Monday, May 14, 2007

The Conservative Blogger Rick Esenberg and I Are Having A Civil Debate

I had pledged on this blog that I wouldn't get involved in the back-and-forth, insider blogging baseball that some bloggers see as the highlights of their days (I imagine them in their PJ's, pounding away at their keyboards - - the electronic equivalent of baying at the moon...), but Rick Esenberg and I are having an entertaining debate and I am winning.

This is what started it all.

Rick and I are co-panelists on Eric Von's 1290-AM radio "Backstory" Thursday, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. program, so I can plug that very fine alternative to the more common, rightwing squawkfests, too.

(Note: I did not mean to imply that Rick is one of those pj-bloggers, so to speak. He teaches at Marquette University, has a real, lawyerly day job.)


Rick Esenberg said...

You are so not winning.

James Rowen said...

I win again. Whooo-Hooo.

Jim Bouman said...

Didn't take long for this high-minded debate to get down to the junior high school yard.

What's next? "Yo' mama"?

James Rowen said...

C'mon, Jim. Let's enjoy ourselves!

Jim Bouman said...

Well, I thought that the two comments I read here were the whole dialogue. Only after following a different link to Esenberg's blog did I find the full-blown thing. And it is shot through with ringing anthems of America-as-christian-nation.

I'm reading "The Summer of 1887" by David Stewart, published this month. He's done a marvelous job of tracing the trajectory of debate, compromise, obstruction, boycott of the Convention, compromise, more fighting followed by more compromise and, ultimately, the Original Sin of our Constitutional Democracy, the door left open to that utterly un-Christian, abjectly immoral institution of slavery.

He lays out the passions and contradictions that led to our imperfect and flawed, yet brilliant and enduring founding document.

The book is short, but steeped in the original documentation--letters among the framers, complementing the meticulous (and occasionally manipulative) keeping of the minutes by James Madison.

What is striking--and germane to this dialogue in a 21st Century blog--is how totally the framers left religion, God, Christian morality, their own religious beliefs out of the discussion.

They were single-minded in their pursuit of a scheme for a constitutional republic that would rid them of monarchy--that stinking notion that there exists a Divine Right of Kings. That, and the manipulative theocracy flowing from it--the Monarch supported by Nobility and catered to by the Ecclesiastical princes.

Reading Stewart brought me back to the essence of it all. If the framers had not compromised, there would have been NO Republic, NO Constitution, NO reason to be arguing 220 years later over whether the this odd bunch of deists, methodists, unitarians, quakers, atheists and Don't-Give-a-Damn's believed in God, much less thought that belief in god was the foundation of the American experiment.

Predictably, the Original Sin has never been expiated; it still marks every one of us. It still threatens this flawed-but-enduring Constitutional Democracy. It will likely be the end of it. (Just in case you've been thinking America is millennial at the very least).

And arguing about how one or the other of us KNOWS for sure that the founders were devout and god-fearing and and fundamentally Christian is just so much chaff in the wind.

OK. Now, I'm enjoying myself.

Rick Esenberg said...

And it is shot through with ringing anthems of America-as-christian-nation.

Really? The most I can recall saying is that, historically and culturally, it has been. Legally, it has never been and, theologically (at least from a Christian perspective as I read the New Testament), the concept of a divinely favored nation is a very problematic concept. Even looking at teh Old Testament, smugness always seemed to cause trouble for the Jews.

What I did say is that historically, textually and as a matter of policy, they did not mandate - and we should no adopt - a thoruughgoing public secularity. I used JB's comments as a jumping off point. I think that's what he meant, although I acknowledge that's my interpretation.

And whether they were Deists or whatever doesn't really mean much. I find that debate kind of boring.

James Rowen said...

I've long believed humility is in order when talking about one's relationship with God, however you want to define It/Him/Her - - and that some public displays of religiosity, especially in the political sphere, are just more posturing and for narrow objectives.