The Public Square
Late on the night of November 7, I announced to friends with whom I was watching the returns that I was going to retire as a political prognisticator. Not that I was ever a certified expert on political outcomes. Experts are certified chiefly by having been wrong more often than ordinary people. In fact, I had a pretty fair track record in predicting elections. But this time I paid the price of relying on inside information from the Bush camp. Right up to election day, Bush was supposed to win by at least a ten point margin in the popular vote and 330 or more in the electoral college. I have reason to believe that George W. Bush expected that as well. He and his people do not have the option of retiring as political prognisticators. I do.
More precisely, I am a recovering prognisticator. Which means I am subject to relapses, and I may fall off the wagon once or twice in the course of the following reflection. My purpose is to try to understand what happened, in the hope of getting a fix on our political culture and what might be done about it. As of this writing, things have quieted down. Only a few days after Bush had definitively prevailed, the bizarre Florida circus of counts and recounts, with its dimpled ballots and pregnant chads and legions of lawyers, seemed to be something that had happened months ago. Rumblings and rantings about a “constitutional crisis” fell silent. Suddenly, television was again serials, game shows, and the usual narcotics for mind and soul. America had returned, with stunning speed, to its strange normality. Or so it seemed.
While the election campaign that Mr. Gore appeared determined to keep going until the numbers came out right may have exhausted all but the most hard-core political junkies and made the rest of us grateful that there is not another presidential election for four years, we should not too quickly acquiesce in the urgings that we “put it behind us” and “move on.” There are things worth learning from what happened on November 7 and from the prolonged campaign after the campaign. Three questions are of particular interest: What, if anything, does the election tell us about the state of the culture wars? How has the role of the courts in the post-election settlement changed the debate over the judicial usurpation of politics? And—risking my recovery with just one last snort of Old Prognosticator—what does all this portend for the future of the political culture?
To judge by the exit polls, and we have no better indicator at present, we are indeed two nations. At least two. Remember that much-discussed map in blue and red, with most of the country red (Bush) but with blue (Gore) dominating the populous coasts. In an amusing instance of what Marxists used to call reification, editorials and pundits talked about what The Map is “telling” us. For a time, The Map assumed oracular status. But of course The Map isn’t talking. More than a hundred million voters each had something in mind, but discerning their intent is no easy matter (and not only when, as in Florida, they failed to indicate their intent on the ballot). But statistical numbers-crunching does indicate that people fitting this description or that voted this way or that. The indication is that we are, roughly speaking, two nations, and the divide is not economic but, for lack of a better term, cultural.
Both parties are—among many other things that they are—parties of the rich. It is said that Democrats this year outdid Republicans in big donations of $50,000, $100,000 and more. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Silicon Alley are solidly Gore country, and Bill Clinton had successfully triangulated much of Wall Street into his camp. Of the ten richest U.S. senators, seven are Democrats. Gore carried eight of the ten richest states, but only one of the ten poorest. So the divide is not economic class, but something else. That something else is suggested by the one-quarter of voters who said that the most important thing is whether a candidate is honest. Eighty percent of them voted for Bush. Twelve percent said the most important thing is whether a candidate “cares.” Eighty-three percent of them voted for Gore. There is a similar gap between people who basically want to be in charge of their lives and people who think they need somebody to fight their battles. Gore promised again and again, “I will fight for you!”
Economics has not disappeared as a factor. Bush beat Gore 54-43 with people who have incomes of $100,000 or more. But he had a larger advantage, 56-41, among married people with children. Among people who go to church once a week, Bush won 57-40, and among the 14 percent who attend church more than once a week, Bush obliterated Gore 63-36. The over-educated and the under-educated vote Democratic. Voters with postgraduate education went for Gore 52-44, as he was also favored by women working full-time (58-39) and by people who do not have children in the home (50-46). People who say they never go to church backed Gore 61-32, as did 70 percent of those who support the unlimited abortion license and the same percentage of those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. To modify a motto from the 1992 election, It’s sex, stupid.
The personal is the political, the cultural revolutionaries of the 1960s declared. Before that, politics was mainly about great economic and military questions, issues of national security in the face of the Communist threat, and, for some years, racial desegregation and ending poverty. Now it is about the proper roles of men and women, same-sex unions and divorce and having children and a host of other questions once thought not to be political, and all of them somehow entangled with and ever returning to the conflict created by the Roe v. Wade discovery in the Constitution of an unlimited abortion license. About peace and prosperity there is slight dispute. Ask if the country is on the “right track,” and a solid majority says yes. Ask whether it is on the right track morally, and 57 percent say no.
In politics, as in physics, an action creates a reaction, writes David Frum in the National Post. “As one part of American society has become more secular, more permissive, more relativistic in its morality, another part has recoiled to become more religious and traditionalist. The Religious Right is just as new a phenomenon as the Secular Left that called it into existence. The religious conservatism of the 1980s and 1990s was the work of people—mostly parents of young children—who felt themselves to be under attack from a suddenly and inexplicably hostile society. They feared sex educators, Hollywood producers, gay-rights activists, and church-state separation fundamentalists fully as much as the latter would later fear them.” In November 23 percent of voters said they would be “scared” if Gore won, 26 percent if Bush won.
Not Suddenly Last November
Frum’s analysis rings true, but his conclusion is less than persuasive. “It’s an outcome as troubling as it is unprecedented—and it suggests that the most important task facing the next President of the United States will be less political than cultural: the reconstitution of a functioning moral consensus in a suddenly polarized country.” The circumstance is not so unprecedented. Jimmy Carter, to cite but one instance, ran on a moral-cultural platform in 1976 (“I will never lie to you.” “A government as good as the American people.”), and what would come to be called the religious right was largely triggered by the perception of conservative Christians that he had betrayed them, notably on abortion. Reagan championed traditional values in 1980 and 1984 and won solid majorities. So also—although it may be hard to remember the pre-Lewinsky era—Bill Clinton positioned himself as a cultural moderate (abortion would be “safe, legal, and rare”) and was elected twice with a minority of the popular vote. The reality of two nations has not happened “suddenly.” The divide between the politics of rights and wrongs, on the one hand, and the politics of rights and laws, on the other, has been with us for at least thirty years. Politics is mainly about culture, which is to say it is mainly about what people believe. A “functioning moral consensus” might be a very nice thing to have, but it is probably not an option in a “polarized country” where 49 percent of the voters say they are scared of the culturally defined other side.
But let’s return to exit polls for a moment, this one by the Los Angeles Times. The most frequently mentioned concern was “moral/ethical values,” with 35 percent of all voters putting that at the top of their list (55 percent of Bush voters, 17 percent of Gore voters). For 14 percent of all voters abortion was a priority; that was true for 17 percent of Bush voters and only 12 percent of Gore voters, indicating once again that a pro-life position is an election plus. The Barna Research Group has a particular interest in the “born-again” vote, and its national survey indicates that born-againers went 57-42 for Bush, although, for some odd reason, Gore was rapidly gaining among those who decided late in the campaign. Asked why they chose one candidate over another, the dominant reasons behind born-again support for Bush were “character, political philosophy, and his position on abortion.” Another oddity is that Bush did better (58-40) among voters attending mainline/oldline Protestant churches (e.g., American Baptist, Presbyterian Church USA, ELCA Lutheran, United Methodist) than among the born-again. The vote was almost evenly split among Protestants in non-mainline churches, which Barna says is a result skewed by the fact that more than 90 percent of blacks voted for Gore.
Nationally, a little over half the Catholic vote went for Gore. Catholics who go to Mass every week—30 to 45 percent, depending on whose figures you credit—voted overwhelmingly for Bush. That may suggest that the message, especially on abortion and parental choice in education, is getting through to Catholics within hearing range, but most are not within hearing range. Moreover, in some states with large Catholic populations (e.g., Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois) union leadership was more than usually effective in getting out the vote for Gore. Teachers unions opposing school choice were a major factor in sharpening the conflict between organized labor and Catholic leadership. This time the unions were also helped by ill-designed school voucher proposals in Michigan and California, both of which went down to crushing defeat.
As always in the reconfiguration of political cultures, there are many pieces in play. Historian Stanley Young of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst argues that the cultural and sectional factors are converging in a way that is reversing the historic roles of the two parties. In this election, he notes, the Democrats took every state north of the Mason-Dixon line except for Indiana and Ohio, while Republicans won every state south of that line, along with the Plains states. “The Republican Party of our day,” he writes, “stresses ‘traditional values,’ ‘free trade,’ and ‘state’s rights’—all themes that one might have heard at any Democratic national convention from 1860 to 1924.” Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and Reagan’s triumph in 1980, he suggests, were not so much a matter of the Republicans capturing the South as of the South capturing the Republicans. It is an interesting thesis, although he pushes it too far when he writes that “In the past twenty years, conservative thought as represented in conservative journals and think tanks has increasingly come to reflect southern traditions, experience, and cultural ideas. Conservatives have all but forgotten their Yankee roots.” That is true of, for instance, the very small Rockford Institute in Illinois, but hardly the case with the Manhattan Institute or, in Washington, the American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation.
Symbolic Hand Waving
More typical of conservative thought about the politics of culture is Francis Fukuyama of George Mason University. Conservatives have won the economic arguments, he says, and on the cultural front they have done a fine job of showing how the decline of the traditional, two-parent family is linked to a host of social ills. But in a society of divorce, broken families, and single parents, conservative proposals such as repealing the marriage tax are little more than “symbolic hand waving” and will have slight effect in the real world. “This leaves many conservatives hoping for a religious revival, or a cultural shift like the one that took place during the Victorian era,” Fukuyama writes. Neither prospect, he says, can undo the fact of an information society in which work is more mental than physical and women often make more money than men, and neither can undo the reality of contraception and abortion which has broken the links between sex, babies, and the necessary male. This leaves conservatives moralistically complaining about “moral decline” in a society in which “the greatest moral passion turns out to be hostility to ‘moralism’ in areas related to sex and family life.”
“This bodes poorly for conservatives,” Fukuyama concludes, “who feel much more comfortable thumping the tub over taxes or defense than laying out a thoughtful position on single motherhood or gay marriage. They’d better start thinking fast, since the cultural issues are the only ones still capable of stimulating voter passion.” Taxes and defense are the old “male” issues that no longer cut it in a time that political scientist James Kurth describes as “the feminization of politics.” In response to Fukuyama’s argument, one notes that religious awakenings are unpredictable in their source and their consequences. People are not determined by technological or economic changes. Morality is and always has been, at least in large part, a matter of resisting the easy way. People do it every day, and an awakening might mean that many more people do it much more often, until it becomes a way of life reinforced by sanctions, formal and informal, against those who don’t do it.
In addition, some changes, such as the abortion license, are not so set in concrete as Fukuyama suggests. Bush repeatedly asserted the goal of moving toward a society in which “every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life.” That can be done step by step—by signing a ban against partial-birth abortion, and by, in the first days of his Administration, issuing executive orders that reverse Clinton’s reversal of the minimal pro-life measures ordered by Reagan and sustained by the first President Bush. Yet Fukuyama is undoubtedly correct in recognizing that most conservatives, thinking themselves to be hard-nosed realists, have not faced the reality that politics today is preeminently the politics of culture. Deploring moral decline is necessary, lest we get used to the way things are, but it is not enough. The winning side will be the side that more convincingly articulates a more promising future that both accommodates legitimate interests and appeals to a sense of moral possibility. That, as I understand it, is the intuition behind Bush’s “compassionate conservatism,” a formulation unjustly derided by many conservatives.
Mr. Gore’s campaign in the courts after the election provided some pleasant moments in this office. It was especially nice to have sundry pundits recalling what we have been saying about the judicial usurpation of politics and suggesting that this journal is owed apologies. Apologies, I should note, are accepted graciously and without even a hint of smug self-congratulation. Our 1996 symposium on judicial usurpation and subsequent articles were criticized for being alarmist; but the Florida Supreme Court changed many minds, and I now note that even worthies such as George Will are using the feared R-word, referring to the “regime” of lawless law-making by judges. And of course it was delicious to see liberals reverse course and condemn government by judges when, as they claimed, the U.S. Supreme Court gave Bush the presidency. The banner headline in the New York Times declared that Bush prevailed by a “single vote” on the Court. That is not true, of course. It takes five votes to make a majority, and it was in fact seven votes that rejected the scheme of the Florida court, thus ending Gore’s ambition to selectively count until he got the count he wanted.
I confess to being disappointed, however, by the number of commentators who said they had at last been awakened to the tyranny of judicial usurpation but then expressed such deep gratitude that the U.S. Supremes had “saved us” from a constitutional crisis. Both left and right seemed to think that there would be something very wrong about resolving the confusion legislatively—by the Florida legislature certifying its electors and, if necessary, by the House of Representatives choosing the President. The Constitution specifies the way of legislative resolution, but most pundits seemed terrified by the prospect. Thus we had, at the same time and often by the same people, a decrying of judicial usurpation and paeans of thanksgiving that the Supreme Court had spared us the awful prospect of self-government through the constitutional means of representative democracy. Having said that, I do think the decision of the Supreme Court was the right one. It was a sharp and dramatic rebuke of the Florida court’s usurpation of legislative authority in attempting to change election laws after the election. A more effective challenge to the regime of judicial usurpation, however, awaits an occasion when a wayward court is set right not by another court but by those who are elected to represent the sovereign people.
There is much more to be said, and certainly much more will be said for years to come, about this strange election. As Mr. Dooley observed, it seems that God loves little children, drunks, and the United States of America. We muddled through, again. For the moment. Neither party is all one way or the other but, more now than before this election, each approximately represents the deepest differences that divide our society. The liberals who lost say that the closeness of the vote means that President Bush must govern from what they define as the center, meaning that he should govern as though they had won. I very much hope, and expect, that he will not accept that self-serving counsel. The alternative is not unbridled conservative partisanship. The alternative is the steady courage and imagination that might, over time, restore the difficult but necessary dialectic between the politics of rights and laws and the politics of rights and wrongs.
When Bishops Speak
“The USCC is the religious lobby of the Democratic Party,” announced the monsignor over his postprandial cigar—the cigar being near certain evidence that this is a person to be taken seriously. The USCC, of course, is the United States Catholic Conference, which is the public action arm, so to speak, of the NCCB, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (The relationship between the two entities is currently being reconfigured in a way that, it is said, will make Catholic advocacy more accountable to the bishops.) I have from time to time felt compelled to offer a word of caution about the bishops’ overextending their competence—meaning both authority and knowledge—in pronouncing on public policy. But the pronouncement of the monsignor, who admittedly was in an expansive mood after an excellent dinner with an unusually good merlot, struck me as another instance of overextension.
The maxim that you have seen before in these pages is this: “When it is not necessary for the Church to speak, it is necessary for the Church not to speak.” That’s true for all churches and religious communities, but especially true for the Catholic Church. The bishops, after all, are not executives of majority-determined positions, but claim a certain charism of apostolic teaching authority. In this context, the Church speaking does not mean simply discussing or opining or raising concerns. It means the Church, through the collective voice of the bishops, speaking authoritatively, taking a position for this policy option and against the other. The bishops are saying that x policy is in accord with Catholic teaching and y policy is not, or at least that one is more in accord than the other. Faithful Catholics understand that when bishops speak, individually or collectively, Catholics should be disposed to obey, or, at the very least, to pay most respectful attention.
That’s the theory. Episcopal authority, like all authority, can be recklessly used and easily squandered. That is part of what happened years ago when the NCCB issued a long pastoral letter on economic justice, and another on the morality of nuclear deterrence. Those were teaching moments and learning moments, also for the bishops. In more recent years, the NCCB has generally contained the penchant for issuing comprehensive pronouncements on great public policy questions where the Church’s authoritative teaching is not univocally clear. After the economics pastoral, which pronounced on everything from marginal tax rates to just income distribution, a mischievous journalist called a large number of bishops and reported that most of them did not know what a marginal tax rate is. To put it gently, they did not know what they were talking about. Thus is authority squandered.
Addressing Public Scandal
A question frequently raised today about episcopal authority is of a somewhat different nature. It is usually framed somewhat like this: What are the bishops doing about the public scandal created by the fact that some, probably most, of the more prominent Catholic politicians in the country are explicitly and actively opposed to the legal protection of unborn children? To take an obvious example, why isn’t Senator Ted Kennedy publicly censured by the Church or declared excommunicate? That is a hardball question and should not be evaded. A while back the NCCB issued a splendid statement, Living the Gospel of Life, which was very specific about the responsibility of Catholic politicians and others in the public arena. But many politicians seem not to be listening. Over the years I have discussed this privately with bishops, always to find that the answers are, as it is inevitably said, complex.
Bishops speak of personal encounters with such public figures, in which they have argued, admonished, exhorted, reproached, threatened, encouraged, and begged. All to little or no avail. Perhaps a politician has a spiritual director who tells him that what he is doing is permissible, and that spiritual director is a member of a religious order over which the bishop has no direct jurisdiction. Is he to challenge the entire religious order, with all its national and international structures, and how could he effectively do that? For instance, during his years in Congress and since, Father Robert Drinan, S.J., has a consistent pro-choice record and has provided Catholic cover for other pro-choice politicians. Just as consistently, Fr. Drinan has been defended by the Jesuit authorities. Is a bishop to take on the entire Society of Jesus? Apart from the fact that most bishops, like most of us, are not the stuff of which martyrs are made, how might he go about such a challenge? These are among the questions that are asked.
As for excommunication, it is not so simple. A person excommunicates himself; the Church simply declares what he has done to himself. Committing a mortal sin and remaining in it is not so easy to do. First, it must involve what is called a grave matter. Complicity in the killing of unborn children is certainly that. About that the Church’s teaching leaves no doubt at all. But then such sin must be committed with full knowledge and full consent. The human mind and will are not easily discerned. Full knowledge? Full consent? Here speaks a politician of my acquaintance: “I am a Catholic and I strive to be a faithful Catholic. I know what the Church teaches, and I honestly want to assent. But I do not understand where the Church gets the scientific knowledge to claim that the embryo or fetus is a human being, and, as a practical matter, about which I know a great deal, I believe that laws prohibiting abortion would not only be ineffective in saving unborn children but would produce other and greater evils.” And so forth. The reader can readily imagine the other arguments advanced by this politician.
This politician is very deeply confused, to be sure, but is he with full knowledge and full consent complicit in the grave evil of abortion? He says that he wants to be persuaded of the Church’s teaching and prays that, if and when persuaded, he would have the courage to act on his conviction. But, he rightly says, the Church teaches that he must act according to his conscience. He knows she also teaches that the conscience must be rightly formed by the truth, and he says he is trying to form his conscience, also in light of the Church’s teaching. Meanwhile, he adds, he can do a great deal of good on many other fronts in his vocation as a politician, and his party would quickly end his career if he were not clearly perceived as pro-choice. Is he to be excommunicated? Has he excommunicated himself? Of course, this is what is called a hard case.
More common, it seems, are the Catholic politicians who explicitly, publicly, and repeatedly leave no doubt that they reject the Church’s teaching on the gospel of life. They regularly go to Mass and receive communion, and the bishop does nothing. Or so it appears. I am often asked by pro-life activists—brave and often heroic souls who have for years and at great personal cost borne faithful witness to the Church’s teaching—and frequently they ask with tears: “Why doesn’t the bishop do something?” I have responses, but I do not have an answer that satisfies.
There is another aspect of this. Quite apart from the state of a politician’s soul and the related question of excommunication, there is the matter of public scandal when prominent Catholics act contrary to the Church’s teaching. Public scandal is objective fact that cannot be fudged. It is not fudged, it is very directly addressed, in the aforementioned NCCB statement Living the Gospel of Life. As it has been addressed repeatedly by the bishops. Individual bishops in their dioceses have publicly and unmistakably made clear, sometimes naming names, that Catholics who support the unlimited abortion license, whatever their claims of conscience, are in objective violation of Church teaching. Admittedly, many bishops do not publicly address this public scandal. My impression is that most have. But frequently it is done in a muted and nervous tone, in part because bishops do not want to be viewed as “controversial,” and in part because they are intimidated by the USCC legal counsel, which is embarrassingly timid about IRS regulations regarding anything that touches on electoral politics.
It is often asked why the bishops are so muted when in some other churches clergy openly endorse candidates and even invite them to campaign from their pulpits. There are, I believe, compelling pastoral reasons why bishops do not do that, and forbid priests to do it. Politics and religion inevitably do mix, but the overt religionizing of politics and politicizing of religion is good for neither politics nor religion. Yet the urgent problem of public scandal posed by pro-abortion politicians and other public figures remains. Bishops must find a way to address that problem candidly and effectively. It is inescapably part of their first responsibility, which is to be teachers. In the view of many thoughtful Catholics, the failure to address effectively the scandal of Catholic politicians who publicly reject the Church’s teaching on the gospel of life is gravely undermining the credibility of episcopal authority.
Lobbying Laundry List
Restoring such credibility requires speaking more clearly where episcopal competence is beyond dispute, and much more cautiously where it is in doubt. The reaction to the nuclear and economic pastoral letters, and the fiasco that resulted in the abandonment of a letter on women after years of squabbling, were learning and humbling moments for the bishops, and that is all to the good. Also encouraging is the current, however tentative, effort to make the staff of the USCC, which has at times been notoriously partisan in a leftward direction, more accountable to the bishops. For years people have complained, with considerable justice, about the laundry list of issues on which the USCC lobbies Congress, a list that has too often lent credibility to the complaint that it is, as the monsignor says, the religious lobby of the Democratic Party. It is not only Congress and the federal government. The list is represented as “the position of the bishops” to provide guidance for 148 dioceses and for Catholic policy advocates at every level of government across the country.
The USCC’s latest “Legislative Program for Congress” contains, as I count them, eighty-four bills or proposals on which a position is taken. That does sound like a laundry list, but keep in mind that twenty-two of those items are indisputably part of the pro-life agenda, dealing with abortion, physician-assisted suicide, the research use of embryos, and so forth. Six items under the general counsel’s office are connected with church-state relations, religious freedom, and tax exemption. And the education department has eighteen positions, mainly in support of parental choice in education. So these three offices account for forty-six of the eighty-four positions, and none of them strains the credibility of episcopal competence. Not so for some items under communications (e.g., funding for public television), domestic and social development (social security and health care proposals), and international justice and peace (Kyoto climate control, funding the UN). One would search in vain for Catholic teaching that requires these policy positions; of the positions that are disputed along partisan lines, the USCC typically comes down on the Democratic side; and the competence of bishops to speak on these questions is, to say the least, not self-evident.
Ten of the eighty-four positions taken are in the category of migration and refugee issues before Congress. Here, too, questions could be raised, but the fact is that on immigration the U.S. bishops take pretty much the position of the Wall Street Journal, which, only half tongue in cheek, calls for a constitutional amendment abolishing national borders. The Catholic Church is the largest, and possibly the most effective, pro-immigration organization in the country. This has everything to do with strategic and pastoral planning, reflecting the fact that Latinos constitute at least a quarter of the more than sixty million Catholics in the U.S., and some expect they will be half the Catholic population by the middle of the century. Can moral arguments backed by Catholic social doctrine be mustered in support of limiting or even cutting back on immigration? Certainly. But my impression is that making them is like spitting in the wind. On this question, the bishops have a long-standing and settled conviction—not unrelated to the immigrant history of Catholicism in this country—that a generous immigration policy is good for poor people seeking opportunity, good for America, and good for the Catholic Church.
A Stark Polarization
So is the monsignor right in saying that the USCC is the religious lobby of the Democratic Party? In part, yes, and that is a problem. But it is less the case than it was ten years ago, and very much less the case than it was, say, seventy years ago. Fr. John A. Ryan in 1919 wrote the policy statement of the predecessor body of the USCC, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, called the Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction, and his subsequent zeal for FDR earned him the title “Monsignor New Deal.” Much has changed since then. Most Catholics are now economically successful and socially secure. Among Catholics, as in the general population, organized labor is in decline, and its remaining political clout is almost exclusively in service to a Democratic Party relentlessly hostile to the Church’s public priorities. (A wrinkle here is that unions could become newly important for the Church if they succeed in organizing large numbers of immigrant workers, but that hasn’t happened yet and, for several reasons, may not happen.) Meanwhile, the Republican Party has in recent decades become the champion of the Church’s public priorities—the protection of innocent human life, parental choice in education, the defense of marriage, church-state cooperation, and an array of issues under the rubric of religious freedom.
On the social and cultural issues that define the politics of our time, the party lines are disturbingly clear. Such stark polarization, dramatically evident in the recent election, understandably troubles many who cherish the American genius for political accommodation. The polarization has been created, of course, by those who for thirty years have been bent upon overthrowing the laws and tacit understandings that made for relative civil peace. That, too, is a complex story, but one result is that the Republican Party finds itself in the position of defending moral values espoused by the Catholic Church and other more tradition-oriented Christians and Jews, and the party has an obvious political interest in making the most of that position.
In contrast to our monsignor, some liberal Catholics complain that the NCCB/USCC is now becoming the religious lobby of the Republican Party. That is not the case, and should not be the case. At the same time, the bishops, like everyone else who has a part to play in the contest over law and public policy, cannot determine the partisan alignments of that contest. It is not for the bishops to decide whether to be more Democratic or more Republican. It is for the bishops to stoutly set forth the course of justice, and let politicians and parties decide whether they will support or oppose that course. Nor is it forgotten that in the public arena partisan alliances are usually a sometime thing, and those whose first task it is to speak the truth are not afraid to stand alone.
The bishops preserve and enhance their authority by exercising it judiciously, by more credibly grounding public advocacy in Catholic doctrine, and by more boldly acting like bishops should when Catholics of influence defy or distort that doctrine. With respect to lobbying, it is the case that less is more. Fewer positions more sharply focused and undeniably within the competence of bishops is the way forward in the promising reconfiguration of the NCCB/USCC. By keeping in mind the maxim that when it is not necessary to speak it is necessary not to speak, the bishops will be the more credible when it is necessary to speak.
Brent Staples writes editorials for the New York Times and books about race, making a big point of his being black. Stephen L. Carter teaches law at Yale, and does not make much of a point of his being black. The Times assigned to Staples Carter’s new book, God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics (Basic). It is hard to know what qualifies Staples to review the book. He has no track record of writing on religion and society (unless he is the author of frequent editorials asserting that religion in public is a bad thing). To judge by the review, he knows little about religion in America, except that he knows he does not like evangelical Protestants and other “culture warriors” who try to “inflict minority religious values” on others.
Carter thinks religion is important in American life. Staples doesn’t. He reflects a most parochial view of religion in New York City where, he says, “dead churches are gutted to make nightclubs, supermarkets, and, especially, condominiums, in which the vaulted ceilings above the sanctuary became a valued selling point.” Presumably he is talking about Episcopal churches in New York, a few of which, with the dwindling number of Episcopalians who go to church, have been sold for such purposes. The packed Catholic (44 percent of the population of the city claims to be Catholic), black Baptist, Hispanic Pentecostal, and Korean churches are not mentioned. That would get in the way of his thesis that the “new ecumenicalism” of sundry spiritualities he sees in the Barnes & Noble bookstores has displaced serious religion. The “new ecumenicalism” is tolerance understood as the indifference that Mr. Staples favors, which explains his animosity toward those intolerable evangelicals.
Staples is also upset with Carter for writing that on some elite campuses “it is perfectly acceptable for professors to use their classrooms to attack religion, to mock it, [and] to refer to those to whom faith really matters as dupes.” To which Staples responds: “The claim that an elite university would tolerate open religious bigotry is implausible on its face. In an age of speech codes and rigidly enforced tolerance, a professor who trashed a student’s religion would be brought up on charges and subjected to institutional ridicule.” Mr. Staples obviously does not know much about universities either. True, a professor who trashed a particular student’s religious belief might in some circumstances be censured, but Carter is surely right that it is commonplace for professors to dismiss religion as something outdated, obscurantist, irrational, and a general hindrance to clear thinking.
Not Our Kind
Perhaps the reason that Staples does not recognize the anti-religious bigotry in the elite culture is that he is so much part of it. Who knows, maybe he even wrote the recent Times editorial claiming that institutions teaching that homosexuality is morally questionable cannot be trusted with the guidance of children, or the related editorial asserting that the Boy Scouts are not part of the American mainstream because they do not allow gay scoutmasters. Mr. Staples is most particularly at war with those whom he calls “fundamentalists.” He knows that most of them now sneakily call themselves evangelicals, but they are hardly distinguishable from the fundamentalists who have “always viewed [the larger world] as depraved and bound for hell.” True, some of them are even educated, yet “evangelical colleges are just beginning to shake off this tradition, but cannot yet be deemed cosmopolitan.” Of course, were they cosmopolitan in his meaning of the term, they would no longer be evangelical colleges.
Staples finds “distasteful and imprecise” Carter’s suggestion that there are parallels between the early civil rights movement and today’s evangelical efforts to bring religiously based values to bear in “the public square.” The civil rights movement, he says, was trying to win “basic, secular justice,” whereas conservative Christians try to push other people around. “The public backlash against the religious zealotry of that period was wholly justified.” Note the use of the past tense. Staples concludes, “By undertaking a culture war, religious conservatives strengthened the public distaste for religious combat and enhanced the public appreciation for religious tolerance.” In this view, the culture war is over, and the cosmopolitan position represented by, inter alia, the Times has triumphed. Those who do not accept the regime of the unlimited abortion license, sexual liberation, divorce, and the wholesale assault on what are called traditional values should simply get lost.
Warfare in the Streets
Mr. Staples and his allies are, of course, the culture warriors, and have been on the offensive for decades. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of one securely ensconced in a world of presumed moral superiority, a world comprised of people convinced of their right to rule and of their duty to ward off the barbarians who challenge that right. Stephen Carter’s offense is magnified because he too, as a Yale law professor, is part of that world and is condemned as a traitor to his class. Carter believes that the naked public square is a dangerous place, that the convictions of the people, including those whose convictions are grounded in religious commitment, should be given freer play in our public life.
Staples sees it very differently: “Carter’s contention that the state should cede more power to religion will strike many people as a recipe for warfare in the streets.” The state belongs to the ruling class that has, in its own words, been conducting “a long march through the institutions” for thirty years. Brent Staples and his colleagues at the Times are the field marshals of the march and they have declared it to be unstoppable. More than that, they have declared victory. People such as Stephen Carter who suggest that there is something to be said for dissenters who are trying to get up a counter-march must be discredited as extremists who are inciting the peasantry to warfare in the streets. Stephen Carter thinks of himself as a moderate trying to negotiate a reasonable cultural accommodation. Staples and his band are having none of it. They will accept nothing short of unconditional surrender.
When Tolerance is Trump
Duke University, a United Methodist school, has joined the long list of institutions accommodating—or, as some think, caving in to—the demands of the homosexual movement. In a joint statement, President Nannerl O. Keohane and Chapel Dean William H. Willimon announced that the blessing of same-sex unions will be permitted in Duke Chapel. Dean L. Gregory Jones of the Duke Divinity School concurs in the decision. The reasoning offered in support of the decision is, at the same time, both wondrously muddled and brutally clear. In his statement, Dean Jones says the decision “takes thoughtful account of several key overlapping yet competing judgments.” For instance, “Duke Chapel is a place of Christian worship.” In which case Duke is deciding—as is pointed out by Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, the university’s senior theologian in his protest against the decision—that Christianity countenances same-sex unions. This despite a unanimous Christian tradition to the contrary. (The small and dubiously orthodox United Church of Christ permits the blessing of such unions.)
Another “overlapping yet competing judgment,” Jones notes, is that “formally, Duke Chapel is a university building, not a church.” Why there should be a conflict between being both university and church in a church-related school is not explained. Wainwright notes that the founding aims of the university invoke “Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and the Chapel “unmistakably bespeaks the purpose of Christian worship. . . . For many, myself included, such ceremonies [same-sex blessings] would desecrate a space they believe hallowed by decades of prayer and which they expected to be able to continue to use for Christian worship.” The motto of the university, one notes, is Eruditio et Religio. Dean Jones says that “many gay and lesbian people and their friends are active and valued members of the Duke community and important participants in the life of Duke Chapel. Though the university’s decision will no doubt be controversial, it is the result of an appropriate process that seeks to craft a policy faithful to these (and other) judgments. Hence, it is also a decision that can be respected even by those who themselves, or whose traditions, do not think same-sex unions ought to be blessed.”
Prof. Stanley Hauerwas, also of Duke, has written much about the brutal tolerance of liberalism, of which this is a classic instance. (Oddly enough, Hauerwas has not challenged the decision.) An institution claiming to be Christian and affiliated with a Christian denomination is confronted by liberalism’s charge that to act upon such a claim is discriminatory, and the institution folds. Tolerance is trumps. Of course, one might respond that Duke University has long since given up any serious claim to being Christian. I have mentioned before the conference our institute ran at which the former president of Emory University remarked, “I could maybe get away with saying that Emory is a United Methodist university, but, if I said it was a Christian university, all hell would break loose.” The charter of Duke requires that two-thirds of the trustees be elected by the North Carolina conferences of the United Methodist Church. There is no doubt that the founders intended a Christian institution.
One might also respond that Duke Chapel, too, has long since given up any claim to being seriously Christian, in which case one might fairly ask whether the Rev. Willimon does not have a lot to answer for. The university says it has a “historic” and “symbolic” link with the Methodist Church. Historic in this context would seem to mean that it is a thing of the past, and symbols are, well, just symbols. Who decided that the church connection is a thing of the past, and when, and by what authority? And where were the Christians to challenge that decision? This would seem to be yet another instance of the willy-nilly de-Christianization of church-related higher education so incisively analyzed by James Burtchaell in The Dying of the Light.
It is urged that for years the Chapel has offered hospitality to doubtfully Christian groups and activities. That is understandable. A Christian church or chapel might offer hospitality to many groups under the rubric of ecumenism or interreligious relations. Blessing same-sex unions is something else. It is a deliberate, self-conscious, and explicit contradiction of the teaching and practice of the United Methodist Church and of the entire Christian tradition. The Christianity that was understandably hospitable to diversity is now displaced by the religion of diversity. The case that should have been made is that Duke and its chapel are hospitable not despite the fact that they are Christian but precisely because they are Christian. They have no obligation to be hospitable, it makes no sense to be hospitable, to groups or activities aimed at defying or obliterating the very reason for their being hospitable in the first place. Now the rationale of Christian hospitality is displaced by coercive liberalism’s rules of nondiscrimination.
Both Hauerwas and Willimon, whom I cherish as friends, are noted proponents of a “radical” and “countercultural” Christianity. It is a strange radicalism that so supinely accommodates the culture of secular liberalism. The decision is, we are told, “the result of an appropriate process.” No doubt. It is the case, as Prof. Hauerwas has so often argued, that in contemporary liberalism the procedural overrides the substantive, and compromise in the name of tolerance displaces the deliberation of truth.
Keohane and Willimon write, “No one has suggested that we ask any clergy to perform these unions if that person, by reason of conscience, conviction, or church tradition, does not wish to do so.” If it is a matter of conscience, conviction, or tradition grounded in truth, however, it is not a matter of what one wishes to do or not to do. It is a matter of obedience. The Duke decision is the product of what Hauerwas has so often described as the consumerist individualism of liberal capitalism. Among university divinity schools today, Duke is notable for its efforts to reappropriate the fullness of the Christian tradition, refusing to be dominated by the fashions du jour. It is therefore the more disappointing that in this case the divinity school went with the flow, failing to ask the hard questions about the founding commitment of the university. The argument for allowing the celebration of same-sex unions is pro-choice all the way. Nobody is compelling you to do anything against your conscience, only that you not get in the way of others doing what they want. Thus are communities of character—to cite a fine Hauerwasian phrase—turned into the “historic” and “symbolic” ties of a discarded past. It is very sad. Perhaps, at this late date, it could not have been helped. But the controversy might have been the occasion for a bold and articulate witness to the idea of a Christian university. Witness does not have to be successful. It is its own success, and its absence is evidence of a grievous failure.
While We’re At It
• If anybody still doubts the triumph of market economics, there is this big story in the Wall Street Journal, no less, “Protestants Look to Their Roots.” The gist of the report is that the liberal oldline denominations are going into niche marketing in a big way. The denominations (the Journal calls them “sects”) under discussion are the United Methodists (8.5 million, down from 9.5 million in 1980), Presbyterian Church USA (2.5 million, down from 3.2 million in 1980), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (flat at about 5.15 million since creation by merger in 1987), and the Episcopal Church (2.3 million, down from 3 million in 1980). The ELCA has launched Project Identity, a $5.2 million public relations campaign, including TV and radio ads. “Project Identity was started after a 1996 poll revealed that only 3 percent of Americans could say anything about Lutheranism other than it was a religion. Lutheran leaders ruefully recall a Pennsylvania newspaper that published a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr., instead of Martin Luther, alongside an ad for Lutheran services.” The Lutheran and other initiatives, says the Journal, are aimed at establishing “brand identity.” Presbyterians are restoring catechism courses that mention John Calvin, and Episcopal educational materials explain why there is a House of Bishops that makes decisions for the communion. The Lutheran situation is a bit paradoxical, opines the Journal, since they have also entered into full communion with other bodies—Episcopal, Moravian, United Church of Christ, etc.—an arrangement that “allows, among other things, pastor swapping.” Rather than furthering homogenization, “this means we’ve got to have our identity even more together,” said Pastor Eric C. Shafer, an ELCA spokesman. When everybody’s in bed together, there is a need for clearer labels indicating who is what. Now that it has been decided that in doctrine, worship, and polity there are no differences that really make a difference, marketing (formerly known as evangelization) must be pitched to brand loyalty and identity, highlighting marginal distinctives of vestigial traditions. The Journal notes that conflicts over questions such as homosexuality, abortion, and women’s ordination give further impetus to accenting affiliational choice, since there is little expectation that Christians will ever resolve such disagreements. Market managers (formerly known as missionaries) take their mandate from Our Lord’s Great Commission, “Go into all the world, selling them all that used to divide you.” Now that identity has replaced truth, that can be done safely, without risk of serious religious conflict. The new turn described by the Journal is, of course, a return to an older view that the religion business flourishes in America because of denominational competition. It is a subspecies of the “factionalism” praised by Madison in the Federalist. The twentieth century’s concern for ecumenism may be remembered as a time when oldline Protestantism briefly flirted with the idea that professed belief in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church requires a unity that transcends institutional self-preservation by the capitalistic marketing of differences.
• Indulge me, please. You know how much I loved my late bishop, John Cardinal O’Connor. But I think you will find this of interest as well. At the Al Smith dinner last October, both Al Gore and George W. Bush spoke. The papers reported that Bush was resoundingly applauded, but gave almost nothing of what he actually said. Here is part of what he said, and said very well: “Before I close, there is another man I’d like to talk about—someone who is not here, John Cardinal O’Connor. I will never forget his funeral. Inside that beautiful cathedral were two Presidents and other leaders of our country; outside, were average New Yorkers who stood ten-deep along Fifth Avenue. The Cardinal was one of the most impressive men I have ever met. He was a moral leader, and not just for Catholics. . . . Everyone who met him saw strength and energy, wit and intellect. He was a man who held a great position—and added to its authority. He took a high office—and lifted it. For anyone who aspires to leadership, he is a model. The story is told that when Pope John Paul II went looking for a successor to the great Cardinal [Terence] Cooke, he said, ‘I want a man like me in New York.’ The quote may or may not be true—but it turned out that way. Cardinal O’Connor was known for both his conviction and his kindness—he took people on their own terms. There were no barriers to his friendship. . . . Cardinal O’Connor defied all the labels, and showed us that the truth is sometimes larger than the left or the right. He was a naval officer, who spoke for peace. He defended the doctrines of his Church, and reached out to other faiths. He knew the wealthy and the powerful, and taught that poverty in a wealthy nation is a scandal. He spoke for the rights of workers, the rights of immigrants, and the rights of the unborn. The Cardinal had a way of putting politicians on the spot—exactly where we belong. He was never a man to mince words. He followed truth where it led, and spoke for the dictates of morality. He understood that morality is what gives authority to power, and purpose to freedom, and dignity and direction to all our lives. He had a motto: ‘There is no love without justice.’ And he lived it every day. And he proved that justice without love is incomplete. He proved that in AIDS wards and in homes for unwed mothers, and in countless acts of caring and comfort. Where the world wanted compromise, there was steel. Where the world expected harsh judgment, there was simple love. His Holiness clearly knows how to pick good men, and he has found another in Archbishop Edward Michael Egan. New York has welcomed you warmly. And it has been a pleasure to be with you all tonight. Your Excellency, Laura and I would like you to come and visit with our family next year. I’ll send you the address—as soon as I know what it is. Thank you very much. God bless.”
• Who killed the “peace process” in the Middle East? Put differently, who is responsible for forcing “peace process” into quotes? Of course, there is always enough blame to go around, but we should not let evenhandedness get out of hand. As Yasir Arafat and other Arab leaders make unmistakably clear, they do not want this or that from the State of Israel; they want the State of Israel not to be. Israel has done many things wrong, and many wrong things. A militarized society and occupying force is not pretty. But what, at the end of the day, is the alternative? Perhaps to declare the whole thing a mistake, dismantle the State of Israel, along with the economy and everything else Israelis have built since 1948, and then resettle five million Jews somewhere else in the world. For numerous reasons, this should be unthinkable, but it obviously is not unthinkable to many Arabs and their sympathizers. One has to wonder what, in the short and long term, the critics of Israel in this country have in mind for the future of Israel, if any. “The fundamental source of the present violent confrontation lies in the continued failure to make real the national rights of the Palestinian people to a sovereign independent state in their own homeland,” says Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. Similar statements laying the burden of the blame on Israel have been issued by the Episcopal, United Methodist, ELCA Lutheran, and Presbyterian (USA) churches. Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy writes: “None of the statements touched upon the possibility that Palestinian violence was orchestrated to pressure Israel for more territorial compromises. Nor did any criticize Yasir Arafat for inciting the violence by broadcasting cries for vengeance and blood on Palestinian television. None cited the continued refusal of publications and media of the Palestinian Authority to admit to Israel’s right to exist. And none expressed any concern about human rights abuses and corruption under Arafat’s dictatorship over the 90 percent of Palestinians who now live under his authority. It should also be noted that mainline church officials, despite their professed concern for international peace and justice, have limited their protests about human rights abuses in the Middle East to Israel. One can look in vain through church archives over the last thirty years for any substantive criticism of Arab governments, even though they include some of the worst persecutors of Christians, a topic that presumably would interest U.S. churches.” Tooley notes that evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptists, along with the Catholic bishops, while recognizing the plight of the Palestinians, have been much more appreciative of Israel’s dilemma in seeking a peace that is not the peace of the dead. How does one explain the bias of the oldline liberal churches? Tooley suggests this: “In part it is theological. Unlike some conservative evangelicals, mainline church officials do not take literally the Old Testament promises of a land for Israel. But mostly it is political. Israel is a Western-style democracy supported by the United States. The Palestinians and other Arabs are perceived as oppressed Third World peoples still struggling against Western imperialism. Had Israel aligned itself with the Soviet Union fifty years ago rather than the U.S., the mainline churches attitude today might be different. Mainline church officials reserve their sympathies entirely for the Palestinians as a designated ‘victim’ group, regardless of the character of that group’s self-appointed leaders, and regardless of the tactics employed to advance its cause.” That may not be an entirely satisfactory explanation, but it is a big part of what such an explanation would look like.
• The communication of fast-breaking news is greatly facilitated by the Internet. Here is an e-mailed press release from Father Thomas Reese, S.J., editor of America magazine. The item is so hot that the release carries an embargo date. America has discovered a 1953 letter indicating that the Holy Office in Rome thought that, while Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory intended “to bring out the victory of the power and the glory of the Lord in spite of man’s wretchedness,” Greene’s depiction of the whiskey priest might disconcert “unenlightened persons.” The office asked the Archbishop of Westminster to encourage Greene to attend to this concern in subsequent editions of the book. Greene declined to make any changes, and that was that. At least that was that until the fast-breaking news that in 1953 someone in the Holy Office was guilty of misjudging a very good book!!! Remember, America reported it first.
• Robert Ross was one of the beautiful young men in Oscar Wilde’s entourage of desperately decadent aestheticism. Many years later, after Wilde’s public humiliation, imprisonment, exile, sickness, and decline into beggary, Ross still stood by him. A few years before Wilde’s death in Paris in 1900, he talked, as he had many times before, about his desire—or perhaps he viewed it more as his destiny—to be received into the Catholic Church. Ross wrote to a friend: “When Oscar came out of prison he had the idea of becoming a Catholic, and he consulted me about it, for you know I am a Catholic. I did not believe in his sincerity and told him if he really meant it, to go to a priest, and I discouraged him from anything hasty in the matter. As a fact, he had forgotten all about it in a week, only from time to time he used to chaff me as one standing in the way of his salvation. I would willingly have helped him if I thought him in earnest, but I did not fancy religion being made ridiculous by him. I used to say that if it came to his dying I would bring a priest to him, not before.” Ross understood that about some things the importance of being earnest is ultimately important. As it happened, on the day before Wilde died Ross did bring a priest; Wilde was baptized and received the sacraments of penance and anointing. The story is affectingly told by Joseph Pearce in his new biography, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, published in the U.K. by HarperCollins and soon, one hopes, to appear here. Ross was well advised to be cautious with a prodigiously talented man who built a once towering reputation on witty posturings about the mask as truth and the truth as mask. Today Wilde’s reputation towers again in the homosexual subculture where he is “Saint Oscar,” a revered icon of campish decadence. It is, of course, a radically inverted sainthood. In 1890, before the catastrophes struck, Wilde pronounced: “The courts of the city of God are not open to us now. Its gates are guarded by Ignorance, and to pass them we have to surrender all that in our nature is most divine. It is enough that our fathers believed. They have exhausted the faith-faculty of the species. Their legacy to us is the skepticism of which they were afraid. . . . We cannot go back to the saint. There is far more to be learned from the sinner.” It is the merit of Pearce’s biography to highlight the ways in which such nihilistic bravado masked the irrepressible awareness of being pursued by Francis Thompson’s “hound of heaven.” For Wilde at the end, and for many others of his circle far earlier in their lives, came faith’s response to the words of the Lord, “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, / I am He Whom thou seekest.” One after another, some rushing and others reluctantly submitting as though to a destiny that would be no longer denied, many of Wilde’s friends entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. At last, or so it seems, their tutor in the rancid pleasures of decay, fearful lest he miss the eternal convivium of friendship purged of evil, begged entry to the company of the forgiven. The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde will undoubtedly be attacked by the hierophants of the current cult of “Saint Oscar,” but others, I expect, will see in Joseph Pearce’s telling of the story a way toward liberation from a subculture’s desperate affectation of freedom from moral truth.
• “The New Evangelization of American Intellectual Culture” is an insightful and wide-ranging essay by Father Arthur Madigan, S.J., of Boston College. (Delivered in August 2000 at a Jesuit conference on the thought of John Paul II at Xavier University, Cincinnati, it will soon be published in the conference proceedings.) The phrase “new evangelization” was coined by Paul VI and has been invoked repeatedly by John Paul II. Addressing the formidable challenges posed by American intellectual culture, Fr. Madigan also specifies unexplored opportunities for evangelization in the professions, the arts, and higher education. Then there is the question of public intellectuals. “So far as I can see, the Catholic episcopate has not had a public intellectual since Fulton Sheen, and the Society of Jesus has not had one since John Courtney Murray; the closest I can think of are Walter Ong, Robert Drinan, David Hollenbach, and Thomas Reese.” Some will cavil at the suggestion that Bishop Sheen was a public intellectual, but Madigan is right. Sheen was also very much a popularizer, which means that he effectively simplified things (and on television yet!), which means, in turn, that he was held in contempt by Catholics thirsting for intellectual respectability. But by public intellectual Madigan has in mind “men and women whose names and ideas are known not just in a particular discipline but in American intellectual culture generally,” and Sheen was such a man. I think it possible that in the next few years Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, and maybe another bishop or two, might be recognized as public intellectuals. As for Jesuits, Fr. Walter Ong, whom I greatly admire, was that in his heyday, and I would certainly put Fr. Avery Dulles before the others mentioned by Madigan. He continues: “Asked to name the current American Catholic public intellectuals, I would reply with names like Mary Ann Glendon, Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard John Neuhaus, John Noonan, Michael Novak, Andrew Sullivan, Charles Taylor, George Weigel, Garry Wills, and perhaps Lisa Sowle Cahill, Andrew Greeley, Monika Hellwig, Richard McBrien, and David O’Brien.” The making of lists is always interesting, and that is an interesting list. But then Fr. Madigan writes that “the influential media tend to select as public intellectuals those Catholics who are perceived, rightly or wrongly, as sharing the presuppositions of the dominant intellectual culture or of important groups within it.” Consider the first group on his list; only Catholic-bashing Garry Wills and, on select questions, Andrew Sullivan would seem to share the presuppositions of the dominant intellectual culture. The others are known for their vigorous, even staunch, articulation of Catholic teaching. Well, my friend John Noonan is somewhat less than vigorous on aspects of sexual ethics. As for Madigan’s “maybe” list, it does not seem that Cahill and Hellwig are that well known, and Fr. McBrien is mainly trotted out from time to time to present an alternative view to whomever is taking the Catholic position. Fr. Greeley, for all his irascible eccentricities, and maybe because of them, certainly belongs in the first group. There are other people who belong there, but I will not mention them because I might forget one or two, and I need all the friends I have. Fr. Madigan is right that the media in the intellectual culture play a part in selecting public intellectuals, but the ones he mentions are chiefly selected because they represent an alternative to the dominant view in that culture. In other words, because they are Catholic. It would seem to follow that “the new evangelization of American intellectual culture” continues to be in large, if not largest, part a countercultural task.
• Don’t discount the “Yuck Factor” when thinking about the strange things that science proposes to do, and is doing, especially when it comes to messing with human nature. That is the admonition of Mary Midgely in “Biotechnology and Monstrosity,” published in the Hastings Center Report. Would-be pioneers of the brave new world routinely dismiss moral objections, and religiously grounded moral objections in particular, as merely “emotional” while veiling their own utilitarian calculations in the high dignity of Reason and Science. In fact, as Midgely convincingly argues, utilitarian calculations of probable consequences are a good deal shakier and shiftier than moral judgments secured in reasoned traditions. Surveying some of the rocky history of religion and science debates, Midgely notes that developments in relativity, quantum theory, and the like should have drastically changed the way we think about such questions. “At this point a new world picture ought to have emerged, a picture drawn, this time, not from technology but from science itself. The public found these new physical theories so obscure that nobody managed to express them in a convenient image. The idea of ‘relativity’ only generated a social myth, a vague cultural relativism about human affairs. Not till after the Second World War did three new and much more colorful images emerge in rapid succession. They all reached the general public, and they were all reflections of new technologies. They are the ones that occupy us today. First, at the physical level, the idea of the atom was dramatized by bombs and by the promise of atomic power, so that the world seemed to consist essentially of atoms. Second, in human social life, computers emerged, and it was promptly explained that everything was really information. And third, on the biological scene, genetic determinism appeared, declaring that (among living things at least) everything was really genes and we were only the vehicles of our genes, but that (rather surprisingly) we nevertheless had the power to control them. It has proved quite hard to relate these three different world pictures, all of them reductive, but requiring different reductions. In theory, of course, they should not conflict. As far as they are scientific, they should, properly speaking, all find their modest places within the wider field of science. But world pictures like this are not primarily science. The science that is supposed to justify them is quite a small part of their content. They are actually metaphysical sketches, ambitious maps of how all reality is supposed to work, guiding visions, systems of direction for the rest of our ideas. And because these visions draw their strength from particular technologies in the outside world, belief in them fluctuates with the success of their parent technology and particularly with its disasters.” The point is that the Yuck Factor may be an intelligently informed intuition that anticipates the disastrous consequences in what we human beings can do to ourselves. Midgely’s is an altogether humane argument. Against the Yuck Factor playing much of a role in defending the humanum, however, is Raskolnikov’s despairing cry, “Man gets used to anything—the beast!” We must hope that Raskolnikov will turn out to be wrong about that.
• Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University says, “Consciousness grows as the brain grows. As soon as something has a nervous system, however primitive, we have to tread more cautiously.” The “something” in question is an unborn baby. Her statement was in connection with a British newspaper survey that found that 80 percent of neuroscientists who responded say that babies aborted after eleven weeks of gestation should receive pain relief during the procedure. The kindness that kills.
• What Jeffrey Rosen writes about the courts is almost always worth reading. No exception is a recent article in the New York Times Magazine on the kind of Justices a new president is likely to nominate to the Supreme Court. But then Mr. Rosen writes this: “For more than fifty years, liberals and conservatives agreed that the tyranny of elected representatives was less dangerous than the tyranny of unelected Justices of the Supreme Court.” Come again? It is an old ploy, when the other side is winning an argument, to pretend that there was never any disagreement to begin with. The most egregious instance in recent history is the now near-unanimous claim of liberals that of course they agreed all along that the Soviet Union was an evil and unsustainable empire, which is precisely what most of them spent forty years denying. Now Mr. Rosen tells us that liberals have agreed all along on the threat of judicial tyranny. The fact, risibly easy to document, is quite the opposite. For the last fifty years the consistent liberal line has been that the great threat is the tyranny of the majority and the elected politicians who pander to the majority. The great protection against that threat is the Constitution and the bold liberal Justices who decide what the Constitution means. That is the line found in almost every textbook from grade school through graduate school; it is the relentless line of the establishment media on questions ranging from affirmative action to abortion to gay rights. It is an encouragement that some liberals are coming around to recognize the tyranny of unelected Justices, aptly described as the judicial usurpation of politics. Their change of mind—greatly aided by the recent presidential election—is most welcome, and they should not embarrass themselves by denying it. The sobering reality, however, is that the great majority of liberals persist in pitting the Constitution and the judiciary against the representative democracy that they fear.
• Published in the U.K. but not yet here is J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by T. A. Shippey, formerly of Oxford and now of St. Louis University. The book is a running and, for the most part, persuasive polemic against a literary establishment that is disdainful of The Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien achievements. It is not simply, says Shippey, that Tolkien’s fantasies have sold more than a hundred million copies; he, almost single-handedly, established fantasy as the literary mode of a century. Shippey cites an editor at a major publishing house who said, “Only fantasy is mass-market. Everything else is cult-fiction.” (Reflective pause.) “That includes mainstream.” In support of his case, Shippey cites George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, and Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. He mentions in passing the several fantasies by C. S. Lewis (to whom, for some unexplained reason, he seems rather cool), and overlooks Philip Pullman’s series concluding with the recently published The Amber Spyglass, and, of course, the Harry Potter books. It is a very odd thing, but it does seem that much of the most “realistic” writing—writing that unblinkingly examines the ambiguities and evils of the human circumstance—is now fantasy. Shippey offers several reasons why that might be the case. My own hunch is that we have been through what is, in many respects, the most horrendous century in history, and we cannot bear to see it straight on. Fantasy enables us to examine both great good and great evil with a measure of safety; as though they were, at least a little, elsewhere. Eliot said it a long time ago: “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.” That ought not to be the case for people who have been to the cross. But the cushioned piety and preaching of popular religion seldom goes there. This is not an argument against fantasy. On the contrary, fantasy can awaken us to the ultimates of good and evil at stake in the everyday. In fact, Mr. Shippey has convinced me that I really must, sometime soon, see if I can’t find that copy of The Lord of the Rings that I read with such satisfaction more than thirty years ago.
• When, after bracing myself with morning prayer, I open the New York Times, I know I am reading the most influential news medium in the world, and that it is liberal, Democratic, and on the left side of almost every issue that distinguishes left and right. A friend from the midwest recently said that he’s glad he doesn’t have to deal with that each day. He’s wrong. The Times, more than any other single source, determines the tone and content of network news, as well as that of most of the papers in the country. But back to the point about known bias. People in the news media feel guilty about it, and they shouldn’t. The Washington Post is certainly among the most influential media. Here is Len Downie, the executive editor who replaced the legendary Ben Bradlee, anguishing about that paper’s claimed objectivity: “As I am often reminded, journalists are people, too. They cannot be expected to cleanse their minds of human emotions and reactions to highly charged political campaigns or controversial issues. But we do ask Washington Post reporters and editors to come as close as possible to doing just that. In my own case, as some know, I no longer exercise my right to vote. As the final decision-maker on news coverage in the Post, I refuse to decide, even privately, which candidate would make the better President or member of the city council, or what position I would take on any issue. I want my mind to remain entirely open to all sides and possibilities.” Can you imagine that? Not even privately does he allow himself to have an opinion on the great questions of the day. No, you cannot imagine it, nor can he, unless it’s a case of having a mind so open that, as it is said, the brains fall out. That bright young journalist Mark Gauvreau Judge, commenting on Downie’s statement, notes that our minds and consciences are always at work forming judgments about truth and falsehood, right and wrong. “There’s simply no way around it,” writes Judge. “Our moral meters are clicking all the time. They are working in school, at work, in the bedroom. And yes, in editorial meetings. . . . What’s so goofy about creating this aura of immaculate imperviousness to emotion and reasoning is that it’s just plain not necessary. The Post is a liberal paper. That’s fine. Its editors are members of the cultural elite. Bully for them. This affects their stories, both how they are written and how they are placed. But so long as they make an honest attempt to give equal time to the other sideis, equal time in news stories, not on the editorial page—what’s the big deal? Why deny it? At the end of the day, someone is correct, someone is not, and there is right and wrong. If a white supremacist group took over the D.C. government and started erecting concentration camps on Pennsylvania Avenue, would Mr. Downie have an opinion—even privately—on that?” Judge thinks the late Christopher Lasch had an important point when he argued that our civic and political life began to decline when the press began to pretend that it was “objective.” We simply aren’t made that way, says Judge, citing Aquinas. Minds and consciences are for making judgments, for taking sides. Judge says, “In the last few years, the Internet has provided an explosion of new voices, from Drudge to Slate—tendentious, surly, bratty, solipsistic. Not a single one of them is objective. And it’s a beautiful thing.” Of course, facts should be presented honestly and arguments made reasonably, and one of the facts to be presented honestly is that we make judgments about which facts count most and how they are to be presented, and then present reasonable arguments for the judgments we make. On these issues, too, Mr. Downie does not take a position, if we are to believe him. Which we shouldn’t. And he shouldn’t either.
• Some good news on the Russian Orthodox front. Keston Institute, that redoubtable defender of religious freedom, reports that the Moscow Patriarchate is slowly moving to recognize the real heroes and martyrs of the Soviet era. Last year’s council of bishops made headlines by canonizing Tsar Nicholas II and his family, but perhaps more important was the canonizing of some of the Slovki bishops who in the 1920s spoke up for the freedom of the Church but were then imprisoned, and replaced by KGB agents who rose to the top of the hierarchy. Keston is encouraged, but asks, “Is the Moscow Patriarchate willing to take [further steps] toward reconciliation by canonizing Orthodox Russians who explicitly rejected the collaborationist tactics chosen by the Patriarchate itself in 1927 and afterward?”
• A reader complains about “Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity” (November 2000). Since our correspondence section allows for responses by people complained about, and 170 signers of the statement cannot respond, permit me to try my hand. The statement says, “Without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out.” The reader complains that since there would be no Nazism without Nazi ideology, this means that “Christians are to blame for Nazism and its concomitant atrocities.” He thinks this inconsistent with the statement’s further statement that “Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity.” First, there was in fact a long history of Christian anti-Judaism, as there was also a long history of Jewish anti-Christian hostility, but the first was certainly dominant in Europe, and in Germany more specifically, and it was exploited by the Nazis. There was also a long history of Christian violence against Jews, as there was also a long history of Christian peoples providing refuge, albeit often insecure refuge, for Jews. It is surely the case that “Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out” apart from this complex history. That is perfectly consistent with the statement’s assertion that “Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity.” Hypothetically, that complex history could have turned out differently. Since Christians were primarily in charge, Christians bear more responsibility than Jews for how it did turn out, including the unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust. As I read the statement in question, it is simply reaffirming Milton Himmelfarb’s conclusion of many years ago, “No Hitler, No Holocaust.” Which is not to deny the fact that Christians, and therefore part of the historical reality that is Christianity, bear a large measure of responsibility for the fact that there was a Hitler. Why should we be so fearful of acknowledging that?
• “New From Abingdon Press” is an ad in the program of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Among the books promoted, so to speak, is The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert A. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Here is the publisher’s description: “The author presents a critical but ultimately conservative view of the import of biblical injunctions against homosexuality. Gagnon aligns himself with those who support the authority of the received biblical texts and the ancient cosmological view that mandates the strict definition of gender roles and the sanctification of sex only in the context of heterosexual marriage.” All that is missing is a final line: “We don’t know why we are publishing this reactionary rant.”
• Religion Watch reports on a recent gathering of the religious left, organized by Union Theological Seminary and the Institute of Democratic Studies. The purpose of the meeting was to develop strategy to counter the growing influence of conservative renewal groups in denominations such as the United Methodist and Presbyterian Church (USA). Dr. Robert Bohl, former moderator of the Presbyterians, declared that the time for establishing “common ground” between conservatives and liberals is past. The Rev. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance agreed. The enemies of “progressive Christianity,” speaker after speaker said, are motivated by a thirst for “power and control” rather than by theology or concern about issues such as same-sex unions. In this respect they are presumably unlike the friends of “progressive Christianity,” although there was no reference to the theological motivation of the Institute of Democratic Studies, a secular think tank that watchdogs the political right. Diane Knippers, head of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told Religion Watch that the influence of the religious left is indeed being “slowed and halted.” And so the mainline/oldline battles continue. A big difference from, say, twenty years ago is that the religious left now identifies itself as such, rather than assuming that denominational control is its by natural, if not Divine, right.
• An idea that has been kicking around for a year or so may not survive the kick delivered when Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), felt himself forced to withdraw from an ecumenical statement on marriage. It happened this way. On November 14, 2000 there was much attention paid when top officials of the U.S. Catholic Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, and Edgar for the NCC jointly issued a “Christian Declaration on Marriage.” While the statement did not mention homosexuality or same-sex arrangements, it did refer to marriage as “a holy union of one man and one woman.” Within days, the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Caucus” at the NCC’s General Assembly meeting in Atlanta succeeded in getting Edgar to state to the assembly that he was offering a “public apology” for his “mistake” in signing the declaration. The same assembly ratified, at Edgar’s urging, an “Expanding the Ecumenical Vision” resolution that calls for a closer relationship between the NCC and Catholics, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals. That is the idea that has been kicking around in order to revive the near-moribund NCC. After the fiasco of NCC withdrawal from the “Christian Declaration on Marriage,” it seems to have stopped kicking.
• Baylor University has legitimate aspirations to being recognized as a major research institution. Those hopes were dealt a severe setback when William A. Dembski was removed as director of the newly established Michael Polanyi Center. Dembski, a contributor to this journal, is a widely acclaimed leader in intelligent design theory, and became a victim of what is best described as intellectual McCarthyism agitated by Baylor faculty who were fearful that the Baptist school would be tainted by association with “creationism”—in this case a smear word for any scientific challenge posed to Darwinian orthodoxies. The sordid story is told in detail by Fred Heeren in “The Lynching of Bill Dembski” (American Spectator, November 2000). University president Robert Sloan finally caved and dismissed Dembski for not being “collegial.” His offense was that he had issued a press release following a peer review committee’s finding in his favor and refused to retract it. His release said, “My work on intelligent design will continue unabated. Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression.” That is feisty, but it is as nothing compared to what his opponents said about him. I know and respect President Sloan, but the dismissal of William Dembski is a personal injustice, a disservice to academic and scientific integrity, and, as aforesaid, a severe setback to the aspirations of a good university to be respected as among the best.
• I said in the November 2000 issue that the committee of the bishops charged with implementing the mandatum (certification) of those teaching Catholic theology had as their official consultants representatives of organizations flatly opposed to any implementation at all. That is not true of all the organizations who nominated consultants. The Canon Law Society has not taken a position against the mandatum, and its consultant, Father James J. Conn, S.J., has written in support of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and of the mandatum that it proposes. My apologies for this important oversight.
• The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League came out blasting the statement on the Middle East adopted by the Catholic bishops in their fall meeting. In response to which, other Jewish organizations—Union of American Hebrew Congregations, United Synagogue of America, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Rabbinical Assembly—sent a letter to Conservative and Reform congregations saying that the bishops’ statement “is a balanced one, in places aggressively so.” I’m not sure what it means to be aggressively balanced, but the letter is generally supportive of what the bishops said, and it adds this: “It is worth noting that this statement, and others by the Catholic Church, stand in stark contrast to the much more one-sided statements coming from some Protestant denominations. We urge you to reach out to the Catholic leadership in your communities, to begin (or continue) a dialogue on these issues.” Rabbi James Rudin recently retired as interfaith director for the American Jewish Committee, and he is sorely missed.
• M. Alain Vivien, who headed a parliamentary investigation of cults in France, is not, as we mistakenly reported, a former foreign minister but was undersecretary of state in the foreign ministry. Also, Southern Baptists are not on the government’s list of 172 suspect “sects.” That having been corrected, we still think the Catholic Church in France should try to instruct the government on the requirements, and undeniable risks, of religious freedom.
• Elsewhere in these pages is a comment on the political advocacy of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC). We asked the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the country’s largest Protestant denomination, for a list of its interventions regarding bills or proposals before Congress. The SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is, in terms of staff and budget, a very modest operation compared with the USCC, and the director of the Washington office points out that, while they have been involved in all the items listed, the involvement is sometimes very limited. The list includes twenty-three issues: under pro-life twelve, pro-family (including opposition to gambling and pornography) five, religious liberty three, and international human rights, including religious freedom, three. Of the twenty-three issues, it would seem that the SBC and USCC are on the same side with respect to nineteen or twenty. Other Protestant groups, such as the United Methodists, have a much larger and more leftist lobbying presence in Washington. In the months ahead we hope to provide a more comprehensive report on religious policy interventions in Washington and at other levels of government.
• The New York Public Library had an impressive exhibit built around the idea of utopia in Western history. Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill reviews it in Commonweal, suggesting that the quest for utopia is “something of a moral choice.” “Wrapped in the heavy mantle of materialism, captivated by the illusion of personal autonomy, do we even bother any longer to dream of a perfect society?” Well, yes. When, for instance, we lift up our hearts in the Eucharist and join angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in the song of the New Jerusalem. Ms. Cahill cites Jefferson (“We hold these truths . . .” ) and concludes, “While these words have not brought about utopia, they do serve as a salutary reminder of principle to those who carry the quest for utopia forward into the twenty-first century.” Not quite. They are a salutary caution against those who, in this century or any century, claim to be carrying forward the quest for utopia. That much we should have learned by now.
• While poorly designed school voucher initiatives in Michigan and California were overwhelmingly rejected by the voters last November, the movement for parental choice in education will certainly not go away. (See John E. Coons, “Populism and Parental Choice,” FT, November 2000.) Jewish Americans are, with Orthodox exceptions, prominent in opposing government aid to religious schools, viewing it as a dangerous violation of “the separation of church and state.” That has been the strongly held position of the American Jewish Congress, and it is therefore noteworthy that a special issue of its Congress Monthly offers a fair airing of the voucher question, pro and con. Congress codirector Marc D. Stern is decidedly con. “The idea that the government should not fund discrimination is a powerful one,” he writes. “Even if the government is ultimately persuaded to permit religious discrimination, there is no bar to private suits to end government-subsidized religious discrimination.” The repeated reference to “discrimination” is curious. There is not one institutional association of consequence, public or private, that does not depend upon discrimination. Every association—from friendship to business corporations to graduate schools to the U.S. Senate—exists by virtue of discriminating between those who are part of it and those who are not. For good reasons this country has decided, in both law and popular mores, that discrimination on the basis of race is wrong. (Although, and for defensible reasons, leadership positions in, for instance, the NAACP are not open, as they once were, to non-blacks.) “Discrimination” became a dirty word because Catholics, Jews, and, most notably, blacks were once excluded from employment, housing, and, in the last case, the basic rights of citizenship. It should not be used as a term of opprobrium to describe what is, in fact, people freely exercising their decision to associate with those whose purposes they share, and to favor institutions that advance those purposes. Especially when that decision is about the deepest bonds of religious faith and life. That the American Jewish Congress relies so heavily on “discrimination” in making its case against vouchers is further evidence of an argument in desperate trouble.
• Gimlet-eyed reader David LeMay reports that city buses are carrying ads for the New York Times online service: “Omniscience, Updated Hourly.” The concept of updated omniscience has interesting metaphysical possibilities. But I expect the Times intends to say no more than what it always says, that it knows it all.
• It’s just the kind of thing you would expect P. D. James—the author of mystery stories of which I cannot get enough—to say. She recently turned eighty, and Boris Johnson of the Spectator interviewed her. For instance, she said this: “I think there is badness in all of us. Yes. I would take the religious view that we are all in need of divine grace, but I don’t think we are all capable of murder, and I do think there are people who seem to be naturally good. I’ve met them and they seem to be born generous, kind, stoical, self-effacing, loving, just generally rather good. Others torture animals from childhood; they take pleasure in cruelty from really quite an early age. They seem to be born with a greater propensity to evil than the rest of us.” At the end of the conversation she said that she thinks Iris Murdoch got it right when asked about what is important in life: “To love well, to work well, and try to be good.” Mr. Johnson promised to give it a whirl.
• During Al Gore’s inglorious efforts to get to the White House after the election was over, some readers were no doubt wondering where it was that they had heard about “chad” before, as in hanging, dimpled, pregnant, and so forth. It was probably from their reading of Venerable Bede, who tells us that St. Chad was a priest of Northumbria who was appointed Bishop of York but was then asked by St. Theodore of Canterbury to step aside. Chad replied, “If you decide that I have not rightly received the episcopal character, I willingly lay down the office; for I have never thought myself worthy of it, but under obedience, I, though unworthy, consented to undertake it.” A class act, that. Quite unlike . . . but I need not state the obvious.
• Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, is sometimes touted as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He is noted for, inter alia, not falling into the usual categories of liberal or conservative. But an article in the Spectator takes him to be more Tory than Whig. Whiggery is everywhere now, he complains. “That’s really what the truth is—not the particular configuration of the political landscape of the moment—but the restless affair with innovation is everywhere. Toryism, to me, means, at its best, a temperament; someone who is averse to grand rational schemes.” Pressed (and he had to be pressed) on whether there should be women bishops in the Church of England, he responds, “If there are women bishops in Orthodoxy and in other parts of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, I would, of course, conform to the decisions of the Church.” That, one may safely assume, is an if that will never come due.
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David Frum on the election, National Post, November 9, 2000. Stanley Young on same, Washington Post, December 13, 2000. Francis Fukuyama on conservatives in election, Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2000. Stephen L. Carter’s God’s Name in Vain reviewed by Brent Staples, New York Times Book Review, November 25, 2000. On same-sex unions at Duke University, press release November 7, Wainwright correspondence.
While We’re At It: “Protestants Look to Their Roots” in Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2000. George W. Bush on Cardinal O’Connor published in ZENIT, October 25, 2000. Mark Tooley on peace process, UMAction Briefing, October 24, 2000 (on the web at ). On controversy over Graham Greene, America magazine press release November 3, 2000. “Biotechnology and Monstrosity” by Mary Midgely in Hastings Center Report, September-October 2000. On proposal for pain medicine for babies aborted after eleven weeks, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, October 11, 2000. Jeffrey Rosen on the courts, New York Times Magazine, October 22, 2000. Mark Gauvreau Judge on Len Downie and journalistic objectivity, National Review Online website, October 26, 2000. On the Moscow Patriarchate, Keston Institute press release, November 1, 2000. Diane Knippers quoted on the religious left, Religion Watch, November 2000. Gay/lesbian response to NCC statement on marriage, IRD News, November 17, 2000. Willliam A. Dembski press release, October19, 2000. Letter of of Jewish organizations about Catholic Bishops’ statement on the Middle East, November 27, 2000. Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill on utopias, Commonweal, December 1, 2000. Marc D. Stern on school vouchers, Congress Monthly, November/December 2000. P. D. James quoted, Spectator, August 19, 2000. Quotation from St. Chad courtesy of Elisha Coffman, associate editor of Christian History. On Bishop Richard Chartres, Spectator, August 26, 2000.