What follows is 1) an article that appeared in USA Today by Tom Krattenmaker, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, and communications director at Yale Divinity School)m 2) my e-mail response to him, and 3) his e-mail response to me.
Friday, 26 August 2016
What Jesus would do:
Love Donald Trump
Love Donald Trump
“Love your enemies,” Jesus said.
But does the daunting concept really apply to our hostile politics today? Can Democrats love conservatives? Is it possible for Hillary Clinton supporters to — gasp — love Donald Trump? Can Trump be loved even by Republicans who are convinced he is destroying their party?
As a staff member at Yale Divinity School and as a secular person who has been unpacking the central teachings of Jesus for an upcoming book, I have come to see ways in which this principle can be applied today. Even to the inveterate commandment-breaker and bad-behavior-modeler Donald Trump.
It helps if we get clear about the meaning of “love” in the biblical context. John Collins, a prolific Yale scholar who teaches a popular class on biblical values and their application to public issues today, reminds me that the word conveys something quite different from what comes to mind for most of us.
This biblical love, Collins points out, is not a surge of affection or a romantic attraction to someone (feelings, not incidentally, that can change and fade). Rather, it can be thought of as a commitment to and regard for our fellow human beings — even those not like us and not on our side, politically or culturally speaking — and refusing to reduce them to their worst ideas and behavior.
Does “loving” one’s political rivals mean ceding elections to them, or abandoning our own principles and policies to push theirs instead? Of course not. If we believe Trump’s values and politics would harm the country and the people who populate it, love compels us to resist his election and the advancement of what he stands for.
What does this love of enemy imply? I find it’s easier to answer that with respect to Trump supporters than Trump himself. This is not to endorse the bigotry frequently on display at his rallies, or the “lock her up!” vitriol and threats of violence against Clinton. There is no place for these. But an empathetic look at Trump supporters surfaces the frustration and bewilderment of a subset of the country that has felt abandoned by rapid economic and social upheaval and politics as usual.
To love them is to tease out what might be legitimate about their grievances and to want them to have decent, dignified lives. It means relating to them in a way conducive to a change of heart whereby that heart might eventually change — might store more than resentment against immigrants, minorities and “politically correct” liberals.
What of Trump himself? Bible scholars will tell you that an important aspect of Jesus-style love is wanting the best for others, even those you label “enemy.” In Collins’ view, this suggests wanting for Trump a newfound ability to resist firing off mean-spirited tweets and ill-conceived ideas that malign other people and reveal his own lack of knowledge and character.
Loving Trump also implies wanting the best for him personally even as we thwart his political desires. For a narcissistic power seeker, winning the presidential election would only feed his worst tendencies. His massive and problematic ego — “I alone can fix it,” as he boasts when discussing the country’s problems—would likely soar to destructive new heights were he to occupy the most powerful office in the land.
Better for Trump’s character — better for his soul, if you will — that he experience and accept a very public loss in this biggest contest of his life and spend his remaining years devoting himself to ends more edifying than inflating his superiority and degrading his rivals.
Loving Trump means resisting any urge to clamor for his imprisonment or execution, as some of his supporters have demanded for Clinton. No need for any symbolic walk of shame like that endured by Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. (We know what that led to: She sought and got revenge on a massively destructive scale.)
The funny thing about loving our political enemies is that the minute we change our regard for them, they morph before our eyes. They remain our political opponents, but they are no longer our enemies — and no longer deserving of the treatment the word implies.
They become, instead, human, and deserving of all that implies. Even if their name is Donald Trump.
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Saturday, 27 August 2016
I am so grateful for your article, “What Jesus would do: Love Donald Trump.” Several million readers will be reminded that Jesus taught us to love our neighbor.
Following your example, I am going to express to you what loving your neighbor means to me.
First, when I think of Jesus, what comes to mind is His resurrection, not his crucifixion. His resurrection demonstrates His Divinity, his eternal Spirit.
While He was waking on this earth, He underwent a transformation, an illumination, so that he experienced his eternal Spirit, and his resurrection demonstrated it to the world.
When He taught, love thy neighbor as thy Self, He meant to recognize in your neighbor the eternal Spirit. When you experience your Self, you can see this Self, this Spirit, in your brother. You are seeing your brother with the eyes of Christ.
An example of this is greeting your brother, saying, “Namaste,” the Christ in me greets the Christ in you.
Therefore, “Namaste, Donald Trump.”
Obviously, in the past two thousand years, there has been ample evidence that Jesus is Spirt; Jesus is present with us in every moment.
Here is my favorite example. In October of 1965, He said to Helen Schucman, a Psychology Professor at Columbia, “This is A Course in Miracles, please take notes,” and she dutifully did for seven years, and A Course in Miracles was published in 1975. It consists of a Text with 31 Chapters, a Workbook for Students, consisting of 365 Lessons, one for each day of the year, and a Manual for Teachers.
This Course provides an opportunity to transform our minds, so that we can fulfill our only function of being on this earth, coming into awareness that we are Spirit.
Since we are Spirit, we are the Sons of God, we are as He created us. The Course constantly teaches us this holy truth.
My wife, Christine, and I begin again with Lesson 1 on January 1 of each year.
For example, today’s Lesson is 240, Fear is not justified in any form.
Here is a passage from the Lesson:
We are the Sons of God. There is no fear in us,
for we are each a part of Love Itself.
How foolish are our fears! Would You allow
Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today
to recognize Your Son, and set him free.
Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we
may understand his holiness, and feel
the love for him which is Your Own as well.
When we recognize God’s Son in our neighbor, we set him free.
Ray Comeau, Ph.D.
Here is a little bit about myself. I received my BA from Kalamazoo College in 1963, my MA from the University of Chicago in 1965, and my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1973.
I have written four books:
1. Through a Mirror, Brightly: Reflections of a Mind Illuminated Trough A Course in Miracles, 2000.
2. There Must Be Another Way, 2008.
3. 100 Haiku: Inspired by the Mind Training of A Course in Miracles, 2015.
4. 100 Haiku: Book Two, 2016.
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Sunday, 28 August 2016
Wow, what a great message. Thank you so much for getting in touch and sharing this wisdom with me.
I'm familiar with the Course in Miracles! Can't say I have done it or know much about it, but it sounds like a transformative set of teachings.
Thanks again for being in touch. All the best to you,
P.S. Four books, eh? Hats off to you. Books are a lot of work! My third is coming out in just over a month.