Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jon Stewart's God Talk

First of all, Jon Stewart is surprisingly hard to quote. He continuously stops himself mid-sentence and starts over from the beginning. I'll quote the whole thing verbatim, just to illustrate how badly put together his speaking style is: "Isn't it- The fascinating thing about political leaders - not, not just Bush, I mean, this has been done throughout the history of our country and other countries...When they quote God - or God is on their side....Isn't there always- Their enemies are also saying... You know, famously, you know, uh, Lincoln said the thing about, 'I hope not to be on...' uh, 'God is on our side, but that we can be on his side.' But I'm sure Robert E Lee was like, 'God is on our side.' Do they recognize that the enemies also believe that?" There, that really is exactly how he said it, talking to Madeleine Albright. And it doesn't sound ridiculous until you try to write it down. Try getting a coherent soundbite out of Jon Stewart.

Anyway, why do people find it so interesting that people on two sides of an argument both separately believe that their own side is right and the other is wrong? It seems like this would be completely expected and not worth pointing out. People who believe in God and see God as perfect should obviously think that God is on their side, if they truly believe their side to be right. What's the issue?


Blogger Drethelin said...

I see it as a way of making a comment on the conversation that seems deep without actually being meaningful.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

I think talking like that is Stewart's comic style. He's clearly smart enough to put sentences together conventionally. You found a really great example of it, and the fact is, it's hilarious. I'll bet other comedians do this too. You jabber, kind of stream of consciousness, with all kinds of feints, tantalizing digressions, and dead ends, and the listener has to wonder if you're ever going to get somewhere and then suddenly you get to a short phrase that really says something and ends it. And that feels all punchline-y.

As to the God part, I'd turn the question on Stewart: Don't you think God was on the anti-slavery side in the Civil War?

6:45 AM  
Blogger Marghlar said...

I find the notion that God would support either side in a war a little odd -- there was that turn the other cheek business.

But I think the question is intended to provoke a touch of ironic distance -- to suggest that, to a third party, two nations fighting to the death, both fervently believing that their victory is foreordained by a deity, seems pretty silly.

10:53 AM  
Blogger XWL said...

I think the issue is that politicians are supposed to say that but aren't supposed to actually honestly believe that.

Pres. Clinton is an evangelical Christian, spoke of his faith frequently while in office, and after, yet nobody amongst the secular left who supported him believed he was sincere, therefore his rhetoric was more palatable to folks like Jon Stewart.

Pres. George W. Bush, like Pres. Reagan before him, comes across as a man of faith who honestly believes in that faith.

That's scary to some, religion should only be deployed in an ironic or offhand manner, never with sincerity.

The main fear is that a 'true-believer' will place faith before reason (which is always the implicit suggestion whenever this subject arises regard Pres. Bush)

In otherwords, Jon Stewart is a cynical loser when it comes to religion.

5:49 PM  

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