Jeff Pearlman

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Losing Faith in Faith

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This is going to sound weird, because I’m a man of precious little religious faith, but Donald Trump’s first year in office caused me to lose faith in those who have faith.

Let me explain.

I don’t think there’s a god. I don’t think Jesus was a messiah. I don’t think Moses received tablets, that there was a burning bush, that Noah loaded a boat with animal tandems. I simply don’t buy much-to-any of it.

And yet, look—see how I wrote “much-to-any”? That was intentional, because in the far, far, far, far back corner of my mind, I’ve always thought, “Well, I don’t 100 percent know.” I mean, I’ve sat inside a gorgeous Catholic Church during Easter mass, with the stained glass window at a glow, with angelic voices singing as one, with statues of Christ staring down at me. I’ve attended Christmas Eve services at a megachurch, surrounded by 500 people believing—with all their heart—in God’s love. And in those moments, I am able to see why folks have faith. The attractiveness of it. The goodness. This idea in a pure love; in a spirituality guided by embracing all.

Much-to-any …

So, no, I wasn’t a likely convert to faith. But I wasn’t 100 percent frozen to it, either.

Then, Donald Trump came along.

I actually don’t blame any of what I’m about to type on the 45th president, who is exactly what he always has been. Nope, I blame the crushing of much-to-any on the seemingly millions of self-professed Christians who offer WWJD messages, then turn around and ignore everything about WWJD. Or, put different, would Jesus Christ mock women for their weight? Would he mock the disabled? Would he brand Mexicans rapists? Would he call for a ban on Muslims? Would he brag of sexually assaulting women? Would he call African nations “shitholes”? Would he lie and lie and lie and lie and lie? About his words? About his deeds? Would he Tweet with the maliciousness of a third-grade bully? Would he make up a telephone call from a Boy Scouts leader? Would he destroy as many environmental protections as possible? Would he create a fake university to bilk people of their money? Would he demand homeless veterans be removed from the street before his building? Would he create a myth that the sitting president wasn’t born in the United States? Would he donate $0.00 to 9/11 causes, then lie about people celebrating atop a building in New Jersey? Would he propose tax cuts that primarily help the uber wealthy? Would he kick people out of the country who were brought here as small children?

I can go on and on.

Again, I don’t blame Trump for the destruction of my much-to-any. No, I blame you—the average American churchgoer willing to overlook 100,000 transgressions because … why? Your wallet might get a bit thicker? You feel drawn to a bully?

By setting aside your faith, you are killing faith. You are making people in my shoes see the utter meaningless and vapidness behind your beliefs. You are reinforcing the idea that all this “love thy neighbor” mumbo jumbo is, well, mumbo jumbo.

You’re helping to ruin our country, and that sucks. But that, at least we should survive.

The death of faith via integrity? That’s eternal.

PS: I actually left out an important point, and will add it here: I keep thinking, “If people are dumb enough to fall for a street-corner huckster like Donald Trump, why should I trust their judgement on issues of faith?” I mean that. You say Jesus died for my sins. You believe it—strongly. Which is hard to digest if you’re not feeling faith. But then you also believe Donald Trump—vile, racist, xenophobic aspiring dictator—is the ideal leader. How do you have any intellectual credibility? Why would I ever follow your lead?

  • JOregon

    Basing Christianity on radicals is like basing Islam on radicals.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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