I don’t use either “demigod” or “demagogue” every day. Probably not more than once a year. But these words came to mind in the context of two things I’ve read lately. First, a little mock-worshipful ditty by yours truly.
No doubt about it: it doesn’t matter how much Oprah weighs this year as compared to last, or that her very name is a admittedly a lazy corruption of the biblical Orpah. Oprah is a demigod! (She is probably not a demagogue, based on strict definitions.) Once again bucking pop culture, though, I’ve manifest a shocking lack of awareness of most things Oprah since appreciating her “random acts of kindness” a decade or more ago.
So, I decided to read through an article about Oprah when I saw it, and it was somewhat encouraging viz. the better founded side of her ballyhooed “spirituality.”
I. Barbranda Lumpkins Walls, “Spirituality According to Oprah”
Excerpts from the article:
She constantly gives thanks to God throughout the day for everything—from safe travel on city streets to having food to eat to raising her arms to wash her hair—and keeps a gratitude journal listing at least five things daily.
She kneels to pray every night before bed, a “ritual of reverence” learned from her grandmother.
“I would say my faith has become strengthened every time I have faced what I considered to be a trial. . . .”
“I can’t define ‘God,’ so to be open to the mystical and mystery of God is a natural part of myself.”
“I believe I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”
Not bad. Many readers of this blog could also say a few of those things, right? Yet O is a mere mortal, and I was only humorously, poetically addressing her in the song-ette with the classical, reverential interjection “O.”
A second article also prompted this dichotomous post:
II. Dana Milbank, “Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist,” in The Washington Post, 12/2/15 (excerpt)
Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.
Some will think this an outrageous label to apply to the frontrunner for a major party’s presidential nomination. Ordinarily, I would agree that name-calling is part of what’s wrong with our politics.
But there is a greater imperative not to be silent in the face of demagoguery.
From what I know, Trump is a demigod to a small cross-section of the U.S. population. He also appears to be guilty as charged of demagoguery. Regardless, I’d agree w/Milbank on her last point above as a general principle.
What about preachers and pastors? Only a few display the patently bad behavior of demagogues, but they may sometimes be elevated to demigod status. If so, it’s not their fault; it’s ours.
We are all mortals.