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Archive for November, 2003

Kirk: The Four (or Five) Principles of Radicalism

The following tenets of radicalism are taken from The Conservative Mind (p. 10), by Russell Kirk.

(1) The perfectibility of man and the illimitable progress of society: meliorism. Radicals believe that education, positive legislation, and alteration of environment can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity toward violence and sin.

(2) Contempt for tradition. Reason, impulse, and materialistic determinism are severally preferred as guides to social welfare, trustier than the wisdom of our ancestors. Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.

(3) Political levelling. Order and privilege are condemned; total democracy, as direct as practicable, is the professed radical ideal. Allied with this spirit, generally, is a dislike of old parliamentary arrangments and an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.

(4) Economic levelling. The ancient rights of property, especially property in land, are suspect to almost all radicals; and collectivistic reformers hack at the institution of private property root and branch.

As a fifth point, one might try to define a commmon radical view of the state’s funciton; but here the chasm of opinion between the chief schools of innovation is too deep for any satisfactory generalization. One can only remark that radicals unite in detesting [Edmund] Burke’s description of the state as ordained of God, and his concept of society as joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born–the community of souls.

Go here for a good summary of Russell Kirk’s life and faith. (He was, by the way, an important benefactor of Touchstone magazine.)

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Kirk: The Six Principles of Conservatism

The following is taken from The Conservative Mind (pp. 7-9, 10), by Russell Kirk.

Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogmata; conservatives inherit from [Edmund] Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time. As a working premise, nevertheless, one can observe here that the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity. Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors . . .; they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution: it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine. . . .

I think that there are six canons of conservative thought–

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For the third Sunday in a row, the Healy family worshipped as a unit at All Saints Orthodox Church. Anna has made good on her commitment to worship together weekly as a family.

Last evening, Anna and I got a call from an old friend from our Baton Rouge days of a few years ago. Patty and her husband wrote us this week to try to reestablish snail mail and phone contact. Lifelong Episcopalians, Patty and Harold were encouraging to us as we headed north to Yankee-land to seek ordination. Three years later, Patty wrote to let us know that she and Harold were out of ECUSA for good. In a public forum she had asked Bishop Jenkins where, in relation to the current crisis of leadership over the sexuality issues, he was going to lead the diocese. His equivocal “Into deeper prayer,” while not absolutely inappropriate, was not the straight-backbone answer she and Harold needed. Her priest had for a brief time indicated he was going to join the efforts of the American Anglican Council, but then, for reasons uknown, backed down to resume the status quo. Harold and Patty are now seeking catechesis in a Lutheran Missouri Synod parish.

Anna and I could commiserate. And overhearing Anna’s half of the phone conversation, I was pleasantly surprised at what my wife had to say about the Orthodox Church.
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The Gospel of Inclusion V

Today’s Gospel of Inclusion comes from fundamentalist John Shelby Spong.

Praise to you, wellspring of ourselves.

Let me say this carefully, but clearly. Anyone who elevates their prejudices to the position where they are defended as the will of God is evil.

Anybody who justifies their denigration of another person’s being based upon a quotation from an ancient sacred text called the Word of God is simply out of touch with contemporary scholarship.

Anybody who will not open themselves to the new knowledge readily available in medical and scientific circles because it calls into question their uninformed attitudes is profoundly ignorant.

There is no dialogue that is possible in those circumstances, and any attempt to engage in some form of dialogue is doomed to failure. In the process of seeking to do so, truth is not well served, integrity is compromised and one’s deepest convictions are violated.

This is the Gospel of Inclusion.

Glory to thee, conformer to our scientific knowledge.

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See the video of the Infamous Exploding Whale.

Here’s the hi bandwidth Quicktime link. Here’s the medium bandwidth Q-time link. And here’s the Q-time for dial up.

And don’t forget to read the accompanying Dave Barry piece on it.

Thanks to Bill for this disturbing link.

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Why Orthodoxy? Pt. VII

6. Historicity and Validity of the (Orthodox) Church’s Claims (Part VII of IX)

When I began my inquiry into Orthodoxy, I was immediately confronted with an alien terrain. Not that the Orthodox Church lacked all the proper evangelical points of theology. There was grace, the Cross and Resurrection, baptism, witness, and so forth. But rather, in Protestantism, I was used to the posture of defense and response. I was used to the idea of giving a reason for why my particular churches were who and what they were, and, indeed, why I was a Protestant as well. But on coming to the Orthodox Church I was shocked that the Church was not all that interested in arguing for its own existence. It just simply was. The Orthodox Church didn’t hope that I would feel at home in the Liturgy–though I was told to make myself at home, and did feel at home, during coffee hour and Sunday School. There was no talk of my felt needs. I wasn’t promised relevance. There was just the simple invitation: Come and see.
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Introduction

This is the first in a series of reflections on what it means to think faithfully.

The ancient philosophers looked out on the physical world and noted the regularity and orderedness of it and posited that the basic principle of the universe is Logos, or reason. The intellect was that about mankind that made them divine. In the medieval era, the rediscovery of the ancients and this emphasis on reason was renewed in the west and strengthened and formalized through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

But this emphasis on reason and rationality has led to certain crises. On the one hand, Descartes reintroduces and intensifies the problem of mind and body dualism. Then there is the skepticism of Hume in which his fork splits our presumption of the connection of cause and effect. Kant attempts to resolve the Humean dilemma, but to do so must divorce the realm of essential being, something reason cannot know, from the realm of sensible appearances. But Kant’s cure is worse than the disease, something Nietzsche exploits. So we have come from reason as the primary ordering of reality to reason as the will to power.

This rather pessimistic account of the primacy of reason in Western thought ought not be construed as totalizing in that pessimism. After all, it seems we cannot escape reason, even to critique it. But certainly in the arenas of science and technology reason has brought historic alleviation of previous human ills, such as the cures for various diseases and the ease and safety of communication and travel.

It seems to me, however, that if a Christian is to think about reason, or for that matter, about anything else, he is obligated to do so from the stance of Christian conviction. That is to say, are Christians to view the prime ordering of reality as reason? Or is there a more fundamental basis for that reality? Is there something more primary than reason? And if so, what does this do to our thinking?

I think the answer to the question of something more fundamental than reason ordering the universe can be answered in the affirmative. And in the attempt to answer that question I want to describe and promote a project for faithful thinking.

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