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Now is the time for Republicans to reject Donald Trump | Rhetoric & Reason | San Luis Obispo

Now is the time for Republicans to reject Donald Trump |  Rhetoric & Reason |  San Luis Obispo


Just returned from Spain, where we spent four amazing nights in Barcelona. This city is renowned for its architecture, Catalan heritage, cuisine and fantastic Mediterranean beach, but it was the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) that intrigued me the most. We strolled through its narrow, winding streets – largely unchanged since the Middle Ages – and it was easy to imagine the scene some seven centuries ago as those same cobbled streets saluted the feet of our namesake. city, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, aka Saint Louis d’Anjou.

Louis had spent his entire adolescence in Barcelona, ​​from 1289 to 1296, nearly a third of his short life. Not by choice: he was a captive of the King of Aragon, held there with his two brothers in ransom for the life of his father, Charles II, King of Naples, after his defeat and capture in Sicily by the Aragonese.

I often lead tours of Old Mission SLO, where I tell some of the stories embodied in our most famous local landmark. I always stop at the altar where an 18th-century statue of Saint Louis occupies an exalted position to the left, wearing his bishop’s miter and extending his black-gloved hands as if leading mass himself.

In the gaze of this realistic statue, at the opposite end of the former mission annex, a portrait of the same Saint Louis hangs on the wall, looking at him almost like a mirror image.

The painting includes an important detail that easily goes unnoticed: at the bishop’s feet is a barely visible crown, rejected by Louis. By the time Louis was freed from Barcelona in 1296, his older brother had died of the plague. Upon his return to Naples, Louis could have been Crown Prince of Naples and heir to all of his father’s kingdoms.

Instead, Louis took the choice offered by Ecclesiastes and “thrown away” his crown, preferring to take the Franciscan vows of “poverty, obedience and chastity” on Christmas Day 1296 in Rome. Only a few days later, Boniface VII consecrated him bishop of Toulouse.

Unfortunately, Louis died of a fever a few months later. During this short time, he had devoted himself to feeding the hungry, serving the poor, and caring for the sick. Fellow Franciscans venerated their impoverished and ailing bishop for his devoted service, and only two decades later Pope John XXII canonized Louis and Junipero Serra bestowed his name on the fledgling mission here in 1772.

How is this story from 700 years ago relevant to us today? Most of us are ambitious to some degree. We are pursuing a goal, whether it is to aspire to greater wealth, power or position – or, in the case of our former President Donald Trump, another four years in the White House.

The Republican Party now seems fully committed to putting it there too. Recent polls have Trump with twice the support of his closest GOP competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. As unbelievable as it may seem, a second Trump inauguration in January 2025 is entirely possible.

I fully hope and expect that the majority of American voters (and, more importantly, the Electoral College) will deny him a second nomination. I am, however, alarmed by the prospect of another insurrection on January 6, or worse, a wave of domestic terrorism on a scale never before imagined. Well-armed forces of white supremacists, “Christian” nationalists and violent right-wing extremists could wreak havoc with another coordinated assault on our democratic institutions.

Surely it’s asking too much for a narcissist like Donald Trump to reject his delusional image as the savior of the nation, deserving of his ill-gotten wealth and fame, not to mention leading a life of poverty. Nor would I expect any of us to disengage from this world, giving up all ambition, all aspiration, all determination to better our own standing in life simply to serve the poor, the hungry and the sick.

As the ancient biblical writer advises, however, there is a time to keep and a time to cast off. Many times in my life I left a position where I could have chosen to stay, to fight for my continued “right” to pursue an exalted goal that eluded me – but the best choice was to cast off and find a better way to resonate with the universe.

Hopefully our Republican friends and fellow Americans of all political persuasions will find a way to shake off the charm and spectacle that surrounds our former president. But if the worst should happen in November 2024, I might find a way to return to Barcelona and establish my permanent residence there, where I can once again listen to the echoes of this old Franciscan saint whose remarkable reputation deserves to be better known in the city and department which bears its name. Δ

John Ashbaugh has already squandered any chance of early canonization, but who knows? If only he was truly Catholic. Respond with a posting comment emailed to [email protected].




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