Part I: Seeing the Story
Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh, that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people,
And go from them!
For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men.
“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.
“Everyone take heed to his neighbor,
And do not trust any brother;
For every brother will utterly supplant,
And every neighbor will walk with slanderers.
Everyone will deceive his neighbor,
And will not speak the truth;
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves to commit iniquity.
Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;
Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord.
The words of Jeremiah, the prophet. (Jeremiah 9:1-6, The Old Testament)
In 1948 a novel was published entitled, Cry, the Beloved Country. Critics considered it one of the top three novels published that year. I read the book many years ago and have never forgotten it. The author was Alan Paton and the story is about the tragedy of South Africa. The novel was a call for social justice, but on the deepest level it was a call for compassion, understanding and unity between races. Shortly after it was published, Apartheid was institutionalized. Cry, the Beloved Country is a very “Christian” novel by a white man who loved his country and all the people in it. It is a heartbreaking story about two fathers, white and black, and the tragedy of their sons. It’s a story about forgiveness and reconciliation. Paton mourned for his country. I have taken his title for this essay because any far-sighted person who loves America will be crying out in mourning for her right now because, as with Jeremiah’s nation of Judah so long ago, she has become a nation of slanderers, adulterers and liars who practice nothing but deceit. Her people have chosen just such a man to be their leader and the father of their country. In such a nation, who is left to mourn?
Certainly, there’s plenty of crying going on.
Many are shedding tears of shrieking fury, calling for retaliation, confrontations, boycotts, even violence. Putative “defenders of liberty”, they are bent on attacking and destroying anyone or anything that symbolizes their loss and impotence. If they can’t have the “America” they want, they would just as soon annihilate her. Many of these hate-filled ranters lust for the brutal martial law of progressive fascism in order to stop the cold, iron fist of conservative fascism, not realizing that they are conjoined to their conservative twin, locked face-to-face with him, even as they try to beat him to death.
Then there are those utterly blind “patriots” who are crying out with joy and hope, believing that their way of life has been saved. Their political messiah is rising to power. They gloat over the hand-wringing and enraged wails of those they despise. After the dark orgasm of their unexpected electoral victory, with beating hearts and glazed eyes they stare eastward toward their Rising Son in Washington, rigorously choosing conscious ignorance of the evil they have unleashed, looking only for evidence that their desperate choice was right. Predictably, at this moment they are finding it. But what is the reality? Addicted to fantasies about America, they have begged for a wolf to shepherd them. They will get what they have desired. These are the two Americas that now exist. If you can’t find a home in either one, you are a person without a country. But it is only those without a country who will understand how to mourn for the one that is lost.
A bloody line has been drawn in the sand. It is the line of demarcation between the past and future. Our national heritage has been burned to ashes by both the left and the right. What hulking, twisted monstrosity will rise from those ashes is yet to be seen, but it is forming quickly out of a vicious, primordial ooze. I love America, therefore I mourn over her death. And I ask this question:
Who is this man who has been “anointed” to lead us?
Who is President Donald Trump? Who is he really? Both his ranting enemies and his gushing sycophants think they know him. His enemies view him as nothing but an ignorant, dangerous, brutal buffoon. Dangerous and brutal he is, but an ignorant buffoon he is not. During the campaign, his most successful strategy was to hide his true intelligence behind a screen of aggravating rants, making his enemies believe he is only a tweeting fool. That strategy will go on through his presidency. While these rants display his dark and dissolute soul, they also serve a powerful strategic purpose. They are a screen of propaganda that turn his opponents into a gaggle of outraged, gibbering halfwits. While they are focused on the foul odor of ugly trivialities, a river of moral sewage flows past totally unnoticed. During the campaign, his opponents were guilty of the most dangerous mistake that can be made when confronting an enemy, they minimized him, refusing to take him seriously until it was too late.
At the same time, Trump’s ranting propaganda screen served another vital purpose. His fearless, thug-like performances gave voice to millions of enraged citizens who had been strangled into silence by Barack Obama and his snide, preening coterie of sophisticated political enforcers in government, media and the academic world. Trump was entirely successful in making a majority of Americans, lost and living in pain somewhere between New York and California, believe that he understood their frustration and was concerned about their plight. How wrong they are will be revealed. So back to our question, who is this man? Who is he really?
When I wrote back in July of 2016 that Donald Trump’s election was inevitable, most thought I was deluded. I based that conclusion on his long-established character and the terrible moment in history in which he has appeared. In other words, his vile story and how it meshed with our sin-reeking national agony. What I am writing here is a continuation of what I wrote then. But before I begin, let me explain how I have come to my conclusions.
They control everything. Believing the wrong stories is at the heart of so much individual and collective heartbreak and destruction. Believing the wrong story will lead you to hell, both now and forever. There are no new stories, only variants of age-old premises and themes. There is no new sin, no new evil, only variants of age-old temptations that promise pleasure and fulfillment, but lead to destruction. I believe that President Trump and his rise to power is just another iteration of a story that has played out in other countries in other times. What I see for him is based in part on those previous stories.
Every story flows out of the characters that live within it. So before you read what I have written here, I suggest that you read two previous essays on this blog. The first is How to Elect a President from Hell, written in February of 2016 and then, Over Man: The Temptation of Donald Trump, written in July of 2016. Think of them as character descriptions.
Nine principles that lead to a story from hell.
There are nine principles that have provided the superstructure for my projections about President Trump and the story that all of us will live out with him. I’m sure you will recognize most of them.
- When you are trying to understand a person, the past is predictive of the future. Without radical transformation, usually compelled by deep suffering in one form or another, people continue to be who they’ve always been as they grow older, only more so. Deep suffering doesn’t necessarily make you a better human being. It can turn a good person into a demon. But one way or the other, it is an important agent that guarantees change. Barring radical transformation, the longer people live, the more entrenched they are in patterns both of success and failure. Those who continuously fail see no way out. Even in their agony, they are comfortable in patterns of failure because it’s all they have known. Conversely, if a person construes that his attitudes, values, choices and actions have brought great success, he is not going to change them even if ultimately they lead him to hell. Saddest and most dangerous of all are people who convince themselves that their greatest failures are their greatest successes.
- Lord Acton’s famous rule is true. Here it is in full: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Of course, there are different degrees of “badness” and even the most evil have had some good traits. We don’t like to believe this. We have been trained to believe that a powerful leader is fully one or the other. Consequently, when we face reality we are confused.
According to Adolph Hitler’s last personal secretary who spent several years in close contact with him, he was a man who truly cared about his staff and was deeply concerned for their personal welfare. In her case, he tried in the most fatherly way to help her choose the right husband. He never abused his staff and was always kind. When she heard about the heinous genocide that he had perpetrated, she had a difficult time accepting that it could be true. It was so opposite from her knowledge of the man. It is dangerous to stereotype demagogues. They never reappear in quite the same form. For instance, calling Donald Trump Hitler is foolish. When he doesn’t act like Hitler or share all of Hitler’s values, that kind of rigid stereotype, when proven false, hides the real danger of the man.
That old moralist, Lord Acton, understood a great truth. People are always tempted toward corruption when they are given power, even if it’s only a little power. But this corruption is never a 180 degree redirection. It’s based on who the person has always been, but did not have the opportunity to fully reveal until power was conferred.
- The masses always demand a king and thirst to be ruled. “King” may not be the title given to a national leader, but it comes down to that. Why do we want a king (or queen)? Because collectively without such a leader there is chaos. We are sheep without a shepherd and we want a father(mother)shepherd to take care of us. Without a king we have no collective identity. We don’t know who we are. We worship kings with our passionate allegiance. This has been true throughout history. For centuries in England, the common people viewed the King as their protector against the great lords who oppressed them. Whether this was true or not, whether he was worthy or not, they clung to their king as their father, during some periods even believing that he could physically heal them with his touch. When a wise, compassionate and disciplined person is raised to such a position of authority, a country is blessed. When an evil man or woman is raised up, nations are taken down to the pit. But one thing is certain, bad or good, once he is established in their minds and hearts, people will follow their king no matter where he leads, even to destruction. The President of the United States truly is the father of his country and his children bear his resemblance.
- What a king or president worships will determine how he uses power. And every king or president worships something or someone. In fact, this is true for all of us. Who or what we worship determines everything in our lives. By worship, I mean revering and placing deep faith in something or someone. It could be a powerful person, religion, philosophy or ideology. It could be a myth. Adolph Hitler worshipped a fantasy Germany that he constructed in his own mind, an ancient land of power and greatness that was far above all other lands. He worshipped the German “Volk”, the Aryan people, and viewed them as infinitely superior to all other races, which gave them rights over others. He viewed himself as ordained to be their father and protector. His idolatrous worship controlled every decision he made and destroyed the country that he loved.
It is clear from his actions that Barack Obama worships an ideology and considers himself the Chosen One to plant it around the world leading America and other nations out of darkness into his enlightened worldview. The worship of his ideology made him a teacher constantly lecturing the less sophisticated. It informed every decision in his use of power. It blinded him from understanding that he was creating the perfect environment for the rise of Donald Trump.
Worship includes accountability. To what or to whom does a king or president view himself as accountable? In democratic societies, we love to believe that a leader answers to the people. However, until elections occur this is a vacuous generalization. The truth is that most modern democratic leaders worship the power that keeps them in office. That power is money and the people who provide it. In the case of Donald Trump, because he is wealthy, he claims to answer to no one but the voter. But does he really believe that he is accountable to them? Of one thing we can be certain, what President Trump really worships will control his every action in office, just as it has done for the 70 years of his previous life.
- Cults of personality are essential to spiritual wolves and demagogues. When you see these cults, whether in churches, businesses or governments, it is a prime indicator that you are dealing with a ravenous wolf in leadership. No matter how far back you go in history, or where you go, the most brutal kings have established and maintained their power by the creation and promotion of cults of personality. Modern dictators have done the same. Demagogues want everyone to worship them and they promote their deification through very specific strategies.
In America, we are not used to blatant cults of personality relating to Presidents. Certainly, they have existed, but in more subtle forms. Blatant forms have been limited to relatively trivial groups such as Hollywood stars, celebrities, sports figures, and musicians. We now have a President who has been committed to the creation of a blatant cult of personality throughout his adult life. He calls this cult his “brand.” As President that cult will only grow and his followers will be anxious to help it grow.
- America has become a “B” level Hollywood movie. Hollywood has swallowed the nation. The irony is that the masters of Hollywood hate what they have created in Donald Trump. And to a massive degree, Donald Trump is their creation. Without his Hollywood stardom he would be nothing. But, if possible, the influence of Hollywood on the politics of America is far more subtle and devastating than even the Trump election. On both the left and the right, a simplistic Black Hat/White Hat definition of reality now controls all political/governmental thinking and actions. Like the protagonists of cliché Hollywood films and television, the politicians we choose to follow can do no evil, while those on the other side, the antagonists, can do no good. (Actually, the concept of “evil” no longer exists in America. We consider use of the term to be “judgmental” and “narrow-minded.” The only acceptable time it can be used is applying it to politicians and political parties that we hate, the Black Hats.) There can be no compromise with our opponents because heroes don’t compromise. Hollywood has taught us that our protagonist in the white hat must destroy his adversaries in order for the story to have a satisfactory ending. This spells the ultimate doom of a government built on the need for compromise. Barack Obama had little interest in compromise, neither has Donald Trump. The pendulum swings toward destruction.
- In 21st century America, pure emotion trumps wisdom every time. (Pun intended.) This goes hand-in-hand with point six. How we feel controls all our choices. Like Pavlov’s dogs we have been conditioned to have specific desires, lusts, hungers, hatreds and fears. This conditioning has come through the storytelling of popular culture and carefully executed strategies designed to market products, people and ideas. While we are certain that it’s otherwise, logic and rationality play little significant part in our conditioned decisions. We follow blindly and believe the lies of leaders who promise to give us what we have been indoctrinated to “need”. We hate truth if it does not agree with our emotions. At the most destructive spiritual level, we have been programmed to call truth falsehood and falsehood truth. We are no longer able to discern between good and evil. In fact, on any objective level, such concepts do not exist in 21st century America. Good and evil are only what we want them to be. Emotion is all that matters. Social media collectivizes and inflames our emotional responses. Like cattle going to slaughter, through Social Media we obediently group ourselves into separate pens and think that we are free.
- Democracy doesn’t work. The United States government cannot function as originally intended. The miracle is that it has staggered along as far as it has. How was it intended to function? People of goodwill and strong opinions, representing constituencies of goodwill and strong opinions, would come together, discuss, negotiate and find compromise in order to govern. This assumed that no issue would be absolutely intractable. That was proven false with slavery, which developed into issues of racism and discrimination. These remain intractable today. Adding to this is the intractable issue of abortion on demand and a range of other moral issues over which there will be no compromise.
What national unity existed in our distant past was based on the shared morality of Judeo/Christianity. Such shared morality is long gone, leaving us with the chaos of a moral and political paganism, the worship of many ideological gods who war against each other. As the influence of Judeo/Christianity waned through the decades, only two potentially unifying factors remained, war and prosperity. After the Civil War until Vietnam, a common danger and a common enemy could unify the nation. It no longer does so. Which leaves only one potentially unifying factor, prosperity.
Though various groups had specific agendas in their support for Donald Trump, there was one desire that unified them all. He was elected based on the promise of renewed prosperity, which he termed, “Making America Great Again.” What will happen when this project fails?
- Though the mills of God grind slowly; yet they grind exceeding small; though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) This is the Ultimate Principle that will determine the national story of President Donald Trump. You may not believe what I’m going to say because you are not a “religious” person. But your belief or lack thereof doesn’t mean a damnable thing as far as whether it’s true or not. Time will tell. So here it is: God has established a moral order, a set of equations if you will, that govern human life. I’m going to present one of them here that governs all our choices including our choice of leaders. We disregard it to our everlasting peril. With the election of Donald Trump it was utterly disregarded, most of all and worst of all, by so many in the Christian church, people who claim to believe the Bible, but clearly do not.
Let’s call this the Reciprocal Law of Greed and Ruin.
When you disobey this law you will get the exact opposite of what you had desired. What is the first element of this moral equation? 1 Timothy 6:9-10 states: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
When you love and worship money, you may experience great success for a while, but ultimately what you will get is ruin. America worships money. With every lottery ticket sold, every visit to a casino, every family carrying massive credit card debt, every Black Friday mall mob shrieking and tearing at each other, every “prosperity” preacher flying in a private jet, every usurious, multi-national bank and ravenous corporation, every intimidating panhandler, every mega-church with a Starbucks in the lobby, every burglar who steals and sells, every Congressperson who enters office with little and leaves a millionaire, with every lust for things we cannot afford and do not need, we prove that money is the god of America and of our lives. Let’s be honest, the word “prosperity” as it is used in America today, is nothing more than a sophisticated term for the love of money and all that we think money will provide.
How does ruin come to money worshipers? Our Bible passage warns that such love of money will blind people, causing them to fall into deadly snares and traps. Not “may” fall into them, will fall into them. Foolish and harmful lusts will drown the worshipers of money in destruction and perdition. If this is true for individuals, certainly it is true for a nation entirely populated with such individuals. We are warned that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. That means evil choices of every sort, including what leaders we follow.
So the first element in the equation is spiritual and moral blindness caused by the love of money that leads to hellish decisions, and, ultimately, to destruction and perdition. But for a moment, let’s think about that word “root.” We are warned that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Plants grow from roots. This leads to the second element in the equation.
Jesus said that people are like plants and every one of us bears a particular kind of fruit. In Matthew 7:15-20 He warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
But wait! This assumes one important fact, that we are able to distinguish good fruit from bad. But if we are under the control of the first element of our equation, blinded by the love of money, worshiping the god of prosperity, all such ability to discern is lost. Very easily we could think that bad fruit is good and good fruit is bad. We may look at a false prophet who presents himself to lead us and think the evil fruit of his life is wonderful, even proof of God’s blessing. False prophets come in many forms, but one trait is found in them all. They lie to blind people, telling them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. This describes the blind American electorate on both the left and the right. It describes much of the Christian church in America.
Blinded as we are, we cannot stop hearing and believing pretty lies. We do not have the ability to see the real fruit growing from the life of a false leader. We don’t want answers to the most important questions. Has our chosen leader lived to fulfill his own lusts? Has he destroyed and damaged people around them? Has he set traps to snare the foolish and advance himself? Has he worshiped money? Jesus warns not to follow such a person because he will be cut off and thrown into the fire and will take many with him.
The second element in our equation that leads to ruin logically follows the first. To morally and spiritually blind people add an attractive false leader who tells them lies that they believe.
When these two elements are in place, what is the guaranteed sum and product of the equation? What will be the end result for those who disbelieve and disobey God’s warnings? It’s found in Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…”
The mill of God grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine. This is true for both individuals and nations. America is entering that crushing mill.
So back to our question, who is Donald Trump and where is his story headed?
Of all the men who have ever been president, Mr. Trump has worshiped money and the power it brings more than any other. His life is one of overweening arrogance, lavish opulence, stunning greed and gross excess. He has been proud of his lusts and moral failures. He has grown fat and wealthy in large part by ensnaring foolish, greedy and addicted people into believing his lies. What man who has ever entered the presidency who so fits the pattern that guarantees God’s promised destruction as Donald Trump? Foolish people think that because it has not come yet it never will. Because of our national choice, when the poison cup arrives, we will drink it with him to the dregs.
So who is President Trump really? He is the perfect leader to bring America to destruction. Look in his face, listen to his words, examine his life. Not only is he Nietzsche’s Over Man, he is the human personification of the false pagan god, Mammon.
And what madness is this?
Untold millions of American Christians have placed their faith in such a man to save their country. Clearly, for them, God can be mocked with impunity. In placing their faith in President Mammon to bring prosperity, they have directly disobeyed the commandment found in Psalms 146:3-4: “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.”
If ever a United States President has sown to the flesh over the course of his entire life it is Donald Trump. By our choosing him to save us and “make America great again” we have totally disregarded the guaranteed outcome of an eternal equation. Since we have chosen him to be our national father, his ultimate corruption will be ours.
In Part Two the analysis will continue followed by the projected story.
Mourn for the beloved country. Over Man is here.
One of Donald Trump’s mansions