I have long maintained that we should call Crackpot Christianity by its name. The subversion of gospel values of justice and compassion in favor of Wall Street “values” and anti-creation and anti-people values ought not to be preached in the name of Jesus and the prophets. But it often is.
Yesterday we meditated on the word dominate that is key to bullies of all stripes and indeed summarizes quite succinctly the history of patriarchy and colonialism, racism, sexism and so much else. A word that figured prominently in a loud rant that the current resident of the White House laid on governor’s two days ago.
Many of them resisted the message, including some Republicans. After his tirade the president strolled across the street to hold up a Bible in front of an Episcopal church that was in fact hosting peace protestors with free water, food and bathroom access.
But, right on cue, another branch that calls itself Christian and is very different from the prophetic voice of the (female) Bishop of Washington D.C., jumped into the fray to stand up for Trump and, well, domination.
In an article entitled “The Christians Who Loved Trump’s Stunt” in the Atlantic magazine McKay Coppins interviewed several religious champions of Trump.* Robert Jeffress, head of a megachurch in Dallas, “sounded almost gleeful” as he opined:
It was completely appropriate for the president to stand in front of that church….By holding up the Bible, he was showing us that it teaches that, yes, God hates racism, it’s despicable—but God also hates lawlessness.
And he added, “So, I’m happy.”
A news anchor of the Christian Broadcasting Network spoke up:
I’ll take a president with a Bible in his hand in front of a church over far-left violent radicals setting a church on fire any day of the week.
(However, the pastor of that church and the Bishop overseeing it said a fire in the basement is nothing compared to racism in a country’s institutions. So are the pastor and bishop “far-left violent radicals”?)
The president of the Congress of Christian Leaders opined:
I will never forget seeing Trump slowly & in total command walk…across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy.
The Christian nationalism is less about theology than it is about “identity, enforcing hierarchy, and order.” The pandering, Coppins concludes, was a sign of “shared dominance.” That was the message.
There’s that word again, dominance. A sickly masculine word. I prefer the words justice; and love; and compassion. I think Jesus did too. In fact, I don’t find the word dominance in any of his parables or teachings. It makes me wonder whether we are reading from the same Bible.
See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 277-296.
Banner image: A person thrusts a bible forward at the viewer. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.
Queries for Contemplation
Are you outraged as the Bishop of Washington D.C. was by the misuse of Christian symbols? How does one best stand up to the manipulation of religion by political and religious figures?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God