The fight over Barrett’s confirmation would almost certainly build trust between President Trump and social conservatives. It would energize Republicans ahead of the midterm elections.
The facts of Barrett’s life — that she is a mother of seven children, and that when she speaks about her Catholic faith, she speaks about God as if she really believes in His existence — will provoke nasty and bigoted statements from Democratic senators and liberal media personalities. Again... Professor Barrett’s qualifications become stronger by virtue of her willingness to write candidly and intelligently about difficult and sensitive ethical questions: Our universities, our judiciary, and our country will be the poorer if the Senate prefers nominees who remain silent on such topics.”.. the fight to confirm her will contain edifying political lessons. We don’t have religious tests for public office in this country, and having a republic that does not have an established religion does not require excluding sincere believers from positions of authority... they should be able to compel religious people to conform to liberal moral norms — which just so happen to track exactly to doctrinal developments in the once dominant Mainline Protestant churches... The ACLU would compel Catholic hospitals to perform abortions... Evangelicals at a crisis pregnancy center will be made to advertise for abortion... contain an even deeper lesson, one that is salutary for both liberal secularists, who once indulged in triumphalism, and conservative believers, who have been tempted to despair: Believing Catholics and Evangelicals will continue to make their contributions to the common good of this country. You will live with us. If we’re going to have peace, we’re going to make it together.
There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative.
.. spend less time thinking about Trump the soap opera and more time on questions that surround the Trump phenomena and this moment of history.
.. he represents the farcical culmination of a lot of dying old orders — demographic, political, even moral — and what comes after will be a reaction against rather than a continuing from.
.. For example, let’s look at our moral culture. For most of American history mainline Protestants — the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and so on — set the dominant cultural tone. Most of the big social movements, like abolitionism, the suffragist movement and the civil rights movement, came out of the mainline churches.
.. You could be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or atheist, but still you were influenced by certain mainline ideas — the Protestant work ethic, the WASP definition of a gentleman. Leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama hewed to a similar mainline standard for what is decent in public life and what is beyond the pale.
.. For a time, we lived off the moral capital of the past. But the election of Trump shows just how desiccated the mainline code has become. A nation guided by that ethic would not have elected a guy who is a daily affront to it, a guy who nakedly loves money, who boasts, who objectifies women, who is incapable of hypocrisy because he acknowledges no standard of propriety other than that which he feels like doing at any given moment.
.. the country divided into at least three blocks:
- white evangelical Protestantism that at least in its public face seems to care more about eros than caritas;
- secular progressivism that is spiritually formed by feminism, environmentalism and the quest for individual rights; and
- realist nationalism that gets its manners from reality TV and its spiritual succor from in-group/out-group solidarity.
.. Trump revealed the vacuum, but who is going to fill it and with what?
A large share of well-educated liberal America is post-Protestant — former Methodists, ex-Lutherans, lapsed Presbyterians, the secularized kids of Congregationalists.
.. with the oldest churchgoing population and one of the lowest retention rates of any Christian tradition in the United States.
.. what those congregations offer is already embodied in liberal politics and culture.
.. enjoy a sort of cultural triumph, losing members even as their most distinctive commitments — ecumenical spirituality and a progressive social Gospel — permeate academia, the media, pop culture, the Democratic Party.
.. liberal Protestantism without the Protestantism tends to gradually shed the liberalism as well, transforming into an illiberal cult of victimologies that burns heretics with vigor.
.. as liberalism de-churches it struggles to find a nontransactional organizing principle, a persuasive language of the common good.
.. religious impulses without institutions aren’t enough to bind communities and families, to hold atomization and despair at bay.
.. Mormonism, the most demandingly communitarian of contemporary faiths
.. If pressed, most of you aren’t hard-core atheists: You pursue religious experiences, you have affinities for Unitarianism or Quakerism
.. you associate “religion” with hierarchies and dogmas and strict rules about sex
.. aren’t you being a little ungrateful, a little slothful, a little selfish by leaving these churches empty when they’re trying to be exactly the change you say you wish Christianity would make?
.. Sure, consciousness and free will are illusions, but human rights and gender identities are totally real.