Monday, August 24, 2015

First things first

Having previously considered "The Problem With Liberalism," J. Budziszewski now addresses "The Problem With Conservatism." In each case he is arguing against the prioritizing of political ideology over religious faith. He writes that not all conservatives are guilty of all (or, perhaps, any) of the problems he raises:
A minor difficulty in setting forth these errors is the ambiguity of the term “conservatism.” Conservatives come in many different kinds, and their mistakes are equally heterogeneous. I should like to stress, therefore, that not every conservative commits every one of the errors that I describe in the following pages. But there is a common theme. Each kind of conservative opposes the contemporary government-driven variety of social reformism in the name of some cherished thing which he finds that it endangers. One speaks of virtue, another of wealth, another of the peace of his home and the quiet of his street—but although these pearls are of very different luster, none wishes his to be thrown before swine. So it is that conservatives are often able to make common cause, putting all their pearls in a single casket. ....
He then proceeds to elaborate eight "moral errors" conservatives make that should be troublesome for Christians. For example:
The first moral error of political conservatism is civil religionism. According to this notion America is a chosen nation, and its projects are a proper focus of religious aspiration; according to Christianity America is but one nation among many, no less loved by God, but no more. ....

.... She is not the inheritor of the covenant, not the receiver of the promises, not the witness to the nations. It may well be that all nations have callings of sorts—specific purposes which God in His providence assigns them. But no nation can presume to take God under its wing. However we may love her, dote upon her, and regret her, the Lord our God can do without the United States. ....
Another:
The seventh moral error of political conservatism is mammonism. According to this notion wealth is the object of commonwealth, and its continual increase even better; according to Christianity wealth is a snare, and its continual increase even worse. Mammonism is what the Big Tent that some political analysts urge for the Republican Party is all about: ditch the social issues, but hold onto the capital gains tax reduction. To keep your liberty you have to keep your money. ....
More, very much worth reading by those of us for whom politics are very important but who may sometimes lose sight of the things that are far more important.