All “dissidents” and men of good will need to give serious thought to the ways they might resist the regnant ideological lies all around us. In this task, Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies will remain indispensable for what might be a long time to come.
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In order to win the undergraduates once more, the humanities have a clear course to follow. They must abandon identity politics, which only produce a tense and humorless classroom. More deeply, they must insist upon the old appeals to genius, greatness, masterpieces, beauty, and sublimity.
Bad writing by philosophers and theologians about economics is a moral issue. If their views about economics are taken seriously—as they often are in churches and in policy advocacy—they threaten the life-changing effects of free markets for the poor across the world.
Carson Holloway and Bradford P. Wilson’s critique of my interpretation of Alexander Hamilton’s place vis-à-vis contemporary American nationalism makes legitimate points but also misreads important features of Hamilton’s thought and the new nationalism.
Samuel Gregg admonishes us that Hamilton was really “a different kind of nationalist from those that claim this mantle in our time.” While we yield to no one in our respect for Gregg, we think he has gone astray here: partly by overlooking some relevant aspects of Hamilton’s thought, and partly by mischaracterizing today’s American nationalism.
“Post-revolutionary men and women are living in ways that are profoundly unnatural for the ineradicably social creatures that we are; and many are suffering as a result, at times without even knowing the name of what ails them. This preoccupation, and the desire to do something about it, continues to shape my work.”
A great war was fought. Slavery was abolished. Still, on this fourth and fifth of July, 168 years after Frederick Douglass gave voice to feelings of alienation from white American pride and patriotism, recent events compel us to recognize that such feelings persist.
Americans love America because it is their own and because it is good. Our ability to detach ourselves from America and decry its injustices only increases our attachment to it as a continuing project that is truly our own.
Sin corrupts every institution and every system because, one way or another, sinful human beings are involved. This means that laws, policies, habits, and customs are also corrupted by sin. We are called to do everything within our power to expunge sin from the structures of our society. Christians know that the justice of God demands that we do so. At the same time, we cannot accept that the structural manifestations of sin are the heart of the problem. No, the heart of the problem is found in the sinfulness of the individual human heart.
Although Alexander Hamilton is regularly invoked by contemporary American nationalists to lend legitimacy to their positions, his nationalism differs significantly from theirs.
John Ford’s America is a good deal like Ford himself—loud, brawling, and hard-charging. Ford’s Americans are also honorable, self-sacrificing, and faithful to their promises. That’s not the whole truth about America, not by a long shot. But it’s true enough that in John Ford’s films, we will forever see something of ourselves.
Liberal doctrines necessarily require disenfranchising and punishing those who hold rival beliefs. Liberal ideology is jealous, and will have no other gods before it. American conservatives should reject this revolutionary liberalism and the attempts to make it the central principle of our national heritage. We need not deny that liberal ideas influenced the Founding, but we ought to follow our forefathers in tempering them.
An oddity about our current debates over liberalism and America is that both sides view the American Founding, and thus America, as fundamentally influenced by classical liberal ideology. They only disagree over whether classical liberalism is good or bad. But the historical record shows that liberal ideology was one influence among many, not that it was the definitive one.
For decades, both First Things and National Review have struggled to make as much peace as possible between two uncongenial streams of conservative thinking and praxis. That their editors have now planted their feet decisively in one of those streams marks an important moment in the history of American conservatism.
The team at Public Discourse doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do think we’re asking the right questions, and getting the right thinkers to propose some of the answers. That’s one thing that we hope will always be our hallmark: thoughtful, reasoned discourse, which is rigorous yet still accessible to the educated layman.
At a time when many are calling for a radical re-thinking of American political life, Catholic social teaching suggests that republicanism is a promising and viable path forward, provided that it place civic freedom and civic virtue at the service of a more substantive view of the purpose of human life.
Christians should be wary of the substitution of the nation for the church. Instead, they should seek a vibrant localism allows people to find meaning in their local communities—especially religious communities—and impart that sense of purpose and belonging that nationalists rightly perceive is missing for many citizens.
Johnny Tremain is a liminal secular-religious book. It challenges its secular readers to have a deep enough conception of the secular to encompass dying for the sake of freedom. It challenges its religious readers to deepen their pieties sufficiently to encompass the aspiration for freedom which is written in the human frame. It shows that the constitution of liberty is engraved in the human form itself.
If we want to rebuild our country, we must rebuild our local communities. To rebuild communities, we must rebuild a culture of reasoned discourse.
Serve the poor. Help the weak. Protect the unborn child. Speak the truth about the beauty and order of creation: Male and female he created them (Gen 5:2). Fight for your right to love and serve God, and for others to do the same. Defend the dignity of marriage and the family, and witness their meaning and hope to others by the example of your lives. Adapted from an address delivered at the Alliance Defending Freedom Summit on July 9, 2019.
Wilfred McClay rightly senses that part of our current political confusion results from a lack of a common historical narrative, an ability to talk about the American past coherently. In our current moment there is thus a need to recapture important stories and narratives about America.
The Supreme Court has long channeled the views of a very particular sort of religious and elite class interest in its Establishment Clause jurisprudence concerning religious displays. Cases like American Legion v. American Humanist Association suggest that it is—gradually and haltingly, but nevertheless steadily—withdrawing from this field of cultural combat.
In eighteenth-century political reasoning and rhetoric, ministers and statesmen were not obliged to choose between pragmatism or piety, orthodoxy or heterodoxy, reason or revelation. As we grapple with the role of religion in the American Revolution, we should not impose false dichotomies routinely used by modern scholars but were unknown to their subjects.
Helena Rosenblatt’s The Lost History of Liberalism correctly identifies liberalism’s need for moral virtue, but does not draw the further conclusion that her book suggests: liberalism is failing because it has rejected orthodox Christianity.
Wilfred McClay’s new textbook on American history outshines the competition, thanks to its balanced approach, its superb narrative style, and its reintroduction of topics and themes that have long since fallen from the pages of most classroom editions.