Once Upon a Stormy Lent

Happy Birthday, Mr. President…

Like Donald Trump, I have wantonly, wickedly wasted time with Stormy Daniels.

My first “encounter” with her came a year before the blurred, amateurish—and now, thanks to the internet, ubiquitous—snapshot was taken of Ms. Daniels and Mr. Trump. They allegedly enjoyed each other’s company at a 2006 celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe.

Director Judd Apatow’s raunchy and poignant The 40 Year-Old Virgin was released in 2005. Ms. Daniels appeared briefly (in more ways than one) as a fantasy for actor Steve Carroll’s befuddled, naïve Andy Stitzer.

Naked Stormy was.

I saw her first, Donald!

Well, probably not.

For Lent 2018, apparently no one was abstaining from sex. On the day before Ash Wednesday (aka, Valentine’s Day), one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers admitted to paying $130,000 for Stephanie Clifford’s (aka Stormy Daniels) silence. Though accusations about consensual intercourse, deceit, and 2016 campaign violations happened prior to that admission, the she-said/he-said sparring accelerated through Lent’s 40 days.

While exhausted by Mr. Trump’s media-obsessed and media-hating shenanigans—along with his barrage of attack-dog tweets, the casual dismissals of high-ranking government officials, pants-on-fire lies—this Lent has gifted me a Stormy and stormy glimpse of what he represents for some believers.

  • Isn’t Mr. Trump like King David, slightly bored, lustfully gazing down at Bathsheba?
  • Isn’t he like Saul, hurling invectives at, and scheming against, Jesus’ followers?
  • Isn’t he like Peter, lying (once, twice, thrice) about his relationship with Jesus?

Is Mr. Trump, like the stories we revere from the Gospels, the one who is foolish, fallen, a failure? He’s a prodigal son, but soon may (a key word) “come to his senses” (erchesthai eis heauton in Luke 15:17). Indeed, with some Christians, Mr. Trump may personify God’s ancient call for sinners to repent.

I suspect most Christians (conservative or liberal) would agree that Mr. Trump has made mistakes, that he bullies, that certain tweets have been unnecessarily hurtful, and that his real and imagined sexual urges have likely harmed his relationship with his wives.

But, some would contend, his problems are not for the public to judge.

Most polls confirm that Mr. Trump’s base of white, evangelical voters aren’t bothered by his dalliances with women other than his wife. They might be half-truths told by people who want to make a buck! They are probably overblown accounts recklessly printed by mainstream, left-leaning, spiteful, failing news agencies.

Let Melania Trump confront her husband and his peccadillos. And anyhow, his alleged serial philandering won’t interfere with his ability to govern. (Isn’t that correct, President Clinton?)

Let God welcome or reject Donald John Trump for his sins at heaven’s pearly gates. God is the ultimate arbiter, and God—which all conservative and liberal and in-between Christians can agree with—works in mysterious ways.

In other words, our current President, as we offer our best thoughts and ardent prayers for him, will possibly and eventually change for the better. He may . . . erchesthai eis heauton!

Remember the good stuff King David did! Wasn’t Bathsheba a mere blip on the vast radar screen of his God-blessed, God-inspired, God-fearing accomplishments?

Saul became Paul! The fellow who hated and hunted Jesus’ disciples arguably became—after Jesus—the most important advocate for Christian faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of them all is love. Right?

Peter, a stubborn, belligerent disciple—quick to anger, slow to comprehend—became the rock upon which the church was formed! Change doesn’t get much better than that, right?

God willing and the river don’t rise, Trump may also change.

But for now, for some, he’s good enough. If he doesn’t make America great again, blame the liberals. Blame somebody.

For those Christians who believe every abortion is a murder, Mr. Trump is God’s gift in the White House.

For Christians who embrace American exceptionalism, that the United States is the essential piece of a divine, global plan, Mr. Trump is an answer to prayers.

For the myriad “sins” of our contemporary world—as in a homosexual “agenda,” non-Christians, a high percentage of immigrants, Black Lives Matter malcontents, second amendment bashers, climate change doomsayers, government regulations—Mr. Trump is a prophetic servant.


What happened to striving to “love your neighbor as yourself?” Or the “beat your AR-15s into plowshares?” Or humility? Of being a wounded healer? Or the first shall be last?

But I best not forget my own failings. While gleefully noting the toothpicks in another’s eyes, oh how easy to ignore my private ceiling-high stack of rotting firewood.

Should Mr. Trump’s alleged indiscretions with porn stars, playmates, and his—to quote our president from when he was younger—“pussy grabbing” concern believers and/or citizens? I guess not. As a youth I happily, guiltily, er, read Playboy magazines. And, yes, I’ve “known” Stormy Daniels. Maybe not in the so-called Biblical sense, but she and her professional colleagues are a tempting click or two away.

Still, with a sigh too deep for words, I think: how odd to ponder that Stephanie Clifford might be telling the truth and the President of the United States is . . . not.

But wait! How ‘bout Ms. Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy? President Roosevelt’s mistress—not his wife—was with him when he died! See . . . other presidents have been bad. (Oh my, that is such a sorry, sad excuse.)

We all sin. Joined at the hips, we’re all hypocrites. Boys will be boys. It’s only locker room talk. It’s not what you tweet, it’s what you do.

Mr. Trump’s groping and gawking isn’t the most unsettling to me. It’s his rampant lies. His gleeful bullying. His lack of humility. His self-aggrandizement. His greed. He claims to want to “make America great again” (whatever that means). His efforts to accomplish that goal are often conveyed through simplistic tweets and personal attacks. Really? Is more conflict what our troubled, complex, and amazing nation needs?

Any progress toward healing and hope that we might make as faithful servants and neighborly citizens will require listening, compromise, suffering, empathy, and sacrifice.

And a faith that’s open-hearted, vulnerable, and generous with love.

Right now, post-Easter, I dread that we are in for more Stormys.

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