Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Revenge of Mr. Dumpling

The Evangelical Outpost symposium falls conveniently at a time when I can take a day or two off, so I have the luxury of reading some of what has been submitted. The range of reactions to the Commentry article covers the gamut, from the most serious and profound reflections (I can visualize a frowning fellow hunched over his computer, pecking away madly, clicking back and forth between windows making sure he got this or that reference perfect, laboring to make sure his baby is born alive and kicking...) to my own breezy piece of fluff.

Whoever "Dave" is, I like the way he writes. More than that, I like the way he thinks. Don't be fooled by that wonderful blog name. His comments on Abortion reveal that he can tell the difference between legality and morality, which readers here will recognize as one of my own pet-ideas-that-most-people-cannot-grasp. Without putting too fine a point on it, he smoothly moves from Mr. Gelernter's article into territory that the author would not likely travel...the way that contemporary American liberals are drifting from their religious roots, as in Europe, toward the secular [mostly Marxist, I might add] roots that took hold during the Cold War. His observations are on the mark.

But today's Left is moving towards a secular liberalism, a liberalism that seeks to cut itself off from the US' Christian heritage. While there are many Christians on the left, those who actually formulate policy or as seen as mouthpieces of the Left are often openly hostile to religious faith. In response to the Religious Right, it has been fashionable to mock faith and deride devout Christians, or to seek to shunt any public expressions of faith out of view. This has continued to alienate believers and push them towards the Right. But, while it has become possible to attack the symbols of faith such as the Pledge of Allegiance or prayer in school, it has not changed the fact that the majority of American's have a religious belief of some sort.

Now, there are those on the Left who recognise this problem, but the answer is not to quote a few Bible verses on the campaign trail, or talk about "connecting with Jesusland" at policy meetings. Most people respect someone who hates God with sincerity more than someone who has a faith of convenience. The answer is to recapture the religious foundation of American liberalism, to couch the Left's values in religious terms. Instead of letting the Right define religious debate, show how progressive values can be Christian ones. If you believe in equality show that Christianity preaches it. If you have programs that are designed to alleviate poverty show how Jesus loved the poor. If you support gay marriage show it is because of a belief in God given dignity, not an attack on Christian beliefs and institutions.

His essay is entitled What the Left has Forgotten (and the Right Better Pray that they Don't Remember). The title says it all. I took the liberty of resetting it in caps and lower case instead of all caps. The title is recapitulated in expanded form in these two paragraphs and the conclusion of the piece.

This one (I know, I say it too much.) is worth the time it takes to read.
Left-leaning Christians are few and far between.


Deborah said...

I look forward to reading it. Thanks so much for mentioning it in yiur blog!

Dave said...

Hi John,

Thanks very much for your extremely kind words. I am glad you enjoyed my piece, and thanks for taking the time to read some of my previous articles and for your comments on the Abortion piece. The difference between morality and legality is something that I think too many Christians forget.

I wouldn't call myself a left leaning Christian, though. I am fairly centrist in my politics, but I have found myself being pushed rightwards by the move of the Left towards secularism. But, I think it dangerous for any Christian to support either political side positions unconditionally. We need to judge whether something is compatible with God's will, rather than simply being partisans.

I hope you don't think that I am flying under false colours :)

Anyway, thanks for linking to me. You have a great blog here, and I will checking back regularly.