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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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The Field Is Coalescing, A Brief Book “Review” and more…

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:33 am, March 10th 2011     —    1 Comment »

Article Of The Week, So Far

Depending on your viewpoint there are three candidate for that less than coveted title.  Based on our commenters and emailers, last week’s Economist hit piece on Mormons is the leading candidate.  As we said the article suffers from adding absolutely nothing to the discussion that has not already been said a thousand times before.  Not to mention only like six or seven really geeky people bother to read the Economist.  I can understand how my Mormon friends would be incensed by this cheap shot, but it hardly rises to a level to earn the title bestowed by this section of the post.

That honor, in my book, goes to George Will’s excoriation of Huckabee and Gingrich as “spotlight-chasing candidates.” Remember when we divided the field into Media Candidates and Serious Players?  I think George Will owes us a dinner.  There is little question about Huckabee here – Gingrich is trying to position himself seriously, but I have my doubts he’ll succeed.  More on him in a bit.

Story Of The Week, So Far

Some might try to argue that it was Obama’s toxic embrace of Mitt Romney and Massachusett’s health care – with some help from his friends.  Something they can tie in with the resignation of Obama’s Ambassador to China to make the Mormon connection.  But this is so transparent as to not be effective.

Some might say that it is the unraveling of the “first” GOP debate, but this has been coming for a long time so the impact does not rise to the level to make it important.

For my money it’s how flat the “Faith & Freedom” forum in Iowa fell.  Even devoutly Evangelical sources note there is work to be done.  The country simply has its mind elsewhere this cycle.

The Candidates

Remember Monday when I said Newt Gingrich‘s serial infidelities would be a problem for him?  I love being ahead of the curve.

Jon Huntsman continues to draw press, but as best as I can tell, little else.

I grow very weary of the fact that Mike Huckabee always has an excuse, but never an “I was wrong.”  When it comes to illegitimate religious shots at Romney or cultural shots at Natalie Portman it’s distasteful.  However, this week I heard him, on Michael Medved‘s show,  do it with regards to his commutation of the prison sentence of people that then went out and killed police officers.  He did so on the show when a current officer that served with one of the dead officers in the same police force in Washington called.  That is just wrong.

Tim Pawlenty is playing nice, and has some leftie friends, but he may be making a misstep.

Haley Barbour is looking increasingly serious.

Donald Trump and evangelical commentary.  The fact that there is serious commentary of Trump points to the fact that the Evangelical commenting is not serious.

The far left LATimes took a very hard shot at Mitt Romney.  As did Michael Kinsley.  Such vituperation at this stage is proof the left is afraid of him.  But even David Corn noted that he is doing a good job of staying above the fray.

Religious Reading

Evangelical and LDS leaders meeting in Utah.  Very Interesting – even being analyzed politically.

This is so backwards as to be astonishing.  The Church out of the marriage business?  Where in the world do they think the idea came from to begin with?

Just so my Mormon friends know they are not alone.

About That Book “Review”…

A true book review requires that one read the book in question.  I cannot say that for the book I am going to comment upon here.  The book in question is The Religious Test by our old friend Damon Linker.  I read the first two chapters of the book and grew very annoyed.  Checked the index for references to Mormons looked at the first one and set the book aside never to be opened again, I hope.  When we reviewed his important article from the last cycle in our review of the last campaign we said:

The piece suffered from two enormous problems.  One was it ignored the political realities of the United States, and two it confused religious adherence with religious fanaticism.  The piece assumed that a president could somehow run roughshod over all action of the US government, as if we had no checks and balances.  The fact of the matter is, if the nation did mess up tremendously and elect a president with a nutcase agenda, there is Congress to balance the scales.  Further, while the president of the CJCLDS is considered a prophet, adherents to that faith are very different than fanatical Muslims following the edicts of a crazy Imam.  And even Imams generally only have a few fanatic followers.  There are fanatical Mormons, as there are fanatics of every faith, but then Romney had an established record as governor of Massachusetts.  I doubt we were in for any surprises.

The book is the same mistakes writ long and large.  The book opens discussing Amish and Jewish sects that are “apart,” moves to  radical, violent Islam and then attempts to draw parallels to the Christian Reconstructionist movement as described by R.J. Rushdoony, as affiliated with The Presbyterian Church in America.  I am no fan of Christian Reconstructionism or Rushdoony for that matter but as weird as they are, they do not propose violence and have no history of violent action – a HUGE difference between themselves and radical Islam.  And to tie them with the PCA is about the same as saying that because I read this far in Linker’s book, I agree with him.

When I turned to the first mention of Mormonism as gleaned from the index, what appeared before my eyes immediately?  Why the Mountain Meadows Massacre, of course.  Again, attempting to paint the whole by the actions of the radical few – a long, long time ago.  In his defense, Linker seems to bear no animus for any particular religion, apparently they are all places where violence is lurking just under the surface waiting to break out and stain us all.

As far as I got, which is as far as I could stand, the book is simply anti-religious screed based on the thinnest of arguments, and with a presumption that the scientific method is the only means of determining truth, never addressing the fact that the scientific method has proven wholly inadequate to fully explaining human behavior and other non-mechanistic phenomena.  In other words the book is nonsense written in academic parlance to give it a sheen of respectability.


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