"....Conservatives have traditionally affirmed that social systems should
fit the contours of reality, not patterns cut by abstract ideology...."______________________________If Gerson believes conservatives are
off in wild pursuit of a utopian vision that cuts them loose from their
pragmatic moorings, then who is the voice of the status quo? Has liberalism now
become the new conservatism? I doubt that Michael Gerson would put it that way
but that seems to be the unavoidable implication of what he is arguing.
Tyler D,I agree not all of the writers are superb in the genre but
there are some greats. Also, as you say, it is the ideas - many of which are
very compelling. They explore both the nature of what it is to be human and
what is possible for mankind.I enjoy the short story format. I
think it suits science fiction particularly well. I am not familiar with Ted
Chiang. I may give him a try.Reference Matthew, I think the
misunderstanding of a messiah is on both sides. He incorporates a host of
concepts vs. just one or two. I disagree about the Gospel of Matthew
guaranteeing the inclusion of the OT in the Bible. Early Christianity was an
outgrowth of Judaism. The scriptures referred to and relied upon in our NT were
in the OT.I understand the OT has issues of war, etc. but remember
it is a history as well as scripture. Not all the actors in the history were
perfect (or even good). It was a violent and primitive time, but there are
wonderful lessons and teachings in the OT.
@Twin LightsI hear you about Tolkien (champagne in a genre full of
cheap beer) and the great Sci Fi authors - Asimov (Nightfall) and Clarke (The
Star) at the top of my list too, along with Ted Sturgeon, Poul Anderson and a
short list of others. Mainly read short stories these days… it’s the
ideas I find compelling. If I’m looking or superb writing there are better
genres out there.Speaking of Sci Fi short stories, Ted
Chiang’s collection is the best I’ve seen in years.Vonnegut – yeah, Slaughterhouse Five was mostly wasted on my teenage
brain, but later Cat’s Cradle cemented his greatest in my mind.Fair point about Matthew – but as we both know the Messiah means
something very different to Jews than it does to Christians.Primarily though, it was the Gospel that all but guaranteed the OT would be
part of Christianity, and I think Christianity is worse off for it. With few
exceptions (Psalms) it is an anachronism that should have remained in the Bronze
Age – I think it’s done more harm than good.Always enjoy
Tyler D,My understanding is that Tolkien’s influence on Lewis
was profound. I think that is right about Narnia. The movies I think do them
better justice. The writing seemed toward a relatively young audience.I “blame” Tolkien for ruining my adolescent love of fantasy.
After reading his stuff, everything else was dreck.Agreed Tolkien
did not see LOTR as a religious allegory but there are many religious
“types” and themes nonetheless.I read all the early
Herbert (up to about the fourth novel or so? – and I agree about the
Islamic/Arabic themes). I have tried LeGuin but just never fell in love. I
like Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Heinlein, Adams, and what I have read of Niven.
Never read Card (too late to make my reading list). Vonnegut was beyond my
teenage comprehension (though the Vonnegut scene in Back to School is
amazing).Reference Matthew, I think that his agenda was not to
depict Jesus as “orthodox” but to convince a Jewish audience that he
fit the qualifications of being the Messiah.
@Twin Lights – “BTW, do you know Tolkien was a strong influence on
CS Lewis? It always baffled me that folks thought Tolkien's writings were
anti-christian.”I’ve heard that but didn’t know to
what degree, although I also heard that Tolkien did not like the Narnia books
because of how Lewis portrayed the Jesus character (Aslan?) as a powerful lion.
Tolkien felt that the greatest aspects of Jesus’ example were love,
humility and self-sacrifice, not overt power.You know I’m not
a religious person, but that POV resonates with me much more than the Jesus
depicted in Revelation (i.e., powerful super-being) or even the synoptic gospels
vs. John (although I’ve never been a big fan of Matthew as the author had
a strong agenda to depict Jesus as a new but still orthodox Jew) .But he (Tolkien) also insisted endlessly that LotR was not an
allegory…Speaking of good scifi/fantasy, have you read Herbert
or Le Guin? The Wizard of Earthsea series is very Taoist, and of course Dune
(although depicting an entirely new religion) has lots of Islamic imagery &
overtones, at least politically.
Tyler D,I think you get more usable philosophy out of Tolkien than
Rand. BTW, do you know Tolkien was a strong influence on CS Lewis? It always
baffled me that folks thought Tolkien's writings were anti-christian.UtahBlueDevil,Great comment. Thanks. These folks want
"purity tests" from acolytes, not realism and results.
@Twin LightsThat’s a great (true) quote and a keeper…
thanks!But no worries… I could never tolerate reading such
atrocious writing again. Speaking of which I actually had some respect for Paul
Ryan until I heard that he makes all his interns & staffers read this novel.
From an ideological perspective I get it (even if I disagree with much of it),
but reading Rand is like learning about philosophy by reading Star Wars novels -
for Pete’s sake, at least go with good writers like Adam Smith, Hayek, or
Friedman.@10CC - excellent observations!
Cruz is respected by idealist who believe in a perfectly pure
"conservative" state - not by conservatives. Conservatives
believe that at the end of the day, you have to get something done. You have
to move the ball forward. To use a sports analogy, you play for field position,
so that you can score. Cruz went for it on fourth down from his own 20, and
lost. Sure... the "fans" love the guts of going for it on 4th down,
but when was 4th and 9, and your behind in the points already - Dems scored
presidential office and senate versus republicans house only - to go for it on
4th down.... not a wise move.True conservatives understand that in
the budget, they have a winnable platform. Debt is something everyone
understands. But these side shows that Lee and Cruz are performing....
absolutely turns off any swing votes. I was a conservative - still feel I am -
but I am not the kind of conservative Lee and Cruz are. I believe in results.
I believe in winning moral and ethical battles. I don't
believe histrionics proves any level or patriotism or commitment to country.
Tyler D,Your point about the pendulum is irrefutable. Eventually,
it will certainly swing. But please, don't break out your Ayn Rand novels.
Krugman is still correct:"There are two novels that can change a
bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas
Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession
with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially
crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course,
involves orcs."I don't always agree with Krugman, but he
nailed this one.
Based on what we've seen out of the Tea Party folks to this point,
they'd rather be valiant and lose, than pragmatic and make progress.These are basically the descendants of the "Remember the Alamo!"
mindset. It doesn't matter if you lose, as long as you fought hard and
your cause was just.It's similar to the mindset of the
Serbians, whose unifying accomplishment they bring up over & over again was
a humiliating defeat in the year 11th century. There is a pathology
in glorifying defeat, it tends to make people even more radical, far less likely
to compromise, certainly no compromise for "the greater good", which is
seen as an evil, in itself."Live Free or Die". Except if
your vision of freedom means companies can spew as much pollution as they want
in the pursuit of profits, everyone else will think you're unhinged from
reality.Patrick Henry is the hero of Tea Partiers, but they neglect
to tell you Patrick Henry was vehemently opposed to the US Constitution, the
same document Tea Partiers hold as being divinely inspired.It all
makes sense, in a way.
Happy2bhere:What you call socialism and anticapitalism would be
considered in Europe a very conservative brand of economics. But what will ruin
America is what is already ruining it: rapidly increasing inequality and the
name calling and fear-mongering on the right in an effort to prevent us from
even addressing this problem. Unfortunately, the only solution both parties see
is taxation. But the problem runs deeper. The corporate system we've
allowed to develop over the past 150 years has a dual pay system: one that pays
a small group of owners and executives as much as possible and another that pays
the workers who actually create the wealth as little as possible. The system is
rigged so that as much wealth as possible goes to a small group at the top. But
this is a suicidal system. It restricts demand by impoverishing the consumer
classes, which in turn prevents the so-called job creators from creating jobs.
Supply-side economics, in other words, really is voodoo economics. If we want to
solve this problem, we need to redistribute ownership, not just income through
Cruz IS highly respected by conservatives and hated by liberals. What else is
new. As for the clueless masses who don't know the difference between a
senator vs a house member ...well ... who cares about them anyway. The clueless
"hand out" masses are going to vote for Barack no matter what BECAUSE
they get free gravy and that is all that matters to them. The John McCains of
the world have burned their bridge with conservatives for good. I still think
independent voters are going to HATE Obamacare so much that voting for a
democrat will be like sticking their hand in red hot oil.
happy2bhere, the 17 trillion dollar deficit is a result of slow economic growth
resulting from over a decade of bogus conservative principles stripping America
of it's value driven wealth producing economy. The deficit is not the
cause of the slow growth. You all have it exactly backwards once again. As many
have said before here, until you get it right (and reality does provide for
valued true conservative principles) you won't succeed.
Kent C.The socialism and anti capitalism is what will ruin the
American standard of living and the American Dream. And today Obama and many
Democrats are believing that is the best way to go. Running up a 17 trillion
dollar debt is nation abuse. And all of you need to get a little historical
perspective. Conservative principles (whether religious or political) have and
will work for all of time. History has shown in the 20th century that left wing
political systems fail completely, and or fail to provide the people with what
capitalism has in America. And right now this country is moving farther and
farther left. Secularism and socialism. Won't work.
Au contraire, Mr Spin-meister of the Washington Post; the common men that you
contemn, along with their champions, knows more than you. Their instincts are
right on. End the defeatism. We can certainly win, not because of
magic thinking, but, because we never, never,never give up, the way H Reid and
his supporters think they will win in fact. The tenacity and beliefs of the Old
Guard Republicans, if they ever had any, is lacking so they will not do it. The
new men may very well do it though. People, including some teetering Democrats I
suspect, see in Ted Cruz the unconquerable spirit that is needed in this
fight.If partisan Democrats really believed Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and
the Tea Party movement are doomed to fail they would not be spinning so many
articles on the subject, would not be thronging forums every day to oppose such
men, if they did not know they are likely to win.Cruz supporters
might well say with a man they rarely admire, on this subject at least:There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear not; carry on and
carry the day.
Started to comment on this and then saw that Twin Lights expressed my views
better than I could have. It has been a strange thing to go from a
(first time) Reagan voter to a place in the 90’s where it looked like we
had achieved a good balance between the (fiscally conservative) Republicans and
the (compassionate) Democrats – when pragmatism ruled the day, the decade
boomed and budgets were balanced (not a perfect utopia, but relatively
pleasant).Then throughout the 2000’s I watched as the
right-moving pendulum kept swinging past the center and further & further to
the Right. Where ideology replaced pragmatism, budget deficits exploded, wars
were fought in the name of “freedom,” and the economics gains seemed
to increasingly be had only by the 1%.Hopefully the pendulum has
gone as far right as it can go before it swings back the other direction,
although if in 10-20 years it blows right on through the center again and keeps
swinging Left, I may have to break out my Ayn Rand novels again.Hope
I’ll be spared that calamity, both for pragmatism and literature’s
If conservatives were once connected to reality, that day has long expired. What
we are seeing with the abject nonsense spewing forth from right-wing media and
politicians elected in gerrymandered districts where they have only disconnected
fanatics to please is as far from reality as a Disney cartoon. The tea party is
the most dangerous form of political irrationality we have seen in a hundred
years. And Utah is a major part of this problem. I get the feeling that many of
the conservative letters and comments printed in this paper and on its website
have a first-grade understanding of a very complex economic situation in
America, and the DesNews seems all too willing to promote this abandonment of
reason. I'm ashamed for the church that owns this paper.
The liberal/socialist machine is about to mow this country over, so it
isn't political realism to oppose it. Conservatives should get real about
Twin Lights, I'm going to guess that your youth was a time when America was
"becoming" more diverse. When the gay guy was that kid in your class
who talked funny, not the two guys who live next door to you now. I also
presume that it was a time when a lot of your middle class friends had fathers
who worked blue collar jobs while mom stayed home with the five kids. The problem with modern day conservatism reflecting reality is that they still
think this is what "America" is. Not literally but ideally. However,
it's not and never will be again. Too many reasons why this isn't
true to list in 200 words but, until they realize what America has become and
what are circumstances really are they will never reflect reality again
I can tell you one thing, for Mr. Gerson to cite Reagan was foolish. The vast
majority of Democrats at the time thought the same about Reagan as they do the
T-Party today. Even a lot of members of Reagans Republican Party did too.
Reagan was not the mainstream Republican of his day. He was the outsider with
no chance to be successful. Amazing to watch history repeat itself.
Mr. Gerson summarizes well my own thoughts and expresses them better than I ever
could have. As a young voter I joined the Republican Party specifically because
I saw it as the party of reason.Of late, the "apocalyptic
language and utopian hopes" with "patterns cut by abstract ideology"
have left me breathless. I tire of the constant hyperbole and bombast, the
promotion of utopian visions that have no place in a constitutional republic,
and the reliance on the "methods of Peter Pan: 'If you believe, clap
your hands.'".Like Mr. Buckley, I too had believed that
conservatism and the Republican Party generally represented "the politics of
reality and that reality ultimately asserts itself, in a reasonably free
society, in behalf of the conservative position."Now, I find
myself in despair. Waiting for leadership that has a realizable plan and a
pragmatic vision to move us forward.