I often criticize John C. Wright. I’m always worried I’m giving the wrong impression of John. I agree with him even now more often than I disagree, and we’re actually colleagues, if in a somewhat limited sense, behind the scenes (the lovely Mrs. Wright, on the other hand, has been an enormous boon to both myself and my sister and we are eternally grateful for her aid).
Reading John often gives me the impression that I’m being gaslighted; that somebody as intelligent and incredibly well-educated as him can be missing things so blindingly obvious to me surely means I’m missing something, right? And maybe I am, but ultimately I read several very intelligent people who all disagree with each other and need to come to my own conclusions.
This essay by John is good example of both why I think he has a lot of interesting stuff to say and where I think he goes spectacularly wrong. I fully agree that white nationalism is a complete misfire and a mistake. And this:
What everyone thinks is “the White race” is nothing more or less than the ghost of an increasingly decayed and secular Protestantism trying to find a secular replacement for the spirit of the Catholic Church, which, before the Reformation, was the sole animating spirit of Western Europe.
…Sounds pretty spot on to me. I try to keep my blog particularly fairly neutral between the various Christian sects, but you don’t necessarily need to be Catholic to see this; replace the uppercase C in Catholic with a lowercase c and you get the same effect.
…But then he says things like this:
America, the first nation in history where all men were free to worship each man as his conscience saw fit, was the most Christian nation in history, despite having not a single pro-Christian law on any lawbooks. It was a Christian nation by custom and by culture, not by laws.
This strikes me as so spectacularly, unbelievably wrong as to be mind-boggling. America was founded by a group of people made up largely of deists and Freemasons; many Christians were at the Constitutional Convention, but the folks commonly cited as the Founding Fathers were almost exclusively of that persuasion. They were religious to a certain extent but didn’t care a jot about Christianity in particular. John Locke, the man whose philosophy had arguably the largest influence of all on the U.S. government, was a strident anti-Catholic.
And it is worth noting that up until John F. Kennedy being Catholic was seen as being, if not anti-American, something that should make people dangerously suspicious of your patriotism. After all, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out, America is a Church, so when you hold yourself to a Church that actually has an earthly leader and holds power in a physical, formal government, it starts to look an awful lot like you’re having faith in a whole ‘nother Church.
This conflict – ironically – between Church and state was a big issue with American Catholics for generations; the heresy was (and is) called Americanism. John F. Kennedy got around it by waiting for all the hubbub surrounding it to die down then promptly committing the heresy in as flagrant and public a way as possible while loudly proclaiming that was not, not, NOT what he was doing. It is actually quite similar to what happened with usury and sexual morality: The issue started off uncontroversial, slowly became contentious, lead to an explicit “just the facts” statement by the Church confirming the original teaching (in the case of Americanism, there were actually multiple encyclicals), and then with everything supposedly resolved the just the facts statement was promptly ignored.
And this nation, this nation founded by deists and freemasons based on the philosophy of a strident anti-Catholic and explicitly attempting to align itself with the principles of the anti-religious French revolution, I am apparently supposed to believe is the most Christian state since the middle ages because of *mumblemumbleumble* something with the first amendment.
I don’t get it.