Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Current Writers: George Weigel



Preface
Obviously, I am not the only person who is struggling to remedy America’s political and social dysfunction. I have searched for like-minded blogs to help me out of my mind’s tunnel, but so far, I do not agree with their approaches: one offers conspiracy theories and such. Meanwhile, I will review some recent articles and show how ideological writers could be helped by the civic vision of a majority, at least 67% of citizens, who fulfill “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble.[1] Plainly, I envision people who want to live in peace and cooperative autonomy by discovering ways to accommodate like-minded people. By like-minded, I mean people who each want, in each decade of their life, to live in happiness they perceive while providing the same opportunity for other people.
Part I. George Weigel
George Weigel[2] blames this country’s dysfunction on the sexual revolution and its recent extension to gender by will rather than nature. “Gender by will” depicts a man deciding he is a woman, which I doubt many same-sex people would claim. Thus, I think Weigel’s representation of gays is usually erroneous. Furthermore, evidence may show that nature accommodates the same-sex choice. My thesis is that Weigel would be helped if he realized that he writes in support of Church doctrine, and is therefore in abject contradiction to the goals of “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble to the US Constitution.
Weigel thinks Catholic metaphysics represents “The Way Things Are.” Equating St. Paul’s “faith, hope, and love,” as “metaphysics,” he asserts,
Indeed, 21st-century post-modern culture does not simply shun the word "metaphysics." It dismisses out of hand the very notion that there is a morally significant givenness to reality: a structure of The Way Things Are that can be discerned by reason and that, being known, discloses certain truths about the way we should live. In 21st-century America, and throughout the 21st-century West, what the founders would have called "the pursuit of happiness" has become a function of the autonomous will of the individual, and that willfulness can legitimately attach itself to any object so long as no one gets hurt.
Weigel is missing the evidence that humans are psychologically superior to the animals. He castigates Protestants and specific philosophers for loss of Catholic-Church influence on “The Way Things Are.” But churches, each with their doctrine, did not uphold their tenets against the world’s “awfulness,” such as Hitler, fall prey to the sexual and gender revolutions in priestly secrecy, and fail to promote the objective truth. Priests objectify other human beings.
Just citizens, in the long run, focus on the objective truth. The historical example is the abolition of slavery and racial discrimination. For example, a same-sex bond does not imply that one of the partners has changed gender, as Weigel asserts. If Weigel was of “We the People of the Unites States” as defined by the preamble, he might notice that cooperative autonomy and mutual civic accommodation disallows one citizen to objectify another, whether as a sex object or an object of religious proselytizing: the Church could teach such civic morals. Weigel laments,
The difference today is that there are no agreed-upon, reality-based reference points to which the contending parties can appeal in order to settle the argument about whose concept of the public good, and how it ought to be achieved, is the course to be followed.
In the first place, “the public good,” is determined by each individual, as they progress in their one-time pursuit of self-discovery, so there is no one concept beyond fulfilling the preamble to provide just civic governance.
Weigel is unknowingly lamenting many citizens’ rejection of James Madison’s tyranny. Traditional majority focus on “religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator” and Christian practice[3], has kept citizens from adopting the preamble to resolve civic contentions. More broadly, the preamble seems unpopular, perhaps because it requires citizens to compromise and become supportive neighbors instead of civic adversaries.
It is difficult for even considerate Christians to imagine that other just citizens have considered Christianity and find it wanting for their pursuit of happiness, so it is difficult for Christians to adopt the preamble even though it is intended for civic governance, not spiritual guidance. I do not regard Weigel as considerate: he writes to impose Catholicism on just citizens, with no appreciation for their protection of his opportunity to practice or support Catholicism.
Committed to civic regulations, contending drivers observe traffic laws to safely, expediently negotiate intersections. Likewise, citizens may observe the preamble to assure other citizens their opportunity to pursue the happiness each perceives for their life at each decade—teens, twenties, thirties, and so on: accommodate reality in “faith, hope, and love,” instead of doctrinal metaphysics. Weigel would have citizens believe Catholicism’s “purified realm of truth,” which just has not proved out. Catholicism slowly adopts hundreds of year-old evidences of the objective truth, but a living person does not have the eons of time that Catholic metaphysics needs for fulfillment, so many turn to another source for guidance. The preamble exists, and a participating, civic society would provide guidance for current living through the give-and-take struggle to find moral excellence according to the objective truth
Regarding sexuality, government has the obligation to assure that each citizen learns that human reproduction and social relationships are compatible yet differing subjects. Human reproduction involves either intercourse between a man and a woman or technology such as surrogacy. Social relationships involve steps including honoring privacy, notice, consideration, communication, attention, attraction, familiarity, appreciation, regularity, agreement, commitment, bonding, and making love.[4] The human practice of making love requires development of the relationship, and procreation may not be the objective. When a couple has experienced the rewards of monogamy, it is reasonable to consider creating a family. The point is: sex education is separate from mating education; mating does not necessarily lead to procreation. Government, so far, is failing this educational obligation, and Catholicism with its neglect of bonding practices—claim that sex is for procreation only--is part of the problem.
St. Paul did not understand monogamy. I often tell my spouse, “You are so beautiful!” Decades now she has responded, “I know: you are not talking about my looks.” If she responds, “I do not feel like making love,” my ability to function dissipates. I think St. Paul did not understand that making love is more psychological than physical; that humans are attracted to each other in their persons more than in their bodies; that discovering that for lifetime you want to please a person regardless of their body is a feature of human discernment and nobility. In writing this, I would not diminish the harm that promiscuity effects on persons and society.
And Weigel is correct to say that the same-sex community has misused accomplishment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against discrimination to make their case. I think it is an immoral act to not defend the case for same-sex unions on merit, rather than piggy-back on racial discrimination. Also, society’s current rush to compassion for same-sex couples is a grave disservice to opposite-sex families and thus the nation with its same-sex minority and particular religious minorities. The government should license both same-sex unions and opposite-sex unions, leaving marriage ceremonies to churches and traditions. Better yet, grant civic licenses for each same-sex monogamy and opposite-sex monogamy.
Weigel could respond to reality instead of metaphysics and appreciate other citizens’ opportunities to consider their options for living their lives. In so doing, Weigel would earn respect for his opportunity to choose his life path. Some just citizens do not accept the religion that a human being is insufficient to bond with a person of the same sex or that same-sex bonds should exclude sexual gratification or that same-sex couples should not become caretakers for children. The Catholic idea that couples have sex for procreation seems crass before the idea that couples make love to strengthen their bond, deciding whether to procreate or not. For millennia, the Church has oppressed both opposite sex couples and same-sex couples about making love for bonding. If a same-sex couple decides to procreate, the technology is available either through ménage a trios or surrogacy. Yet, the same-sex union is more difficult, because of practical considerations, like how to procreate and whether additional risks are involved. The long term effects on the psychology of children of surrogacy are unknown, but the increased exposure to risk, especially psychological risk, is obvious. The Church’s failure to admit to its mistakes has hurt its ability to help people, both heterosexuals and homosexuals, realistically discover and achieve happiness according to personal preferences. Thus, the Church is retarding humankind’s development of nobility; it should reform, because people, including believers, need the best help they can get.
The real crisis that evolved from the sexual revolution is that monogamy for life, with its predictable rewards, has lost its importance, and the Church never really elaborated it—took for granted that “till death do us part” was not a slogan but a solemn promise. Monogamy requires personal resolve from the first day till the last. Monogamy protects any children that result from a couple making love. Recall the social path to making love. On a base level, monogamy protects the couple, children, and neighbors from sexually transmitted disease or STD. CDC data indicates that 70% of sexually active citizens are known to carry STD. There are twenty million (6%) new cases each year, mostly among the young. Children learn not what they are told but from their caretakers’ conduct; couples who do the hard, noble work to maintain monogamy set the example the children need to inspire them to reject contradictory behavior they are exposed to in the community, on TV, in the movies, at entertainment events, and by adolescent politicians and other celebrities. Monogamy is difficult, because every person is important and appreciable and it is easy to feel justified to express intensely felt appreciation or attraction; too many people are unprepared for that encounter that can entice them to compromise their promise made, not to their spouse, but to themselves to be monogamous:  to be true to their promises. Failure of personal promises destroys lives. Metaphysical ideas like “soul” and “heaven” have nothing to offer a ruined life. There is no comfort in ruin.
Just governance offers citizens guidance toward living long enough for the process of self-discovery to emerge and progress through retirement.[5] Government’s duties begin before the child is conceived and continue during the decades that follow. With the right coaching each person recognizes sexuality, knows that there are many candidates for their affection, is aware of the advantages of opposite-sex civic unions, and appreciates the guidance churches offer believers. Yet, when a same sex couple commits to monogamy with each other for life, everyone should celebrate their relationship and accept them as just citizens who are expected to also fulfill the preamble. Before my death, I would like to see 67% of all minorities in America living to fulfill the preamble. The vehicle to advance that fast is an annual holiday to celebrate “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble to the US Constitution combined with online communications toward compromise.
One other point about St. Paul’s famous “metaphysics”—“faith, hope, and love.” It is often inappropriate for fellow citizens to think of a love relationship—no matter which form of “love” is applied. In civic relationships, the so-called golden rule is often in appropriate, because it is egocentric, no matter which form it takes. However, it is always appropriate, in civic settings, for just citizens to appreciate[6] each other, simply for providing domestic peace.
Just citizens volunteer to fulfill the preamble, and the vision of a citizens’ republic inspired Abraham Lincoln. In his first inaugural address, he appealed to the seven seceded states, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?” (The emphasis is mine.) Lincoln’s second sentence is the rhetorical claim that religion does not offer hope. Two and a half years later, at Gettysburg, Lincoln imagined, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” again placing hope in the people. It seems clear to me that some people oppose Lincoln’s dreams, so I employ the phrase “just citizens,” to represent citizens of “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble—just citizens.
In Part II, I plan to respond to an essay by George F. Will.
Copyright©2014 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included.


[1] The preamble was ratified by the required nine states, in 1788, by 67% of the citizens’ representatives at the state conventions. When all thirteen original states had ratified, the vote was 65%.
[2] George Weigel. “Reality and Public Policy.” National Affairs. Number 15. Spring 2013.
[3] Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785.
[4] Except by experience, I’m not qualified to make the above list, so any comments would be appreciated. Just hit the “comment” button at the end of the essay.
[5] Revised on April 12, 2014 after comment by Josh Riley.
[6] The paragraph to suggest that just citizens appreciate each other added on April 13.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm... there is so much here Phil. A lot of great and powerfully simple thoughts. I know that doesn't offer much of an opinion, but as a reader, I feel slightly scatterbrained and unable to reply to any general topic. I am often lost as to your ultimate thesis. Well, haha, I know your ultimate thesis is to promote "We the People of the United States of America" ...what I mean to suggest is taking a specific route (and or noting detours of thought). What comes to mind is the book I recently read by Nathaniel Branden called The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem... In the introduction, he identifies the world of someone without self-esteem (your parallel could be the world without the preamble). Each preceding chapter then goes on to discuss a pillar... and while there a moments of overlap, they are brief and his return to the focus is swift (your parallel could be Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Common Defense, General Welfare, and Liberty). After each pillar Branden takes additional chapters to discuss examples and the effect of self-esteem in School, Work, Psychotherapy, and other areas (parallels: same-sex relationships, church, education, etc). The closing chapter discusses the world of a person following the 6 pillars and the epilogue concludes with exercises and recommending reading for further studies. Hope that helps.


    Is there are word missing here or am I misreading?
    "Just governance offers citizens guidance toward maintaining life long _?_ enough for the process of self-discovery to emerge and progress, and government’s duties begin before the child is conceived and continue during the decades that follow."

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  2. Josh, I will revise this essay to clarify my thesis and to correct the confusing sentence you identified. Regarding the blog, I agree; I should write a book with a plan like you suggest. To respond today, I added "labels" which enabled me to arrange the essays so the reader can tell what category I think that essay belongs to. Thank you so much for your time to read and comment.

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I want your opinion and intend to respond.