Fight of the Ages…Donald Trump vs. Jesus?

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

~ Bertrand Russell ~

I posted this quote as a Facebook status update and noticed that quite a few people responded.  This got my mind gnawing away at the sturdy bone of this thought.  There’s a lot of meaty truth here if you take the time to sit and chew on it for a while.

To make this personal, I’ll divulge some of my own history with the Pursuit of Stuff.   I grew up both poor and deeply enmeshed in fundamentalist Christianity.  This created quite a conundrum.

On one hand, I grew tired of the constraints of poverty.   I’ll never forget seeing a Time magazine published in the late ’80’s with the very distinctive photo of Donald Trump on the cover.  He was dressed in a black tuxedo and his determined, powerful gaze was magnetic.  He was clearly in the prime of his rise to power and I was captivated by the splendid possibilities that he seemed to embody.  I became a covert disciple of Trump–reading his ghost-written books and dreaming of empire-building when I came of age.

Now back to the “other hand”.   The particular fundamentalist sect of Christianity I was raised in preached a gospel that militated against much enjoyment of life.  No TV (yes, I never saw a single episode of the Brady Bunch), no drinking, no movies, no thinking impure thoughts.  Men always wore long pants and long sleeve shirts in public.  Women were commanded to wear dresses that came “well below the knee at all times” and to never be seen in public without proper hosiery.   Women also were  never to cut their hair and usually wore them pinned up into massive buns on top of their heads.  I’m not making fun of this, it’s just an unusual lifestyle and I want to be sure you understand the contrast.

We were taught that to follow Christ meant that  “… you probably won’t have much in this world, but you’ll get a golden reward in the world to come…”.  Higher education was not encouraged and most of the members of this group slaved away in menial jobs that barely kept the bills paid.

I held both extremes inside my psyche.  It was deeply troubling, this tension between God and mammon.  I desired the finer things of life but I was afraid of the consequences of turning away from the demands of my faith.

I’ll abbreviate what could be a very lengthy tale of my journey to this point.  Basically, I became disillusioned with the harsh theology I was raised with and moved into the mainstream of modern life.  I plunged headlong into entrepreneurial pursuits and eventually found myself worn out and confused by the lack of fulfillment this brought.  My “preoccupation with possessions” stood as a barrier to living freely and living nobly.

My search has brought me to a middle path, so to speak.

Here are a couple of understandings that have emerged:

1).  A preoccupation with possessions just means that we’ve “bought into the big illusion” that we are primarily made of STUFF. If that is true then we should definitely rake together as big a pile of STUFF as we can and sit on top of it.

2). If we can’t accept that this is the ultimate meaning of life, then we must seek to see behind the curtain…to recognize the illusion for what it is.

3). I have come to know very clearly that we are “…not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spirit beings having a human experience.”

With that grand realization as my internal North Star, I can freely enjoy the stuff of life but remain detached from the drama of The Chase For More.

We–you and I–are here on earth to give birth to Who We Really Are.  The power and freedom and simple splendor of this reality transcends position, possessions, appearances, reputation, and any other manifestation of the eg0-story you might care to throw in.

The great and mighty truth is that “you are more…much more…than you can possibly know”.

As singer Jewel says in her song, “Life Uncommon”

Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend you strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a live uncommon

It turns out that the stuff that makes up an uncommon life is not stuff at all!

I would love to continue this conversation with you…please comment by clicking the link below.

What are some of YOUR thoughts about this?


12 Responses

  1. Darling nephew!

    What a wonderful blog! What a neatly precise way to ‘share’ your basic conflict. I not only approve, I completely and whole-heartedly agree, with you and Mr. Russell! It IS that preoccupation that ROBS us of our joy!

    Don’t get me wrong, I continually lament having to take care of so much ‘stuff’ whilst refusing to get rid of any more… That said, I revel in the freedom gained from NOT constantly running after MORE!

    Bless you as you go your way!

  2. Incredible insight here. I am glad to have “stumbled” here and found such a wonderful new world . . .


    michael j

  3. As we discussed the other day, I agree with you on this. Having stuff isn’t the problem, it’s the attachment to the stuff, which ideally is there to enhance your enjoyment of life, not create it.

    That being said, there isn’t a whole lot of material items that really enhance my life – a comfortable bed, a home, a hot water heater, refrigerator, all great things. Other things like my iPhone, TV, and many other items probably do more to numb my mind and complicate my life than they do to enhance it.

  4. Oh.. and I don’t want it to appear from my comment that I believe only the necessities of life are good and ay luxuries bad. For example, I have a nice Bass boat that definitely enhances my life. I can get out on the water in the summer and fish, and the boat is paid for and not a financial burden. I have lots of books I enjoy and plenty of other material luxuries that go above nd beyond food and shelter 🙂

    • yes, Dave, and even Buddha eventually discovered the “middle path” between hedonism and harsh asceticism. Having the ability to enjoy stuff without being preoccupied by acquiring more of it is good.

  5. Well, for me, I would have rathered you delve a little deeper into your childhood experience.
    I really appreciate you open and honest approach at what makes your vision a reality. Well thought out and concise thought, my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

    • Tim

      thank you, man. what would be helpful for you to learn about my childhood stuff? I’m pretty happy to share whatever–turns out I have no sense of shame or decency anymore 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing. I came over from Matthew Ferry’s post from yesterday and I am glad I did.


    • Hi, Fletch! thank you. I’m delighted to have you in the conversation?

      so, what do YOU think about this tension between the goal-setting, materialistic (albeit VERY addictive and attractive) world-view and the simple life of service that seems to be the message of most spiritual masters?

  7. Great post Jacob. I thoroughly identify with both your background (fundamentalist christianity) and your conclusions.

    This is a great post. Simple, well written, clear and with a message I approve of 😉


    Jonathan Elliot

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