Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Hendrik Hertzberg: Online Only: The New Yorker --
From Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker:

Theory two: it had something to do with the difference between Irish Catholic and Southern Baptist views of sin and forgiveness. As many people noticed at the time, the Lewinsky brouhaha drove not just Chris but also Michael Kelly, Tim Russert, and Maureen Dowd completely round the bend. For the Catholics, sins are to be confessed in the privacy of a closed booth to a priest who is the bottom rung on a ladder of long-established authority that runs upward through the hierarchy, the Pope, the saints, and only then to the Supreme Judge of the Universe. Forgiveness is administered via prescribed rituals sanctified by centuries of uninterrupted use. For low-church Protestants like Clinton (and Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker), confession usually comes after you get caught, is noisily public, and is so bound up with high-profile damage control that its sincerity cannot be assumed. Forgiveness comes from a chaotic combination of constituency politics (be the constituency a congregation or a party) and one’s “personal relationship” with Jesus, a notion Catholics find as creepy as Protestants find Marianism. The sloppy, sappy, self-indulgent theological and personal indiscipline of it all—that’s what R.C.s can’t stand. Anyway, that’s my theory, offered with this caveat: I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about.


I've also heard suggestions that Catholic Democrats don't like Democratic politicians who come across as Protestant preachers. I'm not sure how much I buy into this theory, but it is something to think about.
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