Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Values Test

James Dobson, on the OP-ED page of today's NY Times, wrote of "a meeting that occurred last Saturday in Salt Lake City involving more than 50 pro-family leaders." Those last two words jumped out at me; what exactly is a pro-family leader? And, in this polarized society, who are the anti-family leaders that pro-family leaders are called to stand tall and righteously oppose?

Patient readers discover the answer in the penultimate paragraph of his essay:
The secular news media has been reporting in recent months that the conservative Christian movement is hopelessly fractured and internally antagonistic. The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, for example, that supporters of traditional family values are rapidly “splintering.” That is not true. The near unanimity in Salt Lake City is evidence of much greater harmony than supposed.
Translation: Pro-family leaders are conservative Christians. If you are secular or non-Christian, you are not part of the conversation. Political theology remains a significant language in this country and, as Lilla asserts (see previous two posts), it is an exclusively Christian language that has been used to support a range of outcomes from revolution to repression.

Lilla suggests that even at its best, Christian theology is irrational. The most toxic symptom of this irrationality is its failure to engage in a conversation that acknowledges that Constitutional principles, which refuse to legislate theology, are, in their own peculiar way, sacred; that those who refuse to legislate morality are not indifferent to immorality, but are practitioners of a virtue less evident among the current crop of pro-family leaders: humility.