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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Divine intervention

It is well-known that President George W. Bush uses Christian references throughout his rhetoric, often in subtle ways that slip by the average secular listener.

For example, in today's "Inaugural Address," the President said this in the very beginning:
For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
Biblical prophets, like Malachi, noted that a forthcoming "day of fire" would signal something critically important in the "end times," the closing of the tribulation on earth (this is from Chapter 4):
1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty.
There are other related messages embedded in that phrase as well.

Is Bush saying that 9/11 was the end of the tribulation, which must precede the rapture? According to some interpretations of the Bible, the moment of "fire and brimstone" will also reveal the second coming of Christ.

Let's put that on hold for a minute. After all, there is another take on this stuff that I don't want to address today.

Most of the speech, of course, was about "human freedom." Commenters might say it was about democratization, but that's not really true. Bush used the word "free" or "freedom" repeatedly. Thirty-four times, by my count.

He only referred to democracy three times.

Bush's freedom emphasizes individual liberty, opportunity, and especially ownership, rather than some kind of collective obligation to one other. He's not talking about community. John Locke, Friedrich Hayek, and Herbert Hoover would have been pleased as Bush is talking about possessive individualism:
"I own, therefore I am" is the paradigm of possessive individualism. Possession and possessing make the man; they also make him free. Such a person cannot conceive of existence apart from possession or the striving after it. Because ownership is the core of self, the person is not himself but what he owns.
Frankly, this is not an especially rich view of freedom. But I digress...

Most importantly, for the subject of this post, Bush declared near the end of his speech:
History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
Note the caps.

The "Author of Liberty" is God, for Bush and many of his followers.

So, Bush is saying that God has put the US on a path to secure freedom around the world. After all, anyone looking would have noticed the day of fire.

I think this is strong signal to everyone that we should start paying very close attention to what Bush means to do about all this.


Update: Ooops, I forgot to mention that the President references his day as a "second gathering," which is also a pretty telling sign of something important for the believers.

I also didn't mention all the most obvious references to faith, like these:
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth....

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
Sorry for the original oversight.

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