Trump Derangement Syndrome and the Religious Impulse

A few people have made the claim – notably Dennis Prager – that Leftists (to use his “political” term that distinguishes them from liberals) or Progressives (to use the term which Leftists use to describe themselves) are devout followers of a religion. That is, Leftism/Progressivism is not just a political ideology to which people are attached, it is a religion.  Some might say that this is no more than a clever metaphor: Progressivism is comparable to a religion but is not itself a religion because it has no God.  This is a position worth analyzing.  

The religious purist may be right: a religion must have a God, a God with a capital “G,” denoting a divinity suffusing or undergirding the religion.  Both theism and deism have divine Creator-Gods: in theism, the Creator-God still plays an active, intervening role in human existence; in deism, the Creator-God has done its work and leaves the cosmos and it inhabitants to their own devices.

But, might we also say that something is religious in a “lower-case-g” sort of way?  That is, can a religion be anything that has a god whether that god is ontologically divine or not?  Prager himself qualifies his idea by calling Leftism/Progressivism a “secular religion.”  To purists this will play as an oxymoron: secular means non-religious because the secular eschews the divine.  But, we could say that “secular,” while debunking the divine, does not automatically debunk gods.  It just drains them of their divinity.

What might give us the right to broaden our definition of religion to include a god that isn’t divine?  We may find our answer in human brain physiology and how it generates consciousness and mind.  In The Future of the Human Mind, Michio Kaku recounts studies showing how people, especially those with a condition called “temporal lobe epilepsy,” exhibit what has been called, as far back as 1892, a “religious emotionalism” or, a bit later, “hyperreligiosity.” 

It is common cultural practice, of course, to connect the idea of madness to people like witches and artists and saints and serial killers.  Joan of Arc herself admitted to hearing divine voices, and so did Charles Manson, and armies of many, in the case of St. Joan, and just a few, in the case of Manson, were willing to follow them.  Today, brain physiologists say there is convincing evidence that Joan of Arc was epileptic; there are some tentative connections to Manson and epilepsy.  Temporal lobe epilepsy causes, on the electro-physical level, neurological misfirings.  These misfirings often create hallucinations of divine voices and images, and, less extremely, feelings of Oneness with nature and the cosmos eliciting statements like: “I think I really understand God and my place in the universe.”  Controlled studies have shown that temporal lobe epileptics have intense emotional reactions to the word “God” or the word “Devil,” but not to terms outside of religious semantic fields.

The science seems to warrant the use of the label “secular religion.”  Science suggests that our brains have religiosity in their structure (is this scientific proof we are made in our God’s image and likeness?).  Thus, a secular religion is not an oxymoron at all; rather, it is a specification, an historical and cultural report, perhaps, of the nature of our current gods.  (Watch American Gods; it is trying in its own way to address our current religious climate and its contradictions).  

A secular religion, then, is a religion whose gods are not divine but whose congregation is no less devout.  Consider these Progressive god-words: “social justice,” “race,” “equality (gender and economic),” “socialism,” “climate change,” “social justice warrior,” “democrat,” and “Hillary.”  And now, the Progressive devil-words: “justice (legal, not social), “racist,” “difference (gender and economic),” “capitalism,” “climate change denier,” “policeman,” “republican,” and “Trump.”

The science also shows, however, that sometimes, as in cases of temporal lobe epilepsy, religiosity becomes hyper-emotional.  Many events since Donald Trump’s presidential victory suggest that at least some members of the Progressive religion are more than devout (consider mock Trump beheadings by Progressive humorists; or, recostuming of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar aimed at achieving a more progressively useful anti-Trump catharsis).  Beyond devotion.  It seems some Progressives are suffering from hyperreligiosity (irony noted: divinity can be exiled, but not gods), a cultural-level temporal lobe epilepsy.  Some Progressives are not just apoplectic about the recent presidential election, but actually epileptic.

This is not meant merely metaphorically.  Brain physiology lends it more than metaphorical clout, and that clout, genetic in nature, extends to all humans regardless of political bearing.  But, we should not be surprised to see hyperreligious cultural seizures emerging from the Left rather than from the Right.  The bouts of cultural epilepsy may be more prevalent on the Left because of the Progressive pantheon.  Who and what are the gods of the Progressivist religion?  They are neither theistic nor deistic because the Progressive eschews the divine; instead, Progressivism embraces the Human as god (especially in the form of government official, university professor, Hollywood celebrity, and superrich climate-change guru—while accusing conservatives of being elitist). 

In eschewing the divine and embracing the Human, the religion of Progressivism also eschews objective good and evil and favors moral relativism and equivalence; eschews truth and favors personal feeling; eschews acts of will and responsibility and favors agentless events of victimization; and, it eschews law and favors political ideology and political force.

So, while all humans may have a built-in sense of religiosity, and while a handful of humans may suffer an epilepsy-induced hyperreligiosity, it matters if we are epileptic Joans-of-Arc or epileptic Progressives.  It matters if the gods we hallucinate are theistic, deistic—or something else. 

The problem is, America’s theistic and deistic religions are being crowded by the new Progressive religion from both outside (the MSM) and inside (Pope Francis is as much a religious Leftist as he is Christian theologian).  With Hillary’s emotionally devastating defeat, Progressives have lost their papal equivalent, and they have wailed and gnashed their teeth accordingly.  Even some of their incumbent deacons like Nancy Pelosi (c.f. Ossoff’s defeat in Georgia) are now being defrocked from within.  Still, Progressivism boasts a strong pastoral clergy in the likes of Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart.  Scripture and revelation are now a function of “fake news.”  But here the Progressive clergy has to be careful: it is acceptable for Beltway Progressives to launch, for example, a spurious inquisition into Trump/Russia collusion in order to impeach a heretic (and protect their own by distraction); it is acceptable for the media to stir up the spiritual passions of the devoted so that they may march in the streets against a fascism they believe they are fighting but are actually projecting; but, it is something altogether different to report on events involving lesser members of its own flock who shoot Republican congressmen at baseball practice.  (The story virtually disappeared from mainstream media 36 hours after the event, and when it resurfaced as the FBI’s take on the matter, its astounding total divorce from reality and fact was institutionally established).  Here, then, we have even more proof that Progressivism is a religion: it hides what doesn’t fit its holy narrative.

A few people have made the claim – notably Dennis Prager – that Leftists (to use his “political” term that distinguishes them from liberals) or Progressives (to use the term which Leftists use to describe themselves) are devout followers of a religion. That is, Leftism/Progressivism is not just a political ideology to which people are attached, it is a religion.  Some might say that this is no more than a clever metaphor: Progressivism is comparable to a religion but is not itself a religion because it has no God.  This is a position worth analyzing.  

The religious purist may be right: a religion must have a God, a God with a capital “G,” denoting a divinity suffusing or undergirding the religion.  Both theism and deism have divine Creator-Gods: in theism, the Creator-God still plays an active, intervening role in human existence; in deism, the Creator-God has done its work and leaves the cosmos and it inhabitants to their own devices.

But, might we also say that something is religious in a “lower-case-g” sort of way?  That is, can a religion be anything that has a god whether that god is ontologically divine or not?  Prager himself qualifies his idea by calling Leftism/Progressivism a “secular religion.”  To purists this will play as an oxymoron: secular means non-religious because the secular eschews the divine.  But, we could say that “secular,” while debunking the divine, does not automatically debunk gods.  It just drains them of their divinity.

What might give us the right to broaden our definition of religion to include a god that isn’t divine?  We may find our answer in human brain physiology and how it generates consciousness and mind.  In The Future of the Human Mind, Michio Kaku recounts studies showing how people, especially those with a condition called “temporal lobe epilepsy,” exhibit what has been called, as far back as 1892, a “religious emotionalism” or, a bit later, “hyperreligiosity.” 

It is common cultural practice, of course, to connect the idea of madness to people like witches and artists and saints and serial killers.  Joan of Arc herself admitted to hearing divine voices, and so did Charles Manson, and armies of many, in the case of St. Joan, and just a few, in the case of Manson, were willing to follow them.  Today, brain physiologists say there is convincing evidence that Joan of Arc was epileptic; there are some tentative connections to Manson and epilepsy.  Temporal lobe epilepsy causes, on the electro-physical level, neurological misfirings.  These misfirings often create hallucinations of divine voices and images, and, less extremely, feelings of Oneness with nature and the cosmos eliciting statements like: “I think I really understand God and my place in the universe.”  Controlled studies have shown that temporal lobe epileptics have intense emotional reactions to the word “God” or the word “Devil,” but not to terms outside of religious semantic fields.

The science seems to warrant the use of the label “secular religion.”  Science suggests that our brains have religiosity in their structure (is this scientific proof we are made in our God’s image and likeness?).  Thus, a secular religion is not an oxymoron at all; rather, it is a specification, an historical and cultural report, perhaps, of the nature of our current gods.  (Watch American Gods; it is trying in its own way to address our current religious climate and its contradictions).  

A secular religion, then, is a religion whose gods are not divine but whose congregation is no less devout.  Consider these Progressive god-words: “social justice,” “race,” “equality (gender and economic),” “socialism,” “climate change,” “social justice warrior,” “democrat,” and “Hillary.”  And now, the Progressive devil-words: “justice (legal, not social), “racist,” “difference (gender and economic),” “capitalism,” “climate change denier,” “policeman,” “republican,” and “Trump.”

The science also shows, however, that sometimes, as in cases of temporal lobe epilepsy, religiosity becomes hyper-emotional.  Many events since Donald Trump’s presidential victory suggest that at least some members of the Progressive religion are more than devout (consider mock Trump beheadings by Progressive humorists; or, recostuming of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar aimed at achieving a more progressively useful anti-Trump catharsis).  Beyond devotion.  It seems some Progressives are suffering from hyperreligiosity (irony noted: divinity can be exiled, but not gods), a cultural-level temporal lobe epilepsy.  Some Progressives are not just apoplectic about the recent presidential election, but actually epileptic.

This is not meant merely metaphorically.  Brain physiology lends it more than metaphorical clout, and that clout, genetic in nature, extends to all humans regardless of political bearing.  But, we should not be surprised to see hyperreligious cultural seizures emerging from the Left rather than from the Right.  The bouts of cultural epilepsy may be more prevalent on the Left because of the Progressive pantheon.  Who and what are the gods of the Progressivist religion?  They are neither theistic nor deistic because the Progressive eschews the divine; instead, Progressivism embraces the Human as god (especially in the form of government official, university professor, Hollywood celebrity, and superrich climate-change guru—while accusing conservatives of being elitist). 

In eschewing the divine and embracing the Human, the religion of Progressivism also eschews objective good and evil and favors moral relativism and equivalence; eschews truth and favors personal feeling; eschews acts of will and responsibility and favors agentless events of victimization; and, it eschews law and favors political ideology and political force.

So, while all humans may have a built-in sense of religiosity, and while a handful of humans may suffer an epilepsy-induced hyperreligiosity, it matters if we are epileptic Joans-of-Arc or epileptic Progressives.  It matters if the gods we hallucinate are theistic, deistic—or something else. 

The problem is, America’s theistic and deistic religions are being crowded by the new Progressive religion from both outside (the MSM) and inside (Pope Francis is as much a religious Leftist as he is Christian theologian).  With Hillary’s emotionally devastating defeat, Progressives have lost their papal equivalent, and they have wailed and gnashed their teeth accordingly.  Even some of their incumbent deacons like Nancy Pelosi (c.f. Ossoff’s defeat in Georgia) are now being defrocked from within.  Still, Progressivism boasts a strong pastoral clergy in the likes of Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart.  Scripture and revelation are now a function of “fake news.”  But here the Progressive clergy has to be careful: it is acceptable for Beltway Progressives to launch, for example, a spurious inquisition into Trump/Russia collusion in order to impeach a heretic (and protect their own by distraction); it is acceptable for the media to stir up the spiritual passions of the devoted so that they may march in the streets against a fascism they believe they are fighting but are actually projecting; but, it is something altogether different to report on events involving lesser members of its own flock who shoot Republican congressmen at baseball practice.  (The story virtually disappeared from mainstream media 36 hours after the event, and when it resurfaced as the FBI’s take on the matter, its astounding total divorce from reality and fact was institutionally established).  Here, then, we have even more proof that Progressivism is a religion: it hides what doesn’t fit its holy narrative.