I am a Baby Boomer, living in the midwest. “I came of age in the 60′s” explains a lot, but certainly not all, about me, since my reflex for most of my life has been to call myself “conservative.” I am a lawyer 5 days a week, an Orthodox Christian 7 days a week. A “Reader” is the very lowest order of Orthodox Clergy – an appropriate position for someone as tipsy as I (about which adjective, see more below). “John The Merciful, Patriarch of Alexander” is the Saint whose name I took upon entering the fullness of the faith. (He’s also known as John the Almsgiver, which essentially means the same thing.)
I started blogging when I saw how different my FaceBook posts were from anyone else’s. It seems the most interesting things in my life – things that aren’t too personal to share – are ideas I encounter.
G.K. Chesteron wrote:
Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaler.
I have a keen sense that my father was right about education, as he was about so much else, and I wish I’d stuck with liberal arts of some sort as an undergrad. I’ve been trying, autodidactically, to remedy that for nearly 40 years now. And I’m still the tipsy teetotaler, intoxicated by ideas that I imagine, probably naively, were mastered in the classrooms of Oxbridge, under the tutelage of übermasters, by the writers and thinkers I most admire.
Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. Terence. I hope you’ll like at least some of the ideas that intoxicate me.
If you catch a bit of the Prophet Jeremiah, for whom jeremiads are named (what did they call them before him? “Snits”?), you’ll not be far off the mark. Do the arithmetic. “Came of age in the 60s” translates into “has an AARP card which entitles him to say what he thinks.” I’ve been right too many times in my life (let’s not talk about the times I’ve been wrong) to stifle myself too much. If I think the Emperor’s Clothes are pretty gauzy, I’m going to say so.
In my circles, Obama isn’t the Emperor; I’d be preaching to the choir to attack him. My friends tend more to remember Dubya (for whom I voted twice) and especially Ronald Reagan (ditto) too fondly – too fondly as in “thinking the solutions of the Cold War 80s will work splendidly again.” I don’t think so.
That doesn’t mean I’ve become a liberal. It means I’ve become a more classic conservative – a lot closer to Edmund Burke, for instance – and a believer in limits. (“Limits.” Remember them? Think Genesis 3:17-19. Nothing in there about eating bread by chain letters, Ponzi Schemes, con jobs, “finance” or sheer marketing chutzpa.) Most of what passes for conservatism today is brain-dead jingoism and empire-building. Fie on all that! Fie on “American exceptionalism” in the popular sense! We put our pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of the world.
A link or quote is often my starting point. I try to read eclectically, avoiding only stuff (left or right) that simply infuriates me, and thus avoiding the perils of insularity. The web should be liberating, not narrowing.
In religion, Father Stephen Freeman’s Glory to God blog and podcast produce more gems-per-post than any other I’ve yet found. Subscribe yourself and eliminate the biased middle-man. Of course, he’s Eastern Orthodox, as am I; so if you’re not Orthodox, I venture you’ll find his thinking unusual – a different sort of Christianity than is normally seen in North America.