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 Harpers 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 worlds 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 sons writing and thinking are a project to understand the drama of the fathers life journey.
Natural Religion represents the latest in Turners 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 Harpers 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 Shakespeares 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 cant 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. Here´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).
[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.
[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 Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, 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
[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
[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
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
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
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
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
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