October 27, 2013

Did God prank-call Scott Walker?

Slate columnist David Weigel has a piece titled "Why Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Credits God for his Political Success." Weigel has Walker's new memoir, "Unintimidated," which has a bit in it about something we talked about back in February 2011 (during the big protests): A prankster pretending to be David Koch got through on the phone to Scott Walker, who talked to him for a while, even as he said things like "You gotta crush that union" to try to get Walker to blurt out something that would be used against him. From Weigel's summary:
[W]hen Murphy/Koch asked about the wisdom of “planting some troublemakers,” Walker said his team had “thought about that” but dismissed it.
Walker haters used that "planting some troublemakers" business as much as they could. (In March 2011, when Meade was physically attacked by protesters, a woman pointed and said "These are Walker plants.")

Back to Weigel, summarizing Walker:
The governor claims that he “hesitated” to take it, and “was upset that my staff had let the call get through to my office, making me look so silly.” He never actually “thought about” the fake troublemakers—he now writes that he “did not want to insult Mr. Koch by saying that we would never do something so stupid.”...

“Only later did I realize that God had a plan for me with that episode,” writes Walker. After his press conference, he picked up his daily devotional and saw the title for Feb. 23: The power of humility, the burden of pride.

“I looked up and said, ‘I hear you, Lord,’” writes Walker. “God was sending me a clear message to not do things for personal glory or fame. It was a turning point that helped me in future challenges, helped me stay focused on the people I was elected to serve, and reminded me of God’s abundant grace and the paramount need to stay humble.”
I can't really tell if Weigel (or the Slate headline writers) think Walker is getting too religion-y here and is claiming that God has special messages and plans for him. (Is Scott Walker a God plant?) I can't even tell if Walker is honestly describing his stages of processing the unpleasant incident. But I do think this account is conventional, mainstream religion. Something bad happens, and you realize that God had a plan. You extract a lesson that lightens the burden from the past and redirects you toward a future.

You don't even need God in the mix to indulge in this sort of positive thinking. What doesn't kill atheists makes them stronger — don't you know?

But Walker haters are going to want to use his religion talk against him. They use anything they can against him. I'm going to be looking out for this, because there's a tendency amongst the media elite to mock religion, to assume — like a governor assuming he's got true supporter on the phone — that everyone they're talking to thinks that anyone who feels God's presence in his life is weird, scary, and surely not to be trusted with the levers of power. They're quite wrong. Especially if they are writing on the internet, where everyone sees what they are saying.

And 90% of Americans believe in God — or as Gallup charmingly puts it "More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God/Professed belief is lower among younger Americans, Easterners, and liberals." (I love the "Continue to," which implies: Come on, people, after all the evidence, what's your problem?!)

24 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

"God has a plan" is just a religious take on "It is what it is." But, if someone can spin it into a jumping off point for a five-minute hate, they'll do it.

Matthew Sablan said...

This, by the way, sounds vaguely familiar to discussions I saw here and elsewhere: "

The message: This governor knows his place in the universe. On the night of his recall victory, his wife Tonette urged him to open with a jokey reference to the pro-union protesters: “This is what democracy looks like!” Walker considered it.

“Perhaps,” he writes, “after all we had been through, I could have indulged myself for one small moment. But then I remembered that devotional reading after the prank call on ‘the power of humility.’”"

A lot of people wanted Walker to take a cheap shot at the protestors and the waste of time of the recall. I'm glad he didn't, and it looks like he also is glad he didn't.

It's a classy move not to spike the football, as they say. It would've been MORE humble to just let the idea of doing it at all go away entirely, and leaving your wife out to dry on that point is kind of weird, but hey, what do I know?

MathMom said...

Glenn Beck has as a personal friend Penn Jillette, an outspoken atheist. Beck had Jillette and Rabbi Lapin on his TV show April 12, 2013.

Rabbi Lapin asked Jillette,“Would the world be a better or worse place if a billion Muslims became evangelical Christians tomorrow?”

This gave Penn Jillette pause. But he finally answered that the world would be better off. He's right, and everyone who is honest knows it.

Let's not be so afraid of Christians living our beliefs.

MayBee said...

I have so many friends who don't believe in God, but who believe in "the universe", "karma", "fate","kismet", and other unnameable powers, so that I don't know what to think about what they think anymore.

Mostly I think, why be intolerant of their personal beliefs? I have my own, and they are strong. I could almost not use words to define them.

Michael K said...

The left refers to God as "Climate Change."

El Pollo Raylan said...

"More Than 1 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in Obama/Professed belief is higher among younger Americans, Easterners, University Professors, and liberals."

I too love the "Continue to," which implies: Come on, people, after all the evidence, what's your problem?!

William said...

In the 20th century, the militant atheists were the ones who orchestrated the mass murders. They never received much blame for this.....That's the way it goes. The Church received far more criticism for its sex scandals than the Communists received for the deliberate starvation of three million Ukranians.

Inga said...

Belief in God isn't what irritates me at times, it's the idea that if one rejects a certain brand of belief one is not a "true believer", or worse a "neo pagan", or atheist.

Glenn Beck once or twice said that Obama wasn't a true Christian because he belonged to a church that was labeled by Beck as a "social justice church". He Beck went on to tell his viewers to "run as fast as they could", away from churches who preached "social justice". Who is Beck to judge a church? Is he the messenger of God? Who appointed him?

Also annoying are Christians who go beyond evangelizing, to pushing their beliefs on non Christians. Do Christians believe they should constantly tell Jews they will be doomed unless they believe in the Christian messiah? Many Jews are as deeply religious and Christians. Quoting Bible verses in a political discussion using the admonition that unless one accepts Jesus, one will not see the Kingdom of Heaven? Why this increased mixing of religion and politics? Why legislation that forces one group's religious views onto another group?

I'm certain that it is equally annoying to Christians when atheist groups force their belief system on them also. What is wrong with allowing groups of students in public schools to have an extracurricular worship group? Nothing. Why do atheist groups want to ban religious displays from public buildings? Because they are spiteful. Why not simply allow all religious groups to be represented if they choose to?

I don't think that Walker was odd to use his experience with the faked Koch phone call and say it was a God send and that he learned a positive lesson from it. Jumping on such statements makes one appear as intolerant as Christians who claim that your Christian church isn't as Christian as their own.

It's all relative anyway. I belonged to a Wisconsin Lutheran Synod as an adult after leaving an Assemblies of God Church, which was Pentecostal. An elder came to visit me and told me I'd doomed myself to hell because I no longer was his brand of Christian. Really? See what I mean?

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

There are few people with a neutral faith. The people with a faith in God hold the majority consensus. The story tells of a competition between majority and minority faiths. The minority prefers mortal gods who will give them stuff and assuage their conscience. That is to say they prefer an immediate return on their investment.

whswhs said...

Surely it's not all the evidence but after all the lack of evidence?

Archie said...

God sometimes does intervene to save a person from disaster. I almost enrolled in the University of Wisconsin law school but at the last minute God lead me to go into honest work instead. My used car business has made me a wealthy man.

EDH said...

A lot of people wanted Walker to take a cheap shot at the protestors and the waste of time of the recall.

Walker should have said, "I 'continue' to exercise dominion over your god: the government".

Inga said...

Walker IS a part of the government, did ya forget that? Being Governor means he governs.

friscoda said...

Is Inga a composite? So many relevant experiences ...

bbkingfish said...

Prof. Althouse says:

"I'm going to be looking out for this, because there's a tendency amongst (sic) the media elite to mock religion, to assume...that everyone they're talking to thinks that anyone who feels God's presence in his life is weird, scary, and surely not to be trusted with the levers of power."

Let us, for the purposes of discussion, stipulate that this laughably broad, entirely unsupported assertion is true (the quotes from Weigel certainly don't support it).

I have no problem with a person (or anyone else) who makes loud, public proclamations about his faith in god, or that he regularly talks to god (prays). When he proceeds to claim, however, that god answers him back, or, as Walker does here, suggests that he has the ability to discern god's intentions from some bit of random happenstance, I am skeptical, especially if the person is a politician.

I don't know Walker's religion, but I was schooled in the conservative Roman Catholicism of the 50s and 60s. My religious mentors would have warned that statements like Walker's are the first steps on the road to heresy. And they illustrate, it seems to me, the exact opposite of the "humility" Walker claims for himself (Look at me and how humble I am!)

My question for Professor Althouse is this:

When a politician claims the ability to correctly interpret god's will by reading tea leaves, or when he claims that he talks to god and god answers him back, or he claims that god has given him the ability to look directly into the souls of world leaders and consequently divine their inner thoughts and intentions, do you think it proper for the "media elite" to voice skepticism? Or, in your view, should they maintain respectful radio silence?

SJ said...

If Gov. Walker received a phone call from a prankster, and says that God used the incident to teach a lesson...

No, that does not mean that God prank-called Walker.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I am not religious, and I see no evidence of a plan, divine or otherwise--but I do not think that religious people are crazy.

Most religious people think that God has a plan and everything happens for a reason. I think that is superstitious, perhaps, but it is not indicative of mental illness or fanaticism.

hombre said...

Igna wrote: "Who is Beck to judge a church? Is he the messenger of God? Who appointed him?"

Who is Igna to judge Beck, etc., etc?

Strelnikov said...

The Gallup headline should be prefaced with, "Despite Our Best Efforts,...".

cassandra lite said...

All the governor has to do to get the japping jackals off is say, "Allah has a plan for me."

Jim S. said...

"More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God/Professed belief is lower among younger Americans, Easterners, and liberals." (I love the "Continue to," which implies: Come on, people, after all the evidence, what's your problem?!)

I'm someone who argued himself into Christianity, so when people throw around "evidence" claims against it, I'm not usually impressed.

mrs. e said...

The funny thing about humility - when you recognize and identify with it - you no longer have it. Now you're patting yourself on the back, ala Scott Walker.

Andy Freeman said...

> I'd doomed myself to hell because I no longer was his brand of Christian.

I get the same stuff from leftists all the time, yet somehow Inga only sees her political opponents doing it.

How convenient.