Tuesday, March 15, 2016


As a Presbyterian pastor, I know the value of studying history.  We Presbyterians view ourselves as part of an intellectual lineage going back thousands of years, and as such, immerse ourselves in the stories and teachings of peoples and cultures that pre-date our own by hundreds of generations.

And as a student of history, I want to introduce you to this guy I know pretty well.

He was a child of power, born into wealth.  At no point in his life did he ever not have everything he ever wanted.   He went to all the best schools, knew all the most important people, had advantages and resources that put him among the elite of the elite.  He grew up near the heart of power, in a dog-eat-dog city where he was groomed from the get-go to be the top dog.

But for all of his grooming and social position, he was wildly unpredictable, in everything he did.  His family life was a complete mess, as he worked his way through wife after wife.  He was all ego, all libido and appetite and self-promotion.  He built a ton of things, lots of things.  They were the best things, big and shiny monuments to just how great he was.  He was surrounded by gold and glitter and shine.

This guy, he grew up to be kind of an entertainer, both a one-percenter and a big name brand.  He loved the adulation of the masses, loved to perform for them, to work them up into a wild frenzy.  He had a carny showman's way about him that resonated with the anger and anxiety of the poor and the hopeless, as he was sometimes clownish, sometimes violent, and willfully crude.  

His willingness to perform for the adulation of the hoi polloi was an embarrassment to the elites, who found him rough and brutal and undisciplined.  He violated everything they found noble and valuable, all of the higher principles of their culture.

But he didn't care.  He did whatever amused the throngs.  In particular, he played off of their fear and suspicion of a strange religion from the Middle East, blaming them and their faith for all kinds of horrible things.  He turned the anger of the mobs against them.

We all know who this guy was, we who know the story of my faith.

What, you thought I was talking about someone else?