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RD: Why Liberal Religious Arguments Fail

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    Why Liberal Religious Arguments Fail By Peter Laarman Peter Laarman is executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, a network of activist individuals
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 21, 2011
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      Why Liberal Religious Arguments Fail
      By Peter Laarman

      Peter Laarman is executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, a
      network of activist individuals and congregations headquartered in Los
      Angeles. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial
      Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter
      spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist
      prior to training for the ministry.

      A lot has been made recently of a pair of efforts to turn the Republican
      Party’s ostentatious religious posture against it. In early June,
      conservative Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was handed a Bible flagging passages
      on the poor in response to his heavily-criticized budget proposal, followed
      closely by the American Values Network’s “must-see” video claiming to debunk
      the notion that Ayn Rand’s ideas can be reconciled with Christian teaching.
      The AVN people exulted that they had boxed Ryan into a corner: that,
      logically, he must repudiate either Rand or Jesus.

      In these very pages Sarah Posner dived deeply and revealingly into the many
      potential problems of dueling biblicisms, but I want to look more closely at
      the broader problem of seeking to debunk or refute or demolish the
      religiously-grounded views of others. It’s important for me to say
      immediately that I rank chief among sinners in this regard. I love, love,
      LOVE telling others how puny and undeveloped their ideas are, and in
      particular how little they comprehend of the Bible’s great themes of exodus
      and liberation. (Really—you can check my greatest hits here at RD if you
      doubt me.) And yes: I am, in fact, using argument here in order to make the
      point that argument is generally
      unhelpful, particularly in respect to religiously-tinged viewpoints. God
      help me, I can do no other. 

      Ideation and argument are mother’s milk to many of us, and especially to
      those of us nurtured in what I will shorthand as The Wordy Anglo-Protestant
      Tradition—a tradition that also inflects significant parts of American
      Judaism. When something moves us or provokes us, what do we do? We write a
      manifesto or a platform statement or a treatise.

      We issue declarations. We ask people to sign our statement; join our
      remonstrance. 

      The rest of the article is here:
      http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4749/why_liberal_religious_arguments_fail
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