Monday, December 22, 2014


Guest Commentary

Forget John 3:16; It’s all about Bob 7:14!

12/4/2013

Say your prayers! According to a Des Moines Register news report, Robert Vander Plaats is soon into another resurrection as a religious right candidate for public office, rallying his troops around scripture, Chapter 7, Verse 14.

The Register didn’t say which 7:14 — so it might have been the Book of Bob. News stories, however, seldom provide details or questions about Plaats pronouncements. He pretty much gets a free ride when wrong about the Constitution or anything else.

But a check of the Good Book found the Vander Plaats campaign theme, right there in II Chronicles 7:14: “(I)f my people…will humble themselves…and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin…”

To get the campaign under way, Vander Plaats wants the faithful in his Family Leader organization to set their smart phones to remind them of 7:14, every day at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m.

A few things about the scriptural and the temporal 7:14:

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1. The verse, in the eyes of the true believers, targets the rest of us, of course. We’re the ones, not they, who have it all wrong.

2. Regardless of the time of day and the nonsense about how the Iowa GOP is a full-spectrum party, the Vander Plaats candidacy is consistent with the three Rs of today’s Republicanism — right wing, reactionary, religious fervor.

3. The 7:14 selection is consistent with how we cherry-pick scripture to make a point. In the preceding verse of 7:13, it’s clear that Jehovah isn’t all warm and fuzzy, because He threatens to “shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among my people.” Verse 7:13 is not the sort of message for the campaign of a would-be U.S. Senator, the post Vander Plaats may be seeking — although it does hint at the dysfunctional nature of Congress.

In leafing through the Bible for various takes on 7:14, the quest begins with Genesis 7:14, and Noah loading the ark, and ends with Revelation 7:14 and the saints washing their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. A journey of rescue and redemption, as it were.

In the Books of Daniel and Isaiah, the 7:14 selections offer what Christians read as prophecies of the coming of Christ, but those are matters of theology, not the in-your-face ideology craved by the religious right.

And there are a few misses. Ten of the 39 Old Testament books have no Chapter 7, and the Book of Esther ends Chapter 7 at verse 10 with the impaling of Haman — a bit too gruesome, even for the Iowa GOP campaign trail.

In the New Testament, by my count, 17 of the 27 books end before a Chapter 7.

So it is back to the Old Testament for 7:14s that the rest of us might find reassuring.

For example, Zechariah 7:14 is a clear prophecy of the ruin that the religious and political right have brought to the Iowa judiciary, Iowa education and other once-treasured foundations of the Hawkeye state:

“The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.” Can’t beat that for a summary of Iowa’s religious right and its slash-and-burn politics.

And, from one familiar with tribulations, Job 7:14 speaks to how the Vander Plaats crowd scares many of us: “…you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions.”

Ezekiel 7 chimes in, too, against the religious right: 7:11, “none of the people will be left,” and 7:14 “…my wrath is on the whole crowd.”

The Psalmist at 7:14 may be in accord with birth control and Planned Parenthood: “Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.”

Ecclesiastes 7:14 brings some sense to the issue: “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore no one can discover anything about their future” — regardless of how many daily reminders you get about Bob 7:14. CV

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview.

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