Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

October 27, 2019: Be Satisfied

From Paul Turley


It is clear from watching and reading the news media that many reporters and commentators are completely thrown by the current President of the United States. He does not operate as other presidents have. He doesn’t seem to operate as other people do. His willingness to lie to the American public, or perhaps we should say, his seeming inability to tell the truth is so audacious that journalists and commentators can’t keep up.


According to the Washington Post, during 2018, Donald Trump averaged 15 false claims a day. It would take too long to list all the investigations into current and former Trump associates, and that is without mentioning the impeachment process being currently undertaken by the U.S. House of Representatives.


Speculating on why Trump is so willing to try and shape reality to fit his view of the world can be explained, according to many doctors, as pathological narcissism. Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, considers Trump such a “classic” pathological narcissist that he is actually “archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of the characteristics of the disorder he displays. “Otherwise,” this clinician explained, “I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”


Extreme narcissists are a danger to those around them because everyone else is simply an actor in the narcissists drama. They can be embraced, moved, or dismissed in whatever ways they will serve the focus on the self.


When that narcissist is the most powerful political operative in the world, the danger is heightened. Trump uses immigrants, asylum seekers, political opponents, allies, trade agreements and now, in the last few days the Kurds, in the same way that the Pharisee in our text uses thieves, rogues, adulterers, and tax collectors. They are not real, individual people; they are simply props that allow the Pharisee to shine.


Trump might offer us a huge and unavoidable lesson in the perils of narcissism and while he does offer us an extreme case, we can use him and this Pharisee to examine our own lives to see to what extent we are willing to name and contain others into boxes to suit our own story.


Explore…Luke 18:9–14

  • In the honesty of our own minds can we be courageous in discovering who, at this moment, we would list as “other people” whom we are not like?
  • What does it mean to be humble, and is it a different experience for those with power and influence than those without?



God, we know how easy it is to see ourselves as not like other people, how easy it is to want to tell ourselves fictions about our lives and the lives of others. Give us the courage and wisdom to see ourselves truly as you do; flawed and grand, broken and restored, and most of all, loved by you as we are. Amen.



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