Tag: ROD DREHER

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My mom was a nurse for sixty (60) years. During our weekly talks she asks me about my physical health: exercise, diet, doctor visits, and these days, vaccination. Her concern for my safety is also triggered by my writing. If I put something out on social media that causes a cultural “stir” mom will inquire […]

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TurleyVision 1999: Impeachment as a Madisonian Device

 

My dear spouse occasionally forwards me the legal theories of Jonathan Turley, who currently argues Trump’s impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump is a former official. Curious as to what Turley had to say about impeachment before Trump, I did some digging and struck a mother lode: Turley’s 146-page 1999 Duke Law Journal article, Senate Trials and Factional Disputes: Impeachment As A Madisonian Device. Turley’s reasons for publishing such a masterwork in 1999 may not have been dispassionate, since he had recently testified at Bill Clinton’s impeachment, but since Trump’s presidency wasn’t even a gleam in the old GOP elephant’s eye back then, Turley’s thoughts on impeachment in 1999 should at least be free of any bias for or against Trump. Those with the patience to read — or at least skim — Impeachment As A Madisonian Device will be rewarded with plenty of information on impeachment’s constitutional function and history that’s interesting in its own right, and a perspective in which the non-juridical, political nature of impeachment transcends mere raw exercise of power.

Impeachment As A Madisonian Device extensively surveys the constitutional history of impeachment. Its thesis is that the impeachment process, declared first in the House, then passed to the Senate for trial, culminates in

Book Review: Live Not By Lies

 

To grasp the threat of totalitarianism, it’s important to understand the difference between it and simple authoritarianism.  Authoritarianism is what you have when the state monopolizes political control.  That is mere dictatorship – bad, certainly, but totalitarianism is much worse.  According to Hannah Arendt… a totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology.  A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality.  Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is.  As Arendt has written, wherever totalitarianism has ruled, “[I]t has begun to destroy the essence of man.”⁠ (pages 8-9)

Many have fought and endured Hard Totalitarianism – repression at the end of a rifle – and while we may have (for now) seen the back of such regimes, Rod Dreher warns, in his new book Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, that we are facing a new form of totalitarian repression.  This new form, he warns, will not (for now) come at the ends of rifle barrels and the points of bayonets, nor will it come all at once.  It will come gradually, and it will attempt to corral us not with overt force, nor even fully from our government, but through the mounting pressures, nudges, and unseen pushes and constraints of the very technologies we rely on and willingly install in everything in our lives.  Dreher predicts the emergence of a Soft Totalitarianism which will resemble the Social Credit System of the People’s Republic of China, created by an alliance of ideological interests from the technology, information, and banking industries.  This new totalitarianism will be radically hostile to any religion, creed, or understanding of the world that conflicts with its own, and especially towards Christianity, which it slanders as repressive and “hateful”, especially on matters of sex and race.  How can we recognize it?  Can we fight it?  How do we survive and endure it without compromising?  Rod has much to say.

Rod Dreher is, by his own frequent admission, something of an odd duck in American conservatism.  His first book, Crunchy Cons, was about people very like himself – the heterodox conservatives who find themselves on the political right, usually for deep-seated social concerns (religion, family, tradition, anti-corporatism), but who also find that these core values are ignored, or else clash with other conservative orthodoxies on matters like free markets or foreign policy.  Dreher is also especially known for being one the leading reporters to blow open the sexual abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church, and unearth how deeply that rot actually ran – the integrity of the Christian faith is important to Dreher.  His prior book, The Benedict Option, was a statement to Christians that they have lost the culture war and need to rebuild the foundations of faith and society, with instructions on how to begin this process through intentional community formation – as such it is like a book warning on how to prepare for a cultural tornado, and clean up afterward.  Live Not By Lies can be therefore likened to a warning on what cultural tornado will do, how it will act, what it will try to destroy, and how to survive during it with one’s soul intact.

Vermeule’s Gleeful Illiberal Legalism

 

Few have been brave enough to flesh out what the Ahmarist, or “anti-Frenchist,” vision of the common good should be. Some have said articulating specifics is beside the point, that Ahmarists’ refreshing achievement is unapologetically asserting a common good exists, even if they decline to say what, exactly, it is. And then, there are guys like Adrian Vermeule, writing in The Atlantic, brave enough, at least, to flesh out a vision of sorts. Vermeule calls it “common-good constitutionalism”, which he describes as “an illiberal legalism that is not ‘conservative’ at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.” When Vermeule writes,

[U]nlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, [emphasis added] a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires…

ACF PoMoCon #10: The Benedict Option

 

Folks, here’s a podcast for the weekend–my conversation with Rod Dreher on traditional conservatism’s new moment. We talk about his books, about Christian communities facing the Pink Police State (hat tip to our friend James Poulos) and the need to retrieve pre-modern resources for communities of faith. We also talk about what Rod has learned from Christians surviving communism (hat tip to our friend @FlaggTaylor).

The National Conservatism Conference in Rome

 

Friends, I don’t usually do reporting, but I made an exception for the second National Conservatism Conference in Rome where I finally met our own @melissaosullivan! I don’t remember anyone else from Ricochet being there, so, as I said, I’ll do the reporting.

Let me start with the important things: Rome on February 3-4 is bright, clear, with intense blue skies, scarcely a cloud, the temperatures rise to the low 60s, winds get strong, sometimes approaching 20 mph, and the cypresses and pines are evergreen. You can see the gulls’ padded feet in the Tiber working rhythmically against the current. You can see the Romans go around in winter coats with silly little pocket dogs. It is paradise with occasional chills. Not a lot of tourists, either, so I recommend it if you’re ever in the mood to visit a city where they have big buildings from 2,000 years ago and they make decent coffee, too.

Vaclav Benda and The Long Night of the Watchman

 

Me, Kamila Bendova, and Martin Palous (a close ally of both Benda and Havel and former Ambassador to the United States).

I’m the editor of a recently published edition of the essays of Vaclav Benda called The Long Night of the Watchman. Benda, who died in 1999, was a central figure in the Charter 77 movement in the former Czechoslovakia. I met his wife, Kamila Bendova, on my first trip to interview former dissidents back in 2011 and wrote about that encounter right here on Ricochet.

Russell Moore vs. the Media

 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event sponsored by The Trinity Forum here in Nashville, TN. Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option), Russell Moore (Onward), and Sister Mary Magdalene (Professor of Theology at Aquinas College) had a very engaging and enlightening conversation about how Christians should live in a post-Christian America. One of the most memorable moments was when Russell Moore described a typical exchange with a journalist:

The first question is about sexuality.

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“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society, or wide circles of the Christian community, realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the […]

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Good Afternoon! Next on Thinking It Through with Jerome Danner (Podcast):  My next guest is Bethany Mandel, a stay-at-home mother of 3 children, a freelance writer on politics and culture, a Senior Contributor at The Federalist, amongst other publications, such as the Forward and First Things.  She also just so happens to be on The LadyBrains Podcast.  I invited her to […]

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