“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38] This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mohandas Ghandi
So last week Donald Trump signed bibles for a bunch of Alabamians. I was completely gobsmacked by this: not that Donald Trump would do such a thing (the man clearly has a messiah complex, and contrary to what he claims, seems to be no Christian), but that there are Christians so casual about their faith that they would let him do that, let alone ask him to.
I struggle with my faith. I don’t know if I can call myself a Christian anymore. (I tend toward not.) There are a lot of personal reasons (including being mad at God) but I have respect for Christianity in general — at least when it is not being a bludgeon to be laid across the heads of LGBTQ people, or women who have had an abortion (or women in and of themselves), or any other marginalized group. I tend to agree with Ghandi.
As much as I question, as much as I grieve that loss of faith (and it is a loss), I find the ritual of the mass comforting, and find much wisdom in the Bible. Yes, I know that the Bible — the physical object itself — is just that, a physical object made of paper and glue. I had a Scripture teacher rip a page out of one once to demonstrate that fact.
People write in Bibles all the time:
They put their name as a sign of ownership. Keeping all those notes you took in Scripture class about the real meaning of the Beatitudes can be a helpful aid to reflection on the passages, depending upon the outlook of the person who gave you your information.
Family, friends, and teachers write notes to the person they are giving the Bible too. A bible can be a meaningful gift, an encouragement to faith.
They write down the history of their family: births, deaths, marriages. (When my mom died, my sister got the family bible. As she was the eldest, and the most involved in religious matters, that was the right thing for us to do.)
So, in and of itself having a president, or an actor, or a rock star sign your bible should not be problematic.
Except it is: this part of the electorate talk about Trump as the messianic figure he believes himself to be. “God sent us Trump,” they say, as though he is the second coming of Christ. (If that’s the case, the Rapture should begin any day now. I have no belief that I would be taken up to heaven, which is good because I am really waiting for Avengers Endgame to come out.) Their adulation smacks of idolatry… not that they would have admitted it. They have Trump sign their bibles, and they oppress people who have a different sexual or gender identity, or nationality.
They elevate Trump, and they neglect the teachings of Jesus. They may not break Jesus’s Greatest Commandment, just, but in many cases they ignore the second.
If Donald Trump, a man who believes that sexual assault is okay as long as you’re important enough, who insults people who disagree with him, who mocks the disabled, who is willing to do anything short of murder to get and keep what he wants, who is friends with the rich and powerful but who kicks the poor and powerless to the curb, really was sent by God…
Then I have another reason to be mad at God.
Or else we as a country must have done something really awful.