(Trump) How Not To Hold A Bible (Habitus & Hexis)


(h/t Jim Watts and Iconic Books and to @drnelk at Twitter) Arguably, in these United States, a good president needs to know how to handle a Bible. President Trump is not a good president. With him, the Bible has no part of a “habitus,” defined by Bordieu in terms of “[s]ystems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them” Outline of a Theory of Practice, p.77). There’s no “bodily hexis” here in relation to the object, the practice is not embodied, with no obvious or “permanent disposition, a durable manner of standing, speaking, and thereby feeling and thinking” (citing who? pp.93-4). The strict opposite to “the man of honour,” whose pace is steady and determined expressing strength and resolution. Just a “hesitant gait…announcing indecision, half-hearted promises…the fear of commitments and the incapacity to fulfill them” (p.94).

You can see the whole awkward set up preparing for the awkward photo shoot here.


On the other hand, let’s not be too glib. As per this article here in the Atlantic, a lot of conservative Christians appreciated the gesture. Ralph Reed is cited saying about Trump that, “His presence sent the twin message that our streets and cities do not belong to rioters and domestic terrorists, and that the ultimate answer to what ails our country can be found in the repentance, redemption, and forgiveness of the Christian faith.” To my mind, the author is maybe too quick to dismiss this form of identitarian religiosity as an elementary form of American religious life.


About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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