Politics, art, beauty, truth, religion, science, and the whole world are interconnected. The bane of our age is the popular view that we can think about politics in one way, contradict that thinking in our religious beliefs, act entirely differently in the realm of parenting or business, and then have artistic or music tastes that have no relation to any of the above. Things will be reconciled, and the force of liberalism is such that it has coopted and displaced other standards of authority and invaded every realm of life. Its steady erosion of religious belief through its psuedo-rationalism and pseudo-scientific pretensions is evident. It is for this reason, and not mere attention seeking, that Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” It is not that he literally died; it seems clear Nietzsche was a non-believer. But he “died” in the sense that he ceased to be a vital force in the common life of Europe: its arts, music, politics, laws, and concerns had become decidedly earthly and secular by the late 19th Century.
Jim Kalb, in a magesterial essay, talks about the relationship of tradition, religion, and politics in this essay. He observes the peculiar facility and strength of Roman Catholicism, including its much-maligned hierarchical structure, as an antidote to the dominant thinking of our age:
In fact, it is normally more consistent with freedom to
give a single man the ultimate responsibility for doctrine than institutions
that claim to be representative. A single man cannot do as much as a larger
group, he is more dependent on voluntary cooperation, and as a practical
matter he must point to tradition as a whole and understandings he cannot
create by himself to justify his actions. Democracy has strong claims in the
case of contingent decisions that reflect relative personal interests, but in
doctrinal determinations such things are irrelevant.
The arrangement of belief and authority described is that of the Catholic
Church. It is the one most consistent with the genius of tradition,
because it is universal as well as personal, flexible as well as concrete,
and therefore bears more than any other the appearance truth must have
for us. Only Christianity understands the community as the earthly body
of an incarnate divine person. Only Roman Catholicism, through its hierarchy
headed by the Pope, enables the visible Church to speak and act in a
personal and authoritative way. Roman Catholicism thus displays, in the
most clear and consistent way possible, the natural form for truth to take
in a world of free public life. It is therefore in character that Catholicism
fostered learning, philosophy and the arts, that Western culture was so
fruitful for so long, and that distinctive institutions of Catholic Christendom
have included universities, modern natural science and free political
institutions. The decisive rejection of Christianity, which even in its Protestant
and liberalizing forms has depended on the Roman Church and
Pope for its memory, coherence and force, in Western society has been
accompanied by irrationalism, radical decline in non-technological culture,
and the attempt to reduce politics and public life to purely technical
functions and so abolish them.
The ecumenical tendency, including in Roman Catholicism, misses out on something important: that the hierarchy, traditionalism, and rootedness of the Catholic Tradition are not weaknesses or anomolies to be apologized for, but the source of its strenth. No real Catholicism can be liberal, just as no real Catholicism can embrace a Darwinian view of capitalism. Indeed, both of these philosophies are rooted in an untruth–relativism and materialism–that is at the center of what Jesus preached against.