Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Audio & Transcript – On today’s show Dan McCarthy, of the Imaginative Conservative, discusses gay marriage, philosophy, and conservatism. Here’s a clip of what he had to say: “I think understanding reality and understanding what it is we’ve lost, as we’ve made this transition from Christendom to modernity, is the first step. Once you understand that, you can think that we are in a very different environment now. In this very new context, how do we preserve the values and the beliefs and the ethics and virtues that are most important to us? That’s a difficult question.” Check out the audio and transcript for more…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Mr. Andrew Gruss has a follow-up question.
AG: I thought the piece was really interesting. There was one line that stuck out in my mind, trying to figure out the endgame of it. It’s where you wrote, “What’s really at stake are the values communicated by our institutions, liberal values of tolerance and equality or broadly Christian values that differentiate virtue from sin.” I guess my impression was, I took that as A, the liberal one was a pro-gay marriage kind of statement, and then B, the broadly Christian values was one that was anti-gay marriage.
The question I have is, when you talk about virtues from sin and differentiating those values, have we seen the sanctity of marriage that there no longer be a virtue or sin to it? So it’s lost its meaning when guys like John Edwards or Newt Gingrich are free to go about committing adultery and getting remarried at their convenience. Is there a sense that marriage has lost that virtue, and is that therefore part of the discussion as to why particularly youth voters see same-sex marriage as something that should be allowed?
Dan McCarthy: That’s absolutely right. Basically you’ve had changes going on in the institution of marriage in the West for a long time now, going back to Henry VIII and a real dilution of what marriage meant for the bulk of European history under Christianity. As these changes have happened, I think they’ve eroded the moral basis and the basis in differentiating sin from virtue and differentiating the purpose of marriage as not just a sexual union, but a union that’s meant to be the foundation or cornerstone of a family that includes children. There have been a number of assaults on that foundation that don’t just come from homosexual activists, but it comes from all sorts of directions. I think the gay marriage thing is the very last battle that’s being fought. Many of the more crucial battles have already been lost, which is why I tend to think the gay marriage battle is ultimately also going to go that way.
Mike: I’ll follow up with this. You had written another post on this about the gay marriage issue about two weeks ago. I’m sure you saw that I had posted a comment, shaking my head going, “Is there any tradition or institution that you people commenting here are willing to conserve?” What is the point of the term conservatism anymore, Daniel? You write for the American Conservative magazine. Is conservatism conserving anything anymore? When Russell Kirk was writing about it or when Grover Cleveland, who may have been the first post-reconstruction conservative standing up for the gold standard, what exactly is it that we are to conserve anymore?
Dan McCarthy: I think there’s always the patrimony of the West to be conserved. Even though political conservatives you often find are republican partisans as opposed to people who actually have a philosophical foundation. Even though political conservatives are often doing a very poor job of conserving anything in this country, I think there’s still a great deal of philosophical life left in the idea of conservatism. It needs to be rediscovered in re-reading people like Edmund Burke or David Hume. It’s really to be found in these classic texts.
I think understanding reality and understanding what it is we’ve lost, as we’ve made this transition from Christendom to modernity, is the first step. Once you understand that, you can think that we are in a very different environment now. In this very new context, how do we preserve the values and the beliefs and the ethics and virtues that are most important to us? That’s a difficult question. I think far too many political conservatives, instead of addressing that question, have said, well, as long as we vote for Republicans, everything will be okay. As long as we pass a few pieces of legislation, we don’t have to worry so much about the spiritual trends that are taking place in our media, in our churches, and in our individual psyches. You have to start with philosophy. You can’t replace philosophy with political power, especially not mass democratic political power.
Mike: Wow. Mark that right there. You can’t replace philosophical with political power. That is exactly what we do, the royal we, or what they do, or what they’re instructed to do by the chattering masses out there. Do this, do that, without ever actually trying to understand the core reason or the underpinning of why you don’t want to lose this. It’s not that it comes down to a vote. It’s that it shouldn’t come down to a vote. When it comes down to a vote, if all you have is a mob saying, “We want this and we want that” and you have a couple little guys with long beards standing around in robes saying, “That’s not the way it should be,” the mob is always going to win. The mob has not explored the philosophical bent. That’s what you find at the American Conservative magazine. That’s why if you’re a conservative, it’s the one you want to be reading.
End Mike Church Show Transcript