March 18, 2004

Pondering Aloud

One of the things about blogging that naturally occurs is that there are any number of people who know more than us as well as any number who know less.

The problem is that we do not know what we do not know (reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon in which the boss asks for a list of all the unknowns). Not only is there an unequal distribution of correct vision, but there are important things we must make decisions concerning that no one knows, because the Lord hasn't told us. We look through the glass darkly.

But need this be a recipe for paralysis? Should we fail to offer an opinion or vision on the assumption that our opinion or vision may be flawed (absent some private revelation)?

"Ideological Conservatism", "Non-Ideological Liberalism" and Other Oxymorons

Joe Perez says that "spirituality focuses the attention on the inner life, personal growth, and living from the heart and soul rather than simply the head and mouth. It's less ideological and more driven by a psychological and mystical attitude towards life. This is a liberal religious perspective that's not easy to fit into blogging, so there are fewer folks doing so."

But I don't see liberals as more into spirituality than conservatives; there are plenty of interiorly-focused orthodox bloggers who post prayers and religious icons and snippets of sermons and there is nothing more mystical than believing in the Real Presence. It's mystical to believe that Church doctrine is protected from error. And it's not true that liberals aren't ideological; it's as a backlash to their ideologies that conservatives appear ideological. Orthodoxy should be non-ideological since it's supposed to be about what we've received rather than generated ourselves. The fact that conservatives are against ordaining women, for example, isn't ideological but obedience to the Holy See (and the Pope might say that he is restrained by the example Jesus provided, among other things).

Personally, I don't see the great mystery behind the presence of so many conservative blogs. Orthodoxy is the Zeitgeist of the age. If the internet was big in the 1960s, does anyone doubt that St. Blog's would look like a liberal's damp dream? It simply reflects the fact that conservatism and orthodoxy are fashionable now (partially as a result of a backlash to what obviously didn't work in the '60s and '70s).

True conservatism is supposed to be an absence of ideology, something we should strive for even while rarely attaining it. Of politics Tony Blankley wrote, "The concept of radical conservatism ought to seem oxymoronic. Only a generation ago, conservatives could credibly argue that conservatism constituted the absence of ideology. Conservatives used to argue that liberalism (even 19th century non-socialist liberalism) was fatally flawed because it exalted contemporary created ideas over the long-evolving institutional wisdom of our civilization. It is a measure of the success of modern, ideological conservatism that the phrase radical conservatism seems to make sense. And it is a substantial part of The American Conservative's mission to try to yank back the conservative designation from a movement that has morphed from Bill Buckley's Catholic, principled conservatism into a collection of radical ambitions and schemes -- some of which may be vitally needed, but arguably are not conservative."

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