I’m convinced that non-conservatives have the following view of the basic message of conservatism. [Here, “conservative” denotes the largest tribe to which we traditionalists can with any validity be said to belong]:
The Basic Conservative Message, as seen by Non-Conservatives:
[Intoned in a solemn, menacing voice.]
“We are Conservatives!
You must obey our Rules!
If you do not obey, you are Sinners!
We are Conservatives!”
In other words, they think we’ll hate them unless they’re just like us.
So even if their intuition tells them that our critique of modernity has some merit, they think that accepting the validity of any criticism of modernity will mean that they will immediately have to change all of their beliefs and practices.
And since they don’t want to change everything immediately, they won’t want to accept that our criticism of modernity has any validity.
This is, of course, an exaggeration. But it’s an exaggeration of an important truth, and it’s often no exaggeration. They feel that if they give an inch, then they’ll have to give a mile.
And it’s understandable that they would feel this. They are feeling an intuition of God and his order, an order that they have trespassed and denied. And if they acknowledge God, there’s no telling where this acknowledgement will lead.
But what is meaning of the repentance from liberalism to which we call them? Repentance does not mean instantly to change everything. We’re not calling them to change immediately into one of us. We’re calling them to recognize that they are facing in the wrong direction, and they should begin turning. After all, even if you don’t know the right way, if you do know that your way is wrong then you must change direction.
And we call them to repentance not because we hate them, but because we love them. We know they are laboring under a deadly illusion that is killing them: intellectually, morally, socially and spiritually. We know the freedom from the slavery of modernism that can be had, and we want to share the good news.
That’s why the basic conservative message is more accurately:
We are Conservatives.
We understand your pain.
We can help you break free from the sin that’s destroying you.