I thought I'd open an thread on E.J. Dionne's fascinating cover story in the new Commonweal. The last paragraph particularly struck me:"If Pope Benedict, that staunch defender of orthodoxy, is able to acknowledge his own traditions debt to the positive aspects of modernity, it should not be so difficult for other believers to do so. Religion is, necessarily, both conservative and progressive. Religion is rooted in tradition and survives through development and change within tradition. It applies old truths to new circumstances. It also reexamines old truths in light of new circumstances. The conservative insists that the tradition not be distorted merely to accommodate passing fads and fashions. The progressive insists on purifying and clarifying the tradition by freeing it from the cultural encrustations of the past. The conservative keeps the tradition alive by honoring it. The progressive keeps the tradition alive by adapting it, and sometimes by challenging it. The history of American democracy shows that religious conservatives and progressives need each other more than they know. The election of 2008, coming after a long period of profound division in our politics and within our religious communities, will mark the moment when we finally come to understand that truth."
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.