Chapel Politics

So, this year, I have not been good about attending every chapel. It's something about being off-campus and not having class till noon, I'd imagine. To make sure I caught chapel speakers of interest, however, I got a hold of a chapel schedule and Googled unfamiliar names, to see who would be in town. The one person I was most looking forward to hearing from was not our typical chapel speaker- Tim Goeglien, special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison. Based on many of the sites that I found his name on, I had an idea of what he would say, but I'll get to that later.

I was excited about Mr. Goeglien coming to speak. I was hoping he would give thoughtful insight into why Bush policies were best, maybe share with us facts or reasonings unreported or overlooked by the media concerning the war or Miers' nomination, or share the true heart of the administration, to give us a sense that these people are passionate and careful about what they do. Obviously, because he was speaking in chapel, I expected God to be mentioned, but I imagined, maybe, the Bible would be cited as basis for passionate views or for reasoning behind decisions or for his own faith and why he does what he does, or the like. But, alas.

The speech opened up with Mr Goeglien dropping names- saying he talked to Bush yesterday and he sends his regards and thanks for our prayers. Then, in typical Bush-and-friends speech fashion, he made reference to 9/11 and the changed world. He complimented our generation as a "remarkable generation just waiting to make our mark," saying he respects that our generation is the one that signed up to put our lives on the line for our freedom (referring to the Iraq war, which, somehow, is protecting our freedom...) He says Bush has been under enormous criticism, but that most the complaints against him (about the war, a conservative domestic agenda, etc.) are actually stemming from the fact that Bush has stepped out and spoken about his faith since day 1 rather than his policies.

Goeglien said that Puritans believed that America would be the New Jerusalem and Lincoln said "America is the last best hope of the earth". He then said of these beliefs, "Either these things are true in the 21st century or they aren't [at all, ever]" I take that as a very narrow, elitist belief. It implies that our country is infalliable and can save us, neither of which are true. These attributes belong only to God. It also ignores the possibility that other nations and cultures may also be right, have good ideas, and be helpful to the workings of the world.

His message in no way was edifying or insightful. It was monotone, canned, and redundant. The main message was "You should trust this administration because I and the President are praying men."

He told the same story as cited in this Washington Post article, saying one of the liberal parents around the table hoped their 8-year-old would grow up "go to Harvard Law school then become the president of Greenpeace." While it was an unnecessarily specific dream for a child, I didn't think it was in and way bad, but I felt left out, like I had missed a joke, because of the way he said it and the fact that everyone in chapel laughed. I didn't get it.

Other articles about our chapel speaker:
US News
Media Transparency
Another Washington Post article

The choice of this chapel speaker took what is somewhat of a Christian liberty- what politics you ascribe to, of which there are Bible-believing Christians all over the political spectrum- and touting just one way. It would be like a chapel speaker telling us where to shop or what music to listen to- although there are moral issues that guide us associated with both those activities, we have a pretty broad Christian liberty in either. As is demonstrated with the range of politics supported by Christians, this arena is the same.

When I started this, I didn't mean for it to be so critical, but alas, it has become such. I thing I just don't like the idea that they put a politically conservative speaker on the chapel schedule to talk about this stuff without also balancing this with a Christian liberal on the schedule, to demonstrate that either view can be held by Bible-believing Christians. Myself, I see as a moderate, but I tend to react strongly oppositely when stubborn views are expressed on either side.


David Swindle said...

What a thoughtful post, Joanna. Thank you for telling Josh to tell me to read it. :-)

Kristen said...

Interesting. I'll have to listen to the chapel online and respond with what I think.
Other note- the clock at the bottom keeps ticking. Remember when it was around 400?


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