Soul Notes #4: The Chosen One(s)?

This morning I decided I needed a daylong fast from social media. I’m in the habit of doing something with my phone while the first cup of coffee brews, so I clicked on the USA Today app to check the NFL scores. Delighted to see that the Niners trounced Green Bay last night, I clicked the NEWS tab, and there it was, the morning’s lead story: “Rick Perry Told Donald Trump He Was God’s Chosen One.”

For an online news source, with a revenue stream dependent the number of visitors, aka “eyeballs,” it’s a pretty effective headline, designed to delight the right and offend the left, thereby generating “hits” from across the political spectrum.

Unfortunately, that itself is the problem! Think of some of the things these days that cause you to lose sleep. Now think what it means when profits drive a major news source to tell us that the most significant story of the morning concerns a politician who thinks he knows the will of God.

Especially during the last three years, I have often wondered what James Hillman would make of our current political environment. He’d certainly assign some of the blame to the discipline of psychology. One of his basic tenets was that if we only look inward for the root of our problems, we deprive the Anima Mundi, the World Soul, of our energy and our concern.

Above all, Hillman would point to literalism as the greatest ill in our thinking and view of the world, the tendency to mistake imaginal and symbolic truths for literal and historic fact. Soul whispers that each of us is special, but when we take that literally, we end up with a dark history of chosen ones believing they have a divinely ordained license to kill or oppress “the other.”

Even in ancient Israel, where the American concept of a chosen people originated, interpreting the Almighty’s will was not the business of every schmo with an opinion. A culture that venerated prophets knew there were a lot of fakes. On a lighter note, one urban legend suggests that Mr. Perry wasn’t the only politician with no business practicing theology.

Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson (1875-1961), the first woman Governor of Texas, elected in 1924, is reputed to have said, during a controversy on bilingual education, “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas” (1). Unfortunately, similar quotes are attributed to others, as early as 1881 and more recently, to “an Arkansas Congressman,” and all these accounts lack reliable verification.

My basic instinct remains – when someone says, “God told me…,” get away as quickly as possible. And when it’s a politician, turn off the phone and have another cup of coffee!

5 thoughts on “Soul Notes #4: The Chosen One(s)?

    • Rick has been Secretary of Energy for the last three years – out of sight & mind until this fall when his resignation was announced -https://www.npr.org/2019/10/17/593950148/energy-secretary-rick-perry-resigns. The article I cited bounced around for a few days and I looked at it – apparently Rick was suggesting that all heads of state are divinely chosen. Of course the puppet-master model of a supreme being opens an even bigger theological can of worms, as well as the obvious question, “Does that include, Nero, Caligula, Vlad the Impaler, etc.?”

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  1. I saw that headline, too. I found it chilling, frankly. The fanatic quality seems to be stepped up lately re: Trump followers and defenders. Meanwhile, I ordered and read through Hillman’s The Soul’s Code. A fascinating, tough read. I’ll have to read it more than once to make sure I grasp his premises (he has several). He certainly is erudite, but I enjoyed the mental work-out.

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    • I recently spotted a summary of Hillman’s life that I had not seen before. I’ll post that and a few other good articles on him. “Fascinating, but tough read” is a good description of much of his work, but the fascination as he exposes “the fantasies in our realities” makes it most worthwhile for me.

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  2. However difficult it is with politics in Brexit Britain I (as it were) thank god that the UK isn’t embroiled in divine righteousness in the same way as in the US or Modi’s party in India, to name just two instances that come to mind. Small mercies, eh.

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