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  An American Manifesto
Wednesday April 16, 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


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


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


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


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


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


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


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


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


 

©2007 Christopher Chantrill