Neither a Reasserter, nor Reappraiser…

Centrists / General Convention / Religion

The Questioning Christian takes a look at the catagories that Kendall Harmon has been using to name the two different parties that are contending inside the Episcopal Church. I actually think Kendall’s names for the parties aren’t too bad – they are value neutral and are descriptive rather being judgmental. I find that they are a useful shorthand. (Which I think is all they were meant to be even if that’s not what they are becoming.)

That said, the Questioning Christian’s description of a “reexaminer” is rather attractive. I said something in this vein a few days a go at the end of a post I wrote on the difficulty that using just the plain-meaning of scripture can bring. I suppose my idea is more Hegelian synthetic than is that of the Question Christian, but I think we’re both feeling a paucity that comes from using two categories and not using something more like a spectrum.

“Let me propose a third category, that of ‘reexaminer.’  I would characterize a reexaminer as someone who doesn’t accept that the evidentiary record can ever be closed — someone who is willing and indeed eager to consider all the available evidence as it is revealed to us, and let the chips fall where they may.”

A Reexaminer, Not a Reappraiser

(Via The Questioning Christian.)

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. Dave says

    Although I agree that Canon Harmon’s neologisms defuse some of the emotional baggage attached to the terms “liberal” and at that,”conservative,” in truth there was nothing essentially negative about either, etymologically speaking. The negativity, it seems to me, was almost entirely the result of historically bad blood across the factional dividing lines: “Those Hatfields!!! Those McCoys!!!!”
    I’m skeptical that anything has substantively changed as a result of Harmon’s invention. It seems more a temporary diffusion of tension by extraordinary means. That solution cannot be employed indefinitely without undermining the weight of the words themselves. We either lose ourselves in an regress of qualification and redefinition (everybody gets a label!) or we play semantic ping-pong, inventing new linguistic containers for old concepts every time we think the emotional baggage is too much to carry. Language — healthy, substantive language at least — doesn’t work that way.
    Case in point: the definition of “reexaminer” given in your post is merely a restatement of the classically liberal position. Your invocation of Hegel — as if “liberal” and “conservative” (or whatever) were merely poles along the thesis/antithesis dialectical movement — proves my point rather dramatically. It is Hegel’s view of history and the movement of ideas that gave such spectacular momentum to the liberal viewpoint going into to the 20th century to begin with.

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