George W. should keep his God to himself
It is common knowledge that George W., our compassionate-warrior president, enjoys a rather special relationship with God, at least with the Christian God. I suspect he is not on very good terms with Allah, the Supreme Being in the Islamic faith.At any rate, George has confided in friends that he knew he would become president of the United States because God had told him as much. If he really believes that, I suppose he should be applauded for the depth of his faith. A doubting Thomas might simply pooh-pooh such a claim and continue to be critical of President W. on the basis of his political record. There is no way that I know of to prove or disprove W.’s claim.I was taught to respect the beliefs of others and over the years I have tried to be true to that. I do respect W.’s beliefs and would not comment on them if it were not for the fact that he continues to bring religion to the table. He shamelessly touts his faith in a manner that is troubling. There seems to be the hint that if you are critical of W., you are committing some form of sacrilege, much as the administration questions the patriotism of those who oppose W.’s invasion of Iraq.In July George told a group of Amish that “God speaks through him.” Now that is a strong statement, one containing some rather suspicious elements of delusion. If I were a devout Christian, I would find that statement to be extremely disconcerting as it raises the prospect that God is a rather inarticulate fellow. It is difficult to believe that our omnipotent Lord would butcher the English language, as W. is so prone to do. Is there the possibility that God is just pretending to be unable to express himself in a clear and effective manner when he speaks through George so that we won’t know what is really going on?But W. hardly has a corner on communicating with God or any other deity. Mankind probably has experienced divine revelation in one form or another since we abandoned living in trees. Of the endless religions that have existed on this planet, and they are endless, most if not all have had their soothsayers, oracles, priests and shaman, men and women who acted as conduits between their people and their gods. You can either accept the message they deliver or reject it. Either way, it is pretty much a matter of faith.Even in our modern world we have access to a large number of “oracles,” known to us as TV evangelists. Almost without exception those folk claim to communicate with God on a regular basis. Oral Roberts was one of my favorites. At one point he informed his followers that if they didn’t come up with a million-or-so dollars for his ministry, God was going to call him to heaven. It was a move that prompted bumper stickers to appear across the country that read quite simply: “Send Oral to Heaven!” In other words, don’t send him your hard-earned money.I have long been fascinated with the ease with which those evangelists are able to make contact with God. It’s as if they simply pick up the phone and punch the God button. My theory is that somehow the polyester clothing favored by evangelists acts as a spiritual antenna, allowing clear signals to be sent from heaven to earth, while those of us who prefer cotton and such receive nothing but static.However, I know the pope, who supposedly is pretty close to God, does not wear polyester and I can’t recall seeing George W. wearing such material, although he certainly seems to be a candidate for polyester, so maybe my theory does have some significant holes in it. Of course, it is possible that W. sleeps in polyester jammies. That would explain some of this.But there is one aspect of this talking-with-God business that is rather disturbing. A fairly large number of inmates in our prisons and asylums, individuals guilty of violent and bizarre acts, claim to have direct contact with God. In many instances they insist that God “told” them to act as they did. There is no intent here to place George W. in this particular category, but it is worth remembering that not everyone who claims a special intimacy with God is angelic and pure.George W. is counting on the votes from thousands of good and devout Christians to help him in the November election, so it comes as no surprise that he is being upfront about the depth of his faith. Unfortunately, this nation already is sharply divided regarding the administration’s political agenda. Throwing religion into the fray very likely would enlarge a wound that is already festering and could traumatize this nation in a manner we have never experienced. Religious differences, in case W. has not noticed, are a major factor in that part of the world where we are now so completely engaged, differences that have spawned despicable violence for centuries.We may respect W.’s devotion to his faith, but he would be wise to use caution before he tosses God into the middle of a political campaign.This is the 307th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where it is considered good manners to keep your conversations with God to yourself.
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