Friday, August 18, 2006

Nonreligious Conservatives

Heather MacDonald over at the American Conservative writes about being among the nonreligious minority in the conservative movement. I had planned to answer her myself, but found that Michael Novak over at First Things does it much better. What a nice guy - much nicer than I was planning to be. And smarter.

I thought her objections were so common as to be thoughtless. If she were really worried about the things she claimed to be, there are a thousand places she could go for answers. They might not satisfy, but it would at least bring her objection closer to central issues. Novak saw it differently, treating her objections as honest questions, and identifying a great deal of common ground before trying to give justification to their points of difference.

This is why the Village Idiot is not always the best person to answer difficult questions, much less the Assistant.

There is apparently a longer back-and-forth between Heather and the Corner at NRO. I didn't read it, but it is summarised here at Gene Expression.


Anonymous said...

Novak's piece is excellent on many fronts, especially his contention:"For the difference between Jewish or Christian belief and atheism is so profound that it utterly shifts the axis of one’s personal life. Conversion stories tell us that—in both directions, from belief to atheism, and from atheism to belief." Sadly, we both know a recent real life example in a young man from western NH whose wife and daughters have suffered the consequences of that shift from belief to atheism.

Anonymous said...

There is a prudence in these matters, as Charlotte Allen commented, "Indeed, I have had, from time to time, the fleeting and disconcerting feeling that, like poor old Bridey Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, I might not be the best apologist for the faith..."

Me too.

And as to Novak's Natural Law observations, they are just right. Pretty much everyone longs for natural law, absolutes, order, and values. Just not the kind that interfere with one or another categories of favored behavior. See recent articles on Poincaré and generic Texas "spirituality."