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by Christopher Chantrill
May 09, 2006 at 11:27 pm
Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.
Is it really true to say that the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives? Where is this going on? On the TV News? In the universities? In the schools? In the courts? In the Congress? On talk radio?
And just who is this religious right anyway? Pat Robertson? Jerry Falwell? Rick Warren? Just who did you have in mind?
Come on, Andrew. The main discourse about religion in the public square is coming from secular liberals who wont shut up about the Taliban religious right. But the religious right seldom gets a chance to actually occupy bandwidth in the national conversation and get its story out. At least, the mainstream media always makes quite sure that no religious right utterance gets into the public square without rebuttal.
We understand Sullivans rage, of course. All political issues, all religious issues, all cultural issues for Andrew Sullivan are viewed through the lens of gay marriage. There is only one issue, and that is gay marriage. There is only one acceptable opinion: to be for gay marriage.
We tolerant conservatives do feel Sullivans pain. We understand his problem. It is shared by many people on the left who have been led away from the mainstream of life by the lefts ideas and agenda. They are the disaffected faculty in the university. They are the childless liberal women who still demand an absolute right to abortion. They are the childless liberal couples who have put work, or career, or spirituality, or activism, or the environment before children. And they are the gays and lesbians who imagine that by grabbing the Holy Grail of gay marriage that they will be able to return to the mainstream of life.
They will be disappointed. You do not get to live in the mainstream of life by getting the state to certify that you are mainstream. Would that it were so.
If you want to live in the mainstream of life then you need to fall in love, get married, sire children, and then raise them. Breeding, they used to call it with derision.
The mainstrem of life is rather mundane and frustrating when you are in the middle of it. You fantasize about the career you might have had, or the adventures you might have had, or the torrid love affairs you might have had.
One day as you paddle along in the mainstream of life you discover that your children are all grown and you realize that you are too old to start again with that exciting career you might have had, or the life of adventure you might have had, or the thrilling love affairs you might have had.
But if you are a liberal and you have spent half your life sneering at the mainstream of life, and then you suddenly decide that you want into the mainstream of life, what do you do? You call on sympathetic judges in Massachusetts to certify you as mainstream, to change the world with a stroke of a pen, as liberals have done all our lives. You demand that Americans admit you into the mainstream of life.
And then you get nasty.
But is really doesnt matter what you do, or how loudly you shout and scream. You can write nasty articles calling fundamentalist Christians Christianists if you like. And then you can disingenuously claim that you are not saying that Christianists are terrorists. But it still doesnt change anything. Go ahead. Say it.
The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist... And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all.
We understand exactly what you are doing, Andrew Sullivan. You are trying to marginalize decent American Christians as extremists and bigots.
Because, decent and tolerant as they are, ordinay American citizens just cannot stomach the idea of letting liberals rip the institution of marriage to shreds. Not yet, at least. And there is no reason why they should.
Ever since the 1960s liberals have been talking down marriage. It was old-fashioned. It was middle class. It was oppressive to women. Now all of a sudden they have rushed back. We want to be married, after all, they cry!
Only, being liberals they cant leave well alone. Ordinary marriage isnt good enough. There must be change! There must be accommodation of the marginalized! GLBT! Polyamory! And anyone that disagrees is a bigot.
Will this nightmare never end?|
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America