The subject of religion has once again taken center stage in the national discourse. One could say that this is unsurprising since we are approaching the holiday season. However, I think the real reason is two fold; Mitt Romney’s speech on religion yesterday and the release of the atheism promoting movie The Golden Compass.

Regarding the first subject, I guess it was to be expected that Romney would give a speech concerning his views on faith and citizenship given the questions and concerns many people have about his Mormon faith. The number of Mormons in America is very small and their faith deviates significantly from traditional Christian Doctrine, so much so that one Mormon I talked to did not consider himself a Christian. In fact, Many Christians, myself included, view Mormonism as a cult. Consequently, Romney appears to have felt it necessary to dispel fears, especially among Evangelical Christians, that he would use the office of the President as a platform to advance his faith.

I am glad he did this and I hope that the rest of America, especially my fellow Evangelical Christians, stop worrying about his faith and move on to other more pressing concerns. The vast majority of Evangelical Christians that are concerned about Romney’s faith appear to be motivated out of a fear that a Mormon president will encourage other people to explore Mormonism and, therefore, lead to increased Mormon conversions. My response to this is, so what?!?!? When it comes to political candidates my only concern is whether the candidate is competent to hold the office and whether his governing philosophy concerning the role of government is broadly in line with mine. The question of a candidate’s faith is irrelevant. As Thomas Jefferson said on the same topic, “It neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket.” I also happen to think that Martin Luther was absolutely correct when he said “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk (Muslim) than a foolish Christian.”

I hold the above view not just because of the irrelevancy of the candidate’s faith to the question of his competence, but also because I have nothing to fear from different faiths. As a Born-Again Christian I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. To me, this is a truth that is simply inalterable. You either accept or deny that truth to your own benefit or peril. Consequently, I am not worried that somehow the existence of others that believe differently from me, or don’t believe, will in any way affect the truth of God. So what if someone from a different faith, or no faith, assumes a position of power? So what if people become curious about that person’s faith or lack thereof. That does not change the truth of God one bit. If anything, it provides me an opportunity to discuss my faith.

The aforementioned discussion also reflects why I am not concerned about the movie The Golden Compass. The movie is based on a children’s book written by an avowed atheist for the purpose of promoting atheism by means of a fantasy story. Many fellow Christians are angry about the thinly veiled attack on the Christian Church, specifically the Catholic Church, contained in the series of books of which The Golden Compass is the first installment. They point out, correctly I think, that no publisher or studio would publish or produce such a story if it attacked the Jewish or Muslim faith to the same degree it attacks Christianity. Consequently many Christians are talking about boycotting the film and demanding that theaters not show it.

I think a boycott is unnecessary. I am not going to see this movie nor will I buy the book, not because I am participating in some formal boycott, but simply because I don’t want to provide any financial support to the promotion of the movie/book’s message. I am not bothered that the book was written or that the movie was made. Atheism has been around for a long time and will continue until the second coming of Christ. Furthermore, I no more fear atheism than any other idea that challenges the truth of God. As I have said before, I believe that God’s truth is THE truth and is not threatened by competitors. I am aware that this movie/book may influence some to become atheists and I think that is unfortunate. I will pray for them and hope they see the errors of their way. Furthermore, I am more than willing to explain my faith to anyone that wishes to talk about it. What I won’t do is insist that contrary beliefs be excluded from the public square. While I may not contribute to their dissemination, I will refuse to insist on their elimination.
Iowahawk & TNR:

I believe our Eric Blair is also from Iowa:

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By the weekend, the Standard's editor, William Kristol, published an editorial that, without evidence, pronounced the Diarist an open-and-shut case, calling it "farrago of dubious tales." The gloating by rightwing bloggers that the evidence now exists is really beside the point, and a smokescreen to obscure an important fact: when Kristol and Goldfarb and company first hurled their then-baseless charges in July, there was no way that they could have known that the evidence would eventually turn up!
Duly noted.

Old Days

The Old and the Young:

I have had relatively little time lately, and I apologize for that. My old favorite, Arts & Letters Daily, provides me with the meat for today's short post.

Commentary has an article on how American society is getting better:

Just when it seemed as if the storm clouds were about to burst, they began to part. As if at once, things began to turn around. And now, a decade-and-a-half after these well-founded and unrelievedly dire warnings, improvements are visible in the vast majority of social indicators; in some areas, like crime and welfare, the progress has the dimensions of a sea-change. That this has happened should be a source of great encouragement; why it happened, and what we can learn from it, is a subject of no less importance....

Despite persistent anomalies and backslidings, some species of cultural re-norming certainly seems to have been occurring in this country over the past decade-and-a-half, and it is fascinating to observe in whose hearts its effects have registered most strongly. In attitudes toward education, drugs, abortion, religion, marriage, and divorce, the current generation of teenagers and young adults appears in many respects to be more culturally conservative than its immediate predecessors. To any who may have written off American society as incorrigibly corrupt and adrift, these young people offer a powerful reminder of the boundless inner resources still at our disposal, and of our constantly surprising national resilience.

There is also an allied article on what would, at first glance, appear to be a different subject: art.
Why did experimental novels like James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake fail to exert the same enduring appeal as the paintings of the abstract expressionists—or, for that matter, the distinctively modern jazz and popular music about which Gay has nothing at all to say in Modernism? Could it be that, as I have previously argued, there were “in fact two modernisms, one deeply conservative and tradition-based, the other profoundly radical and antinomian,” and that the first of these modernisms, not the second, is the one that has prevailed?
Confer, as they say, and discuss.