Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – To me, ladies and gentlemen, if we can start acting more like virtuous gentlemen and conduct ourselves and our own affairs in a Christian gentleman-like manner and be civic in our deliberations like our foreparents were and the great men of antiquity were, then we go a long way towards repairing damage that has been done to our civilization, a lot farther than we ever will, I believe, by pursuing political ends. Check out the rest in today’s transcript…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Speaking of Christian gentlemen behavior — we have covered an awful lot of ground today. I would like to cover this both for your own personal edification and as an homage to the wonderful work being done at restoring republicanism and civic virtue amongst our men. To me, ladies and gentlemen, if we can start acting more like virtuous gentlemen and conduct ourselves and our own affairs in a Christian gentleman-like manner and be civic in our deliberations like our foreparents were and the great men of antiquity were, then we go a long way towards repairing damage that has been done to our civilization, a lot farther than we ever will, I believe, by pursuing political ends.
Brad Birzer is the senior editor at The Imaginative Conservative website where Winston Elliott is the editor. This was started on the back of a dining room napkin two years ago and is now in the top 50,000 of all sites in the United States. It’s because of the content. It’s not because of Winston or Brad, it’s because of the great content. Brad does contribute and Winston does, as do I, and many other brilliant — I’m not putting myself in their category; Winston makes me participate — many other brilliant men of our day and of antiquity, those no longer with us. This is what makes The Imaginative Conservative such a great site. I told you last week said, [mocking] “What are we supposed to do about all this, Mike? Yeah, what are we supposed to do, you moron? The government’s running us over. Obama is coming to kill us.” Start reading some older things. Don’t always look for the present; look for the old. Some new things are being published that are old in new editions.
Along those lines, Birzer has a post “A Proper Anthropology: Some Cursory Thoughts.” He says somebody challenged him and said: You and Church and Elliott and John Wilson and your little gang over there at Imaginative Conservative, you always talk in these big, vainglorious, abstract terms about Christian virtues and gentlemanly behavior and the intellectual life, not being all about politics. Why don’t you take it out of the abstract, Birzer? Brad actually did. In what he describes as the religious humanist, he gives you ten things that the religious humanist should pursue. I will boil this down a little more to say these are things that the Christian gentleman should pursue or believe.
1. Man can only be understood in the context of Justice, knowing his own place in the order of existence. While he is lower than the angels, he is higher than the animals. He remains the only creature in the Divine Economy to possess both the spirit of the supernatural and the body of the natural.
2. Man must be understood as a mingling of good and evil. He is neither totally depraved as Calvin claimed, nor is he a blank slate as Locke thought, tending mostly toward good. While fallen, man also bears the Imago Dei and serves as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
3. Each man is unique, endowed with a particular set of gifts, thus given by God for that creature’s specific place in time and existence.
4. With a paraphrasing of Aristotle that God “makes nothing in vain.” But, to take from Aquinas, “only grace perfects nature.”
5. God creates nothing that is not wholly good. Through his distorted will, though, man often chooses evil.
Mike: That’s really the struggle of humanity, the age-old struggle. You see it in popular culture: Star Wars, black v. white, good guys v. bad guys, cowboy movies with the guy in the white hat and the bad guys always dressed in dark. It’s an eternal struggle. People act as though evil and crooked politics and politicians are just of this age. They’ve always been around, it’s just we have dealt with them and maybe there were fewer of them because less power was conferred. That’s probably more the problem than the actual politicians themselves, although there are certainly many men who lack virtue.
6. Power tends to corrupt—no matter the institution. All human power seeks more power and must be restrained in some orderly, humane, and constitutional manner.
7. Virtue and imagination serve as the greatest gifts to men.
Mike: I think that’s probably one of the most important ones right there, virtue and imagination. Rod Dreher has a post at American Conservative Magazine. I debated on whether or not to bring it to air today. I chose not to because I think it’s something you have to read. It’s about our obsession over the last 30 years with our right to not be offended. This ultimately suppresses real, healthy intellectual dialogue and debate. It may be necessary in certain instances, if you’re going to debate something fully and freely, for one party to actually be a homophobe, to be a bigot. Being a bigot does not remove your ability to participate in intellectual discourse. I could add a couple other distinctions. It’s in today’s Pile of Prep. That’s part of the virtuous life that has gone by the wayside.
8. The best form of education comes through liberal and humane education. Indeed, for most in history, “liberal education” was a redundancy. All education, properly understood, is liberal, liberating us from the things of this world, pointing us toward the wisdom of God rather than the utilitarian wishes of man.
9. Nothing in the universe is higher than love.
10. That virtues can never be forced but must be cultivated.
Mike: Good stuff, Brad. Read the entire essay for yourself and apply that in your daily life. Again, the obsession with — and this is promoted on television and radio and the internet now — that everything is political is part of the problem. Everything is not political. One of the great things that you learn when you read Russell Kirk, when you read Nisbet, when you read Dawson and some of the other great writers, G.K. Chesterton for example, Irving Babbitt. When you read these great thinkers of the last part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, men had really great, long discussions and debates over things.
A really interesting exercise if you people want to undertake it, do a Google search. Look for “the Congressional Globe.” I’m not going to tell you where to find it. Pick a day in the Globe and pull the transcript up of the debate, say in the Senate. Just read it and weep. Read the dialogue in between dissenting parties and how it was that they debated, and the rhetorical flourish of their words, the command they had of language and of the subject matter outside this partisan hackery we are possessed of today. As I said, it doesn’t even matter the date. Just pick a day, any day. These are transcripts of the meetings of Congress, the Congressional Globe.
End Mike Church Show Transcript