LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Secular conservatism an empty suit

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In the aftermath of this year’s elections, there appear to be heightening concern and discussion about the cultural transformation under way in the country. Conservatives flail about, wondering how this can all be reversed so conservative principles might be broadly understood and applied. However, there seems to be something of a chicken-or-egg conundrum. If conservatism itself can’t transform the culture, how is the transformation to be realized?

There are very few commentators who will even attempt to discuss our cultural crisis comprehensively in theological terms, thinking that would limit the discussion and be polarizing. This may be true, but the endpoint of all serious discussions must center on faith. Denying or ignoring this fact means we never resolve any argument with the truth. We can all talk endlessly about the excellence of conservative principles, but without the help of faith, it will in the end prove to be nothing but talk.

It must be clearly understood that leftism is, after all, a form of religion. Its beliefs and tenets appeal naturally and delightfully to all the base and self-glorifying tendencies of human beings. Conservatism cannot possibly defeat this with a simple set of empirical propositions. It is a fundamental aspect of human nature that people are religious beings. If pragmatic self-actualization, economic self-interest or some similar formulation is represented as the core of conservatism, it will be impotent. Secular, nontheological conservatism is an empty suit. It will not command deep loyalty without a real and far more profound supporting faith.

Many conservatives seem to think that some simple adherence to the Constitution will save us. Do conservatives understand that the Constitution could not have been written outside of a Christian context? Many churches in our day seem content to be practically doctrine-free entities. They concern themselves mainly with appearing to provide people with golden tickets to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in the sky when they die.

If secular conservatives and libertarians think they can transform a culture with principles and morality detached from faith, or with the tasteless gruel of intellectual policy positions, they will never capture the hearts of men.

TODD LEWIS

Montross, Va.

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