Amid the hubbub surrounding the Gingrich surge, this is one question that has perplexed commentators of all religious and political persuasions. Thereâ€™s no consensus about where to find the Catholic in Newt.
At this point, the question is not where it is exactly, but where to begin looking.
So, letâ€™s review speculation about the Catholicity of Newt Gingrich. Iâ€™ll also advance my own hypothesis and give it a professorial flourish by using a suitably big word.
Hypothesis number one: The new Catholic Newt is simply being American.
Playfully characterizing Gingrich as a â€œreligious flip-flopperâ€ draws attention to how Gingrich, like many other Americans, has seemingly changed his religion to suit prevailing fashion. Perhaps thereâ€™s also an ironic part to this interpretation in that Gingrich has supposedly made use of the religious market place to embrace a religion that would take umbrage if treated as a â€œcommodity.â€
It might be reasonable enough to see Gingrichâ€™s Catholicity as a kind of epiphenomenon reflecting American cultural propensities–after all, Newt is indeed American. But conversion as â€œflip-flopâ€ seems to preclude understanding conversion as a turn toward something; itâ€™s not just a lurching back and forth from one view to another. It also makes the Catholic in Newt hard to locate. [more]