In the 1979 Monty Python movie, “Life of Brian,” the eponymous hero is followed home by a mob mistakenly believing him to be the Messiah. When Brian’s mother learns of it she addresses the mob through his bedroom window, shouting, “He is not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”
To be sure, actual history is replete with people who are both thought to be the Messiah and who think they are the Messiah. Not to make any judgments, but, for the most immediate, most obvious example of this phenomenon take a quick glance at your calendar, the one hanging by a magnet on the front of your fridge.
Now I write this sentence with the sigh of inevitability, but it was only a matter of time before Donald Trump began to speak of himself as the Messiah. After all, being president of the United States is obviously not enough. The world’s most famished ego also, pathetically, needs to garner the Nobel Prize for peace, the Medal of Honor, and lays claim to Michigan’s “Man of the Year” and at least one more cover of Time Magazine than the publisher has actually done of him. When everything, and I mean everything, is about Donald Trump, what else remains except a supernatural anointing from the Paraclete?
Trump recently retweeted the words of the preposterously despicable conspiracy wacko Wayne Allyn Root that “the Jewish people love [Trump] … like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.” Do not for a minute think Trump is just kidding here. I think he’s quite capable of believing it. What’s more, at a brief pre-boarding of Marine One press gaggle, Trump summarized his role as the man to take on China by turning to the sky, holding out his hands in an embracing, ecclesiastical gesture and saying, “I am the Chosen One.”
History is replete with other famous claims of messiahship. First century King of the Jews Herod Agrippa, and the Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as “Caligula,” are two such examples. More recently the “People’s Temple” cult leader Jim Jones is another. I suppose we can take some comfort from the notion that at least each of those three messianic incarnations were both brief and ended badly for the claimants. It stops being amusing when one considers that many innocent people also died with them.
Furthermore, if you think Trump’s wackadoodle base of knuckle-dragging followers thinks he’s joking, think again. They are quite prepared to believe anything he says. To them I say Donald Trump is not the messiah. That he is a very naughty boy is the understatement of the decade.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.