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New in Jewcy—Is God a Republican?

Wow. Leviticus may be an excruciatingly boring book, the ugly red-headed stepchild in the Pentateuch—what with all those laws and laws and laws, laid out with all the narrative flair of the instruction manual for an assemble-it-yourself desk—but if you … Read More

By / March 23, 2007

Wow. Leviticus may be an excruciatingly boring book, the ugly red-headed stepchild in the Pentateuch—what with all those laws and laws and laws, laid out with all the narrative flair of the instruction manual for an assemble-it-yourself desk—but if you skip ahead to where the story heats up again in Numbers, you’re making a mistake.

Former National Review literary editor and current Discovery Institute scholar David Klinghoffer says that the cipher to the mysteries of American political life is right there in the laws of ritual contamination. Those laws, it turns out, are more than just a bit of perverse fretting about ejaculation and menstruation—they’re also a pre-emptive attack against Darwin and Karl Marx, and against the materialist worldview more generally. You’ll have to read it to see how Klinghoffer gets there.

Of course, if you’re an atheist, you won’t buy it, since he’s working from the Bible and the Talmud as his sources. This produced a bit of in-house Jewcy debate, with Tahl and I discussing the extent to which we want Jewcy articles to be broadly persuasive, to operate from assumptions that are widely shared. The new, decentralized “read/write we
b,” aka Web 2.0, of which Jewcy is a part, is often blamed for atomizing debate, with lots of insular groups, each one talking among themselves, agreeing with themselves, and operating from premises that they share with no one else. Somehow our conversation ended up with Tahl saying “God is not a Republican. He’s Oprah,” the rough idea being that it takes an I-Thou master like Oprah to bust through the borders of all these incompatible groups and appeal to everyone.

So is Klinghoffer’s article just another sort of internally-directed salvo, persuasive to people who already agree with him, but meaningless to everyone else?

I don’t think so. Even if you’re a secular liberal (as I am, more or less) who thinks his premises are rubbish, the article still gives you a fascinating insight into the mind of a freethinking theocon, a theocon who’s come up with a novel formulation for expressing what distinguishes him from you. And for good measure he places the Torah in the nature/nurture, environment/individual debate…who knew that the redactors of Leviticus saw nineteenth century Europe coming, and freaked out?

Read it here.

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