Religion, Faith and Sprituality

Friday, October 21, 2016

Recent Essays on Politics and Religion

Recent Essays on Politics and Religion

"Presidential Campaign 2016: Clinton, Trump, "Catholic Spring," NYC's Al Smith Dinner & the Lady Macbeth Factor " 10/19/16

"Cardinal Dolan's Year of Mercy Plan to Address Clergy Sex Abuse Crimes in NY Archdiocese" 10/6/16

"How Great Thou Already Art: Campaigning Against Trump in Pennsylvania" 10/4/16

"Jesus Is A Loser: the Gospel Truth About Trump and the Catholic Vote" 9/25/16

All essays on Indie Theology are by Michele Madigan Somerville, except where noted. Somerville is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, teacher, practicing Roman Catholic and mother of three. She lives in NYC.

Follow her on twitter @nypoet and @indietheology

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How Great Thou Already Art, America: Campaigning Against Trump in Reading, PA

Canvassing on the penultimate weekend before voter closes in swing state Pennsylvania was dispiriting, encouraging and edifying. As a New York educator, activist and church worker who has worked in some of New York City’s poorest areas, I did not expect to be freshly appalled by the way our nation allows innocent people to slip through the proverbial cracks. But I was. Nor did I think it possible to be newly afraid of Donald Trump. But I was.

Canvassing in and around its historic district of Reading with my spouse and a dog, I saw once-magnificent homes, vacated and sold, I deduced, by families fleeing to suburbs. One could see in some kind of stark relief, how easily the perfect storm of housing market collapse, weak school system, white flight, collapse of industry (Remember Reading Railroad from the game of Monopoly?) coalesced into a perfect storm adequate to convert a gem of a city into a town compromised by crime and poverty. 

As a person who grew up in a home where we often lived pay-check to pay-check, I know how easy it is for families to find themselves falling through the proverbial cracks. My brothers and parents and I always feared it. A broken leg, an operation, death, addiction or the sudden departure of a bread-winner parent. My three (college age, college attending) children love having breakfast for dinner. On the way back from Reading, my husband and I had Saturday night dinner at a Waffle House somewhere in Pennsylvania. A cheap date, I had a waffle. It was fun. My brothers and I remember having the other kind of breakfast for dinner. They eggs you have when the money has run out.

As I looked at the houses in Reading I felt as if I was seeing the anatomy of American poverty in microcosm. It's more camouflaged in the city (new York) in which I live. I could see more of the bones of it in Reading, I could imagine how easily those who owned, occupied, sold and bought those historic homes might have found themselves unable to keep up with the maintenance of them.  One of our presidential candidates doesn't read for pleasure. I'm an educator. What happens when schools got bad? It's when all he trouble begins, I believe. 

Foreclosures happen. Large homes get occupied by individual tenants in search of affordable rents. A pattern of transience emerges, sets in. Those left behind are disproportionately elderly and black. I talked with a couple of old people about the campaign and what's wrong with today. My husband and I spoke with one elderly woman who had moved from Philadelphia four times in recent years. She walked with a cane. She was politically aware, nay, all-out astute. She moved to Reading from Philadelphia because she could find a dwelling she could afford. She left her home, in old age, so she could live somewhere other than on the streets. 

Roses love to climb and grow in Reading. We spoke with poor people who kept impeccable gardens but were missing front teeth. Many of these had flew flags in their front yards and articulated patriotic love for our nation and deep fear of Trump. I made the mistake assuming the flag folk were white Trumpers. I was wrong in most cases.

We encountered too many people who believed voting didn’t matter.

Most seemed to hold voting dear. In some cases, we had to explain our reason for carpet-bagging from Brooklyn. "Our vote only matters a little. Your vote can change the whole outcome." 

I loved meeting the codgers and and the couple of young Latino men who were enthusiastic about voting “down the Democratic ballot” for three women (Katie McGinty is running for Senate there, and Christina Hartman for Congress.)  One Spanish-speaking guy exclaimed thus, when we asked him about his plans to cast a vote: “I’m voting for the girl!” (His English was not great. My  guess is  Secretary Clinton would be okay with being called "a girl" by him.)

More than once, we were asked “You’re not with Trump, are you?” as we stepped onto a front porch and approached the door. We're white. 

While the local Republic campaign office at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Reading seemed to be operational, with posters for candidates in local races in its storefront windows, the Trump/Pence headquarters a few feet away was as empty as a ship from which the rats have finished scampering.
The conversation with a man in his twenties whom we accosted as he got out of the car with groceries both inspired and frustrated. He wanted to register to vote. He was obviously intelligent, interested in the presidential race and cognizant of the issues, but worried that he did not read well enough to fill out the forms. One of our presidential candidates doesn't read for pleasure. I'm an educator. What happens when schools got bad? It's when all he trouble begins. Imagination takes a licking.

When a city, state, nation fails to teach its taxpayers how to read, we should think twice about a candidate for president who does not read. 

We found that conversations with people who were not listed on our Democratic ground game list were as important as making sure that people who had registered once, planned to get to the polls on November 8th.

We registered a few nieces, nephews, friends and new citizens of people already on the list. Called them "live ones."

We met people who couldn’t find jobs, who could barely get by, who had a given up entirely on medical and dental care, who had been separated from extended family by poverty, who had been educationally shafted but who still held on to a feeling that the United States could support them in working to have a better life.Very often we knocked and were told by neighbors, that the tenant was at work, works a lot, works on Saturday, works all the time. 

One of the first things I learned while working with poor folks in New York as that most poor (and an alarming proportion of homeless) folks have jobs. A lot of people who have enough don't know that.

People with jobs and no homes or no teeth or bad water don't need Donald Trump's great jobs so much as they need a leader who recognizes their humanity, struggles and achievements and a government that gives back when they pay taxes on their gasoline, milk, shoes...

We spoke in English and Spanish with many Spanish-speaking people in Reading. From what I have read about Reading, a lot of the people Trump would like to depart are revitalizing Reading. This is should come as no surprise. It's what immigrants in the United States have traditionally done.

One Spanish-speaking man we met spoke of nervously waiting for his application for citizenship to clear in time for the October 11th voter registration deadline. Ave Maria his way. 

Some of the people on our list had used the address of /resided at a mission when they last registered. A man with mesmerizing blue eyes answered the door when I knocked looking for them. As he directed me to the entrance around the corner he warned me that most of the people “in here can’t vote because. They're felons." We chatted.

He didn’t plan to vote. He insisted it didn't matter who won. I argued softly. Maybe he didn’t want to vote; maybe he had been stripped of his right to vote. Maybe he had done something illegal enough to leave him without a say.  

Many who voted for Obama in 2012 are disappointed by what they see as a lack of follow-through on the part of his administration; electioneers show up at election time. I take their point. Perhaps Clinton can do more.

Nonetheless, the white man who answered the mission door was the only person in Reading with whom I spoke at any length, that weekend who did not speak of fearing a Trump presidency. "Two lousy candidates," he said. I wasn't quite buying it.

As we rounded the corner to get to the mission's entrance, I wondered about that default to hopeless disinterest. It could be seen as a healthly response to being deprived of a voter's voice.

If voting changes nothing, then losing the right to vote does not matter. 

We turned the corner and my husband went into the mission. The white guy was right. Indeed many of the men gathered around the television set watching a ball game were ineligible to register to vote. I don’t know what their offenses were, but I could infer from Narcotics Anonymous sign outside the property that many were there for the kind of offenses that send middle class white men to rehab. We are a culture that, at least, pretends to recognize that addiction is an illness, but we are not democratic about it. 

I was proud when the husband emerged with a couple of what we had talen to calling “live ones”--- new voter registrations. I hope our hopefulness is justified.

The trip to Reading was precious.  We're going back. Reading is a beautiful city, but it is one of the poorest in the nation. I am told it has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. The only thing I was afraid of while covering the roughly eight miles my husband, little dog and I covered on foot last week was Donald Trump.

The first step toward making our country greater is recognizing how great and various and full of hope we are. 


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Monday, September 26, 2016

Jesus is a Loser: The Gospel Truth About Trump and the Catholic Vote

I was wearing my "Gore for President" button the year I began to attend Roman Catholic mass regularly in 2000. One morning that fall I was accosted by a weekday morning regular. He was friendly about it, but wanted to know how I could be on the Communion line every morning while planning to vote a "pro abortion" (his words, not mine) ticket. No one at church has questioned me thus, since that day, but during every presidential election since, the United States Bishops have aimed to influence how Catholics vote by means of carefully worded public statements. That came to a halt with the Trump candidacy. So why aren't the U.S. Bishops urging Catholics to vote for the "pro-life" candidate? 
I recently asked a few priests whether there has been any pressure from the top to endorse the GOP candidate. One reported a little boostering in local races, but otherwise, it would seem that the United States Bishops are not interested in seeing their flock elect Trump. There are a few reasons for this. Pope Francis condemned the plan to "build a wall" in February 2016 and Trump called the pontiff "disgraceful." Not a smart move on Trump's part, perhaps. On the other hand many conservative Catholics don't like Francis I and have been calling the pontiff names on blogs since the day he was elevated. Trump's quarrel with the pope is probably just part of the explanation. 
Although the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is (in my opinion) institutionally sexist and misogynistic, the church as a whole is not. Catholicism is an Abrahamic faith that has, since its start, recognized he intellectual and theological contributions of women. While it is true that the Vatican continues to strain to preserve an all-male priesthood, Roman Catholics of most stripes have been comfortable with many dramatic, post Vatican II changes which endow women religious, catechists, scholars, theologians and ministers with increased political and pastoral power within the church. In our theology we have, in a sense, enshrined motherhood. Five of our church doctors are women. Even in conservative parishes today, one sees women doing everything but celebrating mass. 
Despite our many differences, we Roman Catholics tend, on the whole, to harbor a high regard for the strength of women, the intellectual competence of women, and the spiritual gifts of women. Our understanding of the passion of Jesus requires that we notice that women remained at the foot of the cross when the apostles ran away in fear. A woman greeted the risen Christ. Mary, we are taught, is the lone human being to be born without sin. Catholics many be divided on abortion, artificial contraception, economics, gender and sexual identity issues, and ordination of women, but there's a pocket of reverence for what Rev. Daniel Berrigan called the "feminine face of God" which most Roman Catholics embrace at least somewhat in some form. It's not enlightened feminism, and it's hard to characterize. Perhaps it's where the code of chivalry got its start. Whatever that pocket of reverence is, it is sufficiently compelling and even loving to render a man who calls women "pigs" and "cows" looking too indecent to occupy the Oval Office. 
Why aren't the bishops subtly urging Roman Catholics to get out and vote for the man who disavows Roe v. Wade? Because the bishops know Trump doesn't care about Roe v. Wade. They know he's posturing. Trump has changed his position once, and will change it back if elected. He's not pro-life; he's pro-Trump.
Trump's disgust for women appears to encompass a deep distaste for motherhood itself, and that pertains. A candidate who appears to view maternity itself as disgusting and wives disposable can hardly be trusted to bear the "pro-life" banner. Even conservative, sexist Roman Catholics who care little for the achievements of women in general tend to hold the work of mothers in high regard. It's built into our formation. Trump has bragged about not changing diapers. He has allowed his children to grow up with a total of three mothers. One of his children barely knows him. It appears that his children have had to win his approval by excelling at the usury and avarice in which Trump excels. For Trump, a mother is a 'bleeding from her wherever' means to an end, a vessel through which heirs come, a necessary evil. 
I happen to be a believer who would welcome more separation between church and state. I liked Bernie Sanders' religious views best. I would be happy to have an atheist president. But many of my fellow Roman Catholics would not. That Trump has no religion is a problem for some. More disturbing to many religious folk however, than the eschewing of practice and faith, is the "bad faith" appropriation of religion.
Trump's favorite books are The Holy Bible, which he appears not to have read; and the Art of the Deal, an autobiography he appears not to have written. He does not read for pleasure. He is no seeker. He seizes the fact of his daughter's conversion to Judaism as an outward sign that he is not anti-Semitic. (I believe he is anti-Semitic.) He has darkened the door of black churches in an attempt to get black people to vote for him. He pretends to have some kind of shifting Protestant affiliation himself. People of most faiths tend to agree that God is for everyone, but most agree that using God for self-aggrandizement is disrespectful. 
The 1965 papal encyclical Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) exhorted Catholics to seek and recognize the light of divinity in other faiths. (Nostra Aetate imperfect document that required and has benefitted from tweaking since the time of its publication.) Nostra Aetate makes especially clear the obligation of Catholics to recognize the divine spark in Islam. While I certainly see too many Roman Catholics jumping on the anti-Muslim bandwagon, I continue to believe that most Roman Catholics believe that prejudice is sinful and that derision of the Muslim faith goes against God. Educated Catholics who embrace the essence of Nostra Aetate have little choice but to regard the Islamic faith with respect. I believe most Roman Catholics view the kind of blanket derision of Islam Trump promulgates as a sin. 
And there is Trump's view of immigrants and the poor. Notwithstanding the Roman Catholic hierarchy's failure to teach this by example, Catholics in the pews tend to agree that respecting the poor is at the heart Roman Catholic tradition. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was at various points, poor, homeless, a refugee, a prisoner, a torture victim and ultimately a victim of capital punishment. The only time we see Jesus throw a Trump-esque tantrum, it is in response to the kind of cheating, vulgarity and profaning of the temple Donald Trump most favors.
The bishops and progressive Roman Catholics have long agreed on the importance of welcoming immigrants into our nation. Welcoming immigrants is a bit of a theological no-brainer for any Catholic guided by the Gospels. I believe that it may be his contempt for the stranger, the refugee, the immigrant, that will cost Trump the Roman Catholic vote. According to Roman Catholic teaching, the poor are beloved by God. According to Trump, the poor are "losers." Were Trump to be fully candid about his religious feelings, he might characterize Jesus himself, the Jesus of the Beatitudes, as a "loser." 
That Catholics in the pews are not being urged to vote for the (so-called) "pro-life," Republican candidate means something. It's a blaring reticence. I hope every Roman Catholic is listening. To the gospel truth about Trump.
The Gospel reading for September 11th of this year concerned lost sheep, a lost son, lost coins, and the problem of breaking bread with tax collectors. On September 11th, every Catholic in the nation who made it to mass that day heard the same reading about the woman who searches everywhere in her home for one lost coin, the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in his care to search for the lost one, the lousy son who had abandoned his father but later returned to feast at the head of the family's table. We heard Jesus explain his willingness to dine with a tax collector. The priest celebrating the mass I attended on September 11th brought his homily to a close with these words: "Everyone is welcome at God's table. We build a bridge to that table not a wall. A bridge, not a wall."


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Friday, May 6, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Little Lord Trump (Le Roi) and His MVP, Jesus

Jerry Fallwell, Jr. endorsed Donald Trump today. Anyone who watched the video footage of  Trump's speech at Liberty University last week saw this coming. What was especially harrowing about the Liberty speech was how it put Trump’s lack of spiritual development on full display. Liberty is a Christian University. Students were required to attend. Whatever one thinks of these students, one must concede that they take the Christian Bible seriously. News outlets had a great time with Trump's “Corinthians 2” moment, because Trump’s blunder, his manner of citing the pinch of biblical text he felt he needed to incorporate into his Martin Luther King Day address, revealed that Trump is not a churchgoer. Trump has called himself “an Evangelical,” identifies as Presbyterian, and has lied about being a regular worshipper at New York’s Marble Collegiate. He claims he has received the “cracker” (as he calls it) and the “wine” as part and parcel of his Presbyterian worship. For those who hold Holy Communion sacred, this characterization of Christ’s feast at the altar is (at least) some kind of low-grade desecration. 

Poking fun at one’s own religion is, in the view of most people, less disrespectful than lampooning one's neighbor’s religion. Yet Trump, who does not really have a religion, appeared before a large group of tuition-paying students who care enough about Jesus to matriculate at a Christian university and cracked wise, characterizing a verse of the Second Book of Corinthians as "the whole ball game."

The way Trump speaks tells us so much about him. He consistently exhibits an inability be precise, a penchant for reductive fallacy and a sophomoric approach to building a logical argument. He appears not to read for pleasure or edification, which, I suppose matters only to those of us who like the idea of a president who reads. Trump’s favorite book is one he appears not to have much read and his second favorite is one he claims to have written.  

Trump has no grasp of international relations. He has floated the idea that his attendance at an expensive Northeastern military school is a near substitute for military service. His over-reliance on puerile superlatives not only reveals him to be a weak statesman but also forces his audiences to wonder why a wealthy white man who managed to pick up a degree from an Ivy league school orates as if he were running for the captain of the prep school’s JV football team? 

I wouldn't call Trump stupid. He is an astute businessman and seems to be a facile grifter (if his Trump University scam is any indication)  and he has managed to go far in a presidential campaign without the advantage of rhetorical elan. The linguistic flair we are accustomed to seeing in “snake oil” peddlers is missing entirely. Does Trump believe his fan base too slow-witted to understand anything beyond “make this country great?” If “yes,” is Trump correct in that assessment? If “no,” why does he speak to his supporters as if they are children?

I think the problem is Trump his spirit and psyche, not his English language aptitude. Here's an illustration. When I taught Middle School and High School English I used to use a fast trick to ascertain where a student's education had stopped. I'd give the English student in question a math problem. I had taught 6th grade math. I knew there was a good chance a 10th grader who couldn't do a 5th grade math had stopped learning before or shortly after 5th grade. Trump is probably good at math. But his use of language strikes me as indicative of some kind of delayed development. 
Often linguistic development and psychological development are closely linked. My theory is that Trump stopped growing at some point. He stopped developing at an age at which greed, desire to have sex with hot girls, lack of empathy and lack of spiritual depth are perfectly normal and in high drive. What 13 year-old heterosexual boy wouldn’t look at very woman in his presence with an overarching concern for her degree of pulchritude? Who but a 13 year old boy would retaliate by calling her unattractive? What 13 year-old boy doesn’t want to win every contest, beat the best, dominate the game? 

I would be happy to have an atheist president. Indeed, I often think an atheist president, a leader untethered from the tyranny of organized religion would be very good for our nation. On the other hand, I am a Christian, and I find the promiscuous tossing about of God’s name for no purpose beyond getting votes repugnant. Donald Trump is ramping up his Christian status while dismissing most of what Jesus taught. “Two Corinthians, 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame” is a not even funny mockery made for political gain. Ironically, there's truth n that artless quip. To Trump the presidential race itself, as a game, and Jesus as a Most Valuable player.

Donald Trump is pimping out Jesus for props. Well-conceived blasphemy can be positive and I believe there's a place for even very irreverent jocularity in faith, belief and even ritual, but when I hear Trump, a man who so flagrantly embodies all that the Jesus of the New Testament is not, call Communion a "cracker," not I am offended. Not because I am sensitive to Holy Communion jokes--We make those at home-- but because it is clear that Trump has little use for Christianity beyond its potential to help him rack up votes. 

Back when I was in Catechism class, we called breaking the third commandment “using the Lord’s name in vain.” Trump, the rich man who can pass into Heaven as easily as a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, takes the name of Christ in vain when he plays at being a man of faith in exchange for votes. Trump has done the opposite of selling all he owns to follow Jesus. Trump has contempt for refugees. Trump is a warmonger and a scam artist. His acolytes may think he is the “Way” but even they know he is neither the “Truth” nor the “Light.” I don’t know whether Trump is a Christian--no one can know such a thing about another--but I can see that to Trump, that Jesus is his tool.

Catholic theology places much importance on the connection between words and creation, and holds as one of its truths that incarnation a is a culmination in which the word is made flesh. “In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh.” (John, 1:1) As a Christian with a religious practice, I find the Donald's bible trumping appalling. As a writer, poet and educator who has taught students ages 5 through 83 to write, argue, and speak persuasively, I note that Trump’s puerile manner of speaking should alarm us. I fear Trump's struggle with rhetoric suggests the possibility of profound arrested development or something worse. 

Trump orates like a 12 year-old. He views women as a 12 year-old might---or perhaps as a slowly maturing Frat boy might.  His conception of God is like that a 12 year-old would be expected to have. He fears strangers ('the other') as a 12 year-old who hasn’t been taught to value differences does. Trump approaches religious faith like a 12 year-old forced to go to Hebrew school or Catechism class in order to get the big party and prizes that come with a Bar Mitzvah or First Holy Communion. 

I had the honor of sponsoring two of my nieces in Roman Catholic Confirmation not long ago. Each girl was about 14 years old at the time,  highly intelligent, uncommonly imaginative, healthfully oppositional in their challenging dogma and doctrine. Their religious director was a stickler for keeping some meaning in the preparation, so I was required to engage in a protracted dialogue with both girls leading up to the sacrament itself. These discussions of faith Baptismal vows, which they endured and in which I savored,  constituted some of the most affirming moments of my life. The developmental role of intelligent, independent adolescents is to push back against the conditioning of religious education, to be annoyed with God, to mistrust the whole thing, to recognize that religious conditioning has led them to the point of the Bat Mitzvah, or confirmation. There is fire and holiness in that struggle. 

I think Trump is like the 12 year-old who wants to sleep late on Sundays. He'll stay in Sunday School with Jesus because right now, Jesus is a winner and there are parties and big prizes at the end of the Liberty ball game.Trump's use of Christian text for use in the service of xenophobia, greed and bellicosity suggests that he is either spiritually tone deaf or has no clue at all about what Christians believe Jesus the rabbi of Nazareth is believed by so many to have said. There’s something sociopathic in this pandering.  

It is disturbing to see how disingenuous to see so many so-called "Christians" compromising their "Christian"values in order to follow the weirdly messianic Trump with his promises to make "America great again." Tea Party patriots who champion Trump now confirm what those of us on the left have always suspected. They don't care about Christ, or "pre-born" children, or keeping "Merry Christmas" in the retail lexicon. They care about keeping their money and guns, and the Good Lord Jesus was just a means to that end. 

And what does "make America great again" even mean? A grown man with some facility for language and even a scant grasp of American history would be telling us when it was that America was great. What is that New Jerusalem of the past Trump to which Trump in Pom-Pom girl booster mode alludes? Besides which, Donald Trump has racist contempt for much of the Americas. 

A grown man does not stand on stages and call military opponents “very bad people.” A grown man does not describe the mass murder and torture of Christians as "very bad things happening in Syria," especially while mangling texts from their sacred book as a means of getting votes. Often stunted psychological growth and arrested spiritual growth go hand in hand. I think we are seeing both in Donald Trump and we should be alarmed. If Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination, the GOP will be throwing down with a petulant and fickle child. 

I disagree with Cruz on almost every issue but I can almost imagine Ted Cruz functioning normally in a congregation, caring about the person beside him in the pew. In Trump’s case, I can not see this. I see him sizing up the guy next to him in the pew. If she is a woman, he is assessing her pulchritude and assigning her a number between 1 and 10. Donald Trump has no interest in the divine light in all  people. With the Donald, people are either "great," "losers," or "pigs."  

As a progressive Roman Catholic, I am surprised to find myself in relative solidarity, in this, with those ultra Orthodox Roman Catholics and Evangelical Christians who resist the Christian Right’s acceptance of Donald Trump. They are far less interested in whether “Christmas” returns to the Starbuck’s cup than they are in helping a thrice-married preppie grifter who, not so long ago supported “partial-birth abortion” hijack the  Republican party. They know a man who doesn't believe in anything but himself is likely to go rogue once in office. Most of them believe calling female colleagues “pigs,” cheating on one’s wife and children, bragging about one’s extramarital sexploits and divulging fantasies of dating one’s own daughter are not really compatible with Christian feeling and thinking. Many believe a tax-shelter “university” designed to relieve na├»ve working people of their 401Ks is both something upon which Jesus of Nazareth would frown. Most think the filthy rich should belong/tithe to a church make charitable donations. Many believe Trump should have used his clout to support efforts to obtain more help for 911 first responders.

It’s a stretch to call that the event at Liberty a worship service. On the other hand, it might be legitimate to call a multitude of Christians discussing Christianity an assembly of "two or more gathered in His name.” A crowd so record-breaking large had gathered at Liberty U to hear Trump speak on the day our nation chooses to honor Martin Luther King Jr., that Trump was moved to "dedicate the record" King (No further mention of King was made). But Trump wasn't there for justice. He was there, among those gathered in his name, to close a sale. To throw some money around, to hawk some doves. As I watched that video footage, I half expected to see some onward Christian soldier take a lash the Donald.

Like most progressives, I don’t much like Ted Cruz either. But I suspect Cruz may, in his personal and in his political life, try to allow his Christian feeling to inform his conduct. I have a hunch—there’s never any way to know—that Cruz is at least holds some conception of Christ in mind. 

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has put Jesus on his team because Jesus is a good guy. Jesus is a the best religious guy. Moses is good, but Moses can't won. Allah? Forget about it. Jesus is very big with the people. Jesus is the best for getting rid of the Muslims. Jesus is popular. Jesus is a real winner. Jesus is the Most valuable player. Trump’s fervent prayer is that Jesus might blow on his dice