Societies that are extinct

John Carter responded to Rod Dreher’s post last week, and offers some great insight. He’s a 22-year old Christian in the Midwest:

I’ve noticed a lot of the guys I meet online (myself included) have a thing for historical male societies that are extinct. The Vikings, the Romans, the Greeks, the Spartans, and medieval Knights. Then roll in the anti-heroes —James Dean, ‘Fight Club’, etc. or the military. Of course , the people I bother with are probably an exception to the rule, but I can’t help wondering if in someways we are unconsciously trying to make a deeply flawed substitute for what are culture no longer has. I can’t think of anything in our society that offers male companionship besides the military and sports. And I doubt the Knights of Columbus (I think that’s the name) are as much a robust group of Christian men, as a social club for retired elders.

The cultures of the past contain greatness, and contain it in an active sense for those just discovering their stories. Sparta, for instance, maintained a continuous constitution for something like 800 years. This is a span of time matched only recently by the English constitution. It’s a span of time, in general, incomprehensible for us in other areas of life, especially in culture and politics. What’s here today might as well be gone tomorrow.

But it’s human nature to seek the permanent things. We’re hungry for them. Societies that are extinct can still teach us a lot about the good life, and how to recapture pieces of that life in the present.