10/21/2004: Our Christian President?
No, our magical, New Age, woo woo President. Jeff Sharlet at The Revealer has the details:
The big religion story of the day -- Ron Suskind’s NYT Magazine fisking of Bush’s faith -- is also the big political story of the day, and since it follows so closely on Matt Bai’s inadvertent take-down of Kerry, it’ll likely provide wonk-gossip fodder as well. Is this the Times' idea of "balance"? More importantly, which aide channeled New Age chanteuse Enya by asserting that “we create our own reality”? Who are the “sources” who set Suskind’s phone a-ringing after the publication of The Price of Loyalty? And is George W. Bush the first magical president of the United States?
Well, probably no one will ask that last one, but that’s what I was left wondering after reading Suskind’s report, only the latest in a long series of investigations of Bush’s faith. What’s surprising about Suskind’s summary of Bush’s “walk,” to borrow an evangelical term, is how small a role Jesus Christ seems to play in it. God gets a few cameos, but even he’s a supporting player. Front and center, though, is faith.
Given what we know about Bush, from pro-Bush sources such as Stephen Mansfield’s The Faith of George W. Bush and the documentary George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, from the reasonably neutral Frontline special, “The Jesus Factor,” and from mainstream print investigations such as Alan Cooperman's, that’s a fair assessment.
Believing, it seems, is more important to the President than the substance of his belief. Jesus Christ’s particular teachings -- well, those are good, too. But what really matters is that if you believe you can do something, you can.
What Suskind misses, and what Bush’s more orthodox Christian supporters seem to dodge, is that this is not Christian doctrine by any definition. It is, in fact, a key element of the broad, heterodox movement known as New Age religion.
Len on 10.21.04 @ 09:23 AM CST