If You Want Out of the Conversation You’ll Need a Better Excuse

If the New York Times is correct the Left has already reached a verdict on the conversation. Here I still am trying to sort out what to talk about next, a difficult thing to do when there are so many possibilities, and it’s taken these worthies about two years to decide that this conversation is not worth having! I guess I forgot for a moment that the Left is permanently locked with the Right in The-Most-Banal-Party-contest.

I assume the female ordination thing is just an excuse. After all, it’s not as if the Left has any intention of inviting women into its own priesthood. The sad truth is that the leading lights of both parties stopped thinking a long time ago. Worse, they apparently assume the rest of us have stopped thinking too. Maybe the Left is afraid that If they were to actually engage in dialogue everyone would find out they haven’t anything to say.

The excuse of female ordination is doubly ridiculous in my view because it ignores the real kicker in the conversation with the Church—the secretive policy of Catholic hospitals regarding their pregnant patients. In my opinion this will eventually have to be dealt with but it hasn’t changed my mind about the importance of the Christian viewpoint to the conversation.

While I’m on the subject of politics it seems that the Right would also like to end the conversation. If certain people have their way there will be war with Russia. There is no excuse for Americans to be contemplating such a thing. For that matter, there was no excuse for the Cold War. It was concocted from the recommendations of George Kennan by a hysterical press and the ‘thinkers’ of RAND Corporation, whose enormous brains worked their magic at the behest of the Air Force. Unfortunately Kennan tried but never succeeded in living down his famous ‘X Article’ in which he said ominous things about the Soviet Union. However, when he talked about containment he thought he was recommending the political containment of a political threat, not some ‘doctrine’ of perpetual military containment. More importantly, he thought containment should apply to the Americans as well.

Kennan expressed concern about the ascendance in the United States of an ‘idealistic and pretentious lack of genuine foreign policy’ that focused on the American Dream—in other words, on appearances—and he thought the U.S. must put its own house in order first.

Kennan argued that the Soviets were part of an historical tradition of the Third Rome, which although it is a rival religion, is still Byzantine. On the other hand, he could already see similar totalitarian tendencies at work in the United States. The Americans had taken up a form of existence that does not recognize limits, a result of unconditional acceptance of the logic of the marketplace, and this had led to the loss of a sense of what should not be done.

So instead of a political containment lasting for 10-15 years the doctrine was transformed into an ‘indestructible myth’:

“There emerged one of those great forbidding apparitions to the credence in which mass opinion is so easily swayed: a monster devoid of all humanity and of all rational motive, at once the embodiment and the caricature of evil, devoid of internal conflicts and problems of its own, intent only on bringing senseless destruction to the lives and hopes of others.”

The symptoms of our decay go beyond politics. They include ‘overpopulation, urbanization, hyper-intensity of communication, and destruction of the environment’. However, for Kennan the nuclear arms race was the clearest indication of spiritual decline. It was a ‘spiritual and philosophical derangement of the last order’, a madness, a death wish, a lack of faith, ‘wrong in the good old-fashioned meaning of the word.((Rossbach, Stefan, GNOSTIC WARS: The Cold War in the Context of a History of Western Spirituality, Edinburgh University Press, 1999))

I can only imagine what he would say about America’s current dealings with the Russians. We need a change of direction. We need to talk.

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