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  An American Manifesto
Monday April 21, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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Frederick Turner

by Christopher Chantrill
October 1, 2006

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy. 

Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values

In 1984, in one of the last articles published in Harper’s that was neither angry or crabbed, English professor Frederick Turner wrote in “Escape from Modernism” that we had entered a new era, a union of art and techne in which the picture had become the machine.  It was part of his quest that began with an attempt to imagine a new culture of hope that escaped the death spiral of leftism and postmodernism. It culminates with his Natural Religion that proposes the radical question: What if all the world’s religions are true? What would that mean?

Frederick Turner is the son of British anthropologist Victor Turner, who went out to Africa a left-wing atheist and returned a practicing Catholic. You could say that the son’s writing and thinking are a project to understand the drama of the father’s life journey.

Natural Religion represents the latest in Turner’s writing, a culmination of a lifetime of thinking and writing.  In Natural Classicism, Turner conducted an examination of the interconnectedness of nature and human endeavor. Natural Classicism includes an expanded version of his Harper’s article “Escape from Modernism.”  In Beauty: The Value of Values, he developed a new theory of aesthetics based on the argument that beauty is an objective reality in the universe, a pancultural, neurobiological phenomenon.  In Rebirth of Value: Meditations on Beauty, Ecology, Religion, and Education, Turner prophesied a recovery of pan-cultural human nature, beauty as a real evolutionary tendency, the efficacy and reality of values in general, the reunion of the arts, sciences, and technology, a new science including non-linear and self-organizing systems, and a broader understanding of causality.  These themes came together in The Culture of Hope: A New Birth of the Classical Spirit when Turner developed a new aesthetic synthesis arising from the unexpected convergence of religion, art, and science will restore a hopeful vision of the cosmos as intelligent, creative, and self-ordering, providing the basis for the recovery of classical values in the arts.  In Shakespeare’s Twenty-first Century Economics: The Morality of Love and Money he demonstrated that the world of business is not as hard-headed and impersonal as we like to think.  Personal bonds and hard-headed business transactions need not occupy separate worlds; we forget at our peril that a nation is also a commonwealth.  Capitalism can’t work if everyone demands their pound of flesh according to their bond.  The quality of mercy is not strained...

Fred Turner writes regularly for TCSDaily.com. HereĀ“s a speech given by Fred at the Philadelphia Society. You can get a more personal introduction at the website created by his son Ben (here), including a brief biography (here).

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

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 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


 

©2007 Christopher Chantrill