By Pastor Robert Perez
For the last four years the world watched America like a crappy reality show, full of histrionic villains and equally cartoony heroes. It’s the start of 2021 and here in the U.S., we’re a week away from ending one of the most fascinating times in American history. Around the globe, events like the Covid-19 Pandemic caused universal economic and social suffering. Because the pandemic started in his tenure as President, there is certainly some tethering to Trump’s own history.
As an American, I am biased by my values, culture, patriotism etc., just like all Americans on all sides of our multifaceted land. However, as a Pastor, it is my duty and responsibility to claw at all forces against me to try and make my way to the middle where the truth resides, regardless of the popularity or not of my words in the end.
Let us think of Trump as more of a philosophical stance, which it really is. His Presidency ignited a war of ideas. That is why they are so powerful. When you are inside someone’s head, you can then motivate their actions. Ideas are the most powerful motivators because when they take root, actions lose their objectivity and “feel” like it is you acting on your own accord.
Information and the material world, in all their forms, exist only to manifest and proliferate ideas, and hence action. Call it whatever name you like, but everything in some measure is a philosophical stance, from architecture to consumer products and so on. Your smartphone is a philosophical statement about technology and its value to improve our lives. It also acts as a conduit for other ideas. As we all can attest, together they’re quite powerful to motivate us one way or another, for or against, left or right.
Many people today are moving away from Christianity as a motivating force. It’s a fact and there’s a simple reason for it. The ideas have lost their power. Not because they are not as powerful as they once were, but because most people just don’t know what it’s about and therefore cannot follow what they don’t get the gist of. They think they know. They’re told what to “know”. But they don’t “really know”. When you genuinely understand the philosophy of Christ it’s a no brainer. You align with it naturally and in such a way that you don’t need external coercion to guide you.
Throughout my studies, I am continuously revising my understanding of “God’s Universe”. You may take this to mean something quite generic because it sounds like a cliched turn of a phrase. But I literally mean my understanding of the reality of God’s universe as experienced firsthand by the inhabitants of planet Earth. Therein lies the problem with language (damn you, Wittgenstein). The pliability of language is a rabbit hole full of misdirection by misunderstanding.
Especially when you’re talking about spiritual matters it’s even more pronounced. That’s why Eastern religions can be so difficult to understand with their distillation of spiritual concepts into the barest of words, like “emptiness” or “oneness”.
Does anyone really know what “enlightenment” is?
In Christianity, we use the metaphors of light and darkness, but in truth both are harmless as personified forces (notwithstanding their scientific properties) and without any tangible connection to good and evil. The concepts work poetically, but they don’t exactly help with gaining a genuine and clear understanding of God, merely a romantic one.
How does one search for God’s Universe, when you don’t even know what that means?
For spiritualists of all guises, the underlying assumption is that God exists and is real regardless of our understanding of it. Yes, I believe that “we exist in God’s universe”. In addition, Jesus for his part is one of the guides (there are many) to understanding this universe, but I will attest that it’s incomplete on its own. I won’t expound here on the missing pieces, but simply put, he is not enough to fully understand God without additional knowledge and understanding i.e., from science and other religions that offer additional insights.
We’re taught to be single-minded as Christians. Seeking extraneous knowledge is sinful by deceit brought on by the enemy of God. But today man is no longer a child on this earth. We know things. To understand God, one must put the whole of human knowledge into a cocktail and guzzled it down; the good, the bad, the beautiful and the hideous, and most importantly, that which is none of those things, unbiased knowledge. These ingredients can be harmonious, not by force of narrow-minded willfulness, but by working to understand how they all fit together.
Humans naturally yearn for meaning, despite their obvious daily complacency. It’s like everyone is in a state of hibernation until stirred. Herein lies the power of personal philosophy. Once ignited, it wakes the sleeping giant in us all. Think of it as your inner navigation system. Just like a cars nav system, inside we’re always guiding ourselves based on the philosophical maps preloaded and updated in our minds. Our culture, upbringing, and experiences, coupled with the information we consume willfully or not, continuously revises or reaffirms our “maps”. Jesus gave us his map, and it’s a pretty damn near perfect one, but not complete. As knowledgeable earthlings we need an updated version.
Trumpism is a reminder that although complacent as a species, we crave direction. Trump’s philosophy was attractive to many and hence those swooned by it vehemently “recalculated” in its direction. Here on the ground, now that the bartender has turned on the lights and the party is over, his supporters are left emptyhanded and for the most part are going home with memories only (There’s always those bozos who want the party to last forever and need the bouncer to throw them out). Trumpism was weak and unsustainable, offering no value for nutrition or lasting health as a country, nor to each citizen who bought into it.
What do you replace it with? For many, they have already gone back into hibernation. For others, they will wander aimlessly until they find a substitute.
Wherever you are in this world, whatever your circumstances are, it is your personal philosophy that is most valuable. Put a shitty map in your head and you’ll drive to places you don’t want to be. Put the right map in and you can achieve things undreamed of. Your personal philosophy is everything that makes you who you are.
I believe this, I don’t believe that. I understand this, I don’t understand that.
You’re here for a reason, right? Try this…
First, you must make a concerted effort to commit yourself to seeking God, or not. Don’t be wishy-washy. Being in the middle is a waste of your life and potential. I assume you lean toward believing. Don’t be shy about it. Be bold and go after Him.
Second, you probably have an attraction or curiosity for Christian spirituality, or were raised as a Christian in some form, such as a Catholic or Baptist and so on. If you want to understand better what this is all about, commit to that endeavor and find out why Jesus matters beyond a Sunday sermon or random holiday.
Third, this is the most important part, get rid of the same ole’ same ole. Dust off what you previously learned and put it aside, for now. Start fresh with a renewed awe, as if you never heard of any of this before. You’ll be amazed what a fresh reading of the teachings of Jesus can do to your personal philosophy once you rid yourself of the baggage others gave you.
Hit your reset button and go back to the beginning. Start by reading Chapter One of the New Testament, The Gospel According to Matthew. (You’ll need to get past the first part, The Genealogy of Jesus. It’s a little dry, but it’s less than a page before the good stuff starts. Trust me on this.)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. – Matthew, Chapter 1:18
It’s really not a Post Trump World at all, because the world existed before and will exist after, as it always has and always will. His was a forgettable blip in the time-space continuum. Replace empty philosophies with one that is boundaryless and where all are welcome. Plug God as your destination on your inner nav system and discover what’s been waiting for you all along, that is love and truth for all of planet earth.
God is forever. Past, present and future. Amen.