The pope and the Donald: A matter of perspective

As soon as I read the pope's actual words, my first thought was that he probably was not speaking of physical walls and bridges, but rather of emotional, spiritual, and verbal walls and bridges.  Admonitions to tear down all the barriers one has erected around one's heart in order to open it to Christ's love is, after all, a standard theme in Christian sermons. 

I ran that past people from two different evangelical Christian perspectives, and they concurred.  Whenever they hear a religious leader speak in terms of tearing down walls or building bridges, their first thought is that those phrases are metaphorical devices.  They also thought the pope is on solid theological ground: a Christian must tear down walls of hate and prejudice and build spiritual bridges to other humans in order to spread the Gospel.  Charity confined to those who are exactly like us is tribalism, not Christian virtue.

If their goal is actually to win an election, I find it puzzling that Trump and his supporters cannot or will not see this need to build bridges.  I have to wonder: do they really prefer to revel in constant anger and outrage?  The supporters certainly may feel a cathartic rush in watching their geriatric chosen leader oscillate between taunts that would be unbecoming in a junior high school bully and the vaporous threats of those special little millennial snowflakes to make a federal legal case over any statement that upsets his, her, or its exalted self-opinion. 

But what does Trump suppose will come next?  This constant barrage of lowbrow political theater grows old very fast.  With that fatigue, people often see themselves on the other side of all the walls Donald Trump seems to be erecting between himself and those who will cast the votes that will give someone 50% plus one Electoral College votes in the upcoming general election.  How is the I am the greatest and you are a loser if you don't think so strategy a formula for anything other than catastrophic failure?

The pope just warned people that they can’t isolate themselves from huge slices of the human race and expect spiritual salvation.  Secular therapists often note that it is much easier for a wounded spirit to build isolating walls than a proactive bridge that might restore health.  A historian who specializes in elections may note that if a politician could isolate, insult, demean, threaten, and broken-catchphrase his way to political victor,y it would have regularly been done a long time ago.  It is, after all, a lot easier to bask in applause after a barrage of us-versus-them insults than it is to spend months reaching out to cogently explain oneself to that 50% plus one of the population that is skeptical.

As soon as I read the pope's actual words, my first thought was that he probably was not speaking of physical walls and bridges, but rather of emotional, spiritual, and verbal walls and bridges.  Admonitions to tear down all the barriers one has erected around one's heart in order to open it to Christ's love is, after all, a standard theme in Christian sermons. 

I ran that past people from two different evangelical Christian perspectives, and they concurred.  Whenever they hear a religious leader speak in terms of tearing down walls or building bridges, their first thought is that those phrases are metaphorical devices.  They also thought the pope is on solid theological ground: a Christian must tear down walls of hate and prejudice and build spiritual bridges to other humans in order to spread the Gospel.  Charity confined to those who are exactly like us is tribalism, not Christian virtue.

If their goal is actually to win an election, I find it puzzling that Trump and his supporters cannot or will not see this need to build bridges.  I have to wonder: do they really prefer to revel in constant anger and outrage?  The supporters certainly may feel a cathartic rush in watching their geriatric chosen leader oscillate between taunts that would be unbecoming in a junior high school bully and the vaporous threats of those special little millennial snowflakes to make a federal legal case over any statement that upsets his, her, or its exalted self-opinion. 

But what does Trump suppose will come next?  This constant barrage of lowbrow political theater grows old very fast.  With that fatigue, people often see themselves on the other side of all the walls Donald Trump seems to be erecting between himself and those who will cast the votes that will give someone 50% plus one Electoral College votes in the upcoming general election.  How is the I am the greatest and you are a loser if you don't think so strategy a formula for anything other than catastrophic failure?

The pope just warned people that they can’t isolate themselves from huge slices of the human race and expect spiritual salvation.  Secular therapists often note that it is much easier for a wounded spirit to build isolating walls than a proactive bridge that might restore health.  A historian who specializes in elections may note that if a politician could isolate, insult, demean, threaten, and broken-catchphrase his way to political victor,y it would have regularly been done a long time ago.  It is, after all, a lot easier to bask in applause after a barrage of us-versus-them insults than it is to spend months reaching out to cogently explain oneself to that 50% plus one of the population that is skeptical.