05 October 2005

so about that miers woman

if i hear that ridiculous(ly sexist) "pit bull in size six shoes" comment one more time, i am going to scream.

also, like many in bush's inner circle, she appears to have had some sort of evangelical conversion experience. it's hilarious to me to imagine a partner calling an associate into the corner office in order to tell him said partner is ready to accept jesus christ as her personal savior -- but according to both miers and her good friend (sometime boyfriend, saith the article) justice hecht, that is precisely what happened.

so basically, just to paint with an extremely broad brush, either she hasn't thought seriously about her faith or she isn't suitable for the supreme court or both. why? well, first things first: fundamentalists are not pluralists any more. according to the statement of beliefs at valley view christian church, "We try not to be dogmatic about matters on which believers hold divergent views. Our core beliefs are centered in Christ and His message as supported by Scripture. More obscure doctrine, as well as controversial issues about which the Bible is silent, are left to believers to sort out on their own..." HOWEVER, in the next sentence: "We believe the Bible to be the only infallible, inspired, authoritative Word of God. As such it is our final authority for all matters of faith and Christian practice.( 2 Timothy 3:14-16)"

the question that needs to be asked is whether a life of "faith and Christian practice" as directed by the Bible as the "infallible, inspired, authoritative Word" is in any way compatible with a life of public service under a Constitution that, whatever antonin scalia thinks about our judeo-christian heritage, specifically enshrines the freedom of religion and makes no mention of God.

miers can make claims about the compatibility of her brand of christianity and the united states constitution in two ways. the first is more palatable but less credible: she can cite to the individual voluntarism that characterizes evangelical conversion experiences. she can claim, essentially, that she believes it to be incorrect for her to attempt to enshrine her own faith as, or in, the law of the land, because of her sense that "matters of faith and Christian practice" are fundamentally individual and consequently fall outside the realm of public service and public debate. (indeed, that is the tack she and her friends seem to have taken.) but i question whether that is appropriate to a reading of the bible as "infallible."

if miers is really reading the Bible as "infallible" and "authoritative," she will probably have noted with some dismay the passages that require us all to confess our faith both in public and in private, to make disciples of all people, and to open our earthly lives and vocations to God. THERE IS A REASON that the valley view christian church has, during miers' involvement there, specifically opposed the legality of abortion rather than simply counseling its members about moral horror. if the corner office conversion was in earnest, and she ascribes to an infallible Bible and an evangelical theology, then her christian responsibility as she sees it must include bringing God's laws (as set down by her theology) to all.

miers' second out is a little more crass, and will probably make the social conservatives angry: she can back away from her fundamentalist theology. indeed, she cannot back away from the call to earthly evangelism unless she disavows the valley view dogma on infallibility. she will have to admit, in the inimitable phrase, to being a "cafeteria christian."

there is perhaps a-whole-nother post to be sketched in here, about the changing role(s) of evangelicals in public life, and the (to my mind, related) sense in which we are all, traditionalists and crazy lefty revisionists alike, cafeteria christians. the bible is an immensely conflictual document, and if one is serious about living one's life to its purposes, choices must be made. certain passages must be privileged over others. certain passages must be privileged above all.

the somewhat uncomfortable conclusion that i reach in thinking about all of this is that, as far as public service goes, revisionists and mainline folks have it easy. i think that it must be very difficult (and this goes back to the "fundamentalists aren't pluralists" line of reasoning above) for a person who is serious about the gospels as the infallible word of God to advocate honestly for anything other than theocracy.