Have progressives made Trump God?

Nov 6, 2017 by

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We live in times of heightened emotion. Enmeshed in digital media and captured by our “always-on” culture, it’s hard to unplug. The bare-knuckle fights of politicos and pundits come straight to our phone.

The moment we inhabit exhilarates us with the adrenaline of combat. It wears us down with the relentlessness of total war. Our society is tearing itself apart, and there seems no alternative but to choose a side and dedicate ourselves to fighting for it.

We have, as a society, been captured by spectacle. Reality TV has exited the screen and come to inhabit our daily lives. We are drawn into a dizzying world of celebrity drama and cultural transgression. We are warned of the groups that we should fear and despise, and encouraged to stay tuned for the next episode when the enemy camp will be humiliated and exposed for the hypocrites and evildoers that they are.

In this cultural hurricane that we now inhabit, personalities reign supreme. We are united around the people we hate. The right is united by deep hatred for people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The left is united around total disgust for U.S. President Donald Trump, above all, and secondarily Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

Trump has become the center of this vortex. He has become the writhing center of our nation. This is true not only for those who vehemently support him and his white supremacist rhetoric, but perhaps especially for the millions of Americans who reject him in the most furious terms possible. Resistance to Trump has helped make him the energetic center of American life.

One of the most disturbing things about the rise of Trump is the way he has colonized our minds. Most of us can’t get through the day without thinking about him. Regardless of what visceral rejection his image may provoke, Donald Trump has become the focus of our consciousness. Many think about him more often than they think about loved ones. Many of us who consider ourselves “religious” turn our minds to Donald Trump more often than we do to God.

There is a spiritual principle at work here. We choose the things that lie at the center of our reality. Love is not the only power that is capable of centering us in this way. Hatred is a powerful religious force. It is able to create gods that define our lives. The terrible irony is that, the more we hate anyone, the more we place that relationship of hatred at the heart of our lives. Through our fury at Donald Trump and his violent, racist agenda, we actually lend him more power.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie The Fifth Element. Humanity encounters an evil presence that intends to devour all life in the universe. Predictably, our response is to attempt to destroy the presence with nuclear weapons. But we learn that this is precisely what the presence of evil was counting on. Every time it is attacked, it grows and expands. After being attacked twice with larger nuclear salvoes, it grows much larger, destroys the attacking vessels, and begins a journey toward Earth, to destroy us all.

Attacking evil only makes it stronger. Battling hatred with hatred only produces more devastation. We learned this lesson from Jesus. Jesus says that we should not resist an evildoer (Matt. 5:39), but instead to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. It’s always been hard for me to accept these sayings by Jesus. How could it be that I should actually submit myself to evil?

What if Jesus is asking me not to submit to evil, but rather to de-center evil in my life? Could it be that, by resisting evil head on, I make it more powerful? By making the evil person the enemy, is it possible that I end up creating more evil? What does it look like to turn the other cheek in the face of real evil, the kind that God knows should be stopped in its tracks?

This is a live question for me, and I don’t have an easy answer. What does it look like to deny the racist, violent, life-destroying posture that Donald Trump embodies, while refusing to place that evil at the center of my life? What does it look like to love my enemies — including Donald?

What changes when I commit myself to seeking the restoration of all people, even those whose souls are twisted with hatred and selfishness? What happens when the love of God in Jesus becomes the center, and all the evil people of this world become mere satellites of that radiance?

Micah Bales is a writer, teacher and grassroots Christian leader based in Washington, D.C. He is a founding member of Friends of Jesus, a new Quaker community, and has been an organizer with the Occupy movement. You can read more of his work at www.micahbales.com or follow him on Twitter.


Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

  • Greg Murray

    “The racist violent, life destroying posture that Donald Trump embodies….his violent racist agenda”. You are correct Micah hatred is a powerful force and also apparently leads to distorted thinking. I don’t know,
    maybe the solution is to put the devices down pick up our old school bibles. I don’t think that it was any accident that we were presented with the two most polarizing candidates ever in the history of presidential elections last year. Identity politics is driving wedges in families and destroying friendships.

    • David Bontrager

      I take exception to the term “old school bibles”. The Bible is just as relevant and powerful today as always. I understand your meaning. I agree!

  • Craig Anderson

    Wow! Thought provoking. I can’t wait to read the comments.

  • Berry Friesen

    This is very good. By design, we are being pulled into a vortex of energy that wants to dominate our lives. It is a spiritual challenge, as Bales says.

    Might we be ready to consider the possibility that this energy field we face is demonic? That America has given itself to deception, confusion and violence? That we cannot overcome so long as we deny this surrender and continuing pretending “your evil” is worse than “my evil?”

  • David Bontrager

    Professing Christians who read, study and believe the bible to be God’s word surely must understand that
    God himself selects the nation leaders according to the righteousness of its believers. I am greatly dismayed that the Mennonite community lashes out with hatred in the name of love instead of falling on our knees in prayer for our country. Where are the daily prayers in our homes and churches? God’s “energy field” overcomes the demonic forces if we believe and pray. Has our belief in our own “righteous energy” made us the Pharisees of God’s Kingdom? What would Christ say if he walked into our Church?
    Repent and pray for revival in our great country.

    • Berry Friesen

      David, your comment reminds me of scriptures that describe YHWH choosing the man who will be Judah’s next king. We read and ponder those passages, forgetting that it was the apostasy of the Hebrews that even brought the selection of kings into the discussion. YHWH does not want us to be a righteous state; he doesn’t want us to be a state at all, but a witness to the world out of our identity as a priestly kingdom (Ex. 19:5-6).

      I regard the biblical texts describing YHWH selecting kings for the Israelites as the rationalizations of an idolatrous people who had turned away from YHWH, yet wanted to claim YHWH’s blessing for the kings who led them down their sinful path. Modern claims that this is YHWH’s truth has created an infinite amount of confusion, idolatry and mischief.

      • David Bontrager

        Precisely! Haven’t you just described the state of the church today? We as a church (you and I included) rationalize the word of GOD and then cry out for blessings. Our rationalizations are powerless and really have nothing to do with GOD’s choice. We need forgiveness for our rationalization of GOD’s sovereignty. Pray for the church.