Friday, October 07, 2005

Neuhaus' American Babylon

Hate to admit it, but I can't think of too many people I would rather have met last night than Richard John Neuhaus.

He gave an over one hour long address at the CTI, followed by an equally stirring question and answer session that was a talk in itself - and then was personally convivial enough to engage a dreadlocked grad student's introduction of himself as if I was important. What's with this guy?

Neuhaus' talk, American Babylon, will I'm sure be appearing in F.T. soon enough, but a brief preview: There are those who see America as God's providential tool, those who see America as the unequivocal obstacle to God's providence, even those who attempt to go ahead and replace God with America - and each (especially the second) are being quintessentially American.

Of the dozens of thinkers that were reflected upon in the essay, John Courtney Murray emerged as the hero, a Catholic whose thought on America exhibit his prior allegiance to the visible Church, thus enabling him to firmly prioritize the theological ultimate over the political penultimate. Those with such indissoluble prior commitments to God before America then may have to catch the fallen flag of the novus ordo saeculorum - fallen due to deficient views that made too much, or too little, what America actually is.

UPDATE: For anyone interested in seeing Neuhaus speak on a very similar topic, scroll down a bit to the last lecture of the How Naked A Public Square? conference here.