Progressive Revival

Some years ago, Melissa Fay Greene wrote a book about the
rural South entitled Praying for Sheetrock. If Sarah Palin, John McCain’s
running mate, ever published an autobiography, she might consider calling it Praying
for Pipeline

It appears that God has a keen interest in the building of a
multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline in the forty-ninth state. “I think
God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line
built,” the Alaska governor said. “So pray for that.”

In fairness, however, God may have other things on his mind.
According to Palin, the United States invasion of Iraq is “a task that is from

No politician could have a better advocate for his or her
policies than the Almighty. And ritual invocations of God have become a staple
of political rhetoric, even beyond the vacuous – and obligatory, it seems –
“God bless America” at the conclusion of nearly every speech. John F. Kennedy,
for instance, famously remarked in his inaugural address that “here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

I wonder, though,
if Palin’s expressed sentiments take religious-political rhetoric to a new
level of specificity. Enlisting God as co-sponsor of a natural gas pipeline is
audacious, to be sure, for who dares trifle with the Almighty in opposing the

As a person of
faith, I resent the attribution of particular policies to God, especially ones
of such a questionable nature. Does Palin really think that God has an
unambiguous position on pipelines? What about the environmental effects of such
a project, the impact on the created order? (This is a woman who approves the
shooting of bears and wolves from airplanes, so we can probably assume that
environmental concerns are not at the top of her agenda.)

And the war in
Iraq? “A task that is from God,” she says. Has Palin, who claims to be a
Christian, ever juxtaposed the invasion of Iraq with just-war criteria that
have been part of the fabric of Christian thought for centuries? Is it a
defensive war? Is there a reasonable chance of success? Is the deployment of
military force the last resort? Is the amount of force proportional to the
provocation? Have provisions been made, as much as possible, to shield
civilians from collateral damage?

No one has yet
convinced me that the invasion of Iraq meets any of these criteria.

And yet Palin’s credentials
as a Christian and as an evangelical go unchallenged. Perhaps her connections
are better than mine, for she seems to know precisely what God is thinking on
issues like war and pipelines.

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