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  An American Manifesto
Saturday October 25, 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


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


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


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


 

©2007 Christopher Chantrill