I’m driving after a visit with a well-known Christian doctor yesterday a few miles down the coastal highway in West Palm Beach, Florida, by the most famous weekend residence in America, that ornate spectacle by the sea called Mar-a-Lago.
Everywhere, there are yachts. Everywhere, there are lawn-care workers. The hedges here are kept perfect (the word everyone now uses), shielding mansions from prying eyes like ours. There is some new construction. A few of the mansions are a bit frayed. Not far away is the Episcopal church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where the president occasionally attends services. Out in the Atlantic, a lone fishing boat plies the waters, while on the intracoastal waterway a jet skier throttles behind President Trump’s resort (and historic landmark). A cop car sits across the street from the back entrance (as it always does), and employees mill about the garage and other structures just inside the entrance, which would not be noticeable, save for the fame of the place. Just across the bridge it becomes rundown, with messy construction and the typical urban fare of: oil change, a laundromat, a 7-Eleven.
Translation: there is calm here, business-as-usual, at 1100 South Ocean Boulevard despite the political and in some ways spiritual maelstrom that engulfs the owner 992.3 miles to the north in an even more famous residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. And maelstrom it is. This is now serious business. The president’s opponents are more than energized, salivating and circling ever closer with increasing numbers and greater intensity (some might say ferocity), while, despite all the news, a vast cadre of conservatives, including a majority of Evangelicals, and many Catholics, has rallied to his defense, hardening the defense in a “cold” civil war that will last beyond any single presidency. Not since the war between the North and South has the nation been so divided — and arguably, not just in a “pro” or “con” way but multiple nuanced factions due to a profoundly changing ethnic composition in the “United” States. The vitriol is sulfuric acid. Virtually no news outlet can be trusted to present facts in an objective fashion. Everyone everywhere, inside and outside of the media, on the streets, in schools, on social media, in church, is at everyone else’s throats. It is “my way or the highway.” The truth no longer sets anyone free. Facts are now what one wants the facts to be. At night, cable talk shows scream at each other. It is a real change in the American fabric and liberals are deluded if they think removing the president will take care of that and conservatives are deluded if they think they can stave off the hordes of opposition forever — an opposition that could usher in (and that in many ways is almost certain to usher in) persecution. Chilling and appalling was the news two weeks ago of a Democratic primary candidate from Texas named Beto O’Rourke who openly vowed to pull tax- exemption status from churches that don’t open themselves to homosexual marriage.
That a candidate for office would publicly utter any such thing should truly alarm every Bible-believing Christian. This is a direct warning that religious liberties are indeed greatly at risk. It reduces to this: quoting the Bible, in many quarters, is becoming a “hate crime.” Just as appalling, the test of allegiance in one of America’s two major political parties has become support of “LBGTQ” (whatever that is) and not just abortion but support for abortion right up to birth — a development without precedence, even in Rome.
Does it all bespeak of major coming transformation in the world?
The tabloids stir. One in England connects the presidency of Donald Trump with Saint Malachy, the 12th-century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, who allegedly penned a vision of a future pontiff, with the last being “Peter the Roman” — whom this tabloid argues could be Pope Francis since his father was named Pietro and was from Italy. It reads: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” More mundane: President Trump’s own former adviser, Steve Bannon, is now in business with a Chinese movie firm called New Tang Dynasty that is closely tied to a spiritual movement that reportedly believes Donald Trump, Bannon’s former boss, will help usher in the end times. More on this in the next “special report.” As Halloween approaches — to stir the caldron still more — witches are planning to cast a “binding” spell on the U.S. president. Here, again, unprecedented public acts.
Rollicking, roiled times. Now, very serious business. Now, time as seldom before to plant oneself away from the din in a Blessed Sacrament chapel.
[From the Washington Examiner: “Partisan political division and the resulting incivility has reached a low in America, with 67% believing that the nation is nearing civil war, according to a new national survey. ‘The majority of Americans believe that we are two-thirds of the way to being on the edge of civil war. That to me is a very pessimistic place,’ said Mo Elleithee, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.]
[From Quinnipiac Poll, here is the division in the U.S. in a nutshell:
“Approval among American voters of the U.S. House impeachment inquiry, an inquiry to determine whether or not to bring impeachment charges against President Trump, has reached its highest level, as 55 percent approve of the inquiry, while 43 percent disapprove, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll released today. Last week, 51 percent of voters approved of the inquiry, while 45 percent disapproved.
“In today’s poll, Democrats approve of the inquiry 93 – 7 percent and independent voters approve 58 – 37 percent, while Republicans disapprove of the inquiry 88 – 10 percent. In last week’s poll, Democrats approved of the inquiry 90 – 8 percent, and independents were divided with a 50 – 45 percent approval, and Republicans disapproved 90 – 9 percent.”]