29 December 2005

Sharlet: One of my colleagues here at The Revealer saw more virtue in Sylvia Topp’s Village Voice rant about Bush’s religion than I did. The awkward part is that I’d already responded to a friend at the Voice to the effect that the best I could say about the essay was nothing. But since The Revealer has now endorsed it, I’ll balance the scales with a rant of my own, the note I sent my Voice friend: “this is biblically illiterate, mildly anti-Semitic, and ill-informed. The [liberal] Jesus [Topp] remembers is just as much a cultural product as is Bush’s, and of not much greater antiquity — it’s the Jesus shaped by moderate, mainline churches in the 19th and 20th century. It’s possible to call the Jesus of the gospels a “gentle man,” but it’s no more than an arguable claim; and suggesting that he considered women equals is anachronistic and foolish. Hell, Jesus wasn’t even against slavery. There’s more, but you get the idea. The proposition that the ‘real’ Jesus was this great liberal has become a canard of progressives who’re as disinterested in actual biblical scholarship as are fundamentalists.

As for anti-Semitic: ‘Now,’ Topp writes, ‘if Bush had just stuck with God as his savior, instead of specifically naming Jesus, I wouldn’t have been so upset, since he, of course, could find anything he wanted in the Old Testament.’

This, ironically, is standard evangelical rhetoric — the notion that the Jewish god is angry while theirs is loving.

I recognize I sound like a know-it-all, but that piece is bad news.”

Letters to the Editor