Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Man, A Dog, And Religious Faith

She's right, you know. She was, and is.

Slate religion editor Ruth Graham outlined the outpouring of gushy romanticism at the photograph of George HW Bush's service dog, Sully, lying in front of the casket of the 41st President. She concluded that the image

is not proof that Sully is a particularly “good boy” or that “we don’t deserve dogs,” as countless swooning tweets put it on Monday. On its own, it says almost nothing other than the fact that Sully was, at one point in the same room as the casket of his former boss. This is simply a photograph of a dog doing something dogs love to do: Lie down. The frenzy around it captures something humans love to do, too: Project our own emotional needs onto animals.

Her point that the romanticized gushing of Sully has been aided by his "savvy public relations team" was validated by the torrent of critical tweets, strikingly few with any fact-based complaints, rained down upon Graham.

Graham is among the few who at least seem to sense the significance of Wednesday's gesture by President Trump upon recitation of attendees at the Bush funeral of the Apostles' Creed. A Washington Post reporter explains

Video from the funeral of George H.W. Bush showed a front row of presidents at Washington National Cathedral, standing and reciting it along with the program, as the voice of Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry boomed through the speakers to the thousands of mourners. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and their wives glanced up and down from the programs they held in front of them and spoke the prayer, along with everyone else visible in the video. The program, as is typical, calls for the Creed to be said in unison

President Trump stood, with his hands folded in front of him, waist-high, the program in his left hand, his lips not moving. Melania Trump also did not speak, nor did she hold a program.

Snarky tweets noted by Huffington Post included "The man wouldn’t know the Apostles Creed from Apollo Creed" and "he thought it was something about Apollo Creed and wanted nothing to do with it;" There were even "Are you telling me the so-called "Muslim" president knew all the words to the  Apostles’ Creed, but the 'Christian Conservative' President, did not?" and "Nor did the current evangelical savior (or nude model gold digger) feel it was necessary to recite the Apostles very Christian of them."

But we don't know that President Trump doesn't know the words. The words were written on the program which the other mourners held in front of them.  And Trump did find something necessary- not to recite the Creed but to be seen refusing to do so.

The President (and the First Lady) could have held the programs in front of them, making it difficult to determine whether they were joining the others. They could have enjoyed lip-synching the words or in another manner made it appear they were doing as were the others. The man now called "President" in large measure because he was a spectacular actor on "The Apprentice"could easily have made it appear that he was doing as most of the mourners.

He might have done so but preferred to make a statement. Graham commented
He did it when he referred to "my little wine (and) my little cracker," when he tried to put an offering into a communion plate, and when he remarked "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."

Yesterday, the President was making a point. He did not neglect to pray. He chose not to, instead "opting not to participate in the service."

Just as he did when he made the bizarre statement that he and Kim Jong-un "fell in love," he'll keep testing the limits, pushing the envelope   Although Trump believes white, Christian evangelicals may eventually hold him to account, he maintains their support while advocating forced birth, the right to invoke religious faith to discriminate, and arch conservatives for the Supreme Court.  Moreover, if so many people have projected their emotional needs upon a dog assigned to help an elderly former President, perhaps Donald Trump's evangelical supporters have found their own Sully.

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