One of the most noticeable parts of a Trump rally is the boundless optimism exemplified in the words "Make America Great Again," or MAGA. The theme permeates the movement with a positive, hopeful message that mirrors President Donald J. Trump's general optimism.
There is a backstory to it all, and it comes from the famed pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, of the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. He was dubbed "God's salesman." Peale was pastor of the church from 1932 until 1984.
Peale began The Art of Living in 1949, a radio and television program broadcast on NBC for 54 years. Along with his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, he was the founder of Guideposts magazine in 1945 His best-known contribution is The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952. It influenced a generation of postwar Baby Boomers—including President Trump—and played a big part in the positive postwar American culture.
When President Trump said, "Don't be afraid of COVID," you could hear the influence of one of his heroes—Norman Vincent Peale. A minister who died in 1993, Peale was an influential figure who believed you could "change your thoughts, and you change your world."
When the president said, "Don't be afraid of COVID," there was a backstory to that as well. His grandfather died in 1918 from the Spanish flu, so it was personal to him. But balanced with Peale's view, "change our thoughts, and you change your world," President Trump's statement took shape.
Among Peale's many famous quotes is "I place this day, my life, my loved ones, my work in the Lord's hands. There is no harm in the Lord's hands, only good. Whatever happens, whatever results, if I am in the Lord's hands it is the Lord's will, and it is good."
President Trump's godly mother, Mary Ann McLeod, was a fisherman's daughter from the Scottish village of Stornoway. She arrived in New York at the age of 18 and worked as a maid. She raised her children in the church, and having experienced the great Hebrides Revival in Scotland, she named the president Donald after her grandfather, Donald Smith, one of the leaders of that revival.
Donald Trump was sworn into office with the Bible given to his mother in 1955 when he graduated from Presbyterian Sunday school. He described what it was like to attend church under Peale by saying, "You could listen to him all day long and when you left the church, you were disappointed it was over. He was the greatest guy." To this day, President Trump continues to exude boundless optimism and belief in the best.
In God, Trump and the 2020 Election, bestselling author Stephen Strang quoted historian Doug Wead: "He loved what today we call the prosperity gospel. Peale was a forerunner of that. The power of positive thinking was a cultural revolution in its time." Later in the book, he said, "he can recount sermons by his beloved pastor Norman Vincent Peale, and he grieved when Peale died in 1993 at the age of 95."
"A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22).
The Scriptures encourage us in the "power of positive thinking," which will be replaced by communism unless the 59 million believers who did not vote in 2016 do so on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Amir George is the author of Liberating Iraq and directs The World Helpline at theworldhelpline.org.
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