|L. M. Luhrmann|
Photo credit: Stanford
Basically, I think, Professor Luhrmann was implicitly calling for Christians to bend on core social issues--to reach some rapprochement with the postmodern world. I interpreted her essay to be a subtle suggestion that ancient Christian values about the dignity of life and the meaning of marriage need to be tweaked a bit to fit the values of our postmodern age.
Professor Luhrmann's arguments called to mind a passage from G. K. Chesterton's classic work, Orthodoxy:
An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half past three, but not suitable to half past four.As for me, I stand with Chesterton. Before becoming a Catholic, I lived in the postmodern world and I lived by postmodern values; and I was wrong. In midlife, I found the Catholic faith and I came to realize that the core doctrines of Catholicism are true and will always be true.
As I walked the aisles of that old adobe church where Spanish friars and Chumash Indians once worshipped and where modern Californians still worship today, I caught the familiar smell of all Catholic churches--the smell of incense, burning candles, and humanity.
Just as the fragrance of San Luis Obispo is the fragrance of Catholic churches all over the world, Catholic truths that were valid in the age of the Spanish empire remain valid today for modern Americans and all humankind.
Professor Luhrmann might see Catholic intransigence on social issues as a sign of schismogenesis, but I see it as a sign of fidelity to ancient truths.
T.M. Luhrmann. How Skeptics And Believers Can Connect. New York Times, April 7, 2013, Review Section, p. 12.