Sed Contra: Letter to Warren

Deal W. Hudson
March 1, 1997

Dear Warren:

Your letter telling me of your decision not to renew your subscription to aims raises several important issues I want to address. I am doing this publicly, with your permission, because you probably represent other Crisis readers who wonder why, as you put it, we spend “all that intellectual energy blasting away at the encroaching barbarians….”

You specifically mention our articles critical of Al Gore, Bill Moyers, the Jesus Seminar, environmental education, and my own column, “Duped by Civility.” I only hope that all our readers take our magazine as seriously as you do! But I would like to explain why we are critical of “nice guys with good intentions” like Gore and Moyers and of the current use of ideas like “civility.”

It was promising that someone with Moyers’s media clout picked the Book of Genesis as a topic of conversation for a national television audience. Yet even the New York Times found fault with the sophomoric free-association that was substituted for informed comment in the PBS series.

As a result, Moyers has added to our confusion about Genesis. In addition, he has inadvertently undermined the good advice of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book. Moyers is an admirer of Adler but his Genesis series could hardly be held to the standard of an Adler Great Books Seminar.

I told you once that Moyers’s televised conversations with Adler on the contribute existence of God helped lead me toward Catholicism. But both his Genesis series and his Jungian conversations with Joseph Campbell demonstrate a basic misunderstanding, perhaps intentional, about the nature of religious belief. Moyers now refuses to consider religiosity from inside a tradition. Consequently, Moyers cannot do justice to any of the world’s major religions.

A similar problem is found in Gore’s Christian environmentalism. We can defend the environment against over-development and pollution without marrying God to Mother Earth. Indeed, the stronger our awareness of God as Creator, the stronger should be our motivation to be good stewards of his creation. Just as religious belief is not strengthened by ignoring established traditions, there is no need to divinize the planet in order to protect it.

If Crisis draws attention to the downside of psychologized spirituality and pantheistic eco-theology, it’s because we believe there will be a cost to pay for their influence.

I think you missed my point regarding the warning against the recent calls to civility. All of us should acquire true civility. But this does not require that we stop speaking the truth about evil. Many of those shouting the loudest about civility is really insisting that everyone recognizes the equal legitimacy of their moral perspectives. They won’t settle for mere toleration.

The same strategy is being used in public schools where, under the guise of “respecting” homosexuals, our children are being taught to regard homosexual acts as morally equivalent to heterosexual acts. If we try to remove the disguise from this “respect” agenda, we are not rejecting real respect, but exposing a deception.

You also think Crisis should have a greater sense of inclusiveness and open-heartedness rather than always attacking the “infidel.” Yet, it is impossible for Crisis to fulfill its mission of addressing the crisis both in the culture and in the Church without “discerning the spirits.”

Your suggestion, however, makes me wonder, just what it means for a magazine to have an “open heart.” Surely you are right in suggesting I should closely monitor the tone and tenor of the magazine. We live in a therapeutic age; to hurt someone’s feelings is the cardinal sin, so shaping our tone is a constant struggle: Do we deliberately ruffle feathers to make our point, or do we carefully maintain our good relations with the opposition and risk being ignored?

Crisis, after all, is a magazine; it is journalism, not diplomacy. Our first job is to issue a wake-up call, then to inform and empower our readers. What bothers me most about your letter is our failure to persuade you. Only by persuading our readers can we actually contribute to evangelizing and redeeming our culture.

What would it take to persuade you that the barbarians are inside the gate? Perhaps &rums should make you laugh more often. Nietzsche once said that “laughter kills” more surely than any intellectual argument. If I can’t get you to see the danger, perhaps I can make you laugh with me at the foolishness. After all, Warren, there is a razor-thin line between comedy and tragedy, and faith is the difference.

Editor’s note: Subsequent to this letter, and after a friendly phone call and the offer of a golf game, Warren decided to renew his subscription after all.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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