Bush v. Times

Salon’s Eric Boehlert writes on the Bush admin’s call to war [suffer through a Day Pass to view] against the New York Times, over Ron Suskind’s Sunday magazine piece, “Without a Doubt” [registration might be required], about Bush’s management style.

Suskind’s excellent article confirmed many thoughts I’ve had about George W., and his religious beliefs, reflecting back upon my own experiences. (My comments here are reproduced from comments I left at Fraction’s. If you’ve already seen his entry, you’ve probably seen what I have to say.)

As a fallen Christian (i.e., former born-again), I’m really fascinated by Bush’s faith and the effects of such on his presidency. Many people who are alarmed by his religiosity seem to worry most that evangelicals will shanghai both his administration and the Congress and ram through ultra-conservative legislation re. personal freedoms. I worry about that, too, but I’ve suspected for a while that the biggest worry is exactly what Suskind lays out so clearly in his article, which is the fervor and certainty with which this admin. goes about its business.

In my experiences, evangelicals have real problems with this doubt thing. Many people begin to loathe themselves when they doubt God or the church, whereas others see doubt as the necessary flip side of faith–and instead of trying to banish doubt, they try to use it to draw closer to their God. They point to Christ’s prayer at Gethsemane and the lives and teachings of other holy figures, both Biblical and modern, to show that doubt is nothing to fear.

I’ve seen sermons on doubt provoke strong reactions among congregations–some people going so far as to claim that doubt equals blasphemy and human arrogance. Cynical pastors use sermons on doubt to shore up their own power, as we can see paralleled in the Oval Office, and I think the most cynical use the emotional trama that doubt engenders in some Christians to browbeat them into giving more money.

This psychosis is one main thing that drove me away from born-again-ism because I no longer wanted to deny my own rationality. I was tired of having my character impugned because I simply wanted to ask questions.

So this is why I’m so intrigued by George W.’s faith, but also why the man worries me so goddamn much. I’ve read and watched a lot on this topic, but Suskind’s the first one to really nail what I was feeling.

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