“The conventional wisdom holds that Donald Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS. His call for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ — a temporary measure, he says, ‘until we can figure out what the hell is going on’ — has served only to divide America, offend and inflame Muslims worldwide, and quite possibly drive deeper into alienation the small minority of disaffected Muslims who are teetering on radicalism’s edge.”
This is how American journalist and former Mitt Romney adviser Gabriel Schoenfeld describes the impact of the obscene, incendiary rhetoric of Republican Party presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
I go further: I think the self-lionizing Trump’s opportunistic rhetoric twins him with the archetypal, apocalyptic “Beast” described in the Bible, especially in the Book of Revelation, chapter 13.
And reading the first part of verse 5 of chapter 13, which as translated by The Message version of the Bible reads “The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous,” I think the ‘lion mouthed’ Trump fits the biblical Beast’s description particularly accurately.
Coincidentally, or, if my atheistic adversaries will permit me, providentially, The Message: The Bible In Contemporary Language (to use its full title) was published by another more subtly brash American, Eugene H Peterson.
And while not as patently publicity crazed or self-promoting as “the Donald”, in Peterson, a founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, one can detect a germ of the beastly arrogance and conceit that can afflict and ruin us all.
Unsurprisingly, that proud human corruptibility or fallibility is particularly borne out in Peterson’s ambition to ‘popularize’ the Bible’s message, which seems to have been motivated fundamentally by his failure to fully appreciate the lethalness of “written things”: the relative futility of literacy.
“The letter killeth”, we are warned in 2 Corinthians 3:6.
In his failure to grasp the fossilizing, fragmenting effect that written words have on human intelligence, there is a trace of the ecclesiastical vanity that disposes all Christians, and especially pastors and other church office holders to Beast-like blasphemy.
Like the anti-Christian Roman emperor Nero, of the first century AD, we become deluded by our own visibility and volubility.
The deceptive, black and white “bigness” of ideas reduced to writing feeds our predisposition to moral obesity.
As Trump’s, Louis Farrakhan’s and others’ pre-emptive violence applauding and justifying rhetoric demonstrates, it predisposes us to the fatty philosophizing or thick thinking that encourages a resort to brute force.
Like cholesterol, ‘clogging’ and corrupting the internal (conscience) and external (societal) communication pathways that ensure the consistency of thought, word and deed, that I like to call the continuum of character, a preoccupation with written things can frustrate our best intentions.
Poison mushrooming “Food of the gods” indeed!
Atomic heir of Adamic fear, truly.
Note that Suetonius Paulinus, one of Nero’s generals implicated both Nero and his mother Agrippina in the murder of the emperor Claudius, his adopted father.
Agrippina is believed to have fed Claudius poison mushrooms.
Suetonius claimed that Nero cruelly ridiculed the dead Claudius by labeling mushrooms the ‘food of the gods’ in his use of that Greek saying.
A low, mean wall
I expect that my comparison of the obnoxious, proudly materialistic billionaire Trump and the unquestionably devout, spiritual-humility-advocating Peterson will offend that patently pious, undoubtedly well meaning man and his many admirers profoundly.
That is not my intention.
But I must assert that while I too am an admirer of Peterson, his pastoral achievements do not blind me to his fallible humanity any more than The Donald’s material wealth blinds me to his spiritual poverty.
I am no more enamored of Peterson’s gifts, I hope, than I am of my own still blossoming prophetic potential and abilities.
How could I be proud of any talent I possess when I know how easily I fail?
It would be lunacy to insist on others’ admiration or adoration stubbornly when I know how easily my own beast can seize control of or override and subvert my good sense and sensitivity – not least when a she-beast is in my presence!
And yet, in spite of my fallibility, it turns out that my twinning of Trump and Peterson and the comparison of that pair here with Nero Caesar (the Zero Caesar?) is even more apropos than I imagined when I set about it on Monday, February 8, 2016, buttressed as I was by my recent discussion with Barbadian historian Karl Watson and others discussing the wall of 98% literacy that confines Barbadians’ psycho-social liberty.
Last year it had occurred to me that the real estate magnate Trump’s wall-building proposal stood to benefit him financially, more than anyone else.
But it was only today (February 9) as I researched Nero, who according to his contemporary Apollonius of Tyana was called “that beast” by some critics and who preterist interpreters identify as the “first beast” mentioned in the Book of Revelation that I learned of Nero’s Trump-like “low and mean wall”.
It was only as I learned of that wall which Nero had constructed as a rather moronic Neronic tribute to the deceased Claudius that I gained a fuller appreciation of the prophetic trajectory that my thinking about Trump is on.
Note that in the universalist context that I am constructing here, Claudius is not just an archetype or symbol of America’s Founding Fathers.
The betrayal Claudius suffered (or justice meted out to him, depending on your perspective ) at Agrippina and Nero’s hands could just as easily be applied to Errol Barrow, Barbados’ ‘Father of Independence’, Winston Churchill or the peace advocate Hilary Benn.
My prior linking of Trump and Hilary Clinton with the race-racketeering ideological excesses of Barbados’ Adolf Hitler-approximating current Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart and his Joseph Goebbels reverse-racist-ideology propaganda peddling proxy, Sir Hilary Beckles, therefore take on a deeper spiritual and practical significance than even I had imagined.
While I had intuitively linked the phenomenon of biogenetic coding with that of written codes years ago (as a certain American aide to the Ethiopian Royal Family living in the US may recall) only today is it becoming clear to me just how the racial colour coding that blights Indian society, for example, may be related not only metaphorically but also metabolically to our ‘consumption’ of written codes.
More on that later, when I cast Hilary Clinton in the role or mystic mould of “the Beast” and the role of “a woman clothed with the sun” (Revelation 12:1), simultaneously .
I will also be addressing Bernie Sanders’ beastly propensities, especially the meaty ‘materialist dialectical’ analysis that is the basis of his appeal to many young people at the University of Illinois and other American, British, Canadian, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian and other universities.
Less enthusiastically (with deep regret, actually), but as a matter of necessity, I will be ‘rosecuting’ the case of Dr Philomena Mohini Harris, Barbados’ Honorary Consul to India.
Note: You can hear Peterson explaining his rationale for creating The Message Bible here: http://www.calvin.edu/january/2006/media/A13617Peterson.mp3