zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » On negative space, private morality in the public square

On negative space, private morality in the public square

[ by Charles Cameron — not entirely keen about Judgment, me, but.. ]

Continuing on from my discussion of negative space in the painting, here’s the MSNBC clip I overheard waas on about:


The clip, in other words, is about private morality in the public square.

Raw Story picks up there thread in a piece titled ‘Where are the preachers of America?’:

Evangelical leaders slammed for hypocrisy of Trump support:Former New York Times White House correspondent Howell Raines, who rose to executive editor of newspaper, called out the evangelical community during a Friday appearance on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber.”

“I want to ask you about the negative space in the painting, the thing that’s not happening — that we are always told would happen — because the Christian right and the conservative values organizations and the evangelical right cared deeply about the personal behavior of politicians and especially the president,” Melber observed.

“The president now has squarely admitted to paying this woman in direct connection to the allegations of this extramarital affair,” the host continued. “I ask you for your view of why we’re not hearing any outrage for any of those groups affiliated with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.”

“Where are the preachers of America when morality is legitimately at the center of our national life?” Raines wondered. “I think Director Comey was correct today on CBS when he said this is about values and supporting our institutions and it’s imperative that Americans who believe in the normal political process and the rule of law start speaking out.”

“That’s what’s missing in the picture to me,” he concluded.


That’s a significant question, to which various answers have been given — from a quick Google search:

  • The Nation, Why Evangelicals—Still!—Support Trump
  • Time, Why Evangelicals Support President Trump, Despite His Immorality
  • Atlantic, A Match Made in Heaven
  • but I’d like to leave — indeed emphasize — it as a question.

    How come the hypocrisy?

    And I think we should ask this, not as a question requiring a political answer, but as a moral question, hanging in the air, for the individual consciences of evangelicals to ponder..

    I have my own hyposcrisies to consider..

    4 Responses to “On negative space, private morality in the public square”

    1. Grurray Says:

      If it’s in fact true, as the Time Magazine article suggests, that Evangelicalism is “slaveholder religion” and that it’s Trump’s intention to somehow enslave people, then there’s no hypocrisy at all. Immoral Evangelicals that love slavery have voted for an immoral slaveholder. There is perfect congruence between immoral beliefs, immoral actions, immoral believers, immoral leaders. Makes sense.
      I can see how that might appeal to the spiritually perplexed, but I suspect that premise may not be quite true. I suggest that it’s possible that there’s actually no hypocrisy. It’s more like a misunderstanding.
      Southern Evangelicals of the sort that you see on the news supporting Trump are Revivalists who believe we enter into the world in a state of original sin that critically hinders salvation. A person can be saved only by conversion and then Sola Fide, by faith alone. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” as St. Paul wrote.
      Trump has admitted that he lived a life of unholiness and spoken about it in the presence of Evangelical leaders. He pledged his belief and support. Done. Signed sealed, delivered. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, as St Paul also wrote.
      The complaints about hypocrisy seem to be coming from people who are under the expectation that religion should be concerned with condemnation, enforcing moral law, and displaying purity. This isn’t the missionary work of Evangelicalism but the Puritan belief of “a city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”
      “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” as our Lord implored on the mount.
      The Puritan view is that spiritual discipline is maintained by the sinner who is under constant fear of punishment under law by elders or, if the sinner is able to slip through, punishment by the devil. The virtue of worldly laws can only be preserved by aligning them with God’s laws, otherwise everyone is doomed. Well, we’re all doomed anyway, but the world will surely be doomed unless human arrogance and vanity is forever supplicated before God’s terrible and/or sanctifying judgment.

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      I think the perceived hypocrisy has to do with a large number of preachers, authors and their followers behaving in line with their politics even when it seems in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ — as Russell Moore (Southern Baptist) felicitously puts in his 2018 Simon Lecture on Religion in American Public Life:

      So often in 2018 America, Evangelical is associated more with the Iowa caucuses than with the Empty Tomb

      That’s what seems like the hypocrisy bifurcation — to refer back to my recent reference to Rene Thom and catastrophe theory.

    3. Grurray Says:

      I don’t have much to disagree with in Dr Moore’s lecture. There is a misconception that Evangelicals are somehow counter-cultural and against the modern world when in fact the opposite is the case. You don’t fill stadiums by taking a stand against popular norms.
      I also salute his calls for a third way, but I’m not very optimistic that it’s at all possible. This debate has been going on for as long religion has been around. Is the church meant to be an arc for saving only a devout remnant or is it meant to part the waters to lead the multitudes into the promised land? Moore is putting a friendly face on his Calvinism in hopes that it can bridge the gap, but he clearly leans toward the Kingdom not being of this world. For the people who feel stuck in this world, that may not be the message that resonates.

    4. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hypocrisy? Remorse? Ouroboros?
      This comment in the New Yorker‘s piece on Eric Schneiderman, wld appear to me to involve a subset of “serpent bites tail” form, no?

      As his prominence as a voice against sexual misconduct has risen, so, too, has the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters.

      And hypocrisy too, unless it’s remorse not yet ready to acknowledge itseelf. Human psychology is a curious environment, with many trap doors, mirror chambers, high wires and so forth.

    Switch to our mobile site