Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, February 29, 2004
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God Is On Our Side


Thankfully we don't get CBS, so I couldn't watch today's Dem debate. Through the magic of the blogosphere (n! iwust!) I learned that Elizabeth Bumiller of the NYTimes asked this insightful question at the end of the debate:

Really fast, on a Sunday morning, President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He's made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America's side.

Really quick, is God on America's side?

Kerry fumbled a bit, but Edwards really knocked it out of the park with a reference to a story about Abraham Lincoln:

Well, there's a wonderful story about Abraham Lincoln during the middle of the Civil War bringing in a group of leaders, and at the end of the meeting one of the leaders said, "Mr. President, can we pray, can we please join in prayer that God is on our side?" And Abraham Lincoln's response was, "I won't join you in that prayer, but I'll join you in a prayer that we're on God's side."*

Besides being a ridiculous fucking question, it's rather presumptuous to assume god is on our side. Even Reagan acknowledged that (perhaps with Lincoln in mind) in the 1984 SOTU:

I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side.

Public displays of god-fearin' always bring to mind Matthew 6:5:

[W]hen you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.

What's more, I'm reminded that many bad guys have proclaimed god was on their side. For example:

God is on our side, and Satan is on the side of the United--American administration. So can Satan or the devil win over God?

That's right, Saddam Hussein said that. And who could forget this classic?

What we are we have become not against, but with, the will of Providence. And so long as we are true and honourable and of good courage in fight, so long as we believe in our great work and do not capitulate, we shall continue to enjoy in the future the blessing of Providence.

Nothing like a little inspirational speech from Adolf Hitler to give us some perspective (I'm allowed to bring him up since Godwin's Law has been suspended).

I would satirize such public declarations of divine alliances, but Mark Twain already did:

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells...For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

Amen.

ntodd


* I've seen the quotation written thusly: "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God's side." 
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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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