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Dogmas show up in all sorts of places, but it appears that we may not always be aware of the dogmas we hold. The summer’s drama over President Trump’s selection to the Supreme Court has been the object of scorn despite the fact that the Court has been well identified as “politically motivated” on the moral topics of the day. Far be it from me to give a blanket endorsement of Trump; I remain non-partisan, and thus this article speaks to the inverse logic and dogmas of the politically correct.

In September of 2017, the U.S. Senate was putting potential Supreme Court Justices through it’s illiberal inquisition. Soho Ahmari wrote an Op Ed piece in the New York Times (Sept 11, 2017), in response to the “confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame whom President Trump had nominated to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Going far beyond questions of legal philosophy and qualification, several lawmakers interrogated Ms. Barrett about her devout Catholicism, suggesting that her faith would impede her ability to serve as a judge”:

“Do you consider yourself an ‘orthodox Catholic’?’ asked Dick Durbin of Illinois, himself a Catholic, taking issue with Ms. Barrett’s use of that term to describe those who strive to align their lives fully with the Church’s teachings. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii darkly insinuated that Ms. Barrett would apply Catholic morality to decide cases.

But Dianne Feinstein of California took things furthest. ‘Dogma and law are two different things,’ she said. ‘And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.'”

Partisan or just Self-Ignorant?

It is with breathtaking self-ignorance that Ms. Feinstein appears to be incapable of recognizing at least two things:

  • Her own dogmas that inform her perspective.
  • Fairness and justice can be articulated however informed by one’s faith and/or dogmas.

Ahmari elaborates:

“The episode was symptomatic of a repressive turn among Western liberals… As a classical liberal and a recent convert to Catholicism, I find all of this deeply dismaying. Long before I started on my journey to Rome, I believed in the promise of the free society — a system in which liberty and tradition could contend without either one trying to destroy the other. One could be fully a believer and fully invested in a liberal constitutional order. But for some progressives, it isn’t enough to have won most of the cultural and policy battles of the past several decades. Even the remnants of the other side, in people’s minds and consciences, must submit to maximalist progressive claims.

It won’t happen, and the desire to do so isn’t actually liberal. It is, well, dogmatic. Not all dogmas involve Almighty God.”

(Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari), a senior writer at Commentary magazine, is at work on a spiritual memoir for Ignatius Press.)

Modern Day Inquisition?

Kathryn Jean Lopez reflects on the modern inquisition of Christians when she writes:

“In her book It’s Dangerous to Believe, which is a plea to secular liberals to realize the illiberalism behind their hostility to people of faith in the public square, Mary Eberstadt argues that the new “Inquisitors” are unintentionally harming “good works.” She writes: The alliance arrayed against traditionalist Christians claims to be on the side of the poor and the marginalized. But its soft persecution of those same Christians jeopardizes charities that help the poor and marginalized.”

The attack on people of faith in the public square caused Penny Nance with the Washington Examiner to ask:

“Why are smart, thoughtful, accomplished, faith-filled women who are also conservative such a threat to liberals?

… An editorial in the Los Angeles Times even said that the senator crossed the line in her questioning of Barrett: “But she went too far in raising doubts about whether Barrett would allow her religious views to affect her rulings as a judge (particularly about abortion rights, Feinstein’s priority when it comes to judicial nominations).”

Rev. John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, sent a letter to Sen. Feinstein in defense of Amy Barrett, essentially saying that the line of questioning was frightening: “It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge. I ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom ‘dogma lives loudly’ − which is a condition we call faith.”

This line of questioning that Sen. Feinstein and her Democratic colleagues went down with Amy Barrett was shameful. Would they have done the same thing if the nominee was Jewish or Muslim?

As it turns out, all this caterwauling about Amy Barrett’s alleged loud living dogma was academic. She didn’t make it past the short list in Trump’s ongoing frenetic capriciousness. But that’s a different story.

The Point:

“Not all dogmas involve the Almighty God”, quipped Soho Ahmari (above), and if you’ve read my posts, you will note that I am decidedly interested in “More Enigma than Dogma.”  The point I am making is to poke the eye of hubris of those who presume their dogmas, however unquestioned or reasoned, influence their decisions, life styles, and politics.

No less a luminary than von Balthasar reflects on the dogmas of our day:

Materialism is not alone in thinking that it can ‘redeem’ man for itself through the dogma of atheism. Positivism, too, has the same intention, and its dogma forbids every truly philosophical question from being asked : it measures out the horizon of sensible thought solely on the basis of the surveyable ‘facts’.

… Nothing, compared to this, has ever emptied the wondrous mystery…

Oh, the wondrous mystery of the goodness of God; His majesty, wisdom, and goodness; His adoptive reach and redeeming grace!  He invites us into relationship and reveals His eternal nature; we can only grasp at that which we cannot comprehend.

This is more enigma than dogma…

It is not lost on me that this is posted the day after the yearly commemoration (9/11) when one dogma (radical islam) collided with the edifice of another dogma (materialism). Lord have mercy.

For more see, “Reduced to Smoke Stacks and Debris.”