My Pres(by) Trump

compassionAt 100 days I am finally (!) developing some compassion for our beleaguered President. It has taken me a while. Trump has been caught off guard by the complexity of NAFTA, Healthcare, international relations… and now this week he has confessed the job is far more difficult than he thought it would be. I get it. That can happen to Presbyterian pastors too.

Millions of us knew he was not prepared to be President, and he has shown it in dozens of appalling and reckless ways. Our least equipped of Presidents is in way over his head. And it is seeing his flailing and failing in so many areas that has triggered in me, pretty late I suppose, some compassion in addition to my ongoing anger and judgment.

I don’t like Donald Trump at all. But something has begun to warm a little down deep inside. And I’m grateful, because the dark hatred and contempt roiling within has been quite frankly a shock to my system. It’s been a long 5 months. You should try preaching when you are just constantly pissed.

He claims to be Presbyterian. I should be cheering, but in my mind I store this in the same place as knowing Joseph Smith was Presbyterian. But there apparently is no congregation anywhere with a memory of his meaningful involvement. And we Presbyterians are pretty good at keeping books! He got married in a Presbyterian Church in New York but there is no record of regular worship, participation, giving…there is just no evidence. His claiming Presbyterian roots, or any faith at all, seems without merit.

This is hardly news for those of us familiar with the church! Nominal Presbyterians are a fairly populous bunch.  But it is news for a president of the United States.

President Trump has attended worship events a couple of times since his election, and has had people pray over him. Somebody even claimed he made some new commitment to the Lord in time for the election. It all seems to be, like so much of his activity, just a juvenile ruse to gain popularity and feed his insatiable and insecure ego.

Oddly though, this also warms my compassion a bit. Who, in 2017 would try to gain popularity by claiming Presbyterian? Does he know this isn’t 1957?

Donald Trump is, by a considerable degree, the most immature national leader I have seen in the 40 years I have been paying attention.  My compassion has only warmed reluctantly, and only a bit. His language and behavior constantly display a greed and selfishness astounding in its transparent lack of sophistication and concern for anything greater than himself.

He is an offense to thinking people everywhere, but I don’t believe he can really help much of the disastrous narcissism he is thrusting on the world. His lack of intelligence and integrity make him a profoundly dangerous man.  But I don’t expect him to be learning or changing anytime soon.

This all seems fine by the GOP and by a significant majority of Evangelicals. Their complicity in our national embarrassment and betrayal of Christian values is the most remarkable political story of the decade. I need help working on my compassion towards them as well.