The Spectacle Blog
Let's not also forget that religiosity isn't quite an on/off switch. The range of attitudes -- and political postures of appeal to a divine order or to spiritually ideal propriety -- reaches broadly from exclusive faith to more general faith to particular belief (that may not command particular imperatives) to blanket or case-specific agnosticisms and finally the anti-theism that is directly hostile to religious conviction and intolerant of persuasion predicated on God.
In other words, neither conservatives nor conservatism can be neatly cleft into "pro-God" and "anti-God" camps. Or, to be more precise, the "pro-God" tent encompasses -- and has encompassed throughout key sequences of American political history -- a vast territory of the spirit, from Madison to Jefferson to Lincoln and, of course, beyond. There are plenty of issue-points even within its ambit for generations of political conflict, and this is proof that a conservative's stance toward God does not solve or resolve in advance the questions of economics, politics, and culture that stand at a degree of remove from questions of religion.
Hunter, I have a few beefs with your beef with Heather Mac Donald. Let me say right off the bat that in my view, believing in God is a matter of faith, and some people simply aren't ready or willing to take that leap of faith. Saying that we cannot understand the ways of God well enough to explain why bad things happen in the world is not a very useful way to assuage the skepticism of a nonbeliever. While the existence of Nazis does not automatically disprove the existence of God, arguing that the ways of God are sometimes incomprehensible does not prove God's existence.
You write, "Mac Donald is a conservative with very definite ideas about freedom, justice, etc. Where do those ideas come from? She seems to expect that we would be persuaded to do things that are right and to abstain from things that are wrong. If there is no God, why care about any of that?"
There's a lot to say and I'll be saying as much as I can Thursday and Friday subbing for Bill Bennett on his Bennett Mornings radio show. Tune in 0600- 0900 EDT on the Salem Radio Network. John McCain, media bias, the Iran/UN mess and all the rest.
(Thank heaven for caffeine. Coffee is, of course, an essential element of talk radio.)
BBC invited me on tonight for Newsnight (about 1730 our time, 2230 Brit time) to beat up on the French. It took several picoseconds to decide to do it. See ya on the Beeb.
WUSA Channel 9 has apparently created a special graphic for every George Allen story, whether or not it is related to his "macaca" incident. For a story about President Bush campaigning for the Senator in Virginia Wednesday, WUSA includes Allen's picture next to a "Decision '06" logo and the words, "Controversial Remarks."
When Israeli soldiers were kidnapped recently, so-called human rights activists such as Jimmy Carter pinned the blame on the Jewish state, the idea being that the kidnapping was merely a reaction to Israel holding Palestinian and Hezbollah prisoners.
A Palestinian terrorist group identifying itself as "Holy Jihad Brigades" has just released this video of kidnapped Fox News journalists Olaf Wiig and Steve Centanni. The terrorist group is giving the U.S. 72 hours to release Muslim prisoners being held in America, or else...well, that's not clear now, but you can use your imagination.
Heather Mac Donald has made it her business to complain about theological impositions upon the conservative movement of late. After a go-round with Michael Novak, she just wants us Christian types to know that the faith is quite unreasonable given the bad things that happen to good people in this world.
Well, thank you, Voltaire. The Christians, Jews, etc. may as well hang it up.
Mac Donald can't understand how there can be a God when people die and suffer, not only from the actions of other people, but also because of natural catastrophes. God looks like a very delinquent daddy in her eyes. The idea is less ridiculous than thinking there is no God at all.
There are many problems with Mac Donald's approach. For example, if it is the case that there is a God and He is essentially infinite compared to our finitude, then it stands to reason that we would not be able to fully comprehend Him and why His universe acts as it does. Mac Donald can't understand God and thus writes him off. It doesn't mean God doesn't exist and doesn't have reasons we cannot currently comprehend. "Who has known the mind of God and who has been his counselor?"
Apparently, these are not merely hypotheticals. This morning's Washington Post Express (PDF) has a brief bit on page 24 about an upcoming CNN special on Osama bin Laden. Here's the money paragraph:
One reporter remembers coming upon bin Laden in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union. They politely discussed politics and religion for a half hour, and then he was dismissed with the warning, "If I see you again, I will kill you."
Jonah Goldberg has an column out today accusing liberals of a double standard for arguing for a flexible, living constitution that evolves with the times while supporting a narrow reading when it comes to the War on Terror.
While I can understand the temptation to make such an argument, it can also be turned around. Liberals can argue that conservatives are always fussing about appointing judges that strictly interpret the constitution, while during the War on Terror they have been willing to allow for a broader definition of the document when it comes to executive power during wartime.