Traditionalism Without God? Forget It

By Ryan McGuire (CC0 1.0).

By Ryan McGuire (CC0 1.0).

Thinking traditionalists need to engage with the best of the tradition that was there before self-identified traditionalists and reactionaries wrote. These are the ones who successfully appealed to the common good rather than vituperating the world for not looking like the world of yesteryear. Hooker, Althusius, and Pufendorf seem to have done good work. People like Swift and Dávila are fun, but one does not build up society with them.

Otherwise, traditionalists are serving dead wood. Their wildest dreams are but fantasies of children they are impotent to beget.

Underlying the neoliberal order, however, is some kind of theology, even if at times what T. S. Eliot recognized as a very negative theology with no cohærent positive vision. A strong positive theology, as we see in the evil ISIS, can be quite powerful in the face of neoliberal impotence. But traditionalists who do nothing but negate modernity have no such power, and what they need to do is more than any human tradition: they need to stare at the face of God, see the image of God in their fellow men, and do what society’s betterment most requires. For this is an act of charity, an act that bears the fruit of the Spirit; and with such, for the sake of his Son, God is well pleased. An impotent traditionalist, in other words, is one who has forgotten that God is there; but someone who remembers his face in the mirror and never forgets the love of God is strong in the Spirit, able by faith, and at God’s good pleasure, to show wisdom and sometimes miraculous power.

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