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Is Donald Trump The Christ?
No, but a new book says he is
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I’m not much into self-help literature. Who has time to help myself when I’m too busy helping others? But the gurus say that life truly begins just outside your comfort zone. And so I did something that caused me extreme discomfort this week. No, I don’t mean watching John Fetterman debate. Though when the aphasia-sufferer/senate hopeful opened with “Hi, goodnight everybody,” I felt a little less alone in a misery-loves-company sort of way: he couldn’t wait for it to be over, either.
Neither did I do something truly zany, like reporting for my side hustle as a Shabbos goy in my Kanye line of Yeezy Adidas sneakers. I’m virulently anti-antisemitism. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a member of the media, which, according to Kanye, is controlled by The Jews.
But I did do something rather radical – I read a book. This is not to suggest reading a book is in itself a radical act. (Though now that the Beavis-and-Buttheadification of America is nearly complete, reading a book is something that 51.5 percent of the country hasn’t done in the past year.) Rather, it’s the book I read that is radical. For a good lukewarm Christian like me, it’s a real lapel-grabber. It appears that the subject of it - the same guy who reimagined our politics - is now reimagining our religion. Politics and religion for many, having become indistinguishable. Because Donald J. Trump isn’t just a twice-impeached ex-president with a suspicious combover who has a taste for Quarter Pounders and overturning elections. No, think bigger. Donald John Trump, it turns out, is The Christ.
It says so right in the title of Helgard Müller’s new book, President Donald J. Trump, The Son of Man – THE CHRIST. (The all-caps are his.) While it’s something of a major revelation that the writers of the New Testament missed the boat, this is not what publishing types would call a major release. The book was published by Outskirts Press – I guess Zondervan took a pass when learning that J.C. would have to share a marquee with D.J.T. - which is to say, it’s self-published. (Outskirts Press guarantees that you too can “publish your book, your way.”) But that hasn’t kept it from garnering 57 customer ratings - average: 1 ½ stars - and ranking #671 in the “Christian commentaries” category. (#328 on Kindle!)
Always eager to Make The Messiah Great Again, I plunked down my $17.76, plus tax, and waited for the second coming to arrive. The book was flagged to my attention by a subscriber, Dwight Chappell – a retired Christian educator and missionary to Russia and Ukraine, who doesn’t even believe Trump was a good president, let alone the Son of God. But he’d read about it in news accounts, as flyers advertising the book started popping up at Trump rallies, like the one he campaigned at on behalf of J.D. Vance in Ohio last month, where Trump brought his own peculiar brand of gospel truth, offering that Vance (once a Never-Trumper, now a pretend-disciple) “is kissing my ass.”
While there’s no evidence that Trump has read the book (he’s not a big reader, some doubt that he’s even read the books he’s “written”), Trump has drawn comparisons to Christ before, including by himself. Just last month, one of the users of Trump’s failing social media/Twitter knockoff wrote, "Jesus is the Greatest. President @realDonaldTrump is the second greatest." Trump “re-truthed” it on Truth Social, meaning tens, maybe even hundreds of people saw it.
Though there is fierce theological debate in Trumpster circles whether Jesus was actually greater. After all, the O.G. Son of God merely died for our sins, saving us from damnation, then clocked out at 33 years old. (Nobody likes a quitter.) Mr. Trump has accomplished so much more in his 76 years and counting: siring Eric and Don Jr., collecting three wives (one of whom might have been buried at his golf course for a tax break), building 40 new miles of wall along our 2,000-mile border, and founding best-in-class operations like Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, and Trump University.
Still, I knew I was in for it when “President Donald J. Trump, The Son of Man – THE CHRIST” arrived, and the opening paragraph read:
President Donald J. Trump is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! The Son of Man who will be seen seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven! You have read that correctly! President Donald J. Trump is the Christ for this age! The Son of King David! Prophecies of Jesus and all the prophets point to President Donald J. Trump as the Son of Man, the Christ.
Further troubling tells appear in the author’s bio. It seems Helgard Müller, who says his day job is as a property manager in Cincinnati, is a South African émigré and that “as a young boy, he loved the Apartheid era of South Africa………Those were the days, my friend; we thought they would never end.” (Helgard’s italics.) Though he’s not a formally trained biblical scholar, Helgard adds “I have read the Bible about one hundred and fifty times in my life, and the New Testament probably double that number.” Additionally, he’s studied original Hebrew texts and he loves Jewish Gematria (assigning numerical value to a name or word to explain their cryptographic significance). Though like Trump’s favorite rapper, Kanye, he doesn’t seem all that crazy about the Jews proper: “Jesus was defeated by the Jewish Leftist Mafia – just like Trump. What they do not know is that Trump will stand on the right hand of God and defeat and destroy the Jews and Liberals in Washington DC – for they have made it a den of thieves.)” Jesus was a Jew, of course, but hey – nobody’s perfect – and Helgard doesn’t seem to hold that against him. O.G. J.C. was himself big on forgiveness.
Helgard’s book appears to have been written in a fever. Which is not to be confused with a fever swamp (Trump the Christ having drained it.) As Helgard explains it: “As my hands are wavering literally through the air grabbing words from the sky, I can hear the cicadas buzz in the forest next to my house and I am listening to one of the greatest songs ever written in 1978 by French singer Patrick Hernandez – ‘Born to Be Alive.’ You just cannot beat this very moment in time for me to write the best text on this day and age about Trump as the Christ. He’s for sure my favorite President!”
In his introduction, Helgard promises “my book is not going to be a long and dramatic book. It will be to the point.” Having slogged through all 298 pages of it, I beg to differ. But his working premise is that while Christian theologians often mistake the “Son of Man” in the Bible for J.C., there are actually two Messiahs: Jesus, the Son of God, on the one hand. And the tangelo-flavored real estate branding magnate on the other. Helgard, who is preoccupied with seating charts, holds that Jesus stands in front of the throne of God, while the Son of Man (i.e., Mr. Trump) is positioned at God’s right hand. Though if Trump drops a C-note on God, who knows? Maybe he’ll get to do a shift in the Big Chair.
We’ll skip the 150 pages or so of Helgard’s tortured hermeneutics, in the interest of not causing reader brain injuries. More entertaining is Helgard laying out his evidence that Jesus and Trump, or as some Trumpsters would prefer, Trump and Jesus, are messianic brothers from another mother. (Though both of their mothers were named Mary, Helgard hastens to add.)
Even as Helgard asserts that Trump himself “is the look-alike of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (give or take 100 lbs.), the “coincidences” stack up fast. This is far from a complete list:
Jesus is thought of as The Christ. Trump’s father Fred’s middle name is actually “Christ.”
Jesus decried false prophets. Trump decried fake news.
Jesus casts out demons, while Trump casts out Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who the unimpeachable source, Alex Jones, has claimed are “literally demons from hell.”
Jesus referenced the word “truth” 22 times in the King James version of the gospels. Trump started the social media app Truth Social in order to combat Big Tech liars like those at Twitter and Facebook and “JewTube” (Helgard’s epithet).
Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas. Trump was betrayed by his disciple Mike Pence.
Jesus was literally crucified between two criminals. Trump was figuratively crucified between Michael Flynn and Roger Stone (both of whom he pardoned).
Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who had compassion for the Son of God, and buried him in fine linen. Whereas Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, who has relentlessly pushed claims that the 2020 election was stolen from the Son of Man, is “a multimillionaire who sells fine linen.”
As Helgard puts it: “There are too many parallels between Jesus, the Son of God, and President Donald J. Trump as the Son of Man to be ignored. Do you see it too as a reader?” Yes! Thank you, Jesus! (Thank you, Trump!?) I’m starting to. Particularly when Helgard lays out the big clincher, valiantly tackling the Orange Question head-on: “Why is Donald Trump so orange?......The net is filled with rumors, but the compromise is that Trump is an admirer of bad spray tans or the tanning booth. (The white goggle lines are a dead giveaway.) He has not always been this dark.”
And yet, while Helgard has heard Trump’s detractors mock him (much as the original Christ was mocked by “Give-us-Barabbas” types), calling Trump everything from Agent Orange to the Mango Mussolini to the Cheeto In Charge, Helgard had yet another revelation:
When I heard some people call Mr. Trump ‘Tangerine Jesus’ I recall the scriptures of Matthew 17: 1-3 where Jesus’ face did shine as ‘orange’ as the sun. The comparisons between Jesus, the Son of God whose face turned ‘orange as the sun’ and the Son of Man’s (President Donald J. Trump) face who is the color ‘orange’ is enormously great.
And so, Helgard comes to his inevitable conclusion – the evidence is by now too conclusive to ignore: “Make President Donald J. Trump great so that you can have eternal life and not perish (John 3: 14-15)! For whosoever shall be ashamed of Jesus, the Son of God …..of him shall President Donald J. Trump, the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his father’s, and of the holy angels.”
In the interest of fairness, I know and am related to a lot of Trump supporters. Exactly none of them have suggested to me that Trump is the Messiah, not literally anyway. So some will accuse me of having just spent the last 1,900 words “nutpicking,” a journalistic term of art for using the low-hanging nutjobs to slander an entire movement.
But even if you regard this book as on-its-face crazy, it feels to me like Helgard Müller might have met the moment. For crazy has become the new sane. Just look around: An ego-drunk ex-president who handily lost an election – and who inspired his MAGA-hatted hordes to physically invade the Capitol - has spent the last two years trying to steal it back, making his party’s candidates’ stance on the issue a prerequisite for getting nominated. (Consequently, 60 percent of Americans will have an election denier on their ballot this fall.) A bomb-throwing, QAnon-loving congresswoman from Georgia, who doesn’t have a single legislative accomplishment to her name, but who has voiced the opinion that California wildfires were caused by Jewish space lasers, is rumored to be on the short list for vice president should Trump run again. (Mike Pence will likely not be considered, even if Trump’s disciples failed to hang him through no fault of their own.)
Perhaps most dispiriting, too many of my fellow evangelicals are buying into this long con, whether they’re flocking to ReAwaken roadshows at their local churches to get pumped full of conspiratorial paranoia while sitting under the tutelage of storied theologian Michael Flynn. Or shilling for bullet-headed dildos like Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano, a “Christian nationalist” – whatever that is - who was at the very least riot-adjacent when others bum-rushed the Capitol on January 6. Then there’s white evangelicals, who, according to polls, more than a quarter of at some point believed in core QAnon theories. Or there’s the nearly half of U.S. Protestant pastors who hear conspiracy theories echoed in their churches from congregants who are doing the breast stroke in the fever swamp that never quite got drained.
We had a word for all this where I come from. We called it “horseshit,” even if we weren’t allowed to say it on account of my growing up Southern Baptist. Too many of my fellow evangelicals, whose Christian nationalist fervor seems to lean a lot heavier on the nationalism than the Christianity, seem to have forgotten those red letters (Jesus’s words) in the New Testament, the ones we memorized as children: Blessed are the meek……Blessed are the merciful…..Blessed are the pure in heart…..Blessed are the peacemakers.
Call me old-fashioned, but those words beat the hell out of Helgard’s new-and-improved Son of Man’s words, ones Trump once uttered in front of me while I was following him around at a Tony Robbins conference: “When somebody screws you, screw 'em back, but a lot harder." Along with other helpful commandments, like “always have a pre-nup.”
I have talked to too many Christians who insisted not that Trump was God, but that he was God’s field rep – the right man in the right place at the right time. And I don’t pretend to know the mind of God. If he’s there – and I’m betting that he is – he’s never bothered to explain it to me. But I’d venture a guess that God doesn’t need Donald Trump as badly as Trump needs God, even if the fake Son of Man seems to think he already is one. And if you’re of the opinion that Donald Trump is the only way God can right wrongs and carry out his will, then maybe your God ain’t all he’s cracked up to be, and you might ought to look into a new deity. (No, not Ron DeSantis.)
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Blasphemous bonus track: I don’t know if this song is a joke, or sincere. These are strange days, and I’m no longer able to tell the difference. But since I pinched the Amazon art work up top from a title by amateur songwriter Richie Goodfellow, I figured I might as well play his tune. This is “Donald Trump Is The Brand New Jesus Christ.” I imagine Helgard will put it on a loop:
Double non-blasphemous bonus tracks: I love this song about OG Jesus, discovered by my gospel fiend of a son, Luke. I don’t know who this kid is – no name is given. Neither do I know whether he’s still singing, though if he isn’t, that’s a fair case that there is no God. But here he is doing “There’s Something About the Name of Jesus,” a song originally popularized by The Rance Allen Group, the first group signed in the seventies to Stax Records imprint, Gospel Truth. You should love everything about this video: the purple carpet, the kid wearing his scuffed-up sneaks with his church clothes, the cameraman shouting “Boy, you better sing it, son.”
And lastly, a favorite by the great Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell. Cary used to play fiddle and sing angelic harmonies for Ryan Adams’ now-defunct band, Whiskeytown. This cut is off her much-overlooked 2005 album of duets with Cockrell, Begonias. It’s called “The Big House,” which is not false advertising. It is both big, and beautiful.