But quoting stuff out of context is commonplace among politicians and spin-doctors.
Why is this kind of thing effective with people who should know better – those who profess to believe the Bible and follow Jesus? Well, the sad fact is that we are dealing with an often underestimated and ignorant illiteracy in many evangelical circles today. As more and more people find theology and doctrine dry and irrelevant, and matters of the soul, eternal life, and moral imperatives not nearly as important as SOCIAL ACTION, the situation is ripe to be exploited by someone with a message that sounds right.
Now, on the one hand, I agree with that analysis, but it really should not be pertinent to a presidential race. See here is the thing – the best response to that would be for the average Evangelical to study theology more. But what we saw in the primary was that more theologically astute Evangelicals drove out the candidate that was most likely to represent their theological views? Or did they? It could also be argued that if they truly understood their theology, as opposed to simply wore a tribal label, they might have understood that it would be fine to vote for someone from another “tribe.” However, to make that case, I would have to get much deeper into the theology than our self-imposed rules allow on this blog.
The problem is really, that we were treated throughout the primary to legitimate theologian after legitimate theologian making sure, in some cases to define the distinctives, before declaring support, we understood, in excruciating, detail the difference between LDS and more orthodox Christianity. We had debates over the word “cult” and the word “Christian.” Yes, with the possible exception of Joel Belz in World Magazine, the real bigotry came from the left, but the in-depth analysis came from the right. Analysis that while generally true, was not useful.
Many will remember the cartoon I have here at the left – It’s an old Far Side. The dog does not hear most of what it is being told. If Stokes is right, and he probably is, then all that came from all that theological hair-splitting, all most people heard, was “Not one of us – Not one of us – Not one of us.”
The great political lesson of the 2000 race was that people do not generally vote the issues, they vote identity. But that game is not good for the nation and it is a game we really, really need to stop playing.
Maybe I will have to post that theology?
Speaking of Theologians . . .
. . . Obama apparently has one to call his very own. As I watch my own church rip itself apart between left and right, to consider putting the force of a presidential race behind such debates is truly terrifying to me when it comes to the future of the church. I could easily see a day where rather than trinitarian questions dividing LDS and creedals, it will be questions about global warming – and somehow in that transition, what has really suffered is the gospel of Jesus. Think about it . . .
Speaking of Religious Divides . . .
Roger Cohen suggests that Barack Obama “should visit a mosque” to “break the monolithic, alienating view of a great world religion that is as multifaceted as Judaism or Christianity.”
How come nobody called for George W. Bush to appear at a Mormon Temple (well, outside one) to break any associated monolithic views there? Hmmmmmm?
And, Does This Help?
Friend of this blog, Peggy Fletcher Stack, had a piece Friday in the SLTrib on former Mormon candidates for the presidency. Interesting bit of history, but it appeared under the sub-head “LDS Quest for the White House.” That sounds a bit ominously conspiratorial to me. If a church, any church, is setting policy to gain legitimacy by having one of its own in the office of POTUS – they have sacrificed some claim to being a religion and become a political party. Given the political neutrality of the CJCLDS, I don’t think that is a problem here, and now.
And McCain needs this, but:
After the meeting, Franklin Graham issued a statement praising the Arizona senator’s “personal faith and his moral clarity.”
The moral clarity seems like a good thing to say, but what about that other part, especially if say, Romney, had prevailed?
Leavitt, from Pompano Beach, Fla., is asking his siblings and children on the West Coast to choose family over a call from Mormon church leaders to support a November ballot initiative to define traditional marriage California’s constitution.
A letter from Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was to be read from the pulpit in church congregations Sunday.
Since the letter began circulating on the Web last weekend, hundreds of Mormon blog posts have expressed disbelief, disappointment and outrage at the church’s decision to wade into politics.
You know what – throughout history, the church has established marriage, and in this country and some others, the government simply chose to put its imprimatur on it – because it was the very foundation of society. This is really more about politics sticking its nose in religion’s business. Which is why the two are never completely separable – they are both ruling institution competing for ruling space. And given that this past week, my church made all sorts of stupid moves with regards to homosexuality, I am pleased to see the LDS stand up this way.
Lowell: What’s interesting about the Florida story is the “hundreds of Mormon blog posts” expressing “disbelief, disappointment, and outrage.” What? This decision by the First Presidency to support the amendment is one of the least surprising LDS developments in the last 50 years. The Church also endorsed the federal Constitutional amendment
In fact they are on the exact same page as Focus on the Family. So why can Dobson agree with Monson on this and not on a candidate?
This Does Help.
Religion in a more proper political perspective. Yes, the kind of thing discussed in this NYTimes piece can be over extended and become just another leftie-schill, but it worked here and it is worth noting.
And… some reason from WaPo o the Dobson/Obama dust-up. But then, this blog was there first.