What if Jesus Had Been Aborted? A Reader Responds

A reader writes,

The Manhattan Declaration’s list seems a bit frivolous. Sure, we love the architecture and the art and the great music, but one doesn’t need religion, much less Christianity, for those things. Artists can always find their inspiration somewhere. Why didn’t they mention the Quakers’ opposition to war and slavery, or the efforts of the Protestant churches to civilize the American South and West in the 19th century? They could have also cited the churches’ roles in the Civil Rights movement and in South African reconciliation movements. The list of real, solid achievements would be long, so I’m disappointed that MD focused so much on superficialities.

Your list, on the other hand, was much too harsh and biased toward the negatives. Would have us believe that Christianity has contributed nothing to civilization? Can’t you take a more balanced approach?

My list was an application of force majeure. There was just SO MUCH artillery lying around unsecured! But maybe my riposte was (and not just about) overkill. It was an attempted deicide in retaliation for many successful democides.

But I maintain that Christianity has never been a consistent force for peace. Despite its claims of divine provenance, it has historically been shaped by social and intellectual movements perhaps more than it has shaped them. The Catholic church was, as Martin Luther King, Jr. would have said, “the tail-lights when it should have been the headlights,” changing its positions on slavery, geocentrism, scriptural literalism, marriage, anti-semitism, and a host of other issues only after prolonged intransigence. The same church cooperated with Fascist regimes in Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia during the 20th century.

The record is mixed, and we could all throw lists at each other until the cows come home. My own inclination is to try to avoid bias. Realism doesn’t mean serving equal portions but recognizing that sometimes the portions are already unequal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: