Tuesday, April 18, 2006

William Sloane Coffin, RIP

Via Miriam, I learn of the passing of William Sloane Coffin.

Dennis Prager had his number, thus:

People who believe in moral relativism, who therefore cannot ever determine which side in a conflict is morally right, understandably feel incapable of determining when violence may be moral. Those who say violence never solves anything have confused themselves in other ways as well. They have elevated peace above goodness. Therefore, in these people's views, it is better for evil to prevail than to use violence to end that evil -- since the very use of violence renders the user of it evil.

He did do a fair share of good during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, more than I probably would have done had I been an adult then. But negative faith in America The Bad was his hallmark, as with so many progressives. The disasters that befell SE Asia after the Communist conquest of that region never dented that faith. His was a career, again like so many others, which proved that you can't argue with an epiphany.

There was an inherent fudging of the line between the political and spiritual spheres in his ministry. For example, from this address last year:

Arthur Miller, of blessed memory, once wrote “I could not imagine a theater worth my time that did not want to change the world.”

I feel the same way about religious faith; it should want to change the world. The “blood-dimmed tide” loosed in the last century claimed more lives than all wars in all previous centuries, and the present century is filled with violence and cruelty.

And where did most of that blood come from? From the work of Coffin's fellow, though secular, social engineers. From the bloody counterfeit of Christianity, communism. People who still assert that communism and socialism--once they are properly implemented--are simply the Christian ideal in action should remember a few simple facts:

Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Acts 2:43-45

Note that it does not say "at gunpoint" anywhere in there. In socialist schemes, there's always a juncture where the guns have to come out.

Nor was there lacking the Left's profound indifference to the everyday dilemmas of ordinary people, much preferring the drama of high politics:

What is so heart-breaking is that, in a world of pain crying out for change, so many American churches today are basically down to management and therapy.

He was a minister, for goodness sakes. Didn't he ever have occasion to dry anyone's tears?

Coffin was an inspiration to many, so RIP to him and consolations to them, for the sake of that inspiration. But may the totalitarian temptation that shadowed his writings finally RIP, too.

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