Self-aggrandizement: A parody of every Christian way
You don’t have to accept Jesus’ divinity to revere the inspiring moral vision from this most evolved earthling. You don’t have reject this problematic world, like an austere monk. Or buy into pie-in-the-sky deliverance—a heavenly payoff that propelled Christianity’s unique appeal to the masses. Nor must you puzzle over the myriad of denominations, each church pitching its path to holiness. Bottom line: Jesus’ grounded, still relevant values for life come down to “doing collective good” vs. “impairing yourself and/or exploiting others.”
Beyond salvation, how to love God and his frequent prophesy of looming apocalypse (which, happily, Jesus got wrong), we can argue theology all day, even whether visible “good works” outpoint subjective “faith alone.” As the iconic “community organizer” out to “save” the bereft, Jesus’ humanized take on the Judaic tradition elevates making a positive difference here and now, through study, communion, speaking truth and discovering how to live a virtuous life. Yes, Jesus is all about love—of oneself, of family, all of humankind and all of creation—even with his most singular, daunting commandment, “Love thy enemy.” Not just accept or forgive but love thy enemy—a remarkable, pioneering spiritual instruction. That modest goal escapes nearly all of us, certainly our conspicuously vengeful, self-glorying leader who keeps score by the hour.
If we collect Jesus’ core moral humanism—and his teachings address humanity, Trump and the Trumpist “belief system” provide stunning opposition, forcible enough to slam Christians in the face. Not only does Trump’s entire life rampaging sabotage Jesus messaging—urging compassion, tolerance, and turning the other cheek, Dismal Don epitomizes contempt for all but followers, power-lust/domination, manic fortune hunting, sexual license/abuse of women—all merged with this devious weave: pathological lying. What Christian “keeps the faith” when unable to distinguish human or higher truth from satanic deception? I’d welcome hearing the argument Trumpery is not an offensive parody of Jesus’ mission.
What, sins are deadly?
The most enduring western religious model (after paganism or atheism), Christianity still struggles to present what Jesus truly taught and what he stands for. Consider the Seven Deadly Sins, how Catholicism early on translated the leader’s vision into tangible rules for this world (and the next): first up is pride (vanity), then greed (avarice), wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth (not just indolence but resistance to God’s goodness). Not only do Trump’s “sinful,” unchecked indulgences make him poster boy for what not to do, these spiritual crimes defy the Seven Heavenly Virtues: prudence (think circumspection), justice, temperance (control), and courage (resolve) plus the old-time trio of faith, hope, and charity.
One searches across the Trump wasteland for glimmers he honors justice or temperance (especially tolerance for “outsiders”), or doesn’t dump prudence or charity when they interfere with braggadocio—how rich and smart he is, how he pays no taxes (a scoff-off on paying his collective way) or ever explains why he can’t find a little cash for charities. If you give it away, you can’t spend it on yourself. And to top off this unchristian model, Trump scorns weakling “losers” and obsessively lies about everything, whether important or utterly trivial matters.
If nothing else captures Jesus’ singular message (beyond “love thy enemy”), Christianity ideally focuses on compassion in action in the real world, thus the virtue of anonymous giving to avoid ego-stroking. Trump stamps every uncharitable action or crass building with his Americanized immigrant family name so his clan gets maximum notoriety. On the compassion scale, Trump holds the bottom rung, unsympathetic towards the mass death of even his own voters. Any leaders who scoffs at his advisers and ominously races to rev up commerce does not stand with Jesus’s embrace of those already in misery or facing illness and mortality.
By the way, if Trump “loves” his enemies, that’s only because without make-believe foes he’d have no idea who he was – or when to strut and snigger when lording over others, with victories real or fabricated. If he reigned supreme, Trump would “love” his mock-enemies to death, that is, after they submitted to his dominant superiority.
Like history’s major religious innovators, the humane Jesus shunned worldly trappings, intuitively wary of transient fame and material fortune. Being poor was no sin for Jesus; quite the contrary. The ultimate fortune hunter, Trump traffics in delusions of grandeur, fooling himself that he’s the best and the brightest. Why else was he “ordained” to command and commandeer everything—a medical, scientific, economic, diplomatic and political wizard? Why else would his unholy means justify such dastardly ends?
Say what, Ten (!) Commandments
Jesus honored Jewish traditions, especially “Love thy Neighbor” and “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” Both are foreign to Trumpworld and many “base” fans. Further, unclear from the Seven Heavenly Virtues are what we’d today call Jesus’ ecological embrace of God’s creation, Nature: “‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin” (Matthew 6:26, 28, 29). Jesus likewise invoked humankind’s cultural obligation to be good stewards of this world: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). How unTrumpian!
Because Jesus lived 2000 years ago, early Christians (and Jews) valued humanity above nature and animals (and men above women, leaders above peasants). But the democratic Jesus fully embraced life (thus dramatically raising the dead) and basic necessities, such as health (miracles healing the sick, Luke 17:11-19), the need for food, clothing and shelter(thusthe parable of the wise and the foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). He’d fully endorse FDR’s Four Freedoms (of speech, worship, from want and from fear). Aware of home and community values, Jesus praised obedience to parents and family; while dying on the cross, he asks disciple John to caretake his mother (John 19:26-27).
Overall, Jesus reinforces the Ten Commandments, especially worshiping a higher being (not yourself or your monarch), respecting the sabbath (no Tweeting on holy days!), and telling the truth (no false witnessing). Most relevant to Trump are unequivocal prohibitions against stealing, adultery and coveting thy neighbor’s goods or wife. Not only is Trump a convicted thief (corrupt Trump U, screwing honorable vendors)—plus being an overt adulterer; his idea of morality is to go to the press and brag about his virile conquests. What a guy! Not exactly what Old Testament scribes (and Christians to come) had in mind. Instead, what moral guardians mandate are that sinners 1) admit they’re wrong, 2) understand why, 3) express regret, 4) offer sincere apologies and 5) make all possible amends. How unTrumpian. Compare the Biblical standards to the immorality of Trump entitlement: “grab-whatever-you-can-get-away-with”—then boast what a clever, rapacious sinner you are.
Finally, unlike the insecure Trump, Jesus was anything but intimidated by strong women, like the reformed Mary Magdalene and sister Martha; he greatly valued (selfless) connections, befriending their brother Lazarus. He revered community, forever surrounded by loyal, loving groups of friends and disciples. Nor was Jesus allergic to empirical knowledge and understanding, fully displayed during his famous sermons (Luke 2:46-47).
Need I waste another moment?
In any comparison with what Jesus said and did, Trump is his polar opposite, especially revealing since the Donald squandered blessings of family riches, education and leadership. Finally, while Jesus offered the ultimate sacrifice, dying on the cross to benefit humankind, Trump doesn’t know the meaning of self-sacrifice, let alone helping someone without getting more in return. This hypocrite can’t even wear a frigging mask to minimize disease transmission, as if appearances reign supreme. That alone speaks to his sole incentive: the self-aggrandizement of the irredeemable egoist.
No president has instigated more disasters, whatever the crisis, and none better contradicts the letter and spirit of Jesus’ insightful, humane teachings. That Trump calls himself a Christian I leave for others to assess. That self-righteous fundamentalists glorify him as if a flawless semi-god – that I leave to higher powers to judge, wherever they reside. My mission is to frame a point of view so readers can proceed from that much truth.