Trump is not the devil. And God is not a clockmaker.

Used with permission from Lalo Alcaraz

Resistance. I’ve been called to resist posting about politics. By my wife. By my peaceful nature. But today, I was called to resist—wrongly. And by people I love and respect, but who, I believe, have lost perspective on what warrants worthy resistance.

They’ve done so for worthy reasons—sympathy for refugees, respect for women, a desire for the elimination of racism and reaction to the oft-misused-now-talking-point-words like hate, bigotry, intolerance, ad nauseam.

My friends have tolerated the ridiculous and insulting comparisons to Hitler and fascism—ridiculous when examined in light of historical perspective and insulting to reason, logic and intelligence— and, most egregiously—to victims of the holocaust, genocide and real racism.

Dump Trump

Donald Trump is a flawed person and president. So was Barack Obama, FDR, John Kennedy—and yes, even Ronald Reagan. Trump is a short-fingered vulgarian—a cleverly concocted cut-down by Graydon Carter, the long-tenured editor of Vanity Fair. He’s thin-skinned and vindictive, which means he’s insecure and petty. Trump is also charismatic (in person only, I believe), persuasive, pugnacious, clever and patriotic.

I wish the Russians would disable his Twitter account—permanently. And his reliance on the shadowy Steve Bannon, who reminds me of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s ruthless spymaster, troubles me.

Is Bannon to Trump as Vader is to Emperor Palpatine? Or is it the other way around? Hard to tell with these two. And Trump’s shrill press secretary, Sean Spicer, doesn’t impress me.

Not a Trumpling

I, like many other citizens, never thought it would come to this. A billionaire, misogynistic, orange-yellow, cotton-candy-haired former (former?) reality TV star is now the most powerful man on the planet. Oops.

I’m not a Trumpling. He doesn’t inspire me like Reagan did. He doesn’t carry himself with dignity like Obama. I wish Huckabee or Bush or Rubio were president. Not Hillary. Never Hillary. If she had won, I would’ve avoided watching her or reading about her or thinking about her and would’ve cringed every time I heard Madam President or President Clinton uttered.

But I would not have resisted her authority … UNLESS. If her actions prompted a choice between submission to government or obedience to God, then I would resist. As I will do, if Trump’s actions prompt the same choice.

Divinely appointed

I have qualified my resistance to Trump’s authority because, ultimately, it has not been granted solely by Congress nor by the constitution nor by any other founding document nor by the American people—but by Almighty God.

Let me explain. Or better yet, let the Apostle Paul explain. In his—and God’s—own words:

Romans 13:1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

As a Christian and a believer of Jesus Christ, I trust that the words of the Bible are true and reliable. And, here’s the kicker, that they reflect God’s sovereign will. Essentially, they are his words, written by men he appointed in order to make his will known. If God is truly God—all-powerful, pure and good—he is intimately involved with the affairs of this world.

Bigly questions

Trump is a chump. Not because he’s easily deceived, but because he’s a foolish man. But he’s not evil. He’s a sinner—like me, like you. Here are some “bigly” questions that emerge from the Romans passage above as it relates to Trump:

Did God make him president? We know that God doesn’t vote; did he influence voters to vote for Trump? Rather than influence voters, did God create and manipulate circumstances to cause voters to elect Trump?

Does God care about elections? If he does, did he want Hillary elected and is now wringing his hands? Is God above politics and merely uses presidents to work his will? How does free will fit in?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know this—God is in complete control of everything. He’s an active, loving, holy, all-powerful, omniscient God with an agenda that trumps (pun, not cared about) all others.

I think God allowed/facilitated Trump’s win because more people in critical electoral states voted for him than voted for Hillary. More voters exercised free will to vote for Trump in states that mattered most.

Two options, both bad

Did God influence voters to vote their consciences? He did me. I faced two disagreeable options:

One, a career political criminal who strikes me as an arrogant, condescending power-tripper and serial liar and who embraces ideology that I cannot stomach and with which I disagree utterly.

The other, an arrogant, buffoonish, sexist creep who is thin-skinned, petty and a political neophyte, but who embraces ideology that, in some ways, I agree with. Such as, but not comprehensively:

Smaller, less-intrusive government, reduced taxes and regulation, pro-life, pro-law and order, pro-business, pro-truth concerning hot issues regarding gender, morality, education and the environment.

In short, I voted for a platform, not for a person. And I voted my conscience. So, there.

Image by permission of Greg Olsen, https://www.gregolsen.com/

The clockmaker maker

I know, I have yet to offer any opinions regarding my questions about God’s role in the election. I can offer this—my opinions will not be satisfactory—to me or to others. Allow me to offer what I KNOW about God:

He made the universe and has a hand in everything. God is pure and good. If her were not pure and good, but merely all-powerful, if he were the clockmaker God; his interest in creation would begin and end with construction and maintenance. We would be as cogs for his machine. Or worse, playthings for his pleasure.

God’s character is one of pure goodness, which means that he cares about people, nations and leaders, about every aspect of creation. God is active, not passive. He’s not a clockmaker—he’s a clockmaker maker.

Free will and free grace

God allows us to exercise that which makes us in his image: Free will. And he gives us insight to parse candidates’ words and to form opinions on critical issues—insights based in truth and goodness and rightness.

God cares about elections because he cares for his children. If you’re a Christian, you are his child, and he loves you dearly. If you aren’t his child, you can be—God has made a way to forgive your sin and to adopt you. He loves you so much that he sent his son to die for you.

We all have a sin problem. So does Trump. So does Hillary. Our sin separates us from a holy God. But God’s grace and Jesus’ sinless life and death bridges the gap. All you need do is come to him in repentance and be forgiven and adopted.

Fear God, not Trump

At this juncture, I cannot, in good conscience, resist President Trump. Not because I wouldn’t want to, but because I want to obey God more than I want to give in to fear or outrage over immigration bans or so-called hate speech or perceived intolerance.

Donald Trump is our president and authority. And if Hillary Clinton had won the election, she would be our president and our authority. Until he abuses his power and/or his actions warrant resistance, I’ll submit to God-given authority.

James 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

Resistance is not futile

Meanwhile, if you want to resist someone, resist the devil. If you want to fight Trump’s policies, do so respectfully—don’t misuse words like hate, bigot and racist. Pray for him. Pray that God draws Trump to himself, and that he becomes a new creation and God’s redeemed child, and that he listens to God’s leading while leading us.

Resistance against authority, when unwarranted, is for pagans. Now if Trump orders the killing of civilians or the internment of muslims or something somehow more evil than a temporary travel ban, then, yes, let’s resist. I’ll lead the charge. If he forces me to choose between civil obedience and spiritual disobedience, it’s on.

But until then, submit to God by submitting to the one he placed in the presidency. Don’t give in to the fear mongers and fascism flingers of the world. God is our ultimate commander-in-chief, and he knows what he’s doing.

Picking blackberries: Tasting real life

Imagine tooling down a canyon road in an old convertible with friends, a trunk full of berry baskets and toe-tapping songs on the radio. The cool mountain air tousles your hair, the sun warms your limbs and thoughts of ripe blackberries tantalize your tongue. Your only challenging thought is how to resist eating more berries than you drop in your basket.

Life is like picking blackberries. It can be hot and thorny work. But the fruits of a day well lived are truly sweet as you put head to pillow, or the freshest of blackberry cobbler with ice cream to mouth.

Image may be subject to copyright.

Big small talk

I’ve only been blackberry picking once. The old convertible was a cherry 1960 Studebaker Lark. I went with friends from a tiny Sierra Nevada town in Northern California. We picked and nibbled and dropped and talked about life. A friend’s mother shared about being a college student in the ‘60s—the incredible music, the allure of rebellious freedom, the pressure of Vietnam.

We talked about our plans. Her daughter was interested in grad school at Cambridge. Her son seemed to prefer the solitude of berry picking beyond the group, off the beaten path where the fruit is undisturbed and more plentiful.

The daughter’s friend had just quit her job as the personal assistant to a well-known, workaholic attorney who once helped expose a president who’d lied about tangling with an intern. I could tell she was loving the simple pleasures of sun, berries and good conversation—and the slow pace.

Real life

I found myself enjoying picking blackberries and listening as we learned more about one another. Standing there perfecting the art of berry picking (a gentle tug and twist), I looked at my stained fingers, tasted the sweet tinny taste of berry blood and smiled.

This was a taste of real life. It was an awakening after months of talking with friends about Dallas’ sports teams, watching The Office reruns, mowing my lawn and walking my dog and going to pool parties—all while settling for small talk instead of going deep to share who I really am.

picking blackberries
Credit: uber doofus studios, August 2010

I realized that anything that distracts from connecting with others—movie watching or small talk or any number of self-protective activities—lessens the likelihood of my inviting others to peer into my soul. Anything less is burning time—and opportunities to know and to be known.

I’m not saying that time spent enjoying the company of friends and family isn’t worthwhile. The laughter, the teasing, the shared interests and such are all good things, but if that’s all that happens between people, it’s not nearly enough. Not for me, anyway.

Be like the berry

Take a lesson from the sweet blackberries. Don’t live protectively, hidden and safe behind thorny barriers. If you do, you’ll grow tart and later shrivel into a hardened husk. By protecting yourself from the bruising forces of life, you’ll miss the joy of being selected and enjoyed and appreciated. And, most tragically, you’ll deprive others of the sweetness of your soul.

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Kiss of life: The peck that saved me

“Gimme a kiss.” This time she closed her eyes and her flexing lips looked like thick, velvety flower petals

When I was stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach, Virginia, my best friend was a guy I’ll call Rick. Rick and I were beach and club buddies and were considered rebels among our shipmates because we flaunted regulations and generally behaved like sailors always looking for a good time.

sailors_med
Sailors, New York, NY, May 2011. © Kathryn Mussallem

Rick is from the hood of Whittier, CA, and sported a cheesy mustache and looked like Sonny Crockett from “Miami Vice” when properly duded. In club mode, he wore white slip-on shoes, linen pants and pink long-sleeved shirts rolled up to showcase his muscled forearms.

kiss
Credit: kocojim on Flickr

Rule benders

My shipmates called me “Shoney’s Big Boy” and “Bouffant” because I kept my wavy hair so much longer than regulation that I had to tuck it under my ball cap. Rick and I bent the rules as far as we could, and I think the “lifers” resented us for our devil-may-care attitudes. They especially resented Rick.

Rick is HIV positive and had to check into a Navy hospital annually for tests. Our shipmates’ dislike of him may have been more from fear than anything. Back then if you were HIV positive, you might as well have AIDS and be a dead man walking. I didn’t think much about it—I might have even drunk after Rick a few times.

Rick and I hit nightclubs in Norfolk every weekend. Not the beaten down, sailor dives where the few women there are life-worn things. Rick preferred “the sisters” so we went where African-American girls were. I was more into white girls, but sometimes played the dutiful wingman. It’s not that I found African-American girls unattractive; it’s that I felt so stiff and so, well … WHITE around them. I was an okay dancer, but ran out of moves in about twenty seconds. Rick was a dancing machine.

Objectified

Once, after dancing the night away, Rick steered us into an after-party with three young ladies. They wanted to stop at a burger place, so we pulled up and they went in. Well, Rick and two of the three girls went in—one stayed in the back seat with me.

She was a big girl—and strong—when she grabbed my arm and urged me to stay, it hurt. For the first time in my young life, I felt fear and doubt about my ability to fend off a woman. Not that I’d ever had to before, but at that moment, I thought there was a real chance I could be raped.

She looked at me ravenously, and I knew then what it must feel like to be a woman cornered by a lustful man. I felt like a piece of meat, and this girl was a tiger—a big, heavy, hungry tiger.

“Gimme a kiss,” she said lustily.

(Oh, no.) “Umm … are you hungry? They’re about to come back.” I thought it a good idea to remind her that the others would soon return—AND with food.

“Gimme a kiss. Yooz a FINE-lookin’ piece o’ white boy. GIMME IT.” She began to purse and flex her ample lips.

“Uh … (Please come back, Rick and girls. Please, someone, help me.) Oh, here they are now,” I said brightly.

They walked up giggling and carrying cardboard trays of burgers, fries and drinks. When they saw my wide-eyed relief and the way the girl had me cornered in one end of the seat, they looked jazzed for a show. Rick gave me a wink, as I shot him a “please help me, look.” All he did was start making moves on one of the girls as she tackled a burger.

“Gimme a kiss.” This time she closed her eyes and her flexing lips looked like thick, velvety flower petals opening and closing like in time-lapsed nature videos. Then she leaned in even closer.

“I . . . I really don’t want to,” I stammered.

She opened her eyes wide. “Why not? Somethin’ wrong wit me?”

“Oh no, there’s nothing wrong with you” (beside the fact that you don’t get that no means no). I guess I’m just hungry.”

“I’m HUNGRY, too—for YOU. Now gimme dat kiss!”

She flexed her lips again, and I could see there was no way out. I HAD to kiss her.

“Okay, but just one kiss, and then we can eat, right?”

“Okay. I’m ready.”

Like a frightened bird

She closed her eyes, pursed those colossal lips, and leaned in. I gave her the quickest peck in history—even quicker than one you’d give your grandmother as a kid. Her lips felt hot and formidable—like if I’d lingered, they would’ve pulled me in as a writhing, muscular vortex of lusty, unquenchable desire.

Happily, Rick bailed me out by opening the door and offering us burgers. With her distracted by food, I fled the back seat and made like I had to use the Hardee’s bathroom real bad. Actually, I did—she scared the pee out of me.

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