Theological Dumbfounding

I’m hesitant to paste in anything directly political, but Congresswoman Bachmann is (or was) a Lutheran and from about the 15:00 mark everything is religious in nature.

To me this is an example of pure theological dumbfounding. Just listening to David Gregory ask the questions the “I can’t believe this crazy woman” or “I don’t even know where to start” or “This person scares me” vibe of them is interesting. The 18:00 – 18:40 mark is the perfect encapsulation of not understanding. Gregory doesn’t get it, and Bachmann knows it. Gregory can’t believe that anybody thinks that God helps them make decisions or “calls” them to do certain things. [Just like he can’t imagine a wife asking a husband about a career choice and then actually acting on the advice.] It horrifies him that a President might pray to come to an important decision. Bachmann sees the dumbfounding and just answers “that is my experience”; there was no way she could explain it. It is a pure conflict of worldviews. (And only Bachmann is aware of it.)

In that core encapsulation, notice Gregory’s definition or allowed playing field of religion – it can give “personal” comfort or warm fuzzies…but God or religion absolutely can’t be taken seriously by serious people in the public square. The same dumbfounding happens earlier in regards to authority. Gregory is dumbfounded that this crazy congresswoman might think that the American people might know more than Bill Gross, the Treasury Secretary and any other number of “technocratic experts”. Bachmann doesn’t accept or doesn’t accept the narrow and limited view of authority that Gregory operates with. God, small business owners, regular people, representative government – all of it is just crazy talk. And it leaves him dumbfounded. (Here is my private bet, the more Bachmann gets interviews like this, the higher her numbers will go and the more dumbfounded the Gregorys of the world will get.)

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4 responses to “Theological Dumbfounding

  1. I think Gregory DOES get it but puts on a little charade thinking his poking fun will go over well by hurting Bachmann’s political image. I believe interviewers like Gregory know exactly what they are doing. Very calculated.

  2. Interesting. I absolutely agree that Gregory is trying to make fun. He knows that there is no way to explain “mutual submission” here or “pope = antichrist” elsewhere in the required 10 seconds. So asking questions about deeper theological positions is a no-win question meant to harm the interviewee. They definitely know that and it’s very calculated – agree. But I would still hold at that 18 – 19 min mark that Gregory lets his guard down. Bachmann holds firm and sticks to her simplified answers. He can’t believe anyone would make a big decision through prayer or find any other use for religion than a “comfort blanket for a little kid”. Anyone who gives off a “I believe this because it is true and it shapes my worldview and decisions” vibe reporters like Gregory just don’t get. (They don’t get religion. They really think its a crutch for the weak minded and a sign of inferior intellect.) And they are scared stiff of it. The only reaction they have is to make fun of it or belittle it. What they don’t get is that even today more people share a religious (if not christian) worldview than a strict cynical materialist frame.

  3. What might run a little deeper here is Gregory poking fun and Evangelical Christians in general as he is a practicing Jew.

  4. Parson Brown

    Quote below From this link. I have to admit that I assumed Gregory was a standard functional atheist. What is below says a little more. I assumed worse. But I’d still say he doesn’t get religion in a deeper way. By that I mean that the “theology & spirituality” was what was missing. The truth claims or the authority claims are what is left out. It is still about what matters to him and not what matters to God. For a President to stop, pray and ask something like “God, what is important to you here, you placed me in this position, and I’ve got an awful big decision I need to make…” would seem to be out of bounds.

    Following that, NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory talked about how he discovered the importance of Judaism in his life. In a conversation with Brown, with whom he has been studying Jewish texts since September, Gregory recounted how he was brought up Jewish ‹ son of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother ‹ with a sense of “peoplehood and tradition,” but not much “theology or spirituality.” But, with the encouragement of his non-Jewish wife, it was “enough to carry me to a sense of identity” and give him a desire to “probe further” the question of “Why be Jewish?”

    “What I decided was [that] what mattered was not just a sense of actual knowledge” or attending High Holiday services, “it was to understand how to live Jewishly … [and] find daily meaning in Judaism.”

    So now “Shabbat has become a lot more important to me” as a way to “stop and think about what matters most to me … what kind of father and husband I want to be.” And he says a bedtime Sh’ma with his children as a way to model Judaism for them and “create a Jewish narrative in their lives that’s not just obligatory.”

    “I was born into a tradition,” he said. “Who am I to let it slip through my fingers?”