"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hell and Sarah Palin

The selection of the Governor of Alaska to be the Republican candidate for Vice-President has stirred a frenzy. She's just what the Republican base of activists loves; hence their new moniker "Baberaham Lincoln." By the same token, she's just what the Democratic base of activists hates; hence the revival of her old sports nickname "Sarah Barracuda." One might think, as I first did, that the frenzy is just another one of those tempests-in-a-teapot that politics yields up every few weeks or so. I no longer think so.

Made for ordinary political reasons, Senator McCain's choice has brought to the fore "the culture wars" that both presidential candidates would prefer to shy away from. The revival of the culture wars started with Obama's "Wright problem," continued with his dissimulation about his stance on the Illinois "Born Alive" Act, and proceeded apace with his performance at Saddleback. Catholics stayed focused on the culture wars when the bishops, in a too-rare display of magisterial muscle, took House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to task for her public account of Catholic teaching on abortion. But Palin's ascent has taken the wars to a new level. We're seeing here not just an acceleration of the news cycle, but a glimpse of a truly spiritual war.

I have been convinced of that by two writers I have long respected despite their flaws. One is Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, accomplished author in her own right, and self-confessed "Bubblehead," meaning somebody whose head lives in the inside-the-Beltway bubble. In Noonan's syndicated column about Palin, published yesterday, I find nothing to disagree with. What stood out for me, though, was this:

This new war on new turf is not good, and carries the potential of great harm. Everyone really ought to stop, breathe deep, and think.

I am worried they won't. A friend IM'd the day after Palin's speech, and I told him of an inexplicable sense of foreboding. He surprised me by saying he shared it. "Calling all underworlds reporting for duty!," he wrote. "The bed is about to fly around the room, the puke is about to come out." He meant: this campaign is going to engage unseen powers and forces. He meant: this campaign, this beautiful golden thing with two admirable men at the top and two admirable vice presidential candidates, is going to turn dark.

I agree. There are "unseen powers and forces" at work in this epochal election, and they don't like Sarah Palin. All the more reason to like her, worry for her, and pray for her. The flap about her pregnant daughter is only the beginning.

Then there's Robert "Gagdad Bob" Godwin of one of my favorite blogs: One Cosmos. A practicing PhD psychologist with degrees from secular universities, Bob is not the sort of person one would expect to talk about demons and mean it literally. But he does, not infrequently, as part of his brilliant, ongoing synthesis of scientific psychology, religious "esoterism," and orthodox Christianity. So, I take him very seriously when he says this:

Make no mistake about it: Sarah Palin is being tested, not just by the left, but by the demonic energy they embody. You will note that their energy is chaotic, disorganized, hysterical, shrill, bullying, harassing, disorienting, intoxicated, "over the top." The only way to make one's way through this storm of insanity is with divine assistance. There is no other way. One must surrender to the higher in order to master the lower.

The lesson applies to her would-be boss too:

Perhaps it is fortuitous that John McCain is our candidate, since he has literally been to hell and back. No, not the Hanoi Hilton. Rather, he was once the darling of the barbaric media whordes. Now he is their demon. He, better than anyone else, should now understand that he was treated well so long as he served as a useful idiot for them. He capitulated to them in a way he never did to the Vietnamese, perhaps because they are more seductive and flattering. Does he understand what is going on? I mean, the lesson could not be more vivid. What does he need, a signed affidavit from the Father of Lies that he is under spiritual attack? What else do you call this frenzy? It is designed not just to counter the light, but to exhaust and demoralize. To make people say, Okay, I give up. It's just too much. We'll replace her with Tim Pawlenty.

Now each in their own ways, Noonan and Godwin can be over-the-top, especially the latter. But I don't think the observations I've quoted are at all over-the-top. We know why hell doesn't like Sarah Palin and John McCain: they are against legal abortion, and the latter in particular has been turned by bitter experience into a servant of God. Now the role of hell in opposing them is unmistakable, for those with eyes to see.

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