube. The link in the text is to the lily-white version by Joan Baez, mostly because she has such a great voice. (And she’s cute too, vis-a-vis “coming out of the closet.”) For a more ethnically-diverse version, see “We Shall Overcome”- Morehouse College Glee Club – YouTube. And in the interest of full coverage, here’s an image at left including Martin Luther King, courtesy of We Shall Overcome – Image Results.
The lower image is courtesy of We Shall Overcome – Image Results. It comes with a video, Pete Seeger – We shall overcome – YouTube, which may or may not be the version in the link. See also We Shall Overcome – Wikipedia, on the “gospel song which became a protest song,” and a key anthem of the civil rights movement. The song is commonly seen as “lyrically descended from ‘I’ll Overcome Some Day,’“ a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley first published in 1901. The article traces the history of the song from 1901 to its association with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, including an arrangement by Pete Seeger. That arrangement was first sung in public in 1959, by Guy Carawan at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee.