September 14, 2006

Bush's "I'm doing God's Work" Delusions

Not too long ago Michael Gerson, Bush's speechwriter responsible for most of his more religious speeches left for greener pastures. Yet, I wonder what he would think of Bush's latest declaration that he's leading the world in the ultimate battle between good and evil? After all, it was only two years ago that Gerson had to clarify that Bush does not believe that he has been tapped especially by God to do this job.

Like many evangelical Christians, President Bush believes that God is at work in his life. But he has avoided claiming that God is behind his presidency or U.S. foreign policy, his chief speechwriter said.

"The important theological principle here, I believe, is to avoid identifying the purposes of an individual or a nation with the purposes of God," Michael Gerson said. "That seems a presumption to me, and we've done our best to avoid the temptation."

I would say that Mr. Gerson didn't quite get our pig-headed president to understand this point. In fact, this week in a gathering with conservative journalists Bush was heard to say that he sees signs that he is leading God's battle.

President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."

..."A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me," Bush said during a 1 1/2 -hour Oval Office conversation on cultural changes and a battle with terrorists that he sees lasting decades. "There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s -- boom -- and I think there's change happening here," he added. "It seems to me that there's a Third Awakening."

But, certainly no one should be surprised that Bush believes he'd been tapped by God to smite evil. He's said this any number of times. During the lead-up to the Iraq war, Bush revealed in a Prayer Breakfast that he believed he was chosen by God to lead the nation in the battle against evil.

Rutgers University history professor Jackson Lears, in a recent letter to The New York Times, “How a War became a Crusade” (3-11-03), suggests a reason why Bush is so cavalier about the possibility that war in Iraq will have unintended consequences. Bush, according to Lears, “denies the very existence of chance.” “Events aren’t moved by blind change and chance,” Lears quotes Bush as saying; rather, events are determined by “the hand of a just and faithful God.”

Bush uttered these words at the fifty-first National Prayer Breakfast, held February 2003 in Washington DC. In his remarks, Bush assured Americans that they can “be confident in the ways of Providence, even when they are far from our understanding,” History, according to Bush, is the unfolding of God’s will. “Behind all of life and all of history, there’s a dedication and purpose.”

In the unfolding of history, God calls on special persons to make history in His righteous name. In a worldview that rests upon providence, the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are interpreted by many, including members of the Bush administration, as signs from God that Bush is ordained to lead a crusade against evil. “It is a theme which is beginning to emerge from the Bush administration,” writes Julian Borger in The Guardian (1-28-03). “While most people saw the extraordinary circumstances of the 2000 election as a fluke, Bush and his closest supporters saw it as yet another sign he was chosen to lead. Later, September 11 ‘revealed’ what he was there for.” The President said in the State of the Union address, “this call of history has come to the right country.” And, obviously to the right president.

What can you say about the presumptuousness of Bush in this belief? Well, it seems like the natural conclusion for a man who believes he makes his own reality.

In the latest incident, Bush told the conservative journalists why he believes this is a sign of the "Third Awakening."

Bush told a group of conservative journalists that he notices more open expressions of faith among people he meets during his travels, and he suggested that might signal a broader revival similar to other religious movements in history.

It is rather ironic that the fervent followers who have convinced Bush of the messianic righteousness of his cause are an ever dwindling number of Americans. Just as Laura Bush believed the press was lying when they talk about how the majority of Americans are down on her husband because she never sees that as they go out into the country, Bush believes that the people he sees are typical and representative of Americans in this country. Indeed, Bush's bubble continues to grow more opaque every week. Yet, for Bush this is not a problem. Never let it be said that Bush would let reality interfere with his fantasy.

See also: Holy Crap: Bush's Strategery and the Third Awakening of Religious Faith

Posted by Mary at September 14, 2006 12:09 AM | Religion | Technorati links |