Since the election a significant segment of my social circles has become increasingly concerned, and not without merit. The United States of America has elected someone who is shaping a government meant to enrich both his own pockets and those of his social strata. What’s worse, a significant percentage of the people who will be harmed most by these efforts have been so psychologically disenfranchised over the course of decades they may very well love him all the more as he tears the heart out of this Republic.
Yet lately I’ve been seeing more and more posts about “The Resistance,” a growing segment of the population 1 who are pledging themselves to forming alliances which will stand against the government of soon to be President Trump. Not only do I empathize with this sentiment, I have already stood against the agenda of Donald Trump’s endeavor by joining with some of the most vulnerable in our community. I will no doubt do so again moving forward, as I can only see it becoming more and more necessary in the future.
But I am not part of “The Resistance.” To explain why please allow me to draw from a cultural theme which will span the chasm between my Christian and non-religious readers.
It’s all about Tolkien.
Anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings recognizes Sauron as “The Dark Lord.” But those who have not read the pre-history of Middle Earth in the Silmarillion 2 will likely miss Sauron was actually a servant for a greater Dark Lord, the fallen Valar known as Morgoth 3. Both of these beings were creatures high in the angelic orders.
People even vaguely familiar with Christian beliefs about angels and demons can see the similarities 4 between Tolkien’s Christian faith and the English myth he created. Christians believe there are spiritual forces of evil. Many, if not most, Christians believe these spiritual forces are active in their resistance to the rule of God 5. All Christians believe the power of sin is seen in this world as human beings twist the image in which they were created into obscene shapes. This twisting leads to the endless visions of oppression we see both presently and throughout history. It’s might is most felt when the power of death reverberates through our lives. These readily applicable themes are woven into Tolkien’s work simply because of who he was.
What many of my contemporaries fail to recognize is Donald Trump is not a “Dark Lord.” He is neither Morgoth nor Sauron.
He’s a ring wraith 6.
Ring Wraiths were “kings of men” who lusted after power and prestige and wealth. Because of their lust for power, Sauron was able to deceive them. He gave them nine “rings of power” through which they became great and mighty. But the more they fell under their power, the more Sauron controlled them, until they became hollow shells who slowly lost their humanity.
I don’t make this analogy to sow hatred, but compassion. The truth is, Donald Trump has absolutely no idea how his pursuits and quest for power and riches and prestige have hollowed him out from the inside. He doesn’t understand how his manipulation of a significant portion of the US population and the conquest of a major political party are killing the spark of his humanity. All he knows he is “winning,” he doesn’t recognize the cost it’s having on himself or others. He’s bound to a power he neither recognizes nor acknowledges. He believes he is a ruler, when he’s really a slave.
So what does this have to do with my not being part of “The Resistance?”
It’s mostly because “The Resistance” is too short-sighted. It becomes so fixated on the enemy right in front of them, it tends to forget there is a larger battle which much be addressed. Simply replacing one system or regime with another will not yield the justice for which “The Resistance” seeks. Worse, the more this movement focuses on itself as the “good guys” in the present cultural narrative, the more likely it will bend its own ethos “for the greater good.” As talk becomes more and more militant, the chances of this shift happening greatly increases — because when you have an enemy you mustdehumanize them, and through that process we begin to excuse the ways we betray our own beliefs 7.
As a servant of Christ, I have to hold on to the ability to speak truth to power. Especially toward the people with whom I most agree. If I join “The Resistance” I feel I’d inadvertently lose some of my prophetic voice. I can’t willingly yield that for anything.
As dangerous as Donald Trump’s agenda is, and as important as it is to stand against his assaults on the American Way of Life 8, defeating him ultimately means nothing. He’ll just be replaced with another slave to the same spiritual forces of evil. If history is any clue that new slave may very well be from “The Resistance.” This is why it’s so important Christians not yield up their prophetic voice.
So to my believing friends who are championing “The Resistance,” I applaud your passion and your heart. Please continue to stand firm, but never lose sight of the real struggle beyond this current upheaval. Let’s remember the call of Advent and long for the coming of the one who will make everything new and who will establish his Kingdom and end the oppression of sin and death forever. And in our longing may we resist each and every expression of the slavery of sin.
Let’s live as though Jesus’ kingdom were real, now, because it is.
Let’s live as though love and peace and patience and kindness and gentleness and and self-control are superior to bitterness and envy and lust and hatred. Because even though we may have endless examples of how these dark powers are stronger than Godly virtues, they are not.
Let’s remember our core declaration, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” And may we never forget to speak that truth to power as we care for the very people the coming administration wants to use as inhuman scapegoats.
And may the light of our hope never be extinguished.
- The majority of which did not vote for the president-elect. ↩
- I spelled that correct on the first try. Nerd cred +1! ↩
- Formerly Melkor. ↩
- Not allegories, ever. ↩
- In the 20th Century there was a push to see these forces as systemic only. A project I find as theologically problematic as the “Satan made me do it” theology of sin-management. ↩
- I’m treading thin ice here, referring to Donald Trump this way could very well be an act of dehumanization. I only ask you allow the analogy to finish before calling me out. ↩
- For example, the vast majority of white Evangelicals – who demand personal conversion as the only way to be saved – voted for a person who has flatly declared he’s never asked forgiveness. And this after decades denouncing any immoral person as unfit for the office of presidency. ↩
- I mean, the ring wraiths are extremely dangerous. ↩