The Funniest Monty Python Bit (?)
Sohrab Ahmari: Through Fire By Water

Johnny Tremain

I thought we had discussed this book here once, although I have not read it, but I can't find any mention of it. Anyway, here is an interesting discussion of it by Francesca Murphy at Public Discourse. She says it is

a liminal secular-religious book. It is on the border between the two, broad enough on both sides to pose a challenge in either direction. It challenges its secular readers to have a deep enough conception of the secular to encompass dying for the sake of freedom. It challenges its religious readers to deepen their pieties sufficiently to encompass the aspiration for freedom that is written in the human frame.

Well, I don't know about that, obviously, since I haven't read it. But apart from the identity of the author, this strikes me as an interesting indirect comment on the argument that's been going on among conservatives for a while now: is the liberal (and effectively secular) tradition a good thing or a bad thing, especially as it relates to religion? And in either case what are its prospects? 


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I think only religious people can save secularity now

Interesting observation! I’m inclined to agree.

The political writer Hugh Heclo wrote that while Christianity has been good for democracy in the U.S., democracy hasn't been very good for Christianity. I think that's true, and that it's likely to get worse.

Never read Johnny Tremain, although I remember its being an option on a booklist when I was in 6th grade. I chose something else on the list but I don't remember what.

"likely to get worse" indeed. As that Walker Percy character says, the outlook is not so good. That's partly an effect of a sort of redefinition of democracy that makes it functionally pretty similar to socialism.

I think people like Deneen have a pretty good case that there is a fundamental problem with liberalism. But then you can say of almost any system that it contains the seeds of its own destruction.

Sorry I cant bite. Ive got term starting tomorrow

It wasn’t bait. -) just thinking out loud.

I read Remi Brague's The Kingdom of Man a few months back and he makes a similar case to that of Deneen, but looks at the idea of human autonomy further back. Valuable book, in that it's loaded with quotations -- he lets a lot of the thinkers he examines speak for themselves as to what they were about.

I tend to think Deneen (et al) is right about the fatal flaw of liberalism. But more and more I'm also inclined to think that every political arrangement has a fatal flaw, so in that sense liberalism is doomed. The flaw is certainly showing itself now, but the actual fatality may not occur now. Some degree of recovered stability may occur. Though the patient is looking extremely unwell. I think the immediate reason for that is not so much the fatal flaw itself but the abandonment of the principles by those who should be its guardians.

Yes, I agree. I think that political liberalism is rooted in a faulty philosophy, one that gets both God and man wrong, so that its political vulnerabilities are in some sense inevitable. But that doesn't mean that the goods of liberalism are all worthless, or that the inevitability of its demise means that it's necessarily imminent. Certain aspects of it currently seem more in danger than others.

Some flaws are more fatal than others. Liberalism’s is pretty subtle compared to many others.

Very true.

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