John Holbo: Twitter Thread: "Let's start at the start. 'Liberty... as formerly understood' under pressure. That is very exact and correct. But consider:... Women's rights resisted because it felt like denial of liberty (men's former liberties). African-Americans: Civil rights, a gross affront to white liberty. Anti-slavery = vicious assault on liberty.... Saying that 'liberty... as it was formerly understood' coming under felt pressure is something that is true of the BEST fights for freedom and rights. It is not a danger sign...
...Next, it is weird to point out that some of these changing attitudes might be due to changes in-weaknesses in-the church-rather than symptoms of some monstrous cancer-growth of liberalism beyond its healthy bounds. But then NOT to point out, as well, that a HUGE amount of the shift is due to basic, widespread shifts in beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality.... The reason why religious institutions—and religious individuals—are under moral pressure... At this point it gets more complicated. It's quite clear that churches and institutions and individuals do and should have rights to believe what they believe. Catholic priests should not be forced to perform gay weddings—nor will they be, obviously.
But it is equally clear that, in a world where people increasingly regard discrimination against gays as unreasonable, and (reasonably!) as a sign of animus, the zone of privilege (a.k.a. liberty) around these religious zones is going to contract a bit. The more religious people kind of lean on others—using some institutional leverage point, say-and the more we see the others stopped from doing something basically reasonable (like getting gay married), the more we are inclined to say the leaning is illegitimate....
Brad DeLong: What I find most interesting is that MBD has chosen to die on the hill of contraception. He knows, as sure as the sun rises in the east most of the time, that the Catholic teaching of no-birth-control-or-anything-weird-and-non-missionary-smacking-of-the-sins-of-Onan-or-Sodom-and-Gomorrah will not be sustained. Just like 90+% of Catholics and the 80+% of antedeluvian Catholic pundits who have less than six children, at some time some Pope will say "oops" and retract Humanae Vitae. It may not happen for 500 years. It may happen in 50, or 5, or 5 months, or perhaps even 5 days.
Indeed, in the nunc stans it has already—no: that's wrong: it has not already happened, it has always been. Simon Peter with the Big Keys always has, is now, and always will be asking those who show up at the gate who beat the anti-contraception drum why they sinned against the family and against their fellow men and women by trying to degrade and disrupt the proper roles of marriage "for the mutuall societie, helpe, and coumfort" and the "ordeined... remedie agaynst sinne, and... fornicacion". An antediluvian serious about the contraception doctrine would be calling for church courts to investigate and interrogate those with fewer than 6 children, inquiring in detail how they do it. But perhaps that is what MBD is calling for. Perhaps that is the form that his inward focus on Believers would take.
I mean, are they expecting the frequency of lovemaking to go way down?
Are they expecting infant and maternal mortality to return to pre-industrial levels?
Are they expecting magic space travel to allow the human population to grow three-fold every generation with no Malthusian consequences?
Are they expecting to continue to die on the hill of society-needs-to-disrespect-and-ban-contraception in the public square while in nearly every private bedroom there are a lot of non-missionary-Sodom-and-Gomorrah activities going on, of which we do not speak?
Or are they all secret atheists—view their religion as Gibbon's cynical magistrate did: useful as Durkheimian mortar to cement the hierarchy from which they benefit?
Or maybe MBD is sacrificing himself for others? Others' belief is shaky, and needs to be reinforced...
John Holbo: These are all good questions. In a weird way, I think they expect other people to somehow bear the logical cost at this embarrassment of unanswerables, because, after all, they are 'sincere'. (You, for example, are being slightly rude, asking such questions of religious people!)
Brad DeLong But... it is not usually taken as rude in religious circles to ask of people: Will you be on the left or the right "when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats"? Usually that is taken as a friendly and brotherly question, helpfully concentrate attention on one's place in the World's Last Night, as Jack Chick would...
John Holbo: Oh absolutely. Rude to challenge people about their religious beliefs. Because that's religious liberty. But it's not rude for religious people to challenge non-religious people abut their beliefs. Because that's religious liberty. Purest proof of 'liberty' = 'privilege' here!