lenttrumpHave you seen that unfortunate Goosebumps movie yet? I believe it’s at the Redbox now and it’s Friday night and there’s no time like the present. It seems that Jack Black either had a vision for this film that wasn’t met or he’s broke and needs the money. I suppose his standards could be slipping, too. The premise of the film is that a man-child and his mother move to a new town where his expectation is that life is going to suck. While moving into his new home, he’s greeted by the girl next door. It becomes clear during their brief chat that this teen will become his girlfriend at some point near the end of the film.

“Hannah, get away from the window. Now!”

As they converse, Hannah- the girl- is interrupted by her father, who wants nothing to do with the new neighbors and who wishes the protagonist to leave his daughter alone. This part is played by a strangely clean-cut and well-groomed Jack Black.

Fast forward a night or three and the lovestruck boy hears the neighbor girl screaming while shadows flail in front of a window. It wouldn’t be a movie if he’d simply called the cops. So instead, he jumps the fence with his only friend in this new town. They go into the house through the basement, start snooping and deduce that this neighbor is famed author, R. L. Stine, most well-known for the series that give the film its name, Goosebumps.

The teenage boys find a shelf filled with manuscripts, including The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. Having read the books when they were younger, they can’t help but grab one off the shelf only to discover that it- and all of the other manuscripts are latched shut. They manage to get one unlocked before Stine and his daughter find them. Breaking and entering is generally considered a felony, but again, no cops are called when these boys get busted. Stine and his daughter freak out when they realize that one of the many manuscripts has been liberated. One of the guilty party apologizes and when he tries to pick the book up by its cover, something obviously magical happens. Lights flash and and an abominable snowman leaps from its pages and begins attacking.

Somehow, the baddies of Stine’s many books in the series escape the confines of their pages and this fiction that was beloved by many a child comes to life. For much of the movie, monsters run amuck around town. The film is clearly more zany than scary and feels a little like Jumanji, minus Robin Williams’ brilliant acting. Having not seen it, I will surmise that the moral of the story is something like if you just open a book, any book, you’ll find magic when something like don’t break into cute girl’s houses and make a mess is definitely more axiomatic in this situation.

★                    ★                   ★

Today, New Jersey governor, Chris Christie (who does that do their child?) endorsed Donald Trump in his bid for the Republican nomination for this year’s presidential election. Christie dropped out of the race for that very spot just over two weeks ago. He didn’t look to be particularly thrilled as the strange words tumbled out of this mouth. He even thanked Trump for “…leaving the private sector, for seeing that there was a need for strong leadership in this country and for being willing to step out of the private sector and come offer himself.”

I feel like Stine’s magic got into a satirical, or otherwise inane article. It seems that some snoopy teenager snuck into The Onion’s offices in Chicago, unlocked some manuscripts written two or three elections ago and a loud, angry monster with really bad hair got out.

Reality is often incredibly strange and confusing.

The man who continually threatens to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and “Make them pay for it” has won 82 delegates so far. Ted Cruz follows next with a mere 17 delegates. Thankfully, there are plenty more to go around and the election isn’t until this fall. But I’m scared. Even if Trump isn’t elected, his popularity has highlighted something that’s happening in our nation, among our people.

Some have labelled Trump as a populist candidate. What does that mean? His political platform is an appeal to the fears and desires of the population. The majority. The 99 percent. If he’s winning in places like Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire, it’s because he’s saying what the people want to hear -or- he’s speaking to their anxieties. The number of people running around in red or white Make America Great Again hats is astounding, as the outspoken man they stand behind is clearly sexist, probably a liar, and according to Max Lucado, indecent.

I actually don’t want to write bad things about any person. I don’t. Perhaps Donald J. Trump isn’t a liar. That would mean that he’s a pragmatist, who will do whatever it takes to win, which means undulating along with the throes of the American psyche. He’s giving us whatever we want and providing quite a show along the way. He wants to be our entertaining babysitter who gives us sugar and lets us stay up late. He wants to tell us scary stories involving immigrants and nations that take our jobs. He wants us to seek security in him. Because to a point, that’s what Americans want from any president.

His success thus far isn’t an indicator of his skill as an orator or public figure so much as it shows that he’s hired a team of people who have learned to read the American people and respond. That’s what’s scary about this. Donald Trump isn’t the monster with bad hair. It’s us. We are the monster- star-spangled and angry and worried about our guns and taxes and people who look and sound different from us. If he’s elected, then we have gotten what we deserve.

★                    ★                   ★

I generally abstain from writing about politics. Not because I’m not opinionated- I have strong opinions on most things- but because I generally don’t know enough to write with confidence. But the Pope has no problem making political statements and frankly, it seems that the Gospel is political too. I don’t know what that means for me, but as I’ve walked through Lent, that’s a thought that I have been wrestling with. God, help us all.