What of Romney’s Mormonism?

Home Waters is a blog that is occasionally dedicated to policy issues, particularly as they pertain to environmental health, but I generally steer away from politics, especially partisan politics. I wrote about my feelings regarding politics here. But I am a political animal, and I certainly believe it is vital to be informed and active as a citizen in a democracy. I am not one who yearns for the chance to wade into the waters of contemporary debates about Mitt Romney and his Mormonism, but I was recently invited to offer some brief reflection on the question of the relevance of his Mormonism, along with several others who serve with me on the board of an online journal, Square Two.

 

You can find my reflections and those of my colleagues at http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleRomneyRoundtable.html. Give it a read. I did not think to mention in my thoughts the candidacy of Mia Love, an African American Mormon convert running for Congress here in Utah, but her candidacy certain signals something unusual and perhaps just as newsworthy in the overall history of Mormonism as Romney’s run for the Presidency. Alas, I find her positions even less palatable than Romney’s (just dig enough into her political positions and you will see she is pretty far to the right), so I perhaps am sounding a note in a minor key in my reflections. I would be far more excited by a wider range of political views represented across Mormon culture than I currently see. I don’t pretend to sit atop the treasure box of political wisdom, but the more ardent and zealous the religious defenders of partisan principles become, the more suspicious I am of what elements of belief are willfully being left out of the discussion. This is especially true when arguments are offered in the name of a religious tradition like mine that has inspired everything from experiments in communal living to a formidable entrepreneurial spirit and business school presence, from an impassioned defense of polygamy to an impassioned defense of traditional marriage. And yet these partisan arguments employ ideas, rhetoric, and vocabulary that are lifted straight from the wisdom of think tanks and the latest strategies generated by the party. This makes me want to speak up against factionalism and for moderation, civility, deeper listening, and greater tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. Sure, it tempts me to want to make an impassioned argument for a liberal Mormon viewpoint. Maybe some day I will. But aren’t you just a little tired of the way politics cheats and cuts corners on the rich fabric of human experience?



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