Standing in Awe of Bushs Christianity; In spite of Bushs conversion, I do not believe he has advanced all that much from his spoiled rich kid frat boy days. By Lonna Gooden VanHorn
One of my best friends was married to a Lutheran pastor who was also a doctor of divinity. He, too, was a good friend and a good man. He died several years ago. I miss him very much.
But, if anything, his wife (my friend) is even more truly Christian than he was. Kind, generous, compassionate, forgiving, humble, and with no trace of the self-righteousness, superiority and contempt for those not as good as herself that so many Christians exhibit, she does not justify herself by looking down on others, as do so many of us. Including, too often, me.
She said to me once "A Christian is not something we are, it is something we are always in the process of becoming." She was quoting someone, but that quote has stayed with me.
Unlike many Bush haters I know who refuse to believe anything positive about G.W., I believe he is sincere in his Christianity, and I think it is wonderful for him and his family that his conversion turned his life around. It is always a victory when an alcoholic manages to quit drinking, and it is almost always good when a marriage can be saved.
But, some people appear to be so awed by Bushs profession of his faith and his deep belief in his own conversion, that they are letting his pronouncement of his deep faith in God influence their own judgment about the rightness of what he says and does and the wisdom of the policies he espouses. They seem to believe that because he professes his faith so often and so fervently, his words, actions and policies could not be other than could not deviate far from -- the will of God. Or they focus on a single wedge issue they feel strongly about, instead of looking at the much more important big picture.
Before the war, I heard a political pundit say that he was glad to have a man of faith in the White House. The implication was that having a man of faith as president made it more comfortable for him to be lax in his own Christianity. Obviously, if one can blindly trust that his or her leader is acting for God, one need not bestir oneself to get involved.
I believe it is very dangerous to assume ones leader is an agent of God for doing good. It is also important to remember that being a Christian is a minute-by-minute fight, and that there are many minutes when none of us, including Bush, are winning that fight.
Many of the people who participated in the various inquisitions which killed hundreds of thousands if not millions of heretics in Europe during the Middle Ages were very devout and believed absolutely in the rightness of what they were doing. So were many of the people who burned the witches in Salem.
I remember hearing of a Catholic priest in Germany who said something to the effect of this is for Christ as he shot Jews being interrogated during World War II.
George Bush has actually said he believes God told him to strike Saddam. He has reportedly said both that he believes God speaks to him and that God speaks through him.
Even our unarguably great presidents never said anything like that. Lincoln said he hoped he was on Gods side, he did not say that God was on his side. There is a difference.
People who never entertain doubts are usually fanatics, and are the most dangerous people on the face of the earth because reason and evidence do not enter into their decision making process. After three years in office, with the United States and the world in turmoil, Bush could not think of even one mistake he had made. One might think that doing nothing after receiving a presidential daily briefing stating Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S. would have come to mind quite quickly as a mistake.
As someone else said, if God tells you something other than what you want to hear, then that message might mean something. In regard to war with Iraq, it was clear from day one that Cheney, Bush, et al were looking for an excuse to invade and dominate that country and region. God told Bush what he wanted to hear. But as George McGovern said in The Reason Why, God sent a different message to the Pope, the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the mainline Protestant National Council of Churches and many distinguished rabbis--all of whom believe the invasion and bombardment of Iraq is against God's will.
I believe that Bush is a Christian. But, since the Christianity I was taught does not involve manipulation through fear, a celebration of greed and materialism, concern for the rich at the expense of the poor, lack of pity, sympathy, or compassion, and lack of humility, and since it also is not obsessed with vengeance and does not embrace war-mongering or war profiteering, I do not believe Bush is very far advanced in his Christian journey that process of becoming a Christian that my friend was talking about.
I do not accept that I should believe Bush's ideas and accept his dictates because he touts his Christianity more loudly and forcefully than most people do, or that because he claims to have been "reborn," his idea of what constitutes Christianity or Gods will is superior to my own beliefs or those of the ministers I am acquainted with or have been acquainted with. I do not believe that the GOP is Gods party, and I do not believe one must be a right wing Christian to be a Christian.
A bishop was at our local Democratic meeting a few days ago. He gave my favorite prayer, that of Saint Francis of Assisi. He, also, does not perceive Bush's policies as being representative of Christianity. He puts at least as much stock in the Beatitudes as he does in the Ten Commandments. That said, he believes it is our duty to pray for the president and all in power. He also suggests that perhaps we have not prayed hard enough.
I also believe most advanced Christians thirst for knowledge. In other words I do not believe an advanced Christian can be as disinterested in learning about and understanding the world, as is Bush. Especially when what he does as president of the most powerful nation on earth can have profound effects on people throughout the world.
In spite of Bushs conversion, I do not believe he has advanced all that much from his spoiled rich kid frat boy days. He still thinks he does not have to accept consequences. He still believes the rules do not apply to him or his. He preaches sobriety and sexual abstinence, but did not, himself, practice what he now preaches until he was nearly forty, and apparently he does not expect his own children to practice what he demands of others.
He allows his surrogates to lie with impunity, and he, himself, engages in willful deceit. He knows he did not attend his national guard drills regularly, yet he obfuscates by saying the fact that he received an honorable discharge proves he fulfilled his commitment. He said his tax cuts would benefit the poor when he knew the benefits would flow mostly to the rich. He knew his evidence for war was not strong, but his administration wanted war so badly they twisted the facts to make it seem as though the evidence was compelling. He knows the environmental policies he has enacted at the behest of his corporate campaign contributors are contributing to pollution, yet he claims they are not. Above all, he knew that what he said last July that we went to war with Hussein because he would not let the weapons inspectors in was a bald-faced lie. One that the media, shamefully, stood there mutely and did not challenge. Either Bushis not honest, or he is willfully delusional.
Bush never admits a mistake or takes responsibility for tragedy. Of the members of his administration, only Richard Clarke apologized for his part in failing to prevent the 9/11 tragedy, yet Richard Clark tried harder than anyone else to get Condi Rice and the president to focus on the threat of terrorism.
It is not conceivable to me that an advanced Christian would make fun of a woman he was about to execute. It still is incredible to me that Bush did not go to be with his daughter when she underwent an appendectomy. He has spent more than 40% of his presidency on vacation. The only job it appears he believes he has to work really hard at is fund raising.
I will not vote for Bush because he has done nothing to deserve my vote. The country is much worse off in almost every way than it was when he took office. Everything he has done has only made it worse. The environment is much worse off, the economy is, health care is, employment is. And mainly, of course, 1000 American soldiers and counting are dead and 7000 are injured, and millions of Iraqis are suffering. Bushs war for corporate profit for Halliburton, Bechtel and his fathers Carlyle Group may end up costing 1.7 trillion dollars. If my math is correct, that will be something like $6000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. $24,000 for a family of four so that Halliburton and Bechtel and their stockholders can do well, financially.
We are much less safe because billions more people hate us world-wide and more than a few of those many will be willing to die taking Americans out. Our poor soldiers are the first targets of that hatred. Instead of making us safer, Bush has put a bulls-eye on the back of Americans anywhere in the world. He is, as British journalist Robert Fisk said, "the best recruiting poster Osama bin Laden ever had."
Because the rest of the world either hates or despises Bush, they will be less likely to cooperate with him in locating anti-American terrorists. Kerry offers hope because the world respects him. They know he is intelligent. The vast majority of the people of the world except some Americans see Bush as a not very bright, and a willfully ignorant, smirking fool and puppet. This is not the image the people of the world should have of the leader of the free world. And, even though we boast the most deadly and powerful military in the world, the guerillas in Iraq are making fools of us militarily as well, just as did the peasants of Vietnam. We have the military might, but they have the hate and the will born out of desperation and of having very little left to lose. Most Iraqis are worse off now than they were before we liberated them. That is particularly true of the women, and of the Christians who lived in Iraq, and who are now the targets of terrorism.
We can bomb the country and kill the people, but all that will do is make the survivors hate us more and be more willing to die to the last man to kill our soldiers. As Martin Luther King said, violence is a descending spiral.
Because the unchangeable image most of the world has of Bush and thus of the leader of the free world is so negative, we need to replace that image with a new face. Kerry has a fine face and great hair. I like his image, both physically and intellectually. I believe he is a fine man with the qualities we need in a president, although not without sins, of course. I think Teresa is wonderful. Laura is a nice enough woman, but, in my opinion, does not come close to measuring up to Teresa.
Kerry is Intelligent and thoughtful and has the capacity to alter his opinions and actions when new information and evidence becomes available. Only a fool stubbornly continues policies that have already been proven a failure
Most of the time I do not wish Bush any personal ill. I just very fervently wish him not to be president, because he has proven in every way that he is not up to the task. I will not vote for a man who has proven himself to be one of the most incompetent presidents in American history.
Economists are afraid Bush has gotten us into such a mess we will never be able to get out of it. There is some hope, they believe, if Kerry is elected, but most believe a third world style fiscal melt down is inevitable if Bush is elected. No one knows, now, how we will be able to get out of the nightmare the Bush administrations poor pre and post war planning has made of Iraq.
Bush has proven he can do nothing good for this country or the world. We already know he intends to continue his failed policies if he is elected. He will continue to make the rich richer, despoil the environment, and make more people hate America and Americans every day. He intends to privatize Social Security, and cut veterans programs. He will also try to further repress American freedoms and further undermine the Constitution.
In short, Bushs profession of his Christianity will in no way influence my vote. Actions speak louder than words. I would vote for a moral atheist who had proven himself capable and compassionate.
I do not pray, however, for the election of either man. It would not occur to me to do so. I work for the man I believe is the best candidate. But, I would not ask God to help elect the man I happen to think is the better candidate. If He thought Bush were the better candidate, would I want Him to swing votes to Kerry to please me? Of course not!
The world, of course, will go on no matter who is elected. But, for the well-being of the country and the world, to prevent widespread suffering in our own country as well as the rest of the world (unless such suffering is itself the will of God) in so many ways, Kerry appears to be the best hope for a good future for the United States and for the world.
Because I do not want to see my own children and grandchildren suffer, or be drafted, and because I do not want the people of other countries to know the misery of wars fought to benefit the bottom lines of the American companies Bush and his administration seem to be working as agents for, I will work unceasingly for Kerrys election.
I encouraged each of my own six children to join the military for the educational benefits the military offered. I am grateful that in that one instance none of them listened to me. It is because of that gratitude and my guilt my knowledge that but for the fact my children did not listen to me --it might be me who was spending sleepless nights worrying about my child in Iraq that I am working so hard for Kerry.
I do it for the soldiers, who might have been my children.
I do it for the children.
Bio: Lonna Gooden VanHorn is the mother of six and a grandmother. She is grateful every day that one of the many times her children did not listen to her profound wisdom and heed her sage advice was when they and opted not to join the military.
Lonna is married to a veteran who served 18 months in Vietnam. They now live in New Mexico.