Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Trump Antichrist

Trump is again standing for office, defiant and shameless, unrepentant and doubling down.  He remains a deep threat to our republic.  Another season of madness seems to be dawning on our nation.  

But as difficult as that is, the United States of America isn't my primary concern, nor is it my primary life commitment.  

The corruption of my faith is my concern.  A significant portion of American Christianity sees Trump as a legitimate...even God-ordained...defender of the Christian faith.  This is, to the eyes of my soul, insane.  Demonic, even.  

Christ cannot be served, ever, by a lie.  

Nor can Jesus be served by blind partisan hatred, and that was my personal challenge.

"Trump Derangement Syndrome," it's mockingly called by those who somehow can't see him for what he is, but it did indeed feel like that.  It was a disease of the self, one that ran as deep as the delusion that blinds his followers.  I was becoming what I hated.

That hatred also tormented my Christian brothers and sisters.  On more than one occasion, I have been approached by another Christian troubled by how deeply they found themselves hating Donald Trump.  These are the gentle souls, the souls who live for missions of compassion and kindness, the sort of folks that one would describe as Saints of the Church.  Generous, thoughtful, welcoming, prayerful, and radically focused on Christ's peace.

"David," one said, embarrassed and horrified at their own thoughts.  "I just want him dead.  I can't stop wanting him to die."

I felt that hatred in myself, and so I did what writers do when they need to process something.  I wrote a book.   

I'd had the idea for it back in 2019.  I was already tired of my own anger, stoked every single day with constant provocations both real and imagined.  I'd had a dream, vivid and lucid as certain dreams are, in which I visited Trump as he wandered alone and despairing in Hell.  In that dream, to my great surprise, I found myself moved with a deep compassion.  It meant something.  I wasn't sure what, but it needed more articulation than a poem of questionable quality.

The idea for this book came to me, but I couldn't bring myself to write it then.  I was exhausted by his media omnipresence, the endless reality-television drama-queen vomit of his presidency.  There were already so many books about Trump, a veritable cottage industry of Trump-adjacent mammonist profiteering.  

I also had, at that time, other writing that consumed my attention, novels about A.I. and a book of theology about the odd weather we've been having lately.  

But after the riot, and the struggle I encountered in other Christians, and the spreading, sprawling thicket of falsehoods that to this day cast the pall of a dark alternate reality over millions of Americans who remain in Trump's thrall, I found that I had to write it.  For myself, and my sanity.  

Well, for what passes for sanity with me, anyway.

TRUMP ANTICHRIST is written in Satan's voice, the personified voice of hatred, of cynicism, of falsehood, of power.  It is, when I described it to my agent and to the editors who were kind enough to look at it, a bit of theopolitical satire, written in the least trustworthy, most seductive voice I know.  

Those editors gave it a pass; some, because it's weird, but others...notably...because they were afraid.  Of frivolous lawsuits.  Of less-than-frivolous threats of violence from Trump supporters.   I don't blame them.  America is increasingly consumed by a peculiar and familiar madness, and the prospect of death threats from glazed-eye partisans isn't something one wants to bring on oneself.  

So I self-published it, because the odds of a weird, self-published book being read by more than a dozen souls are pretty close to zero.

It's a short, odd little book, one that serves several purposes.  

First, it is my own struggle to come to terms with how human beings who consider themselves Christian could follow a leader who is...in every single conceivable way...the diametric opposite of Jesus. There's a theological term for such a leader, and you know what it is.  That term is "Antichrist."  In the book, the voice of the fallen Divine Prosecutor makes that case, using both scripture and Nietzsche, because that's exactly what the devil would do.  He's not wrong, not technically.

That voice, though.  Let's talk about that voice.  The "narrator" of the book is chosen intentionally.

It's written in the same voice that whispers hatred and a hardened heart into my own soul.  The same voice that tells me that there is nothing more righteous, nothing more purely just, than hating my enemies.  

Second, and because that's the way the book is written, it's not the book you think it is.  Or even that I thought it was, when I began writing it.  

Sure, it skewers the desperate, obvious rationalizations that Christians use to justify supporting someone who incarnates everything they claim to reject.   But if you loathe Trump, and desire the destruction of those who follow him, and find yourself nodding along when Satan tells you exactly what you want to hear about them?  

What is that, precisely?   

It's the same evil.  When you toss the devil's coin, both heads and tails are evil.  The shadow cast by evil is still evil.  Blind partisan hatred dehumanizes and controls us, just as surely as it turns us to dehumanize our enemies.

You cannot fight evil with evil.  That doesn't mean you can't speak out when something monstrous rises.  That doesn't mean you accept lies as truth, encourage hucksters and profiteers and narcissists, or walk in silent lockstep with brutes and thugs.  You must resist these things.

But if you're crazy enough to consider yourself Christian, you are obligated to use other means.  To do that, you must break the spell that holds you.

You're welcome to give it a read if you need some help with that.