The Politics of the “Chosen One”

Trump inauguration

My daughter was quick to tell me that “Antichrist” was trending on Twitter today.  Then I got a call from Emily McFarland  Miller, a reporter for Religion News Service, to talk about the meaning of words like “Antichrist” and “Chosen One.”  Here is a taste of Miller’s piece (co-authored with Jack Jenkins and Yonat Shimron):

Somebody had to take on China on trade, Trump told reporters Wednesday.

“I am the chosen one,” he said, glancing heavenward with outstretched hands.

Supporters have excused that comment as a joke.

Others used words like “blasphemy” and “idolatry.”

Bass tweeted that the phrase refers to Isaiah 42:1: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” Christians understand the Bible verse as a prophecy referring to Jesus.

“The chosen one” isn’t necessarily a biblical concept, said John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College. It also has been used to refer to everyone from basketball star Lebron James to fictional wizard Harry Potter.

But in the context it’s difficult to ignore, Fea said.

“The phrase ‘chosen one’ is probably part Christianity, part science fiction, part myth, part fantasy, part Harry Potter,” Fea said. “But at the same time, there is embedded within that phrase this idea that God chooses certain people — and evangelicals will believe this — that God chooses certain people for particular moments in time to serve his purposes.”

Read the entire piece here.

3 thoughts on “The Politics of the “Chosen One”

  1. Unicorn,

    You are more knowledgeable about popular culture than I, so I will accept your quote from Mortal Kombat as fact.

    In your earlier posting you made a good point that the glorious appellations and acclaims for presidential candidates have been noteworthy in the past few elections. During one of Barack Obama’s successful runs, I noted a bumper sticker with his beaming photograph on it. Maybe previous candidates had done that before, but I could not recall an instance of it. Obama worship? Around that same time hyper-partisan Democrat commentator, Chris Matthews publicly stated that a unique chill of some sort went up his leg every time he heard Obama give a speech. Talk about hero-worship.

    Of course, I am old enough to remember RFK’s ill-fated presidential bid in 1968. He ignited a near messianic frenzy in many quarters. Some of his followers behaved similarly to the young female teeny boppers who welcomed the Beatles on their first visit to the USA. (It wasn’t a lot different than the energetic receptions young Elvis had received in the previous decade.)


  2. The Apocalyptic/Messianic strain of American Politics goes back a long time, but seems especially intense now. Since the Age of the Clintons, one faction makes the Prez (theirs) into LORD and Savior while the other faction (the out crowd) parses Revelation to Prove He Is The Antichrist.

    Each election, the incumbent (or his party’s replacement) is positioned as The Antichrist and the challenger (by his loyalists) as The Second Coming of Christ (AKA The Chosen One), returning to destroy The Antichrist and all his works and followers and usher in a Millenium (or at least four years) of Perfect Paradise.

    I saw this dynamic in action in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
    Growing more intense with each iteration.


  3. Anyone remember the movie version of MORTAL KOMBAT!!!?
    Interlude in the closing credits theme went :

    “I am The Chosen One
    Alright, alright;
    I am The Chosen One,
    Alright, alright…”


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