Sunday, January 04, 2004
Dean and religion: Today's New York Times has a follow-up piece on Democrat presidential hopeful Howard Dean's cynical-appearing plan to talk more about his "faith" in the more-religious Southern states.
Dr. Dean recently told an audience in Iowa that he prayed daily. On the plane he declined to detail his prayer ritual but described how a 2002 trip to Israel deepened his understanding of the connections between Judaism and Christianity. He named Job as his favorite New Testament book, then later corrected himself, noting that it is in the Old Testament.
Farther down in the story the "later" in which he corrected his mistake was described as "an hour."
Touring with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Dr. Dean also visited Galilee, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. "If you know much about the Bible — which I do — to see and be in a place where Christ was and understand the intimate history of what was going on 2,000 years ago is an exceptional experience," he said.
Asked his favorite New Testament book, Dr. Dean named Job, adding: "But I don't like the way it ends." "Some would argue, you know, in some of the books of the New Testament, the ending of the Book of Job is different," he said. "I think, if I'm not mistaken, there's one book where there's a more optimistic ending, which we believe was tacked on later."
Job, the Old Testament story of a righteous man who suffers hardships as a test of his faith, ends with the Lord restoring his fortunes and the protagonist living to be "an old man, and full of days." Some scholars have posited that the original ending may have been more dour.
An hour after his comments, Dr. Dean returned to the clutch of reporters, saying he realized he had misspoken because Job is not in the New Testament.
"Many people believe that the original version of Job is the version where there is not a change, Job ends up completely destitute and ruined," he said. "It's been a long time since I looked at this, but it's believed that was added much, much later. Many people believe that the original ending was about the power of God and the power of God was almighty and all knowing and it wasn't necessary that everybody was going to be redeemed."
As I've said before, I'm always hesitant to question the genuineness of another person's faith, but the more Dean talks about his, the more questions it raises. Dean's "Southern strategy" to talk about God appears to be disgustingly fake. Dean appears to be what I call a "cultural christian." Someone who checks the "Christian" box on surveys because their parents took them to church on Christmas and Easter, but have little contact with the church or Christians otherwise.
Dean starts out his story with: "If you know much about the Bible — which I do..." and then talk about Job being one of the books of the New Testament?
I'm sorry, but you're a poseur.
Has Dean read Job? Undoubtedly. Does he crack open his Bible on a frequent basis? Probably not.
Asked again about his favorite part of the New Testament, Dr. Dean said, "Anything in the Gospels."
Anything? Surely he could come up a better -- and more honest -- answer than that.
His press secretary, Doug Thornell, telephoned late Friday night to say that Dr. Dean did not mean to imply he was some kind of expert.
"He obviously has read the Bible and knows the passages fairly well," Mr. Thornell said, "but just in terms of having a theologian's knowledge of the Bible, he doesn't want to pass on the impression that he does."
Ahh...a "theologian's knowledge" of the Bible -- like which half of it contains the book of Job? And my brother-in-law is spending all that money on seminary when the threshold for "theologian" is so low.
I don't know the status of Howard Dean's salvation. However, Dean's plan to portray himself as a devout believer is a fraud. He doesn't attend church. He appears to possess only an alarmingly cursory knowledge of the Bible. He only talks about his faith as it appears to become necessary for his campaign.
This performance (and that's the appropriate word) isn't going to fly in the South -- or anywhere else. Dean would've been better off just keeping his "faith" to himself, as he says it is his tendency to do.