This is a post I have tried to avoid writing for over a year. I know it will alienate many more of what few friends and followers I still have. I have also tried to focus on finishing the last of seven volumes of my Holy War Chronicles book series instead, but since I haven’t posted here in some time, I might as well get this off my chest, even though it may well result in fewer readers for my books. I could drown the readers in historical and recent data and citations here, like I do in my book, but I’ll try to restrain that and get to the point, and let those skeptics read my books or do their own research for themselves.
There was a time when God’s people, the Jews in Judea, had a monumental choice to make, which had everlasting political and, more importantly, spiritual overtones. Their pious religious leaders had turned them against a poor carpenter/preacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, who talked of “turning the other cheek”, “Loving your enemies”, and avoided talk of claiming a political kingdom by force, but rather focused on a “Kingdom of Heaven” in which the poor were the “insiders”, and the rich were not revered and pandered to, but rather had to emulate the humility of the poor to be a part. He told His followers to “put their swords away”, because His Kingdom was not of of this world, “else My servants would fight”. Rome graciously gave God’s people a choice – to spare either this weak but healing Jesus who comforted the religiously or socially outcast, or another “Jesus” – Jesus Barabbas – who was a patriotic military hero in rebellion, who wanted to “make Judea great again” and “take Judea back”, even though he was also known as a killer and criminal (with such Zealots often known to rob from their own people). We know the choice these people made; from then forward the die was cast and their fate was sealed.
The Jews, like their Canaanite and Levantine neighbors, were a wall-building people, as their source of protection from the menace of undesirables outside their “exceptional” community. However, it is curious to note that Biblical history suggests that their walls did little to make them safer. When Assyria’s army came, it was the heavenly host that turned their army into panic, and the prophet of God commanded that they not be slaughtered, but fed – the banquet being a non-violent affair that led to a true safety for a generation, and the foreign army to which mercy was showed had no heart to return later. These walls did not stop Nebuchadnezzar’s army when his hand was forced by their rebellion; they had forgotten their real security was in obeying God, who had protected them without fortifications in their desert wanderings. Nehemiah’s walls, so lovingly celebrated by Christians today (though never mentioned by either Christ or the Apostles), did not stop the Greek army from conquering when the Jews embraced them initially as “saviors” (thus betraying their benevolent Persian overlords), nor the Roman army later. However, this wall to keep out “unexceptional” outsiders did serve to trap the people of Judea inside their own walls by their own patriotic Zealot “saviors”, who initiated an ill-advised and hopeless rebellion against Rome, and in turn massacred and tortured their fellow Jews who wanted to leave the city, while plundering their own food stockpiles and other provisions during the siege, as the Zealots used the sacred Temple grounds as a military citadel, forcing the Romans to destroy it when they refused to surrender.
Having lost their beloved Temple and their autonomy did not stop the Jews from seeking a patriotic leader to again “make Judea great again”. Their religious leaders had “advanced” via their form of Pharisee-led Rabbinic Judaism to elevate their religious leader Rabbi Akiva, still known today by Jews as more important to Judaism than Moses himself, as well as being more wise as of the things of God. He proceeded to “anoint” a dashing military figure as “Bar Kokhba”, or “Star of Israel”, proclaiming him as the prophesied Messiah of Israel, and massaged some Old Testament passages to vaguely alude to it. Kokhba did not exhibit the virtues one might find in Scripture; Jewish historical records show that he was cruel, even to his fellow people of his own faith, such as cutting off the fingers of all his soldiers, and confiscating the lands of his countrymen for his own wealth. He famously said that the Jews did not need the help from God to win. He did launch a cruel persecution and massace of Christians throughout the land. While rousing the patriotic/religious fervor of his countrymen, he led an even more disastrous rebellion after three and a half years, as eventually he and Akiva were killed, along with over 580,000 of their own countrymen, as the Jews were then banned from the entire region of Jerusalem. By this time the oriignal tenets of the Jewish faith were submerged, and the hopes of a “return of the Kingdom” under a conquering Messiah was all they clung to, with no thoughts repentance, lessons learned from their folly, or the actual will of God, whom they felt betrayed them.
I have written for some time, and express in far deeper discussions in my books, that the Religious Right in America today, whom I have been raised to admire as a good “church-goin’ boy”, has similarly lost their way, in their brew of Christianity, American-exceptionalism and conviction of national “divine destiny”, Aryan superiority over other cultures, hyper-militancy (Spartan-style) and a paranoid fear, hatred and contempt of those who are different and don’t share their views, and the need to use State power to quench or eradicate them, rather than the power of love and a godly example. This trend goes back many generations, and even prior to our nation’s founding; in recent generations, such conservative Christians were the main standard bearers of the Cold War against the commies, thereby giving spiritual sanction to the illegal acts of the CIA and FBI (both internationally and domestically), and foreign wars under false pretences such as the Vietnam War. Since the falling of the Berlin Wall took away that zeal (and the need for such huge defense budgets and contracts), they have seamlessly transitioned their external contempt to those of another culture and sphere of the world in the War on Terror, justifying an American police state and ridiculous security budget even though the primitive nomadic leaders with AK-47s pose no civilization-toppling power in America like Russia’s nuclear arsenal. They have justified torture and unlawful detainment and redention, with secret military trials if any, as worthy of the “good guys” to protect our morally-superior way of life.
I have observed that most of them, including many people close to me, have flocked to Donald Trump as a kind of Bar-Kokhba “messiah”, to “make America Great Again”. I have marvelled to see him get away with saying almost anything, to the immediate defense of his followers, in particular Christian leaders. Probably the most honest thing Trump has ever said is that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and he would not lose any of his supporters. Sadly I think this is a kind of prophetic statement of how far America’s Christian community, or at least most of it, has descended into their abyss. If anyone has taken the time to follow Trump prior to his candidacy, they will note that his life and actions have been one of total narcissism that many have called a long time ago as clinical in its severity (which does not have to be treated as long as you have enough money to buy friends, and scare away or silence critics), as a need to be seen as being the “greatest”, with the need for him to point it out for every building he has built, every house he owns or piece of furniture as ‘the greatest ever”, and for his coterie around him to acknowledge it as well. In today’s campaign, he anoints himself as “the greatest job creator God ever made” (Henry Ford may protest this, in wherever he resides today), and will build the “greatest military”, the “greatest economy”, and the “greatest wall”, all without a single detailed plan. We know about his attitudes toward women, which has been a lifestyle and not a recent nor long-past phenomenon. He brags publicly on air about ditching wives when they hit 35 and are no longer useful, the lack of merits of flat-chested women, his perverted glee at getting to watch naked beauty pageant contestants dress back stage, his desire and skill at seducing married women into adulterous acts, and even his description of his own daughter’s physical attributes in sexual terms, as “someone he would date if he were not his daughter”. He has gotten kudos from Christians for scapegoating the “others” as the source of America’s ills – a skill in “selling it” that would make Hitler proud – including all the “rapist” Mexicans, and the Muslims he kept saying he would ban from immigrating, with his reputation built on a physical “wall” that he thinks will not only effectively protect America, but “make it great again”. He is seen as the hero of the common man, who evidently also do not do much reading (Trump has bragged publicly about being the choice of the “poorly educated”) – they would see that many of those “common men” he stiffed and did not pay for their hard work on his buildings, and the minorities he and his dad were fined for racially excluding in their buildings (his dad, the New York slumlord Fred Trump was notorious for this, leading one of his tenant victims – Woody Guthrie – to savage him in his songs). One can see beyond his rhetoric how he would really take the cause of the common man, in his only detailed policy plan – his tax plan, which plans to reduce the tax rates of the highest tax brackets, and drop all corporate rates to a mere 15 percent. Who do you think will take up the tax-paying slack in America?
Of course, all these things have endeared him to our wise and righteous examples amongst our Religous Right leaders, and in particular his biggest cheerleaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson. And he has given them much to believe his sincerity – from his affirmation of his faith because he says he “takes the little cracker”, to his faith recitation of “two Corinthians” and how much it means to him, and his holding up his grandmother’s Bible to rapt, tear-stained Christian audiences. Like Bar Kokhba, he has publicly said to Christian audiences that he has done nothing to ever ask God for forgiveness for. The many Christian leaders who have crowded around him like groupies for influence and photo ops, including Dr. Dobson, have said that televangelist Paula White has led him to the Lord; she should understand him well, as an adulteress who had an affair with fellow evangelist-healer Benny Hinn until they were exposed. Like Rabbi Akiva, they have worked hard to find Biblical references to herald his coming as messiah, many Christian leaders publicly calling him a “King David” or :King Cyrus” to justify his “rough edges” (to which I expect both men will some day hold such leaders to account for such character defamation of themselves). They have hard-pounded home to the American Christian flock that they should not look at his character, how he speaks directly or acts, either over his life or even during the campaign – he has an exemption from any expectations of character or virtue. It’s not that he’s just not a “holy joe” or a preacher; I don’t think he has any virtues at all to speak of, or even the bare minimum of a ne’er-do-well off the street in any culture, East or West, much less our choice amongst tens of millions to lead the ‘Free World”.
In recent years the Religious Right and their followers have had a similar crisis of what path to take, and who to follow, as they did in the streets of Jerusalem. In the recent election, Ron Paul, a practicing Christian, veteran, only serious congressman to actually propose pro-life legislation, and faithful spouse to his wife for over fifty years, spoke to the almost exclusive evangelical audience at the South Caroline debate, and said that our foreign policy should follow Christ’s Golden Rule, to which he was roundly booed. At the Values Voters Summit held by the Family Research Council , Christians there gave him the lowest “values” score, merely because he did not like war, and did not think that everyone who tried a marijuana cigarette should be in jail. These days, like Kokhba they have a candidate whom they can really rally behind and admire. They speak in defense of Trump regardless of his historic or recent actions or words, much like an abused spouse or a co-dependent of an alcoholic, in neither case helping the sick person, and in this case revealing more about their own character. We have recently seen, in Trump’s own words, how he likes to “grab women by the p___y” and lead them around (I use this offensive term because most Christians don’t seem to think it is a big deal, evidently). I think in this case, Trump is grabbing the Religious Right and their followers “by the p___y”, and derisively laughing all the way. More importantly, he has shown (by his own statements) that he likes to target women in marriage covenant with others; in this case, he has the greatest prize – a Church in marriage to Christ, whom he has seduced away by his dirty talk, bravado and “charm”- not as if there were much resistance from them; they have repeatedly shown their tendency to go “a whoring” after patriotism and self-worth, the Darwinian emphasis on “might makes right” in their economics and gunboat diplomacy, and even their justification of slavery in years past. I cannot speak for Christ, but I would noo be surprised if He is telling the leaders of the American Religious Right and their followers to “weep for their children” in the days ahead, and it won’t be for the reasons they hear on talk radio.
As far as I am concerned, I think that all of these Christian leaders and pastors who have espoused this have gone the way of Balaam the prophet – telling pagan leaders what they want to hear in spiritual terms in exchange for profit and influence. I intend to hang their endorsement of Donald Trump, and their lame justification for it, around their necks like an albatross for the rest of their lives (albeit subject to repentance and wising up, like we all have had to do). The next time they begin publicly moralizing about how immoral certain Americans are – including gays, or thoese irascible “millennials” – I am going to throw their endorsement of Trump back into their face, and tell them where to stick it; I don’t want to hear any of their moral superiority any more. I now know (actually I have known for some time), and more importantly all can see their hypocrisy, and how serious they are about moral convictions and being a “voice of conscience” to a society. Oh, how do we need a John the Baptist today who could speak real “truth to power”, and also point out these sold-out Christian leaders as a “brood of vipers”! The rank and file Christian Trump supporter has no excuse, no more than any of us saying these politicans are the problem and were forced on us – someone had to vote these guys (Trump and Clinton) in during the primaries, and think they were a “good choice”. I think these supporters have gone the way of Esau – “despising their birthright” by selling their Christian moral authority for a promised bowl of porridge of feel-good, militant American exceptionalism, and scapgoating of Mexican and Muslim outsiders for all our problems. I’m afraid this birthrite of spiritual credibility is also hard to get back. It has exposed their priorities and a projection of their own internal values and ideals.
Trump’s life has been defined by his establishing of his “brand” (with his names on buildings, steaks, airlines, etc.), and the “art of the deal”. Ironically, his book by that name that made him famous was not even written by him, and his ghost writer who did come up with his philosophy for him has now renounced him and rejects what he stands for. I guess some might admire Trump as a “success” – as one might consider a “success” who only started with millions to invest from his dad and his dad’s Rolodex of insider real estate contacts (and the shirt on his back), and his ability to declare bankruptcy numerous times while leaving all his partners and creditors holding the bag (which he defines as “success”). In Trump’s world, a “good deal” is not when both parties succeed in their goals as a “win-win”; no, there must be a winner and a loser of a transaction as to its value, to feed to egos of Trump and his ilk (as he did with Merv Griffin over Resorts International). In his deals, he must “sell” a persona of awe to intimidate his “mark” (a term from street con games), followed by periods of “good guy” posturing and flattery when needed, as well as “tough guy” belittling of a deal opponent to give them fear of refusal (having the perceived dough to threaten endless lawsuits also serves he and his type well as well). He himself believes none of it (other than some measure of self-denial), and seeks only to “win”, and does not see destroying his opponent as “personal” (see the horrible things he has said to his primary rivals, and then instantly made up with them when they were no longer a threat to his goals). I have experienced these behaviors myself from billionaires and other high-rollers I have had to do business with, and even strike deals with (or defend myself when they break them). I have witnessed him using all these techniques on America and his growing ranks of gullible followers during this campaign, and he has played them like a Stradivarios. Most have never had to deal with types like him before (except at maybe an Amway sales meeting or similar scenario or timeshare sales experience). He has flattered them. charmed them, and made them in awe of him, and “ready to sign”. His emphasis on “winning” in all his talks (when not offending women and their looks, or Hillary. the media conspirators, etc.) sits well with Americans, including many American Christians, because the real religion of America is “winning” – winning wars, winning sports, winning in global business, etc. We will deal with the devil (while spouting moralisitic platitiudes) as long as we can be with a “winner”, and maybe have some of that success rub off – at least Dr. Dobson, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. do. Trump has produced no evidence, much less detailed plans, on how he will be the “greatest” in all these areas, other than his showmanship. All of his other partners and associates have ended in sorrow and loss; what will be the fate of America, and its Religious Right? Who will hold the bag this time when he goes “bankrupt”? Instead of using money and New York lawyers to intimidate people with threats, what happens when he is privy to the capabilities of the CIA, FBI and the military? He has also shown us how gullible we are, in his fawning adoration for the “strong man” (and former KGB spook) Vladimir Putin, who may be helping him covertly (according to the FBI). Christian leaders (including Graham) have praised the despot Putin, who jails and kills opposition, shuts down independent media and is building his own personal largesse as the singlemost powerful individual controlling energy supplies in the world, to add to his own wealth. Graham and his Christian leader peers (and many laypersons) have been calling Putin himself the “lion of Christianity” for his jailing of gay persons or those with dissenting views to his government or the Russian Orthodox Church, while ignoring his laws that are outlawing an evangelical presence in his country. Putin and Trump both share in common a desire to inspire their national churches with nationalistic fervor, and to exploit them for their own financial and political gains.
All these words of rebuke are not intended in any way to elevate or promote HIllary Clinton – a Nixon-like figure of entitlement, paranoia and secrecy that would continue our less-than-ideal leadership vacuum, although probably not quite the Wormwood figure that Right Wing Talk Radio has indoctinated Christians to adopt withour question or critique (these same sources and their followers also said there would be no election in 2012 or 2016 if Obama was elected). I did not vote for Hillary in the primaries (nor Trump or his warmonger Repubican peers), and I don’t plan to in the general election; I remind you that there are other choices for president on our ballots, and I would submit that now is an excellent time (with two terrible major candidates) to begin availing yourself of them, as I have done for several elections (and wish I had done earlier). I do encourage you to vote; even as Christian citizens of “another kingdom”, I believe that is is right for us to vote, at least as an expression of gratitude to God who gave it to us here in America, and as a small measure of positive influence. Don’t tell me I am “wasting my vote” by not endorsing either of the two similar criminal syndicates we know as “political parties”; I am tired of endorsing the status quo of them with my vote, and the choice of candidates will not improve unless we change course (and more importantly, educate our fellow Christians). Some Christians think Trump will fight the neo-cons. It is true that a few of the neocons (such as Bill Krystal) cannot swallow him, and I like his critique of the Iraq War and Syrian intervention. However, I see that his advisors are chock full of neocons and warmongers (and endorsed by gen. Boykin, to boot, as well as Dick Cheney), and he has had the audacity to say publicly recently, “I love war”. Does anyoen really know what he will do once he is in office? Who is he beholden to? Does the Religious Right really think he will give them the time of day after he has rangled their votes, if he wins?
That’s it – I have much more to say, but I should quit while I am behind and say no more, before there is no one else left to piss off (I sadly have had strained relationships with many close friends needlessly over this issue). Even though this election may not inspire most of us, we can use it constructively, regardless of what the “world” does, to see what it says about us as individual Christians and our Christian community and what we value, and the state of our witness in this world after the smoke of this election clears. I suspect that God will use this to bring some clarity, and even separation (and new bed-fellows and fellow travelers) to perceptive Christians in the days ahead.
Buckle your seat belts, and keep a long-term, heavenly kingdom perspective.