The Gospel of Trump?

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
The first excerpted op-ed piece was in my local newspaper this morning. It is by a fundamentalist theology professor, and so we see his take on a curious American religious stream, the so-called Prosperity Gospel, whose advocates seem to be mostly opportunistic hucksters, much like Trump himself. Well, maybe except that Trump is also a Russian agent, among other things.

The second excerpted article is written by a cultural Christian with a slightly different take. The common subtext to me is the common failure to understand what is really going on under the superficial analysis. Trump is doing like so many presidents before, merely using these people (famously: Dubya) to achieve the larger agenda. If Trump is so interested in his Prosperity Gospel friends, then why are there so many Jesuits in his administration? Maybe one can make the apology that the Prosperity folks are simply too busy looking after their income streams? Doesn't fly with me.

Ironically, I could buy some of the underlying premise of the Prosperity Gospel, in its seeming alignment with the Pythagorean / Platonic roots of such as harmonia. And there is, after all, some psychological evidence that even a sad person can make themselves happier by continually forcing a smile. Whether true or not, the downfall to me is the blinding obsession in gaining the desired ends one compromises on both the means and what one does with their 'fruits'. The advocates of this theology are almost always poster children for such bad behaviors.

Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration will include Paula White and possibly other members of his inner circle, Darrell Scott, “Apostle” Wayne T. Jackson and Mark Burns. They’re all televangelists who hail from the “prosperity gospel” camp. They advocate a brand of Pentecostal Christianity known as Word of Faith.

Inaugurations are always curious rituals of American civil religion. It would not be surprising to see a non-Christian religious leader participating. But what’s problematic for me as an evangelical is how Trump’s ceremony is helping to mainstream this heretical movement.

The prosperity gospel — the idea that God dispenses material wealth and health based on what we “decree” — is not just fluff. It’s also not just another branch of Pentecostalism, a tradition that emphasizes the continuation of the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues. It’s another religion. ...

The author of the following is a lapsed Catholic who follows the typical path of assuming that there was some Jesus of Nazareth, and while acknowledging all the myriad interpretations of what Jesus was about, then proffers his own, based upon his prior biases -- that stemmed from others' faulty selective analysis. As we seen from the recent books discussed here, both Jesus' and Paul's messages were 100% aligned with the political goals of the imperial Romans, and thus kingdoms were indeed "built here on Earth".

It’s outrageous that Donald Trump is permitted to depict himself, in some nominal way, as a follower of Jesus Christ without provoking widespread howling and vomiting. It’s an outrage that a majority of white Americans who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ twisted themselves into voting for a man who has promised to persecute the powerless, shun the strangers, drive away the hungry and the vulnerable. None of this is anything new, of course. Ever since the real Jesus, whoever he was, disappeared behind his symbolic death, his messianic promise of the Kingdom of Heaven has been used to build kingdoms here on earth.

Christmas is barely even an allusion to Jesus Christ. It’s a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, presided over by a red-suited elf-god. At some point it got reverse-engineered into a birthday party for a half-mythological baby whose more important accomplishment was his death. If the church asks us to keep Christ in Christmas, we might respond that he was never there in the first place. But as I stood looking at the empty cradle in the St. Patrick’s crèche, I reflected that the incoherent innocence of the Christmas story — the way it gives us Jesus as an infant, stripped of history and his tangled and contradictory afterlife — is the source of its power.

In the Christmas season we seek reassurance, repetition and ritual; we watch movies we’ve seen dozens of times before, and football teams we don’t care about. We embrace that strange sense of “Christmas Carol” suspended time that makes childhood and adulthood, past and future, seem to merge. If Christmas has nothing to do with the real Jesus, it allows us to connect, briefly and vaguely, to the idea of Jesus and to the possibility of human redemption he seemed to embody. It’s only a moment, a shared shimmering dream, and then it’s gone. But it’s a gift.

And sardonically, the subtext of the Book of Revelation is that the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed to be built here on Earth, at the transition of the 'old age' to the new age'. Those unwilling to conform to the new order will be cleansed from our presence, and those that were faithful to the 'Lord' will survive the tribulation or be resurrected. In the first Second Coming, this is exactly what happened, the radical Jewish nationalists were destroyed, while the Hellenized ones lived on with the goyim, under the gentil.

And now we are witnessing the redux of the script for the next transition. Only there are some new nationalists to add to the sacrificial cast besides the Israeli fundamentalists. And their hero, the 7th Trumpet(?) is a Prosperous Pied Piper leading them off a cliff into the metaphoric Sea of Galilee. We can be sure that the director of the play, Steve Bannon, the Hollywood producer (including Titus Andronicus) is calling the tune, paying the Fordham piper.

And so how to reconcile all these insanely disparate interpretations of Jesus' and Trump's motives. The only way possible is to first seek the correct rational model, or lens, for interpretation. The typical neo-rationalist interpretational lens today is really that from the Postmodernists, who insist that human 'shit happens' randomly, and thus we are only in a hopeless indeterminate crap shoot, pun intended. A good Modernist should view Religion as a still useful tool of (geo)political control and thus analyze accordingly. As FDR was reputed to say, "Everything in Washington happens for a reason." Such Shit does not just Happen.

Thank you Jesus. Some gift.

In any case, look how ironic the title and subtitle of the last article is:

Jesus Christ: Jewish radical or bathrobe Republican? The “reason for the season” remains an enigma after 2,000 years
We reverse-engineered a pagan solstice party for this guy, so he must be important. But nobody can figure him out

In my model the Jewish radical of yore and the bathrobe Republican (and Tea Party) nationalist are typologically the same. Jesus Christ is a hybrid, Greco-Roman, Platonic avatar (Christ) glossed on top of the Jewish messianic construct (xenophobic, exclusivist, exceptionalist - neoChosen nationalism). End of story.
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