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what Esau bought with his birthright

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 03, 2005

"The weakness of all utopias," said G.K. Chesterton, "is this: that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones." Kenneth Minogue asks whether the loss of the sense of sin has resulted in a shift of moral responsibility to the Collective in ways that are impossible to fulfill:

Could it be that our very greed for social perfection has destroyed our grip on the real moorings of human life? Perhaps our sentimental addiction to the superficialities of social perfection has eroded our capacity for the hard and demanding work of moral integrity. Certainly, tolerance and benevolence are often shallow virtues. But it may well be that this personal loss of integrity merely reflects a similar collapse of integrity in the institutions of civil society as they respond to the sickly embrace of government and of projects of social perfection.

Rod Dreher points to a passage in Robert Inchausti's Subversive Orthodoxy arguing that utopian statists -- a class that includes almost all the influential persons in our contemporary lives -- are separated from the Christian vision of man by an unbridgeable chasm:

The point that many moderns fail to grasp about Christian thinkers is that they have very little interest in changing the world. They seek merely to see things clearly in the light of God's hidden logic. And if, by so doing, they expose the narcissism of their contemporaries, the false agendas of their leaders, and the didactic pornography of their artists and entertainers -- well, that is all to the good. But unlike their more utilitarian peers, they desire to live in the truth even more than they desire to be effective in the world, and this puts them on the far side of a very important and a very deep intellectual divide: it puts them in the camp of the stoic poor, the moral outcasts, and the political and literary pariahs.

Inchausti articulates an important truth, and one we do well to remember when, e.g., power-hungry sentimentalists of the Make Poverty History school ask us to forfeit the moral absolutes of our Catholic faith in exchange for the promise of a secular utopia.

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  • Posted by: Fr. William - Sep. 04, 2005 7:45 PM ET USA

    You're right on again, as usual, Diogenes. Let's make sure our bishops realize this, too, especially the cardinal in Los Angeles and the ones in D.C., Baltimore & N.Y.... I do know that the cardinals in Chicago, Philadephia and Detroit are with the Church, thanks be to God...

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