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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

JESUS & TRUMP-Twins Separated at Birth?

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Jesus of Nazareth and Donald Trump, so similar they might be twins separated at birth.

Each wants us to follow him, not politically, although the following is translated into politics, but personally. Each acts as though he needs no justification for his leading position from outside himself, such as scripture or constitution. As it was written about Jesus, “He teaches as one having authority [in himself] and not as the scribes and Pharisees.” {Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22.}

The scribes [Law teachers] and Pharisees did not claim authority in themselves. They thought they could tell folks what to do by appealing to the authority of scripture, the Law, the Torah, basically the first five books of the “Old Testament.”

Jesus and Trump both say, “I know the law, but I am beyond the law. I AM the law, in myself. What I say and do automatically supersedes the old law.”

Of course, those who act with authority in themselves--and those who want a personal authority figure to lead-- appeal to the tradition, usually a written tradition, either to justify or explain their authority. Jesus often quoted what most Christians call The Old Testament, what he knew as The Law. Trump quotes, in his own way, from the Bible and from the US Constitution.

Jesus and Trump, Trump and Jesus, exactly alike, except…

There is a saying that “all politics is local.” But it goes deeper than that. Politics is always personal. We never vote for a candidate; we always vote for ourselves.

Politics is simply a way of organizing ourselves to live together. We want things organized in such a way that we benefit. “Original sin” is the part of each of us that wants the political organization to provide what I want regardless of what happens to others. In fact, original sin often includes making sure others do NOT get what they want or need, because if they are weak, it makes us feel strong.

Civilization is the process of helping people understand that no one can get everything s/he wants but that everyone needs to get some of what they need for themselves and allow others to do the same. Civilization is the process of overcoming “original sin,” the desire to have everything I want, including dominating others. Original sin is never eradicated, but it can be controlled. That is the point of scriptures and constitutions.

Someone who has “authority in himself” appeals to us because we believe he can get us what we want without those irritating restraints of civilization. [2]

For Trump, making politics personal is not a strategy, it’s who he is. With him, everything is personal because everything is about him.

When Donald Trump says disrespectful and often untrue things about people he does not like, others who feel the same way about those people feel that it gives them permission to be just as un-respectful and untrue. It’s not political, it’s personal. When people say, “I like Trump because he tells it like it is,” they mean, “I like him because I am just as mean-spirited as he is but don’t have the courage to say those things myself.”

I heard David Brooks, the conservative columnist, say recently that the most consistent thing about Trump’s politics is that he will always come down against the weak, those least able to push back, those who have few who will stand up for them against him. [1]

That is where Jesus and Trump, the twins, take different paths. Each claims authority in himself, but one claims that authority in order to oppress the weak, the other claims that authority in order to protect the weak.

The reason we call Jesus the Christ is not because he has authority in himself. Anyone can claim that, especially if he has inherited enough money. Jesus is the Christ because he uses his authority to do the will of God, not just his own will.

One of the most fascinating themes of fiction, and occasionally reality, is the notion of “the evil twin.” Jesus and Trump, each has a twin.


1] I recommend Brooks’ book, The Road to Character.

2] Supporters of Barack Obama have often been disappointed because he has not acted “as one having authority in himself,” although his opponents claim that such is the reason they oppose him. But Obama is a scribe. That should not be surprising. He was known as “No Drama Obama.” That is the exact opposite of a Jesus or a Trump, who are always in the center of the drama. Obama was a lawyer, a scribe, a professor of Constitutional Law, even. You can’t get more scribe-like than that.

To his opponents, it makes no difference how good a scribe he is, how well Obama interprets the Law, the US Constitution. They oppose him because they don’t like him. The reason they don’t like him is glaringly obvious to everyone but themselves.

It is no surprise that his opponents have claimed that Obama is the exact opposite, that he claims authority in himself when actually he is a scribe. It started with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and has been perfected by political operatives like Roger Aisles and Karl Rove. Claim that your opponent’s main strength is actually his greatest weakness, and claim that your candidate’s greatest weakness is really his main strength. For instance, if your candidate was never a soldier, claim he is a hawk. If your opponent is a war hero, claim he’s a dove. Raise enough money to say it often enough, without any nuances or explanations, and a majority of voters will believe it and vote accordingly, regardless of the facts. Voting in the US is rarely a fact-based activity.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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