The culture doesnâ€™t just have to change by revolutions.
Lots of Catholic conservatives are up in arms these days. If it isn’t over Bishop Blaire expressing concerns about Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, it’s probably over Cardinal Dolan inviting President Obama to the Alfred E. Smith Dinner. “How dare they?!” we cry. When things don’t seem to be going according to our plan, we act as if the sky is falling. Why are we often more inclined to fold up the tent than weather the storm? Indivisible co-author Jay Richards comments on why we shouldn’t be so quick to lose hope.
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The Practicing Catholic: One of the points Iâ€™ve heard you make is that progressives seem to get incremental change in a way conservatives donâ€™t, that conservatives seem to always teeter on the edge of despair. Why do you think that is?
Dr. Richards: Thatâ€™s a great question. I think part of it may eschatological. We know that ultimately weâ€™re not going to establish the kingdom of God. Certainly, there are glimmers of the kingdom wherever the Church is working; wherever Christians work in the world, the kingdom breaks in. But we know weâ€™re not literally going to establish the kingdom in its fullness, that Christ is going to do that at the end.
That can be a comfort, but we can also use it as a cop-out. Anytime we lose an election or something seems to be getting worse, we say, â€œWell, why polish the brass on a sinking ship? The Lordâ€™s going to return. This is just what weâ€™re to expect.â€
But I think we should look at the apostle Paul here. Of course, Paul thought he was living in the last days and talked about that, but yet he went about his work. He fought the good fight; he finished the race. Thatâ€™s the model we ought to have.
Progressives who are secularists donâ€™t have any idea of God coming at the end and fulfilling his kingdom, so politics is really all they have. If they canâ€™t accomplish something politically, thereâ€™s nothing that can be done. So in some ways, I think that inspires the progressive left to be more incremental. They realize, â€œLook, all weâ€™ve got is this world, so if weâ€™ve got to chip things away slowly over a period of years, weâ€™ll do that.â€
Itâ€™s one thing the progressive left really does better than conservative Christians. They understand that culture doesnâ€™t just have to change by revolutions; it can change slowly and surely. We see that in the question about same-sex marriage in which the populationâ€™s views on the subject are slowly changing. Despite the fact that most people are opposed to it on moral grounds, the more weâ€™re exposed to these ideas, it slowly wears us down.
We need to be on guard against that, but thereâ€™s also a lesson to be learned there. We should be okay with incremental changes, as long as they’re in the right direction.
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This is the sixth of a series ; click the links below to read the previous installments from our interview with Dr. Jay Richards: