Religion, Culture, & Politics

R.R. Reno reflecting on Fr. Neuhaus:

I have many fond memories of him, but many important and influential ones, as well. During the fall of 2006, I was in his office, expressing my anxious agitation about the upcoming congressional elections. I worried over the loss of  a Republican majority, linking my political concerns to the future of the pro-life cause, the dangers of unfettered bioengineering, and so forth. He sat back in his chair, puffing on his cigar while I prattled on. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed my anxieties with a simple observation:

“Relax, Rusty. The Republicans will betray us eventually anyway.”

It was his way of reminding me: Culture shapes politics, and religion is at the root of culture – and don’t ever let yourself be sucked into the crazy illusion that the order of importance runs the other way. I hope I never forget.

7 Responses to Religion, Culture, & Politics

  1. Gerard E. says:

    One of the fatal flaws of the libs. They have the equation turned around. Ooopsie. Won’t make it easier for Tiller the Killer in court.

  2. Put not your trust in congressional majorities…

  3. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    When you give Republicans free passes on unjust war (even cheerleading the Iraq War), torture, exceptions with ESCR funding et al., you should not be surprised if they are apt to betray you in the most important matters of life and death.

    And Ii am not saying the Democrats are any better.

  4. John Henry says:

    I would argue those things are betrayals (maybe not Iraq if you accept the Just war arguments for it), rather than signs of betrayals, but that was one of my first thoughts also. I liked the oft-overlooked point about religion shaping culture and then politics – makes me wonder why I bother spending time blogging about politics.

  5. Mark DeFrancisis says:


    I concur with your qualification completely.

    As a personal note, I was an avid First Things reader until I became loosely privvy (sic?) to the challenges set forth to that group from David Schindler and the Communio crowd in the mid to late 90s.

    As I sided with Schindler from a distance, I stopped following Neuhaus, Weigel and that bunch.

    I only checked in with there writings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion in 2003. Needless to say, I was tremendously disappointed then.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I was whole-heartedly in favor of the Iraq war and still am, so of course I do not view that as a betrayal. In regard to ESR I was against the initial decision by Bush to allow any use of the stem cells. However, afterwards he stood like a champion against it.

    In regard to water-boarding, I thought it crossed a line into physical torture that I do not personally approve of, although I can see how reasonable people would disagree with my conclusion. One should also note the firm stance that Neuhaus took against Obama in the last election:

  7. John Henry says:

    Obama’s record on abortion is a disgrace; I can’t vote for pro-abortion rights politicians for President. I’ll miss Fr. Neuhaus’s critiques next time around even if I disagreed with some of his other stances.

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