« Bush acknowledges declassifying intelligence | Main | These People Are All the Same »

Faith vs. Doubt, Fear vs. Love

Revenger's Tragedy? Andrew Sullivan reprints a letter from a reader comparing the Bush administration to a Shakespearean tragedy. Sullivan disagrees "with much of it. But I disagree with it less than I did a year ago."

But there is one great dividing line here, between you and me on one side, and Bush and his cohort (and the Christianists and the Islamists and the scientific reductionists, and all the other -ists) on the other: the humility of a faith based on love, with its attendant qualities of acceptance, inclusion and non-violence, and the arrogance of a faith based on fear, with its attendant qualities of judgment, exclusion and, inevitably, violence. You have written of this division in your own way when you wrote of the "conservatism of doubt" vs "conservatism of faith". I truly believe this division marks the great spiritual, social and political challenge before us in the 21st century: the shift from a faith - and a world - based on the fear of God to one based on the love of God. That is an evolutionary challenge. And a global challenge. And I think that some day it will be recognized as the great theme being played out at the center of the Bush Presidency, and the American tragedy in Iraq.

The problem with this is that fear wins elections. Especially since 2001. Will the doubters ever have a chance? Or will the fear-mongers succeed again in 2006 and '08?



Before Reagan there was no significant "Christian Right;" that is, no monolithic political body that voted one way. Fear has been a key element in solidifying this base. Republicans, esp. Rove, are great at "wedge issues" that play on people's fears. Traditional Democratic wedges--race and class--ring hollow these days. But there's always pesky gays and scary Muslims!

Of course it hasn't helped one bit that the Left often sneers at anyone who makes God the center of their lives and somewhat cynically adopts the language of faith come election time as if to "triangulate." (That's not to say their faith is not legitimate but that their portrayal of it appears disingenuous).

Your Obamas and Bill Clintons get it, though. Al Gore was smart enough to get it but not adroit enough to express it.

Roe v. Wade has gone a long way in this solidification, too. It's easy to be all high and mighty about abortion when its legal. When its legality and availability is threatened, however, I think you'll see a big backlash.

You're totally right. How funny is it though that Lee Atwater used to refer to the Religious Right as the "extra chromosone gang?"

You happen to catch Joe Biden on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday? he made the exact same point. He's looking mighty presidential these days.

I've always liked Joe Biden and never understood why he didn't make it past primaries (maybe because of Clinton). He's got great cred on defense, a lot of natural political talent, and common sense.

Wonder if he's "too Yankee" for the general populace?

Get GLONO merch!