Friday, August 31, 2007

Follow up to 8/25 post "A response to Mark Lilla, by Dean Brackley, SJ "

Just noticed this comment over at the dotCommonweal post "A response to Mark Lilla, by Dean Brackley, SJ "

Posted by
Tom F Driver on August 27, 2007, 8:27 am

"The worst thing about Lilla's article is its distortion of religion's public record. Viewing it as almost entirely negative, he has fired off a cheap shot. One could write an equally distorted article about "humanism" or "secularism," claiming them to be disastrous when they get involved in politics. The principal cases in point would be the terrors committed by the French and the Russian revolutions, but there could also be many more examples.

Like many people today, Lilla supposes that there is some form of human life that is NOT political. But you cannot escape politics unless you remove yourself from society. Yes, you can become a passive rather than an active player, but play you must. As James Cone and others have put it: "Not to choose is to choose." So Lilla's advice to religion amounts to this: "Shut up and be conservative." Too much religion already follows that advice, with the result that reactionary and theocratic religionists, anything but passive, are having a field day.

The cure for BAD religion is not NO religion. It is religion aspiring to its better, not its lower, mandates. In this regard humanism has an important role to play in helping to critique religious superstition and fanaticism, but it cannot do this if it sets out to confine religion to the closet.Lilla should ponder the life and example of people like William Sloane Coffin, who once put matters this way when interviewed on PBS: “... my understanding of Christianity is that it underlies all progressive moves to implement more justice. Get a higher degree of peace in the world, you know? And although people don't see it, that's what I mean by politically-committed spirituality."

1 comment:

Mark said...

Spirituality may inform politics and politicians but it has no place in the political sphere. Who's religion gets top billing? And to blame the excesses of the Russian and French revolutions on secularism is an equally cheap shot. Revolutions are bloody. And lets not forget the crusades-spreading the gospel at the point of a sword. Nice.