More On Baumann And Linker

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OPEN UNIVERSITY SEPTEMBER 13, 2006

More On Baumann And Linker

by Alan WolfeCasey Blake deserves a word of praise for calling attention to Paul Baumann's review of Damon Linker's book The Thecons. Like Baumann, a good friend as well as an admirable thinker, I believe both that Democrats have a religion problem and that there are too many writers who find theocrats scary when pathetic might be the more appropriate term. But Baumann singles out two Catholic writers--Garry Wills and Andrew Sullivan--for criticism, and here I think he is wrong. The truth is that Father Richard John Neuhaus, the main figure in Linker's book, is far more dangerous to American liberalism than Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell--precisely because he is much smarter than they are, and it makes sense to me that Catholics such as Wills and Sullivan would worry about this man's "Syllabus of Errors" approach to modernity. I wrote a blurb for Linker's book because it is alarming rather than alarmist. It should never be put in the same category as Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming or Kevin Phillip's American Theocracy. Linker has managed to write a book that is quite appropriately critical of a sectarian religious figure without dismissing religion as backward or misguided. I don't recognize The Thecons in Bauman's review.

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