Politicians in general want to smooth over differences and round off corners. National ones are trying to assemble 50% of a nation of 300 million people. I think that is why the modern gaffe is any comment that actually says something. Saying something kicks people out of your tent. The problem with that is there is no mandate or consensus for anything other than – “your guy sucks and our guy is great”.
There is an analogy in religion. Why is modern worship so insipid? Most of it says nothing. Either it is all head in which case the faith has been reduced to a law – believe these five things and you will be ok. Or it is all heart which makes the faith into a Lladro figurine – ever so precious and lightweight it just floats away. Why does it say nothing? Because we’ve sold our birthright of the Word of God for a mess of things to keep people entertained. When you don’t have THE WORD, you better tap dance well enough to keep a crowd week after week. Hence you give’em what they want, the worship equivalent of a souffle or a pound cake.
Ross Douthat is for clear statements.
It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.
It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.
If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.
There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.
Want to know who else was for clear statements? The Reformers, especially the writers of the Formula of Concord. The ringing phrase is “we believe, teach and confess…” We believe it intellectually. We teach it as truth. And we confess it – we order our hearts and lives around it. We are for clear statements.