Wednesday, 7/24/14

  1. The foes of conservatism
  2. “Liturgy” isn’t liturgy
  3. Friends don’t let friends matriculate in the Ivy League
  4. An expensive endeavor
  5. Imposing religion
  6. Gawd’s furrin policy

I happen to be on a bit of a run, but I’m still not ready to return to constant daily blogging. We’ll see. I, too, am trying to live well and balanced.

1

The real foes of conservatism are not socialism and liberalism, but the reactionary and innovating mentalities. Neither the reactionary nor the innovator share the joie de vivre of the conservative mind—its natural inclination to rejoice in and savor what is. They are restless and tormented if things are not in a state of perpetual flux, if “progress” is not being made either backward toward an imagined age of innocence, or forward toward an imagined age of future liberation. If nothing is changing, then nothing is happening.

[A]lthough the conservative political movement is alive and well, it is at best tenuously linked with what I have described here as conservatism, and more often is in outright opposition to it. Today all politics, including what passes for conservative politics, is almost completely given over to the thirst for innovation, and the conservative movement is increasingly characterized by a quaint mix of reactionary and innovating opinions and sentiments. Of particular note here is the bewitching of the modern conservative movement by the ideology of the market. For, in the final analysis, what is this ideology if not a vast scheme to upend existing institutions and completely remake society in the image of a free-market Brutopia in which the enjoyment of existing things will be ruthlessly suppressed in favor of devotion to the laws of never-ending “economic growth?”

(Aaron Taylor at Ethika Politika, emphasis added)

This was a challenging essay for me. I’ve excerpted two parts that I find relatively reassuring – confirmation that I’m not totally lacking in conservative “disposition.” Other parts indict me for conformity to the Zeitgeist. My conservative disposition is inconstant; I’m a little bit restless, a little enamored of flux – at least when it presents itself at Best Buy or the Apple Store.

More important than whether I’m consistently conservative, though, is whether I’m consistently Christian. The Zeitgeist wars against the Faith more ferociously than against those who “rejoice in and savor what is” in general.

2

As you might imagine, I was a bit slack-jawed at the audacity of a First Things Article claiming that, as Pascal Emmanuel Gobry (PEG) puts it, “Reformed Christianity provides the ‘best basis’ for Christianity at our putatively-coming time of exile from polite society in the post-Modern world.”

Gobry limits his comments to the supposed appreciation of Reformed Christianity for liturgy, typified by Calvin College’s James K. A. Smith’s writings. I’ve not read Smith, but have encountered him on Mars Hill Audio Journal, where my reaction was to naïvely assume that by “liturgy” he meant something approaching what ecclesial Christians tend to mean by liturgy, encouraged that he (and Mars Hill host Ken Myers) were starting to “get it,” and hopeful that both would in due course swim either the Tiber or the Bosporus.

I did not for one moment think, though, that Reformed Christianity (which I observed from the inside sinking into happy clappy Evangelicalism and thence toward moralistic therapeutic deism) would counter-Reform its way en masse into robust liturgical worship. But I think PEG is closer to an essential truth when he concludes (emphasis added):

All these instrumental, consequential benefits may or may not obtain as a consequence of a robust culture of liturgical worship (and I certainly frequently urge my fellow Catholics to up their game in this regard), but those Christians with less-liturgical cultures who look at liturgical churches and imagine that they can be the reason or justification thereof, or that these are the reasons why some Christians stubbornly insist on the importance of liturgy, are really speaking of something completely different.

I prefer to serve my “exile from polite society in the post-Modern world” in a Church that has produced two millennia of martyr Saints, not one that’s made a century or two of corpses of those they fancied heretics, witches or Sabbath-breakers.

3

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.

One student told me that a friend of hers had left Yale because she found the school “stifling to the parts of yourself that you’d call a soul.”

[A]n undergraduate experience devoted exclusively to career preparation is four years largely wasted.
Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions. Everything is technocratic – the development of expertise – and everything is ultimately justified in technocratic terms.
Religious colleges – even obscure, regional schools that no one has ever heard of on the coasts – often do a much better job in that respect. What an indictment of the Ivy League and its peers: that colleges four levels down on the academic totem pole, enrolling students whose SAT scores are hundreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a better education, in the highest sense of the word.

Visit any elite campus across our great nation, and you can thrill to the heart-warming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers.

William Deresiewicz, Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League – The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies (emphasis added)

4

Modern farming, bombarded by federal regulations and certification requirements, can be an expensive endeavor—even if you only own a small farm.

(Gracy Olmstead) Guess who those regulations benefit more:

  1. Consumers of farm products?
  2. Big Agribiz, for whom “an expensive endeavor” is chump change?

5

I’ve said from time to time that the cry of “imposing religion” is almost always bogus, and suggest that it’s almost always a call for tradition to cede the field to progressivism. I’ve thought, and perhaps have blogged, that a Roman Catholic- or Orthodox-inspired law forbidding sale of meat on Fridays or other fasting days would be the sort of thing that actually would impose religion – an observance with no apparent moral significance, seemingly impossible to justify imposing on non-adherents.

Well, it seems that in Mumbai, radical vegetarians are seeking to impose their views, with some effort to persuade that theirs is the moral position, not just the ascetic practice of their religion. (H/T The Browser, not The Onion)

I don’t mean to minimize the explicit imposition of ISIS on Christians in Mosul, who are given the choice of conversion to Islam, Dhimmitude or death.

6

“I’ll bless those that bless you and I’ll curse those that curse you,” said Hagee, quoting from the book of Genesis. “That’s God’s foreign policy statement, and it has not changed.”

(From a Christians United for Israel Conference) Daniel Larison responds, in a way that will be totally unpersuasive to dispensationalist CUFI kooks but is true nonetheless, concluding “The enthusiasm for the current state of Israel is at best a gross misinterpretation of Scripture, and at worst the substitution of a secular ideological agenda for Christian teaching.”

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.