My first reflex in the face of a good debate within a discipline other than my own is to try to find a way through the melee. One would like to stand so to speak outside the fray in order to adjudicate or mediate. In this case I cannot do that. The two players, Marshall and Pepper, seem to a layman to be playing on the same field, with some of the same landmarks on the skyline, but they seem to be playing by different rules, each team having brought along its own ball and its own referee. I see no way, and I am not sure there is a need, to stand between or above the two positions to adjudicate their difference.
I therefore must attempt to come at the conversation from two other perspectives, grateful to have been educated just a little by watching the expert jousting laid before us. I shall attempt, once as amateur historian of American culture, and once as simple “religious” citizen, to describe what seems to me to be at stake, giving attention especially to the gaps where the two papers — in what they agree about more than in their debate — leave this reader dangling.