I hate David Brooks

i hate david brooks

I’ve written about David Brooks before. He is a toffee-nosed middle-of-the-road sort-of-conservative social commentator for the New York Times. He is priggish and frequently clucks his tongue over our decadent society. His preferred society would, I think, be a cartoonish Eisenhower-era America, with everyone living in a little white house and going to church every Sunday, in a rocket car (because David Brooks is a great believer in progress).

Seriously, people like this kill me. They long for the days of Big Religion, when everyone went to church except the really bad people. People like Brooks often whine about how society has suffered without Religion as a Unifying Force.

O yes indeedy, it’s a unifying force, all right. Go ask all the Lutherans and Catholics who died in the Thirty Years War, back in the seventeenth century, about how powerfully they felt about their religion as a unifying force.

But religion is also a civilizing force! the David Brookses cry. Music! Poetry! Art!

(They overlook all the music and poetry and art that’s been created without benefit of religion.)

Which is why this passage, from a recent Brooks NYTimes.com editorial in which he describes Charles Taylor’s book “A Secular Age”, drives me batty:

 “. . . What I most appreciate is [Taylor’s] vision of a “secular” future that is both open and also contains at least pockets of spiritual rigor, and that is propelled by religious motivation, a strong and enduring piece of our nature.

This gives me a splitting headache. First of all: “pockets of spiritual rigor”? Does Christian fundamentalism, or Muslim fundamentalism for that matter, constitute a “pocket of spiritual rigor”? If so, in what way do they add to the value of their respective cultures?

And why would a “secular” future be “propelled” by “religious motivation”? This baffles me completely. I’m a non-believer myself. Can I somehow “propel” myself with “religious motivation” that doesn’t involve believing in a particular religion? Or do I just sideline myself, and allow my culture to be “propelled”?

I don’t know why people read Brooks seriously. I only read him to reassure myself what a completely fatuous bore he is.

Now excuse me while I propel myself into the secular future.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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