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Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion

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  • Horace Jeffery Hodges
    Jeffrey Siker has an interesting article in the May issue of the RSN: http://www.sbl-site.org/Newsletter/05_2003/Siker.html I was fascinated by the
    Message 1 of 5 , May 5, 2003
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      Jeffrey Siker has an interesting article in the May
      issue of the RSN:

      http://www.sbl-site.org/Newsletter/05_2003/Siker.html

      I was fascinated by the increasingly thin line between
      religion and politics in an administration that holds
      Bible studies in the White House.

      Relevant to our Johannine Listserve is the following:

      <[I]n his September 11, 2002 speech commemorating the
      anniversary of the terrible events of what has simply
      come to be called 9/11, President Bush made what must
      be considered his most disturbing use of biblical
      imagery to date. Borrowing imagery from the prologue
      of John 1 the President concluded his speech with the
      following words: "This ideal of America is the hope of
      all mankind... That hope still lights our way. And the
      light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will
      not overcome it." In this paraphrase from John 1:4-5
      President Bush replaces the incarnate Word of God
      (Jesus) with America as the light of the world. In one
      simple step Bush moves from nationalism to idolatry,
      envisioning America as the Word made flesh, America as
      the one sent by God into the world. That such language
      suggesting the divinization of America can come from
      the lips of a sitting President, and one who claims
      the Lordship of Jesus at that, is nothing short of
      astonishing.>

      Living outside of the States, I miss out on all this
      good stuff.

      But is Siker correct about Bush's idolatry? What Bush
      said was:

      "This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind...
      That hope still lights our way. And the light shines
      in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome
      it."

      From this, Siker concludes:

      <In this paraphrase from John 1:4-5 President Bush
      replaces the incarnate Word of God (Jesus) with
      America as the light of the world. In one simple step
      Bush moves from nationalism to idolatry, envisioning
      America as the Word made flesh, America as the one
      sent by God into the world.>

      Has Bush committed idolatry? He actually says that
      "This ideal of America" rather than "America" in his
      paraphrase. Does anyone know the context of Bush's
      words? What is the "ideal" that he refers to in his
      speech? Is it just a another way of saying "America"?
      Or does he mean an ideal that guides America?

      Jeffery Hodges

      =====
      Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
      Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
      447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
      Yangsandong 411
      South Korea

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