Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eliel Cruz: Church is a battlefield

Church Is a Battlefield

Posted: 02/26/2013 11:15 am

I walked swiftly through the double doors, dressed in my suit jacket toward my seat. A couple to my left clasped hands as they silently prayed. A pastor and his colleagues fervently discussed some theological issue. Yet, among all of the activity, several pairs of eyes turned and stared at me. For a moment, I wondered if I had something in my teeth or toilet paper dragging from my feet. But it wasn't that kind of stare. It was disgust.
Among all of my Christian brothers and sisters, they were staring because they assumed I was gay. Yet where was this unexpected religious battlefield taking place? In my own university cafeteria at Andrews University.
The first time I sang for church, I was 3 years old. I naively waltzed up to the platform, grasped my mother's hand as she held the microphone for me, and sang a worship hymn for my church. Between the OOHs and AWEs, all the congregation saw was an innocent child's love, remembering that Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mathew 18:3).
Yet as I grew up, things changed. The once welcoming atmosphere of my church became uncomfortable, then difficult and, before long, even hostile. Even before I publicly came out as a bisexual man, my church family had suspicions, then answers and finally judgments. Where I once was welcomed to praise my Lord and Savior on a platform, I was no longer welcome. Like an estranged cousin, my church family whispered in each other's ears and stared, wondering who allowed me of all people to stand on that platform.
Religious educational institutions simply mirror what their sponsoring denomination teaches and models (implicitly and explicitly) about the minorities and marginalized groups within their membership. We often forget at our conservative, private, religiously affiliated colleges that we are first and foremost educational institutions and not churches. Yet our intuitions have only recreated the same hostile environment LGBT people face at church.
I am not trying to stereotype and say all Christian churches or even Seventh-day Adventist ones are unwelcoming to those most on the margins at churches. I will say, on an administrative and general congregational level, the majority of Seventh-day Adventist churches are not welcoming of LGBT people. There is something about the Seventh-day Adventists official stance on homosexuality that has led its pastors and church members to believe that the way we as Christians have interacted with LGBT is acceptable. That is, that singling out LGBT people for ostracization, marginalization and condemnation is OK -- even a Christian duty.
Last week a good friend and colleague and I spoke about a recent occurrence in his home church. He has been dutifully attending this church for years and, especially recently, has been eagerly taking an active role at his home church singing and leading out in Friday afternoon vespers. Last week, he found out that the regional conference and the pastoral staff had met about him. He was no longer able to take a part of the worship service. He could only attend church and sit in the pew. The only reason for this sudden alienation? While he is a loving and compassionate Christian who loves God, he is also gay.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. I know story after story after story like my friend's.
What does this say about the Seventh-day Adventist church's narrative? What has allowed for our pastors to preach hate and bigotry from the pulpit instead of love and compassion? When did our religious institutions become battlefields?
As a church we have roots in fellowship and community, and, ironically, we have viewed ourselves as a persecuted remnant among other Christian denominations because we keep Saturday as Sabbath, which puts us in a minority position among other Christians. So it's especially sad to realize that we have created such hostile environments for the minorities in our own midst.
Regardless of my religious affiliation of the Seventh-day Adventist church, I cannot walk through most of our churches without having to duck at the stones that are thrown in the form of whispers, verses and stares. If looks could kill, I'd be dead. And this doesn't just affect the LGBT community but many minority groups marginalized by the church. If someone were to wear too "short" of a skirt, if a person were to come into the sanctuary in jeans, if we were to -- God forbid -- quit openly practicing segregation in our church and had a true melting pot in our congregations, what would happen? When did a church service become such a minefield to maneuver through?
What's even worse is that our educational institutions have mirrored this mindset, thus creating yet another generation of likeminded "Christians," who seem not to have taken Colossians 3:12 as seriously as they like to take other verses:
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
This past week at Andrews University, I was hanging out in the student center with a friend. After we parted ways he got a message from a friend that saw us together saying:
"Why you like hanging around gay ppl so much? Lol every time i see you you're with them. What does that say about you?"

Luckily, my friend, regardless of our theological differences about homosexuality, is just full of Christ's love, and carefully and intelligently replied to the hateful message. This just goes to show, it is one thing to have theological disagreements. It is another thing completely to alienate, discriminate, hate or "other" a group of people -- of human beings.
Back to my friend, the young gay man who was just told he couldn't do anything in church but sit in a pew. He posted this on his Facebook timeline in response:
As Jesus was ascending into heaven he looked down from the clouds at his disciples and spoke these words: "Go into all nations and create a church manual, to which you will refer for all appropriate forms of conduct and worship. Make sure that you impose a Western, sexist, hetero-normative form of life on all my future disciples. I will send you my Holy Spirit, but he is often unreliable. Please don't pass up any opportunity to tell your brethren that they are living in sin and may go to hell. Make sure to specifically single out a particular sin that I forgot to mention while I lived here and form a second class church membership for those you think are participating in that particular sin. When you think a brother may be sinning against my Father, avoid all meaningful contact with that brother and instead contact the regional church conference office. They will know what to do in every occasion."

Maybe if we looked to the Bible for what it has to say about treating one another instead of our regional conferences will we once again have churches and schools that are spiritual homes, havens for those on the margins that Jesus so clearly cared the most about. Never once did Jesus cast out a child of God that the society around him had deemed a sinner. Those were the people he spent his time with, those were the "least of these." The only harsh words from Jesus were saved for the religious establishment who claimed to speak for God in shunning and rejecting. Author and activist Derek Penwell recently raised the question in The Huffington Post: What if Gay Kids had a church that loved them? Would it be possible to have such an environment where LGBT seventh-day Adventists felt loved at their churches? Could it be possible to save our LGBT kids' lives religiously and literally? What devastating, end times, phenomenon would occur to love and be loved?
When Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35), that doesn't sound like a battlefield. That doesn't sound like the minefield that my fellow LGBT friends and I have to navigate if we want to worship God with our faith community. That sounds like the sort of love that would die on a cross before it would use the church manual as an excuse to other, reject or condemn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Richard Beck: Biblical as Sociological Stress Test

"Biblical" as a Sociological Stress Test

Recently I was invited to be a part of a conversation regarding how a community I'm associated with should approach a controversial topic. The stated goal of the conversation is to think about what a "biblical" approach would be regarding this issue.

So I've been thinking a lot about the word biblical and about what it might mean.

Here's my basic observation: Whatever biblical means it doesn't mean biblical.

What I mean is this. Are Catholics biblical? Methodists? Pentecostals? Amish? Presbyterians? Episcopalians? Baptists? And on and on? It seems everyone would own the word biblical. And if that's the case, if biblical can embrace all this diversity, then I struggle to understand how, when I gather to discuss a "biblical" approach to a controversial subject, that anything other than a diversity of opinions will emerge. Strictly from an empirical standpoint, the bible doesn't produce homogeneity of opinion. Rather, it produces heterogeneity of opinion. That is a fact. The bible does not produce consensus. And if you think that it could or should you're just not a serious person.

The point being, a conversation seeking to find a "biblical" view isn't heading toward a fixed destination. Rather, such a conversation will be airing a diversity of views that share a family resemblance. The word "biblical" here is the name we have for that family resemblance. Similar to the label "Smith Family Reunion." Biblical means something like Smith Family Reunion.

Phrased another way, biblical is just a synonym for Christian.

Secondly, biblical definitely doesn't describe the attempt to conform to or recreate the church we find in the pages of the bible. I know of no denomination that looks like the church revealed in the New Testament. Can you point me to one?

And if we can't what does that say about how we are using the word biblical? Suddenly it's very clear that biblical doesn't mean "doing what they did in the bible." Because no one is doing that. So what does biblical mean? Again, whatever it means it's clear that it doesn't mean biblical.

So what does it mean?

This is what I think it means. Biblical is a word Christian communities use to describe their hermeneutical strategies. Biblical is a word that is used to describe how a particular faith community reads the bible. What this means is that the word biblical is a sociologicallabel, a way of describing the interpretive strategies of a particular community.

Consequently, when a faith community gathers to discuss if a view is biblical or not they are asking how a particular view sits with their hermeneutical history and norms. The issue isn't if a position is biblical or not (because, as I noted above, no one is being biblical) but if a position would cause a sociological rupture, a tear in the hermeneutical fabric that has held this community together. If the position can be woven into the hermeneutical web then it is declared biblical. But if the rupture is too great then the view is declared unbiblical.

In summary, this is my definition of biblical:
Biblical is a sociological stress test
When groups gather, as I will be gathering, to have a conversation about what is or is not biblical they are engaging in sociological stress test. Can this hermeneutical community, given its history and norms, accept a change in this area without significant rupture? How much stress can we tolerate? That's the question under consideration. How much stress can we tolerate?

This, as best I can tell, is what it means to be biblical.

Andrew Sullivan: The Right And Marriage Equality: A Breakthrough

Forgive me a moment to absorb this news. I was tipped off something was imminent, reading my email on a flight to Portland, Oregon. I’m speaking there tonight and attending a class there today – on marriage equality and conservatism respectively (if you’re a local Dishhead, the event is at 7.30 pm at the Smith Auditorium 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon. Tomorrow, I’m at the University of Idaho for a debate on the same topic hosted by Peter Hitchens. That’s at 7.30 pm at the University of Idaho’s Student Union Ballroom, in Moscow, Idaho).
Over the years, after my 1989 conservative case for marriage equality, I must have given hundreds of these kinds of talks – in the late 1990s, it was basically all I tumblr_lni23xheku1qchhhqo1_1280did. Today, I rarely show up on TV. Then I accepted any invite on marriage. And my goal was to persuade sometimes uncomfortable audiences (I’ll never forget the events at Notre Dame and Boston College on Catholicism and homosexuality) that there really was nothing radical about integrating a previously marginalized community into the options of family and commitment and mutual responsibility, and the social status those virtues rightly acquire.
In the early 1990s, I might as well have been speaking Swahili – and was assailed, attacked, picketed, demonized and smeared to the point of personal trauma by the gay left. By the early 2000s, I was demeaned, pitied, ignored, ostracized and mocked by the Republican right. They were both, in my view, misguided and panicked – because the truth is: marriage equality is both a liberal and a conservative project. It’s liberal because of its insistence on equality; it’s conservative because of its insistence on responsibility, and because the alternatives – domestic partnerships/civil unions – are actually damaging to a critical social institution, civil marriage, by providing a marriage-lite option for all.
This conservative case was buttressed by my fellow conservative writers – learned, decent, honest intellectuals like Jon Rauch and Bruce Bawer and Dale Carpenter and John Corvino and many others. We were no Democrats. Most of us loathed the Clintons for what they did to the gay community, our rights and dignity. But we became more and weddingaislemore dismayed by our fellow conservatives, so may of whom did not simply remain on the fence but mounted a furious, passionate campaign against us. Bill Kristol’s response to this nascent movement was to bring legitimacy to the ex-gay movement; David Frum – back in the day – threatened to bring back enforcement of sodomy laws if we didn’t shut up. Republicans gleefully enshrined discrimination in many state constitutions – and bragged about it a little more loudly than Bill Clinton did the Defense of Marriage Act.
They decided, with Bill Clinton, on the most radical pushback to a fledgling movement imaginable: a Defense of Marriage Act that stripped our families of any rights under federal law, and, without Bill Clinton, a Federal Marriage Amendment that would single out gays as second-class citizens in the founding document of their own countryfor ever. And they used this hatred and fear of homosexuals quite openly as a way to win the 2004 election. It was crucial in Ohio that year. If Bush had lost it, Kerry would have been president. And Bush won it in large part by fear-mongering about gays.
For me, the FMA was the end of engagement and the beginning of war. You can read my reaction the day Bush endorsed it here. But I never stopped making theconservative case for marriage equality for the simple reason I believed in it. I never thought it would happen to me, but I knew it would have protected so many of my friends who didn’t have to just die agonizing deaths from AIDS but did so stigmatized and alone, their spouses treated often like dirt, their loves 400px-Aids_Quiltpublicly repudiated, their dignity grotesquely violated. This was, I believed, a matter of core humanity. It became for me the defining cause of my life.
A friend recalled visiting a man dying of AIDS at the time. A former massive bodybuilder, he had shrunk to 90 pounds. ‘Do I look big?” he asked, with mordant humor. In the next bed, surrounded by curtains, my friend heard someone singing a pop song quietly to himself. My friend joked: “Well not everyone here is depressed!” Then this from his dying, now skeletal friend: “Oh, that’s not him. He died this morning. That’s his partner. That was their song, apparently. The family took the body away, threw that guy out of the apartment he shared with his partner, and barred him from the funeral. He’s stayed there all day, singing their song. I guess it’s the last place he’ll ever see where his partner actually was. His face is pressed against the pillow. The nurses don’t have the heart to tell him to leave.”
You want to know why this became a life-long struggle? You have your answer. And I did this not despite being a Catholic, but because I am a Catholic. And I did this not despite being a conservative but because I am one.
This hideous cruelty in the mist of such shame demanded a Catholic and Christian response. This attack on people’s families, and their mutual responsibility (that man’s partner had cared for him for months, while his biological family kept their distance) was an attack on those institutions like civil marriage that are vital for a free society to keep its government in check. If that man’s husband hadn’t cared for him, the government would have had to. Why weren’t conservatives celebrating this man’s dedication rather than smearing him? Why could they not see in the gay community’s astonishing self-defense a Burkean model for social change from below – a dedication to saving our community independent of government that, if it happened in any other community, would have led the GOP to put those activists on the podium of the Republican Convention as exemplars of civil society at its best?
And that is what husband really means: to take care of someone. Why, I wondered, were conservatives actually doing all they could to prevent couples’ taking care of each other? Why would they barely tolerate it in a free society – but treat these responsible relationships as if they were threats to the very values they exemplified? Why would they want to discourage an emotional and domestic break against the huge force of testosterone that was and is bound to define a male-only community – and with a viral breakout helped wipe out 300,000 human beings in one generation? Why, for that matter, would they want to tear children from their lesbian mothers – or, even more sickeningly, recruit them to attack their own mothers, as NOM recently has?
It’s 24 years since I wrote that essay. But today, I see a phalanx of conservatives standing up for the equality of gay citizens. Here are some among the roster, which is now 75 and counting:
Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.
Ken Mehlman, bete noir of the gay left for understandable reasons given his role in Rove’s gay-baiting 2004 campaign, was the key organizer. I’ve always believed that civil rights movements should be all about welcoming converts rather than hunting for enemies or heretics. And I think this is a huge achievement for Ken, morally, and politically. It is the right conservative thing to do. As the British Tory prime minister has put it:
I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative.
Allahpundit is underwhelmed by the list. It does indeed lack, apart from Ros-Lehtinen, current members of Congress. It lacks Dick Cheney, for example, a figure who holds this position but, as usual, does nothing about it – even when it directly affects his own family. It lacks Laura Bush – although she could still add her name. But, to her credit, Mary Cheney is there. So is my friend David Frum. The two strategists for the 2008 campaign, Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace are on it. Stephen Hadley and Israel Hernandez – two people very close to 43 – are there. Ken Duberstein, Alex Castellanos, Mike Murphy and Greg Mankiw are also on the list. These are not GOP lightweights. They are up there with Ted Olson.
The reason, to my mind, is quite simple. The Republican Party of Reagan who defended gay rights in the 1970s, of Bush 41 and even parts of Bush 43 is now emphatically and increasingly a party of the fanatical Christianist right, based in the South, and dedicated not to conservative politics but to dogma, theological and political. Some elements in the party may simply be wary of major change in a social institution – which is a perfectly legitimate worry. But as the statement notes:
Many of the signatories to this brief previously did not support civil marriage for same-sex couples; others did not hold a considered position on the issue. However, in the years since Massachusetts and other states have made civil marriage a reality for same-sex couples, amici, like many Americans, have observed the impact, assessed their core values and beliefs, and concluded that there is no legitimate, fact-based reason for denying same-sex couples the same recognition in law that is available to opposite-sex couples who wish to marry. Rather, we have concluded that the institution of marriage, its benefits and importance to society, and the support and stability it gives to children and families are promoted, not undercut, by providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples.
So we now also have empirical data to reassure legitimate conservative concerns about damage to a vital institution. The first state with marriage equality continues to have the lowest divorce rate: 2.2 percent, compared with 2.5 percent before gays were allowed to marry. Compare that with the most anti-gay states: Alabama’s 4.4 percent – double Massachusetts – or anti-gay Virginia’s divorce rate of 3.7 percent, compared with marriage equality DC with 2.6 percent. More broadly, the divorce rate has come down in almost every state in the last decade – the very decade gays were allegedly going to destroy the Constitution. Stanley Kurtz was simply wrong. Gay marriage has entered our consciousness and reality as divorce rates have fallen. The linkage that Maggie Gallagher keeps talking about as a premise is a fantasy. If you can properly draw any conclusions from the data, the linkage works in the opposite way. Gay marriage has strengthened straight marriage – not the other way round.
Only prejudice and fundamentalist dogma now stand in the way. Whatever happens in the Supreme Court, exposing that matters. Showing that there is a debate among conservatives, as well as among people of faith, is a vital step forward.
I sometimes end optimistic posts with the Israeli saying, “Know hope.” But this is actually something a little different. It is knowing hope. And seeing it rise, finally and fitfully, above fear.
The full summary of the Amicus brief is below:
Amici are social and political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians from diverse religious, racial, regional, and philosophical backgrounds; many have served as elected or appointed federal and state office-holders. Many of the signatories to this brief previously did not support civil marriage for same-sex couples; others did not hold a considered position on the issue. However, in the years since Massachusetts and other states have made civil marriage a reality for same-sex couples, amici, like many Americans, have observed the impact, assessed their core values and beliefs, and concluded that there is no legitimate, fact-based reason for denying same-sex couples the same recognition in law that is available to opposite-sex couples who wish to marry. Rather, we have concluded that the institution of marriage, its benefits and importance to society, and the support and stability it gives to children and families are promoted, not undercut, by providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples.
Amici do not denigrate the deeply held emotional, cultural, and religious beliefs that lead sincere people to take the opposite view (and, indeed, some amici themselves once held the opposite view). Whether same-sex couples should have access to civil marriage divides thoughtful, concerned citizens. Those who support and those who oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples hold abiding convictions about their respective positions. But a belief, no matter how strongly or sincerely held, cannot justify a legal distinction that is unsupported by a factual basis, especially where something as important as civil marriage is concerned. Amici take this position with the understanding that providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples—which is the only issue raised in this case—poses no credible threat to religious freedom or to the institution of religious marriage. Given the robust constitutional protections for the free exercise of religion, amici do not believe that religious institutions should or will be compelled against their will to participate in a marriage between people of the same sex.
I. There Is No Legitimate, Fact-Based Justification For Different Legal Treatment Of Committed Relationships Between Same-Sex Couples
Laws that make distinctions between classes of people must have “reasonable support in fact.” New York State Club Ass’n, Inc. v. City of New York, 487 U.S. 1, 17 (1988). Amici do not believe that laws like Proposition 8 have a legitimate, fact-based justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. Over the past two decades, amici have seen each argument against same-sex marriage discredited by social science, rejected by courts, and undermined by their own experiences with committed same-sex couples, including those whose civil marriages have been given legal recognition in various States. Instead, the facts and evidence show that permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples will enhance the institution, protect children, and benefit society generally.
A. Marriage Promotes The Conservative Values Of Stability, Mutual Support, And Mutual Obligation
Amici start from the premise—recognized by this Court on at least fourteen occasions— that marriage is both a fundamental right protected by our Constitution and a venerable institution that confers countless benefits, both to those who marry and to society at large. … It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that amici do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.
B. Social Science Does Not Support Any Of The Putative Rationales For Proposition 8
Deinstitutionalization. No credible evidence supports the deinstitutionalization theory. … Petitioners fail to explain how extending civil marriage to same-sex couples will dilute or undermine the benefits of that institution for opposite-sex couples … or for society at large. It will instead do the opposite. Extending civil marriage to same-sex couples is a clear endorsement of the multiple benefits of marriage—stability, lifetime commitment, financial support during crisis and old age, etc.—and a reaffirmation of the social value of this institution.
Biology. There is also no biological justification for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples. Allowing same-sex couples to marry in no way undermines the importance of marriage for opposite-sex couples who enter into marriage to provide a stable family structure for their children.
Child Welfare. If there were persuasive evidence that same-sex marriage was detrimental to children, amici would give that evidence great weight. But there is not. Social scientists have resoundingly rejected the claim that children fare better when raised by opposite-sex parents than they would with same-sex parents.
C. While Laws Like Proposition 8 Are Consonant With Sincerely-Held Beliefs, That Does Not Sustain Their Constitutionality
Although amici firmly believe that society should proceed cautiously before adopting significant changes to beneficial institutions, we do not believe that society must remain indifferent to facts. This Court has not hesitated to reconsider a law’s outmoded justifications and, where appropriate, to deem them insufficient to survive an equal protection challenge. The bases on which the proponents of laws like Proposition 8 rely are the products of similar thinking that can no longer pass muster when the evidence as it now stands is viewed rationally, not through the lens of belief though sincerely held.
I. This Court Should Protect The Fundamental Right Of Civil Marriage By Ensuring That It Is Available To Same-Sex Couples
Choosing to marry is also a paradigmatic exercise of human liberty. Marriage is thus central to government’s goal of promoting the liberty of individuals and a free society. For those who choose to marry, legal recognition of that marriage serves as a bulwark against unwarranted government intervention into deeply personal concerns such as the way in which children will be raised and in medical decisions.
Amici recognize that a signal and admirable characteristic of our judiciary is the exercise of restraint. Nonetheless, this Court’s “deference in matters of policy cannot … become abdication of matters of law.” The right to marry indisputably falls within the narrow band of specially protected liberties that this Court ensures are protected from unwarranted curtailment.
Proposition 8 ran afoul of our constitutional order by submitting to popular referendum a fundamental right that there is no legitimate, fact-based reason to deny to same-sex couples. This case accordingly presents one of the rare but inescapable instances in which this Court must intervene to redress overreaching by the electorate.
Here are all the signatories:
—Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
—Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007
—David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of Treasury, 2001-2003
—Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author
—John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009
—Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
—Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013
—William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel and Deputy Counsel to the
President, 2005-2009
—Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor
—Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada,
—Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004
—Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President & Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990
—James B. Comey, United States Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005
—R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council,
—Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director White House Office of
Public Liaison, 2007-2009
—Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning,
Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009
—Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President,
1981-1984 and 1987-1989
—Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004
—Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and
Budget, 1984-1987
—David Frum, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
—Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997
—Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative
Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from
an Inner-City School that Works
—Benjamin Ginsberg, General Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 & 2004
—Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
—Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008
—Patrick Guerriero, Mayor, Melrose Massachusetts and member of Massachusetts
House of Representatives, 1993-2001
—Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009
—Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009
—Richard Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present
—Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009
—Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006
—Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995
—Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009
—David A. Javdan, General Counsel, United States Small Business Administration, 2002-
—Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural
Affairs, 2007-2009
—Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance,
—Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004
—Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003
—Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985
—Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005
—Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural
Development, 1989-1991
—David Kochel, Senior Advisor to Mitt Romney’s Iowa Campaign, 2007-2008 and 2011-
—James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007
—Jeffrey Kupfer, Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy, 2008-2009
—Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005
—Daniel Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist
—Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012
—Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
—Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications
Director for Policy & Planning, 2005-2007
—Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009
—David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009
—Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor
—Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003
—Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003 and U.S. Ambassador to the
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007
—Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant
—Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003
—Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair for Senator John McCain’s Presidential
Campaign, 2008
—Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-
—Nancy Pfotenhauer, Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988 and President’s
Council on Competitiveness, 1990
—J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General (Civil Rights Division), 1973-1977
—Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005
—Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009
—John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present
—Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
—Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present
—Harvey S. Rosen, Member and Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
—Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012
—Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
—Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President,
—Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee,
—Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008
—David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985
—Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003
—Michael E. Toner, Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Election Commission, 2002-
—Michael Turk, eCampaign Director for Bush-Cheney 2004
—Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN
Management and Reform, 2006-2008
—Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications
Director, 2005-2008
—William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney
General (Criminal Division), 1986-1988
—Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of
the EPA, 2001-2003
—Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010
—Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant
—Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Great article by Andrew Sullivan.

The two concepts are usually seen in complete opposition in our political discourse. The more capitalism and wealth, the familiar argument goes, the better able we are to do without a safety net for the poor, elderly, sick and young. And that’s true so far as it goes. What it doesn’t get at is that the forces that free market capitalism unleashes are precisely the forces that undermine traditional forms of community and family that once served as a traditional safety net, free from government control. In the West, it happened slowly – with the welfare state emerging in 19th century Germany and spreading elsewhere, as individuals uprooted themselves from their home towns and forged new careers, lives and families in the big cities, with all the broken homes, deserted villages, and bewildered families they left behind. But in South Korea, the shift has been so sudden and so incomplete that you see just how powerfully anti-familycapitalism can be:
[The] nation’s runaway economic success … has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries. That contract was built on the premise that parents would do almost anything to care for their children — in recent times, depleting their life savings to pay for a good education — and then would end their lives in their children’s care. NoSocial Security system was needed. Nursing homes were rare.
But as South Korea’s hard-charging younger generations joined an exodus from farms to cities in recent decades, or simply found themselves working harder in the hypercompetitive environment that helped drive the nation’s economic miracle, their parents were often left behind. Many elderly people now live out their final years poor, in rural areas with the melancholy feel of ghost towns.
The result is a generation of the elderly committing suicide at historic rates: from 1,161 in 2000 to 4,378 in 2010. The Korean government requires the elderly to ask their families for resources if they can pay for retirement funding – forcing parents to beg children to pay for their living alone – a fate they never anticipated and that violates their sense of dignity. Hence the suicides.
We can forget this but the cultural contradictions of capitalism, brilliantly explained inDaniel Bell’s classic volume, are indeed contradictions. The turbulence of a growing wealth-creating free market disrupts traditional ways of life like no other. Even in a culture like ours used to relying from its very origins on entrepreneurial spirit, the dislocations are manifold. People have to move; their choices of partners for love and sex multiply; families disaggregate on their own virtual devices; grandparents are assigned to assisted living; second marriages are as familiar as first ones; and whole industries – and all the learned skills that went with them – can just disappear overnight (I think of my own profession as a journalist, but it is one of countless).
Capitalism is in this sense anti-conservative. It is a disruptive, culturally revolutionary force through human society. It has changed the world in three centuries more than at any time in the two hundred millennia that humans have lived on the earth. This must leave – and has surely left – victims behind. Which is why the welfare state emerged. The sheer cruelty of the market, the way it dispenses brutally with inefficiency (i.e. human beings and their jobs), the manner in which it encourages constant travel and communication: these, as Bell noted, are not ways to strengthen existing social norms, buttress the family, allow the civil society to do what it once did: take care of people within smaller familial units according to generational justice and respect. That kind of social order – the ultimate conservative utopia – is inimical to the capitalist enterprise.
Which is why many leaders in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, conservatives as well as liberals, attached a safety net to such an unsafe, bewildering, constantly shifting web of human demand and supply. They did so in part for humane reasons – but also because they realized that unless capitalism red in tooth and claw were complemented by some collective cushioning, it would soon fall prey to more revolutionary movements. The safety net was created to save capitalism from itself, not to attack capitalism.
This is not to argue against the conservative notion that it is precisely because of capitalism that we have to foster greater family bonds, keep marriage alive, communities together. It is simply to argue that to argue for this and the kind of capitalism that Paul Ryan favors is a tall order. And it isn’t working. The forces of global capitalism – now unleashed on an unprecedented global scale with China, Russia, Brazil and India – are destroying the kind of society which allows and encourages stability, traditional families, and self-sufficient community.
One reason, I think, that Obama’s move toward a slightly more effective welfare state has not met strong resistance – and is clearly winning the American argument – is that the sheer force of this global capitalism is coming to bear down on America more fiercely than ever before. People know this and they look for some kind of security. In other words, it is precisely capitalism’s post-1980s triumph that has helped create the social dependency so many conservatives bemoan today. And this time, there is even a sense that whole industries are disappearing faster than ever before – not simply because of outsourcing but because of technology itself, tearing through old ways of life like acid through iron.
It is unstoppable. I fear its power – given that it relies on emitting carbon in vast quantities – will soon make the world less habitable for large numbers of people. I fear it may kill so many species we will have become God on our own earth. And I think an understanding that the state will have to step in to blunt the sharper edges of this newly creative extra-destruction is emerging slowly in the public at large.
Bell was right. Capitalism destroys the very structure of the societies it enriches. But I doubt even he would have anticipated the sheer speed at which this is now happening. It makes the conservative project all but impossible, if still necessary. It does require a defense of the family, of marriage, of personal responsibility. But it also demands a compassion toward the victims of this economic and social change, an understanding of their bewilderment – which can often express itself neurotically in fundamentalist forms of religion or culture.
All I know is that it is a core conservative idea that revolutions can end in nightmares. But we conservatives also long supported and indeed recently breathed new life into the industrial and post-industrial revolution. We see the consequences far beyond the suicides of elderly Koreans. And in my bleaker moments, I wonder whether humankind will come to see this great capitalist leap forward as a huge error in human history – the moment we undid ourselves and our very environment, reaching untold material wealth as well as building societies in which loneliness, dislocation, displacement and radical insecurity cannot but increase. It seems to me this is not the moment for Randian purism.
Do we not as conservatives have a duty to tend to the world we helped make?
(Photo: This photo taken on January 11, 2013 shows an anti-suicide monitoring device (L) installed by the government at Mapo Bridge -a common site for suicides- over Seoul’s Han river. The South Korean capital has installed anti-suicide monitoring devices on bridges over the city after 196 people jumped to their deaths on 2012 according to South Korean officials. The new initiative — in a country with the highest suicide rate among leading developed nations — incorporates closed-circuit television cameras programmed to recognize motions that suggest somebody might be preparing to jump from a bridge. By Pedro Ugarte/AFP PHOTO/Getty Images.)

A Politically Engaged Spirituality

one of my favorite pastors.