Religion as style
In a New York Times op-ed column, David Brooks points out that President Bush was once Episcopalian, then Presbyterian, now Methodist. Howard Dean was Catholic, then Episcopalian, now Congregationalist. Wesley Clark has identified with the Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, and now Presbyterian churches.
Brooks sees a lesson here, about orthodoxy in politics and faith:
So we have this paradox. These days political parties grow more orthodox, while religions grow more fluid. In the political sphere, there is conflict and rigid partisanship. In the religious sphere, there is mobility, ecumenical understanding and blurry boundaries.
That's one way to look at it. Here's another:
American political leaders today, as a class, have a remarkably superficial approach to religious faith-- perhaps because they put their ultimate faith in politics. If government holds the answer to every important question, then religious doctrines can't be terribly important, and confessional differences should be downplayed in the interest of sound public policy.
Today I'm wearing a plaid shirt. Yesterday I was wearing a blue shirt; the day before it was yellow. There's no real pattern to my selection of shirts, because, frankly, I don't take the issue very seriously. When a presidential candidate (Clark) says that he's a Catholic who goes to a Presbyterian church, I wonder whether he gives that question any more thought.
An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:
Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!
Our Spring Challenge Grant
Progress toward our Spring Challenge Grant goal ($23,238 to go):
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
Posted by: -
Jan. 05, 2004 10:25 AM ET USA
Brooks is a classic neoconservative sellout, and thankfully a subpar intellect.
Posted by: John J Plick -
Jan. 02, 2004 10:59 AM ET USA
Dear Phil, I have a different way of looking at it. First, I believe that Mr. Dean should be commended for his honesty. As far as the President goes, that is none of my business, he was never Catholic. Mr.Dean, like the prodigal son, at least had a minimal degree of respect for the "father" (that is the Church) at least to leave "his" presence so as not to sin before his very face.According to the way the Church is run today, it seems to be the greater sin to "leave" the Church than hypocrisy.
Posted by: -
Dec. 31, 2003 1:15 PM ET USA
Many politicians view religion like a restaurant - if I don't like the service I will take my 'business' elsewhere. Very egalitarian, very market-driven; in short - very secular. But then should we expect strong convictions and an unshakeable faith in those who change their tune when a piper with deeper pockets shows up? But while I think a George W. is sincere and seeking the truth, many others are just seeking votes...
Posted by: shrink -
Dec. 31, 2003 8:34 AM ET USA
Church hopping may be as much a function of the lack of seriousness of the pastors as of the congregants, who are simply imitating the attitude of their preacher. For example, when priests & bishops speak with as much reverence for the beliefs of Buddha and Mohammed as they do their own, is it any wonder that parishioners would feel that the boundary between the Roman Church and the rest of the world is--shall we say--rather fluid.