Jesus, Trump, Putin, Star Wars, ISIS, Thanksgiving.
At his moment of great peril, Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, quoted from the Torah, the Pentateuch. The citation was not from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, nor from Numbers. The wisdom came from the Book of Deuteronomy.
In what is known as the Temptation of Christ, a very hungry Jesus, fasting for forty days in the wilderness, is tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread. In effect this temptation would have Jesus abandon both his heritage and his mission on Earth.
The citation by Jesus is effective in repelling the wily Satan. The quote is relevant in our own time.
Jesus reached back to a time when the nation of Israel was at a similar perilous crossroads. In Deuteronomy, the great Moses, who led his people from captivity, exhorts and chastises them to not stray from their G_d, and to stay true to their purposes in history. Moses too fasted for forty days as he received the tablets of the Covenant with it’s contractual Commandments and he too found himself in the wilderness on a mountain, so the Jesus quote is at the very least a literary masterstroke.
Here we have two figures, both quite conscious of destiny and the need to remain steadfast to their duty, at a moment of great peril. So what is the quote from Moses that Jesus (Matthew 4:4) cited? Here is the full quote from Moses and we will highlight the sentence Jesus utilized to repel temptation to weakness and failure:
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Yup! Men, Women, do not live by bread alone. We are more than lumps of protoplasm adrift in the tides of history. It is a lesson from Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, and it is a long struggle between the materialist philosophy Marx espoused and those of the wise who understand other nourishments are required. Star Wars‘ fictional Yoda understands we are more than “this crude matter”.
“I don’t believe it.” “That is why you fail.” Without the belief there is failure. Which brings us to Trump, Putin, ISIS, and Thanksgiving by way of Ross Douthat of the New York Times:
The deep reality here (a reality not unlike the one that’s playing itself out on certain college campuses right now) is that many human beings, especially perhaps young human beings, still crave a transcendent purpose, even in a society that tells them they don’t really need one to live a comfortable, fulfilling life. And more than that, many people experience both a kind of liberation and a kind of joy in submission to these purposes, even — as is the case with ISIS — when that submission involves accepting forms of violence and cruelty that rightly shock the conscience of the world.
This joy is not something that our culture is conditioned to expect or accept, let alone to counter.
Why does ISIS rise? Because their leaders and their followers believe in something. It is an evil something and a hideous something, but they believe in it and are willing to die for it.
The West, the values of the West, the heritage of the West, are in peril today because our leaders have abandoned everything about the West except its materialist component. Since 2011 we have written about Barack Obama’s “managed decline” of America. “Managed decline” of America, brought to you by Barack Obama.
The president of the United States, the one that is supposed to be the leader of the Free World, the champion of the West and its values will not defend the West because he and his cohort do not believe in our values.
So from Barack Obama’s “managed decline” of America a different voice emerges. That voice says “Make America Great Again”. “Make America Great Again” is a rational response to “managed decline”. Add to that Donald Trump’s instinctive defense of the West and its values and the power of his message becomes clear.
Vladimir Putin understands in his Slavic soul that indeed his Russia does not live by bread alone. Relatively speaking Russia is a rather devastated country. But Putin has shown a grit and determination to Make Russia Great Again and that is how he captures the loyalty of the Russian people.
Not that there is any equivalence between what Donald Trump says and wants and what Vladimir Putin espouses. Putin is not of the West. Putin is certainly not of the West that values freedom and liberty and other such “spiritual” values.
Trump is entirely a man of the West. His freewheeling discourses are entirely those of a man who delights in the exercise of free speech, the power of the individual, and the iconoclastic punches against an establishment that has lost its way and no longer possesses the consent of the governed.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are a clash in values. Both are fierce advocates for their civilizations. Putin is ascendant now because Barack Obama has “managed declined” America’s role as leader of the Free World and therefore the authoritarian Putin has free reign.
Donald Trump wants to champion the West and all its values. What are those values? Our values are our Judeo-Christian heritage. Those values are why Donald Trump and Bibi Netanyahu sound battle cries with the same strength and purpose.
The spiritual heritage of the West is under attack. Notice how it is in the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy that it is respectable to accept the spiritual and the transcendent? You can’t talk about G_d in the classroom but it is entirely OK to prattle about “The Force” and make Hollywood blockbusters about some make believe priesthood of warriors – just don’t mention the Apostles and how those twelve grew into a global civilization.
The leaders of the West believe the values of the West are a spent force. It’s why Angela Merkel seeks to reset the demographics of Germany with an alien soft invasion to counteract the decline in birthrates in her country. It’s sort of a “managed invasion” of the culture, heritage and values of a Western democracy – from the inside!
Throughout the West we see our great institutions reject pillars of the West such as free speech for the nonsense of “safe zones” stripped of Western values. First it was kick out Jane Austen and Shakespeare, then all white men who wrote the literature that make us who we are.
We see the rise of silly “movements” such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter because, aside from the manipulators who initiate these “movements” for their political profit – many young Americans are looking for something to believe in.
It used to be that the young, yearning for something to believe in would turn to cult religions that turned them into profitable sales groups hawking incense and refuge for the lonely or adrift. Now, we have political manipulators who create “movements” for those left unmoored by a society and culture that does not quench the soul of it’s thirst for a spark of the divine that is in us all.
And that is the glory of Thanksgiving. It is on Thanksgiving that the table is set with reflection on blessings.
This Thanksgiving weekend, with the rise of barbarism in the East, the threats from the North, and a global awakening of what might be gone if the West is lost, we find peace and hope. As the shadows rise and history repeats, we believe the West and the values of the West will be defended. This is a moment of great peril. It’s also a moment of great promise.