I was a taken down a notch in my enthusiasm for Suskind’s book , when, at Part 3, about 113 pages in, he has something that is like a celebration of the Age of Reason , and pits it against the “faith” approach. He says that the two are compatible, but it is clear that for him, “reason” is the driver that gets us through to a healthy politic.
I have seen this from Suskind before, and sensed it in his reactions to Bush’s propensity to “go with his gut”. But the problem is not Bush’s “trust” in his gut, but how his “gut” has been formed. The things which created the “gut”, those criteria for “sensing” what’s going on, is not formed by a church that works within the story that God’s people have produced; a story which equips that people to recognize that the Kingdom of God is a different world; and that it is to exist as a contrasting polis.
The “reason” solution is to go with a different story from the “crusade” story, and with that I canidentify. But it presumes that the “church” solution is the one offered by Constantine and The Holy Roman Empire, or by numerous other incarnations of a church in league with powers that lord it over others. Suskind extols the virtues of the “founding principles”.
The drama, at this moment, involves the most powerful nation on earth and its struggle to rediscover its original , transforming principles. The battle over those oaths –to basic integrity in the public place, to accountability to the governed, and to controlling power’s raging tactical urges — is visible in what unfolds at present and in a reprise of how America arrived at this impasse.
So for Suskind, it is a matter of “renewal”. But for Suskind, it seems that the “original, transforming principles” calls upon a national ideal, and it is true that just from this vantage point, it is certainly possible to look at Bush as a national traitor. But for me, that falls way short of the extent to which the Bush administration has set in motion a great evil. He has brought the country to the extremities of empire hoisting behavior. And it has set the United States up as a force to be reckoned with for all of us who want to see and live in a world that is as God sees it, and what God plans for it.
By and large, the church has “played it cool” and avoided language of protest because it would cost members. It also avoids too much contact with the world which is groaning under the weight of the pressures of the empire to have us all be participatory citizens.