At last night’s “Family and Faith Matter” forum put on by conservative think tank, the Sutherland Institute, it wasn’t that there was any new message coming out about protecting the family and traditional marriage—it’s just many may have been waiting to hear if there would be a new voice publicly making that call. The voice in question was of Deseret News editor Joe Cannon, who gave an opening talk at the forum on secularism in the Western tradition.
The damnedest thing was that myself and I’m sure plenty of other media had bit hook, line and sinker that somehow Cannon was going to make some inferences to the whole issue of gay marriage or perhaps even the doomed Common Grounds bills sunk last year and making a return this session to the Legislature. The bills that attempted to codify basic legal anti-discrimination protections for Utah’s LGBT crowd.
What were we treated to instead? Cannon summarizing a nine column series from his own paper, he wrote, where he waxed philosophic about the Enlightenment, the appearance of modernity and the post-modern world we’re living in now.
Framing the context of the discussion ol’ Joe basically cited plenty of authors to suggest that the enlightenment with its emphasis on reason ushered in a secular era which has now pushed our society to the precipice of a new Dark Age.
Joe chimed in a happy epilogue saying that unlike the high falutin’ historians he cites he thinks society will steer clear of this black hole of atomistic, secularized nihilism through rooting to the faith. “God is the antidote,” Cannon says.
Then after Cannon the speakers were pretty much just airing out the old Sutherland battle cries “The family is ‘we the people,’” “the promise of marriage is the only interest society has in marriage,” “the universal experience of the family is the common good of society,” etc…
Not to dissuade these points, because Sutherland Prez Paul Mero makes a good argument. He really is the rock star of dowdy conservatives in our fair state and props to him for at least articulating an argument for “traditional” marriage, where many politicians would just mouth-defecate buzzwords and hollow rhetoric.
But looking back Cannon’s speech just felt like a publicity stunt to me. Cannon delivered a talk boring enough and non-relevant enough to steer clear of drawing criticism for wearing a political advocacy hat awkwardly over his allegedly neutral editor’s hat—but here’s the thing, the talk didn’t fit in with the event at all.
It was a wordy discussion of the Enlightenment, the birth of modernity and how it’s not too late to avoid a secular Dark Ages. Certainly the theme could be tied back to traditional marriage but it wasn’t overtly. And it’s conclusion was also vague enough to have just been a talk extolling the virtues of going to church more often or paying your tithing.
This makes me believe all the more that Mero is one slick cat.
Extra publicity for the same ‘ol message from the think tank, Cannon side-steps controversy and at the same time still rallies his old, crusty, Mormon niche readership by bearing his testimony that God can win over the evil progeny of Karl Marx and Charles Darwin and bring peace to the valley once again.With the skillful chops to be able to make an old slippery slope seem fresh and new for the eve of another legislative session it looks like the Common Grounds folk are really gonna have their work cut out for them.