Dean Does Theology

It has been widely observed that Howard Dean has started talking about religion as he looks toward the national campaign that will follow Iowa and New Hampshire. Skepticism about Dean’s newfound spirituality has been expressed in many quarters; nothing in this piece from tomorrow’s Washington Post will dispel it.
For a guy who wants to be President, Dean admits to a hitherto-woeful lack of understanding of his fellow Americans. “I am still learning a lot about faith and the South and how important it is,” he says. “Faith is important in a lot of places, but it is really important in the South — I think I did not understand fully how comfortably religion fits in with daily life — for both black and white populations in the South. The people there are pretty openly religious, and it plays an ingrained role in people’s daily lives.” For Dean to just now be noticing that many Americans–and not just in the South, either–are “openly religious” shows a rather stunning obtuseness.
Dean claims to have read the Bible, but his scripture knowledge seems shaky: “When asked Friday night about his favorite book of the New Testament, he cited Job, about a righteous man whose faith was tested mightily by God through great suffering. After thinking about the scripture, Dean pointed out an hour later that Job is from the Old Testament. Dean said Job reinforces the uncomfortable fact of life that ‘terrible things can happen to very good people for no good reason.'”
Now, I am not one to critique another man’s faith. But strictly as a matter of education, anyone who is vague on whether the book of Job is in the Old or New Testament has not exactly been spending his time poring over scripture. And, while this is no theology blog, I don’t think that “bad things can happen to good people for no good reason” is exactly the point of the book of Job. Job, one of the most profound moral, philosophical, literary and religious explorations in human history, can’t really be summed up in a greeting card.
If Dean is going to compete effectively for the votes of people to whom religion is an important factor, he has a long way to go.
DEACON adds: Dean seems equally shallow (though less out of touch) when he does philosophy. George Will has said that Dean’s favorite philosopher is the Chinese guy who said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. Millions of liberals will admire their intellectual acuity when they vote for Dean instead of the “shallow rube” Bush. Another example of self-delusional thinking.
BIG TRUNK adds: I’m probably revealing my own shallowness, but doesn’t that philosophy come from a fortune cookie?

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