You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Linking the dots

For The New Republic to criticise Pope John Paul II as "too absolutist" is a dog-bites-man story. But it becomes a man-bites-dog story when this charge is levelled by Damon Linker. Damon was formerly editor of First Things, a journal of conservative Judaeo-Christianity that in November 1996 hosted a symposium ("The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics") to debate whether Roe v Wade and other excursions in pro-abortion judicial activism had absolved conservative Judaeo-Christians of their allegiance to the US Constitution.

UPDATE: Thanks to Douglas LeBlanc at GetReligion for linking to this, and for doing some further investigative digging. Mea culpa for not realising that Damon wasn't at First Things during its Harper's Ferry period; I did check that particular issue of FT to see who was editor then, but couldn't find what I was after. If DL's stint at FT postdated the much-publicised symposium, that makes it curiouser and curiouser that he would later work at that magazine.

It seems surprising, too, that a Catholic would both (a) be conservative enough to work at FT, but also (b) be liberal enough to consider JPII "too absolutist". Now, one can easily imagine a conservative Protestant admiring the Pope, writing for FT, but still considering the Pope's theology "too absolutist" in certain respects: on married clergy, for example, or contraception, or just war theory. (On the other hand, the Pope could equally accuse conservative Protestants of being "too absolutist" about, say, drinking of alcohol, or gambling, or use of images in worship).

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