The book states that, for him, the worst moment of his presidency was, not 9/11, or the hundreds of thousands he killed or maimed, or the millions he made homeless in Iraq and jobless in the United States, but when the rapper Kanye West said, in a fundraiser for Katrina victims, that Bush didn’t care about black people.
West was only half right. Bush is not particularly racist. He never portrayed Hispanics as hordes of scary invaders; Condi was his workout buddy and virtually his second wife; he was in awe of Colin Powell; and he was most comfortable in the two most integrated sectors of American society, the military and professional sports. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about black people.Outside of his family, he didn’t care about people, and Billy Graham taught him that ‘we cannot earn God’s love through good deeds’ – only through His grace, which Bush knew he had already received.
Right. He was done. This is my problem, right here. He was already okay with himself and the world no matter what he did or didn’t do in life, so this was all like Candyland to him, like a big adventure game where nothing was real. People like him have learned the wrong lesson from that book they like to talk so much about. It’s not, hey, you’re saved, now you get to kick back and be a dick the rest of your life. I really loathe the passivity with which we talk about religion a lot of the time, like you just sit around feeling things and that’s the point.
Yes, this is the part of the holidays where I talk about God a lot. I’ve spent the past year — I can’t believe it’s been a year she’s been gone, except as my aunt said at Christmas sometimes it seems longer and sometimes not — walking like a duck and talking like a duck and listening to two priests boil everything down to, basically, “try not to be such a shithead all the time, please.” I still feel very few urges to quack or to migrate and I can’t swim at all. I’m trying to be patient. It’s not like faith has a deadline. Act as if ye have faith, I say to myself a lot.
But … faith will be given to you? I’m not sure I want itgiven to me. Part of the problem with how I approach this is that I think about it as earning something. Working at it. Doing things. Even if it’s just prayer, whispered to probably a Void, that’s still action, still address and not reception. I don’t feel like this will ever be done. I don’t really think I’ll ever be a duck. I get irrationally pissed off at bumper stickers on the freeways: Don’t Let the Car Fool You, My Treasure is In Heaven, and I come home and reada guy writing about a science fiction show:
What if we’re not storing up riches in Heaven? What if there’s no Gods, and Earth is a lie after all? What then? This is why Communists are atheists: what if this is all there is? What if we keep running, forever? The lines we draw in the salt now, the systems we put in place now, aren’t just preserving the Colonies as they are, they’re creating the Colonies as they will be. The responsibility isn’t just to preserving democracy and the spirit of the Colonies while in a time of war, but making allowances for what happens if this never ends. If all we have left are rough spots, what then?
And I think, okay, what then? If this is it? Assume this is all there is, the responsibilities we have here to be decent people don’t go away. I really hate talking about God like he’s a get out of jail free card, talking about grace like it’s about deserving and undeserving. That’s what this comes down to, for Bush here, the idea of grace and forgiveness as a finish line, as a gold star on a school paper, as opposed to maybe the midpoint of a marathon, and you still have to keep running, hoping you’ll sprout wings and fly.
ps. Speaking of God stuff, did anybody but me really likeThe Book of Eli? Maybe it’s just my current post-apocalyptic kick, and Mila Kunis is crazy hot in it, but I’ve watched it twice now and I freaking loved it. It got bad reviews.