Someone I know and greatly respect who is a devout Christian recently explained to me the difference between “Christian” and “Christiany”. The first is a sincere feeling of faith. The second is a kind of provincial tribalism.

I completely get this, because it parallels a similar phenomenon in my own Jewish subculture. True adherence to a higher code and mere tribalism often get tossed together, but they are most definitely not the same.

I was thinking of this recently when I started to research the family tree of Ayanna Pressley, the U.S. Representative for the 7th congressional district in Massachusetts. Since our president recently suggested that she go back to the country she came from, I wanted to understand just what country that was.

Apparently, it is the country of Cincinatti Ohio. According to our president, this exotic country of Cincinatti Ohio is a “totally broken and crime infested place”.

I also learned that Ayanna Pressley comes from a deeply religious Christian family, and that her family members’ faith has continually sustained them through great adversity. I can’t help but contrast this with our president, who says things calculated to appeal to “Christiany” tribalism.

Ironically, there is quite literally nothing about this man that Jesus would have recognized as virtuous. In fact, I suspect that the tears Jesus would have wept upon learning of such a person would easily have filled the Sea of Galilee.

If you take the time to read the New Testament, you realize that the arguments advanced by the various parties fall rather neatly into two camps. One camp we would today recognize as “Christian” and the other we would recognize as “Christiany”. The former were articulated by Jesus and his disciples, the latter by the Pharisees.

When applied to current U.S politics, the words of Jesus of Nazareth — of inclusiveness, compassion, of the idea that we are here upon this Earth to care for one another — are very well aligned with the politics of Ayanna Pressley. In short, Jesus was a Democrat.

In contrast, the political philosophy of the Pharisees was unapologetically tribal, oligarchic and brutally nationalist. Today we would call them Republicans.

Leave a Reply