Western man can only be saved by true Christianity
The below was drafted May 24, 2006, six years ago today, but had not been posted. I just came upon it an hour ago. I’ve fixed it up a bit and here it is.
Recently Sen. McCain extolled the “fresh blood and culture” of Hispanic immigrants. Yet last fall he said that the historic American nation based on “common race or culture” must be replaced by a universal idea of liberty. In trying to explain this apparent contradiction, Jim Kalb in a comment at VFR said that white people have a Cartesian or liberal self, a self which just has experiences and makes choices, but has no qualities and so is abstract; while nonwhites have a concrete vital self, and so the whites make themselves into nothing, even as they welcome and celebrate the racial self of the nonwhites. It occurs to me that this liberal self of which Mr. Kalb speaks is functionally the same as the modern Christian self.
Modern—i.e. liberal—Christianity has misinterpreted Christianity or life in Christ as meaning a complete loss of self and of concern for self—resulting, at the national and international level, in the idea that the “strong nations must accommodate the weaker nations, must be generous toward migrants,” as the American and Mexican bishops declared and as Mary Ann Glendon approvingly cited. So this liberal type of Christianity comes to mean a complete giving away of one’s self combined with the empowerment of other and alien selves.
Thus the abstract, Cartesian, liberal self that Mr. Kalb described, and the liberal Christian self, end up in exactly the same place; with no self, deliberately committing suicide in the name of compassion, tolerance, generosity, and a belief in the greater vitality and worthiness of other peoples.
What then is the solution? Both the liberals and the liberal Christians need to discover true Christianity, the true relationship with Christ, which does not involve the complete abnegation of our self, but the harmonization of our self with Christ and thus the discovery and unfolding of our true, human self, which can only be realized in relationship with Christ. True Christianity does not mean the abandonment and sacrifice and destruction of our individual or national self (which is the way John Paul II came to see it, saying that Western nations must treat their policy toward immigrants as the “way of the Cross”); it means the bringing of our self into its true harmony with God, and thus into its own true order, efficacy, and creativity. We are not living in the first generation of Christianity, when the Christians thought that Jesus was returning imminently and the world would be literally changed into a different world. No, we are living in the world of Augustine, in a worldly world that continues existing, and therefore life in Christ, while it is different from ordinary worldly life in and of itself, is something that nevertheless must be in conformity with ordinary, continuing life in this world, with everything that that implies, including the ordinary proper functioning of man, which in turn includes the continuing well being of the life of nations.
Such a relationship between our ordinary human self and Christ, in which the self is not destroyed but finds its true, Christ-centered order and freedom, is described over and over in the Gospels, particularly in the Gospel of John and the First Letter of John. “Abide in me, and I in you.” “God gave his only begotten Son, that men might live through him.” “I always do those things that please him.” In each of these descriptions and many more, the self is not destroyed, but rather finds its true being and direction and fulfillment.
Leo Strauss, expounding Plato, spoke of the “constitution of being,” which he defined as the order of man’s natural wants and needs. But Strauss left out two key aspects of the constitution of (human) being. He left out the cultural part of the constitution of being, meaning that one of man’s natural needs is the need to live in a coherent and functioning culture (as I explained in my article, “The Immigration Policy that Might Have Been,” American Renaissance, Nov. 1991). And he left out the spiritual part of the constitution of being, meaning that one of man’s natural needs is God and Christ. Without the cultural part of the constitution of being, men are the abstract Cartesian men Mr. Kalb described. Without God and Christ, man is fundamentally incomplete, fragmented, and confused, always acting from a small part of his self that is narrowly concerned with its own interests, desires, and fears instead of a large self which is in harmony with God and thus able to act effectively for its true interests, without at the same time losing sight of its ordinary worldly needs.
The Medieval Church understood this harmony or hierarchical relationship of the worldly self and Christ (think of the Carolingians joining war, politics, and culture with Christianity). The modern, liberal Church has forgotten and discarded it altogether, so that Christianity stands for non-being, stands for nothing except being a soft, weak nonentity whose only function is to be generous and accommodating toward the Other.
A re-discovery of Christianity properly understood, which brings us back to our true selves,—and our truly efficacious selves—both on the individual and the civilizational level—can literally save Western man, and save the West.
In response to today’s post about the liberals’ negation of the self, here is a quote from Rev. John MacArthur about protecting one’s family:LA writes:
Here’s an essay by “Roland Shirk” at Jihad Watch about Christianity and self-defense. I read it when it was published in April 2011 and don’t remember it now, but I made a note that it was a good essay.May 26
Paul Henry writes:
The clearest example of a Christian duty to defend the faith by physical force is Jesus overturning the tables of the moneylenders in the temple. Instead of walking out, Christians should have stood up and challenged Dan Savage during his attack on Christians in the famous bullying speech he gave in the last thirty days. That would have shut him down. To shout him down, though tempting, would have breached our freedom of speech; challenging him would have befuddled him.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 24, 2012 06:05 PM | Send