Monday, November 15, 2004

The New Republic Online: The Elect

The New Republic Online: The Elect: "The belief in God does not guarantee the knowledge of God's wishes. This is the most elementary lesson of the history of religious faith. The believer lives in the darkness more than he lives in the light. He does not wallow in God's guidance, he thirsts for it. And when God's guidance comes, it does not take the form of policy recommendations, unless he has created his God in the image of his desire. What deity is this, that has opinions about preemption and taxation and Quentin Tarantino? In this regard, there is no more ringing refutation of the religion of George W. Bush than the religion of Abraham Lincoln. 'Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other,' Lincoln proclaimed at the beginning of his second term, and in the middle of a war. 'The prayers of both could not be answered--that of neither has been answered fully.' For Lincoln, his party was not God's party; or rather, the other party was as much God's party as his party was. And he explained this repudiation of human certainty this way: 'The Almighty has his own purposes.' He did not know what they were, he knew only that they were. Beware the politicians, and the politics, that know more."

The New Republic Online: The Elect

The New Republic Online: The Elect:

Best thing I've read on this issue. Leon Wieseltier explains why it's really not the economy that's at issue and why you don't need to feign faith to have morality:

"liberals have once again been harshly taught that homo economicus--more concretely, homo Shrumicus--is a fiction. Money is often not the most important thing in the world for poor people, perhaps because they have so little of it. They do not define themselves only, or mainly, by what they lack; whereas they are rich in loves and principles, and so the communal and national and cultural and spiritual dimensions of their identity may loom larger than the economic dimension. (The Bush administration has demonstrated, by contrast, that economic man is more likely to be found among the wealthy, for whom money often does seem to be the most important thing in the world, perhaps because they have so much of it.)

So liberals must indeed develop a fuller and more vivid comprehension of the Americans whom they rightly wish to help; but that is all the intellectual contrition that they need muster. For they have values even when they do not have faith; and they should not contrive to have faith so as to gain values, unless they wish to degrade faith by promoting it mainly for its political utility, as some conservatives do."