By Tommy Airey, a letter to his nephews who call him “Uncle Coo-Coo”
Riley and Mason,
I want so badly for you to grow up with a deep awareness of what it means to be “a real man.” You have a big advantage because you have parents and a Nawny who are committed to recovery: fearless and thorough in their commitments to mutual and rigorous honesty, to establishing boundaries and assertiveness and to pursuing gentleness with themselves and others in the process. They have been important models in my own journey of re-claiming open-heartedness and emotional expressiveness.
Unfortunately, the man who gets the most attention, who you will see over and over on TV and the internet, whose name you will hear about more than any other man on the planet is a President who lives off a steady diet of name-calling and fear-mongering, who paints those from south of the border as “criminals” and “rapists” and says if refugees from Muslim-majority countries “are allowed in, it’s death and destruction!,” who magnifies deeply ingrained racial stereotypes of inner-cities as “in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested),” whose whole ethos is shaped by bullying and “locker room talk” and whose policies favor the securing of enormous profits for a few over relieving the suffering of everyday people.
What is befuddling, though, is that this man claims to be a “Christian” and that four-out-of-five white Evangelical Christians voted for him. The whole scenario is bat-shit crazy because the Jesus of the Gospels was everything that TheRealDonaldTrump isn’t. Let’s just say: Jesus was “The Anti-Trump.”
Riley and Mason, your spontaneous outbursts of delight, tender displays of sweetness and vulnerable sharing of hope, pain and joy are gifts that I cherish in these times. But beware: the media, the military, the machismo of athletics and this muscular version of Christianity are well-oiled imperial machines that, over time, hoodwink young men into being ashamed of these qualities. In our culture, far beyond the White House, we are utterly shocked when men are vulnerable, ask for help, admit they don’t know something or cry. This is something to grieve.
In the Gospels, though, we discover The Anti-Trump doing all of this and more. He weeps at the funeral of his friend Lazarus and pours out mother hen tears on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, lamenting the city’s leadership all caught up in violence and greed as they schemed To Make Israel Great Again.
The Anti-Trump, time and again, displays what bell hooks calls a “feminist masculinity:” an ethical sensibility that enables men to love justice more than manhood.
The Anti-Trump displays tenderness and empathy and tells stories about men who do the same.
The Anti-Trump takes a clear stand on issues that matter, rejecting the safety of being objective and “staying above the fray.” He is direct and honest, yet respectful and humanizing.
The Anti-Trump asks clarifying questions, pursues intimacy, listens to others, refuses to avoid conflict, shows a deep appreciation for the gifts of others and empowers them through the delegation of leadership. Ironically, The Anti-Trump doesn’t have a messiah complex.
Admitting he was wrong, The Anti-Trump praises the faith of the foreign woman who calls him out on his own prejudice. In word and deed, he highlights the faith and love of gentile leaders and scapegoated Samaritans, subversively placing people with funny accents on pedestals.
In his greatest sermon, The Anti-Trump animated what it means to recover our humanity and live with dignity and compassion. God, it turns out, takes sides, favoring the underdogs, calling us to live in solidarity with and to advocate for the poor in spirit, the persecuted, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those mourning, the meek, the merciful and all those who hunger and thirst for justice.
Riley and Mason, according to The Anti-Trump’s greatest sermon, this is who we are:
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world: enhancing the flavor of life and illuminating the path for others, blending in laughter, style, grace, discernment, sincerity and vulnerability.
We value justice-for-all over success-for-ourselves.
We always pursue reconciliation, disavowing anger-driven outbursts, name-calling and insults.
We do the hard work of excavating all forms of bitterness, resentment and lust brewing within us.
We covenant ourselves to the Cause, even willing to sacrifice limbs to stay on course.
We commit to traveling on an inner journey towards wholeness.
We are graceful and gentle with our opponents and we actively pray for those who silently judge us or gossip behind our backs.
We embrace a simple, sustainable spirituality: giving, praying, meditating and fasting in secret.
We learn to value what is Real, not wealth and possessions.
We can stop worrying about the future.
We sit and study the beauty and simple faith of the birds and the flowers and let them teach us how to trust.
We take our own inventory, cultivate humility and boycott hypocrisy and gossip.
We confess our race, class and gender privilege and beg God for mercy and justice.
We stop wasting our precious energy trying to “talk sense” into ignorant and arrogant people.
We ask, “How do we want to be treated?” Then, we go and do that to others!
We shrug off the herd instinct because what’s popular is usually not what is true.
We continually must remind ourselves that, in choosing this Path, we will always be in the minority. That’s a promise, not a threat.
These simple teachings are authoritative because they bear fruit in a life of beauty, compassion, goodness, truth and healing. They have the power to sustain and guide us through the harshest of times.
The Anti-Trump warned his would-be followers to beware of the “false prophets,” ravenous wolves wearing sheep costumes like everyday is Halloween—or as the real prophet Jeremiah Wright puts it, “All dressed up on the outside and all messed up on the inside.” The Anti-Trump counseled his congregation to be careful who they follow, “You will know them by their fruits.” On a later occasion, he assured the crowd that “wisdom is vindicated by her works.” Don’t worry: The RealDonaldTrump will not be vindicated. While your white Evangelical friends tell you to “give him a chance,” I’m pleading with you: resist him.
Riley and Mason, you are growing up in the age of “alternative facts.” Most people most of the time have no idea what they are talking about, especially when it is about what it means to be a real man. Let The Anti-Trump be your role model: a dark-skinned refugee who, before he was executed by empire, told his followers that they would forever find him in the face of the immigrant, the prisoner, the hungry, the sick and homeless. That’s right: the spiritual life is a big game of hide-and-go-seek. Now, go seek him out. And when you find him, tell him Uncle Coo-Coo sent you.