Saturday, June 14, 2008

Voices in the wilderness

I'm surprised it's taken this long for some one to finally come out and say it, but kudos to Eric Jones for defending conservative preachers merely because they happen to share his personal views of ideology and theology. It is, of course, a preposterous argument for him to make because, quite frankly, it's built around his own interpretations of Scripture and that makes it almost impossible for him to recognize any faults that someone like a John Hagee or Pat Robertson might have.

Granted, I don't share the theological views of either a Jeremiah Wright or a Pat Robertson, but I also don't bemoan them the right to study the Scriptures and work through them to the best of their ability. In Wright's mind, and in the mind of many in his church, the guidance and theological interpretations he offered were, as Jones argues for a Robertson, 'politically incorrect and yet biblically inerrant and morally prudent.'

That's why this is a silly little dance to have. Both Wright, as well as perhaps some other liberal pastors, and conservative pastors have said outrageous things, but they've uttered those statements believing they are interpreting the Scriptures properly.

Now, one can make legitimate arguments against their particular positions, and as I noted, I think both cases are a bit extreme, but they're all doing what is supposed to be done by true preachers, which is go against the grain of society and voice that which is unpopular yet they value to be true.


Blogger Xon said...

As a would-be "prophetic" preacher myself, I appreciate your standing up for the rights of such preachers on both the left and the right. Preachers ought to proclaim the values they feel are important regardless of their popularity; absolutely. But, in a democratic society, those same preachers cannot be surprised if their unpopular positions are ridiculed or marginalized by the majority who simply doesn't share the same values. And that goes double for politicians who are influenced by such preachers.

Wright can say whatever he sincerely thinks is the teaching of Scripture, but we live in a country in which quasi-Marxist "liberation" theology simply isn't going to fly with most people. In fact, it is going to enrage them. That's what happens when you go out on the limb and proclaim that which is unpopular. And this is why, if we're playing the democracy game, Obama got in so much hot water (and still may be) over this.

And, within the confines of the democratic game, Obama's connection to someone like Wright is on an entirely different level than McCain's alleged "connection" to someone like John Hagee. The two simply do not compare. Now, if you could find McCain's Episcopalian pastor, rector, or bishop of the last 25 years spouting polarizing ideas like Wright, then that would be parallel. But, of course, Episcopalians have dominated politics in this country for two centuries (it's both a joke and a truth) precisely b/c they don't go about making it their business to say polarizing things. They play the democracy game nice and easy, saying what most middle- to upper-class people want to hear.

In any case, part of the whole "faith values" angle in politics, which the Democrats are trying to reclaim for themselves lately, is that you cannot simply shrug off the things your primary spiritual authority has been teaching you for the last two decades. Unless you think, in the end, that faith doesn't really matter after all, and you're just playing to the cheap seats when you say it does. But I thought that was the "old" Democratic Party.

The Republicans, meanwhile, have nominated an "old Democrat" model politician of the first rank at just the time that Dems are trying to move away from that model. McCain is, at best, a socially religious person and nothing more. So this is a great time for a new Carter to come along and seize "faith" for the Democrats. But if you're going to do that, then you have to actually take it seriously; which means a Reverend who, in the name of faith, teaches things that scandalize most Americans IS a genuine liability. And he should be.

Unless we want to stop playing democracy altogether, and openly seek a system that isn't so crassly grounded on winning on a popularity contest among the masses. But that's crazy talk...

1:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home