July 12, 2009

You are NOT a Bible Character

Finally. Someone articulates this in the way I have been unable. I am so utterly annoyed at how people appropriate people from the Bible to justify whatever personal bias or flaw they might have. When Mark Sanford invoked King David, my thought was, "but you are not King David," even though I was unable to explain that. Unfortunately, these kinds of references often serve as coded (or not so coded) messages to the faithful--and unfortunately, the faithful often does not think this stuff through. And as a historian, I was heartened to see someone point out how bad theology often resulted in real tragedy in American history:
"There is a long history of just such usage. The pilgrim fathers who came to America read their situation into the Bible (or the Bible into their situation) with the result that white pilgrims were seen as fulfilling the role of the Israelites in this, the Promised Land, while native Americans were cast in the role of Canaanites. Thus generations of Joshuas arose feeling Biblically justified in the genocide of America’s native population. Some of that Biblical reading continues to echo in the popular imagination to this day. It was Bad theology in the 17th century and it is bad theology today. Stated in a fundamental way: you are not a Bible character."
Sanford's arrogance is, unfortunately, not rare in evangelical circles. Palin tried to compare herself to Esther (since evidently Esther was also proud of her ignorance?), and Tom Delay once compared his experience to that of Christ.

If Bill Clinton did that, the evangelicals would freak out. If Obama did it, their heads would asplode. But somehow, when one of their own does it, they just nod along.


Monk-in-Training said...

Great! Fr. Stephen hit the nail on the head.

Streak said...

Monk, I agree.

P M Prescott said...

So true of the Id driven mind set.