Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Few Words About Romney And His Religion

I'm increasingly concerned about the attention being paid to GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormonism.

I figure it's his business alone.

Same for the other candidates' faiths, or if one or more of them said they had none, or wanted to keep it all private.

We're electing a President, not anointing a national High Priest.

We're choosing someone to govern, not to pastor us, or prophesize for us.
The winner will swear to uphold The Constitution, and that's good enough for me.

I'd be more comfortable if candidates could keep their relationships with their Higher Power and/or deity as they define them/it to themselves.

I go back to the uproar over the Coexist bumper sticker.

Stop taking potshots at, or obsessing about, other people's faiths. Behave tolerantly. We're a pluralistic society, so let's try and behave that way.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one, sir.


Anonymous said...

MY concern is the current status-qua with religion/politics. I am wary of those who profess God, yet practice Darwinism.

James Wigderson said...

Jim, does that apply to those who don't believe in evolution?

Anonymous said...

did you ever think that this IS how a "pluralistic" society behaves?

and that maybe your blog and a million others plus the daily churn of talk radio is really nothing more than people grappling with the deeply disorienting effects of the great unprecedented historical oddity of "pluralism?" (It would seem most aim to cope and orient themselves by saying the same things over and over to people who are most likely to agree.)

As for telling people to "keep their religion to themselves," I doubt you could produce a coherent argument as to why sources other than "religion" are acceptable to mention in public as part of one's thought and action.

Why keep anything to yourself? Isn't "pluralism" the place where it all hangs out? Who are you to say some things should not hang out, that they may be allowed to exist just so long as things look and run as if they did not exist? Doesn't this amount to saying the lower orders must be tolerated, but can't we just keep them with their uncouth speech in the servants quarters where they belong?

Your notion of religion misconstrues its historic and "natural" form where there is little to no distinction between church and state, or more precisely where the relevant distinctions and interactions between dominant people-organizing institutions is quite different from the situation in the present day United States.

Before you indulge some reflexive thought about how bad people are off where that distinction is lacking, please note it is lacking *everywhere* else, including Europe, and there is no simple moralization to be applied to the relevant histories. (We could refer to the Crusades--rather mistakenly--as an iconic image of religion having taken over politics, or we could--with great reduction--refer to the artistic and technological achievements of European, Islamic, and Asian cultures despite their distinct lack of the blazing clarity and genius of our establishment clause.)

If there is one thing that can be said, it is that most societies that have had to deal with the problem of diverse sub-cultures under the dominion of one political body, it is that most of them have openly promulgated a state religion. I submit that we attempt to do the same but often without awareness and honesty when we try to proscribe the visible, public application or articulation of beliefs we do share.

You should also be aware that to assert a distinction between the public/political and the private/religion has long been noted as the "move" the controllers of the former make to subjugate the latter or at least move it into the weak position. Granted we are (for the most part) no longer in times when killing priests was a viable political agenda, but power and status being what they are, only fools and losers take kindly to being ushered to the children's table. What most people do is resist you. The resistance denotes the pluralism. And note everyone wishes to put an end to it--THEIR OWN WAY.

James Rowen said...

To Jim W.: What exactly are you asking?

James Rowen said...

Some glitches in comments, so let me handle them this way:

This comment was from Dan Knauss:

when you say "talkers" to whom besides Sykes are you referring? just others outside the sykes orbit and network? Sykes seems to be tied in to the NR neocon types, but even at the NR after plenty of purges there's not total mindlock.

How do you define a populist? A true populist by definition is not a man of the system nor one it will approve.

Beware what you wish for. Though it is very unlikely the party would back a far-right candidate, it is a mistake to equate far right with an ideological narrow-mindedness people are tired of. People are tired of the neocons, who are NOT far right but its most successful manipulators and controllers. Bill Clinton was our best neocon! He was simply fortunate his own abandonment of the Powell doctrine (or wasn't it his policies that instigated articulation of those obvious axioms) did not cost him what it cost those asinine new england oilmen.

James Rowen said...

To Dan:
I should have been more specific: Yes, Sykes. Since I was listening with half an ear, there were others but I don't want to make a mistake and say whom I think I heard.
I'd be happy if some conservatives would break more openly with the neocons over their inteventionist policies, what it's cost in dollars, image, influence.
OR if other conservatives would break with the administration and the generally-accepted small-government conservative principle to get on board with environmental stewardship, which entails some tough regulations.

James Rowen said...

Again, from Dan Knauss, and Dan, if you want to send one coherent comment and rip me for how I've butchered all this, feel free:

whoa, "to me they are" is backing into solipsism. If "far right" is a meaningful term (as opposed to pure cant), then the "rightness" must be relative to some fixed points, not just your arbitrary subjective ramblings.

If the name brand neocons are "Far right"--and these are people who were/are pretty much all non-religious, socially moderate to liberal, hawkish, hypercapitalist defectors of the New Left--then where is the "near right," and is there a far far right?

What do you do with true fiscal conservative, small government, socially conservative, anti-interventionist Bush hating paleocons, many of which are also classed as "theocons?" A lot of those people now think they just got played and dominated by the neocons who managed to keep the Robinsons and Falwells in check with a minimum of bones thrown to them.

Democrats could look at this as a favor done for them or simply the way the business works. There was a pretty well orchestrated shift from the late 60s to early 80s where the parties swapped positions on abortion. Everyone from Ted Kennedy to Ronnie R. flipped on it. It was a trade of constituencies. Someone has to take those bible belt votes, they'd be a fool not to. No one said boo when Clinton took a lot of them. Yet cozying to those votes makes a Republican pol "far right."

Interesting idea that the consequence of policies one engineers or supports determines one's political classification. Does that mean if Clinton had got us embroiled in some Balkan horror--which would have the natural effect of firing up the military-industrial junky octopus and pour temporizing, pork-loving congressmillionaires--then he would have been "far right?"

And if by some bizarre event Bush and Rumsfeld had lead a 30-day blitzkrieg culminating in all Iraq joining hands under the new management's Golden Arches, they would not be "far right?"

I think it is more likely that "far right" just means "VERY BAD" i.e. unsuccessful, unfavorable results achieved.