Some writers on the First Amendment, including this editor, have long made the argument that there is but one religion clause. The purpose of the clause is to protect the “free exercise” of religion, and the “no establishment” provision is in the service of that purpose (see “A New Order of Religious Freedom,” FT, February 1992). This approach is in sharp contrast to those who would pit the “two clauses” against one another. For example, Burt Neuborne, Professor of Law at New York University. Writing in Congress Monthly , the magazine of the American Jewish Congress, Neuborne exemplifies an extreme but very influential reading of the First Amendment on religion. Neuborne notes that free exercise requires us to defend religious behavior even when we strongly disagree with it. “Witness the fact that we will correctly defend someone’s religious right not to be vaccinated against a contagious disease.” At the same time, Neuborne writes, “the Establishment clause requires us to be suspicious of religion, even hostile to it . . . . One clause says that religion is something to be cherished, while the other says that religion is something to be feared.” Neuborne approvingly describes this as the genius of “a schizophrenic Constitution”one that pulls us in different directions, one that pulls in favor of religion in its Free Exercise clause and against religion in its Establishment clause.” The reason why “no establishment” is intended to inculcate fear and hostility toward religion, says Neuborne, is that religion, unlike politics, is not volitional. In addition, “What is both sublime and terrifying about religion is that it is essentially non-rational behavior . . . . You don’t carry on a reasoned dialogue about your relationship with your God. Religion is there and you live it.” And so it was that “the Founders inserted the Free Exercise clause, designed to shelter individuals who were driven to act by a force more powerful than law.” Free exercise, according to Neuborne, “requires us to carve out a special niche of toleration” for such nonrational behavior. Religion is not only nonrational, but too many of its proponents are irrational. “Try,” Neuborne writes, “having a reasoned discussion with Pat Buchanan or Pat Robertson.” A “prophylactic wall between church and state” is required to protect the public square from religion. Neuborne concludes: “We have not been ashamed to say that we cherish religion and will protect its private exercise to the very limit of reason”and perhaps a little beyond. Conversely, we have not been afraid to acknowledge that we fear public religion and that we are committed to preventing it from getting a toehold in the country’s government.” Although others do not put it in such flat-footed language”they would not, for instance, come right out and say that “no establishment” requires hostility to religion”the views of Professor Neuborne are widely shared. They underlie and are sometimes explicitly stated in numerous court decisions. The problem with the Neuborne interpretation is that it flies in the face of the plain reading of the religion clause of the First Amendment. And it flies in the face of what we know to be the intention of the Founders (see, for example, William Lee Miller, The First Liberty , or John Noonan, The Believer and the Powers That Are ). Neuborne’s is truly a new born interpretation that has a provenance of no more than fifty years, its godfather being the formidable and self-described extreme separationist, Leo Pfeffer of the American Jewish Congress. This extreme interpretation is certainly not held by all Jews nor by all Jewish organizations. In fact, one of the very encouraging developments of recent years is the growing skepticism of thoughtful Jews toward “strict separationism.” (The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. has just published a book-length collection of “revisionist” Jewish reflections on religion and public life: American Jews and the Separationist Faith , edited by David G. Dalin.) Nonetheless, the Pfefferian reading of the First Amendment, as represented by Neuborne and the Congress, is still the dominant view among American Jews, and in many of our courts. Neuborne’s contorted interpretation of the First Amendment is matched by his curious view that religion is nonrational. Admittedly, Neuborne’s view is hardly novel, but it is sharply contested by innumerable Christians and Jews who understand the religious life indeed to be the carrying on of a “reasoned dialogue” with God-although they might not choose that precise language. Ironically, Neuborne’s claim is that the Constitution “establishes” a brand of religion”espoused in both existentialist and traditionalist versions”that asserts that faith is a matter of blind and unreasoned submission to authority. That is not the religion of most Christians and most Jews. Further, Neuborne would “establish” a religion that is entirely individual and private, that is hermetically sealed off from the public sphere. That is certainly not the religion of Christians, Jews, and Muslims whose faith is emphatically communal and public in character. The Pfefferian inversion of the religion clause that continues to be promoted by the American Jewish Congress subordinates “free exercise” (the end) to “no establishment” (a means to that end). It does so by establishing a religion that is in conflict with the religion espoused by the great majority of Americans, and by propounding a profoundly anti-democratic interpretation of our constitutional order. The Constitution requires, says Neuborne, “that we fear public religion and that we are committed to preventing it from getting a toehold in the country’s government.” This is inescapably an argument against democratic governance. If, as we know to be the case, most Americans claim to derive their moral discernments from religion”however confusedly they may do so”to exclude religion from the ordering of our public life is to exclude the discernments, judgments, and aspirations of the sovereign people from whom democracy derives its moral legitimacy. Then there is the offputting snobbery in Neuborne’s argument. “Try having a reasoned discussion with Pat Buchanan or Pat Robertson,” he says. To which one might counter, “Try having a reasoned discussion with Burt Neuborne about, for instance, the nature of religion and public life.” (The present writer is pleased to report that, in fact, he has had reasoned discussions with all three of the gentlemen in question.) Of those whom he calls “the religiously driven” Neuborne writes, “As individuals, we cherish and tolerate them; as political actors, we fear and control them.” Really now. Who belongs to this “we” that presumes to “control” millions of Americans who, by Neuborne’s definition, are “religiously driven”? Thoughtful Americans of all political and religious persuasions are fully justified in dismissing with scorn, and not a little resentment, the legally contorted and brazenly elitist presumption of Professor Neuborne and the American Jewish Congress.
In the 1970s all the beautiful people in Philadelphia took up Ira Einhorn, a guru of the children of the Age of Aquarius. “Philadelphia’s favorite hippie son,” he was called. The master of consciousness raising was for a time on the payroll of Episcopal Bishop Robert De Witt. Einhorn took up, in turn, Holly Maddux and killed her. In 1979 her bludgeoned body was found in a steamer trunk where it had been hidden for eighteen months. It was found just after Einhorn had been appointed a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Michael Andrea Bernstein reflects on these sordid events in The American Scholar . He had known Maddux as a student. He had known, and he knows, the perverse ways of mind, now so prominent in the academy, that turn Einhorns and others of the Charles Manson ilk into cultural celebrities. Bernstein writes: “Certainly flaunting one’s contempt for the constraints of normative, prosaic life, and finding a kind of liberation in the kinship between oneself and a mythologized image of the underground and the outlaw was hardly a novel gambit. Its conventions have been endlessly repeated as part of the rhetoric by which each generation stakes its claim to a radically fresh perception. The nineteenth century in particular bequeathed to us a legend whose governing maxim was crystallized in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus as: the artist is the brother of the criminal and the madman.’ The unhappy corollary to this legacy, its underground’ recasting as it were, became authoritative almost as quickly and with perhaps even more effectiveness: if the artist is akin to the criminal and the madman, then they, in turn, are themselves also artists. It is this paradigm within whose terms much of the modern imagination continues to be inscribed. Only it remains easier to commit a crime than a masterpiece, and so if the one proves unattainable the other is surely within the reach of the sufficiently hardened will.”
The vicious sentiment is that of ressentiment , and its viciousness has only been magnified since envy was first termed one of the deadly sins. “Our recent culture continually trains us to develop an identificatory sympathy with whatever voice elects itself as the spokesman of a rebellion against bourgeois oppression.’ Claiming to represent a constituency of the marginal and victimized is as canny a career move as any available in intellectual life today, and one of the mandatory gestures of that claim is an increasingly shrill dismissal of anti-apocalyptic, prudential modes of reasoning. This is a more paradoxical development than it may at first appear, if only because history would suggest that prosaic rationalism has hardly been the dominant motive in human affairs. Indeed, given the notable success, at both the political and the ideological levels, of the extremist and utopian strains in our thinking, it is the champions of normative quotidian rationality, not their polemical antagonists, who ought to exhibit the ressentiment characteristic of impotent failure.”
The growing coerciveness of political correctness on the campus is not unrelated to the utopian impulse. Bernstein favors a somewhat revisionist view on where the new totalitarians are coming from. “Yet it is not really the case that the attempted imposition of an authoritarian and moralistic left-wing policy is owing to the seizure of power by a group of tenured radicals’ carrying out a long-planned scheme, like subversive moles’ infiltrating the British Secret Service in a Le Carrea novel. This image, suggested in such books as Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals , seems to me to err by taking the self-description of the left-wing professoriate more seriously than it deserves. On the contrary, as more skeptical observers such as Camille Paglia have also begun to remark, the majority of today’s vocal enforcers of political correctness were entirely conventional, indeed exemplarily docile graduate students and assistant professors during the sixties and seventies, too anxious for professional advancement to risk the slightest gesture of resistance. But the lure of the counterculture, which they rejected while students, exerted an appeal all the more powerful for having been set aside for so long, only for it to emerge with all the accumulated frustration of the intervening years once tenure guaranteed that there was no more risk involved. The problem is not tenured radicals,’ it is tenured ex-nerds belatedly struggling to appropriate the glamour of the heroic rebels whose allure they were too cautious to heed at its moment of maximum appeal two decades earlier”a repetition, if you will, of the Philadelphia business community’s enthrallment with Ira Einhorn, but if anything still more bizarre, because so out-of-phase with historical forces everywhere else outside academic life.”
According to Bernstein, most of us are terribly confused about the meaning of repression and liberation in this society. “Perhaps the sharpest way to formulate my own position is to insist that, in our culture, it is neither sexuality nor the darkest urgings to violence and domination that are repressed. Exactly these issues constitute an enormous, if not actually the major, portion of our cultural conversation about the human psyche. What is repressed, though, is the force of the prosaic, the counter-authenticity of the texture and rhythm of our daily routines and decisions, the myriad of minute and careful adjustments that we are ready to offer in the interest of a habitable social world.” Those who would resist utopian radicalisms must be prepared to be condemned as regressive and unfeeling. In a manner that is marvelous to behold, subscribing to the politics of victimization and resentment has become a prerequisite for being a nice person. The explanation, Bernstein suggests, is in the very nature of ressentiment . “ Ressentiment combines anger, envy, and pride, the three most destructive of the still entirely pertinent medieval catalogue of sins, but it is the peculiarly modern hypocrisy to cloak such impulses in the language of social compassion.” Bernstein says that he does not want to engage in “sixties bashing,” and he really should not be accused of that. As he makes evident enough, the sixties are now”at least in the stiflingly precious world of the American academy.
Capitalists with a Bad Conscience
Capitalists with a Bad Conscience
Stephen Hart, a freelance sociologist, has done some extensive interviewing and offers the results in What Does the Lord Require? How Americans Think About Economic Justice (Oxford). Hart does not attempt to disguise his bias:
“My hope is that in coming years Christians and others who share egalitarian, communal, and democratic visions will join to support and assist in the creation of a better society and world: one where our capacities for love, community, creativity, self-determination, and participation in decision-making are nurtured; where human needs and relationships take priority over profits, market forces, and technology. People sharing these hopes will have varying views as to how they might become incarnate. In my view a quite radical”in some sense socialist”transformation of our economy will be required, along with noneconomic changes in our lives and communities.”
In 1992, after every socialism that has ever been tried has been decisively discredited, Hart’s wistful longings for the old order might seem absurdly obtuse, but he is not without reason in drawing comfort from the conversations he reports in his book. He observes that Christians of many varieties tend to be much more liberal (meaning egalitarian or “socialist”) when they talk about economics in religious rather than secular terms. In his everyday participation in a relatively free market economy, a Christian may think he knows quite a lot about economics. But he is, more often than not, a capitalist with a bad conscience. Asked to view economics from “the biblical perspective,” he goes on the moral defensive. There is no denying that the Bible seems to be downright obsessive about the sins of the rich against the poor. There is, for instance, that awkward business about the camel and the eye of the needle.
Of course the Bible was written in a traditional and premodern social situation in which economics was almost entirely a zero-sum proposition. The rich were, generally speaking, rich at the expense of the poor being poor. That, as Mr. Hart demonstrates, is what most American Christians take to be “the biblical perspective.” In our day, there are sophisticated moral arguments for the market economy, such as Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus . And of course the discussion of the connections between Christianity and capitalism go back farther, as witness the immense literature generated by Max Weber’s thesis about capitalism and the Protestant ethic. But Hart is surely right in suggesting that such analyses have left most American Christians quite untouched. Latter-day socialists are consoled by the thought that even conservative evangelicals and Catholics resonate to the pronouncements of liberal church bureaucracies that pose as prophets against profits.
There is nothing especially new in What Does the Lord Require? But it does usefully highlight the enormous difficulties faced by those who would move Christians who are social and moral conservatives toward a wholehearted embrace of economic freedom. This writer is something of an expert on the subject. For example, in a recent radio interview on his book Doing Well and Doing Good: The Challenge to the Christian Capitalist , the host began with this: “You write in favor of the free market. How can you morally justify greed, selfishness, and the exploitation of the poor by the rich?” At first we thought she was just being provocative, but it turned out that she appeared to be genuinely puzzled. Stephen Hart’s interviews help us understand why we should not be puzzled by her puzzlement. A good many American Christians, perhaps most of them, are Sunday socialists. They are not likely to accommodate Mr. Hart and others who yearn for the socialist version of “a better society and world” by applying their Sunday bad conscience to their weekday business. But it is at least arguable that their Sunday socialism prevents them from being more reflective and responsible capitalists.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
More than a year after the Clarence Thomas hearings, the polls have significantly changed. Now most Americans say that they think Anita Hill was telling the truth. This despite the fact that, in the intervening period, the only new information on the affair was a longish article in The American Spectator which produced information that severely challenged the veracity and motives of Ms. Hill. The change in public opinion was apparently effected by nothing more than the media’s repeated lionizing of Ms. Hill as the victim-champion of the sexual harassment cause. Feminists and their media friends have apparently succeeded in convincing a generation of American children that the only black man on the Supreme Court is a dirty-minded exploiter of female innocence. They must be very proud of themselves.
Reviewing a spate of books on the Thomas hearings, the influential legal scholar Ronald Dworkin concludes that Ms. Hill “acted out of allegiance not to race or class or sex, but only to humanity and the ideals of law.” Of course. Dworkin is critical of those blacks who thought racial solidarity should have prevented Ms. Hill from attacking Justice Thomas. It seems that now that there are so many articulate blacks who dissent from liberal orthodoxies whites need no longer “privilege” what is said by blacks. Put differently, discerning whites will decide which blacks are expressing authentically black views. It is similar to feminist organizations such as NOW saying that they support women in politics, meaning women who represent what feminist organizations define as the women’s position. Most of the media continue to go along with the practice of talking about “women’s organizations,” ignoring groups such as Concerned Women of America that have many times the membership of organizations such as NOW.
About the same time as the first anniversary of the Thomas hearings, Randy Daniels was appointed a deputy mayor of New York City. He was forced to withdraw when a Barbara Wood made public her claim that five years earlier he had sexually harassed her on the job. The New York Times editorially opined that, since Mayor Dinkins knew about the allegations hours in advance of the appointment, he should never have made it. Daniels is guilty until proven innocent, and in these circumstances there is no way of proving oneself innocent. That is the state of a certain style of tortuously perverted liberalism in our time.
Like Anita Hill, Ms. Wood did not bring formal charges at the time the harassment allegedly took place. They both explain that they wanted to avoid the “humiliation” to which they would have been subjected had they brought charges. Years later, however, they feel free to humiliate and defame the men involved, in the course of which they are turned into celebrities by the putative custodians of women’s rights. The new rules of the game, reversing centuries of thought about the nature of justice, dictate that the benefit of the doubt is given to the accuser rather than the accused.
In a feature article on these developments, the Times observes: “On the first anniversary of the Thomas-Hill hearings, many advocates for women are pushing for a more nuanced approach to a complex issue. For example, they prefer to acknowledge that there are gradations of offenses”complimenting an employee’s outfit is different from pressuring her for sex”and so different ways of responding to those offenses should be available.” That is a relief. Telling someone that she (or he) looks nice today is not an “offense” tantamount to rape. It is not necessarily cause for the ruination of a person’s reputation and career. A very nuanced approach indeed.
A colleague reports seeing this graffiti in a campus men’s room: “P.C. Quandary: Would Clarence Thomas have been guilty of sexual harassment if he had described to Anita Hill the contents of the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit?” Behind the humor is a serious question. The Mapplethorpe photographs sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts were far more explicitly vulgar than anything that Ms. Hill claims that Justice Thomas told her about a pornographic movie he had supposedly seen. According to a twisted orthodoxy now widespread, the government must fund the public exhibition of materials that it may be a criminal offense to discuss in private.
Nobody should dispute the proposition that unwelcome and persistent sexual innuendoes and advances are to be condemned, especially when they are directed at subordinates on the job. Senator Bob Packwood, for example, would seem to have no excuse”except perhaps that he reasonably expected that feminists whom he served so well on other scores would continue to excuse him on this one.
From time immemorial women have been holding off importunate men, and not a few men have been holding off women (one thinks, for instance, of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife). If out of the current confusion comes a higher standard of what constitutes respectful behavior between the sexes, everybody will benefit. At present, however, the confusion is producing pervasive anxiety and what is tantamount to an invitation to extortion. An offense that is entirely in the eye of the accuser and is not subject to reasonable definition simply cannot be fairly adjudicated in public. Most important, the presumption of guilt until proven innocent”especially when innocence cannot be proven”assaults the most elementary idea of justice. Those who would protest injustice have a particular stake in not vitiating the idea of justice.
While We’re At It
While We’re At It
“Communitarianism” is in the cultural air. It is a movement of sorts that holds promise, but, as with everything, there are problems, and Christopher Lasch touches on some of them in discussing the communitarian thought of Robert Bellah et al. in The Good Society . Lasch writes: “My strongest objection to the communitarian point of view is that it has too little to say about controversial issues like affirmative action, abortion, and family policy. The authors of The Good Society assure their readers that they do not want to advocate any single form of family life.’ It is the quality of family life’ that matters, in their view, not its structure. But quality and structure are not so easily separable. Common sense tells us that children need both father and mother, that they are devastated by divorce, and that they do not flourish in day care centers. Without minimizing the difficulty of solving the problems that confront the family, at least we ought to be able to hold up a standard by which to measure the success or failure of our efforts. We need guidelines, not a general statement of good intentions. If communitarians are serious about what Bellah calls a politics of generativity,’ they need to address the conditions that are widely believed to make it more difficult than it used to be to raise children. Parents are deeply troubled by the moral climate of permissiveness, by the sex and violence to which children are prematurely exposed, by the moral relativism they encounter in school, and by the devaluation of authority that makes children impatient with any restraints. Much of the opposition to abortion reflects the same kind of concerns, which cannot be addressed simply by taking the position that abortion, like the structure of the family, ought to be a matter of private choice. The privatization of morality is one more indication of the collapse of the community, and a communitarianism that acquiesces in this development, at the same time calling for a public philosophy, cannot expect to be taken very seriously.” Writing in response, Bellah explains that his openness to diverse family structures is based on his own experience. His father died when he was a small child, so he was raised in a “one parent family” and thinks maybe he did not turn out too badly. He does not address Lasch’s concern about abortion. More than thirty years ago, Lionel Trilling of Columbia wrote about his worries in teaching students modern literature: “I asked them to look into the Abyss, and both dutifully and gladly, they have looked into the Abyss, and the Abyss has greeted them with the grave courtesy of all objects of serious study, saying: Interesting am I not? And exciting , if you consider how deep I am and what dread beasts lie at my bottom. Have it well in mind that a knowledge of me contributes materially to your being whole, or well-rounded men.’ “ Trilling worried that academic chatter about the abyss, contrary to the intention of the authors he was having students read, resulted in “the socialization of the anti-social, or the acculturation of the anti-cultural, or the legitimatization of the subversive.” Writing in The American Scholar , Gertrude Himmelfarb surveys the subsequent development of cleverly ironic “deconstructionisms,” devoted to the unbridled expression of “candor and creativity,” and exulting in the demystification of “facts” (“facts” always appearing in quotation marks). “And what happens,” she asks, “when we look into the abyss and see no real beasts but only a pale reflection of ourselves-of our particular race, class, and gender; or worse yet, when we see only the metaphorical, rhetorical, linguistic, semiotic, figurative simulations of our imaginations? And when, looking at figments so divorced from reality, we are moved to say, How interesting, how exciting’? When Nietzsche looked into the abyss, he saw not only real beasts, but the beast in himself. He who fights with monsters,’ he warned his reader, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.’ This was all too prophetic, for a few years later the abyss did gaze back at him and drew him down into the depths of insanity. Nietzsche is now a darling of the academy. I have seen T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, Nietzsche is Peachy.’ Nietzsche, who had no high regard for the academy but did have a highly developed sense of irony, would have enjoyed that sight.” Almost twenty-five years ago we were first impressed with the line when attending the funeral of Robert Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral here in New York. In the eulogy, RFK’s brother Edward cited a line used by Robert, “Some men see things as they are and say Why?’ He dreamed things that never were and said Why not?’ “ Now Justice Antonin Scalia comes along and spoils one’s appreciation of the statement. Speaking at a Baylor University conference on church-state questions, Scalia noted that the sentiment is lifted from George Bernard Shaw’s play Back to Methuselah . Shaw’s line was: “You see things and you say Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say Why not?’ “ It was spoken by the serpent to Eve. The Nation tirelessly labors on in its determination to elevate our public discourse. For instance, Christopher Hitchens holds forth on “the leathery old saint” who is the “ghoul of Calcutta,” meaning Mother Teresa. It seems that she set up a program for the poor in Haiti when dictator Duvalier was still in control, and in August 1989 she visited Albania when it was still Communist. “Having prostituted herself for the worst of neocolonialism and the worst of Communism, it was an easy and worldly step to the embrace of the worst of capitalism.” She embraced the last, we are told, by accepting money from Charles Keating (he of the S&L scandal) when he still had money. Mother Teresa was made a media star by “a British poseur named Malcolm Muggeridge,” writes Hitchens, and he deplores “the astonishing, abject credulity of the media in the face of the Mother Teresa fraud.” In the career of this “hell bat,” he concludes, one sees “yet again the alliance between ostentatious religiosity and the needs of crude secular power.” Setting The Nation aside, we turn to the account in today’s paper of how nasty and mean-spirited is the religious right. A reader submits some ripe little items that he has plucked from here and there. Lars Wilhelm Boe, president of St. Olaf College until his death in 1942, wrote to Mrs. Hermina Hartig, mother of a student: “In this letter I may speak more frankly to you than to the ordinary mother, because you are a professional woman and I speak therefore to you as man to man.” That rural sage, Abe Martin, opined: “We’d all like t’vote fer th’best man, but he’s never a candidate.” Then this from George Bernard Shaw: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” We see from time to time “The Acceptable Year,” a religio-political newsletter edited by Lutheran pastor William Sodt. In a recent issue he averred his great debt to Reinhold Niebuhr and expressed irritation that Niebuhr is also claimed as a mentor by this writer, whom Pr. Sodt seems not to like at all. But then one of his readers wrote in to set the editor straight. He explained that “Niebuhr pioneered the path that Neuhaus trod, from civil rights, anti-war, left-wing Democrat to darling of neoconservatism, theologically and politically.” Sodt apologizes for his earlier comment. He says his only excuse for not knowing about Niebuhr’s “war mongering” and other conservative sins is that he was otherwise preoccupied and did not read Niebuhr during the 40s, 50s, and 60s. “I had always thought of Niebuhr as a progressive Christian of the left,” laments Sodt. But it all turns out happily, with one letter from a reader making up for his ignorance of three decades of Niebuhr’s thought. So much for Pr. Sodt’s cherished mentor. With a sense of certitude unshaken, he now knows that Niebuhr was as bad as Neuhaus is. This strikes us as an instance of remedial education on the fast track. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has determined that the law is not kosher. The law, in New Jersey and more than twenty other states, has provided for state inspection of kosher food concerns to make sure that their food is made and sold according to Jewish dietary laws. “The regulations may have been designed to assure truth in marketing, but the truths being marketed are, in essence, religious truths,” declared the Court. The 4-3 opinion adds that “the regulations do not police the nutritional quality or sanitary purity of kosher food but only its religious purity. In doing so, they create an unconstitutional entanglement of government and religion.” The American Civil Liberties Union, wouldn’t you know, is pressing to have similar laws struck down in other states. The New Jersey case was brought by a kosher food concern that disputed the state’s definition of what is and is not kosher. And indeed there are disputes among rabbis on that question. But then, there are disputes over all the definitions that a state might employ in regulating the sale of anything (and what isn’t regulated today?). It would seem that the state should clearly indicate what standard it employs and let purveyors who disagree with that standard advise potential purchasers on why they follow a different standard. The inspection of kosher food may not be one of the great questions facing our culture (although it is a big business, with $30
billion in annual sales). But the implied principle of the New Jersey ruling”that any consideration influenced by religion is beyond the purview of governmental concern”is very troubling indeed. That principle is the flip side of the ACLU’s separationist dogma that, wherever government goes, religion must retreat. There are perhaps legal ambiguities in the state inspection of kosher food, but accommodating such ambiguities is precisely the reason for an “accommodationist” reading of “the separation of church and state.” The purpose of the First Amendment’s religion clause is, after all, the free exercise of religion, and one must really reach to make the case that kosher food inspection infringes upon anyone’s religious freedom. The Rev. Jean Mayland of York Minster writes to The Times (London) to praise the role of the World Council of Churches in the collapse of Communism. This is too much for Canon Michael Bourdeaux of Keston College and Kent Hill of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, two organizations that rendered heroic service in defending believers who were oppressed under the evil empire. Bourdeaux and Hill respond to Mayland thus: “Sir, Jean Mayland’s assertion (letter, July 30) that it was the World Council of Churches, not the present Pope, which was the main source of inspiration for Christians in the Eastern bloc is patently false. Those of us who have for many years lived in or travelled frequently to Moscow encounter daily evidence that the WCC’s stock has never been lower, nor has it ever been viewed as a strong defender of human rights or religious freedom. Glastnost-era revelations have proven beyond any serious question that the WCC statements and actions over a period of 25 years consistently ignored or downplayed the persecution inflicted on the Christian community by the Communist authorities. The WCC was viewed internally as a prop for the status quo, not as a harbinger of positive change, let alone a courageous defender of the downtrodden. The world scientific and literary communities were much more effective in defending their own than were their ecumenical Christian counterparts. Those of us who believe in ecumenism have been hardpressed in recent months in Moscow to defend the ideal of true, solidarity-inspiring ecumenism against the backdrop of the record of ecumenism in practice which Christians in Eastern Europe have been compelled to witness. Nevertheless, we will persist in our conviction that the world Christian community can do better. But that will not be possible if we fail to tell the truth about the past.” One imagines it must be rather enlivening to have J. Budziszewski as a colleague in the Government Department at the University of Texas. That, at least, is the inference drawn from his new book True Tolerance: Liberalism and the Necessity of Judgment (Transaction). There is nothing wimpish about Budziszewski’s idea of tolerance, as is evident in this bracing passage: “When I say something is a virtue, I do not mean my community admires this disposition’ any more than I mean merely I admire this disposition’ (although either statement may happen to be true). Rather I mean this disposition really does aid, prompt, focus, inform, and execute the moral choices of those who possess it, instead of clouding them, misleading them, or obstructing their execution; it is an objective good, and helps them toward a right relationship with other objective goods.’ If someone objects, But we must take people as they are ,’ I agree. But we are in need of the virtues. If someone objects, But most people admire other traits more than the virtues,’ again I agree; in fact, I would say that all of us admire other traits more than the virtues, much of the time or even most of the time. But this only shows the more clearly our need. And if some theoretician opines, Morals are a breach of taste; there are no objective goods with which we could be brought into right relationship,’ I readily admit that the point cannot be proved either way. One must take it on faith. But I will add this: I have never known a theoretician who could not suffer indignation”a moral passion. Break into his house and see what happens. For an even faster reaction, contradict him! Scratch a subjectivist and you find a moralist every time. The principle, I think, is plain. Many people are confused about the distinction between good and evil, but only those forget it who have ceased, altogether, to be human. Human beings are so obsessed with it that they will try to derive moral imperatives even from the proposition that there is no moral knowledge. It is one of our most popular parlor games. “Here is another way of saying the same thing: Because the virtues concern objective goods and evils, if true tolerance is a virtue at all, then it is a human virtue, not a liberal virtue.’ Among the virtues incumbent upon everybody, it is merely one the liberal political tradition has made a point of. In passing I should like to stress that as political theorists sometimes do, I use the term liberal’ to designate this entire tradition, not just its left wing. We are speaking of a mansion of institutions and practices the construction of which began around 1688, and which is now inhabited by Ronald Reagan no less than by Edward Kennedy.” Personal secretary to Pope John XXIII for almost ten years, until the Pope’s death in 1962, Loris Capovilla, now a retired bishop, has given a remarkable interview to The Catholic World Report . There is much of interest, including his explanation of why John XXIII must be viewed as a conservative, but we were especially struck by the following response to the question, “What is your assessment of the Council”: “I believe that the Council must be judged on the basis of its documents, not on the basis of newspaper articles or the gossip of the sacristy. If you ask me: You: who are you?’ I will reply: I am a man, a Christian, a priest, a retired bishop, and I find my identity in Lumen Gentium. This was a great ecclesial document, dogmatic; I do not believe there is any disagreement on this in the Church. Why did I say as a man’? Because I am part of the People of God, Lumen Gentium , Chapter 2. Why did I say Christian’? Because I am part of Chapter 4, the laity. Why did I say a bishop’? Because I am part of Chapter 3, on the hierarchy. If you ask me: But your way of speaking, your humanistic culture, Greco-Latin, Mediterranean, your enlightenment, where does it come from?’ And I would reply: From Dei Verbum : The word of God.’ If you ask me: How do you pray?’ I reply: I find my prayer and liturgical guideline in Sacrosanctum Concilium , the document on the liturgy.’ If you then say: But that document has led to so many errors and excesses,’ I reply: There will always be things to correct and reform.’ Because, when I find myself, for example, listening to a symphony of Beethoven or a fugue of Bach, and then listen to certain songs that are sung in churches today, certainly I am upset. But I think that, within Sacrosanctum Concilium there is all the material necessary to indicate to me, how I should pray, how I should administer the sacraments, how I should live this life of religion and piety. And then if you ask me: How do you view the things happening in the world, in education, politics, the economy, the law, relations between men and women, the family, and so forth?’ I will respond: Cum gaudio et spes , with joy and hope, the title of the fourth Council document.’ And you will say: Really? Joy at what is happening?’ and I will say: Yes. Because I am a son of God and whatever happens, I am always at home and joyful. And my hopes are not only the improvement of diplomatic relations here or there. We are not here in order to have the Church triumph. We ask for freedom for the Church, not for victory. Liberty for what? Liberty to serve. And I believe that this is occurring.’ “ (The following is an unpaid plug.) Moral Dimensions is based in Saratoga, California, and specializes in “applied natural law ethics.” That sounds pretty forbidding, but the group has done some first-rate programs playing on PBS and NPR stations under the title “Crisis in Law.” They are in need of funding to expand this venture and those who may be able to help are invited to write Fr. William Lester, S.J., at P.O. Box 3239, Saratoga, CA 95070. From The Letters of Martin Buber (Schocken), this is Abraham Joshua Heschel writing to Buber in Jerusalem. The date is November 25, 1938, and Heschel is in Warsaw, having been forced to flee Frankfurt. “I receive much news from Germany. If only I could respond with deeds! Perhaps this plight will teach us something . . . . Concepts are suddenly regaining their unambiguousness-for everyone. Perhaps we can now bury relativism.” Half-a-century later the intellectual masters of clever relativisms, led by Richard Rorty’s band of liberal ironists, dance on Heschel’s grave, and Buber’s. The document is titled “The Compleat and Authentick Historie of the Conquest of New Spain,” and the author is one who styles himself the Revd. P. Mankowski, MA &c. We cannot vouch for its authenticity, nor, for that matter, for its completeness, but it does usefully put into a nutshell most of what we were told this past year about 1492 and all that. “This year we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the introduction of sherry, syphilis, and variable-rate mortgages to the New World. The natives lived in a bubble of Edenic bliss, gently swaying in rustic hammocks to the music of Palestrina, sipping strawberry daiquiris and feeding delicately on nectarines that dropped unsought into their hands. All of a sudden there was a dreadful quaking and rumbling, and an enormous baby blue clapped-out Pontiac pulled up carrying fourteen males with coarse facial hair and pointy-toed shoes. They imposed the feudal system on the unsuspecting Indians by spray-painting the entire Salic Law on the side of the Temple of Quexacoatl and established haciendas, liquor stores, and bishoprics. The natives were peace-loving vegetarians, but the Spanish liked to lean up against trees picking their teeth with knives and using exclusive language. The principal industry of the colonialists was making lewd remarks at the Indian maidens and exporting the reactions to the mother country in exchange for tattoos of Pope Innocent VIII. Things were bad. Then the Sisters of St. Francis of Mamaroneck empowered the campesinos to set up Christian base communities, day care, and fire-support teams of guerrilla infantry battalions. People came to a new sense of selfhood and are now happily employed as weavers of colorful cotton chasubles and as second basemen. We are all very thankful.” Goodness knows, we need all the help we can get, so there is reason to welcome “Lutheran Helps for Medical Dilemmas” by the Rev. Adele Stiles Resmer who works for the church and society office of the ELCA. Along the way, Pr. Resmer alludes to the late Joseph Sittler, a Lutheran theologian of great influence. Resmer writes: “In the end faithful folk must decide what decisions/choices fit them, that is, what makes sense given their historical situation, biblical, theological, and philosophical understandings. Having taken all of the above into account they must then make their best guess. Here I’m eluding [sic] to Joe Sittler who helpfully reminds us that after you gather all the information for decisions, theological and otherwise, finally your decision should be offered up to God, who will sort out the right or wrongness of the decision and, if necessary, offer forgiveness.” If we got her right, the message is: Do what seems right for you, and let God worry about it. Readers may disagree as to whether that eludes the title’s promise of helps in medical dilemmas. In Toronto, a nurse named Scott Mataya administered a lethal dose of potassium chloride to Joseph Saunder, 78, because the latter began to choke and Mataya was “distraught.” The court handed down a suspended sentence and barred Mataya from nursing for life. An Arthur W. Frank of the University of Calgary writes in the Christian Century that Mataya probably did the right thing, adding, “My sense of compassion for both Scott Mataya and myself is that, if I were dying, I would welcome him as my nurse.” Frank invokes the example of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. “[Jesus] seems to recognize that no society takes its nominal proscription against killing as inclusive of all instances . . . . The only general principle is compassion; beyond that, nothing but people acting in what the Toronto court called unusually stressful situations.’ “ Frank acknowledges that ethicists make distinctions between administering drugs to relieve pain and injecting to kill, but in the actual situation of suffering, he writes, “I doubt that any of these distinctions mean much.” We can try to draw lines, says Frank, but they are always changing. “I hope that if some day my own caregivers have to step over one line or another, they may go the direction Scott Mataya chose,” he concludes. When in doubt, choose death, says Mr. Frank. More remarkable, he appears to deny the possibility, even the desirability, of distinguishing between caring and killing. Most remarkable, the editors of the Christian Century obviously think this brief for the compassion that kills is a contribution to current discussions about ethics relative to death and dying. Here, in its entirety, a correction printed in The Lutheran (ELCA): “The Eastern North Dakota Synod did not adopt the position that homosexual acts along with fornication and adultery are all sins.’ The resolution was tabled.” In the name of “preventing AIDS,” very dramatic changes in public school sex education seemed to be having a free run during the last two years or so. The great debate in New York, for instance, has been over whether fifth-graders must be given graphically illustrated lessons in oral and anal sex, heterosexual and homosexual. That is next to the dispute about whether gay activists serving as “counselors” in sex education programs should be required to say that abstinence is a good thing. Those who think New York an irrelevant aberration are reminded that at least fifty other urban school districts are following “the New York model.” But now a reaction, in the very best sense of that term, seems to be setting in. For several years a handful of persistent, even heroic, folk, coordinated by Msgr. John Woolsey of the Archdiocese, braved overwhelming and vicious opposition in pointing out the availability of more sane approaches to teaching about human sexuality. Beginning this fall in New York, more and more black and Hispanic parents (the school system has relatively few whites) have joined in public protest against the schemes of the educational establishment. “Not With My Children You Don’t!” they are saying in a hundred different ways. And more solid materials are becoming available that challenge the scientific and educational presuppositions of the more extreme programs, while also giving concrete guidance on alternatives. We have mentioned some of these materials before, but take this occasion to alert readers to AIDS and Adolescents by Linda Thayer, a project of the Boston Archdiocese. Ms. Thayer teaches biology in a Boston high school and knows of what she writes. (Available for $3 from Office of Community Relations, 2121 Commonwealth Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135, or from St. Paul Book and Media Centers throughout the U.S. and Canada.) “I think ethics is becoming a commodity, and that’s becoming a problem. While we like to think about the ethical consequences of new technologies, we have never thought about the ethical consequences of having an ethics industry,” says Lawrence Gostin, executive director of the American Society of Law and Medicine. Bioethics is indeed booming, writes Michael Schrage for the Los Angeles Times , as hospitals, state health commissions, government research projects, and labor unions all sense the need to cover their backsides by hiring experts who can testify in court that they did “the ethical thing.” Although ethicists are commanding six-figure salaries, “ethical advice is always going to be cheaper than medical treatments,” writes Schrage. “For that reason alone, the job market prospects for tomorrow’s bioethicists look a lot healthier than [those of] the people they advise.” The very disengaged New York magazine carried this book note: “ Jesus , by A. N. Wilson. The biographer of Tolstoy and C. S. Lewis takes on the much-mythologized figure at the center of a popular religion and seeks to dispel many of the myths that have collected about him. W.W. Norton. 320 pages. $22.95
.” Surely you remember the Jesus movement? British television has this comedy series Spitting Image , and it recently featured a rubber puppet of a hippy-style Jesus. The puppet has been withdrawn after vociferous expressions of outrage from viewers. From Muslim viewers. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of the UK pointed out that Islam reveres Jesus and the puppet was a “gross and grotesque misrepresentation.” Those responsible, said the Muslim statement, “should be severely punished.” Producer Bill Dare has not been punished, but he promises that the puppet will not reappear. “We did not know the Muslims were upset,” he said. “People sometimes ask why we don’t have a puppet of Mohammed but we don’t poke fun at minorities in this country”they are vulnerable enough as it is.” In the UK the notion persists that Christians are not a minority. Mr. Dare says he discussed the offending program with Church of England leaders who thought it was “innocuous.” Iqbal Saccrani of the Muslim committee expressed the view that Anglican clergy would be heartened by the leadership provided by British Muslims in protesting blasphemy. “I am sure the Church will join us,” he said. Mr. Dare no doubt has a better feel for the C of E. Among the keepers of ecclesiastical proprieties, unplumbable depths of indifference are passed off as that famous British unflappability. Journeys is a newsletter published by the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Among the alumni notes in a recent issue is a photo of two beaming women posing cheek by jowl with the explanation: “Mary Cronin (85) and Bonnie Jackman celebrated their union in a commitment ceremony May 9. Joined by their families and friends, they exchanged rings and vows in a service led by a friend. Mary teaches kindergarten in Boston.” A novice wrote National Jesuit News inquiring about Jesuit etiquette for lesbian nuptials. For instance, is a wedding gift appropriate? No answer to date. When the American Bar Association this past August endorsed abortion on demand, the credibility of its claim to be a nonpolitical organization collapsed completely. Clarke Forsythe and Kevin J. Todd, attorneys with the Chicago-based Americans United for Life, have sent out an appeal to pro-life lawyers across the country. “In light of ABA policy makers’ willful indifference to arguments for collegiality and inclusiveness . . . we believe the time has come to disassociate ourselves from an ABA that will aggressively commit funds, personnel, and its name to pro-abortion advocacy”to lobbying Congress and state legislatures in favor of absolute abortion-rights laws and to filing amicus curiae briefs in federal and state courts in support of an unmodified Roe v. Wade . To date, over 3,000 attorneys have cancelled their memberships in the ABA to protest the abortion advocacy position. Uncounted others have allowed their memberships to lapse. We encourage you to resign; to send a letter to the ABA explaining the reason for your action; and, if you permitted your membership to lapse without comment, to send an explanatory letter to the ABA. Although recent actions of the ABA indicate that it will likely remain stone deaf to our concerns, the Association may be able to hear the echoes in its coffers and reconsider its position if adequate numbers of members resign.” In addition, explorations are underway toward establishing an alternative and genuinely non-political national bar association. For more information write Mr. Forsythe at Americans United for Life, 343 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60604. The new president of Planned Parenthood of America, replacing Faye Wattleton who is going into the talk show business, is Pamela J. Maraldo. Speaking of her religion, Ms. Maraldo says, “Like most Catholics, as is shown by one national survey after another, I believe in the use of contraception and am pro-choice. I go to church on Sunday but do not subscribe to many of the basic tenets of the Church. That does not mean I am any less a Catholic.” In other words, Catholicism is what I say it is. In a consumer culture of customized religion, it seems everybody has a right to define Catholicism except the Pope. One is reminded of the perhaps apocryphal story of Clare Boothe Luce who, in audience with Pius XII, waxed enthusiastic about the glories of Catholicism. As she was departing, the Pope was heard to say, “But, Mrs. Luce, I’m a Catholic, too.” With respect to the discussions of what it means to be a Catholic, we would not be surprised if John Paul II might sometimes want to raise the same objection. We are a little late in bringing it to our readers’ attention, but then the editors were late in getting it to us. But here at last is the first issue of Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology . It completely fulfills its promise. The quarterly is published by a theology center run by Lutherans in Northfield, Minn., but it is thoroughly ecumenical in participation and purpose. The aim is to promote theological scholarship and discussion that is resolutely committed to the Great Tradition shared by all Christians who would be orthodox, and to advancing the visible unity of the Church. Among those associated with this venture and familiar to our readers are Carl Braaten, Robert Jenson, Robert Benne, Avery Dulles, Stanley Hauerwas, Mark Noll, Thomas Oden, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Philip Turner, Robin Darling Young, and this writer. A year’s subscription is $25
and it should be sent to Pro Ecclesia , Box 327, Delhi, NY 13753. This handsome journal of theology fills a gap that has needed filling for a very long time. It is possible that another sponsor might come forward, but as of this writing it appears that there may be no St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City this year. Held for more than two hundred years, the parade is beyond doubt the oldest and most notable celebration in the life of the city. The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) has decided that it will no longer sponsor the parade because existing and threatened law suits jeopardize the organization’s various charitable programs. The difficulties began when the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) demanded that it be allowed to march in the parade and the AOH said no. The difficulties became insurmountable when Mayor David Dinkins threw his support behind ILGO. Keep in mind that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a Catholic event, sponsored by a Catholic organization to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and New York. Gay activists who aggressively proclaim their rejection of church teaching have no place in it. That, at least, is the way the Hibernians see it. Not so with the Mayor’s human rights commission. The commission has ruled that the parade is a “secular” event, and therefore there is no religious exemption from laws that forbid discrimination against homosexuals. Barring a new sponsor, March 17 will witness a perfect exemplification of the naked public square”for the first time in two centuries, Fifth Avenue without a St. Patrick’s Parade. The Dinkins’ Doctrine is relentless: public=secular. Put differently, religion in public life is a contradiction in terms. If there is no parade, gay and lesbian activists, together with their mayor, will no doubt draw satisfaction from having demonstrated their power by silencing a vibrant expression of pluralism in the life of the city. Oh yes, they will say it was necessary because “we live in a pluralistic society.” In their dictionary, pluralism means that you do it their way or you don’t do it at all. We still hope that, somehow, there will be a parade”and that it will be the Catholic parade of the last two centuries. But, however this turns out, the role played by the Mayor and his political allies will be remembered. And not only by the Irish. We took note a while back of Newsweek s disingenuous apologia for pop music that celebrates killing cops and engaging in other socially dubious behavior. According to the editors, as best we can understand their argument, when blacks kill white people they are really doing whites a service by alerting them to their responsibility for the social conditions that engender black rage. And so forth. But now the music industry has gone too far for the editors of Newsweek . It seems that a nineteen-year-old named Buju Banton has put out “Boom Bye Bye” in which he proposes shooting homosexuals. “And the beat of bigotry goes on,” Newsweek opines in tones most censorious. The editors also get in a dig at religion, noting that Banton claims that homosexuality “runs contrary to my religious beliefs.” It is possible, but it seems unlikely, that in the view of Newsweek the killing of homosexuals would be as excusable as the killing of cops, if it were done for nonreligious reasons. According to Father Fred Kammer, S.J., who is its new president, Catholic Charities is “the nation’s largest private human service network.” Private? Surely he means voluntary or nongovernmental. There is nothing in the least “private” about Catholic Charities. Kammer’s apparent assumption that “public” means “governmental” is evident in his thoroughly statist recommendations for mending social ills. “I am proud,” says Kammer, “that Catholic Charities is the largest. I am not proud that we are a growth industry.” He then goes on to promote a laundry list of public policies by which government can take over from voluntary action. Included is an expansion of federal low-income housing programs”programs that by now are almost unanimously acknowledged as having had disastrous consequences for the urban poor. Apparently the word has not yet reached those in charge at Catholic Charities. To judge by this report in catholic trends , it seems that Fr. Kammer has little use for the doctrine of “subsidiarity” in Catholic social teaching”the doctrine that decisions about meeting human needs should, as much as possible, be voluntary and in the hands of those most immediately affected. At the beginning of his tenure as president, we warmly recommend to Fr. Kammer a careful reading of the 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus , in which John Paul II sets forth the humane alternatives to statist social policies. This writer would even be so bold as to urge upon the leadership of Catholic Charities the elaboration of the Pope’s proposals in his new book, Doing Well and Doing Good . But that may be expecting too much. The dreary fact is that”among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews alike”many of those in charge of charitable agencies continue to denigrate “charity” and favor its replacement by statist “solutions” that swell government bureaucracy and lock the needy ever more tightly into patterns of dependency and powerlessness. Consider the plight of Dan Maguire. Having left behind his solemn vows as a priest, he has for years been a lay theologian teaching at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He married Marjorie, also a theologian, and together they wrote a book arguing that abortion is a moral choice for Catholics. Over the years, Dan Maguire has been a star speaker for Catholics for Free Choice and groups advocating the moral legitimacy of homosexuality. With Mr. Maguire, it seems, almost anything goes. But now he has divorced Marjorie and married another woman. The first Mrs. Maguire is very unhappy about this. She has left theology and become a lawyer. She goes around to meetings where Dan Maguire is speaking and takes the microphone to call him an “adulterer,” a “spiritual rapist,” and other rude things. Mr. Maguire went to court and got an injunction to keep the first Mrs. Maguire from disrupting his speaking engagements with “inappropriate and obscene behavior.” The judge stipulated, however, that Mrs. Maguire has every right to express her views if the events include a place for comme