He urges us to liberate ourselves from the edicts of the self-help industry, with their phoney promises of happiness and self-realisation. We should resist their mantra of "self-development", and their exhortations to be forever positive and optimistic. He calls upon us to stand firm against pointless, perpetual commands to be "true to oneself".
'A Civic Labor of Love'
It's not just liberals, but classic conservatives have been shell shocked and alienated by the political and cultural turn of events this last year. In this week's long read, Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, considers (wisely in my view) what all this might mean, especially for conservatives. And what he says at the end, which I hope would apply to any political persuasion, sounds very much like the Beautiful Orthodoxy we champion here at CT when it comes to civic engagement:
And as a project for conservatives, it must ultimately be understood as a civic labor of love, not a political fight to the death. It should aim, as far as possible, to uproot the disposition toward alienation and despair in American life and to plant in its place the essential conservative tendency: to love the good more than we hate the bad. That means looking to improve more than to scorn, to build on what works more than to tear down, and to understand our inadequacies by looking at them in light of what they keep us from being more than what they make us into.
Marriage Means Something
Our news report about Americans becoming more and more liberal was not news in one sense. This has been a long trend, but certainly, as reporter Kate Shellnutt notes, the trend seems to be accelerating. But there was one surprise to me: While being much more lenient about divorce, sex between an unmarried man and woman, and gay or lesbian relations, Americans still believe (by a ratio of 10 to 1) that extramarital affairs are morally unacceptable. In a related story, based on another survey, fidelity in marriage remains a high ideal—despite rumors to the contrary.
I note this not to suggest the silver lining in our moral climate, but to wonder what it is about marriage that is so stubbornly conservative on this point. Why can't we just live and let live when it comes to spousal infidelity? Does it suggest that there really is something to the notion that words means something—that a vow is a vow is a vow—and that there is no such thing as "casual sex," that the two really do become one in some mysterious sense?
Grace and peace,