A Christian view of Donald Trump
Regular columnist James Knight provides us with his personal analysis, as a Christian, of the US president.
Donald Trump has been the world's most talked about person in the past 18 months, eliciting hope and optimism for many, but eliciting revulsion and despair for many others.
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Trump, some say, is a racist, misogynist, megalomaniac; while to others he is a shrewd, straight-talking, businessman who is going to rescue the American economy and bring prosperity back to the country.
The thing about the Trump phenomenon, I find, is that both sides tend to overstate the reality with an embroidered picture of what's really happening. To dismiss Trump as a racist is lazy thinking - and those that do so are guilty of slapping a badly conceived label on him and then criticising the label. Equally, those that see him as the saviour of the American economy are equally hasty, as Trump has repeatedly proved that his knowledge of economics is dodgy.
For me, the overwhelming thing to dislike about Trump is the thing that probably underpins most of the things for which he is criticised - his narcissism. We can all recall what happened to Narcissus when he stared at his reflection for too long - and this, I think, is behind Trump's attitudes to women, to power, to attention-seeking, and ultimately to politics.
It's only a hunch, but I have a feeling the things Trump says and does that cause such a mass revulsion towards him are very much bound up in his insecurities: he craves power, admiration, success and attention because it brings some of the validation he's lacked all his life.
You may recall that Narcissus was a highly attractive figure, but he was so consumed with pride that he pushed away anyone that tried to get close to him. Another god, called Nemesis (from which the term for enemy derives), saw a way to capitalise on this by leading Narcissus to a pool where he would begin to fall in love with his own reflection, and eventually become so captivated by it that he stared at it until it killed him.
It's at this point that we ought to remind ourselves that courting fame and prestige is a two-way relationship: willing followers seek to devour the attention of celebrities for their own personal motivations. To that end, just like buying and selling in a market economy, fame is a mutually beneficial exchange - it is given as well as taken, and those that make a god out of the attention involve the givers as well as the receivers.
Donald Trump, rather like Charles Foster Kane in Orson Welles' seminal movie Citizen Kane, paints a figure of someone consumed by unhealthy things - the epitome perhaps of what Jesus meant when He warned us about gaining the whole world, yet forfeiting our soul. Turning away from the self is one of the prerequisites of Christianity - yet for someone like Trump that may be the hardest thing to do. And that is probably at the root of people's aversion to Trump.
James Knight is a local government officer based in Norwich, and is a regular columnist for Christian community websites Network Norfolk and Network Ipswich. He also blogs regularly as ‘The Philosophical Muser’, and contributes articles to UK think tanks The Adam Smith Institute and The Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).
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