Editor's Note: We invited two Westar scholars to share their opinions on life and religion in today's public square.  As background, the Axios article "St. John's clergy: Trump used church as prop, Bible as symbol of division," speaks to current and former clergy furor over the use of church and Bible as a prop for political purposes.  And this week, in the midst of rising COVID-19 cases in Tulsa, Trump plans on holding an indoor rally there despite health officials warning the campaign to cancel the political gathering. We thank Rev. Robin Meyers and John Dominic Crossan for sharing their thoughts with Westar readers. We invite your comments.

The Pseudo-religious: "By their fruits you shall know them."
by Rev. Robin Meyers, Ph.D

Westar is committed to the scholarly study of so-called "clobber passages," especially those that have been used to justify the oppression of people on the outside looking in.

But given the Trump rally to be held in my backyard sister city of Tulsa, Oklahoma tomorrow, a new one should be added that clobbers the pseudo-religious: "By their fruits you shall know them."

After clearing out peaceful protestors in Lafayette Park so he could hold up a Bible he doesn't read in front of a church he doesn't attend, the president will now hold an indoor rally for thousands of goose-stepping fans who will spew not only hatred, but fill the arena with the spittle that spreads Covid-19.

Oklahoma is seeing a spike in new cases, up over 400 yesterday, and the rally has the potential to be a "super-spreader" event.  Trump's answer is to make people sign a waiver releasing the administration from any responsibility should they die. What about those of us who will not attend, but could die from those who did?

Why wouldn't local health officials simple cancel this large public gathering during a pandemic, just like all the others?  Because this is the president of the United States, and we should be proud, say local Republicans, that he is coming here, to our great state.

In a world where truth itself is now an orphan, consider where we find ourselves in this perishing democracy:  a "non-essential" media spectacle that feeds the endless depravity of a malignant narcissist is the reality show that must go on, despite the risk to innocent lives.  Why?  Because re-election is more important to Trump than human life.

The truth is, the president does not care.  Hubris = Death, as it always has.  It's enough to make me reconsider the doctrine of evil.  Where is the 25th amendment when we need it?

How to Hold the Bible
by John Dominic Crossan

Rev. Robin R. Meyers Ph.D is Retired Senior Minister, Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, Oklahoma City and Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Emeritus, Oklahoma City University. Robin Meyers is the author of Saving God from Religion: A Minister's Search for Faith in a Skeptical Age, which has been described as a revelatory manifesto on how we can reclaim faith from abstract doctrines and rigid morals to find God in the joys and ambiguities of everyday life, from the acclaimed author of Saving Jesus from the Church.

John Dominic Crossan is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, DePaul University, Chicago. He has written twenty books on the historical Jesus in the last thirty years, four of which have become national religious bestsellers: The Historical Jesus (1991), Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (1994), Who Killed Jesus (1995), and The Birth of Christianity (1998). He is a former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, and a former chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, an international scholarly association for biblical study based in the United States.

3 replies
  1. Elisabeth Maaskamp says:

    Although I fully agree with this, I see the danger of focusing on Trump as representative for evil. In the meantime we forget that we as Christians have to work hard to show a different picture of Jesus and God. Fundamentalists, literalists are getting this evil with a judgemental, punishing and exclusive God. They love this promotion of THE Word of God. It doesn’t matter how you hold it because it always has the same outcome: one is saved if you believe their interpretation.

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  2. Keith says:

    Thank you Linda and all the Westar scholars for their thoughtful comments on our present predicament. Westar’s motto, “Honest scholarship in religion for the public”, is too modest. I definitely detect some words of wisdom from the scholars’ blogs of the last few days. Thanks again to you all!!! k

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3 replies
  1. Elisabeth Maaskamp says:

    Although I fully agree with this, I see the danger of focusing on Trump as representative for evil. In the meantime we forget that we as Christians have to work hard to show a different picture of Jesus and God. Fundamentalists, literalists are getting this evil with a judgemental, punishing and exclusive God. They love this promotion of THE Word of God. It doesn’t matter how you hold it because it always has the same outcome: one is saved if you believe their interpretation.

    Reply
  2. Keith says:

    Thank you Linda and all the Westar scholars for their thoughtful comments on our present predicament. Westar’s motto, “Honest scholarship in religion for the public”, is too modest. I definitely detect some words of wisdom from the scholars’ blogs of the last few days. Thanks again to you all!!! k

    Reply

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