Gone with the Wind by Ronald Reagan: A Pseudonymous Gospel
Let’s pretend for a moment …
In 1985, at the age of 23, I decided to write a story about a statesman hero of mine, Joseph Fitzgerald Kennedy. The novel and its sequel became best-sellers and changed American culture. But for those who have never actually read the two novels, here is a brief outline.
“JFK” was born on December 24th, 1896 in a small town in Maryland on the outskirts of Washington D.C. His parents, two Jewish immigrants from Philadelphia, were traveling to Washington to celebrate the holidays with family members. They were forced to stop in a small hotel for several days due to the onslaught of a sudden blizzard. Since the roads were overrun by wayward holiday travelers, the only person who could take them in was a hotel keeper who gave them a small shed outside his house. The baby was born in these impossible conditions and both mother and child survived by a seeming miracle. A touring group of circus side-show workers staying in the hotel heard the story and decided to share their room with the young family. Noticing the oddity of a Christmas baby born outside an inn, some fortune tellers in the company gathered around and predicted that one day this baby would go to Washington to become president of the United States. In that dark hour, this young president would defeat America’s enemies. He’d be responsible for reestablishing the state of Israel and would bring a golden age of peace and prosperity to America.
My first novel goes on to describe a brief detail about the young boy debating professors at George Washington University at age 12, then picks up with him as a Harvard professor at age 29. In a short time, JFK was famous for his public lectures and humanitarian initiatives. He toured the country a few years later giving speeches finally announcing his candidacy for president, though he had never held political office. He received the endorsement of his cousin, William Jennings Bryant, shortly after the famous Scopes Monkey Trial during which Bryant suffered disgrace and died a short time later. Many startling supernatural occurrences followed Joseph F. Kennedy throughout his career. Snippets of his many speeches were recorded in my novel, “Ask not what your country can do for you,” “Give me liberty or give me death,” “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and perhaps his most famous speech given shortly before he died, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
He was loved by young people and the poor. He was the people’s hero. But he ruffled the feathers of both the Republican and Democratic Party leaders. They were unsure which side he stood for – he had populist appeal although he often leaned toward the right in public policy. In a dark speech in the spring of 1933, Joseph predicted that America would soon become engulfed in wars that would lead up to the establishment of Israel as a state. In less than 40 years, he prophesied Israel would be surrounded by its enemy Egypt, but the Israelis would not only prevail, but would recapture the city of Jerusalem from the Palestinians. Joseph also implied that he would not live to see it, but would be betrayed to death by those closest to him.
In 1933, Joseph seemed poised to win his party’s nomination for presidency the following year, when an awful occurrence horrified his followers. An embezzling associate, named Jacob Isaacson was suddenly and inexplicably overcome with insane jealousy. While it was widely thought that Kennedy was an Irishman, it was known only to a few that he was a Jew who had designs on the presidency for the purpose of establishing Israel as a nation. Isaacson, although a Jew himself, leaked the truth of Kennedy’s Semitic roots to The Washington Post, but the story was suppressed by a few editors. A rigorous campaign season ensued and Kennedy seemed poised to win the nomination of the Bull Moose Party in 1934 with the slogan “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.”
Tragically, Kennedy was assassinated by American Nazi sympathizers who learned that Kennedy was a Jew. He was shot in the neck by the son of Charles Lindbergh, whom the Nazis had kidnapped and brainwashed a few years earlier, while Kennedy was watching the premiere of Gone with the Wind in a movie theater in Baltimore in 1934. JFK’s followers mourned but vowed to fight on. The tale of JFK sightings persisted among his youthful following. He was seen as a gas station attendant, a gardener, and even some imagined they saw him while traveling in snow storms on Christmas Eve.
The book was originally published as a series of untitled, anonymous articles in Harper’s Magazine, but soon became known as Gone with the Wind. A later edition appeared in 1984 under the name of one of Kennedy’s most faithful supporters, Ronald Reagan, a washed up B-movie actor who had never met JFK, but ran for office on the Bull Moose Party ticket achieving the governorship of California in 1966.
I later wrote The Acts of Ronald Reagan, an unauthorized pseudonymous autobiography of sorts, which tells the events from Reagan’s perspective of Kennedy’s death in 1934 up to Reagan’s support for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. I was never able to finish the story of Reagan as it abruptly ends with Goldwater’s speech at the 1964 Bull Moose Party convention.
Obviously, there is no such presidential candidate as Joseph F. Kennedy. I conflated several factual stories about United States presidents with stories from the Bible, many anachronisms and much outright fiction. I took the framework of the story of Jesus and the Apostles of the first century and brought it about 1900 years into the future. I supposed I was a second generation non-eyewitness writing a legendary story about Joseph F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
I took a perspective that would have been similar to that of the Church Fathers (Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias) the youngest of whom was probably born no later than 65 AD. Since I was born in 1962, I simply fast-forwarded about 1900 years to use that as an anchor date in this fictitious allegory.
But let’s now consider something outrageous …
Suppose that during Ronald Reagan’s second term of presidency, there were JFK followers who had long since grown into a religious cult, who believed that JFK was still alive and ruling as the president of the United States from heaven, waiting come back to earth to supplant the Republican Party with the Bull Moose agenda. These fanatical cultists then took my work of fiction, which I never intended to be taken literally, and assumed it was true. They gathered some other stories about JFK and circulated these throughout the United States, reading them at weekly meetings.
Now it is almost 2010. Would it be possible to sell my novel series to the American people as non-fiction? Is it really possible that some would mistake these stories as a historical narrative?
Of course not!
The reason for this should be obvious. There are many people alive today who were born in the 1930s. They were taught well in school and have a good understanding of United States History. Many of them can remember Charles Lindbergh, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War Two and many of the historical events that were misrepresented in my story. Many of them voted for John F. Kennedy, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. A story that conflates nonsense with reality could never be thought of as anything but an entertaining work of fiction. And even 50 to 100 years from now, there is no way that any of this could be misconstrued as a work of history.
Yet this is exactly how liberals, skeptics and atheists view the New Testament – as a compilation of Jewish midrash of Old Testament stories by anonymous or pseudonymous writers whose works were then taken as fact just a few years after they died by a burgeoning cult who had their roots in similar beliefs and experiences. Exactly 1900 years ago, after the last of the Apostles had passed away and the Church was in the hands of the bishops, someone had already collated the four Gospels and Acts into several codices, as well as the letters of Paul and some other Epistles. By the second century, someone had made numerous copies and distributed them among the churches. Liberal theologians assume that the bishops, deacons, and the rank and file believers of the late first and early second century were so woefully unaware of history that they were capable of taking a colorful collection of “urban legends” and interpreting it as “truth.”