I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Pleasant Surprise - David Brooks Gets It Right

I discussed what was wrong with Mitt Romney's "Faith In America" address below. Well much to my amazement David Brooks noticed too.
Faith vs. the Faithless
When this country was founded, James Madison envisioned a noisy public square with different religious denominations arguing, competing and balancing each other’s passions. But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds. The supposed war between the faithful and the faithless has exacted casualties.

The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious. I’m assuming that Romney left that out in order to generate howls of outrage in the liberal press.

The second casualty of the faith war is theology itself. In rallying the armies of faith against their supposed enemies, Romney waved away any theological distinctions among them with the brush of his hand. In this calculus, the faithful become a tribe, marked by ethnic pride, a shared sense of victimization and all the other markers of identity politics.

In Romney’s account, faith ends up as wishy-washy as the most New Age-y secularism. In arguing that the faithful are brothers in a common struggle, Romney insisted that all religions share an equal devotion to all good things. Really? Then why not choose the one with the prettiest buildings?
And I think he's on the right track here but to be honest I'm not sure.
Romney’s job yesterday was to unite social conservatives behind him. If he succeeded, he did it in two ways. He asked people to rally around the best traditions of America’s civic religion. He also asked people to submerge their religious convictions for the sake of solidarity in a culture war without end.
Now if Brooks is saying what I think he's saying here he's right - Romney is further dividing an already divided country. Romney is saying what the Evangelicals want to hear - that they are being persecuted by the Satan inspired secularists. From my experience with the Mormons Romney is not pandering here, he really believes it. I'd feel better if I thought he was pandering.


  1. Anonymous5:17 AM

    I just read through JFK's speech. He left quite a few people out, including atheists. So he gets a free pass?

  2. Anonymous3:05 PM

    In JFK's speech, he did mention (rather forcefully) that the separation of church and state was absolute. That apparently is no longer the law of the land.

    Regarding Beasley's comment on thinking Brooks is saying what he think's he's saying, I thought Brooks was perfectly clear.


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