George Orwell and bending the Bible for our own purposes

Florence King once called George Orwell “Every conservative’s favorite liberal and every liberal’s favorite conservative.” Why? Conservatives invoke his critiques of totalitarianism. Progressives appeal to his attacks on reactionary politics. Orwell is easily bent to many ends — like the Bible.

George Orwell

George Orwell

Here’s an enlightening quote from a review in The New Statesman:

Since whoever we are (save for a few sad Leninists) we all agree with George Orwell, it usually follows that Orwell must agree with us. Whatever our 21st-century predilections, Tory or leftist, conservative or progressive, we discover blessings and endorsements somewhere in Orwell’s words. We grab him for ourselves.

How often do Christians do that with the Bible? We all agree with the Bible, so we assume the Bible must agree with us. By that I mean that we assume the Bible must agree with our unique take on faith and life, even if it’s a marginal opinion without much representation in the history of the church.

As long as we can find a prooftext in there someplace we feel thoroughly entitled to our opinions and regard them as unassailable, backed as they are by The Ultimate Authority. But of course often enough we are only bending it to our own ends. Like Orwell, the Bible just becomes a mirror.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • kevin kirkpatrick

    Nice! I love Orwell as you well know. This is a good point and probably true with any great writer. What I think is amazing about Orwell, is that in the 30′s and 40′s he was calling for the kind of social changes that actually occured in England and Europe. So it shows to me that he was right in the middle of left and right, not sticking to ideology, but calling for the best out of each to be implemented. I wish more people writing about , and doing politics would implement this today. I recommend his essays to anyone which are entertaining reading, despite being essays. That people have co-opted the bible to support what they want to believe is par for the course since the reformation.


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