01 May 2014

The Culture Sarah Palin Reveals

Sarah Palin's recent comments at the NRA convention linking baptism and the water-boarding torture method are egregious and reprehensible. Regrettably, however, they are also all too common in two ways.

First, our political speech has become increasingly extreme by all sides of the political spectrum. And Palin often places herself at the forefront of this practice, of which there are too many amateur as well as professional practitioners. Perhaps they fear not being heard above the cacophony of political noise. Perhaps theirs is a woefully misguided attempt to rouse an increasingly apathetic nation. More likely, this method is merely an attempt to grab today's headlines so that the name or issue stays out there. Regardless the reason, this extreme speech loses more ground than it gains.

Second, we live (and have always lived) within a non-sacramental milieu, both because the ruling Christians have historically been from traditions which are rooted less in the mysterious and more in the rational or emotional; and because their fading numbers are being replaced by those (Christian and non-Christian alike) whose morality is as materialistic as it is relativistic. In this context, baptism and other sacraments and sacramentals are nothing more than a figure of speech.

In my view, the response is not to turn to those groups which cynically use such egregious and reprehensible speech to advance their own agenda; nor to engage in petition-signings which too often delude us into thinking that we did something meaningful. The response, in my view, is to remain faithful, to eschew such extreme speech, and to be ready to give a defense for the hope that lives within us.

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