Squashing civil society & culture

Once again, I’m attending the Eighth Day Symposium, this year on the topic of “Cultivating Friendship in a Fractured Age.”

One plenary speaker is Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio Journal. Today from him, one insight, starting with a greeting from “blessed souls depicted by Dante” (presumably Paradiso):

“Here comes one who will augment our loves.” Friendship is an analog of the heavenly community in which the multitude of the Blessed, and I think this is Dante’s term, “increases the fruition each has of God.”

Friendship is an analog of the Church ordered by love and gifted to one another by what Augustine calls a kind of divine lottery. All true human communities are imperfect, incomplete but nonetheless real anticipations of the Church’s life in its fulfillment.

One reason such a claim may sound implausible is that modern politics has undermined the centrality of sharing of common objects of love to define a community by insisting that the point of government is to protect the rights of individuals within the society to love what they want to love. All efforts within communities that attempt to nurture well-ordered loves for what ought to be loved are squashed in modern societies in the name of individual freedom.

So modern states end up enforcing what Pope Benedict call “the dictatorship of relativism.”

(Bold added; underlining emphasized in the original speech pattern.)

So when asked to identify our common objects of love, phrased as “What Unites Us?“, we come up with idiocy like “diversity” unites us!

I would go further than Ken Myers to suggest that by government squashing “efforts within communities that attempt to nurture well-ordered loves for what ought to be loved,” government is squashing community itself, civil society, culture and mediating structures, with the effect (which I suspect is “a feature, not a bug”) that the dictatorship of relativism is manifested in an anti-culture wherein those de jure “free” individuals stand naked and de facto powerless before the state.

UPDATE: I revised the final paragraph, which began with one or two too many snarky asides to be readable.

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“While saints are engaged in introspection, burly sinners run the world.” (John Dewey) Be a saint anyway. (Tipsy)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Where I glean stuff.

2 thoughts on “Squashing civil society & culture

  1. Love 8th Day books and Ken Myers. Really appreciate the thoughts shared. Looking forward to more!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement of knowing someone else is interested.
    Ken joked that someone once attributed to him “the gift of bibliography.” Having wondered how he would do as a speaker, rather than as a conversationalist, I can now attest that the gift of bibliography is a very useful and delightful gift, as his speeches were carefully crafted, mostly read, and larded with quote after quote from some estimable person or another.
    In Q&A, it’s astonishing how much borrowed knowledge he can access quickly off the top of his head or, in a pinch, on an iPad that seems to be his right-hand assistant. He was the surprise hit of the weekend for me, with Joseph Pearce and Panayiotis (a/k/a Pano or Peter) Kanelos of St. John College Annapolis as the other terrific plenary speakers.

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