Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nancy, not Oscar

Oscar Wilde's famous description of aristocrats fox-hunting: The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.

Nancy Pelosi kinda put her verbal finger on much of the American culture wars in a recent comment she made to opponents of gay marriage:

The inconceivable to you is the inevitable to us.

And so it is with many things. Which is why I sometimes think we are having a civil war without guns.

HT to National Review's David Kahane, who takes this on in a much more raucous and funny way.


Anonymous said...

If there's a civil without guns in the USA today, why is there so much smoke? "War of spirit" should be without powder, as Nietzsche says.

... I would feel more sympathy with the opponents of the president if they had used their previous decades of freedom of religion to state the meaning of the separation of church and state. Sometimes it seems to me that the "wall of separation" mention'd by Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists has been used to remove substantive meanings from legal, political, constitutional discussion.

That Jefferson could affirm such a wall only to Baptists (who were, I guess, 'sectarians') makes sense, because sectarian or maybe dissenting Christianity opposes the establishment of religion.

No "dominion founded in grace," as Locke would say, but not because of religiously "neutral" concerns. But this means that Lutherans, Calvinists (including Anglicans), RCatholics, E.Ortho are obliged to agree with sectarian Christianity, or to come up with their own non-establishment principles, e.g. Locke's. Jews readily congrue with non-establishment since halakha is not for Gentiles or for the state. Hindus seem to embarrass'd to introduce dharma into America, and Buddhists dismiss America as total maya.

(But someone forgot to ask Muslim Americans whether they agree that American law should prevail in public institutions over Shariah and Fiqh. ... Admittedly, Islam maybe doesn't give a revelation of the church or assembly [mosque doesn't signify ekklesia?].

Anonymous said...

... Why "should" there be freedom of religion and also non-establishment of religion? Because only 'secularist' principles are valid for public institutions including law and politics? If so, what are those principles? (e.g. dialectical materialism? Freudian psychoanalysis?) If only "secularist" principles should prevail in public institutions, does this mean "non-establishment" is the domination of religion in the 'public square' or someplace? Or just what?

If the new liberals don't want to say what "secularist" and "church" and "state" and "government" mean, they should never have begun demanding that America be "secularist" in public pragmata. ... Why didn't Jefferson declare vs John Jay in Federalist #2 that a governmental system that depends upon a public consensus on belief and morals impermissibly 'establishes' Christianity? (Establishing a church is quite different from 'establishing' Christianity in terms of public morals and beliefs.)

Anonymous said...

... If a citizen votes according to his religious beliefs or values, is that "politics" or "religion." If a majority of citizens in a town refuse to vote for any but a Christian candidate for mayor, is this an establishment of religion? ... But even Jefferson doesn't say that the Federal System must use emergency executive or judicial power to hunt down and overturn any and all such voting patterns.

Straussians say that American politics and politics generally ought never to be substantive because substantive considerations must inevitably be used by foolish or ambitious men for fanatical, anti-philosophic, illiberal domination programmes (this because true philosophers won't deign to rule -- won't even interfere vs Naziism and Communism, presumably because they could still escape to America, or now they may hope to escape to an underground redoubt and cease to live 'on the earth').

Has there been any argument that the American system does not depend upon a religio-moral agreement (as John Jay Federalist #2 said)?

But this consensus of habits of the heart can gradually change, e.g. including Catholic citizens even without a formal abjuration by the Vatican of the impermissibility of freedom of religion. (Pio Nono helpfully publish'd the Syllabus of Errors during the time when Catholics were adjusting to America and America to Catholics! But I suppose the pope was focus'd on the situation in continental Europe, and didn't take American Catholics all that seriously.)

... if substantive considerations must be kept out of political discussions in order to not rock the Leviathan by fanatical cogitations drawing on first principles (as Straussians argue), then the current distress is entirely to be blamed upon the educators of the educated class -- the new anti-Lockean i.e, anti-prudence "liberals" who pick'd a fight -- no, a culture war with the Christian 'habits of the heart' on which the weak politics (Montesquieuean regime divided against itself) of the American system depends.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't mean the 'nightmare status quo etc etc' has to be endorsed and perpetuated. For instance, on the inevitiability of 'gay marriage.' The UCC or rather the leadership thereof could have proceeded without fanfare to begin to bless gay unions.

The clerics of the few downtown congregations that might have been inclined at first to participate in this innovation didn't have to attack the beliefs and values of the congregationalists who still attend church. (The more one attends church the more one doesn't abide by what the 'leaders' say.) The intelligentsia of the UCC didn't need to use general conference machinery to pick a fight with the congregations, and insist that they all officially sign on for gay marriage. A few downtown churchmen blessing a few gay and lesbian partnerships would have establish'd the practice in new 'habits of the heart.' Very difficult for some sort of fanatic from the sticks to mount a 'witch hunt' against such a downtown cleric -- would look very bad and in any case, the fanatics from the sticks were obviously unable to control the general conference machinery and thus would not have been able to mount a successful witch hunt.

The enculturational logic of "sexuality" as it has been conceived or 'socially constructed' by Freud and his aftermath would gradually provide for the obvious validity of 'gay partnerships.' The selective way that American Christians read the Bible would have gradually alter'd.

But instead, the leaders of the change directly assaulted the habits of the heart on which the American weak politics system depended. The foundation for the assault was the logicking that because arguments against gay marriage that appeal to Scripture are selective (not neutral, objective etc), therefore all Christians should change their habits of the heart in accordance with the logic that their history of biblical selectiveness proves that they have had no valid foundation in Scripture but only a foundation apparently a mixture of abitrariness and unthinking randomness.

Something like this was the implicit warfare declaration: »All Christians should admit that hitherto their habits of the heart have been foundationally unbiblical, and go ahead with the liberals' new agenda and then consciously riffle through the Bible to find whatever passages seem convenient as text warrants for the new social agenda?«

(This is, more or less, Nietzsche's account of "organized Christianity's" use of the Bible. But he didn't argue that the Bible's meaning is indeciperable, because obviously it isn't. The very books that declare Great Books to be indeterminable are implicitly assumted to be intelligible texts. What? Only texts with the theme of 'hermeneutics' are intelligible? and books with all other themes are unintelligible - susceptible only of arbitrary presuppositional readings? ... But the new liberals didn't want to give America over to Nietzsche. They fancy'd merely to use him for a critique of Christianity that got in their way. And then Nietzsche would obediently return to status as a dead white male, a poet of Nazism, who ended in madness because he refused to go along to get along, etc.)

Anonymous said...

That is, the new liberal assault demanded that American Christians have the simple decency to admit that logic and reasoning proves they haven't been seriously biblical and in fact one doesn't need the Bible to live pleasingly to God, if indeed there is a God, because according to the vague ideation of "diversity" of world religions there's all sorts of stuff and whatever in the valid spirituo-religion storehouse. So whatever one wants to select for one's own spiritual life is fine as long as it supports the new agenda.

This is precisely the logicking and cogitationing that the original Lockeans and Montesquieueans and Tocquevillians warn'd against. Let's suppose that American Christian clergy and laypersons have been the bigoted randomly selective careless lazy moronic hypocrites that the liberal critique implies. What should one expect to happen if bigoted jerks are browbeaten by logickers of a higher class? That these logical browbeatings will change them into complaisant liberal hypocrites?

The "conservative" philosophic tradition (Farabi, Avicenna, Harry Jaffa, et al) says that the result will be unpleasantness and more bigotry. And more to the point, it is far far easier to logically dissolve and humiliate establish'd "habits of the heart" than to grow them.

In some ways the new American founding left Christianity "establish'd" in America. There remain'd even establish'd churches until 1833, I recall. But Jefferson didn't propose a wall of separation between Christian morals and beliefs and the new government. Far from picking a fight with Christian morals and beliefs, he try'd to compose a liberal Christianity and especially an account of Jesus that would more closely support the needs of the new governmental system. ...

As a totally abstract exercise, one can fancy that some other religion besides Christianity could provide the religio-moral consensus that John Jay consider'd the presupposition of the practical possibility of the new American system. The point however is the practical reality.

Christianity doesn't automatically provide the religio-moral foundation praised by John Jay. It isn't as though the new liberals can kick public Christianity's habits of the heart around and see what happens, and if they don't like the results then they can ask Christians to return to the situation c.1950 and American Christianity will politely comply. ... Like if Europe doesn't like Islamic rule she can ask them to return to the middle-east or wherever, and they'll all politely comply.

"Secularised" Jews could put together a liberal democracy in Israel, but this too isn't automatically the result of Judaism as such. Currently the cultural fabric of Israel is under great stress between the secularist Jews and the ultra-orthodox Jews -- or however the secularist Jews wish their opponents to be label'd. For the secularist Jews have depended upon unexplain'd 'habits of the heart' without pretending that these habits follow directly by logical exegesis from the Bible and the Talmud. ("Secularist" is left as contentless a term re Jews as re Christians. Only by reminding the orthodox Jews -- the serious Jews, as I suppose they consider they are -- of the Shoah can the secularized Jews maintain their validity as Jews, and this just barely. (Didn't Herzl say that only the anti-semite makes Jews a unity?)

Anonymous said...

The American Constitution doesn't mention God, but more important it also doesn't condemn theistic considerations or validate a programme for destroying the habits of the heart praised by John Jay and deem'd by him and Tocqueville et al the only possible real foundation for America's weak politics.

Presumably strict separationism as interpreted for the purposes of this cultural war demands expunging the references to un-secularist realities in the Declaration of Independence -- also in Lincoln's speeches, and more recently President Obama's Candlemas 2012 prayer breakfast remarks.

Eisenhower: »Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply held religious belief -- admittedly Ike Ich don't care what it is.« One can think of Egos who do care what it is. America's new liberals ought to have proceeded with gradual change in habits of the heart, rather than insisting on militant etc 'radical change' on grounds that "Eisenhower's America of the 1950s is the worst nightmare ever except maybe for the Third Reich and South African Apartheid.«

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...