What Donald and I Have in Common

“You Have Sacrificed Nothing” 

I finally found one thing that Donald Trump and I have in common.

In the eloquent words of Khizr Khan, Donald Trump and I “have sacrificed nothing” for this country.  (I’m sorry, Donald, but working hard to make lots of money is not generally considered to be a sacrifice.) The Khans earned the right to point this out on behalf of all the parents who have buried a child in the service of our nation.

Mr. Trump and I both had deferments during the Viet Nam draft.  In 1968, I received a 4-D deferment because I was going to seminary to prepare for ministry, for which I’m both unashamed and grateful.  In addition to four college deferments, Trump got another one because he had bone spurs in his heels.

Neither of us made the sacrifices that some of our peers made by being drafted or enlisting to go to Viet Nam.

Nor did I make the sacrifice of others in my generation who protested against the war in Viet Nam.

Bob Lyon was the first Christian pacifist I’d ever met.  He was my New Testament Greek professor in seminary.  I’ve forgotten most of what he taught me about Greek, but I’ve never forgotten what he taught me about taking Jesus seriously in ways that have challenged and guided me ever since.  But I’ve never made any sacrifice for attempting to follow Jesus in the way of non-violence (except for the loss of some friends along the way).

Mr. and Mrs. Kahn reminded me of the unearned gifts enshrined in our Constitution that Donald Trump and I inherited from the generations who came before us. They are a legacy I want to pass on to my grandchildren and to the immigrants Emma Lazarus  described as “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Donald Trump and I have made no sacrifice for this nation.  The difference is that I  humbly acknowledge that fact and Trump either cannot or will not.

Trump’s behavior has demonstrated that he is apparently incapable of empathy for the pain of others, humility in the face of suffering, or the slightest bit of remorse for his self-aggrandizing arrogance. It continues to confirm his declaration that he never apologizes and never asks for forgiveness. 

Changing My Heart 

None of this comes as a surprise.  The surprise has been the way my heart has begun to change.

Diana Butler Bass is a leading scholar and writer on American Christianity.  Her recent reflection on Donald Trump challenged me, as a follower of Christ, to move from disgust through pity toward compassion.

My heart, my baptism vows, my sense of ethics compel me to respect the dignity of all human beings and to try, try, try to navigate my words regarding others with kindness…

And this is the best I can do: Donald Trump is a broken, wounded, person who seems painfully unaware of his own humanity, unfit for the office for which he is running, a violator of the American community, and one who does not know what truth is…The kindest thing we can do is tell Mr Trump as loudly and consistently as we can that we — the good people of the United States — reject him as a leader and that he needs to go home and examine his heart and rediscover his own soul.

God loves you, Mr Trump. And the hope and dream of that God is that when we find ourselves wrapped in the presence of ultimate love & mercy, that we treat others with equal grace and tenderness. This is the path to human maturity. Your money, your television show, your fame, and your quest for power mean nothing if you lack love.

I do not fear you. I pray for you. (https://www.facebook.com/Diana.Butler.Bass)  

The deepest thing Donald Trump and I have in common our common need of undeserved forgiveness and unearned grace.

The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered over, is truly happy!

When I kept quiet, my bones wore out;
    I was groaning all day long—
    every day, every night!—
because your hand was heavy upon me.

So I admitted my sin to you;
    I didn’t conceal my guilt.
    “I’ll confess my sins to the Lord, ” is what I said.
    Then you removed the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)

Although we have sacrificed nothing, the greatest sacrifice of all has been given for us.

This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. (I John 4:9-11) 

For a multitude of reasons, I can never vote for Donald, but I can pray him.

Grace and peace,








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19 thoughts on “What Donald and I Have in Common

  1. Excellent….I had been thinking about my/our deferments as well. You used it beautifully and powerfully.

  2. Bob Tindale btindale@kumconline.org August 6, 2016 — 12:32 pm

    Thank you Jim.

  3. Good one! Many thanks! MB

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. You’re a better man than I am! Thanks for reminding me that I need to try harder to be a more compassionate Christian.


  5. Jim, while I am not smart enough to reply to this article.  I would ask that you look at Hillary Clinton’s background and see if all she had done is an example that is Christ like and a road you would be proud to travel.I for one am ashamed of both candidate and feel I have to vote on the one I feel will do least damage to our great country in four years.Isn’t that a rather sad situation.America is great —- a country where we can.disagree, vote as we feel we should and still be friends.    ..Mary Jane Stewart 

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    1. Mary Jane: With you, I’m grateful for a country where we can disagree and still be friends. That’s something Trump seems to be incapable of doing. I have followed Hillary Clinton closely across all these years. There have been times when I disagreed or have been disappointed in her mistakes, every one of which has been exaggerated and driven into our minds by the unending attacks from folks like Limbaugh, and Faux News. But with all of that, I find the values and platform she represents to be more consistent with my Christian values than anything I have seen or heard of Trump. He is the living contradiction of just about everything I value. With her imperfections, she is far better equipped for the job and far less dangerous to our democracy than Trump. Thanks for a friendship that has space for this kind of honesty. 🙂

  6. Jim,

    Thank you so much for your comments, and for the wise and spiritual words of Diana Butler Bass. i am sorry that I was not aware of her before this. I plan to read some of her books, as they sound very helpful to all Christ followers as we struggle to walk in the Way.

    Keep those posts coming!

    Love in Christ.

    Tom >

    1. Thanks! You’ll appreciate Bass’ work. She’s a thoughtful and hopeful witness for the mainline church.

  7. CARMEN CUNNINGHAM August 6, 2016 — 5:09 pm

    Amen Carmen

  8. John the Baptist August 6, 2016 — 10:20 pm

    As always, well said, Jim. However, as a 72 year old army veteran, I would argue that you and your brother have both sacrificed for your country. Had you not answered God’s call to be a minister and instead used your student deferment so that you could obtain an MBA you may have been wealthier today. I am sure you have comforted the widows of veterans. You have worked hard to make my hometown (Tampa) a better place.

  9. Christopher D. Reiner August 6, 2016 — 10:33 pm

    Jim, thanks for leading us back to the Christian response to Donald Trump. Praying for him is the obvious response, but it gets lost in the anger and the fear of a Trump presidency. I’m actually having a much harder time with my response to his supporters. Again, I guess, it comes back to prayer.

    I think it’s interesting that it is a Muslim family that has hurt Trump the most in the poles. Something poetic there.

    Thanks for your message.


    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Chris:
      I’m with you! The words from Diana Bass challenged me to attempt to move through my disgust and despair over Trump and his followers to a more Christ-like place. Not entirely there yet! None of which denies my genuine fear for our nation if he were elected. And, yes, there’s a sort of poetic justice in the impact that Mr. and Mrs. Khan are having. God hasn’t given up on us yet!
      The thought of a Trump presidency also makes me appreciate what the folks in South Africa have gone through with Zuma. It really can get worse!

  10. Thanks Jim thoughtful and insightful

  11. I love this! Thanks for your honesty and putting a positive way we can “support” Donald without voting for him.

  12. Well said

  13. As always, you are spot on. Problem is, Hillary scares me too….so here we are again, picking the least of the 2 evils.!!!

    From: Jim Harnish To: gcaron8@yahoo.com Sent: Saturday, August 6, 2016 8:10 AM Subject: [New post] What Donald and I Have in Common #yiv1881229163 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1881229163 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1881229163 a.yiv1881229163primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1881229163 a.yiv1881229163primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1881229163 a.yiv1881229163primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1881229163 a.yiv1881229163primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1881229163 WordPress.com | jimharnish posted: “”You Have Sacrificed Nothing” I finally found one thing that Donald Trump and I have in common.In the eloquent words of Khizr Khan, Donald Trump and I “have sacrificed nothing” for this country.  (I’m sorry, Donald, but working hard to make lots of m” | |

  14. Thank you Jim, for reminding us to pray for those we do not admire rather than to demean!

  15. If her name wasn’t Clinton she would lose her clearance and be in jail. I can not vote for a person with this record. Rick

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