My columns this month have to do with good fences, good neighbors, the One, the Many, and inclusiveness (that’s the one at Crisis Magazine), and with carrying on the battle: we’re not going to be able to slide through the current situation by lying low until it all blows over. The issues are too basic.
I have some new or newish pieces up on the current regime and how to fight it. There’s one just out at Crisis Magazine about how bad ideological pluralism is (for starters, it’s a particular system of social control that obviously can’t be pluralistic). There are also a couple at Catholic World Report about why the Church can’t use modern public language to speak to modern man (it’s a sort of technological Newspeak), and about Socratic questioning as a way to disrupt the flow of sophistical patter. And then there’s a piece published at Crisis Magazine during Lent about how to how to be a bit more Lenten if you happen to be a political ranter.
My current brace of columns includes one at Crisis Magazine about the trend away from concrete loyalties and objective principles toward radical subjectivity and a combination of money and bureaucracy as the basis for what’s still called public life. The other one, at Catholic World Report, makes the obvious point that the result is unlivable and we should all go out and refound Christendom.
I have more comments on subsidiarity at Catholic World Report. Basically, I say that the concept is incomprehensible in a liberal technocracy, and to promote it we have to insist in principle on the autonomy of the family and the Church, and act in ways that make its value evident. I also have something about the sad state of internet discussion up at Crisis Magazine. The conclusion: preach the word in season and out of season even if people are morons. You never know who might be reading.
I have a couple of pieces up at Catholic World Report and Crisis Magazine, the first on whether “natural” and “normal” make sense as standards, and the second on whether the Church will revert to type (because it has such a strongly marked essential form). I say that those are the basic issues in today’s battles, and that the answer to both questions is of course “yes.”
Or at least self-organizing communities. In support of the latter anti-technocratic cause I have a column on subsidiarity up at Catholic World Report, and also a two-part series about inclusiveness, that universal attack on the possibility of local self-organization, at Crisis Magazine (it can be read here and here). The latter basically gives a thumbnail sketch of the argument of my recent book.
I have a new piece up at Crisis Magazine about the futility of generic conservatism and the need for Christendom as a goal, and one at Catholic World Report that says that Christendom is always with us, since there is always some scheme of connections, loyalties, and authorities that is in fact authoritative.
My last couple of pieces at Crisis Magazine, The Darkness Gathers and How Long Will Secular Liberalism Endure?, continue the discussion. Basically I say it has a strong internal logic with strong institutional support, and it’s well-defended against external criticism. On the other hand, those strengths mean that it refuses to deal with reality, and that problem gets worse as it progresses, so it also has some basic weaknesses. Conclusion: it’s a kind of bubble. Bubbles last much longer than you think they’re going to, but not forever. (What does?) We don’t have a crystal ball, so we can’t know just how or when it will end, but in the meantime we should maintain life, live as well as we can, build as much as we can, and preach the word in and out of season.
On other fronts, I reviewed Garry Wills’ book on why there shouldn’t be any priests a few months ago.
I have an essay in the current issue of Modern Age that’s available online through the Intercollegiate Review website. It gives an architectonic account of the various major political positions in present-day America that is intended to explain the necessity and awkward status of social conservatism. The piece started out as a lecture I gave a couple of years ago at a conference and then shortened and made a bit less specifically Catholic to fit into an officially non-Catholic publication. An excerpt:
Our current public order claims to separate politics from religion, but that understates its ambition. It aspires to free public life—and eventually, since man is social, human life in general—not only from religion but also from nature and history. The intended result is an increase in freedom as man becomes his own creator. The effect, though, is that human life becomes what those in power say it is.