Sunday, September 07, 2008

Palin can have her moose and eat it too and that's ok with me

I like to think I'm a pretty tolerant guy. If it should turn out, for example, that Ms. Sarah Palin not only enjoys blowing moose to smithereens, but in fact also enjoys blowing moose tout court, I would not find anything necessarily disqualifying therein to her right to hold the most powerful political office on earth.

So long, that is, as she kept her moose proclivities from obtruding upon high level meetings with the army chiefs of staff etc.

What seems like it ought to be disqualifying, though, is when the leader of an ostensibly secular state fails to respect the distinction between her private beliefs regarding the divine and its place in human affairs on the one hand, and the duty to fulfill the obligations of her public office as inscribed in the Constitution on the other.

It would seem part and parcel of deep religious faith -- of the very nature of an "act of faith" -- that such a profound commitment is accompanied by an awareness that the "grounds" of the belief posture derive substantially and inelastically from modalities that fall outside the realm of science, of empirical evidence, of logic, and of shareable proof.

To "have faith" then is to have something that you fully understand might not be available to others, indeed to many others, who, if you happen to be a politician, may participate in all sorts of ways in the deliberations, decisions and effects flowing from those decisions that you make in your public capacity.

To speak to citizens of a state with the grandiose presupposition that they either already share your beliefs or ought to share them -- because your beliefs stem from an authoritative source that they ought to know, even though nowhere in the foundational language of the state does it require citizens to have that ethical obligation relationship with a/the divinity (in Palin's case, a divinity that probably would have frightened the founding fathers into pledging their most fervid allegiances back to King George) -- is to speak as an imbecile. That the USian media allow political leaders the latitude to speechifyingly link their Godly inspirations to earthly business is a pretty clear sign of a social and political discourse at the level of the diapered inane.

I'd welcome hearing of other ways of looking at the relationship of sacred belief to secular authority. Because right now, it seems to me the once in-vogue tradition -- the background radiation that has long alleged that Reason is what provides secular rulers with the proper relationship to those whom they rule -- is fading fast. It's paler than a medieval French tapestry left out to dry for eight or nine centuries. It's paler than McCain's arse in the moonlight. It's bloody unencarnadined. 


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