I have never before encountered Chuck Colson. As enforcer for Tricky Dicky, Mr Colson became deeply embroiled in the Watergate scandal and was imprisoned. Remarkably converted, he went on to found Prison Fellowship. Among US Conservative Evangelicals he is something of an Elder statesman. I was looking forward to his talk because I was intrigued by his personal story, and endorse his advocacy for restorative justice.
Actually, his presentation was hard work, not only for me but for all of our group. Many others around us were respectful, but noticeably less plugged into this talk than the others. Mr Colson gave some helpfully provocative sound bites — “we have bought into a lie, and transferred our allegiace from truth to therapy” sticks in the mind as a challenge to consider.
In the main however, his talk was a syllabus of errors, defending a Protestant version of what Roman Catholics used to call integralism — everything about God, propositionally stated, hangs together as an unquestionable whole. Any compromise and the whole trickles away. No duck/rabbits or wave/particles for Mr Colson then. And why his particular whole package, not Pio Nono’s? Don’t suppose I’ll ever know.
This was a curiously unsatisfying talk, with its logical-positivist style — Dawkins stood on his head? Its knockdown arguments took us on a slightly clunky trip around the circle line, whilst most everybody else is up on the surface, strolling in the park these days. Perhaps whipping ideas together to force compliance from the unwilling is what good party enforcers do best. If ever I feel we need that doing, I'll know where to come, I suppose.