Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.
I like to start my classes on conservative intellectual history by distinguishing between three groups. There is the Republican party, with its millions of adherents and spectrum of opinion from very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, and yes, liberal. There is the conservative movement, the constellation of single-issue nonprofits that sprung up in the 1970s —
- gun rights,
- right to work
— and continue to influence elected officials. Finally, there is the conservative intellectual movement: writers, scholars, and wonks whose journalistic and political work deals mainly with ideas and, if we’re lucky, their translation into public policy.
Many on the right, especially those who identify as “Alt-Right,” spend massive amounts of time rejoicing in the pain of those with whom they disagree. The fact that videos about “libtard meltdowns” and “Butt-Hurt Crying Hillary Voters Compilation” have far more views than videos about Shakespeare, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Dante’s Commedia, should tell us something. Young conservatives and reactionaries, much as they flail their hands at the death of Western civilization and the loss of wisdom, do very little in the way of actually preserving the beauty and truth underlying this great tradition. If joy is truly a result of love, man must be very careful to develop the right affections in his breast. Right now many on the right seem hellbent on cultivating affection for dank memes rather than for truth, goodness, and beauty.
.. Simply change your habits to help bring friends and family into rituals and ways of life that affirm reality. Host a formal dinner! Go to an art museum! Have a picnic in which you read classic poetry aloud! This is how we can create a sustainable traditionalism in the West.
What I am advocating here is not aestheticism, but communally gathering around all that is true, good, and beautiful. Politics is ordered toward promotion of the common good, thus in order to engage in politics we all must first have a love for the good. We cannot base the rejuvenation of our dying civilization upon a shared animosity, for as Chesterton reminds us, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
.. If I could write The Benedict Option over again, I would have a lot more of this in it.
.. “Nothing we make in this life will be eternal, but we have to build them as if they will be eternal,” Marco continued. “That’s what God wants. If you promise yourself to a woman for a lifetime, that is a way of making the eternal present here in time.”
.. “I know from the olive trees that some years we will have a big harvest, and other years we will take few,” he said. “The monks, when they brought agriculture to this place a thousand years ago, they taught our ancestors that there are times when we have to save seed. That’s why I think we have to walk on this road of Saint Benedict, in this Benedict Option. This is a season for saving the seed. If we don’t save the seed now, we won’t have a harvest in the years to come.”
Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.
.. The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States.
.. the United States is no longer a counterexample to the West’s secularization. America is on the same path of religious decline pioneered by Europe and Canada.
.. Mr. Smith finds that what he terms “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” has displaced authentic Christianity as the true religion of American Christians.
.. In M.T.D., the highest goal of the religious life is being happy and feeling good about oneself. It’s the perfect religion for a self-centered, consumerist culture. But it is not Christianity.
.. “America has lived a long time off its thin Christian veneer,” Mr. Smith told me. “That is all finally being stripped away by the combination of mass consumer capitalism and liberal individualism.”
.. But the standard “religious right” model, based on the idea that the American people are a morally sound majority led by decadent liberal elites, was inaccurate.
.. Conservative Christians helped elect Republican politicians, but that did not stop the slide toward secularism. True, the church gained some access to power, but it failed to effectively counter popular culture’s catechetical force.
.. Mr. Trump is not a solution to this cultural crisis, but rather a symptom of it.
.. Pope Benedict XVI himself once said that the spiritual crisis the West faces is worse than anything since the fifth-century fall of the Roman Empire. This is why St. Benedict of Nursia is so relevant to Christians today.
the next step towards the Omega point of the history of Western Civilization will be society’s full acceptance of the idea of “open marriage.”
.. Susan Dominus. In her article, “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?”, Dominus argues that, in general, yes it is happier, especially in the case where it is the woman who acquires many partners: jealousy spurs the sexual appetite of the man, and the sexual life of the partners comes into a nice balance.
.. Christianity, when you come right down to it, is really not a very demanding religion. It permits believers to eat pork and drink wine except on days of fast. On lay people it does not impose particularly harsh domestic norms. In fact, the only strictly tabooed side of life in Christianity relates to sexuality. Sex is permissible only in marriage and preferably for the purpose of giving birth to children, while deviations from this norm give rise to various suspicions.
.. It is either, as Chesterton once said, “the glad good news” of original sin, or else it is, along with other Abrahamic religions, an apparatus for suppressing something important and necessary in sexual life, something which, apparently, is stifled by traditional marriage and is of little use for the continuation of the species.
.. Among the things common to all religions is that they all impose taboos on female promiscuity, and on same-sex sex, but it is Christianity that adds that a person is obliged not only externally, but also internally, to be free from attraction to what is prohibited by the tradition.
.. How invulnerable to the threat of “sexual liberation” will remain Russia, China, the Islamic world?
.. should one remain politically loyal to one’s state even after you notice that it’s well on its way to hell?
.. Instead of fighting for the dominance of our faith in the public sphere, we are only trying to achieve corporate independence from the pressures of the secular state. Alas, I think this position is strategically untenable.
.. In one religious community, let’s say, all women could be subject to regular beatings on the principle that all of them are known to be sinners by nature. In another religious community women could be forbidden from entering into extramarital affairs, but if they do, they are threatened with divorce and exclusion from their community.