Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Understanding Trump

In an effort to understand where Trump comes from, I read this article about the minister Trump and his parents used to attend in Brooklyn, Norman Vincent Peale.

Norman Vincent Peale popularized what came to be known as positive thinking. He took existing ideas from Christian Science and other inspirations, gave them a biblical veneer, integrated them with psychology, and packaged them for the masses, spreading his message through The Power of Positive Thinking and his other works. His foremost contribution to the world was this notion that thoughts are causative, that our thoughts can change our lives, our health, our destiny. Readers were thrilled with this notion that if they believed it, they could have it, or be it, or do it. ("The False Teachers: Norman Vincent Peale", Challies, 2 Apr 2014)
Norman was a universalist. He believed that truth came from many sources. I am similar in that belief. The author of this article, Challies, points out how he thinks this is not Biblical.
The Bible makes it clear that the troubles we experience in this life are not merely the result of negative thinking that can be overcome by tapping into our potential through positive thinking. They are the result of a deep-seated rebellion against God that involves not only the mind, but the will. We simply cannot overcome the evils of this world, or even the evil in our hearts, in our own strength. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). Apart from being born again, we are eternally dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). ("The False Teachers: Norman Vincent Peale", Challies, 2 Apr 2014)
I agree with Challies. I believe that positive thinking alone cannot lift us from our fallen state. Faith in Jesus, sorrow for our sins, covenants made before God and our fellows and sanctification through the ministration of the Spirit is the path to God and the fullest happiness.
I am not sure how much Trump was directly affected by the philosophy of Peale. It seems that it is central to his character. Trump does not feel the need to say sorry. He powers through with positive thinking about himself and attacks anyone that says the opposite.

Update 2016-08-09

From "'Hillbilly Elegy' Author On The White Working Class And America's Greatness", J.D. Vance, 4 Aug 2016.
when you think about Donald Trump, there are many things to say, of course, about Trump. But his slogan, make America great again - and the obvious implicit acknowledgement in that statement is that America isn't great right now. 
A really important trend that I think a lot of liberal elites miss is a recognition of the role of religion in these communities. You may recall that President Obama in 2007 or 2008 said that in the wake of the decline of the industrial economy, these people are clinging to their guns and their religion. 
And whatever might be said about guns, the fact is that people in these communities are actually going to church less and less. Church attendance rates among white Americans without a college education have dropped pretty significantly. People with college degrees are more likely to go to church than people without college degrees among the white working class. 
And importantly, when you go to church, you're fundamentally part of a community. And for people, I think, who don't have a lot of community left, we should keep in mind how important, I think, the church can be and indeed how important the church is for many folks.
Hugh Hewitt said that "everyone ought to read Hillbilly Elegy to understand Trump’s appeal"

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