I am not a man of faith, nor have I been for many years, although I was baptized before witnesses in the Sanctuary of Congress Street United Methodist Church when I was in my late teens. I carried a bible with me from the good folks at Gideon whenever I wore my military uniform, and I read portions of both the Old and New Testaments. Of course I read the books without guidance or context, which probably was a partial cause of my departure from the faith, but that is not the subject of this essay. No, this concerns one of my big questions as I read the rantings of John in Revelations (or some such. That just sounded dramatic, so I’ll roll with it.)
When my religious reading was limited to the bible, and even as I began exploring the world’s religions, I often wondered how we would recognize the Great Deceiver if he was so clever that his lies would be indiscernible to those not well educated in the words of God. How would we know the truth from the lies if he was so good at deceiving us? Would our faith be the only way to see through the lies? Would it only be those of purest faith who would understand the deceits for what they were? Of late I’ve come to realize the myopia of my thinking. “Great” might not be interpreted so much as “he’s really good at it”, as it could be “he does it a lot, in a big way, with impunity.” What if the Great Satan is not some mullah hiding in a cave in the Middle East somewhere, but is rather the leader of the Free World, and not the slick, well-polished and clever Damien Thorn type, but instead is some sociopathic, narcissistic, blowhard, who simply follows the top twenty-five quotes of Goebbels on some quotation website?
Now, I’m not saying our current leader is the Anti-Christ. All I am saying is that my interpretation of what I understood has been single minded. My limited understanding of biblical prophecy has been colored by popular culture and writers of fiction. Certainly there’s a lot more to it than what I’m presenting here. There’s a lot of history I don’t know and a lot of popular fiction I haven’t read, but I’ve seen enough to worry me.
During the campaign of 2016 I watched the politicians doing their thing, shaking hands, giving speeches, holding babies. But one candidate held a baby, not like Mr. Obama, against him, nurturing and comforting the tot, but rather holding him out, arms extended, as if he wanted the world to see he was holding that baby. (or that he was afraid closer contact night give him cooties) He waved him around like some prized trout. “Look what I caught, Dad!” It was quite a contrast to watching Obama quieting kids with the patience and calm of what must be a terrific father. But as I watched this candidate showing his prize to the audience, I had a flashback to another bit of popular culture.
In the movie version of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, (apologies to Mr. King, the book on which the movie was based is one of those pieces of fiction I’ve not read), Martin Sheen’s character (Greg Stillson) is giving a speech when Christopher Walken’s character (Johnny Smith) tries to assassinate him. Stillson picks up a child and waves him around at arm’s length using the child as a human shield to ward off the assassin’s bullet. This was not a conscious thought process on my part. This was just a flash in my mind, much like Smith’s “dead zones.” Again, I’m not saying our current president would do such a thing, but the physical similarities were striking in my mind’s eye.
The reason for the assassination attempt is also troublesome. For those who haven’t seen the movie, Smith can see glimpses of the futures of people with whom he comes into contact. Stillson is a former bible salesman who wins a House seat through evil means, and has designs on higher office. When the two come into contact at a rally, Smith sees Stillson ready to push THE BUTTON, because it is “his destiny.”
I don’t think Trump sees ending the world as his destiny. However, I have begun to wonder what would happen to a narcissistic psychopath when he is faced with abject failure, and his fragile ego has to come to grips with the fact that his people no longer want him. Let’s suppose that he does something which violates, not just ethical standards, but law, and Congress decides to proceed with impeachment. Further, let’s suppose that as the trial wears on it appears that Trump becomes aware he is going to lose and will be removed from office. We’ve all seen his rants on Twitter; his lies about things that are recorded on camera for all to see; his attacks on those who disagree with him. What happens when those who are closest to him begin to turn? What’s to keep someone like him, who throws tantrums without thinking about the consequences, from saying “Fine! If I can’t be president, then no one is going to be president!” while heading for his bunker and reaching for the football?
It would not be suicidal for him. A narcissist rarely thinks “the world is better off without me”, but he is likely to say “I am better off without the world.” To him he would simply be getting rid of his detractors….all of them.
Now, do I think all of this is going to come to pass? No. I’d like to believe that when it comes right down to it, he’d step aside. But if he does reach for that football, I wonder if the boot-licking sycophants around him will have the guts to stop him, or if they’ll follow him straight into Hell. Or will we have to rely on a rogue secret service agent to save the world? In the end, it won’t be up to us. We have let this genie out of the bottle, given him the switch and trusted to whatever powers that be that we will be safe. Or maybe there is a God and maybe he has a plan for the US, even if it’s not the plan we expected.
Or maybe I’m just a dumb country boy, born and raised in a small town, tending his chickens on a small farm in a flyover state, letting his imagination run wild and hoping to write a piece of popular fiction.