Thursday, February 08, 2018

Did God Tell ' Michele Bachmann Not To Run For Senate. Really!?

I read a blog post that said God told Michele Bachman not to run for the US Senate.  I started thinking - how often does God talk to individuals?  So I googled to see how often he spoke to people in the Bible.

Someone at BibleStudyForum made a rough count and listed them.  Maybe about 30 folks between the old and the new testaments.  He wasn't sure if he got them all.

At the Titus Institute, there's a post (by Ron Jones?) titled, "How has God spoken to his people throughout the OT and NT?"  He concludes that it changed over time.  He spoke to Adam and Eve directly, before the Fall.  Thereafter he spoke through intermediaries.
"Even when God spoke to these intermediaries, we see infrequent communication rather than frequent regular communication.
He spoke to Noah 5 times over 950 yrs, Abraham 8 times over 175 yrs, Isaac 2 times and 1 time to Rebekah over 180 yrs, Jacob 7 times and 1 time to Laban over Jacob's lifetime. These are just some examples.
We also see that God does not address personal issues, only issues that involve his redemptive plan.
In the OT, God did not speak to his intermediaries regarding personal matters unless it involved his redemptive plan."
He goes on to say that today God communicates with humans through the Scripture.  (Yes, this is just one guy's interpretation.  He does give citations.)

Given the infrequency of God's communications with humans in the old and new testaments, it's hard to take seriously the many claims people make about talking to God today.

So then I went looking for Bachman's actual words so I could quote them.  From Salon:
"I took it to the Lord in a very quiet way, I took it before the Lord, I prayed, I tried to have my ears open and hear what God was saying to me," Bachmann explained.
The former Republican U.S. representative went on to detail that she "considered" running for Franken's old seat "quite a long time" but ultimately, it was God who persuaded her otherwise. 
"From the very first day when Al Franken had announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate, I went before the Lord and it became very clear to me that I wasn't hearing any call from God to do this," she explained. "I've always prayed and tried to seek out what God’s will for me would be, and each time before, I've had this inner sense that I'm supposed to do this, I'm supposed to run."  [emphasis added] 
Well, she's not exactly saying God told her not to run.  She says, she didn't hear from him.  And those times that she did run, she didn't say he actually spoke to her.  Rather "I had this inner sense. . . "

When people have difficult decisions to make - should I get married?  quit my job?  run for office?  buy this house? - they often go somewhere quiet to reflect.  I know that running or walking alone has always been a time when my brain could work things out until I 'saw' the answer.

I'm not much of a praying man, but I can imagine that what people call praying works pretty much the same way.  You block off everything else and mentally get into the question you're trying to answer.  And then it comes to you.  Which is what I hear when Bachman says, "I've had this inner sense that I'm supposed to run."

By this time I'm starting to understand the frustration of religious people who pray to get answers to hard questions.  It's their form of running or walking, just clearing their heads and sorting through the conflicting forces for or against an action.  I can understand their resentment when people mock them for it.  It's not different from when people make fun of people who exercise or who don't eat meat.  Maybe 'talk to God' isn't something they mean literally.  Maybe it's something their friends understand to mean this sort of self-reflection.

But the rest of us take it literally and it sounds hokey.  It sounds like a way to justify whatever someone wants to justify.  "God told me to . . . "  And I'm sure there are those who do say this, intending it to add weight to their conclusion on something.

The Titus Institute post does say that God doesn't deal with personal issues except as they are related to the redemptive plan.  So football teams that ask God to help them win. . . No, that would trivialize God's time and purpose.

I know that some readers will think I'm being way too lenient here.  But if we're going to take this country back from Russian bots and Fox News and all the others who are stoking hatred and destroying the communal trust  necessary for a democracy, we can't let others' nastiness excuse our own.  We have to stop being self-righteous, and treat others with respect.  Just as we say hurtful racial slurs should be avoided, I think hateful religious slurs should as well.   It's possible to disagree respectfully.

And for me, finding out that Bachman didn't literally say that God told her not to run was a reminder of how both sides reword things to fit their prejudices.  Let's stop being baited by tweets.  Let's turn the other cheek and show love for people hurting enough to cheer Trump's fear mongering.  Or, if you prefer, imagine Gandhi as your conscience.

Despite this picture, God did not talk to Michele Bachman, and she didn't exactly say that he did.


  1. This nation, under Drumpf, needs all the humor it can get. Having Michele 'One L' Bachmann run for senate would be a riotous cacaphony of thigh slapping misspeaks and conversion therapy for voters to the Democrat party. Party like its 1999.


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