The Angel That Still Rides in the Whirlwind Does Not Direct This Storm

George W. Bush’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 2001

I heard a George W. Bush quote about an Angel That Rides in the Whirlwind, and, assuming it was another good example of a violation of the separation of church and state, I wondered in what context he was quoting the Bible. Through my research, which is detailed further below, I found many more questionable statements in that same speech, which is George W. Bush’s first Inaugural Address, on January 20, 2001. Another example of a questionable statement is President Bush calling the American people “flawed and fallible.” Dictionary.com defines fallible as “(of persons) liable to err, especially in being deceived or mistaken.” That’s not particularly flattering considering he was just elected President by the American people, or, as some may argue, placed into office by the Supreme Court after losing the election.

George W. Bush mentions his Angel That Rides in the Whirlwind twice in his first Inaugural Address in 2001.  Surprisingly it is not a direct quote from the Bible, but the sentence before it is a direct quote from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:11. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination, but his Inaugural Address is a clear foreshadowing of many significant events that follow his election. My focus shifted, from a violation of the separation of church and state, to a broader study of his first Inaugural Address. When one hears George W. Bush start talking about an Angel in the Whirlwind, there is a tendency to roll one’s eyes and tune out. However, due to the Address’ prophetic nature, closer scrutiny is due.

I have listed fifteen interesting statements found in his first Inaugural Address below, and then followed that list with a closer analysis of his speech.  The speech is in its entirety in bold and in quotations; my analysis below is not in bold and not in quotations.  Here is the first one on the list for an example (each statement is in numerical order in my analysis below for reference):

Speech:  “… President Clinton, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, the peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.”

Statement Number 1:  The transfer of authority was peaceful which is common in our country.

Here are 15 literal statements in George W. Bush’s first inaugural address:

  1. The transfer of authority was peaceful which is common in our country.
  2. We all have a place in a long story, we continue, of a power that protects and defends the world.
  3. It is the American story.
  4. A story of flawed and fallible people.
  5. America’s faith in freedom and democracy is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.
  6. Our democratic faith is a trust we bear and pass along, an ideal we carry but do not own.
  7. Civility is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos, and this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.
  8. Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good.
  9. We will build our defenses beyond challenge.
  10. We will confront weapons of mass destruction.
  11. The proliferation of prisons is necessary.
  12. What you do is as important as anything government does.  Seek a common good beyond your comfort to defend needed reforms against easy attacks.
  13. We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.  [Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV)]  Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?
  14. We are not this story’s author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose.
  15. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.

Transfer of authority; flawed and fallible people; depression and war; defending common dangers; defenses beyond challenge; weapons of mass destruction; defend needed reforms against easy attacks; the battle; an angel rides in the whirlwind; this storm?  What is he saying?  And what is Bush’s definition of the “freedom” we are spreading to many nations as a seed upon the wind?  Is the “freedom” we are spreading the proliferation of prisons?  Is the “freedom” we are spreading depression and war?  Is bearing our democratic faith as a trust and passing it along freedom?  That does not sound like freedom.  Below is the entire speech in bold and in quotation marks.  See what George W. Bush is literally saying in his first inaugural address on January 20, 2001.

[Speech]  “GEORGE W. BUSH: Chief Justice Rehnquist, President Carter, President Bush…”

 “… President Clinton, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, the peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.”

  1.  The transfer of authority was peaceful which is common in our country.

“As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation.”

 “And I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace.”

 “I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America’s leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.”

“We have a place, all of us, in a long story — a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.”

  1.  We all have a place in a long story, we continue, of a power that protects and defends the world.

These reminders that we all have a place in this story “we continue,” added to his continual mentioning of this, as discussed in statement 7’s “shared accomplishment” and statement 12’s “What you do is as important as what government does,” is a reminder that our actions or inaction contributes and/or makes us accountable.

“It is the American story — a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.”

  1.  It is the American story.
  2.   A story of flawed and fallible people.  The flawed and fallible people are united across the generations by ideals which are grand and enduring.

Dictionary.com defines fallible as “(of persons) liable to err, especially in being deceived or mistaken.” That’s not particularly flattering considering he was just elected President by the American people, or, as some may argue, placed into office by the Supreme Court after losing the election.

“The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.”

The grandest enduring ideal, that unites the generations of flawed and fallible people, is “an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.”

(Where else does he talk about ideals?)  (See just below number 6 and 10 to see who doubts this promise.  Just below #6 –  the citizens who do not prosper doubt the promise of our own country, and the citizens who prosper do not doubt the promise.  Below #10 Bush says:  “In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation’s promise.”

“Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.”

“Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.”

  1.  America’s faith in freedom and democracy is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.

“Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.”

  1.  Our democratic faith is a trust we bear and pass along, an ideal we carry but do not own. Our democratic faith is the inborn hope of our humanity.

One might argue that Bush is stating that our faith in democracy is a hope, a trust we bear and pass along, and ideal we carry but do not own (i.e. it is not a literal democracy, but an idea we do not own; a trust we bear and pass along, and a hope). What is he literally saying here? Compound his use of the words faith and hope, when talking about democracy, with the religious theme that he weaves through his speech, and one starts to see an increasingly blurred line between church and state making democracy sound more like an idea than a reality.

“While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.”

The citizens who prosper do not doubt the promise or justice of our own country.  The citizens who do not prosper doubt the promise and justice of our own country.

“We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.”

“I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image.”

A power larger than ourselves is currently creating us equal in His image.

Whatever your beliefs or ideals are, the Address includes all of us in the story.  In Bush’s speech he refers to God, an angel, and a ‘power larger than ourselves’.  In the Bible, that Bush quotes below, which is the King James Version (KJV), God is not an angel, but both are powers larger than ourselves and God is a greater power than an angel – which again begs the question, who is the angel that rides in the whirlwind? Perhaps it is closer to nonsense rather than a carefully worded prescription for war and depression to be spread throughout the world as a seed upon the wind taking root in many nations.

In the King James Version God created man in his “own” or “our image” and the words “equal” and “a power larger than ourselves,” are not in the Bible verse.  Also, the creation has already happened in the past tense, “created” not “creates”.  For context, I included the verse before and after:

Genesis 1:26 (KJV) – Then God said, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  Genesis 1:27 (KJV) – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  Genesis 1:28 (KJV) – And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

May this be an excellent example of why the separation of church and state is necessary. What is the power that creates us equal in His image, God? Who directs this storm (Statement 15), an Angel? Every statement in this speech is specifically worded, and the deeper one digs, the more questions arise, not to be merely brushed aside.

 “And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.”

“America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.”

We are bound by ideals that teach us what it means to be citizens.  The ideals move us beyond our backgrounds and lift us above our interests.  Every child must be taught these principles.  Every immigrant who embraces these ideals makes our country more American.

 “Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation’s promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.”

“America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.”

A civil society demands from each of us good will, respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.  A civil society demands good will from each of us.  A civil society demands respect from each of us.  A civil society demands fair dealing from each of us.  A civil society demands forgiveness from each of us.

“Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.”

 “But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.”

If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.

“We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.”

  1.  Civility is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos, and this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.

This mention of “shared accomplishment” paired with “trust over cynicism” makes me wonder if we are complicit in the results, as long as we just trust and are not cynical of the transfer of authority as stated in Statement 1.

 “America, at its best, is also courageous.”

“Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.”

  1.  Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good.  The example of our fathers and mothers will either inspire us or condemn us and we must make a choice.  In a time of blessing we must show courage by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.

(Where else does he say “common good?”  When did defending common dangers define our common good?) If you do a search for the transcript of this speech, he does say “defending common dangers.” You can also watch it on YouTube; the transcript of his speech is accurate. One might argue it was a mistake when he says “defending common dangers,” but when added to all his other statements, it makes one want to dig further into what he literally said.

“Together, we will reclaim America’s schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives.”

“We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent. And we will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans.”

“We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.”

  1.  We will build our defenses beyond challenge.

“We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.”

  1.  We will confront weapons of mass destruction.

“The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.”

We will speak for the values that gave our nation birth to all nations.

“America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation’s promise.”

In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation’s promise.

“And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love.”

“And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls.”

  1.  The proliferation of prisons is necessary.

“Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities. And all of us are diminished when any are hopeless.”

“Government has great responsibilities for public safety and public health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government.”

“And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor’s touch or a pastor’s prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and in our laws.”

“Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do.”

“And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.”

This is a reference to Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan from the New Testament of the Bible, Luke 10:27-35 (KJV). So, we will be the good Samaritan, not the Priest or the Levite that pass to the other side, and he can pledge our nation to this goal. Here George W. Bush more clearly identifies himself with the religion of Christianity. I have bolded and underlined the following text for emphasis.

Luke 10:27-35 (KJV):

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.  28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?  30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,  34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.  36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?  37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

“America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.”

“Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments. And we find that children and community are the commitments that set us free.”

“Our public interest depends on private character, on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.”

“Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone.”

“I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well.”

George Bush will advance his convictions with civility.

“In all these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.”

“What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort; to defend needed reforms against easy attacks; to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.”

  1.  What you do is as important as anything government does.  Seek a common good beyond your comfort to defend needed reforms against easy attacks.

(Where else does he say “common good” in his speech?)

“Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.”

Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves.

“After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: “We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”

  1.  “We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.  [Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV)]  Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”  [Jeremiah 25:32 (KJV)]

John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson after the Declaration of Independence was signed:  “We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.  Do you know think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”  This statement contains a quote from the King James Version (KJV).  See verse below in context, with the verse before it and after it. It is underlined and in bold for emphasis.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (KJV):  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV):  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.  Ecclesiastes 9:12 (KJV):  For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

So, in Bush’s American story, he includes a verse that says “…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill but time and chance happeneth to them all.”  If Bush is quoting the Bible, and John Page for that matter, to make people feel good, they chose the wrong verse.  Look at the verse in context, in the Bible quoted above, and it becomes even more grim.

The second half of John Page’s quote to Thomas Jefferson, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, is about the angel in the whirlwind. There is a poem by Joseph Addison and the “2nd, or the 3rd and 4th lines of the 4-line quatrain in which that statement is contained says that” the “angel in the whirlwind directs this storm and he hurls death and terror over the guilty land…” In the Bible there is not a verse with both the ‘angel’ and the ‘whirlwind’.  However, there is a verse with ‘hosts’ and ‘whirlwind’; here is the verse in context, underlined and bolded for emphasis:

Jeremiah 25:31 (KJV):  A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord.  Jeremiah 25:32 (KJV):  Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.  Jeremiah 25:33:, And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

I am not a Biblical scholar, but that doesn’t sound very good either.  I did a search for all the verses in the King James Version with the word ‘whirlwind’ in them, which can easily be done online.  There are 27 verses in the King James Version with the word ‘whirlwind’.  Jeremiah 25:32, is the only verse with a reference to ‘angel’ and ‘whirlwind’; hosts being angels is a widely held belief in Christianity. [Luke 2:13-15 KJV]

“Much time has passed since Jefferson arrived for his inauguration. The years and changes accumulate. But the themes of this day he would know: our nation’s grand story of courage and its simple dream of dignity.”

“We are not this story’s author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose. Yet his purpose is achieved in our duty, and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another.”

  1.  We are not this story’s author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose.

“Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today, to make our country more just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.”

“This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.”

“God bless you all, and God bless America.”

  1.  And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.

Bush ends his speech again referring to the angel that rides in the whirlwind. Not only does he mention the angel again, but it is the angel that is directing this storm. Thank you for letting us know you are not in charge President Bush. Who is the angel? In the King James Bible, and through an analysis of the Address, where Christianity is referred to more than once, an angel is not God. In case no one has rebutted Bush’s statement, I will.  The angel that still rides in the whirlwind does not direct this storm.

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