Friday, April 13, 2007

Bush's Faith: The Ultimate Outsourcing of Responsibility?

Since I started this blog, I have many a time touched upon the Bush Administration’s great love of outsourcing, thinking that they must see it as a win-win: win #1 being that they get to line the pockets of friends, cronies, and campaign contributors with taxpayer dollars, and win #2 being that, should anything go wrong (should anything go wrong—doesn’t that now sound hysterical?), the administration can always say, hey, it’s not us, we didn’t screw up, we were let down by the folks we trusted. Be it Medicare drug “reform,” Iraq security and reconstruction, Hurricane Katrina—both the before and the after—homeland “security,” and many, many more, the Bush-Cheney gang has sold America a bill of goods without a warranty, a receipt, or a consumers’ bill of rights (or any other Bill of Rights, for that matter).

What’s got me thinking more about this—OK, even more about this—this week was the leak about Bush looking to appoint a “czar” to oversee the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (This was apparently on the advice of Newt Gingrich, or so it now seems, and, as of this writing, we know of five retired generals who have turned down the offer to run interference for Bush’s abominable war effort.)

Beyond my first thought—we have a war czar, they call him the Commander in Chief—my second thought—sign on Bush’s desk: the buck stops, uh, um, anywhere but here—and my third thought—the Decider outsources the deciding—I got to thinking if there isn’t something even deeper (not sure that’s the right word) than naked greed and political cover.

I should probably do more reading and research before putting my less than complete knowledge of theology on the page (but it’s late, so I will go with what I remember), but the Bush predilection to ignore the facts—the results of his misdeeds—and continue to stay the course, because he “knows” in his gut that he’s right, sounds to me like an old schism in Christianity: the one between good works and faith.

This was a big debate a thousand years ago—what’s required of a human to gain entry through the pearly gates? Does one have to live a good life, do good deeds, practice what you preach, or is all of that irrelevant? Is faith all that is required for a place in heaven?

Easter got me to thinking about this more. I saw a snippet of New York’s Cardinal Egan (I think it was him) talking about the resurrection: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (that’s from Corinthians—I looked it up).

Now, as a non-believer, what that says to me is “first believe the lie,” and then. . . really believe. (I guess this is not that much different from my musings about tinkerbellistas—clap louder!—but I digress. . . .) I also heard an evangelical leader (I forget who) on the radio this Easter weekend that made it very clear that good works don’t count—faith is all that matters.

So, back to President Bush and his outsourced kleptocracy. Is there something in his and his minions’ deep belief (or convenient belief) in faith—in the idea that faith is all that matters when it comes time to ascend to heaven—that absolves them of any sense of personal responsibility for the hell they have created here on earth? Is the promise of absolution—and the self-assurance that they all will be granted it—so ingrained that it makes day-to-day earthly accountability almost unfathomable?

I know much has been written about the “faith-based” versus the “reality-based” communities—Bush being part of the former (me being part of the latter)—but I am thinking about this in terms of the split in the ancient church more than some current political cleavage. When western Christianity chose to embrace faith as the virtue that counted—I mean really counted—did they do the faithful a great disservice?

Is Bush, to the extent we believe that he really believes what he says he believes, actually just a product of his religion? Is it useless for us, the Left, Congress, America, whoever, to attempt to impose accountability on a President that believes that his savior was tested and tortured for his convictions and rewarded (with resurrection) for his constancy of faith? Accountability is not up to anyone on this mortal plane—that’s up to the holy father—so there is no point wasting time with laws and rules and personal responsibility.

Bush has never been much for work (hard or otherwise), and has proven not much for good works, either, but he is always proud to trumpet his faith—in his policies and in his own salvation. Without his faith, all else is useless. Unfortunately for the rest of us, with his faith, all else is useless, too. Accountability to mere men and women is as nonsensical to Bush as virgin birth is to me.

Perhaps, as Bush sees it, responsibility is just not his responsibility.

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