Duck and I met once, IRL, over deli sandwiches in West Springfield, Mass., while he and Skipper were on their cross-country trek. But that is no measure of my regard for Duck.
Looking at that archives at BrothersJudd, I find that we had over 400 conversations on the great issues of the time, and evolution. I cannot easily accommodate myself to the loss of such a valuable sparring partner.
I can find no earlier interaction between us than this comment thread from February 2004. My first comment directed to Duck was:
Robert has managed to articulate, as concisely as I've seen, what -- from a purely functional point of view -- I find so dangerous about American atheism: "As far as morality, I am influenced by my family and society, but in the end it is my conscience that has final say. I don't abdicate responsibility for my moral decisions."Not necessarily what I would have chosen to say had I known then what I know now.
In other words, and I think this is a fair summation, "I follow conventional morality, unless I don't like it." I understand that the atheists among us will object that I am trivializing the deeply affecting struggle with their own conscience, in which they draw from their own inner strength, without recourse to false gods, in order to triumph over temptation. They are entirely right -- I am trivializing it.
The reason I spoke of American atheism is that, when combined with our misunderstanding of democracy and classlessness, we quickly decide that we can't be judgmental. Even further, that the fact that some position is consistent with conventional religious morality makes it suspect.
Think about the gay marriage debate from the point of view of any time up to about the year 1997. The establishment Right's position is "Do whatever you want, live together, raise children together, come to what ever contractual arrangement you want; here, have civil union's, just don't call it 'marriage'." The Left's response? "Oh, you vile, oppressive bigots."
The point is that, human beings being what we are, we need an unchanging (well, very slowly changing) arbitrary code of behavior in order to stop us from doing what we want.
But I win. I get to believe that Duck's essence continues on, albeit with great surprise.
I see that, as with all eulogies, this is more about me than Duck. But that makes sense, as I resent this death. We do not have so many good men that we can afford to spare one.