A salute to Christopher Manion: On Bush’s Christianity
As a writer, one rule of mine is to never write about another writer. Well, almost never. Like any rule, there are exceptions.
One exception is that an article is so “empty” and bland it makes a personal response irresistible. The other is that an article is so incisive and enlightening that I wish I had written it myself. And I tell the writer so.
“Bush the Christian,” by Christopher Manion, is the latter. Although I didn’t write it, nothing prohibits me from writing ABOUT it, and that I shall do, with relish and respect.
Bush’s Christianity is not to be taken lightly. What Manion describes in his article is a Bush trait of emotional disorder and delusional thinking—especially when religion enters the equation by virtue of someone’s ability to convince others that “he is a good Christian”, evidence to the contrary.
So it is with President George W. Bush.
The most intriguing aspect of Manion’s work, however, is not about how such “a good Christian” can make so many profound mistakes about an issue like war, but rather, it’s about the “dark elements” at work that tempt men like Bush to stray from the principles of the Founding Fathers, of conservatism, of the Constitution, and even of Christianity itself.
Manion lists eight ideological temptations and describes their fatal attraction in detail. In my opinion, they are so important that a condensed read of Manion’s work is warranted, to enable busy readers to more quickly and easily study the temptations and their influence on “good Christians” such George Bush.
With that in mind, here is some “broken running” on Christopher Manion’s insightful article, and I trust he will find this version adequately and accurately reflects his thoughts
THE LEVIATHAN STATE
This idea makes the State a divine “person” who can do anything, without restrictions, that other individuals are not allowed to do. This “divine right of kings” permits the ruling elite to bypass any limitations, while mouthing religious pleasantries. It is the kind of tyranny our Founding Fathers rebelled against.
These Christians claim to have direct contact with God. This (they think) gives them a divine right to reject all earthly authority, and even responsibility. When Bush says, “God speaks through me”, he means that a heavenly mandate allows him to sidestep the Constitution, forget campaign promises, and ignore international law.
This perverse temptation demonizes any enemy as pure evil. The “good” person can do anything because whatever he does is never “evil.” Evil is always the other guy. Bush’s “You’re either with us, or against us” is classic Manichee. It implies the right to attack anyone that is suspected of doing harm against the “good.” It explains his phrase, “the axis of evil,”
Most Christians recognize that salvation comes in the afterlife. But many try to combine the spiritual and secular in a kind of earthly paradise. Utopianism transforms “democracy”, a political philosophy, into an empty, but useful, abstraction that can be “elevated” to the state of “perfection.” Hence, to make the world perfect, Bush sees his mission as democratizing it.
Hope is a spiritual virtue, but even a Christian politician has to think secularly. All we need do, he says, to enjoy a better future, is to give him the power to make it so. This implies the notion of a higher consciousness of the leadership elite. Which we naively accept in exchange for a “better future.”
LUST FOR POWER
This may be the most insidious temptation of all. Its aim is to replace God’s power with man’s power. Once tempted, a Christian often fails to recognize the “devil’s” voice masquerading as God, urging violence, chaos, even war, in the name of a divine mandate. Disguised voices is the deceptive tool that evil uses so well.
Believing they can read biblical signs, some Christians “encourage” God to bring on the end of the world, in keeping with their “vision” of the Last Days. In a briefing at The While House, Elliot Abrams, director of Middle East policy, reassured evangelical preachers that their vision of Armageddon harmonized perfectly with Bush’s Middle East policy.
Denying the foundations of a free society, ideologues live in a “second reality”, a dream world, which reflects their own wishful thinking. Thus the oft-repeated “9/11 changed everything” sent natural laws and America’s constitutional limits on power out the window. Witness the growing restrictive powers of the Patriot Acts and Homeland Security.
Ponder these temptations. Among them you may find the key to President George Bush’s thinking and actions.
Otherwise, you too, as Christopher Manion says, “might sit befuddled and wonderâ€¦. but he’s such a good Christian!”
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”