In the past year, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the book, Credo, by William Sloane Coffin.
My friend met Coffin at Yale in the late 60’s when Coffin was Chaplain there. And this friend, having discovered that he and I share a few of the same theological and political views, thought I’d appreciate Coffin.
And he was right.
I’ve just finished Credo, and my copy is now full of dog-ears, notes, highlights and underlined text. Among them, this sober critique of the Religious Right, offered with a touch of humor:
I want to urge … the leaders of the so-called moral majority to “work out their salvation” with a little more “fear and trembling.” I agree that the Bible contains all the answers, at least all the significant ones. But I would insist that no one understands the Bible until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents. Like any book, the Bible is something of a mirror: if an ass peers in, you can’t expect an apostle to peer out!
Though surely not his specific intent, Coffin’s ass reference reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, where a shabby lion pelt is thrown over an unwitting donkey in an effort to fool folks into thinking Aslan has returned. This fake “Aslan” is the deliverer of many false teachings and instructions – and causes quite a bit of trouble in Lewis’ depiction of the End Times in Narnia.
Maybe this connection is Freudian for me: a moral majority of unwitting asses presenting themselves to the public disguised as apostles.
Meanwhile, thanks to YouTube, Coffin’s appearance on a 1966 episode of William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Firing Line” is available for your consideration. It’s an extremely polite give-and-take between two men who obviously have a friendly personal history, despite their political differences.
* Note: Harry Potter fans will no doubt wonder if Barty Crouch Junior has assumed Buckley’s identity via Polyjuice Potion. The quick tongue licks to the side of his mouth are an obvious tell.