Short Review of Reno’s "Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society"
“Lucky is the man who does not secretly believe that every possibility is open to him.” -- Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
If it seems to you that secular progressivism occupies the throne of history like Smaug triumphantly slumbering on a bed of other people’s gold, then Reno’s book is intended to show you the “bare patch in the old Worm’s diamond waistcoat.” [Old? Obergefell was just decided last year. —ed. (A tribute to the “non-existent editor” of Mickey Kaus. If only everyone had read his The End of Equality in 1995!) It’s called “accelerating change.” If you’re attentive to progressivism’s rate of improvement, you’ll understand that the fundamental right to same-sex “marriage” is already older and better established than a centuries-old dragon that has spent 150 years as King-Under-the-Mountain.] “What looks like an invincible establishment is,” according to Reno, “vulnerable, very vulnerable.”
The vulnerability is the increasingly undeniable fact that America is, in the words of Charles Murray, “coming apart.” In its successful pursuit of the American “dream of freedom”—“nobody’s destiny is fixed at birth; the future is ours to make”—the American branch of what Walter Russell Mead calls the Davoisie has destined the poor and working classes to lives of “dysfunction, disorder, and disarray,” most especially by denying them, through its enforcement of “nonjudgmentalism,” the “culture-shaping power of traditional forms of social authority.”
Christianity once more has the opportunity to be persuasive in the midst of this disorder. That’s pretty much all there is to it. (That’s not a criticism.)
The best paragraph from the book:
In fact, freedom’s need for authority is so great and so fundamental that without it we suffer some of our most painful experiences of limitation. I might have been drafted into the army or debilitated by a several illness. Either situation would have impeded my efforts to be a good father. Yet, when I look back on my life, I find myself regretting the inconstancy and conflicted desires that led me to spend my time on things that seemed more important than my children. The impediments thrown up by my undisciplined, disordered soul bring the deepest regrets. So when I hear someone say, “Be true to yourself!” I shake my head. It’s bad counsel. I have failed precisely insofar as I have been loyal to myself. As a father, I needed to be delivered from my weaknesses, not encouraged to obey them. That’s possible only if a voice of command comes from the outside. To be free to achieve our most cherished goals we need authorities we can trust, assent to, and make our own.