Radiating Disaster Triumphant (e.g. Rom. 1:26-7)
The headline above is an allusion to one of my favorite books, Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. They identify a kind of rationality actively "disenchanting" the world so that, the hope goes, humans may develop the ability to predict and control their environment, both natural and social. Disenchantment proceeds in part by ruling that only natural facts, accessible to the senses, occur--e.g. what cannot be observed, say miracles and spirits, is to be ruled out and discounted from our understanding of the world. But the Enlightenment project, they claim, inevitably, and catastrophically, backfires: the fully disenchanted world "radiates disaster triumphant."
Right-wing ways of reading the Bible are ironic in this light. On the one hand, many winger-ECUSAns seem intent on reading the Bible so as to preserve the sovereignty of God and God's place in claiming our obedience. They take the resurrection of Christ, his divinity, the dogma of the Trinity and other elements of dogma out of Chalcedon to be genuine truths. Good and laudable: I applaud. But on the other hand, they read the Bible as if it yields up plain facts of meaning: such and such a text plainly read means X, and any attempt to read it as meaning something else, say Y, is twisting the text and perverse. Not good--there are no plain facts of meaning in the Bible. It is not a collection of propositions from which dogma may be constructed. The winger hermeneutic kills the Bible as canon.
Insisting on plain facts of meaning, winger-ECUSAns carry the Enlightenment project of Disenchantment to the Bible. What was a text for Christian liturgy, a text of Christian myth and ritual, gets wrenched out of that context to serve a different function. In our heated contests, impatience and partisan zeal lead too many to read the Bible as containing strings of propositional dogma rather than myth. The text is read so as to be demythologized; its symbolic, liturgical function in the Christian community begins to fade.
Take ECUSA's recent debate over homosexuality and the text of Romans 1:26-27  For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural,  and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
This bit of Scripture gets cited (e.g. in True Union in the Body available over at ACI) as self-evidently implying all homosexuality whatever, and by implication gay marriage, is forbidden: isn't it clear on its face?
To feel the pull of that temptation, so powerful, continuous and relentless it might even feel like a gravitational field pulling you in, is to feel the pull of Disenchantment--you treat the text as a repository of propositional dogma. But the text alone, such as it is, is not doing that to you; you feel the semantic gravity from already being embedded in and reading from the point of view of a particular ways of life--and not an innocent way of life either, but a way of life, if I may wax theological, subject to and complicit with a destructive Power.
Step back for a moment and recall that at Romans 1:26-27 Paul is in the middle of setting out a mythical history: he isn't doing scholarly historical criticism or interpretation. And the mythical history he writes is for a church audience--it's neither neutral nor acontextual. Before drawing dogmatic conclusions from the text we need to know more than its grammatical sense (supposing, for the sake of argument, the work of "lower criticism" is done and secure here, so that there is a reasonably definite grammatical sense to which we may refer), pace D. Virtue. For instance, Is the text qualified by some other passage in Romans in a way not evident on its face here? Is it qualified by a passage elsewhere in Scripture outside Romans? Is the meaning of the passage is to be identified with what was going on "in the head" of Paul? Or is there a meaning of the passage fully and finally under his conscious control? In other words, to take the last question for instance, even if he intended to forbid any homosexual activity whatever in that passage, that might not be the dominant or best meaning of the passage, should God intend something else by the passage. And maybe God intends for us to argue with Paul there--like Abraham arguing with YHWH.
I am tempted to think many winger-ECUSAns read the Romans 1:26-7 for its grammatical sense, aiming to capture Paul's intended meaning there, as if there were a "plain fact of meaning" to be encountered and appropriated. When they do that, they are embedding their reading-praxis in a world of make-believe, the world of Enlightenment rationality. That is what I mean by Disenchantment. But they might ask me in response, if the text of Romans 1:26-7 is indeed so unsettled, how can we determine its meaning at all? That, I would say in reply, is a task to be performed within the Church, retaining the place of the Biblical text in the liturgy, as part of the Church's myth and ritual. And we might not settle on one meaning for all time--interpretating the will of God is risky, even dangerous, but we have no morally available choice but to remain engaged.
I doubt many winger ECUSAns see themselves as Disenchanting the Bible or as carrying water for Enlightenment rationality--i.e. deep in league with the cohort of liberalism corroding Christianity over the long term in the West, and now all over the globe. They might cry out "Canonical criticism! Childs!" or "Narrative theology! Frei!"; winger practice betrays these cries as mere rationalization. We are told we should merely observe the plain facts of meaning in the Bible, which in turn report what cannot be observed, e.g. miracles and spirits. Their tolerance, nay--passion for this contradiction identifies them as Postmoderns in spite of themselves, i.e. standing around at the last stop for the train of Enlightenment rationality. As ECUSA and perhaps even the AC prepare to fracture, it seems in the name of fidelity to Christian tradition, Christian tradition is already lost.