Bachmann had this to say to a Minnesota church congregation recently, speaking about her spiritual development:
And in the midst of that calling, God then called on me to run for the United States Congress. And I thought, "What in the world would that be for?" And my husband said, "You need to do this," and I wasn't so sure. And we took three days, and we fasted, and we prayed, and we said, "Lord, is this what you want? Is this your will?" And along about the afternoon of Day Two, he made that calling sure. And it's been now twenty-two months that I've been running for the United States Congress...(You can watch the video at YouTube -- but be warned: it's pretty excruciating.)
Now, you can say all you like about the Sin of Pride oozing out of the foregoing. My own secular upbringing may have left me bereft of God's Love and irrevocably doomed to the Lake of Fire, but I do recall from what little religious schooling I received that to claim to know God's will is frowned upon in the politer circles. Be all that as it may, what interests me -- and what I'm hoping to get a little enlightenment on -- is the mechanism by which these citizens are informed of the Almighty's divine will.
That is to say, exactly what form did Old Nobodaddy's bidding take? How was it clarified to Michele that, for example, the Sixth District -- and no other -- was the seat for which she should throw her hat in the ring? From her testimony above, the divine commission came as a complete surprise: Sorry, what? You want me to do what now, Lord?
Now, as far as my poor atheist brain can figure, there are only two possible ways that information of such specificity can be transmitted. First, an unexpected apparition, perhaps accompanied with some pyrotechnics (one's tempted to imagine a flaming rhododendron) but one in which the exchange is largely verbal:
Really, Lord? Is that Thy divine will?
Forgive my denseness, O Lord -- I am but a poor, humble sinner. The United States Congress is a mighty big organization... Wherein shall I fit?
The only other possibility that I can encompass involves some sort of divine affirmation that a decision taken after some consideration is the right one. In other words, you have to have some inkling of running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth District, and your prayer and fasting while considering the question results in some kind of sign -- a vision of behaloed blastocysts, perhaps, or maybe just a nice warm, fuzzy feeling like you've just peed your pants. In the non-batshit-loony world, this might be thought of as "going away and thinking really hard about it, coming to a decision, and being happy with it."
To boil it down further, you can either testify that:
1) "God wants me to run for Congress";
2) "I want to run for Congress, and I think/hope/pray that God's good with that."
Is there any third way? I certainly can't see one.
Quite clearly, Bachmann's testimonial makes Claim 1) above. I would certainly never accuse her of cloaking the second claim with the first -- that is, of claiming that God directed her to run for the open Sixth District seat when in fact the decision to do so was made by her alone. Heavens, that would be lying! In church, no less!
Hence, my interest in the mechanism by which the Lord of Hosts -- who, I might point out, hasn't actually dusted off the Burning Bush act in quite some years, and whose public appearances in the last few millennia are mighty sparse on the ground -- lets a Midwestern
lawyer know that He would smile upon an old-fashioned barn-burner of a campaign in the Sixth.
(I'm also really amused by the three-day fast thing. If, on the second day of your fast, Old Smokey pops in with a choir of angels, trailing glory and hosannahs, and directs you to run for Congress, do you really continue your fast for another day? Haven't you, you know, got your answer? Others have pointed out that it's never a good idea to make important decisions on an empty stomach, and I heartily concur.)