Friday, October 27, 2006

Do no harm, or don't get elected

I have a little more to explain about my position on George Allen's attacks on Jim Webb's "literary" output.

It's part of Christian belief that we are all responsible to God not only to work toward our own salvation, but also toward the salvation of the people around us. C. S. Lewis gave a wonderful speech about that belief, called The Weight of Glory -- and he wasn't talking about some narcissistic, self-righteous concern for your own salvation, but about feeling the weight of responsibility for your neighbor's. You may not believe in all that, but we do. And one implication of it is that you don't do things that are going to make it harder for other people to live good lives.

In Webb's case, like so many modern authors, he seems to have thrown the lurid sex into his novels because he could, because he thought it would help sell books, and because he thought people expected it in so-called "adult" literature. Funny how Dickens and Austen, to name just two, manage to move adult audiences today without it. But then, they were real writers, not hacks.

So Jim Webb didn't feel the weight of his neighbor's potential to live a noble life. He saw his neighbor (and inevitably, the neighbor's children -- kids are endlessly combing their parents' bookshelves when not observed) merely as customers, to be enticed to buy by any means necessary -- and if he could snag a few extra bucks by pandering to his neighbor's petty lusts, he's been happy to do it. For years.

Webb shouldn't have done it, but it's a free country, so he can. And those of us who want people in Congress who understand their duty not to harm their neighbors can vote for the other candidate.