Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome, Damon

My old friend Damon Linker has blogged occasionally before, but now he's back in style, holding down one of the new blogs which The New Republic is hosting on its site. His first post, a defense of Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the prayer at his inagural, is I suspect a model of what we'll be getting from him: smart and succinct takes on the intersections of politics and religion in America today. Onto the blogroll he goes!

Oh, and what about his point? Really, between Damon's thoughts, and Steve Waldman's much lengthier take here, there's nothing more to say. Obviously Obama is not a socially conservative Christian, but his choice of Warren--assuming we are to read anything into this ceremonial choice at all, which unlike Damon I think maybe we can, assuming we don't allow ourselves to get carried away--shows him to be a little more serious, maybe even a little more orthodox, than either those on the secular left or the theocon right are willing to admit. Insofar as conservative Christian voters are concerned, yes, sure, it would be easy to deride Warren and by extension his connection to our new president; with his rhetoric of the "purpose-driven life," he can be dismissed as an exponent of Christianity Lite, of "moralistic therapeutic deism" as the current phrase has it. But then, what would one make of the inaugural of President Eisenhower, which Damon helpfully links to, with its pious, serious, but also thoroughly nondenominational prayer language at its beginning? In a liberal society, the best context for expressions of piety are ones which emphasize the service, generosity, charity and unity which dedicating one's life to God ought to make possible. Warren exemplifies this. And as for those on the opposite side, who feel that Warren's Biblically grounded, socially conservative views somehow compromises what he can represent in the context of an inaugural prayer, that it's a rebuke to Obama's winning coalition...well, that buys into the exactly the same for-us-or-against-us mentality which cultural warriors on the right depend upon. You'd think Obama's desire to bring rivals together would have shown his supporters on the left that such isn't the kind of game he plays.

[Update, 12/18--Damon's just put up a follow-up post, and he agrees with me. So there.]


Silus Grok said...

( Psst, Russ… is this Damon from CVHS? )

Russell Arben Fox said...

Was there a Damon back at Central Valley? I'm not remembering one...but then, as you know, I've suppressed most of my memories of high school. No, Damon is someone I got to know through graduate school and professional work in the years since.

Silus Grok said...

Yeah! Damon somethingorother … he was on the debate team with us. Your year. He had thick ebony hair, a pale complexion, and thick glasses with black rims.