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Is Trumpism the latest religious sect?
"God: A Human History" is by Reza Aslan. - photo by Jerry Johnston
Religion, like sports, produces stars. Many stars flash and fade. Others have legs, as they say. Their influence expands.

Reza Aslan is a religious writer looking to last.

And hes off to a solid start.

Aslan's book Zealot (Random House, 2013) talks about how the peers of Jesus may have viewed him. Its still selling. And his new book, God: A Human History (Random House, Nov. 7), is making waves. It seeks to trace the presence of the Almighty in the arc of human history.

For the record, Aslan is a believer, though of a rarefied breed. Raised in Iran as a Muslim, he converted to Christianity, then re-converted to Islam. But the second time, he took some Christianity with him.

In other words, Aslan is a hybrid believer, a soul with a peculiar perspective.

Its what makes his writing interesting.

And last week, at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, he shared his unique point of view with a chapel full of seekers.

Aslan had come to talk about his new book. Hed even brought a Power Point presentation. But once he hit the stage, he decided to go rogue.

He left the script and went off the rails.

He said a couple of recent incidents had him stewing. So he was going to wing it.

Hed been pondering the attitude of President Donald Trumps hard-shell followers and he wanted to run his thoughts by us.

Aslan said hed come to the conclusion that the white Christians who fervently tune into Trump are so thirsty for a prophetic voice, so hungry for a leader who can download information from Deity, that they've placed the prophetic mantle on Trump and wink at his sins and missteps. They figure he has a pipeline. They figure he has inside info.

I think Trumpism is becoming a religious cult, Aslan said. And as you know, that means things will probably end badly.

But what Aslan said next was a real McNugget for thought.

Others try to make Trump's supporters see the error of their ways, Aslan said. But the supporters are walking by faith, not thought.

I am a person of faith myself, Aslan said, And I know firsthand that we dont take peoples faith seriously enough. Faith isnt about believing things. Faith is an identity. Its not something you figure out. Its something you feel. Its who you are.

For Aslan, the worlds religions are like many different languages. But at the heart of each religion is this deep sense of faith. And when you talk to believers, you must reach them from that perspective of faith.

We must respect peoples faith more, Aslan said. And then we must talk to them faith to faith, heart to heart, not ideas to ideas.

In other words, its not about being convinced, its about being converted.

As I drove back from California, I mulled over Aslans words.

What if faith did become part of the public discourse again? Would people respond?

Aslan is right to say many Americans no longer know how to discuss faith.

And thats frustrating all around.

Secular people say, "Let's talk religion. What do you believe?"

Religious people say, "Let's talk religion. What do you feel?"

In the end, I enjoyed my evening with Aslan.

I dont know how much staying power he will have, but if he keeps coming up with the kind of stuff he shared in Pasadena, I hope hes with us for the long run.
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