The movement of the evangelicals to intellectual respectability may stimulate some cognitive bargaining on the part of the today’s secularists, who may be less inclined to dismiss the claims of those who sense a spiritual presence in the world. Perhaps we will see that there needs be no disjunction between faith and reason.
As fundamentalist/Charismatic who converted to Catholicism in my 40’s I have seen both subcultures. I have come to believe that the moral content of these subculture’s motivates to a degree, but I observe that grinding “political” axes are what is motivating most of the real energy. The “culture wars” have become more a tool of political parties intent on raising money than serious discussions among Christians about the fragility and humility of human existence and our need for God’s grace. As someone who sympathizes with both the views of progressives and conservatives, I feel that the potential for productive and insightful conversations is lost as people tend to view these issues through the prism of their favored political viewpoint rather than the love of Christ as expressed in the Gospels and the insights in to human nature from 2000 years of tradition.
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Cognitive bargaining is an interesting term for selling out. Contrary to the opinion of many, the Zeitgeist is not the Holy Spirit.
I do not understand why Christians cannot be allowed to live according to their faith.
Christians are not beheading anyone. We simply do not want to embrace the assumptions of your humanistic faith.
Why can the keepers of “tolerance” not extend any tolerance for Christians who want to build Christian communities, without any trolls coming in for the express purpose of forcing us to embrace humanist beliefs about how sex is so important, how family bonds are not, and how we should and should not live?
I realize that you are sincere in your beliefs, but when “tolerance” becomes us tolerating you – without reciprocating respect – then it isn’t very “tolerant”, it is only your side demanding that we embrace your beliefs.
Be as gay as you want, but do not ask us to teach our children your beliefs. We do not believe that sexual pleasure is a higher priority than honoring one’s obligations to family kinship bonds, and as long as freedom of religion exists in America, that is our right.
A much more likely kind of “cognitive bargaining” on the part of orthodox Christians–whether evangelical or Catholic–is one that recognizes homosexual orientation as a condition unlikely to change and rejects demonizing homosexuals but that holds that sexual relationships and marriage (which need not be identified with “bourgeois marriage, any more than Christmas need be identifed with Dickens) between gays or lesbians is not to be encouraged or affirmed. Based on trends within the Episcopal Church, whatever bargaining affirmation of such homosexual relationships involves is more likely to concern the preservation of certain traditions than of orthodox beliefs (such as salvation only through Jesus–the example the author suggests in the discussion of the Belmont case).
The coming end of Drug Prohibition in North America will strike a serious blow to the Evangelical’s claim to authority.
It will be difficult to claim to be bearers of the “TRUTH” while being so seriously wrong on that issue. People will start asking (again) why Baptists are the bootleggers best friends.
When the prohibition regime falls there will be a serious accounting of the costs. The lives wrecked by prison. The deaths in the Drug Wars. The people denied medication. The trillions of dollars wasted (it only takes 20 years to waste a trillion at $50 bn a year). etc. etc. etc.
Maybe that is why Pat Robertson has at least questioned marijuana prohibition recently. He didn’t move far from his previous position. But any movement at all is remarkable.
Very interesting article. Fascinating to read as a college educated evangelical in Australia – striking similarities and differences – the main difference being a much less politically charged atmosphere here regarding all things religion. I’ll read the other posts on this blog.
This seems a good companion piece to David Brook’s NY Times column on the roots of civility, which he argues comes from a recognition of our weakness, sin and fallibility. Recognizing the limits of our own wisdom and ability to see things as they are means we’ll engage in conversation and truly listen, rather than try to shout above each other. And this means the rather painful process of cognitive bargaining can slowly proceed.
The point about defending the ‘traditional’ family is a good one, most are shocked to find out how recent and western it is.
Some of the valuable aspects Christians emphasize to the wider culture is the importance of commitment to marriage and family and self-sacrificing love. Unfortunately, this so often gets caught up in heated political debate regarding homosexuality that it becomes a debased term.
In my community, i see Christians much less willing (and able to) barely disguise homophobia by appealing to christian traditions. I hope that trend continues.