Not to flatter, but to rebel

No doubt, theology will make our presence and our witness singularly unseasonable in the opinion of those whose only thought is to flatter the world; but unseasonable does not mean inappropriate. In times as tragic as the present, what seems most unseasonable may well be what is most urgent.

—Louis Bouyer

This was in my Twitter stream from Patrick Deneen last week and I favorited it to revisit later.

Faith isn’t a social decoration. It’s the personal and metaphysical basis for a way of living (of being) that informs how a person participates with the larger world.

Some pretend to debate about America being founded as a “Christian nation.” Obviously it wasn’t founded as a theocracy—as a nation literally ruled by clerics. Nonetheless it was founded by overwhelming Christian people, and to suppose that Christian principles don’t infuse the bones of our nation or its moral and ethical instincts is… foolish.

America was created to be a refuge for believing peoples who happened to be living in places that sought to enforce a different orthodoxy. This is obvious with even the smallest sliver of history: Pennsylvania was founded as a holy experiment. Maryland was named for Mary. These aren’t the sort of things that closet secularists would do.

What Americans did in creating the space for tolerance of faith is only so palatable with the distance of time.

To Louis Bouyer’s point, it’s useful to understand that in any given time the public expression of believers and the public speech that believers of any faith articulate and the institutions they build and defend will sometimes seem “unseasonable.” And yet providing the space and the toleration of the speech and institutions and essential role in the public square of believers is at the core of a free society.

To be a Christian, for instance, is in some sense always to be a rebel. And rebels will always be the circles that society tries to square.

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