Principles Over Politics: Industry

(Special Series)

(Part 2)

A rich old farmer, who felt that he had not many more days to live, called his sons to his bedside.

“My sons,” he said, “heed what I have to say to you. Do not on any account part with the estate that has belonged to our family for so many generations. Somewhere on it is hidden a rich treasure. I do not know the exact spot, but it is there, and you will surely find it. Spare no energy and leave no spot unturned in your search.”

The father died, and no sooner was he in his grave than the sons set to work digging with all their might, turning up every foot of ground with their spades, and going over the whole farm two or three times.

No hidden gold did they find; but at harvest time when they had settled their accounts and had pocketed a rich profit far greater than that of any of their neighbors, they understood that the treasure their father had told them about was the wealth of a bountiful crop, and that in their industry had they found the treasure.

Industry is itself a treasure.

The Farmer And His Sons, Aseop Fable

Industriousness isn’t merely hard-work, it is proactive and driven with a purpose beyond greed, lust, and revenge. True work leaves eternal value for friends, family, church, and the community at large. Ken Harrison, chairmen of Promise Keepers, tells us that real men see the needs and seek to accomplish them, “He doesn’t look around for someone else to accomplish the task. He doesn’t make excuses. He doesn’t complain, slander, or gossip. He chooses to make a difference where he is” (Harrison 2019, p. 116, Rise of the Servant Kings). Whether manhood or womanhood, single or a family, young or old we are called to be a people who work for the good, the true, and the beautiful. Enterprise, merit, honesty, and empathy are positive externalities from industry derived from a people whose actions carry forth goodness and faithfulness rooted in Jesus Christ and Scripture. True Conservatives accept that their stances may be refuted and even result in death, but set on being industriousness because of its lasting benefits.

After all the very highest and most fundamental work of good citizenship is to leave the next generation in right shape… – Theodore Roosevelt

Monday Review

(Oct 12, 2020)

Last Week

Foundations: What We Stand On

AVisualPhilosophy

Slow & Steady: Winning The Race

Thy Week, Thus Far

When The Eighth Grader See’s Through Them: The VP Debate Of 2020

New Episode Of Christ & the Coffee

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This Week

Principles over Politics, this week will be peppered with short explanations of what it means to be a Christian and a Conservative in todays world. How to move beyond political parties and simply hold to lasting standards.

Sunday’s and Monday’s are off days for me so I will see you all on Tuesday!

Remember! This Wednesday, October 14 is the American Conservative webinar, Whole Life: A Conservative Agenda for Strengthening the American Family. Sign Up!

Burke, Kirk, & Scruton: A Conservative Legacy for the 21st Century

(Insight)

Russell Kirk (Left) Edmund Burke (Center) Roger Scruton (Right)

Legends, a description often given to myth like characters to impart a quintessential ethos concerning their respectability; Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, and Roger Scruton are not myths but living souls who reserve legendary status in way of their writings and actions concerning conservatism.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) can only be regarded as the Father of Modern Conservatism; an Irishman whose testimony against the French Revolution became the standard bulwark against sudden, revolutionary rather than evolutionary change. Prior to Burke there are philosophical and political thinkers since ancient times that conservatives consider as great minds of conservatism including Plato, Cicero, and Adam Smith. Yet Burke is reasonably the source by which a clear movement out of the Enlightenment sprung forth called conservatism. Controversially Burke showed favor, at least privately, toward the American Revolution because in his mind the Americans were seeking more than “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” that the French Revolution squandered through means of a gut wrenching bloodbath, godless laws, and uprooting centuries of tradition without any consideration of its effects. These Americans however still had respect for the laws and traditions of Great Britain while tout à fait différent due to distance and time in a far away land. Nevertheless, Burke taught us the necessity of respecting our institutions even when those institutions may require reform. Hardly blind to injustice, Burke grasped the nature of human needs and wants including our ugly side; a side often ignored when it comes to personal desires over the common good requirements to maintaining political stability, law, and order. With that in mind Burke reminds us of the need to move steadily when making great social changes, something the French failed to do.

Burke taught us the necessity of respecting our institutions even when those institutions may require reform.

Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was a man of class. Kirk grasped the good life by eventually placing it on the rock of the Christian faith and eternal moral truths. Described as a “Stoic Pagan,” he consumed Roman and Greek philosophy to the point of taking Stoicism as a central tenet of being. Ancient thinkers had spoken, Kirk was there to listen. However, Kirk slowly converted from quasi-protestantism and unchristian spiritualism toward a christian humanism and finally Catholicism after decades of studying, pondering, and a willingness to surrender his own presuppositions. St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would eventually share his mind, heart, and soul as much as Irving Babbitt, Marcus Aurelius, or F.A. Hayek. Preposterous to some Kirk’s grasp of the real inheritance of conservative thought would shine brightest in his Magnum Opus, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana (1953) (by its third edition Santayana was replaced with Eliot). A book that re-sparked an intelligent, compassionate, imaginative, and moral conservatism; a true conservatism beyond the left versus right politics that presently distorts modern hearts and corrupts modern minds found deep within modern cultures. Never afraid to espouse the vitality of ideas when properly rooted in principles and in God, Kirk was a man of mystery and awe fighting tooth and nail for what was seen by many as his quirks including a distrust of technology or that conservatism was not an ideology rather its anthesis. Kirk established that history, philosophy, literature, and religion hold greater deference than mere economics and dumbed down politics that modernity has wrought. We are to be a people of sacrifice, committed to a greater good, proclaimers of faith, and protectors of private property as laid out in his Ten Principles of Conservatism. Sir Roger once described Russell Kirk as “the last word or a court of appeal against which all the quarrels of his disciples would be finally settled.” A remark that grasps Kirk’s immense influence toward the imaginative, transcendent, and romantic mind that conservatism brings to the world.

Kirk established that history, philosophy, literature, and religion hold greater deference than mere economics and dumbed down politics that modernity has wrought.

Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020) If Burke is the Father of Conservatism; Kirk the Father of Imaginative Conservatism; Sir Roger is the Father of Living Conservatism. Scrutonian conservatism, a philosophy as a way of being, never ignored reality as it confronted society with a higher culture in mind. Roger unabashedly grounded conservative thinking. Sir Roger realized that ignorance of the present will doom the future if conservatives remain only in the clouds. Sex, law, wine, politics, food, aesthetics, religion, music, nature… all hold value for upholders of tradition. These are not simply consumer products but a prescribed essence to the good life. Life described by Scruton requires Oikophilia, a devout love and duty to the family, locality, and nation by which you are a member, a rejection to misplaced multiculturalism but hardly a disrespect to all cultures. Cultures are to be respected in their context, learning beyond our own world but still holding dear to your tribe. Combined, life is a symphony by which we find its quintessential notes to taste, pluck, and appreciate at their highest existence while humbly submitting ourselves to the good, the beautiful, and the true. Scrutonianism equips by delicately grappling issues seemingly thought far and wide yet are practical in every way. Practicality is the centrality of a Living Conservatism, it not only demands a good head but one well planted on the ground. Sir Roger never let his readers forget it. He portrayed the sacred amongst the living while carrying it to its highest experiences such as music or art or the aesthetics of a Cathedral. An Anglican who loved his England and its Church, Roger lived what he professed as a farmer who believed in environmental protections, an active dissenter of Communism in Czechoslovakia, and a housing advisor for England. To profess yet never to live out what you profess is as the Disciple James warns in the Holy Scriptures, faith without works is dead (James 2:17). A capital reminder for all conservatives.

Sir Roger realized that ignorance of the present will doom the future if conservatives remain only in the clouds. Sex, law, wine, politics, food, aesthetics, religion, music, nature… all hold value for upholders of tradition.

Altogether the future holds bright for conservatism when linking together a respect for the past, the present, and the transcendent; a trifecta built on integrity versus a lesser sensibility. This is the conservative legacy for the 21st century.

References

About Edmund Burke. https://kirkcenter.org/edmund-burke-society/edmund-burke/

Burke and the American Revolution. https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/burke-and-the-american-revolution

Did Edmund Burke Support the American Revolution? https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/03/edmund-burke-support-american-revolution-bradley-birzer.html

Edmund Burke & the American Revolution: The Whole Story. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/04/edmund-burke-and-the-american-revolution-the-whole-story.html

Oikophilia. https://hac.bard.edu/amor-mundi/oikophilia-2020-01-29

Religion and the Conservative Mind. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/12/religion-conservative-mind-dermot-quinn.html

Roger Scruton. A Brief History Of A Great Man. https://northamanglican.com/roger-scruton-my-encounter-with-a-great-man/

Roger Scruton’s Architectural Morality. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/roger-scrutons-architectural-morality/

Roger Scruton – On Russel Kirk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTmJlRsaOY&ab_channel=ConservatismArchive

Roger Scruton Was a Giant of Conservatism. https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/commentary/roger-scruton-was-giant-conservatism?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiO2b1szr6wIVAdvACh0RQgadEAAYASAAEgIyUvD_BwE

Roger Scruton Was a Conservative. But What Kind? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/opinion/roger-scruton.html

Russell Kirk: Conservative, Convert, Catholic. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/10/19/russell-kirk-conservative-convert-catholic/

Russell Kirk: Christian Humanism and Conservatism. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/01/russell-kirk-christian-humanism-and-conservatism-vigen-guroian.html

Russell Kirk: Conservative, Humanist, Christian. https://blog.acton.org/archives/83039-russell-kirk-conservative-humanist-christian.html

Russell Kirk Expounds on Being Catholic. https://www.ncregister.com/features/russell-kirk-expounds-on-being-catholic

Russell Kirk on Higher Education. https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/01/russell-kirk-on-higher-education/

Scrutonian philosophy as a way of life. https://www.thearticle.com/scrutonian-philosophy-as-a-way-of-life

Ten Conservative Principles. https://kirkcenter.org/conservatism/ten-conservative-principles/

The Conservative Mind of Russell Kirk. https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-conservative-mind-russell-kirk

The Forgotten Father of American Conservatism. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/russell-kirk-father-american-conservatism/573433/

The ‘great adventure’ of Sir Roger Scruton, RIP. https://blog.acton.org/archives/114123-great-adventure-sir-roger-scruton-rip.html?utm_term=roger%20scruton%20philosopher&utm_campaign=5+Facts+-+Educational+Evergreen&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_acc=9098040689&hsa_cam=6526563754&hsa_grp=91366174524&hsa_ad=411597365231&hsa_src=g&hsa_tgt=kwd-363370490599&hsa_kw=roger%20scruton%20philosopher&hsa_mt=b&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_ver=3&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkOSum-7x6wIVzsDACh28pgL2EAAYAiAAEgL-t_D_BwE

The Moral Imagination. https://kirkcenter.org/imagination/the-moral-imagination/

The Promises and Perils of Christian Politics. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/05/russell-kirk-promises-and-perils-of-christian-politics.html

The Radicalism Of Russell Kirk. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-radicalism-of-russell-kirk/

The Six Core Beliefs of Conservatism. https://isi.org/intercollegiate-review/the-six-core-beliefs-of-conservatism/

When is a revolution not a revolution? Edmund Burke and the New America. https://blog.oup.com/2016/12/edmund-burke-new-america/

Christ & The Coffee

(All Things Veritas Vlog Series)

Special Announcement: All Things Veritas is back up and running! See A.T.V. as a Network with multiple programs. The first program to premier is Christ & The Coffee:

A bi-weekly methodical scripture meditation series using art, phrases, key words, and analysis to learn the scriptures.

The premier is Episode 1, Series 1 over the Book Of Colossians. Ep. 1 covers Col. 1:1-2. 

Christ & The Coffee is one program part of a growing network on All Things Veritas and a subsidiary of Truth In Focus.

There will be further programs including interviews, lectures, news, and commentary in the coming months and years at All Things Veritas and in connection with Truth In Focus and also MereBeautyInTruth

Watch and Learn and Grow. – E.K.R

Thy Week, Thus Far

Wednesday September 9, 2020

A Weekly Wednesday Dose of Truth

Zeno of Elea by Carducci or Tibaldi

Articles, Podcasts, and Videos

The State of Theology (bi-annual Report). Ligonier Ministries special report is published concerning the beliefs of adult American Evangelicals and non-evangelical citizens alike concerning theological beliefs, views on God, politics, and more. One question asks if religious beliefs are subjective rather than objective finding that 54% of U.S. Adults believe that to be true, a number down from two years ago at 60% in 2018. In asking evangelicals the question if Jesus was simply a teacher but not God findings showed 30% of American evangelicals agreed, a stunning number considering that the Divinity of Jesus Christ is the most central doctrine to the Christian faith besides the Trinity. Why they claim to be evangelical in the first place highlights an important issue which is the likely political in nature concerning American evangelicalism rather than any kind of actual religious belief.

The Briefing (Podcast). President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College, Al Mohler covered yesterday (Tuesday Sept 8, 2020) the NPR interview with the radical Marxist transgender Vicky Osterweil over Osterweil’s new book, In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action (2020). As Dr. Mohler points out, a greater irony of the left-leaning publicly funded NPR to even consider the interview which now has apologized for showcasing what can only be described as foolish and indefensible behavior. Looting businesses and homes, ruining innocent lives over political differences is not an acceptable action. And dare I say it, that includes the December 16, 1773 Boston Tea Party which resulted in violence that George Washington himself disapproved. As Christians and Conservatives we must uphold truth without violence at all means possible. We must disapprove of such action even if that “hurts” our “causes” in the short-term.

The North American Anglican (Blog). Part of the Anglican Church in North America, a denomination I greatly support speaking as a LEPO (Liturgical, Evangelical, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian), I wanted to highlight a poem titled, Dead Water by Fr. Jonathan Kanary. Father Kanary serves as Assisting Priest for Spiritual Direction at Christ Church Anglican in Waco, Texas. The North American Anglican offers enlightening articles, poetry, and christian encouragement that all believers should enjoy. It had the most beautiful tribute to Sir Roger titled, Roger Scruton: A Brief Personal History to a Great Man, that all conservatives ought to read.

Monday Announcements

(August 31, 2020)

Today marks the last Monday of August 2020, only three months until the November elections and four months until the year of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, and double hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico comes to an end. What awaits next year will be a continuation of present distress. New Years Eve will not be a time of celebration but angst as millions of Americans ponder their future and the future of the nation. But take heed.

Here at Truth In Focus we strive for open and honest content without fear and anger driving the information provided. Being a Christian and Primitive Conservative, I seek to provide content beyond the political divides into points of principle which must begin and end with the Truth as best as possible. It benefits no one if the truth goes ignored or is distorted. I hope you will find the content here informative, helpful, enlightening, inspiring, and considerate.

For this week the content will be light as finishing preparations are underway for projects soon to be announced. So though the content will be limited this week, the upcoming content for months and years to come are going to be rich in more articles along with lectures, interviews, and analysis in a spectrum of areas.

May God Bless You. Stay Safe. And Keep Striving To Do Good.

Upcoming

Tue, Sept 1 – Welcome to The Party: Political Parties By Race

Type: Historical/Analysis

Description: Minorities are on the rise but the division by race is a telling tale about the future of the DNC and RNC.

Wed, Sept 2 – Thy Week, Thus Far

Type: News

Description: A shortlist of the weeks articles, podcasts, or videos that readers and listeners should pay attention to along with a small analysis of the listed newsworthy mentions.

Monday, Sept 7 – Visual Philosophy (September 2020)

Type: Aesthetic/Art Series

Description: Analysis of beauty found in art, architecture, photography, and other mediums through my Philosophy of the Aesthetic: MereBeautyInTruth.

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(This week, in preparation for the next Visual Philosophy, photos will be posted but only one will be analyzed.)

Youtube: AllThingsVeritas

(After much delay I am happy to announce the return of AllThingsVeritas on Youtube! A Biblical Vlog series will be starting in September. Be on the lookout for a special announcement. Please join and like and be ready to learn and grow.)

Highlight

Katherine Holmes

Occupation: Artist/Painter

Site: https://www.katherineholmesart.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherineholmesart/?tn-str=k*F

Special Note: Her work is brilliant as it is transcendent. Holmes art is an aesthetic expression of MereBeautyInTruth. Using largely Christian imagery including an entire series on her interpretation of the Lectio Divina, an ancient traditional christian practice of prayerful scriptural study, Katherine transforms scripture into beautiful translations of artistic expression. Please consider supporting this artist by commissioning her work. – Edward Kyle Richey

About: Katherine Holmes grew up in Ft Worth, Texas and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree.

A passionate painter, she interned in Cardiff, Wales using art workshops as a way to connect with the homeless and socially isolated. After two years of working alongside this people group, she returned to Corpus Christi, Texas and became an artist with K Space Studios. She worked as a fine artist and mural assistant with the gallery before returning to Cardiff to begin a Masters in Art Psychotherapy in 2017.

Alongside her masters, she is currently an artist with the Share a Life project, spending the last two years leading art workshops in homeless hostels, interviewing clients, and painting their portraits. These paintings have become a travelling exhibition that is constantly evolving as new portraits are produced. This project is set to finalize in spring 2021.

Katherine is currently a member of The Sustainable Studios in Cardiff, and uses the studios to develop her own art as well as creating custom portraits for a variety of clients.

A Word To The Wise

(Theology/Scripture)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10, ESV).

Ancient Greece had a maxim, “Know Thyself” most famously attributed to the philosopher Socrates. This aphorism serves a great and worthy purpose of encouraging self-examination. How often do we stop and reflect on our own nature? Not just asking, who and what we are, but truly trying to know ones personal faults and then seeking to improve, learn, and grow. Philosophy, philo meaning love and sophos meaning wisdom, is the love of wisdom and the seeking of truth. I attribute a great deal to philosophy and would defend her ideals as much as liberty and freedom, but I submit to you that as Christians we are called to first submit to God and His wisdom.

More Than Self-Care

Fearing the Lord in an age of fear and distrust of authority is not an easy sale for Millennials (my generation), Gen Z, and Gen Alpha who are sincerely seeking to make a difference; “our” maxim being “Change the World.” Our youthfulness and wishful thinking is far too often excused as merely laziness, naiveness, and narcissism; a fair criticism but hardly the whole picture of several generations being swept under a complex globalized world that has rapidly materialized more wealth, more goods, and more services than all of human history combined while simultaneously fragmenting “old” methods, standards, traditions, and opportunities. But let’s step away from the cultural and the political towards the Scriptural and Christ Centeredness.

Within the context of fearing the Lord, yir’ah, is a form of piety, respect, or reverence for God. John Gill’s, English pastor and theologian, explains that the converted state is a state of wisdom, a place of recognition of the Most High God and the active working of grace. Christ says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Abiding, menō , a place in which the person is to be kept or to remain. That place is a place of salvation by which only though faith and grace can one be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), but also that place is a place of wisdom that arises from that saving grace and faith. A working grace, a working faith that continues past the state of salvation. Our works matter in the eyes of God, for faith is active (James 2:14-26). Grace never ceases once salvation is accomplished (Romans 5:20-21) meaning a true believer seeks God and seeks to obey His command over their lives even when the Christian will falter, run, and even fall away for a time. Yet those of the vine will remain on the vine and Christ the Shepherd always brings His sheep back to the flock.

Today the term “self care” i.e. a place of spiritual, mental, and physical health focused entirely on ones well-being, is a central tenet of the age. Granted a great deal of narcissism can quickly overtake a person who focuses so much on themselves and never others; a place of complete aversion to hardship or sacrifice or pain is the roots of hedonism. However, ignoring your wellbeing is equally problematic when taken to the extreme of Asceticism which is also unbiblical. God cares about all of His creation. He desires goodness and wellness over them. Christianity needs to refrain from going to extremes when God condones a time for work and a time for rest. One of my favorite examples comes from the Prophet Elijah in Chapter 19 of 1 Kings verses 1-8:

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”  And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

Over and over again in the Bible the people of the Lord in the Old and New Testament are sinners and saints who fail completely on their own, yet find success in their complete reliance on God. Saint Paul states clearly concerning “a thorn in his flesh” that:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Do not ever feel “bad” when you need to rest and to take some time to “decompress” from the world and life’s situations. Know the difference between laziness and weakness, purposely forgoing for selfish reasons and a needed time to sleep or focus in preparation. Death is always with us from the moment of conception til the moment we die. The human body is eventually weakened to the point of death. There is no escaping our weakened estate. While the world ignores reality, Christians must learn to find joy in their weakness and eventual death.

Everything I have explained to you is a place of God’s wisdom, not my own. God’s word is a place of refuge, of hope, and of ultimate good. It is the responsibility of the Church to help all “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6: 33) or to say it differently, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” which the Church is equipped to do. All of which is not “up to us” that is to say Christian’s are not capable of doing the work without the grace of God by which wisdom is birthed.

If Christ is not seeking sinners, humanity is doomed. And if the Church is not speaking to sinners then it has failed the Great Commission. There will always be issues that the Church must uphold and push back against, but no person is without sin nor should go without the hope of Christ and that means having a church full of saints and sinners. And having them over for dinner or going to them whenever and wherever in need. Love, Christ said, love God and love your neighbor as yourself are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

Knowing thy self will never be accomplished to its fullest extent without first knowing God. He will take you to the deepest and hardest of places but for your good and for His glory.

To my generation and the generations after me, if you want to change the world, then seek after God, His wisdom, and His kingdom first and foremost. Never allow differences to get in between you and that person at the sake of forgoing the Gospel which includes loving your neighbor. Christ died so that we may live! Do not mistake His sacrifice for a life without a true cause. Seek Him, Fear Him, and See Him work in your life and the lives of others. But also know, the God loves you and takes you wherever you are at in life. No person in all of human history has ever been “too dirty” or “too unclean” to be made anew. To be forgiven. To be loved. To be recognized as worthy. Christ can redeem all souls. Lastly, you can go forth in life sick and tired and broken and even get lost on your way, but like Elijah, Christ will find you and feed you and care for you without chastisement. Never fear your weakness. Know that your weakness was never the problem. All are weak, none are strong. The problem was and remains the placement of our weakness in relation to our reliance for the strength we seek. Placed properly in God first and you will be in the highest of strong towers. Seek His refuge, Know His Wisdom, and have His love pour over you like the finest oils and perfumes.

May God Bless You and Keep You Now and Forever. Amen.

Virtue By Decree

(Insight Series)

A Preliminary

Virtue may not seem an obvious topic to discuss in our post-American, post-Christian, post-Liberal, and post-Western state; virtue might even appear meaningless or useless to a people preparing for whatever wave of turmoil comes next or welcoming the awaited changes. But it is my hope to convince readers that virtue is of societal value (legally, politically, and economically) for those who desire goodness and faithfulness; honor and truth; respect and justice; law and peace. Virtue does not provide eternal salvation, only through Christ is that achieved (John 14:4; Romans 10:9; Matthew 28:16-20), but virtue is a valuable means and end for Christians and non-Christians, Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.

Pastor and theologian Timothy Keller wrote an article promoting his recent book, How to Reach the West Again (2020), and in that article from The Gospel Coalition Keller wrote in his introduction:

We are entering a new era in which there is not only no social benefit to being Christian, but an actual social cost. In many places, culture is becoming increasingly hostile toward faith, and beliefs in God, truth, sin, and the afterlife are disappearing in more and more people. Now, culture is producing people for whom Christianity is not only offensive, but incomprehensible.

– Keller (2020), How to Reach the West (Again)

As the world turns from material hopes and dreams toward material promises to escape the harshness of the world, the material world increasingly becomes the only means of escape for even the so-called spiritual. Unless pre-modern traditions and institutions of faith from the Monotheistic to the Polytheistic are central to a society, the DNA of its people, overtime societies forgo their “old ways” or their “old gods” for a new set of ways and a new set of gods. The gods never disappear as Christians understand that we are what we worship:

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom. 1: 21-23).

It is here where Christian’s receive the term, “Virtuous Pagan,” the claim of moral similarities found between cultures. Aquinas for example understood the distinction between charity for the sake of charity and the Christian distinction to be charitable as Christ was giving and kind and gracious. This is why even Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox can work with entirely different faiths on causes that are set on a common good. Our actions speak of our character, just as our words speak of our heart’s truest desires (Luke 6:45). What then does Modernity (1500-Present) have to say? How has late modernity (1945-Present) particularly spoken of human culture and society?

Judaeo-Christianity “never did defeat paganism,” said feminist scholar Camille Paglia to The Harvard Crimson. Strong words that are completely true. Paganism has never left and is likely the strongest and oldest human root of belief that pervades to this day after the departure from Eden. From God to gods whether pagan or secular, Islam or Hinduism; the faith and beliefs of humanity intertwine between myth and reality in the story of human life including in the moral quest of right and wrong; good and evil; virtuous and unvirtuous.

As I had written once before:

Christians nor Conservatives are strangers to cultural critique including of liberal society (e.g. Capitalism or Free Speech) and upholding standards beyond the relative values of the day. As the conservative thinker Russell Kirk explained, “The pure democrat is the practical atheist; ignoring the divine nature of law and the divine establishment of spiritual hierarchy” (The Conservative Mind, p. 137). A synergy exists between the two over their respect for God and a moral law.

– Get Woke or Get Broke: When Reason Fails to Stand

That “synergy” comes together in the form of an understanding that God created the heavens and the earth; establishing a universal natural law, a set of moral laws that all mankind are to follow regardless of belief.

Virtue by Decree means a set of obligations weighted upon and against all institutions that hold power and authority over a people. And it represents a set of values expected from those institutions. Whether a society upholds any values is dependent upon the willing responsibility of that people. Christians and Conservatives understand that humanity is wholly incapable of always doing good and remaining good. Human nature is corrupt and fallible. Even enforced “common good” principles can quickly turn to evil. Nothing lasts forever. Nevertheless we are called to be a people of virtue and must strive for it.

Why then Virtue? Why this topic now?

As the dividing lines between private and public increasingly ceases due to immense political shifts caused by economic, technological and ecological influences, the Christian faith and Conservative institutions are forced again to reconsider what is true, beautiful, and just beyond the present times. This is a good things for us, though it poses serious consequences and sincere fears.

Neo-liberalism, beyond classical liberal theory of private property and free-markets, is a merging of Corporate and Government, Private and Public powers that have blurred the lines of authority and extinguished the human capacity to live beyond what I call, the Economic Gaze. Now the world worships the god of the Global Economy, a system entirely Too Big To Fail. Make no mistake, companies and governments are turning toward illiberal policies for their own survival. Those beliefs are antithetical to not only Christianity but nearly every conservative thinking or premodern believing faith, ideology, or philosophy; while classical liberalism has morphed beyond its original intent into the present neoliberal order making classical liberal ideology obsolete.

All of the known world is presently in a paradigm shift. From the jungles of the Amazon to the mountains of Nepal. Late Modernity is transforming the world and imprisoning it under an authoritarian mindset. Conflicts rise between countries striving for hegemony as citizens across the seven continents are under the weight of upholding a global economy and the unending, vastly scaling advancement of technology. Planet earth faces ecological consequences of water and food shortages, climate change, disease, and an alarming number of endangered species. Cultures are disappearing at a rapid pace losing whatever identity left. Nation-states are turning into relics as super-national unions continue forward despite setbacks such as Brexit. Although not over, 2020 marks the clear decay on the walls of crony capitalism, broken systems of government, fear politics, fake news, mass conspiracies, dangerous ideologies, and identity politics.

Therefore, I propose that Christendom and Conservative Thinkers must now begin to prepare for a better and brighter future should that future come. To begin a process of structuring what mankind has learned over the centuries, successes and failures, so as to reform or rebuild the crumbling globe before us.

Virtue by Decree is that vision.

Next Time: What Is Virtue?

Art References

Seven Virtues by Francesco Pesellino and Workshop

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses by John William Waterhouse

Thy Week, Thus Far

Wednesday August 26, 2020

A Weekly Wednesday Dose of Truth

Zeno of Elea by Carducci or Tibaldi

Articles, Podcasts, and Videos

Rod Dreher (Writer & Author) wrote an excellent piece at The American Conservative concerning the dreadful revelation of Becki and Jerry Falwell Jr sex-capades with their former pool boy. Liberty University has not been in my opinion a shining light for the Christian faith but the University still represents a large portion of American Christianity that dims the light even more. See: Falwell Family Values

Rob Henderson (Ph.D. Student at the University of Cambridge) published an article over at Quillette. Henderson argues that the rise of a luxury mindset has a corrupting nature going from high class society to the bottom. An interesting piece for our decadent times, but I would suggest that this corrupted nature exists in all of humanity and simply manifests in different ways depending on power, influence, etc. Still a valuable read for us all. See: Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—A Status Update

Faith Angle (Podcast) A podcast that seeks to bring together scholars and journalists to discuss relevant issues through cultivating deeper religious consideration. Last week, I know not this weeks news but we all benefit from learning, was an interview with Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan concerning the rise of illiberal groups particularly in relation to Woke ideology and what Dreher calls “soft totalitarianism.” Dreher has a new and upcoming book, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (2020), coming out in late September. I imagine Dreher is borrowing the term from Tocqueville’s “Soft Despotism” found in Democracy in America (1835). Both are proper terms for describing the Western move towards Socialism and Marxist ideologies. See: Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan: Live Not by Lies

Still Life by Jan Davidsz de Heem