Friday, May 06, 2005

The Lincoln Navigator - David Brooks, NYT

David Brooks has a "read the whole thing" essay on the secular-sectarian culture war (click title link above). There are several money quotes. Here's one (or several depending on your tastes):

Today, a lot of us are stuck in Lincoln's land. We reject the bland relativism of the militant secularists. We reject the smug ignorance of, say, a Robert Kuttner, who recently argued that the culture war is a contest between enlightened reason and dogmatic absolutism. But neither can we share the conviction of the orthodox believers, like the new pope, who find maximum freedom in obedience to eternal truth. We're a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, the rush to crash through procedural checks and balances in order to reach the point of maximum moral correctness.

Those of us stuck here in this wrestling-with-faith world find Lincoln to be our guide and navigator. Lincoln had enough firm conviction to lead a great moral crusade, but his zeal was tempered by doubt, and his governing style was dispassionate.

The key to Lincoln's approach is that he was mesmerized by religion, but could never shake his skepticism. Politically, he knew that the country needed the evangelicals' moral rigor to counteract the forces of selfishness and subjectivism, but he could never actually be an evangelical himself.
For the link to Brooks' op-ed, thank you to one of my informant human browsers, MA of Saluda. He believes one of Church Man's certitudes is the value of doubt.

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