My apologies if the title of this post does not make sense — it is based on a recent post I wrote: “Do New York Times editorial writers pray? Ever?”
I’d like to add CNN’s Randi Kaye, of the Anderson Cooper 360° program, to that list of folks who either don’t pray or don’t seem to understand what it means to ask for God’s will to influence ours. On her CNN blog post “AC360° Exclusive: Palin’s former Pastor speaks” she makes the same mistake (I’d like to assume innocently) about Mrs. Palin’s comment about God’s will and the Iraq war as the NYT editorial writers. But with a twist…
Here’s Ms. Kaye’s comment:
She also talked to church members about “being saved” at the Assembly of God and suggested to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God. Palin said, “our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”
I’d like to assume these are innocent mistakes, but let me highlight them for you so that you can judge for yourself.
Ms. Kaye says here that Mrs. Palin, “suggested to [church members] that the war in Iraq is a mission from God.” Did Mrs. Palin do this? To “support” the assertion a quote is given. However, it is not a quote. It’s what James Taranto would call a “dowdification” (and does so today on “Best of the Web”) — where only part of the quote is given in such a way that the meaning of the quote is changed. Even the Bible can be dowdified to say “There is no God” — see Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1.
If Ms. Kaye did it on purpose, it is horrible journalism (in fact, not even journalism). If she did it on accident, it is sloppy journalism. Here’s the full quote: “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do also what is right for this country–that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.” Isn’t that what we want our leaders doing? Praying that their decisions will reflect God’s will and not their own?
If Ms. Kaye wanted to shorten the quote and yet keep the meaning intended, she could have simply added four words and an ellipsis: “Pray… that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.”
She did not “suggest to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God.” She told them to pray that our leaders are making choices that are in line God’s will. In fact, her statement indicates just the opposite of what Ms. Kaye asserts: it indicates a lack of commitment on Mrs. Palin’s part (at least publically) as to whether or not the war is God’s will.
As I asked last time I brought this up, why don’t some of these media folks understand prayer? Why don’t they understand what it means to ask others to pray that our leaders actions be in line with God’s will? Again, I do not want to assume the worst, but they sure make it hard. Some “loose cannon” bloggers with obvious partisan motivations — I can understand. They are so blinded by their worship of their own ideas that they probably don’t even realize they are lying. (True for bloggers with PhDs, as well — an advanced degree is no cure for a Jeremiah 17:9 heart.) But someone we’re supposed to trust to bring us the facts so that we can make up our own minds? I expect better.
I just can’t keep commenting on this, because I suppose it will be with us for at least a few more months — and if McCain & Palin win, a few more years. So, I will try to make this the last.
And I would hate to communicate the wrong message because, in a very real way, I have no dog in this hunt. I have no idea what Mrs. Palin thinks about the Iraq war and God’s will. Maybe she thinks it is God’s will, in which case her statement to the church is an example of restraint not advocacy. Maybe she has a room in her house where she lights candles, burns incense, and worships a small statue of the Donald Rumsfeld — I have no idea. And her religion is not my religion. Given her background, it seems (as far as I can tell) that she is a Sunday-keeping, Trinity-believing, the-law-is-done-away “Christian” — positions I believe to be Satanic perversions of the Bible truth. And, finally, I am not a voter, and I will not vote in the upcoming election. (In fact, the sermon I gave last week in one of my congregations was a review of why we do not vote in the Living Church of God. I comment on some of those reasons in my 9/21/2007 post “My struggle with the word ‘pacifist’” but even more could be read in our current Tomorrow’s World magazine article, “How Would Jesus Vote for President?“)
However, for some reason seeing the media’s twisting of this simple request that a gathering of church folks pray that our leaders’ actions would be within God’s will has just gotten my goat. And it is a lesson for me: In my zeal to make what I believe to be a true point, I hope I do not give into the temptation to misrepresent a fact, even subconsciously. It’s easy to allow yourself to do — again, see Jeremiah 17:9. But the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) applies to everyone — even newspaper editorial boards and reporters.
[UPDATE, 9/11/2008: Just to demonstrate that I’m willing to pick on conservative papers, too, and not just the liberal ones, the Wall Street Journal messed this one up, too, today (at least online). Reporter Susan Davis described portions of Mrs. Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, including the following in that description:
In a recent church appearance, Palin made the statement that “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God” in reference to the war.
“I don’t know if that was my exact quote,” Palin responds — it was.
Ms. Davis actually makes it worse by captializing “Our” and making it seem like it was the beginning of the sentence. (See post above, again, to see the snippet in context.) Mrs. Palin sensibly replies, “I don’t know if that was my exact quote.” Ms. Davis: “[I]t was.” Now, is Ms. Davis simply explaining that Charlie Gibson said it was an exact quote (I missed the interview tonight) — which would mean she missed an opportunity to correct the record and communicate’s poorly that it is Gibson’s statement — or is she interjecting her own inaccurate “confirmation” of this inaccurate “fact”?
Why can’t anyone get this straight? If I request of someone, “Pray that I’ll make the right decision,” am I saying, “I’ll make the right decision”? If I say, “Pray that we’re making a decision that pleases God,” am I saying “We’re making a decision that pleases God”? If I say, “Pray that God will send us a million dollars,” am I saying “God will send us a million dollars”? Why is this so hard for the media to figure out?
Mrs. Palin apparently says when pressed, “I don’t know if the task is from God, Charlie.” That is completely, 100% consistent with the quote from her talk to the church congregation. Still, if they are true to form, many in the media will decide that she is backtracking from her original statement. Unbelievable.
I’ve come to suspect that part of the problem is that so many in our culture, in particular our media — the cultural elite — are shocked at the idea that anyone would think that God has any part or place at all in our wars. After all, isn’t He simply the Great Source of Comfort — a mere divine teddy bear or security blanket that we hug when we’re sad and that helps us get “through it all”?
Anyway, this has gotten rather long for a simple “Update” — I’m going to go now…]