As we approach the inauguration we thought we would complete this series on Trump and Economics in the Gospels first begun in 2017.
To bring this, and other intriguing connections to the consumerist world in which we live, and which Trump, and his family (particularly Ivanka), take advantage of as entrepreneur, included in this instalment are more links than usual to make the connections.
Trump is an industry to himself with a seemingly endless array of products marketed with his image and imprimatur, and presumably, a royalty. What’s more basic to economics than that?
Amazon.com : trump merchandise
The Gospels include mention of a significant number of goods produced in what one might term the light-manufacturing of its day. Items include nails, swords, tables, lamps, etc.
One could argue that this list of products are a good start on a list of essential items a society needs to function. When added to the services/labor listed previously, and the construction activity evidenced as well, a picture of the Gospel economy emerges.
From steaks to golf gear, to Christmas ornaments and masks, the list goes on and on. Not to mention daughter Ivanka’s offerings or the merchandise sold at his properties, this list is virtually unlimited.
And let’s not forget those MAGA hats.
Frustratingly perhaps for free-marketers, Jesus seemed rarely to be a friend of the marketplace.
Mark 11:16 and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
For the full text click here.
Not wanting to leave our review of boats too suddenly, we start this chapter with a mention of the chief non-wind propulsion system of the day.
Matthew 6:48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. As the night was ending, he came to them walking on the sea, for he wanted to pass by them.
The cushion really “makes” this image of Jesus quietly sleeping while his friends are panicked.
Mark 4:38 But he was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?”
President Donald Trump painting Throw Pillow for Sale by Suzann Sines (fineartamerica.com)
Incense has been around a very long time.
Luke 1:9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the holy place of the Lord and burn incense. 1:10 Now the whole crowd of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering. 1:11 An angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared to him.
Trump or Biden? Peruvian shamans try to predict U.S. election winner | Reuters
Scrolls in the synagogues would have been very dear, as today.
Luke 4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him.
Fishing nets feature prominently in the Gospels
Trump is generally thought to be interested in a different net: Net Profit.
Luke 5:2 He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
Here we are reminded of the Capitol Riot and its injuries at the hands of Trump’s mob. Woman rushed out of Capitol building on a stretcher, "covered in blood" (yahoo.com)
Stretchers are mentioned several times in the Gospels, usually as something used to bring a paralytic to Jesus, and which is no longer of use after the encounter.
Matthew 9:2 Just then some people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Have courage, son! Your sins are forgiven.”
A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin, or casket containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave.
Luke 7:14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”
Several musical instruments are mentioned in the Gospels.
While we don’t find the instrument, we can find Trump champagne flutes on Etsy. Champagne Flute TRUMP 2020 Tumbler | Etsy
Luke 7:32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance;
we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’
Tables are usually just part of the scenery, but one stood out recently, a tiny desk he used at Thanksgiving while giving a press conference. Trump's Tiny Desk For Thanksgiving Prompts Memes, Jokes (buzzfeednews.com)
Tables are frequently mentioned in the Gospels, often as a place of eating, most memorably as a vital fixture in the Last Supper. Tables are also mentioned prominently in the scene with the money changers and other moments.
Luke 11:37 As he spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so he went in and took his place at the table.
Luke 22:14 Now when the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles joined him.
John 2:14 He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.
A lamp is used several times in the Gospels as a metaphor for Jesus.
Matthew 5:15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
While Trump purportedly doesn’t drink one can find flasks with his image. Amazon.com | TRUMP 8oz Stainless Steel Flask Drinking Whiskey: Flasks
Of course, one can find a wide variety of Jesus flasks too. Jesus flask | Etsy
The Parable of the Ten Virgins discusses how lamps were used, even down to the olive oil fuel and the need for trimming. Also notice how rich this story is in economic activity.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Matthew 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 25:2 Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. 25:3 When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. 25:4 But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. 25:5 When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’ 25:7 Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 25:8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 25:9 ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 25:10 But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. 25:11 Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ 25:12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ 25:13 Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.
One can find Trump’s head in a jar as a Halloween novelty item. Relieved to say we could not find a similar item featuring Christ. Amazon.com : Donald Trump Head in Jar -"Hell Toupee" - Halloween/Horror/Political/Funny/Gag/Novelty/Decor/Prop : Everything Else
Jars are mentioned in the Gospels as containers for aromatic oil and water. For the oil it is mentioned specifically the use of an alabaster jar.
Matthew 26:7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table.
Mark 14:13 He sent two of his disciples and told them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.
Yes, people apparently slept in beds back then.
Mark 7:30 She went home and found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Money Bag/Traveler’s Bag (3)
The money and traveler’s bags are mentioned specifically together.
Luke 10:4 Do not carry a money bag, a traveler’s bag, or sandals, and greet no one on the road.
Hard to imagine Trump going along with this command.
Doors take on a new relevance when we consider the rioters at the Capitol who busted their way through them, broke windows out of them, had guns pointed through them, and, finally, got shot outside one.
Doors are most often mentioned figuratively, as in the door to heaven. In the following we see a real physical door in action.
John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Ivanka is more famous for purses. Ivanka Trump Bags for Women - Poshmark
This one mention of a purse clearly indicates the use of a purse to carry one’s coins.
Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out – a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
A metaphor for Trump and the Republican party?
Millstones generally come in pairs and are used to grind grains into flour. They are large and heavy.
Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Goods in the house
Trump on the roof? In the field? What might he do? What would most of us?
In this Luke passage Jesus advises against going back for your stuff.
Luke 17:31 On that day, anyone who is on the roof, with his goods in the house, must not come down to take them away, and likewise the person in the field must not turn back.
When it comes to stones Trump is most famous for Roger Stone and his pardon.
It’s not clear exactly what the “beautiful” stones are that Jesus is referencing though he goes on to talk about “when not one stone will be left on another” in the very famous passage where he predicts the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
Luke 21:5 Now while some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and offerings, Jesus said, 21:6 “As for these things that you are gazing at, the days will come when not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!”
On the other hand, we can easily imagine Ivanka with beautiful stones as we find in her pearl jewelry offering: Ivanka Trump 'Tassel' Seed Pearl Necklace | Nordstrom
Pearls were of great value in the Gospels’ days, as today.
Matthew 13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 13:46 When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.
Perhaps the most famous connection of Trump and baskets is the infamous statement made by Hillary Clinton regarding the “Basket of Deplorables” to describe Trump’s supporters. Basket of deplorables - Wikipedia
Baskets are mentioned most often in conjunction with the miracles of the fish and loaves.
Luke 9:17 They all ate and were satisfied, and what was left over was picked up – twelve baskets of broken pieces.
There is a wide selection of Trump doormats. Amazon.com : trump doormat
The use of the term mat is used principally in this passage where Jesus heals a cripple.
John 5:10 So the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to carry your mat.” 5:11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 5:12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?”
Lanterns and Torches and Weapons
So far as weapons go the discussion today is making sure Trump doesn’t use those of the Nuclear variety before he leaves office. Nuclear weapons: Trump still has the power to blow up the world. (slate.com)
Interestingly, these three items are mentioned only once, and together, in the Gospels. Like a scene from Frankenstein.
John 18:3 So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Interestingly, the only mention of nails in the Gospels is in this passage about “Doubting” Thomas.
John 20:25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”
Again, we look to Ivanka’s clothing line for a connection with her “Yoke Tops”. Ivanka Trump Women's Velvet Lace Yoke Top at Amazon Women’s Clothing store
From the origins of the agrarian economies, the yoke is presumably a standard tool.
Luke 14:19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’
And so goes the plow.
Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
References to books of the Old Testament, and to the many miracles and deeds of Jesus, are found in the Gospels. Books as we know them were not in existence.
Trump has co-authored several books and had many written about him with many more to be written as the years role by.
John 20:30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
John 21:25 There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Beam of Wood (2)
A beam is a very large piece of wood generally used to support ceilings and roofs. They are still in use today though often purely for decorative purposes.
Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 7:5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Fence (2); Pit (5); Winepress (2); Watchtower (2)
Intriguingly, there is a new fence going up around the Capitol. A Trump Fence?
These four items are mentioned together in a parable. They are mentioned nowhere else. It is perhaps the first mention of a factory, if you will – a winery.
Mark 12:1 Then he began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey.
Trump is about to give up the keys to the White House. But he has many others for many other locales to choose from.
Mentioned figuratively as the key to heaven, but obviously there were keys to locks on doors.
Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.”
There are no shortage of Trump cups for purchase. Amazon.com : trump cup
Perhaps the most spoken of item in all the Gospels is the cup. It is referenced in the services of most Christian faiths at most every service. The Holy Grail itself.
Matthew 26:27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you,
…and plates. Amazon.com : trump Plate
On the other hand, the plate is mentioned just once.
Luke 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Pots, Kettles, Dining Couches
Pot and kettle references to Trump are generally reserved for the “Pot calling the kettle black” euphemism deployed regularly by the press and commentators talking about Trump and his supporter’s statements. Pots, kettles, and Trump’s blackening (theaustralian.com.au)
And these items, also mentioned just once each.
Mark 7:4 And when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. They hold fast to many other traditions: the washing of cups, pots, kettles, and dining couches.
The Gospels use the platter in a very gruesome and notorious scene.
Matthew 14:8 Instructed by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”
Mark 6:28 He brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
Many would like to see Trump’s, figuratively of course, at this point in time.
The brass section is represented in the Gospels.
Matthew 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Bowls, cups, plates – all the attributes of a well adorned table.
Matthew 26:23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me
The “bowl” reference that dominates a Google search of Trump Bowl is that of a toilet bowl scrubber with his image. Amazon.com : trump bowl
Today the sponge would be used for cleaning up – in the Gospels it was used for a far different task.
Matthew 27:48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.
Offering Box (4)
The offering box has apparently always been a standard fixture in houses of worship.
John 8:20 (Jesus spoke these words near the offering box while he was teaching in the temple courts. No one seized him because his time had not yet come.)
Trump is known to be generous to collection boxes. Trump pulls wad of cash from pocket for collection box at Las Vegas church ahead of rally in crucial state (the-sun.com)
Another fixture of civilized living as old as civilization itself.
John 13:5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.
Hard to imagine Trump, or most of us, washing his followers’ feet.
Fishing without a net requires a hook of course.
Matthew 17:27 But so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a four drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you.”
The mention of reconciling with our brothers (and sisters) is poignant in today’s circumstance as Trump leaves office.
The altar is the scene of much action in the Gospels.
Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift.
The throne in the Gospels usually equates to a heavenly object – the Throne of God for instance.
Matthew 5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God,
Except in this passage:
Luke 1:52 He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;
The reference to an oath in Matthew 5:34 is intriguing given Trump’s oath of office, which the House is arguing he broke as it moves toward a second impeachment proceeding.
Dice were used to see who got Jesus’ clothes.
John 19:24 So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.” So the soldiers did these things.
The term seat is usually mentioned in the Gospels in the recounting of the story in which Jesus chastises those that always take the “best seat”, as in the synagogue or at a banquet. Here we see Pilate taking the seat of judgment.
John 19:13 When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement” (Gabbatha in Aramaic).