God and the Machine
by Shelton Hull
Bush needs to reach out to other belief systems in 2005
There is a widely-circulated circumambulation based on the exit polls showing a large turnout by voters of the evangelical set. The findings that large numbers of voters were driven more by “moral values” than issues of war, peace or hair-grease, creates a rift rooted in the perceived intelligence and sanity of so-called “Christian Conservatives.”
It’s been previously noted in this space how a silent motivation of the jihadist cause is to disprove it by creating the conditions for apocalypse, literally daring Christ to return. Some have accused the evangelicals of secretly favoring a Second Coming to the perpetuation of human institutions, and their leaders have done nothing to assuage this fear, even though it leads quite logically into scenarios with shocking implications, including the potential for dual loyalties.
It’s ridiculous for Hollywood Liberals to turn the Lamb of Christ into a scapegoat for secular corruption. They overplayed their hand — too mean, too bitchy, too obnoxious for the Middle Americans whose shortcomings provide so much material for them. They never understood that faith is something people take very seriously. All those times Muslims complained about the stereotyping in action movies, and the movies kept coming until the towers fell. For all their many differences and conflicts through history, the recently radicalized Muslims and Christians are united by distaste for Hollywood, and Hollywood is better off not reacting with hedonistic drivel as they do.
The results of 2004 can be spun as a mandate from both left and right, although it is truly a repudiation of the failed dualistic politics of the past. A feather has dropped for the 20th century and a gauntlet handed down for the 21st, and the next generation of leaders will do their best to pick it up. Democrats have an opportunity: as shown across the world, minority parties can have a seismic effect on policy, even as government is nominally controlled by the other side. (This is one reason I pushed for Democrats to help, not hurt, third-party activity, but never mind.) The Republicans have a chance to claim credit for all the common-sense measures that the near future is likely to require.
George W. Bush sez Jesus Christ changed his heart and his life in the mid-1980s, and that he felt called by God to be President for His People. Nothing wrong with that, except that he scares atheists, agnostics and apologists for terror, who view him as a confidence man who uses faith as a force multiplier for his own vision of the world. He is the world’s most polarizing figure, and his great challenge is to channel that energy into a cohesive strategy that represents US interests without alienating too many other nations. He will need to make bold moves to secure a future for faith.
My suggestion is that Bush travel to the world’s great holy sites in 2005. He needs not go in sequence, but he should check them off before summer 2006 by working them in among other outings. The “Uniting, Not Dividing Tour MMV” could begin on, say, New Year’s Day (the Jewish Sabbath), at sunrise at Ground Zero, a place where men and women of many faiths were turned to ashes. Other sites could include the gigantic Jesus statue in Brazil, the Wailing Wall, the graves of Haile Selassie I and MK Gandhi, Mecca and Medina, the Vatican, various churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and ashrams, wrapping up on Christmas Day (a Sunday in 2005) at the Temple Mount, where Jesus was born. Invite the Pope and deliver a globally-televised address.
It is what they call a win-win: he can engage persons of faith on their own terms, while projecting the full power and credibility of the United States. It would polarize people in a positive way by highlighting the basic commonality of the world’s religions, including the alternative belief systems that arise in response to faith. I would emphasize his need to engage non-believers and win their trust. The fact is that Bush, not some preacher, is the leader of America’s Christians today, whether he seeks that role or not: you can’t have America without them. He must personally move to reverse the negative trajectory of faith if he hopes to preserve America’s interests.
In the meantime, the left must divest itself of the notion that Christian bigotry is the nation’s most pressing problem, and Christians must tone down their rhetorical excess in dealing with gays, non-Christians and nonbelievers. America is being squeezed from multiple sides at once; our divisions are being exploited for use against us.