Evangelizing — making converts — is one thing; educating them is quite another. Catholic converts often have bad things to say about RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, a lengthy period of instruction in the Catholic faith preceding full entry into the Church, the quality of which varies from parish to parish but which is often shot through with nonsense, sentimentality, and occasionally heresy. Having spent a few weeks now in the shoes of an instructor, I regret my own bitterness toward those who instructed me, who I now see are thrust into the impossible position of having to abstract roughly two thousand years’ worth of Christian insight into approximately three dozen 45-minute chunks and relaying them to people who are so often products of their time and culture — that is, aggressively ignorant and Philistine almost to the point of being ineducable. Worse still, so many are functionally illiterate that a return to the historically normative (and superior) model of catechism-based education would probably be counterproductive.
I’m sure Protestants and Orthodox have their own horror stories to share, but I’m more interested in the success stories. How, having won potential converts, do we proceed to educate them effectively, and turn them out into the world ready to live authentically Christian lives?
The current number of The University Bookman devotes some of its space to a symposium on the “summer reading” of its contributors. (R. J. Stove points out that it is winter in Australia, but he participates anyway.) It occurs to me that The Orthosphere could do worse than to imitate The Bookman. I therefore invite “Orthospherians” to say something informally about their summertime reading projects. Continue reading
Skeggy Thorson points out that the monstrous Aztecs had patriarchy, monarchy, an aristocracy, an ancient, venerable and sophisticated state religion, a highly evolved patrimony of arts and crafts, and I suppose many other characteristics of a traditional society. The same could be said of the formidable and revolting Canaanites, Carthaginians, and Phoenicians.
More than that is needed for a just society, or a good society, and especially for a noble society.
What then, are the de minimis characteristics of a traditional society *that is also good* – and that, therefore, has a shot at nobility?
This story of a cuckolded man court-ordered to continue paying child support to his adulterous ex-wife (with whom he fathered only one of her four children) got me wondering about the appropriate reactionary position on paternity testing.
On the one hand, prudence alone would seem to support it. “Just take her word for it” might have made sense when adultery was severely socially punished and divorce nearly impossible, but today, cuckoldry is cheap, easy, socially permissible, and legally facilitated. The consequences of that cuckoldry for hapless husbands can be absolutely ruinous (financially, socially, and emotionally), and paternity testing provides a fairly quick and inexpensive remedy against it. Signing a birth certificate shouldn’t be like clicking through the terms of service on iTunes, after all.
Actually, the only downside I see would be the hurt feelings of a genuinely faithful wife treated with (what she would no doubt experience as) suspicion by her husband. But I’m also not very bright, so I’m probably missing some things.
In the comments of my “Why doesn’t God let me have as much sex as I want?” post, Alte cited some interesting research on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. (She’s collected her comments here.) I’ve read her two linked articles. To sum up
- Liberals are more open minded and creative.
- Conservatives are more anxious and tend to fixate on things that disgust or threaten us. Our discomfort with uncertainty leads us to prefer rigid social structures.
- Conservatives are more conscious of in-group/out-group distinctions.
- Liberals are more ambidextrous. In conservatives, the two hemispheres of the brain interact less. It has been suggested that this is what makes conservatives less creative. Alte points out that the level of inter-hemispheral interaction also distinguishes male and female brains, meaning that conservatives have (at least in this sense) more masculine brains.
There is a real irony in the modern condition. “Openness to new ideas” and “tolerance” lead my peers to embrace liberal democracy, i.e. to accept the dogmas of the established regime and dismiss all other forms of social organization as illegitimate. On the other hand, my feeble-minded desire to submit and conform leads me to conservatism even though that sets me against my whole nation. This reflects the deeper ironies of an establishment that is hostile to authority and a communal consensus that favors individual expression at the expense of social cohesion.
Alte’s own speculations:
- Liberals are more physiologically more androgynous, making the value of distinct gender roles less apparent to them.
- Conservatives’ “binary” thinking leads them to rely more completely on logic. They are less interested than liberals to rhetorical demonstrations of compassion. That is, they only care whether the reasoning is valid, not whether it comes off sounding nice.
Since Traditional Christianity‘s new format doesn’t allow comments, I’ll throw out the question for discussion here: how well do these purported correlations (the psychologists’ or Alte’s) match your personal experience? Are your liberal friends girly men? Are your conservative friends more consistent handed? Can you think of any other correlations that might hold up better?
Most of us started out leftists in some form — man is a social animal, after all, drinking up social and behavioral cues from the ambient culture. Whether through hard experience, careful inquiry, unmerited divine grace, or some combination of the three, most of us repented of those errors. Some of us have shared our stories before: Dr. Charlton here, Daniel from Out of Sleep (now tragically defunct) here, Bonald here; in the same thread at Out of Sleep, several more of us (including Kristor and myself) posted our own stories.
The common thread running through them seems to be that there was some fundamental personal incompatibility with leftism present in us apostates from the church of leftism. Dr. Charlton relates his constitutional inability to escape from the natural law, despite his formal disbelief in it; Bonald could never see leftism’s embrace of casual, loveless sex and divorce as anything but a desecration; Kristor was baffled by the B.S. fed him by his New Left friends and shocked at last out of his liberal pretensions by the divorce of his (“ultra-liberal”) parents; and I was deeply impressed, even from a young age, by the simultaneous liberalism of my own family and the deep, profound dysfunction of their lives, both individually and collectively. A secondary theme is that of the movement away from liberalism as a kind of awakening, a gradual stirring of the soul from its slumber. There are no lights-on-the-road-to-Damascus stories to be found here but, rather, stories of halting and incremental movements toward penance and conversion. A third theme, implicitly but unavoidably imbedded in all of them, is that liberalism works best for those who are intensely committed not to think about it too carefully.
But there are more than a few of us here at the Orthosphere, and most of us don’t have blogs. So, at the risk of turning into a “Liberals Anonymous” group-therapy session, what’s your story?
The Last Psychiatrist is (probably) not one of us (hint: he describes himself as a “misanthropic rummie” who “looks like a mugshot”), but he is a brilliant mind with many flashes of insight into the pathology of modern living. Recurring themes include the pervasiveness of narcissism and the evils of establishment science and mainstream media. Check him out (but be wary, there’s some vulgarity).