Monday, July 10, 2006
Hello, my name is . . .
My name is Geoffrey and I have been invited by the owner of this site to contribute. My own blog is here and I urge, I implore, I beg you to go there once you have finished here. I have been asked to write on religious issues from a progressive perspective. I will admit that I often feel like a toad at several garden parties; as a devout Christian, I am sometimes uncomfortable around screeching libs who demand God not be mentioned lest their ears fall off. On the other hand, as someone who is so far left I walk in circles, I often feel as if others view my faith as fake, a put-on, a show. Actually, my faith and my political views are intertwined, and I cannot, and would not, separate them. I am a Christian because I am progressive, and I am progressive because I am a Christian.

Having put that right up front, I want to say something general about religious language and public discourse. In the essay, "Religion as Conversation Stopper", in his book Philosophy and Social Hope, philosopher Richard Rorty takes up the issue of using faith-language in political debate. Rorty sees no sense, for either conservatives or liberals to insist that saying, "I hold thus-and-such political opinion", is enough. He sees it, as the title of his essay suggests, as a conversation stopper, precisely because it is not so much a reason as it is a simple assertion. While his dialogue partner in this, Cornel West, is someone I admire a great deal, and whose faith commitments I cannot deny, I give the argument here to Rorty. We Christians should not expect to be exempt from criticism for our political views simply because we are Christian. We need good reasons, sound reasons, reasons accessible to anyone for the positions we take.

All this says, I think, that I will do my best to be honest about both my faith and the perspective from which I come, but I will not attempt to hide behind some rhetorical veil of religious gobbledygook that only the initiated can understand. If you disagree with me, fine. I love a good argument. Please don't disagree with me, though, because I am a Christian and that's all, though. I will never simply give "Because I believe it," as answer to any question. Hold me to that, and we'll have fun and all learn some things.


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