Re: Public Spaces and Political Opinions

Dan:

About your post on political opinions, I have a couple thoughts. Regarding the talking past each other, I think you’re pretty much undeniably right. Alasdair MacIntyre, in many of his works, including After Virtue, makes the point that real moral dialogue in our culture is no longer possible because we no longer believe that human beings actually have discoverable final causes; what happens now is just that people express their emotional preferences, and since people have sometimes irreconcilable differences, we get vitriol and animus when people become exasperated at being unable to convince each other. The problem is we no longer have a common moral language, though we think we do.

Regarding which values are best, I’m a bit troubled by dismissing things like authority, justice and purity as reasons for ethics. Surely, at least Christians, have some good reasons not to do that.

Getting back to your public spaces post, the connection you raise between malls, municipally funded places, and megachurches is an apt one. Actually, now that you bring it up, I think their attempts might be instructive. Perhaps this is a form of service the church can give its wider community in our “mallified” culture: providing a space to be a community again.

While some attempts at doing this have perhaps just replicated the consumerism of the wider culture, there is at least some wisdom to the “coffee house” church idea: people are bonded together in a very real way over meals. That, at least, is not a product of consumerism.