Parting Thoughts on Keeping the Faith

There has been a fair amount of hand-wringing in some quarters about the fact that President Bush mentions, regularly and almost casually, his Christian faith.

It doesn't bug me much, because the president doesn't try to drag God into the tawdry businesses of politics and war. This contrasts sharply with Usama bin Laden whose latest decrees invoke the name of God and the religion of Islam to buttress his plea for widespread, brutal and undiscriminating murder.

It is perfectly natural in parlous times to seek strength and solace in the arms of the almighty. It is equally natural for demagogues to seek divine warrant for their actions and aims. But that is folly.

Abraham Lincoln wisely punctured such presumption in his second inaugural address -- one, that by the way, mentions God 13 times. He noted that warriors on both sides of the civil war prayed to the same God and observed: "It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes."

In the testing times ahead, many of us will feel the need to beseech the Almighty for aid, but we also need to remember that responsibility for the end results, for good or ill, lies with us.