(Apologies for missing Kathy’s earlier post on this subject!)
When CNN talking head Soledad O’Brien clinched the Worst Journalist on Earth award by asking John Edwards to name the biggest sin he ever committed, Edwards might have responded thusly:
While I can’t bring myself to reveal all the particulars of my transgression, I’ll just say that it involved a can of whipped cream, a bathtub of gelatin, a bottle of Jack, and three of the Pussycat Dolls.
An appropriate response to an intrusive query, but Edwards didn’t say that. Nor, sadly, did he say this:
This is a pathetic and insulting line of questioning that violates privacy, debases faith, and demeans the electoral process, and I decline to go along with it.
No, Edwards instead talked about what a big sinner he is – aren’t we all? – and so responded much as any of the big three Dem presidential contestants did in the Sojourners/Call to Renewal forum. That is, Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama burnished their religious bonafides in an attempt to demonstrate that Democrats – like their Republican rivals – are down with the whole God thing.
Religiosity or the lack of it is properly just one aspect of any politician’s makeup that may indicate what kind of officeholder he or she will be – and is generally used as an easy shorthand for what constitutes an individual’s concept of right and wrong – but the understanding of that context seems to be increasingly lost as candidates pander for the votes of the faithful. In any case, “faith” has become so narrowly construed publicly as belief or nonbelief in a specific Great White Bearded Guy that the whole exercise becomes unhelpful at best.
The Sojourners forum may have been intended as an opportunity to step beyond this paradigm – to talk about values, which are more fundamental and pertinent than any particular mythology – but with questions about personal sin framing the discussion, that opportunity seems to have been lost.