By now, Egg readers are probably aware that Donald Rumsfeld pandered to George W. Bush's religious beliefs as a way of building presidential support for the Iraq invasion, by headlining military intelligence briefings with Biblical quotations.
We are shocked by the depth of Rumsfeld's cynicism, as well as by the apparent shallowness of Bush's understanding of Christianity. But neither of those is news.
What is news, although by no means a surprise, is that many of the Biblical quotations were taken out of context, in some cases badly enough to reverse their meaning. The "armor of God" from Ephesians has always been prone to misunderstanding, and it was misunderstood. And of another verse, Scott Alexander, director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, says:
As a Christian, I am deeply troubled that a verse such as Isaiah 6:8 -- a verse about a great prophet's call to indict his own people for their infidelity . . . is being presented as a divine call for the U.S. to invade Iraq.
Well. This is how fanaticism works: the dim, misled by the wicked into a corrupt understanding of their Scriptures, commit acts of unnecessary violence. And nobody ever thinks to consult the experts -- you know, people with special training in the interpretation of difficult ancient texts. We're embarrassed, both as Americans and as Christians; we're angry; we're bitter. But we're not surprised.