Many who know me have heard of my life-long aversion to Wonderland. It is an aversion worth several posts of its own – rare is so comprehensive a summary of one’s greatest fears, tracked out so frightfully on paper.
Many, of course, do not relate. And I wonder at times if Lewis Carroll and I were simply cursed with identical nightmares. Yet I think, with careful analysis, that visiting their own terrors, many would find themselves in Wonderland too.
The ruler of this land is not the Red Queen, nor the King of Hearts, but madness. Mind and matter all bow to this ugly king of chaos, representing the fuzzy mathematical puzzles derided by Carroll, in his stuffy Oxford circle of academia. The Mad Hatter wastes away in perpetual tea-time, asking unanswerable questions, failing to answer answerable ones. The Caterpillar sits, aloof and disdainful, in a fog of elitism utterly inappropriate to a slimy, hookah-smoking bug. The Daffodils reject as a weed what is clearly a girl. And when Alice finally thinks she has found herself the person in charge – a sure source of logical relief at last – her desperate pleas amount to nothing:
“I am just trying to find my way.”
“Your way!” the Queen cries. “All ways here are my ways.”
For all the wit of this subtle chess reference, the matter is now hopeless. And the Cheshire Cat – the only source of any sense at all in this world – is constantly disappearing. It fills me with dread.
My time in Oxford, where Lewis Carroll wrote his famous work, exposed my reluctant self to an abundance of Wonderland-based paraphernalia. As a result, I thought of my contempt often. At base, I learned, it is a contempt for irrationality. Needlessly elusive people. Utterly unpredictable options. Equivocal answers.
Multiple contradictory things appearing true.
“Suppose we change the subject,” the March Hare interrupted.
“I did try and f*** her. She was married.”
Oh my. Not exactly what I had in mind.
“I moved on her like a b****. But I couldn’t get there.”
“Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony t***s and everything.”
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p****. You can do anything.”
“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
Good grief. ‘Is that all?’ said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could.
‘No,’ said the Caterpillar.
“You have to treat ’em like s***.”
The same man made headlines in recent years for an alleged affair with a porn actress (while his third wife was at home nursing his newborn child), multiple other alleged infidelities, a horrendously abusive history, and a career peddling half-naked women down stages for judgement. He is videoed punching opponents, tweets cruel and personal insults on a weekly basis, and exhibits every symptom of a narcissist. So much so, that when asked whether, as a Christian, he asks God for forgiveness, he said no. Months later, he said no again.
Jesus. I love him. A short summary. Jesus was poor. When a man asked how to be good, He suggested: Go and sell everything you own and come follow me. When asked how to treat opposition: If a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt as well. If a man slaps your cheek, show him the other as well. Sit at the lowest place on the table; do good in secret; love your enemies; be a peacemaker; ask God for forgiveness. Flee sexual immorality. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Jesus was the Son of God – the highest of the highest – and made himself lowest of the lowest. That is the story. Innocent of every accusation, He allowed Himself to be strung up on a cross, suffering a brutal, painful death, saying nothing but “Forgive them, Father” to a thousand mocking chants and whips. He wore a crown, yes. One made of thorns.
down the Rabbit hole
What Wonderland madness assaults us, then, when it transpires that evangelical Christians, propelled this man into Presidency.
- 50% of evangelicals who did not regularly attend church supported Trump as the GOP nominee, picking him out of a broad range of possible Republican candidates.
- 35% of regular church attendees supported Trump as the GOP nominee. Slightly less, but still incredibly high.
- Evangelicals made up 26% of the electorate.
- After the nomination, 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in the presidential election.
- Amidst abundant scandals, support from this group is possibly at an all time high.
Lesser of two evils?
- First, I am quite certain that ‘the lesser of two evils’ is generally an unchristian notion, though I know many intelligent Christians who support it.
- Second, and more importantly, evangelicals clearly supported Trump long before Trump v Clinton saga unravelled. They picked him out of a nation of individuals.
- Third, the support clearly manifests as absolute and not relative. Evangelical leader Franklin Graham did not say, “Woe to this generation, who has been left with only narcissistic tyrants and baby slaughterers for choices!” He said, “‘Never in my lifetime have we had a @POTUS willing to take such a strong out-spoken stand for the Christian faith like @realDonaldTrump.” He speaks concurrently with many others.
Issues over character?
Perhaps the support is because of his position on the issues, in spite of his history. Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. says: “We knew about his past as a real estate mogul, as sort of a playboy, as the owner of a beauty pageant, and we supported him for one reason: because of his position on the issues.” Curiouser and curiouser.
- First, evangelical support is drenched in defences of Trump’s character, not just his policies: A good, transformed Christian; a representative; a saviour to make America great again.
- Second, and most importantly, his position on ‘the issues’ is half of what makes him so profoundly unchristian. To support an aggressive, narcissistic, cheater because he offers tax cuts for the rich, strict immigration laws, climate change denial, death penalty for drug dealers, an aggressively incoherent foreign policy, and ever higher military spending, is surely – surely – no defence at all.
In the end, Wonderland is a dream. Paul says, sensibly, “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not sleep as the others do, but let us remain awake and sober.” We must wake up.
What does this looks like? Well, Christian brothers and sisters, it involves finally realising that you are allowed to look at a man and say, “He is wicked. He is not a brother. He will do no good for us. We must not follow him.”
Blasphemy! Who are you to judge, George Tarr! He who is without sin must cast the first stone!
And so I feel that I am in Wonderland once again, for so many of my brothers and sisters insist on remaining there.
Sheep and wolves of the Church, tell me:
- How do you baptise someone if you have no opinion at all on whether they were previously believers in Christ?
- How do you boast your megachurch conversion stats when you have no way of judging who was in or out beforehand?
- When Paul says, “If any one is named a brother among you, but persists in greed, swindling, sexual immorality… do not even eat with such a person,” how do you decide who to eat with?
- When Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves,” how do you obey him?
- When Jesus says, “After you have taken the plank out of your own eye, you will see clearly to remove the speck from the eye of your brother”, why do you suppose we are perpetually with planks in our eyes and unable to remove specks?
- When you advocate for the death penalty, how is it that you judge so confidently whether someone deserves a permanent end to their earthly existence?
- When you decide that Clinton will destroy the nation with her crooked character and policies, how do you know?
No, you cannot condemn, you cannot save, and you cannot know for sure who will ultimately march in God’s heavenly kingdom. It is not up to you. But you are commanded by your King to confidently identify wolves, disassociate from them completely, and actively protect your brothers, sisters, and the world from every consequence of their deceit. It was wolves who burned heretics, wolves who slaughtered conquered natives, wolves who sold indulgences, wolves who enslaved their neighbours, wolves who lynched the innocent, and wolves who reigned wickedly in God’s name in ages and ages past, from Caiaphas to now. It was wolves, Church, who failed to call them so.
`Consider your verdict,’ the King said to the jury.
`Not yet, not yet!’ the Rabbit hastily interrupted. `There’s a great deal to come before that!’
We are running out of time on this. We can start by identifying Trump as a wolf, but this is minimal, and it should be easy. He does not even bother to wear sheep’s clothing. The real revelation of this Trump-Evangelical whirlwind is that many, many in the Church are wolves too. Hard to hear, but true. You must make sure you are not one of them; you must read the word, pray, and obey; you must freely discern who is a wolf and who is not; you must evangelise within Church walls; and you must make way to uncover, for the world, a pure, righteous core Church, with only sheep inside of it. It is very, very important, and we are very, very late.
So let it not be true, what the atheist Julian Huxley wrote, that “Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat.”
Note 2: Maddening quotes from Wonderland
Note 3: The Alice in Wonderland quotes listed in this post are all genuine, but Alice was not actually speaking about Trump, and I think with all the confusion about the place, she’d be grateful for my saying so.