know.” “This problem of translation revealsrnthe extent to whieh thernchurch/state dilemma . . . is a problemrnof epistemology itself.” the authors explain.rnThinkers engaged in reasserting thernfact of religion as a legitimaternsouree of moral knowledge in the publiernarena insist that it find some eonceptuallyrnneutral language in which tornexpress this knowledge. Mensch andrnFreeman cite Richard John Ncuhaus,rnwho wants the believer and nonbelieerrnto “engage one another in a sharedrnwodd of discourse.” But there are atrnleast two problems with Neuhaus’srnsolution. First, it would gie the nonbelieverrnabsolutely no stake in trying tornfind a “moral Esperanto” (to borrow arnphrase from Princeton philosoj^her JeffreyrnStout). Why should he abandonrnthe secular political and moral discoursernthat works just fine, thank vou, inrnachieving his political and moral goals?rnSecond, and more importantly, such attemptsrnat “translation” as Neuhaus andrnothers advocate alwavs fail because thc’rnallow the secular moral culture to be thernjudge of what is “rational” and what isrnnot. The reason why secularists andrnChristians do not communicate is preciselyrnbecause they do live in differentrn”worlds of discourse.” When it comesrnto the c[ucstion of whose rationality willrnprevail, the theologians alwavs blink.rnThey blink because their nerve fails;rnLIBERAL ARTSrnTRANSGENDERISMrnAccording to the San FranciscornChronicle, the city’s Board of Supervisorsrnvoted in December to make itrnillegal for employers, landlords, andrnpublic officials to discriminate againstrnmembers of the “transgender community.”rnAn editorial in the newspaperrncomplained that San Franciscornhad waited too long to join SantarnCruz, Seattle, and Minneapolis,rnwhich already accord special legalrnprotection to “transsexuals.” The editorialrnconcluded by quoted TerencernHallinan, the chief proponent of thernmeasure: “We are creating a civil rightrnand it will affect attitudes all overrnAmerica.”rnnot to grant secular moral and politicalrnculture its role as the arbiter of rationalityrnis to risk sounding sectarian, and thusrnbecoming irrele’ant to public discourse.rnThe result, of course, is that the churchrnthereby “relevanti/.es” itself into irrelevance;rnand Fullness of Faith is an examplernof just such a failure of nerve. On itsrnsurface, the book looks like a studiedrnattempt to avoid this tendency. The authors,rnMichael J. Himes and Kenneth R.rnHimes, O.F.M., want to show how suchrndistinctly Christian doctrines as OriginalrnSin, the Holy Trinity, and the Incarnationrnof Cod in Christ can take publiclyrnsignificant forms in American politicalrndiscourse. But only after they are translatedrninto terms that a secular liberalrndemocratic polity can accept. Or, to bernmore exact, only by showing how theserndoctrines arc easily metamorphosed intorngood Democratic political theory.rnIn a classic case of the political tailrnwagging the theological dog, I limes andrnHimes want to join in the “quest… forrna Catholic social theorv which can supportrnand enrich liberal democracy yetrnoppose the individualism and myth ofrnself-interest whieh historically has undergirdedrnliberal institutions.” Thus,rnthey go to great pains to show that thernTrinity calls us away from the radical individualismrnof Ilobbes and Locke. Butrnthey spin away from those philosophersrnonlv to go reeling into the arms ofrnRousseau, the champion of positivernrights.rnThe authors’ goal is not to suggestrndistinetlv Christian critiques of existingrnpolitical and social realities, but rather tornshow how the realities of which theyrnapprove can be undergirded bv certainrnunderstandings of Christian doctrine, anrnagendum that turns theological methodrnon its head. Thev begin by uivestigatingrnthe social and political policies whichrnthev like, and then show how God likesrnthem, too. For example, the authorsrnwish to command a certain brand ofrn”communitarianism,” as opposed to individualism.rnBut in so doing, they ignorerntwo important things. The first isrnthat communitarianism is a ariety ofrnliberalism, beginning with the same basicrnanthropological presuppositions: liberalismrnwith a smiling face. But, morernimportantly, the authors’ need to translaternChristianity into political terms isrnthe result of their failure to take seriouslyrnthe fact that the Church is its own politicalrnsystem, with its own grammar,rnrationality, and language. Their methodrnis to show not what a politics of, say, thernIncarnation should look like, but ratherrnwhv the Incarnation undergirds the legitimacrnof political patriotism. Ratherrnthan spell out the distinct eeelesial politicsrnof the Trinity, the authors tell usrnhow the Trinitv is really a metaphor forrnuniversal human rights.rnThe authors’ purpose is a noble andrnimportant one. They want to show thatrn”the Catholic theological tradition andrnits consequent social teaching offer arndistinctive vision of human life, humanrncommunity, the goals of a just society.”rnBut they do not adequately consider thernpossibilitv that the Church does notrnmerelv offer a ision of these things, butrnrather is a unique instantiation of a particularrnwav of human living; instead,rnthev offer distinctly theological wordsrnand phrases as a means of substantiatingrnanother political reality, and, in so doing,rnthey allow this other reality to transformrntheological language into a “universal”rnpolitical language that any “rational”rnperson can accept. But what, then, isrnthe point? Secular politics is not interestedrnin any theological justificationrnof its existence. And if theology merelvrnserves to show how secular polities hasrnbeen right all along, why do we needrntheology? Obxersely, public theology,rnrather than presenting the church as arndistinct political society which calls allrnother politics into question, teachesrnAmericans to be good (communitarian)rnliberals.rnWhen such a transformation occurs,rntheology quickly loses its ability to standrnas a prophetic voice against all other politicsrnbut its own. It forgets how to sarn”No!” When theology sees itself as servingrna broader public good—noble asrnthat might sound—it must render thisrnservice in wa’s that the broader publicrnwill find acceptable. That is to say, itrnmust sacrifice itself to seeularity for tliernpurpose of universality. For instance, itrnreminds us that we ought to be self-givingrnand compassionate, yet we soon forgetrnwhy. It tell us to be loving, but failsrnto explain the boundaries or parametersrnof that love. It tells us to be tender, butrnwhen tenderness is changed into somernmythical uniersalist ethie, cut awayrnfrom the source of tenderness, we soonrnlearn that it allows us to kill rather thanrnto suffer (or to suffer suffering). It is nornsmall irony that law professors Menschrnand Freeman appear to recognize thisrntruth more clearly than theologiansrnHimes and Himes. <-‘rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn