Trouble With Tradition

By John Emmet Clarke

Tradition is our business. In the present moment, this also means trouble is our business. To lay claim to the Christian tradition as a participatory reality, rather than a static legacy of creeds and curios, is to assert that the tradition takes an active role in culture. And this, in the parlance of our times, is “troubling,” as it seems certain to require either the reckless marriage of secular and sacred or the bastardization of the holy in pursuit of the profane. Concern about the former typically issues from functionally secular, pluralistic types, whose approval of religion as a private endeavor sits uncomfortably with their disapproval of religion as a public enterprise. The latter charge commonly issues from certain Christian circles, in which, as a representative triumvirate of the post-liberal order recently articulated in TAC, “cultural Christianity” is viewed as “insincere and hypocritical, tawdry and chauvinistic.”

To both camps, the tradition is trouble. To Cluny Media, the publishing house for which I serve as editor-in-chief, however, the tradition is our business. One year ago, almost to the day, Sohrab Ahmari and I had a fascinating (at least to me) conversation about Cluny, its mission, and its work. (The fruits of that conversation appeared in First Things.) Inspired in large part by Cluny’s reissuing of Jean Daniélou’s Prayer as a Political Problem, our discussion turned quickly to Cluny’s work as a means of integrating Christianity to the culture, and, in doing so, directly opposing the liberal order’s penchant for dis-integrating Christianity from the culture.

For Cluny, the contribution takes the specific form of republishing books, of re-presenting the past to the present via out-of-print, hard-to-find, or just generally neglected literature from the (predominantly) Catholic past. We take as our fundamental premise that the past is something worthy of attention, precisely because the lessons of the past are necessary for the care and cultivation of the culture of the present and its promise for the future. The tradition cares and maintains these lessons. Or, stated differently, the tradition houses truths about the human experience and offers instruction in the ways of wisdom and folly.

The preservation of the past is aimed at the good of the future—and, implicitly therefore, of the present. Gleaning insight from medieval culture, Johann Huizinga argued that culture requires “a code by means of which people understand one another. Everyone is assumed to have mastered the rules of the game.” Culture thus “presupposes a certain degree of dogmatism, of rigidity in thinking,” as well as—and hence the contemporary dissolution of culture—“an absence of the awareness of a general interdependence and relativity of all our concepts and notions which is the constantly present characteristic of modern thought.” Once any of those elements goes missing, culture breaks down, fragments, individualizes. And such is precisely what has happened at present, as seen in our “deracinated, gnostic deformations of Christianity.”

To prevent this occurrence—or to reverse its curse if …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Truth and the American Tradition

By Liam Warner

Twitter is entertaining in part because it shows one the caliber of popular argumentation. Nothing will disillusion the optimistic believer in rational public discourse quite like a five-minute exchange there on a controversial topic. Democracy and indeed freedom of speech will instantly seem like horrible mistakes, crackpot ideas invented by somebody who never went out of his house.

Twitter dialecticians are especially interesting when they decide to engage in historical research. Their favorite evidences are quotations from a famous personage, whose Wikimedia portrait appears in place of a citation. Of these they have an apparently unlimited number—they scatter them around like Johnny Appleseed, and they imagine that they are so devastating that their opponent will simply fling his phone into the river out of sheer embarrassment. The other day I happened across this example:

Several other Twitter users, no doubt committed to leisure and the good life, decided to engage the provider of this florilegium in a discussion about the religious character of early American law, about which this person of course knew nothing. This scuffle nevertheless raises a question which now dominates the mind of the intellectual right in this country: how ought being American to color one’s conservative principles?

Kim R. Holmes recently expressed discomfort that a vocal minority of American conservatives have decided to abandon classical liberalism in favor of “common good” politics—he considers this movement both an intrinsic danger (talk of the “common good” is vague and prone to abuse by tyrants) and a departure from the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. Mr. Holmes’s interlocutors, such as Josh Hammer, rightly took issue with his characterizations of the Founding, which was not nearly so liberal as one might be led to believe. It is important, however, to ask a more fundamental question: why do we care what the Founders thought?

Now, I do not mean this as sarcastically as it sounds. We do care what the Founders thought; the question is why, or in what respect. Originalists, among whom Mr. Holmes numbers himself, answer that the original public meaning of the Constitution should govern its interpretation today—the law means today what it was understood to mean at the time of its enactment. Thus quotations such as those proffered above by our Twitter acquaintance—and not only those, but also newspaper articles, pamphlets, public speeches, legal commentaries—are in a certain way dispositive. Together they possess great authority, not merely historical interest.

Let us take the example of the natural law. Mr. Holmes criticizes certain conservatives (Adrian Vermeule, e.g.) for wanting to apply natural law to legal interpretation in a way foreign to the minds of the Founders. They, he writes, “very much believed in natural law. But theirs was a particular interpretation born in the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment…. They certainly did not use Aquinas as a model.” Suppose we concede that arguendo: where does that leave us? What relationship should the Founders’ conception of the natural law have with our own natural-law philosophy? …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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New Year's resolutions for young adults in 2022 can draw on these key takeaways from 2021

By Kent Ingle I try to encourage my children and students to always reflect on the previous year, and to start writing their resolutions based on lessons they’ve learned. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Republicans can win big in 2022. Cheney, Kinzinger must not be allowed to help Pelosi defeat the GOP

By David Bossie By working with the illegal January 6 Committee, Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger are helping Nancy Pelosi continue her reign as Speaker of the House in the next Congress. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Why Feminism Failed

By Carmel Richardson

For every conservative woman who rejects feminism, there’s a female pundit who says “but only what it has become.” There are many, it seems, who want to hold on to the idea, or perhaps even just the appearance, of political equity between the sexes, even as they reject what it has brought about.

Far be it from me to expect women in politics, whatever their affiliation, to openly reject the worldview that birthed their careers. But for the sake of intellectual consistency, it should be said that this position is as untenable as its preferred outcome is unlikely. Not only will American feminism never return to its First Wave iteration, but if it were to do so, we would only end up here again. “Here” meaning “birthing persons” protesting abortion laws in uterus hats and men getting snipped as “an act of love.” The logic of feminism has always been totalizing, even if its more radical threads were once hidden to convince the less observant public to back its initial political battles.

One of the best examples of this is in the suffragette movement. Some of the biggest names driving the fight from the beginning—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her daughter Harriet Stanton Blatch, Charlotte Perkins Gilman—were real radicals. Stanton authored the famous “Declaration of Sentiments” at the Seneca Falls Convention for women’s rights, which insists “the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.” In her books Women and Economics and The Home: Its Work and Influence, Gilman argued that the home was inherently oppressive to women, and they would never reach full health and personal growth until the house was professionalized—that is, all the tasks of the mother, from rearing to homemaking to childhood education, were sold out to professionals, to allow the woman to pursue her own interests. Meanwhile, Blatch organized militant street protests to reinvigorate working-class women for the suffragettes’ stagnating cause in the 1910s, a direct-action approach to politics that the black nationalist movement would later adopt.

But their argument to the public and to the key politicians, both in England and America, masked these more radical aspirations. Never asking the most important question—whether expanding the voting pool would actually be good for the nation, or good for women—they asserted that without votes for women, some 50 percent of society was effectively dehumanized. It’s a tactic that likely looks familiar to our 21st century eyes. Using targeted violence to add muscle to their mantras (“blowing up buildings, shouting down public speakers, pouring acid down pillar-boxes, slashing priceless paintings, horsewhipping ministers on the street,” details TAC’s Helen Andrews) the radical minority succeeded not because the majority of women felt disenfranchised without casting a ballot, but because the majority of male politicians were tired of being nagged. And what could be so bad about letting a couple ladies vote?

In the end, the suffragettes succeeded …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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COVID has hit our workforce and economy hard. As governors, we offer this strategy for growth in 2022

By Laura Kelly All around us, there are signs of a growing mismatch between worker skills and what employers are seeking in an economy reshaped by the pandemic. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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