Thanks for this interesting post even if, at the end of
it all, I disagree with the conclusions you would seek to
have us draw. I must say that I do miss the conservative
conferences since I've moved out of the camp that persists
in trying to analyse matters of the spirit through a political
lens. They do have some stimulating discussions on many
things even if, in the end, I fear their emotions do get
in the way of their intellect.
What I would continue to share with people like Alisdair
McIntyre and similar others, perhaps Maggie on this board,
is that, to quote you line, "the secular humanist and
Nietzschean traditions which inform contemporary ethics
will deteriorate into nihilism'. (I always get confused
on how to spell Nietzsche but I looked it up and I suspect
what I have used is the correct way of writing Nietszcean.
Forgive my pedanticism, it's a bit like try to remember
how to spell Lefebvre. LOL)
What really gives me the sh*ts though about the sort of
reactionary* position you put forward here is (a) that it
persists in trying to categorise everything into neat little
boxes and (b) when something does not fit into one of their
"neat little boxes" they persist in either trying
to ignore it or in trying to fit it into the nearest category
of box they've thought up. It's a sort of endeavour of trying
to categorise all people who do not think like me as somehow
being agents of the devil or some malign force.
The position you have put would seem to argue that there
are only two possible positions to be held on the principle
matter in contention. It almost, but not quite, would put
forward the sort of proposition that all the non-reactionary
and non-conservative thinkers in the Church are on a one-way,
slippery slope to nihilism or becoming apostles of a Peter
Singer type philosopher.
What I think is wrong with your argument, and if you have
picked up his argument correctly, the speaker at the Chesterton
conference who gave you the warm fuzzies, is that it assumes
that the only alternative to the conservative position that
you hold is that everyone else is trying to get the Gospel,
Church teaching or the insights of Christ to conform to
modern culture. I appreciate that there might be some in
the world who would hold such a view. Personally though
I find their numbers exceedingly thin on the ground. I think
they are largely a figment of the imagination of the right
the "straw men" put up as a constant target
to knock down and further the conservative agenda.
There is an alternative cobber. Some people actually believe
the conservative agenda is all wrong as to how it interprets
the "truths" that Christ is trying to give us.
They see those "truths" in a radically different
way to yourself. They also want to give those "truths"
to the world i.e. to modern culture because
they believe those "truths", differently interpreted
as they maybe to the right wing or obsessively political
thinkers, are the pathway for humankind's salvation and
redemption. They are not about trying to rewrite Church
teaching and the insights of Christ so that they will conform
to the world. They are seeking to provide the different
interpretation of those "truths" which they believe
will be more accessible to the world. In other words the
equation is that the world still has to conform to the truth,
not the truth to the world.
The difference is that the understanding of what the truth
actually is is radically different to what you would have
us believe. I would argue that the reason why the Church
has been losing the battle for hearts and minds for the
last half century is precisely because it has got all ballsed
up with this weird, hoop-jumping interpretation of what
"truth" actually is and that is what the world
has been running away from.
The "truth" I seek in my life today requires
a far harsher discipline, and placing of trust in God, than
anything that I encountered in that long period of my life
when I would have counted myself as a conservative. The
"truth" which I seek to proclaim to the world
might well be couched in very different language to what
you might use, or like, but it requires a far more radical
conversion of heart, I would submit, than anything you,
or your conservative and reactionary mates would seek to
inflict on us or the rest of the world.
I think it is wrong to assume that the architects of Vatican
II had an agenda to try and proclaim a new gospel that conforms
to the world. It was a radically new way of interpreting
the old truths in a way (a) that better conformed to what
the ultimate "truth" actually is and (b) which,
for that reason, has better chance of "converting"
the world to Christ. The true spirit of Vatican II is no
different to the conservative agenda in that it expects
the world to conform itself to a challenging and radical
message from Christ. Where it differs to the conservative
agenda though is in its interpretation of what that "truth"
actually is though. It is not putting forward a proposition
though that the Gospel ought be "watered down"
to conform to nihilistic and laissez fair philosophies.
In this department of thinking I think this Pope is something
of a radical. He, it seems to me, is putting forward a similar
proposition. There are other areas of thinking where he
is far from a radical and I just thank God that we are not
expected to believe that everything a Pope says is infallible
or procured by some kind of direct telephone line to the
*Raphael: it is reactionary rather than merely conservative
because it is fundamentally formulated as a reaction against
something rather than as an empowering or affirming endeavour
of trying to conserve something which is good. Our mate
Peter, as UDS observed some days ago, does not seem to be
interested in discussion but would seem to share in the
right wing prediliction for endeavouring to force his views
down the necks of others until they are gagging. He'll "lecture
from the pulpit" with his posts but he's not going
to come down and converse with the ordinary mortals whom
he believes are inferior to himself.