Trump the Winner, Christ the Loser
He is, as everyone knows, desperate to make a Faustian bargain with Republican voters. And, apparently, many Republicans are rapidly signing on the proverbial dotted line.
Having eventually procured the GOP nomination like a condemned building property, he will then presumably conjure a similar deal with the American people at-large in order to win back that famous house dressed in white. In order to—wait for it, wait for it—Make America Great Again.
But for all the bargaining, deal-making and obsession with winning, let's give the man above his actual due: he keeps it humble. For example, at least he pretends to view his own book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, as merely the second greatest book in the history of recorded ideas, poems or letters.
"Nothing beats the Bible," he said at a campaign event in Michigan in the summer of 2015.
Surely Donald J. Trump is a man for whom even the word spectacle is far too small. The word itself is beneath him—as our most people themselves.
Additionally, to his great fame, he has somehow transcended the psychological and cultural concept of public shame. And, as if for good measure, he has refused to admit his own personal need for God's divine forgiveness.
These are extraordinary feats for any human, or super-human, with or without hair.
So when I heard about Trump's triumph in South Carolina—a red state chalk-full of people who fervently proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord—I recalled Trump's concession about summer reading (or any other reading). "Nothing beats the Bible."
The genuine unlikeliness of a statement like this by the man above is surpassed only by its obvious insincerity and incredible cunning. After all, winners never (ever) concede—even if, in their own imaginations, they are negotiating with God in the flesh.
On the Sunday following Trump's victory in the Palmetto State, I heard the preacher discuss Luke 6: 27-36, a scripture text found embedded within the gospel stories within that "unbeatable" book. I pondered again—for the thousandth time—the flipped script that holds the Christian narrative together.
Politically speaking, the gospel's vision of winning and losing, of success and failure, is entirely upside down. In fact, the public and personal spectacle of it is completely reverse from what we have come to expect from human power.
I mean, for example, doesn't the following press statement—by a different man above who came below—seem like some version of a glorified concession speech?
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
In view of the Christian faith and story—of course, how to engage our enemies is only one application—winning and losing appear through a counter-cultural prism. It's a prism which filters its peculiar light through Christ-followers into politics, art, science or any other domain or context.
The Jesus who some might see as making "concessions" to the neighbor who is called enemy was the same person willfully losing in a worldly sense. He was the same person who eventually would travel the furthest losing distance possible.
He prays and says, Nevertheless, not my will but thine. Then he goes and loses.
It's a loss from which only a specific resurrection can bring life.
And, Christians believe, it's a loss that begins to re-frame losing as the greatest possible finding on earth.
Recently, as fate would have it, I happened upon an Internet meme featuring—well, yes, who else?—The Donald. Satirically, the tweet showed the would-be presidential champion of the free world saying: "Honestly, I prefer Saviors who don't get crucified."
The pointed irreverence to the losing campaign of Jesus was an allusion to Trump's snide comments about Sen. John McCain's military service, including McCain's stint as a prisoner of war. (Trump said he preferred soldiers who don't get captured.)
But I suppose the satire also functions as an equally pointed remembrance for anyone who would dare follow Jesus among a litany of would-be lords. This trail, his trail, is always littered with losing.
And "Make Losing Great Again" is a terrible slogan for a hat.