October 14, 2007
God and Nancy Pelosi
Oddly enough, the personal prayers of the Speaker of the House recently entered the national conversation. In an interview with Chris Wallace, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked if she prayed for the troops... to win.
Those Fox news commentators ask the darnedest things.
Mrs. Pelosi -- nimble thinker that she is -- quickly replied in the affirmative, but was noticeably affronted by what she perceived to be a rather insolent qualifier stealthily appended to the rear end of the question posed by this mildly imperious anchorman.
After regaining her composure, she went on to assure the American viewers that she diligently prayed for President Bush and his well being, and other assorted domestic policy issues of equal import to the nation.
She certainly did not want to give this impertinent news commentator the chance to cast her as being out of touch with that coveted block of voters that always seem to be credited with wielding so much power on every election cycle: The Religious Right; and given that she must have been duly briefed on the unprecedented spiritual revival that seems to have taken some democratic presidential hopefuls by storm, Speaker Pelosi's response sounded judiciously expedient.
Mrs. Pelosi and others in the Democratic Party are on a mission to convince deeply religious Americans that their Party's faith in God's sovereignty over world affairs is as robust as the Republican Party's. In spite of ideological differences with many on watershed issues, such as the Democrats' enthusiastic approval of alternative lifestyles and their utter disregard for the sanctity of life in-uterus. After all, to the Democrats' great relish, Republicans seem to be perennially embroiled in all sorts of morally reprehensible practices.
Still, one might wonder whether Mrs. Pelosi's disclosure was a fully sincere one, or just a knee-jerk reaction to Mr. Wallace's unexpected rhetorical ambush.
In the delightful, yet heart-rending film Life is Beautiful, director Roberto Benigni, who also plays the leading role, is being discipled by an old friend on the high calling of a being a waiter. "God serves men, but he is not the servant of men" instructs wisely the old sage.
Not that it's a bad thing to pray for the troops. One may humbly request that God keep one out of harm's way, or that good and justice prevail; but when we start entreating Him to arrange it so that our side wins, we are presumptuously trying to push our personal ends into the province of omniscience, where it may behoove us instead to stand in awe of what in reality is an impassable chasm that simply can not be bridged by our finite understanding of God's unsearchable designs.
If anyone understands completely where the lines of right and wrong / good and evil are drawn in this conflict, it would be God. That unfathomable wisdom is reserved for Him only, and it has a property of absolute clarity that we mortals simply can not fathom.
One may properly ascertain, in a very general sense, that the American troops are doing the right thing in Iraq; but the Speaker's claims that she beseeches the Almighty on a regular basis, on behalf of an administration toward which she and her cohorts have no qualms about expressing their utter disdain, bear the same mark of authenticity as Rep. Larry Craig's insistent denials that he did not intend to have a sexual liaison at a public bathroom and Bill Clinton's pledge that he will endeavor -- at his wife's request -- to restore America's image in the world.
Mrs. Pelosi could have easily said that she did pray to God, but that she prayed for His perfect will in this situation, and left it to Him, being God, to decide on the best outcome. Instead, she opted for cursory repartee, betraying a regrettable spiritual barrenness that she, and most of her party's colleagues, are so desperately trying to whitewash with a veneer of true piety.
Americans can and must pray, that as a country we seek to be guided by God's wisdom, and humbly cultivate a listening ear and an open heart in the midst of this struggle. Anything beyond that would be turning God into our own servant whom we fancy fretfully awaits our summons to cater to our preferred menu choices.