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Friday, August 22, 2003


Leon Wieseltier examines the President's favorite devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, "an extended assault on the legitimacy of doubt" (New Republic 8.18.03, sub req'd). And he offers a few observations about our theologian in chief:

Bush's faith is emphatically not a religion of reason. Indeed, his style of piety has the consequence of making religion look stupid. In his address of consolation after the destruction of the space shuttle, the president said that "the crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to earth, yet we can pray that they are all safely home." There was no mention of a celestial old man with a great white beard, but the coarseness of the conception was evident. Bush's most embarrassing quality is his derision of doubt. ("If we are wrong ...": What a relief it was to hear Tony Blair pronounce those words in this city!) A contempt for doubt is a contempt for thought, and a strange humility. And in his comment against gay marriage, Bush again exposed the limitations of his religious idiom. "Yeah, I am mindful that we are all sinners," he said in a spirit of inclusion—but those are not sinning Americans, those are gay Americans. The Constitution does not know sinners. And the religious vocabulary of inclusion frequently excludes. The defense of the strictly heterosexual construction of marriage is looking more and more like a defense of the sanctifying power of the state, which is ludicrous. I can grasp why the president of the United States seeks the support of Jesus, but I cannot grasp why Jesus seeks the support of the president of the United States. 

And then there's the edifying spectacle of Chief Justice Roy Moore, who points out that his devotion to the Alabama Decalogue "is not about a monument. It's not about politics or religion. It's about the acknowledgment of God." Ah.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 22 August 2003 at 5:29 PM

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