Friday, October 09, 2009

George Weigel: Crunchy Con

A few quotes from Letters to a Young Catholic, sent to me by a percipient plumbliner. First, here's Weigel on communities:
We ought to reconsider the "communitarian individual," in my friend Michael Novak's neat formulation. Yes, we're individuals who have ideas, create things, and enjoy inherent "rights." But none of that means much of anything without vibrant communities, whether that be family or professional group or guild... For an individual to grow into a truly human maturity requires a sense of responsibility for others, a commitment to working with others in society, and a sense of social solidarity. That's the "communitarian individual." A society that absolutizes the common ends up crushing individual creativity and initiative. A society that absolutizes the individual will, sooner or later, comes apart at the seams."
And on the necessity of culture:
Beauty prepares us for, even as it anticipates, life in the kingdom, life with God forever. As Hans Urs von Balthasar once wrote, the more we know and love and understand a great work of art, the more we recognize that we can't, in the final analysis, 'grasp' its genius. That's why we never "outgrow" a beloved work of art. And that inexhaustibility prepares us to "contemplate God in the beatific vision, [when] we will see that God is forever the ever-greater." ...Beauty is something that even the most skeptical moderns can know...
He even throws in a word for the Princeton Chapel, noting how its "Gothic beauty... played a considerable role in breaking [one student] free of the rationalistic atheism he had adopted as a teenager..."

Weigel may not mention slow food or the transect; still, such passages from a traditional neocon could prove unsettling to a new generation of conservatives who were supposed to have pioneered such emphases. Accordingly, keep it secret, keep it safe.