Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Did George W. Bush change my life?
One might think so if one compares my old Web pages (some of which I have ‘put down’) to this blog but the change, the maturation, was well under way before the 11th September 2001 thanks to old friend Mike Russell who as far back as 15 years ago introduced me to authentic conservative principles (‘neither the sickle nor the swastika’) and, though he is not a libertarian, first sent me a link to LRC which did for me as I did in turn for Joshua Snyder: it showed me that Catholicism and libertarianism are compatible.

So when establishment conservatives stopped giving lip service to these principles (simply trying to undermine Bill Clinton it turned out) and turned into open statists and imperialists (which they really were all along) I didn’t go along.

When I realised the commotion in New York wasn’t from a Cessna hitting the World Trade Center by mistake the first thing I thought was ‘so part of the world doesn’t love the American empire — not surprising’. LRC had prepped me well.

Essentially I was growing out of the culture-wars conservative activism of the Protestant and RC religious right (using anti-abortion activism as a substitute for religious identity for example), the stuff by which such voters got played by Karl Rove (politics of fear: ‘fear the queers, fear the feminists’ and so on*), and rediscovering the tolerant conservatism rooted in custom and rule of law, not the state or force, I learnt from quiet example in my Anglican youth. (One of the ironies in my life is at the same time those churches are falling apart — and both their liberal and conservative factions are moving away from the Catholic faith — I’ve found answers and peace by getting reacquainted with my own tradition. My version of mid-life I suppose. Anyway those expressions of the Catholic faith are worth saving.) And I came to appreciate the Christian pessimism (which like Burke rules out the utopianism/messianism of the moralistic religious right and left: trying to establish ‘the kingdom’ on earth is foolhardy) and seeming non-activism of conservative Eastern Orthodox on these issues, something I used to think cowardly. Marching against abortion or the war changes nothing. Go to Mass, pray your office, do your devotions, practise charity in your own life (and at the same time mind your own business) and stay in the state of grace. Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand will be converted as St Seraphim of Sarov is often translated as saying. That said some activism is called for and even useful as I hope this blog is to you.

You can say he did change my life in one way: I stopped being a Republican by default to vote in Pennsylvania’s primaries and since 2004 have belonged to the Libertarian Party. (All such memberships and alliances, unlike being a churchman, are provisional.)

Mr Bush and his minders only highlighted (in fluorescent yellow) a point I’d already begun to learn.
O put not your trust in princes, nor any other child of man : for there is no help in them.
— Psalm 146

*Opposed to a lesson my old rector gave me in Confession from Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?

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