R.R. Reno is editor of FIRST THINGS magazine. His new book is an analysis of American public life. Here is an extract.
“Our country is entering a crisis. The once expansive, confident middle class is dissolving. Economic globalization has eroded the wages of middle-class workers. An ever-cruder mass culture normalizes dysfunctional behavior. People are either winners or losers, and there’s less and less in between.
…It’s a crisis of declining trust and stability, lost solidarity and permanence…A deep sadness comes when we realize, finally that we’re on our own, which is where secular individualism brings us in the end. Many now live without a Father in heaven. Political correctness denies them the patrimony of a workable cultural inheritance. For an increasing number of young people, there’s not even a father at home. A nation of orphans, literal or metaphorical, will not long endure.
…Will we seek to live in accord with the idea of a Christian society, or will we accept the tutelage of a pagan society?…By my reckoning, a false view of freedom as unimpeded choice and self-definition has led to a deregulation of culture more consequential than market deregulation… Today’s progressivism is waging war on the weak. Putting an end to that war is the most important social justice issue of our time.
We need to say, out loud and with confidence, that we’re best off when we live under the authority of the permanence of marriage, accept the duties of patriotism, and affirm the supernatural claims the church makes upon our souls.
….America is full of people who sense the poverty of our postmodern paganism. …And they don’t want to be swallowed by the administrative-therapeutic state, ruled by a remote meritocratic elite. They want their children to seek higher things, the surest way to escape the cult of freedom that makes them servants of today’s materialistic heart gods.
…But America is demoralized right now. Anti-establishment politicians win widespread support. A wave of populism is demolishing longstanding political coalitions. Polls reveal a dwindling of trust in mainstream institutions. Universities are terrorized by political correctness. Secular progressivism rules our culture more by default than because of widespread conviction. What seems like an all-powerful secular consensus actually churns with dissatisfaction.
Which is why, in this time and in this place, a relatively small number of Christians can inspire and reinvigorate the public imaginations of the disoriented majority. We can renew our society by restoring our voices as Christian citizens….Let us therefore take up our political tasks with cheerfulness, even if the odds are against us. We are called to do what we are able, not to succeed. Let’s do our best, trusting in God’s providence and confident in his final victory.”
(R.R. Reno, Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society, Introduction)