Donald Trump and Pentecost 2016


I don’t believe we are now in the end times; but we are certainly living in strange times. In his 2015 article, “Terrorism, Violence, and the Culture of Madness,” the Canadian cultural critic Henry Giroux stresses that “malevolent modes of rationality” are starting to be imposed on everyone.

So far Donald Trump has alienated large numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and college-educated voters. He calls for temporarily banning Muslims from America. He is not much of a bridge-builder and supports building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. He advocates the deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S., people have come to represent a substantial segment of the American labor market. (Trump prefers to hire undocumented Polish workers in his enterprises.) Nevertheless, his support among likely U.S. voters has surged, and he is now running about even with Hillary Clinton. Although they themselves are the descendants of immigrants, Trump supporters strongly believe that “immigrants threaten American customs and values.”  

Whether holy or not, Trump has a lot of spirit and he knows how to fire up his supporters. His campaign appeals to their hatred, anger, bigotry, and racism. 

Some foreign Trump supporters are OK, however. According to the Associated Press, the presumed Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency has picked up some strong foreign support from India, where, this Pentecost week end, fundamentalist Hindus are trying to get their gods on his side. These people put their faith and hope in Donald Trump. 

Already on Wednesday, May 11th, about a dozen members of the right-wing Indian Hindu group “Sena” lit a ritual fire and began chanting mantras asking Shiva and a variety of other Hindu gods to help Trump win the U.S. presidential election. “The whole world is screaming against Islamic terrorism, and even India is not safe from it,” said Vishnu Gupta, founder of the Hindu Sena nationalist group. “Only Donald Trump can save humanity….he is our hope for humanity.” 

In other parts of the world, Christians are gathering this week end to celebrate Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. 

Pentecost (the fiftieth day) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, for centuries an important Jewish feast. According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost commemorates God’s giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, 49 days after the Exodus. According to a later Jewish tradition King David was born and died on Pentecost. In the Apostle Peter’s first sermon, recorded in Acts 2:14-39, Peter linked the life, death, and Ascension of Jesus to King David’s death, burial, and hope of immortality.  

For Jewish people, Pentecost came fifty days after Passover. For Christians, fifty days after God raised Jesus from the dead. We find the earliest Christian celebration of Pentecost described in the second chapter of Acts of Apostles. About one hundred and twenty followers of Jesus (Acts 1:15) were present, including the Twelve, Jesus’ mother, various other women disciples, and Jesus’ brothers (Acts 1:14).  

We used to call Pentecost the birthday of the church. Some still do. The church, the community of faith in Jesus Christ, began right after the Resurrection. Mary of Magdala was the first church-woman, the apostle who really got things going, when she witnessed Jesus alive and raised from the dead. She was the first to proclaim the Goodnews. (In the light of Mary of Magdala’s inaugural ministry, all discussions about whether or not women can be ordained becomes meaningless chatter.) 

Pentecost proclaims that, with Jesus raised from the dead, a new age had begun: life in God’s spirit, characterized by love, unity, compassion, and understanding. Pentecost contrasts with the arrogant and narcissistic way of life portrayed in the Tower of Babel Genesis story. 

The Babel story is found in the first nine verses of Genesis 11. It narrates how, after the great flood, humanity became proud, self-centered, and arrogant. People tried to take God’s place in the world by building a tower that would reach into God’s heavens. God punished their arrogant self-centeredness. The result was confused speech, disharmony, and people scattered around the world in tribal conflict. Hatred, anger, bigotry, and racism enter human history. Not God’s way.

Pentecost is the undoing of Babel. At Pentecost people from every nation under heaven were brought together. “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Pentecost built no arrogant tower and no walls. It broke the barriers of race, religion, and nationality. Peter announced that this event was the beginning of a new life in the Spirit that would be available to all believers from that point on, Jews and Gentiles alike (Acts 2:39). 

Happy Pentecost.  

May we all grow in God’s Spirit.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Donald Trump and Pentecost 2016

  1. What we see in many people who are trying to save the West against Islam, is an effort to build the dam. If we had more confidence in the invincibility of God, we would try to redirect these foreigners the right path. Of course there are situations where the problem is urgent, where this slow method is not feasible and the walls need to be built – but I do not see anything that would suggest that in this situation we find ourselves just now.

  2. My view is somewhat different from yours, as I see your gentle sarcasm about the Indian “savants” and their “pagan” response to Mr. Trump’s candidacy. While I agree with the traditional remarks about Shavuot and the Tower of Babel, it is also something else–and I just offer this as an alternative, not a disagreement. Feeling as negative as I think you do about this candidacy of triumphant prejudice, I offer this as a reflection:

    May 15, 2016

    Pentecost

    *The good news for the Day* (302)

    Towards evening of that first day of that week—doors were locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews—Jesus arrived and was standing among them. He said to them, *“Peace be with you.” *Once He said these words, He showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were glad to see the Lord. Jesus repeated, *“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”* When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, *“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”* (John 20, 19-23)

    It is hard to say, at times, what inspires you. A novel may change your life. A movie may awaken sensitivity. A face may cause you to fall in love. A song or singer may stir you into an unexpected fascination. A new gadget may snare you into a productive hobby. Or—long-term—a career of teaching, selling houses, installing wires, or helping with people’s finances—these may deeply satisfy you—and bring you peace.

    Today the Catholic Church celebrates “Pentecost,” a day we are told when a Holy Spirit descended in tornado-sounding wind and flames over people’s heads, when people talked in their own language and everybody understood them. Apostles felt “inspired” to change from fearful and self-absorbed “little” people into fiery preachers and traveling missionaries.

    Today, you are those folks—Mary and friends. The first thing you do is deal with “sin”—flaws and failures of the world. You forgive some sins; others you handle—not forgiving them, but understanding, absorbing and transforming them. “Retain” means you “keep” them as part of yourself, making them into virtues, strengths and glory. Weakness can become strength. Failure can become triumph. Admissions and acceptances can bring joy, deep joy—in the transformation that truth enables.

    • Another thought….I really was not being sarcastic about the Indians and never used the terms “savants” or “pagan”…..For many years I gave encouraged respect for all religions….My point was that some foreigners who are also fundamentalists love Trump.

      I guess I agree with the rest of your observation but don’t see how it applies to Donald Trump.

      ……….

      John Alonzo Dick, PhD, STD Geldenaaksebaan 85A 3001 Heverlee – BELGIUM

      >

  3. I was not clear, and I apologize. Like you I have a rich respect not only for other religions and religious traditions, but believe God deliberately calls people to be Islam, Hindu, Sikh, etc, My point in the “blog” was a sharing that Pentecost besides being the rich and complex fulfillment of Jewish tradition is very much also a turn away from it–and in particular, as the Gospel passage suggests–that the Holy Spirit is very much about sin–sin, not as a moral failing as the Baltimore Catechism might list–but sin as any defect in life, any missing of what is right–and Pentecost (it seems to me) is about admitting the past–the sinfulness we all carry–and transforming that flesh into spirit, that death into resurrection–and sin are either forgiven or “retained” in the sense that we move ahead carrying the death/sin/failure/flesh of Jesus into the “church” being born. Perhaps more accurately, I see Pentecost as the on-going transformation of chaos into order, the sinful church becoming the bold sharing of good news.

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