Thank you, Mr. Trump

Initially, the result of the election scared me. A lot.

I was shaken to my core by the possibility that Trump’s racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic statements and actions during the campaign might actually find their way into the laws and regulations of this good country.

But before long, I found one outcome of Mr. Trump’s election that I welcomed. That’s one more than I expected.

Since about 9 o’clock in the evening of Election Day, I, like many Americans, have been reluctant to watch television for fear of encountering political news and analysis. Likewise newspapers and most magazines and the internet. Couldn’t take a chance. Might come across one of those brilliant reporters/commentators who had assured me and the rest of the known world that Mrs. Clinton was certain to win and that the forward march of progressive values was a certainty. Or I might stumble onto a celebration of white nationalism.

So, I filled the several hours a day thus freed up with — as young people say– OMG — reading. While the periodicals that used to be so important to me piled up unread and the talking heads languished in exile, I set about to read books and book reviews and essays on nonpolitical topics and to pursuematters literary like like a tweedy, pipe-smoking English professor.

I opened an old Art Buchwald collection, thinking I’d learn something about how to write humorous columns and be distracted as well. Uh oh. I’d forgotten that politics was his specialty. I turned to Will Rogers. Same problem. Then Ernie Pyle. Didn’t any of the great columnists write stuff that would take my mind off Trump?

I went to the library and got an Anchor Bible commentary on the Gospel according to John. Surely that would be distracting. And it was a good opportunity to fill in some knowledge gaps while at the same time nurturing my faith. My faith needed nurturing given the election result. But it was too much like work; 538 pages of dense scholarship, and it covered only the first twelve chapters. I needed diversion not edification.

Besides that, the Gospel according to John got me thinking about welcoming the stranger (Syrian refugees) and healing the sick (threats to Obamacare) and things like that. The Anchor Bible didn’t do what I needed to have done.

I turned to a British literary review I subscribe to — The Times Literary Supplement. It’s very highbrow, and I usually find only one or two articles in it that are at my grade level.

It has another function, though, sort of like off-label use of a drug. I figure if I leave copies of it around the house in plain sight, guests will see them and conclude that despite being a funny-talking Texan I might be sort of cultivated. So I keep subscribing.

As it happened, the issue I picked up last week carried a thoroughly engaging piece that seemed to be just what I needed to get me through an evening without political television — a review of three interesting books on the British experience of nature: one on farming without chemicals, one on the life of hedgerows, and one on secret wilderness areas of Britain. Just the thing to read by an open fire on a cold night. But I hadn’t read far, before my thoughts turned to the possibility of Sarah Palin as Secretary of the Interior.

Well, thank you anyway, Mr. Trump, for encouraging me to read more. I just wish that somebody would write something that would not lead me to crazy-fearful thoughts about what you say you’re going to do to to our country.


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