Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Divided By God’

Full piece here. (From his new book Bad Religion)

Douthat takes a look the current presidential landscape and the state of religion in the U.S., and analyzes the current race:

‘Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum all identify as Christians, but their theological traditions and personal experiences of faith diverge more starkly than any group of presidential contenders in recent memory. These divergences reflect America as it actually is: We’re neither traditionally Christian nor straightforwardly secular. Instead, we’re a nation of heretics in which most people still associate themselves with Christianity but revise its doctrines as they see fit, and nobody can agree on even the most basic definitions of what Christian faith should mean.

This diversity is not necessarily a strength…’

I agree that diversity is not a strength if moral relativism, multiculturalism, and secular humanism are the only things to fill the void in the public square which the waning influence of Christianity may be leaving.  Douthat finishes with:

‘Today’s America does not lack for causes where a similar spirit could be brought to bear for religious activists with the desire to imitate the achievements of the past. But with the disappearance of a Christian center and the decline of institutional religion more generally, we lack the capacity to translate those desires into something other than what we’ve seen in this, the most theologically diverse of recent presidential elections — division, demonization and polarization without end.’

Well, there’s a bit of political strategy for the upcoming election there, but points taken.

Related On This Site:  Ross Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’…:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…… From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’ …Theodore Dalrymple In The City Journal: Atheism’s Problems.

Don’t immanentize the eschaton!: From The NY Times: ‘Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum’

Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

Robert Bork had his own view of the 1960’s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”


5 thoughts on “Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Divided By God’

  1. Not a surprise at all that we Americans who regard ourselves as Christians “revise our (religious) doctrines as we see fit.” After all, we are but a grouping of immigrants who challenged authority before coming to these shores and then set up our religious groupings for the short term benefit of giving stability in a harsh land. Once the ‘comforts’ were established we could no longer fight the inner urges to those modify those very religious doctrines that stiffled our personal doctrines.

  2. Bernie, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Douthat’s questions seems to be how much revision is possible before there’s not a center……if Christian faith and practice is necessary as a center for American cultural life to prevent further political polarization and partisanship and other threats to freedom.

  3. I worry that our very justifications of the revisions to our Christian doctrines is what deepens the polarizations and political divisions. Not so simple examples of caring for the poor, food stamps, extension of unemployment benefits, government handouts – do not the political supporters on each side of these issues consider themselves to be Ameircan Christians?

  4. Not always…maybe deep down many people are involved in a search for gnosis, or knowledge in a deeply religious and Western way…but their commitments to justice, social justice and equality of outcomes have many of its roots in other Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment endeavors.

    Religion and perhaps even freedom of religion (for a smaller minority) need to be pushed from the public square and other ideals put in place. It’s the consequence of these ideas in politics, public policy, social life, culture and society that worries me with regard to the size and role of government, economic opportunity and equality of opportunity.

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