September Journal in a Pandemic Year, Trinity 14

I have been reading Andrew Roberts’ biography of Winston Churchill, Churchill: Walking with Destiny (2018, Viking). Two remarkable themes stand out so far and I’m halfway through the 1,000 pages: first, his lifetime experiences formed a man that could save the free world from Hitler and tyranny; second, those experiences rose from his own dedication to the truth, making him controversial and a political outsider most of his life, his bravery fortifying him, his fortitude making him brave.

While born into an upper-class family, it is curious that he was half American by way of Jenny, his mother, an American socialite. And the upper-class pedigree didn’t seem to soften his rough edges. He said what he thought, did what he thought right, and forged ahead regardless of public or parliamentary opinion. He was tireless, a human dynamo. And yet he loved life (perhaps this was the root of his passions), enjoyed wine and conversation, and most of all, people. He didn’t let mistakes deter him. He reminds me of a current American leader who is also judged by elitist gatekeepers.

I have been pondering the remarkable parallels between Donald Trump and Winston Churchill. Who knew? you may very well ask. I can see my readers raising brows and gasping, or more appropriately, harrumphing with, “you’ve got to be kidding.”

Both men stirred up controversy and yet got things done in order to save the free world. Churchill’s life experience gave him the tools to lead the West to war with Hitler, and to win. His love of people—and his country, England—gave him the language to encourage his listeners and command loyalty. He saw what was coming in the early ‘thirties—the socialist machine rising in power—when the peaceful British refused to see, wanted to believe in appeasement even until the last year of the decade, even when Hitler invaded Poland in direct violation of the most recent agreement, even when the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, argued appeasement, but fortunately didn’t win his argument. When Britain declared war shortly after, Churchill made it clear that the purpose was not to conquer other powers but to protect and defend the Western democracies, the free democracies, Western Civilization. His eloquence echoed the great speeches of an earlier time, a time when words meant something. And these words can be heard again today.

Our current leader has grown into his presidency, and in the growing has become more measured, more sedate, and even more eloquent, in spite of tweeting. But this rough and tumble businessman does not forget what he learned in the real world—how to negotiate a deal, how to win freedom for America. He sees clearly for he doesn’t require the love of his political naysayers, be they the elite of the Left or the Right, media or academia or Hollywood or corporations. He sees what needs to be done, and how to do it, and he is fearless in honoring his promises to us, necessary and vital promises. I believe he too is a man of destiny. I believe his street smarts combined with his energy and his love of the people of this country have prepared him for a particularly dangerous time, today’s time of riots in the name of Marxism, today’s time of worldwide threats to freedom.

It is still smoky here in the Bay Area, but a ray of sun is trying to penetrate and allow us to see the colors of our world. We are still locked down, but because of fear and panic due to plague, local businesses have closed permanently, and life will not be the same. California is masked in more ways than one, not seeing what needs to be seen, and turning a blind eye to what needs to be done. The fires still burn, a product of poor policy, and a dangerous blindness to reality. Our lights go out on a rolling basis. Our doctors are overworked and overwrought. Ah, California, what has happened to you?

Today’s Gospel passage was the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Christ, but only one returned to give thanks. Only one saw what had been done with his horrible illness, only one honored the healer, only one saw that his healing of a cancerous disease was a true miracle, only one gave thanks to God for his great glory.

In Angel Mountain, my recently released novel set in 2018, a time of terrible forest fires in California, a hermit fulfills his calling on a mountainside in the East Bay, preaching and healing and baptizing. He calls for repentance for the Kingdom is near. The world is smoky from fires in the north (the town of Paradise), but he speaks to pilgrims in the meadow of a new Heaven and Earth, joined, one without smoke and fires.

We are all called, we are all unique individuals with a divine purpose on this earth. Our divine destiny may be simply to see clearly and speak clearly and make choices with clear understanding. It may be to change the heart of one other person. The leper who was diseased and shunned was now healed and allowed to return to society. And he gave God the glory. He wore no mask. He could see clearly. He broke away from the others to return to Christ Jesus and praise God. He was healed in body and soul.

We are a people of body and soul, flesh and spirit. We are a people walking with destiny toward a new Heaven and Earth. Individually we walk with our unique destinies, the sum of those choices made along the way. Our choices may not be popular, they may cause some to cancel our words and spew hate, but if they are formed by a clear and courageous vision of Christ, they will lead us to become the person we are meant to be, to walk with our true destiny through and in Him.

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Two interesting facts about Winston Churchill:

He wore his many keys on silver chains that wrapped around his back, with the keys resting in his pockets.

When in 1940 he was finally made Lord Admiral of the Navy (the second time) the word went out to the forces – “Winston is back!” They must have known that he would take a commanding interest in every detail, and they would need to be on best behavior with this leader of such energy and vision.

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