All right, it's not written in stone, but only on Doubleday's finest rag and linen stock (all recyclable, don't you know?), still David Klinghoffer's new book, Shattered Tablets: Why we Ignore the Ten Commandments at Our Peril, is provoking religious and anti-religious fervor among both conservatives and liberals. That means you really have to read it.
The book is officially "out" only as of this week, yet National Review Online already is carrying a funny interview of David on the subject of his new work. The byplay between David, a senior fellow in Discovery Institute's Religion and Public Life program and a one-time book editor at NR, and Kathryn Lopez, Online's editor, is particularly amusing if you know something of the NR staff. (Are they going to allow their self-ordained Evangelizing Agnostic, John Derbyshire, to review Shattered Tablets?)
The book also stimulated a column a couple of days ago by Danny Westneat in The Seattle Times (it singes our man, but doesn't burn him), while a fine tribute by Rod Deher just ran in The Dallas Morning News.
Many months ago I argued with David about his book's jeremiads against Seattle, our mutual home town. I am a bit more accepting of the religiously lazy and latitudinarian locals than is David, but having witnessed lately a huge increase of intimidating street crime outside our downtown office building, I have to admit the aptness of David's depiction of Third and Pike as an example of the breakdown in respect for authority. In fact, Shattered Tablets makes a lot of good, relevant points. You don't have to agree with all of them, or any of them, but David Klinghoffer is nothing if not a prophet deserving of attention.
Here's a final thought. In very recent times traditional Jews like Klinghoffer, Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics have been coming together on a number of public issues, often joined by thoughtful Stoics who don't embrace any particular faith, but appreciate those who do and, like the rest of us, cherish the religious concepts of ordered liberty that make Western Civilization exceptional. If it weren't for the strident atheists who have been demanding more and more secularization and seeking to punish religious people, this development might not be taking place. Call it coincidence, call it Providence, nothing quite like it has happened before. That is one reason why Shattered Tablets is likely to enjoy a broad and deep audience.