Friday, September 15, 2006

A Third Great Awakening?

President Bush was speaking with a group of conservative journalists recently and offered his opinion that he believes this country is experiencing a third Great Awakening. His reasons for offering this opinion were that more people that he meets on his travels talk of their faith than ever before. But he also suggests that because more and more people who see his war on terrorism as a matter of good vs. evil, similar to those who supported Lincoln who saw slavery as an issue of good vs. evil, seem to understand that good must win and that there are more people who are siding with his own understanding that good=God and that he's doing the work of God in his War on Terror.

Okay, so maybe he didn't say it exactly like that. But he did correlate his war with Lincoln's and he did talk about the War on Terror as a fight between good vs. evil and he did speculate that this country is in the midst of a Great Awakening.

What he didn't say was that Great Awakenings are not political tools, they can't be summoned (they actually are events that are later described as such, rather than saying, "Hey look everyone, we're in a Great Awakening!") Great Awakenings are not about which religion is right and which ones are demonstratedly evil; instead, they are about getting right with God on a large scale. And, it'd happen in many places all at once- a sort of Billy Graham Crusade but with a lot of Billy Grahams and it would inspire great mission and great compassion.

One journalist wrote a story asking if Bush is trying to stir the emotional forces of a dying Christian Coalition back into action. Other journalists have picked up the story, you can read a post on a blog over at the National Review Online. One blogger, which is as cynical as I am, wrote that he thinks its an awful coincidence that the Presidential politics are aimed at supporting such a third Great Awakening.

But you know, politics and religion have gone hand in hand for centuries (or milenias). Each using the other in a sort of 'strange bedfellows' kind of way. Each wanting the other to justify and support their idea of God for them or God leading them. We can read in the Old Testament where even Israel's kings had God leading them in their decisions and justifying their wars. And, we can also read of Israel's great kings who were men who talked a good faith but didn't actually live it very well. Saul had his idols, David had his women, and Solomon had both. And yet, all three claimed God as their justifier for all sorts of political activity.

Maybe what Bush is doing is trying to recast America as God's new chosen nation, replacing the Israel that so many fundamentalists believe who are responsible for killing Jesus. Maybe Bush thinks he's a David or a Solomon, I really don't know. But it makes me wonder if he is using the evangelical relationship with divinely inspired Kings to justify his War on Terrorism that is losing the confidence of the American people. It sure seems like another awful coincidence to me.

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