George Will, Howard Dean, Religion, and "Our Own High Powers"
The challenge confronting the church can be expressed in one word: modernity. The church preaches that freedom is life lived in conformity to God's will as manifested in revelation and interpreted by the church. Modernity teaches that freedom is the sovereignty of the individual's will – personal volition that is spontaneous, unconditioned, inviolable and self-legitimizing.
Meanwhile, in muddled counterpoint to Will, here's Howard Dean waxing incoherent about how the Democrats are going to "use Terri Schiavo":
The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?
One might wonder why it is legitimate for Dean and his cohorts to "use Terri Schiavo" and illegitimate for Delay and the Republicans to do the same thing ("They used her first?" or perhaps "Because we're the good guys and they're the evil guys.") But I'm going to leave that aside for now. And I'm going to pass over the already tired theocracy slur by invoking the Inigo Montoya Retort: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." What most interested me in the statement was Dean's faith in "our own high powers." Excuse me, but what exactly are "our own high powers?" Is it something like the Force? I imagine Howie Wan Kenobi throwing back his hood and saying, "Our own high power is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us; it penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. Remember, your own high power will be with you, always." I'm supposed to tremble at the thought that American domestic policy might be influenced by a group of people who wish to follow God's commandments (or, in current leftist lingo, a bunch of scary, Bible-dancing, snake-handling freaks who want to institute a theocracy), but that guy named Chad with the pierced tongue who works at Starbucks and thinks "Jacklyn Pollock" is, like, a rilly cool artist and that the world would be like, so a better place if we just gave peace a chance and impeached Chimpy McHitlerburton and, like, followed our hearts -- everything will be hunky dory if we just allow him to consult "his own high powers?"
If Democrats don't want to be accused of endorsing the kind of modernity that Will describes -- a modernity that extols the naked will and its "self-legitimizing" power -- they must reconsider their use of a rhetoric which seems to mock and demonize political opinions which are motivated by religious and moral concerns. When it comes down to it, and when it's a matter of the "difficult decisions" that Dean refers to, I'll take the "Bible-thumpers" and their high powers over the Chads of the world and his every time.