Friday, October 21, 2016

Blog Post 2

This case study focuses explicitly on the Christian religion. While focusing more on the overarching Christian response to Donald Trump, most of the memes come from a more Protestant Evangelical Christian representation and understanding of Christianity. To demonstrate this, we will look at the two example memes from the first blog post:

This meme is a play and parody of the "Most interesting man in the world" memes. These memes come from the Dos Equis beer commercials, and are an exaggerated and characterized version of a man doing an absurd or extreme scenario. What this meme portrays is that same larger than life, boisterous personality that is associated with the "Most interesting man in the world" memes to point out the absurdity of Trump's comments at Liberty University. The focus of the meme is the way Trump said "Two Corinthians" as opposed to "Second Corinthians" when referring to a common book in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Many people took this and ran with it, especially because Trump made this lexical mistake at a Christian college. What makes this significant when looking at the conflict between Donald Trump and Christianity is the fact that something as seemingly insignificant to outsiders as saying "Two" instead of "Second" can be so meaningful to the practicers of Christianity. All of this being said, this portrays the notion that Christianity values their religious text, the Bible, very highly -- to the point where pronunciations of certain parts of it (Second Corinthians) are innate for practitioners who read the Bible regularly. Furthermore, one can then deduce that the practice of reading the Bible is important to Christians, because a familiarity with the scriptures and discussing it with others would make establish at least a correct pronunciation of a standard reference. This progression of logical thinking explains why there was so much directed at Trump for saying "two" rather than "second." That is because if he professes a Christian faith yet does not know how to pronounce a very popular part of the text when there is an emphasis on reading it and knowing the text, this lexical mistake goes beyond simply that and appears as significant and even contrarian to his statement of being a Christian.

This meme is using the "Condescending Wonka" meme in order to portray the idea that, while asking "Please tell me more about how the two [being a Christian and supporting Donald Trump] aren't contradictory," the meme and creator of the meme believe the two are actually contradictory no matter the response. What this implies is paramount, because in spite of the "Religious Right" supporting Donald Trump and his claims to be a Christian, this meme takes the argument against Trump's being a Christian a step further and essentially asserts that a person can't even be a Christian and support Trump simultaneously. This simple, sweeping statement demonstrates the idea that the person's understanding of Christianity and its values are in most or every regard the opposite of Trump's policies and sayings, and further more, Trump's character. The idea that a Christian cannot support Trump without being contradictory tell two interesting and key ideas: 

  1. Character is important to Christian belief. Because Trump's character is and has been hotly disputed and very controversial throughout the entire campaign (and in memes that will be shown in later blog posts), the idea here is that Christianity is just as concerned with the character of the person they are supporting as with policies.  
  2. Character is, according the beliefs portrayed in the meme, more important than policy. This stems from the idea that supporting a candidate is an advocacy for the person and their policies; supporting a candidate is viewed as promotion of the person's character. In a Christian supporting Trump, the creator of the meme believes that then the extension of that support is that the Christian religion is intricately tied to the beliefs, sayings, and character of Trump. This shows a belief in Christianity that a person's profession and identification as a Christian influences every aspect of themselves -- political, social, economic, etc. aspects. 
The support of Trump by a Christian, being an advocacy for Trump's character, is in turn the Christian religion's advocacy for the character of Trump because of the religious belief that the faith of the Christian influences their vote, and therefore a person supporting Trump is Christianity voting for Trump, and this is what the creator of the meme ultimately views as contradictory. Their view is that all other tenants of Christianity make the support of a Christian for Trump contradictory and an impossible logical conclusion.

Overall, these two memes portray that Christianity is fairly strict in regard to maintaining orthodox beliefs (the importance of religious texts, character, etc.). When Gaddy talks about the use of religion in politics as a means of establishing the character of a candidate and credibility with the electorate, these memes attacking Donald Trump's connection to Christianity are in fact attempting to do the opposite - they are attempting to reject the character and credibility of the candidate as a Christian and get rid of the religious rhetoric from Trump, and in creating this distance between the two keeping the religion, in a sense, "pure". 

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