Baker Academic

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Jesus Trolls the Donald

Ed Kilgore of the New York Daily Intelligencer suggests that Rev. Samuel Rodriguez use Matthew 5's "Beatitudes" to rebuke Trump's proposed policies during his inauguration.

This was also suggested by James Crossley via Facebook yesterday. If so, I wonder whether such an act of protest does more harm than good. After all, as Kilgore acknowledges, typical listeners will not pay much attention to the subtly of the protest. Thus the passage would be heard by most as an appropriation of Jesus' words in support of Trump.

I wonder if any of our readers noticed this during the ceremonies and what they made of it.



  1. What stuck out to me about Rev. Rodriguez's reading was his use of the NLT, which renders the beatitudes in a more direct way than most other translations:

    God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
    God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
    God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
    God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
    God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    He blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

    I obviously can't prove that this translation was used instead of others, but if the reading of the beatitudes was intended as a rebuke then it does turn up the heat.

  2. I was certainly struck by the juxtaposition of the two. I turned to my colleague during Trump's "America First" speech and asked, "Weren't they just reading the Beatitudes a few moments ago?" It hadn't occurred to me that it might be a protest, although I was wondering whether Cardinal Dolan's prayer was one. It seemed to me that he was emphasizing the feminine pronoun as he repeatedly invoked the wisdom (sophia) of God.

  3. For Rev. Rodriquez I feel very sorry if, in fact, he saw fit to misuse holy scripture for political effect. I trust God.

    1. Anonymous, I think that you and I will disagree on the essentially political nature of the Bible and Jesus' message in particular.