Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Beyond beyondism"

At First Things, Joseph Bottum writes about "Beyondism," as in "Let's get beyond these old liberal/conservative distinctions."
That demand to get beyond politics itself exists in a political context—and its proposals always end up breaking for one camp or the other: The way to get beyond the liberal/conservative divide is for all of you on the other side to agree with me. It seems to be a rule that every beyondist is actually doing a little bait and switch—like the tire store that advertises discounted radials they just happen to be out of, though they’re happy to sell you these more expensive whitewalls instead. ....
He then describes an example of "Beyondism" from a commentator on the traditionalist/liberal divide in Catholicism:
....[H]e ends up urging liberals to ponder the failures of their techniques, while urging conservatives to ponder the failures of their conclusions. Liberals have failed “in not appreciating or even condemning certain religious movements and practices because these offend our liberal sensitivities.” Conservatives have failed because they are “focused so exclusively” on mostly sexual issues that they “no longer see the larger moral picture.”

There’s beyondism’s invariable bait and switch. In religious circles, Fr. Rolheiser is by no means the most egregious (that would be Tony Campolo or Jim Wallis), but he ends where all beyondists end: selling one side in the name of overcoming sides. The left needs to see that the right has all the best techniques for extending and maintaining a position, while the right needs to see that the left has all the best positions. Now can’t we all get beyond our pesky divisions?
Source: First Things: Beyond Beyondism

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