Good article reviewing Kuo’s Tempting Faith (which I just got late last week and have barely started).
politics is easy; God is hard.â€ Politics, by setting up very tangible enemies to be defeated, â€œgives the illusion of a solution,â€ he said, while God demands personal transformation
What I have seen so far is accurately articulated by PETER STEINFELS, the author of the NYTimes review :
â€œI set out to write a spiritual book,â€ Mr. Kuo insists, and â€œTempting Faithâ€ turns out to be an engrossing piece of religious autobiography and a revealing, sometimes unnerving window into evangelical Christian culture.
Thus far, early on, I am a bit worried about Kuo’s total separation of “personal transformation” from “politics”; for it seems there is some theological and philosophical distinction that is missing. It’s not a “separation”, but a transformation that is not only “personal” (qua “individualistic”) but communal, which brings us closer to the sociological aspects of politics. The Christian community IS a politic.
In 1998, after talking at length with Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, Mr. Kuo was overwhelmed. â€œBush was the real deal,â€ he told himself. â€œHe loved Jesus. He wanted to help the poor.â€ Six years and many disappointments later, Mr. Kuo listened to a speech by the president and concluded: â€œThat same passion for the poor I first heard in Austin was in his voice and in his eyes. But the passion was a passion for talking about compassion, not fighting for compassion.â€
This is the piece that gives me pause about “sincerity”; that and the kinds of things Kuo also covers in the book, regarding how White House officials belittled evangelicals in private, and Bush’s refusal to talk about any faith specifics whatsoever. When asked early on in his presidency, what it means when he says “Jesus changed my heart” he replied “If you don’t know already, I can’t explain it”, and the one that disturbs me most: “Sometimes you gotta just set religion aside when you gotta job to do”. I don’t EVER hear evangelicals use the word “religion” when asked about their faith, and certainly there is no support for the idea of “setting religion aside” in those circles (at least in concept; in conversation). But this is also exactly what Kuo holds up as his deepest disappointment. The lack of actual commitment to follow through on the WORDS. “the passion was a passion for talking about compassion, not fighting for compassion”
The accusations thrown at Kuo upon release of this book are disgusting, and ignorant. Kuo is no “closet liberal”. The idea that anyone who has ever worked for a Kennedy cannot be a conservative is laughable. I’ll be reading more of this today, and commenting here.