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Re: [John_Lit] Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion

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  • Peter Phillips
    Have you seen the latest edition of the RNL/SBL newsletter. All about Mr Bush and the Bible! You guys over the pond are really into this aren t you? We just
    Message 1 of 5 , May 6, 2003
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      Have you seen the latest edition of the RNL/SBL newsletter. All about Mr
      Bush and the Bible! You guys over the pond are really into this aren't you?
      We just accept Blair's faith and get on with life. But then, Blair doesn't
      make so much of his faith and doesn't allow the religious right to rewrite
      Near Eastern politics...well, not often! But this is completely off-topic!

      Pete Phillips
      Dean of Students,
      Cliff College, UK


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Jeff Krantz" <jkrantz@...>
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 1:03 PM
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion


      > I hardly think that this is the appropriate forum for this discussion, so
      I
      > won't add to it (though I'm dying to), but rather I would like to suggest
      > that we set up a smaller, temporary list-serve at Yahoo for persons who
      > would like to discuss this biblicizing tendency in our current
      > administration.
      >
      > If I get even a couple "I'd like to do that" 's from the list, I'll get it
      > set up and let y'all know where to find it.
      >
      > Peace,
      >
      > Jeff K.
      > Church of the Advent, Westbury, NY
      > www.preachingpeace.org
      > www.mercerschool.org
      >
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "Paul Schmehl" <pschmehl@...>
      > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 12:13 AM
      > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion
      >
      >
      > > Siker's article is more than a bit of a stretch.
      > >
      > > Here's a couple of paragraphs that will give some context to the remarks
      > > that Siker was so taken aback by:
      > >
      > > "The attack on our nation was also attack on the ideals that make us a
      > > nation. Our deepest national conviction is that every life is precious,
      > > because every life is the gift of a Creator who intended us to live in
      > > liberty and equality. More than anything else, this separates us from
      the
      > > enemy we fight. We value every life; our enemies value none -- not even
      > the
      > > innocent, not even their own. And we seek the freedom and opportunity
      that
      > > give meaning and value to life.
      > > There is a line in our time, and in every time, between those who
      believe
      > > all men are created equal, and those who believe that some men and women
      > and
      > > children are expendable in the pursuit of power. There is a line in our
      > > time, and in every time, between the defenders of human liberty and
      those
      > > who seek to master the minds and souls of others. Our generation has now
      > > heard history's call, and we will answer it."
      > >
      > > Here's the original speech, in its entirety.
      > > http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020911-3.html
      > >
      > > You can read it for yourself and decide if Siker is right.
      > >
      > > Paul Schmehl
      > > pschmehl@...
      > > http://www.utdallas.edu/~pauls/
      > >
      > > ----- Original Message -----
      > > From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
      > > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      > > Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 4:10 PM
      > > Subject: [John_Lit] Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion
      > >
      > >
      > > > 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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    • odell mcguire
      Dear HJH, List, First let me agree with Paul Schmehl: Siker s article is more than a bit of a stretch. But I think you raise a much more interesting point,
      Message 2 of 5 , May 6, 2003
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        Dear HJH, List,

        First let me agree with Paul Schmehl: 'Siker's article is more than a bit of
        a stretch.'

        But I think you raise a much more interesting point, and one entirely
        appropriate to the list, with your with your question: 'What do you -- all
        of you -- think of his
        (ie Bush's) interpretation of John 1:4-5?'

        That is, you ask us to judge the merits of the the interpretation as
        interpretation and not as some kind of threat to our constitution. My short
        answer: I've seen worse.

        In the first place, Bush picked the best readily available (to me) English
        translation of Jn 1.5b, the RSV, which has 'and the darkness has not
        *overcome* it.' The verb here is KATELABEN . The KJ and NIV have
        *comprehended* and *understood* which strain the Greek and come out
        nonsense in English . Also, The glossary in my Aland suggests *put (it)
        out.*

        Also, Jn 1.3a reads word for word: "All things through him (the LOGOS) came
        to be" the verb is EGENETO--most or all of the translations I have seen say
        The LOGOS 'made all things' -- quite a different feeling. The Greek gives
        me the sense of a Philonic, even a nascent, neoPlatonic LOGOS-- a dynamic
        plan, a set of divine principles, that 'BECAME flesh and tabernacled among
        us'.

        Now back to Bush's speech. He is obviously guilty of the implied compound
        metaphor, by his use of Johannine language, which likens the LOGOS come Life
        come Light to Liberty's beacon from life "in liberty and equality" from the
        American Ideal, "liberty guided by conscience", etc.

        A metaphor is not an equation; it only involves a likening in SOME respect.
        A good metaphor---in some respect which we FEEL is true.

        Taking the LOGOS as Gods living plan for us (and fo me at least, it is a
        very possible interpretation of Jn1) are there no responsive metaphorical
        chords in what Bush sets forth as the American ideal--value of human life,
        freedom of conscience, hope for the future??

        If no, then it deserves to be called a bad metaphor-- hardly 'idolatry' .

        Odell McGuire
        Lexington, VA


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
        To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 2:40 AM
        Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Siker: Bush, Faith, and Politics of Religion


        > Thanks, Paul. I looked at Bush's speech. He stated:
        >
        > "The attack on our nation was also attack on the
        > ideals that make us a nation. Our deepest national
        > conviction is that every life is precious, because
        > every life is the gift of a Creator who intended us to
        > live in liberty and equality."
        >
        > Therefore, concerning the interpretation of his
        > concluding words:
        >
        > "Ours is the cause of human dignity; freedom guided by
        > conscience and guarded by peace. This ideal of America
        > is the hope of all mankind. That hope drew millions to
        > this harbor. That hope still lights our way. And the
        > light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will
        > not overcome it."
        >
        > Bush links the gift of life to dignity, liberty,
        > equality, conscience, peace, hope, and light, and he
        > seems to mean this gift of life/light by his
        > expression "ideal of America."
        >
        > I would guess that given his strongly held evangelical
        > views, Bush's private meaning is to point to Jesus as
        > the Word. Thus, it seems that he's using the language
        > of Civil Religion to express the content his personal
        > Christian Religion.
        >
        > What do you -- all of you -- think of his
        > interpretation of John 1:4-5?
        >
        > 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
        >
        > __________________________________
        > Do you Yahoo!?
        > The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
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