The Limits Of Political Accommodation: Herodian Strategy For Survival In An Age Of Absolutes

The Roman Catholic Church has a very long distinguished history of playing a Machiavellian hand with secular leaders.  Witness the long tenure of John Paul II in Poland regarding both his strategy to break the Warsaw Pact along with hardened religious secularists like Central American Jesuits who long ago abandoned Orthodoxy for egalitarian political gain.  He won against both.  And he did it through accommodation not outright confrontation.  There is much to be gained in studying this Herodian posture.  Perhaps the Church of Kathleen Sebelius could learn a thing or two about the limits of partisian passion in Washington.

The Democratic Party no longer really concerns itself with anything outside its own rigid understanding of ‘historicism’, usually limited a mythic heritage of Camelot.  This unrealized past cannot pay a dividend as it struggles with conservatives and the role of religious liberty as evidenced in the latest clash of ‘civilizations’ between US Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ and Catholic Bishops regarding the Food and Drug Administrations stand to make available without a prescription a ‘morning after pill’ for girls as young as eleven.  Margaret Sanger eugenics meets Marshall McLuhan’s tribal night.

Is there a real need for girls aged eleven to need ‘a morning after pill’?  And if so, why?  I think Marshall McLuhan’s corpus sheds light on this most moral of cultural sentiments.   The sad truth is that more girls in our self styled progressive culture (read anarchy) are introduced into a hyper-sexed lifestyle far earlier than ever before, and with grave personal and cultural consequences.  I think Dr. Charles Murray and Dr. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s documentation is enough to reconsider the permanent arrival of McLuhan’s ‘tribal night.’   Let me explain:  domesticated digital electronic media has huge cognitive impact, for it decentralizes any user from any cultural template organized around an informing center.  This drama is being enacted upon the lest beneficial of society:  girls.  The sexing up of young girls is intrinsic to both the very medium used by youths, and to the mores that dominate our cultural landscape.  Only a rival competing source of authority can mitigate this inevitable clash.  Enter the Church.

The Catholic Church remains a bulwark at the fore of social services in the United States. They are organized and funded.  For decades, American Bishops have accommodated the various secular decrees that roll out of both State Capitals, Washington and the Supreme Court.  What’s different this time around is the political/social field in which unintended consequences from secular legislation currently reside.

All parties involved in this clash have ardently believed that both conscience rights and abortion funding would be tweaked.  Fair enough.  But now, the Church and social conservatives are finally coming around to recognize the irreconcilable militancy that resides at the core of the Democratic Party.

Obamacare, abortion and the hosts of other secular rights pursued by the American left is  regarded by those on the right, as being built on force.  Obamacare’s individual mandate, abortion on demand, homosexual marriages, the panels to decide healthcare etc. . have lead to an awakening among those on the right to re-examine their historical accommodation.

A synoptic view of the American left reveals a dangerous atomized view of the human person, a view at odds with the mores that have dominated Western Civilization for centuries.  Can the claims of religious liberty and conscience be dealt with from inside the house of relativity?  Are we not nominalists upon pursuing any coherent strategy from within the intellectual confines of the American left?  Is everything an adjunct to be manipulated from within the house of positivism?

American liberalism has a long distinguished view on such matters.  John Courtney Murray from Fordham University still remains the standard bearer when considering an examination of the edifice that supports ANY cogent, coherent view of religious liberty.  Sadly, the American left has borne itself to abandon its once Herodian strategy in favor of open rebellion.  The question remains:  can it remain truly liberal while pursuing totalist goals in a manner analogous to absolutism.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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