Romney In The News…
Mitt Romney has a book coming out and, in case you haven’t noticed, the PR campaign has begun. In the end there is little “news” but a lot of discussion – he wont’ decide if he is running until after the mid-terms – his wife is, thankfully, healthy – his book tour includes Iowa. That’s about it, but here are some links for your enjoyment as those facts get analyzed endlessly.
Interestingly, none of the “reporters” that are talking to Romney are asking about religion. UTAHpolicy is wondering about it, but no one talking to him is talking about it. Last time it was THE story – everyone talked about it, early and often. What’s so different about this time? I wonder if Bush’s very public Evangelicalism and Bush Derangement Syndrome is the difference?
Oh, and before we leave presidential politics altogether, if there is a “buzz” here, it’s like a mosquito on a super quiet night. You can only hear it under special circumstances and its not worth listening to. On the other hand….
Speaking Of Religion…
Is Glenn Beck succeeding where Mitt Romney failed? Different men with very different missions and neither of those missions has anything, really, to do with Evangelical/Mormon ecumenism. But then there has to be something to write about.
Religious persecution is alive and well. On a public scale, Brit Hume is feeling it and on a more private scale, so are Mormon writers. Even James Dobson and his former organization seem to be going a bit tribal. On that later story, someday I intend to find out how much of a role Dobson’s apparent desire to endorse Romney, but his constituency’s push back on Mormonism, had to do with the split. Splits of this magnitude are generally about a lot of things, but something brought this to a head and there was too much rumbling on The Question from that corner last time around.
And while we are talking tribalism, consider this rather glowing portrayal of RedState’s Erick Ericson. Ericson has, of late, transmogrified into one of, if not the, leading voice of the “conservative purity movement” that threatens to tear the GOP apart worse than The Question ever did – although I think the two are deeply related. That the St. Petersburg Times would write so glowingly of him is a sign that they have either swallowed the purity pill or, more likely, are lefties trying to split us up faster than we are splitting ourselves up. Think about it.
Christians Throwing Barbs At Each Other…
In closing it is instructive to look at an argument among orthodox Christians that has been going on of late. Marc Thiessen wrote a piece at The Corner last Saturday comparing those against torture to pacifists. That got Andrew Sullivan all riled up and in his response to Sullivan, Thiessen looked at Sullivan’s depiction of Catholic teaching on Just War and some related issues. That Sullivan would bend religion to his agenda is news so old that it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Where this gets interesting for us is that Theissen’s response to Sullivan got Joe Carter in a bit of a lather that resulted in a blogging exchange. After one round, Carter responded in a post that begins this way:
At The Corner, Marc Thiessen responded to my contention that his defense of torture is more in line with the tradition of Zeus and Odin than of Moses and Christ. I’m not surprised that he would take offense at such a suggestion, but since he is a Catholic I presumed he would provide a rebuttal based on Christian ethics or on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Instead, his response seems to have come directly from the Catechism of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The thing has gotten out of hand in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to start. But let’s try with this – Thiessen and Sullivan are both Catholics and for them to discuss Catholic doctrine on the matter becomes reasonable – it is common ground – even if it has no real application to the determination of national policy which is about the politics of a nation of various beliefs.
For a Southern Baptist (Carter) to argue his perspective on the matter, based on religion, begins to create a divide, not common ground. Thiessen’s response, based on more secular arguments, reflects a desire to find common ground and deal with the issue. But Carter in his response to the response seems more concerned with turning the Catholic Thiessen into a Southern Baptist than he does in deciding what is the best policy with regards to water boarding, and perhaps other special forms of interrogation.
This is a near perfect illustration of how the church/state divide came to be in our nation. It is really little more than an attempt to find common ground to reach an agreement on an issue, any issue, of national import. That divide, carried too far squelches the free practice of religion. Ignore it and we end up looking more like the tribal wars of Afghanistan than a republican democracy. In the end “God said so” arguments cannot carry the day unless we all worship the same God in the same way with the same understanding. Not gonna happen.
So, there is a time and a place for invoking religious argument and a time and a place for setting it aside and finding some other basis for the discussion that will get us to a resolution – because if we are going to be a functioning democracy, we have to be able to reach a resolution. That sometimes means the nation will go in directions that violate our personal most deeply held convictions.
We need to learn to live with that, and in the name of simple civility and decency (Christian values if ever I heard them), do so without resort to name-calling or eternal damnation, either directly or by implication. Otherwise, let the civil war begin.