Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surrender as false resistance

Recently a number of conservative Christian clergy representing the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions signed something called the "Manhattan Declaration" affirming their common opposition to secularist policies regarding abortion and same-sex marriage. Their efforts have been widely hailed, even by Gerald Warner, as representing a bold orthodox challenge to political correctness. But this document is nothing of the kind. In fact it is a sad reflection of the pathetic tendency of "conservative" Christians to concede entirely too much to the liberalism that has paved the way for the current state of affairs they find so objectionable.

I wouldn't bother posting on this here, though, if I hadn't been irked by, among other concessions to the worldview of those the signers claim to oppose, a completely unnecessary swipe at the European monarchies of the past:

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

Far from a daring challenge to secular leftism, this paragraph is a model of the Progressive interpretation of history that uncritically celebrates the advance of "Democracy" and "Equality" and regards the past four centuries or so as an uplifting struggle of liberal Good against reactionary Evil in which Good so far has usually triumphed, an interpretation with which I vehemently disagree. While some Christians did indeed support the developments this paragraph lists, other Christians opposed them. Did they necessarily sin by so doing? Is there now only one Christian position on all the great political controversies of the past? When did universal suffrage, for example, become Christian orthodoxy?

While no Christian monarch ever claimed divinity in a pagan sense, many pious Christians ardently supported royal claims of divinely based authority, with one of the most tragic defenders of "divine right," Charles I, traditionally regarded as a martyr in Anglicanism. Are he and his supporters to be cast into darkness? I am tired of the way official "conservative" Christianity--Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant (the Orthodox usually not so much)--aligns itself with liberalism on every issue other than sex and abortion.

Contemporary Conservative Christianity too often seems to want to say to its liberal enemies, "we really love all the Liberal Progress that's been made and believe in Democracy and Equality and Human Rights and Religious Liberty just as much as you do, we just don't like abortion and homosexuality." Apparently, God was always on the "progressives'" side in past conflicts, He just isn't today, because now having ruined everything else, they're going after sex, and we can't have that, because sexual peccadilloes are absolutely the worst thing imaginable, and the decline of traditional beliefs about sex is ever so much more intolerable than the decline of everything else people used to believe in. Sarcasm aside, this kind of thinking is simply incoherent. Why leftists should pay attention to those who assure them that they've previously always been right about everything, but please let's just not go any farther, is beyond me. As long as conservatives and Christians refuse to challenge the Left's basic premises, offering it only a pale echo, they deserve to lose.


Aaron Traas said...

One minor comment -- "conservative" Catholics, in particular, seem to be strongly on the side of much *present* leftism -- namely universal healthcare, welfare-type programs, and pro-illegal-immigration.

I think holding fast on sexual morality is a good thing. However, it's silly to take every other progressive cause of the past and treat it as not only good, but absolute. I'd love to see some bishop outside the SSPX publically support monarchy, confessional states, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, good sir. I forwarded this article to my friends, telling them you are wise and hit the nail on the head. I am trying to get them to not sign the bloody Declaration.

You really hit the nail on the head. The whole supposed conservatism of these modern Christians, particular Catholics since I am Catholic, is annoying. I find the whole pro-life movement rather annoying. I oppose abortion of course, like I oppose sodomy, but the pro-life movement embraces the very principles that give us abortion. I voted in the last election only to do what I thought my duty, but I did not waste it on McCain, but voted Baldwin, the lesser of the democratic evils.

Our good Mr. Bennett makes an excllent point to this matter. Did you see his wonderful article? I know you are not Catholic, but I think you can appreciate it:

E. Jones said...

I think your piece actually addresses the thing better than mine does, as far as the whole "wrong worldview" that these moderns espouse. I posted it on my forum, where there's a thread and people have been foaming at the mouth at the fact that I don't like this declaration. Hope you don't mind :)

Theodore Harvey said...

Not at all Eric; in fact I'm flattered and touched to know that I can still produce something of value to traditional Catholics, though some of your co-religionists might disagree. ;)

And yes Brandon I read Jonathan's article and agreed with it, as much as an Anglican can.

Jim said...


Anonymous said...


You've identified something endemic to so-called conservatism today. I always say, 'the liberalism of yesterday is the conservatism of today'. We are under the yoke of a socialistic regie which promotes radical equalitarianism to break up natural and subsidiarian forms of government in a long campaign of 'proletarianization' and 'rationalization' of mankind. In so far as the 'right' fails to identify and critique the idol of universal rights, democracy, individualism, and citizenship, it functions as a false opposition, containing and managing true dissent. In such a bureacratized culture, movements like the TEA PARTIES channel anger into self-destructive and vain activity. At this point, I really believe something needs to built from the ground up, with the rebuilding of family life on the local and parish level. Perhaps, in light of the failure of current day elite, it's time we reassert the idea of prince-bishop, diocese, and vestries as means to local autonomy and reconstruction?