"A New King"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is supremely ironic that Christianity became the religion of Empire. Because the thing I love about it — the reason why I get choked up every Good Friday, joyful every Easter, and hopeful every Christmas — is the story of the savior (whether you think him God or fully human) being born a helpless infant to poor people under occupation, whose family had to flee to another land to save his life, who as an adult hung out with social outcasts, who preached that “the last shall be made first,” and who was tortured to death by Roman decree. The glory of Jesus’ story isn’t (in my opinion and that of many others) that he was God made flesh who died for our sins. The glory of Jesus’ story is that his entire life he lived on the margins, and yet at the lowest point when all seemed lost, he ultimately was raised up most high. (Whether you believe it was by God or humans. (Or both.)) To every person who has ever felt outcast, that is a story that resonates. (Although some are unable to hear it, understandably, because of the empire thing.)

Or maybe it isn’t ironic that Christianity became the religion of Empire. Maybe Empire recognized the power of the story, the threat it posed, and co-opted it in order to control and obscure it.

The version of Jesus’ story that Empire promotes focuses on Christ the King, the ruler, the conqueror. It conveniently forgets that Christ the King was FIRST Jesus the child, not different from the children of Aleppo, or of Standing Rock. That part of the story must always come first, lest the focus on “King” (conveniently) transform Jesus from an emblem of hope to a justification for Empire.

And that is exactly what RNC chairman Reince Priebus was doing in not-so-subtly comparing Trump to Jesus, announcing a “new King.” Trump has never been the babe born into poverty, never been the refugee child, and never been the man who sided with and was himself an outcast. He cannot understand, let alone represent, the low made high. If Trump is “king” he is only conqueror, tyrant, ruler of Empire.

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