Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is Weigel throwing in the towel, admitting failure?

Just received the following email from a reader:
If you read Weigel's latest piece in First Things it sounds like an admission of failure about the magazine's mission.

Which is good because I cancelled my subscription the day after reading it.
Here's the piece he is referring to: George Weigel, "Fighting on New Terrain" (First Things, August/September, 2013). The entire article is well-worth reading and quite telling; but here are a few excerpts setting the stage:
The American Founders built “better than they knew” (as the U.S. bishops once put it in the late nineteenth century). That is, they created an admirable structure of democratic self-government, but the theoretical or philosophical foundation on which they built that structure was inadequate, being cannibalized from fragments of Christian patrimony tarted up in (Scottish and English) Enlightenment fancy dress.

That foundation “held” for a long time, thanks to the culture-forming capacities of a mainline Protestantism that, whatever its other faults, nevertheless inculcated a public ethic capable of sustaining American democracy. The last great moment of appeal to that mainline-informed public ethic was the civil-rights movement in its classic phase. But even then the mainline had become the oldline and was on its way to being the sideline. Murray had seen this coming in the 1950s and suggested that the Catholic community, still in possession of those religiously informed natural law truths that were the distillate at the foundation of the American experiment, might move into the vacuum created by the mainline meltdown and become the “lead” community (as RJN [Richard John Neuhaus] put it in The Catholic Moment) in both proclaiming the Gospel and securing the moral-cultural foundations of American democracy.

Thus RJN, and many of the rest of us, implicitly accepted Francis Canavan’s defense of Murray and his criticism of the David Schindler/Communio/“Ill-Founded Republic” critique of the American experiment. The Founders were doing politics, not theology, and in any event the job of formulating and sustaining a public philosophy (which, given American religiosity, had to be “religiously informed”) was the job of a robust civil society, not of government. (This was also, and obviously, a critique of functionalist approaches to the theory of democracy, but that need not detain us here.)

The RJN variant, if you will, on the Murray ­Proposal was that this new shoring up, this new delineation of a “religiously informed public philosophy for the American experiment in ordered liberty,” would be ecumenical and interreligious in ­character: thus the unique fellowship of the First Things com­munity and the distinctive style and range of the magazine.... Read more >>
[Hat tip to G.M.]


JFM said...

Also telling: not a single mention of Pope Francis?! And that from Weigel?... Holy cow.

Kevin Tierney said...

I called it Weigel "tapping out" on my facebook page. Maybe a bit of hyperbole, but I think this might be the start of a different emphasis for Weigel.

Now I wonder what "Evangelical Catholicism" will do, considering the political undertones that project had.

I am not Spartacus said...

The founders were doing politics not theology...

Wrong on two counts. Their politics derived from their theology which was Calvinistic and which rejected Jesus as King and which was opposed to the Catholic Church and their Calvinistic protestantism was suffused with Judaising heresies to the point where they thought they could establish Heaven on earth - thus, the city on the hill ideology.

Of course this sort of politics is in direct opposition to Catholic Doctrine and so I am disgusted by Mr Weigel's constant defense of the heresy of Americanism.

He is too intelligent and well read not to know about the encyclicals of Pope Leo XII and so of what value is it to read one so intellectually duplicitous?

I know he is being dishonest and I know he knows he is being dishonest on this point; shameful

Pertinacious Papist said...


Maybe the Weigel's next recension will be "Emergent Church Catholicism." =)

Pertinacious Papist said...

" ... I know he knows he is being dishonest ..."

Isn't that maddening. One of my friends recently met him at a big to-do in the Capital. When I asked him what George Weigel was like, my friend replied, with a laugh, "He thinks that everything he has to say is very important. He has an extremely inflated sense of his own importance."

It's like a pathology, I suppose.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Hmm, a new pope -- the first from South America -- is elected in March 2013. Five months later, the eminent gentleman-scribbler of the upper crust block of neo-Cath Grub Street ponders a question from a rancher feller way out in the tall grass, and is moved to the conclusion that los estados unidos may indeed be Satan gordo grande. Hark! T’is the Dance of the Satraps, traipsing through another ceremonial Chinese firedrill.

Who believes that FT was ever anything more than a prestigious (because adequately funded) resume-fattening service for on-the-make academics? Who believes that RJN was much more than a guy who really enjoyed being the editor of a prestigious academic journal, and the honored attendee of really swanky cocktail parties at which important people pretended to pay rapt attention to his portentous patter? Who believes that ANY of it was EVER about the edification of a presumptively religiously informed public square?

Well those are really nice things to have wished for. Personally, I didn’t buy it from RJN then, and I’m not about to buy it from Weigel now. To me, this is about Prince George realizing a little faster than the rest of his deliberative colleagues that Neo-Cath Neo-Con Yankee Doodle Catholicism won’t cut it with the New Guy: time to re-program the grovel-o-matic supplication device. What will be next for Our Boy? Maybe the definitive biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

When white smoke from the chimney rises,
And Dick the journalist blows his nail,
And Trads brace themselves withal,
For bad news shrieks within the gale,
When blood is curdled and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
E-vange, an absurd note,
While greasy George doth keel the pot.

Pertinacious Papist said...

A POET!! LOVE it!! ;)