- - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A comfortable people have the luxury of letting biblical tales drift into a status no more compelling than that of a nursery rhyme.

So sayeth the Gospel according to your inner child: Hickory, dickory, dock, Jesus walked down the block. He gave out hugs and didn’t judge and that whole suffering for sin on the cross thing sure seems to be a big crock.

But suddenly we aren’t so comfortable. Sure, we’ve had economic malaise, moral bankruptcy and world terror surrounding us for quite some time now, but we’ve persisted in pounding square pegs into round holes as long as we could to keep the semblance of what passes for American cruise control.

Decadence, debt, and denial. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Then, as soon as we ran out of square pegs and with no substantive faith to turn to, we finally turned to something we don’t fully trust or understand — Donald Trump – to bail us out. Which is another way of saying we are fools who have completely forgotten the lessons of Palm Sunday.

Holy Week began with that celebration just days ago on the road to Easter. To the boys who can shave and the she-childs among us, the juvenile gist of it is that a really groovy guy was thrown a parade by a loving people, and then killed less than a week later because he refused to bow down to the man.

You know, hippie Jesus.

Except that bowing down is exactly what Jesus did come to Jerusalem to do. He came to bow to the will of his Father in heaven. He came to deliver a people from themselves, not from a corrupt system or even a bruising tyrant.

Sounds like kind of a parade killer, doesn’t it? Jesus probably wouldn’t have even made it as far as Good Friday if folks were hip to his Holy jive earlier. ‘They know not what they do’ and all that. Either tell us what we want to hear, or it’s time to die.

Instead, Palm Sunday went down with great fanfare because, like with Trump, the people wanted a worldly savior cast in their image. It is the kind of self-love that easily discards notions of requisite sacrifice for demagoguery.

A people living century after century as either doormats or full-blown slaves wanted to flip the script instead of rewriting it altogether. All the while bastardizing the name of a God who knows better than our fears and trembling. And here came Jesus, fresh off a multi-year stint of big crowds and mighty miracles. He would do nicely. So the mob pulled out all the stops to welcome him as the hero they wanted instead of the hero they needed.

They waved palm leaves and laid down their cloaks to welcome the Messiah in what was a classically understood sign of submission and/or allegiance to a new ruler. But it was a lie. The people had typecast their expected ruler into a role he was never begotten for, meaning that true submission and genuine deliverance was never really an option.

In other words, they weren’t looking for Jesus to save them from themselves. They were looking for Jesus to “make Israel great again.”

The people had made themselves into an anti-Messiah. Their victimology controlled them, not their faith. They wanted their egos celebrated instead of destroyed.

That’s how a people goes from waving palm branches at their savior to demanding his execution in just a hellbound matter of days. The status quo is the status quo until it isn’t anymore. Then watch out, for the mob is fickle and it will have its way.

For instance, it was little more than a year ago that many American conservatives were not only singing the praises of the somewhat vanilla and unassuming Scott Walker, but also dismissing as farfetched the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. Then came some pagan miracles in a desert of GOP political hackery. Trump’s name-calling and populism razzle dazzle made not only Walker, but the lion’s share of a 17-candidate field, look like flaccid jokes to a politically jaundiced people.

A king had finally been created in the people’s angry, frustrated image. In the final analysis, that is the great constant when comparing Palm Sunday and the parade we now throw for a man with the highest measurable negatives in the modern political era.

The vessel being asked to shoulder that image can’t be more flawed than a reality show conman. But when a damaged people determine he who walks like a duck and acts like a duck must really be a grizzly bear, well, get ready for a bumpy ride.

Like a herd of Legion-possessed swine running off a cliff, they want what they want. Trump followers think they are being strong, hopeful, and inspired right now by anointing their man to ‘tell it like it is.’ In reality they are like a hostage who has taken on the identity of their captors.

And so it is that almost all that is to come will be a dangerous fiction.

Hickory, dickory, dock, Trump can lead our flock. He makes great deals and our land will heal, because it’s time for a president who rants like a shock jock.

Catchy, isn’t it? Except that living as political and civic doormats for too long has dulled our senses and corrupted our perspective. We can dance and whore between now and election day this November, but we won’t ultimately get the deliverance we want.

And certainly not the deliverance we need.

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