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Updates for this very #2020 day: Donald Trump, COVID-19, Twitter and words from St. Paul…

Updates for this very #2020 day: Donald Trump, COVID-19, Twitter and words from St. Paul…
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Journalists are trained to react to major news stories in a very particular way. A voice inside your head is supposed to say, no matter how earth-shattering the news: What happens next?

Continuing with that line of thinking, in the wake of the news that President Donald Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19, journalists will be asking: What is the next story? And, in particular, how does this affect my beat, the topic that I cover day after day.

You may have seen those mock headlines about the end of the world? What’s the headline at The New York Times for this religion story? “God says world to end tomorrow (story and analysis on page B11).” Or how about USA Today: “WE’RE DEAD!” The Washington Post: “World to end tomorrow; Polls look bad for GOP.” The Wall Street Journal: “Stocks are down, market closing early tomorrow.”

Right now, there are political-beat reporters who are being tempted to tweet: “Take that, all of you white evangelicals.”

Surely it says something bad — about me and our times — that the SECOND thing I thought of was this: Blue-checkmark journalists are going to be tempted to show their stuff on Twitter. The THIRD thing was: Brace yourselves for some really bad “thoughts and prayers” wisecracks.

What was my first reaction? I hesitate to share it, since regular GetReligion readers are probably aware that I have been a #NeverTrump guy since his first announcement that he was running for president. I simply didn’t think he was qualified for the office, as a basic issue of temperament and political skills.

But, I confess that my first thought this morning was this: “God is not mocked.”

Yes, that’s a theological reflection and I need to stress that this is actually a pretty good scriptural reaction to all kinds of serious news events, as opposed to being a comment about Citizen Trump alone. For serious believers, that’s a comment about the state of the world — period.

Care for some context? Well, here’s some context from the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. …

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Here’s another way to think about that, in a famous line attributed to the great British scribe — a journalist, actually — G.K. Chesterton. Asked by The Times to write a column on this subject, “What is wrong with the world today?” he is said to have replied with a letter stating this:

“Dear Sir,

I am.

So, shall I risk a brief pilgrimage into Twitter?

I’m going to limit this to five minutes worth of scrolling in my own Twitter feed. Let’s start with the obvious. As you would expect, the comments on this Joe Biden tweet are, at times, quite depressing. Kudos to Biden for avoiding the phrase “thoughts and prayers.”

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Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.

\u2014 Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2020

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Former GetReligionista M.Z. Hemingway’s thoughts turned to theology and tradition.

Actually, her comment points toward a valid and timely news hook, in terms of a weekend feature. How will the president’s illness surface this weekend in pulpits and in liturgical prayers? Journalists take note.

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In Lutheran liturgy, we pray each Sunday for the president and other leaders, no matter who they are. I can not recommend this practice highly enough. Getting into the practice keeps you from, e.g., wishing death on your political opponents.

\u2014 Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 2, 2020

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From the progressive side of Catholic life, here is a thought related to prayers. This is both a call for kind language and an appeal to remember the larger context.

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Let us pray for the President and First Lady in their illness, and for the 45,694 people who were newly diagnosed with the virus yesterday. Most of all, we pray for the 847 who died of COVID-19 yesterday. The virus is real. Show your love for others by acting to protect them.

\u2014 James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) October 2, 2020

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If you need something that is totally #2020 appropriate and cryptic, turn to Ross Douthat of The New York Times.

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A vivid memory for this morning: Walking a country road near midnight on New Year’s Eve in a snowbound Minnesota, looking at the stars, thinking to myself: 2020 is going to be a really good year.

\u2014 Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) October 2, 2020

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As you would expect, Bobby Ross, Jr., was online early:

Religion News Service is warming up, with some news about the good and some bad in the reactions:

From our “no comment” department (but the complicated praying comment is SPOT ON):

Here is an appropriate two-for-one, from the cultural left and the right.

I’ll end with this journalism comment from one of the sharpest students I have ever had:

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\"I hope he dies\"

– Former National Spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton\u2019s 2016 campaign, Obama White House staffer Zara Rahim

This isn\u2019t some random Twitter troll. Zara worked with Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Disturbed, evil Democrats are cheering right now.

\u2014 Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 2, 2020

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I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan all day. This one kinds of captures the mood:

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