Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm still a Rubicon

In linking to Victor Davis Hanson's post-Obamacare victory column entitled: "We've Crossed the Rubicon," let me say that his title inspires me to revive and re-present the proposal I made over three years ago (here) for a new kind of conservative: not a theo-con, not a neo-con, but a rubicon:
A rubicon is someone who realizes that a decisive turning point has occurred and that a return to the status quo ante is no longer possible. A rubicon, therefore, will not indulge in a nostalgic reverie about the restoration of the ancien régime; rather he knows that the responsibility he has to pass on a vibrant tradition will have to be met in new ways and in the context of a new historical and cultural situation.

A rubicon is someone who has little interest in politics and little appetite for the culture wars. He is, by distasteful necessity, a draftee in the struggle to preserve the foundations of civil order and to remain faithful to religious principle. Once in the lists, however, he does his best to hold his ground as faithfully as he can.

Moreover, the rubicon realizes, belatedly, that those who have opened this breach with the tradition he cherishes will not be satisfied with the concessions which seemed at first to be the goal of their assault. A rubicon is someone who wakes up one fine day only to realize that that state has decided that his children must be systematically disabused of the moral principles by which he lives and which he has taken pains to pass on to them. A rubicon is someone who realizes, again belatedly, that his culture is under a serious assault from enemies within and without, and that the historical success and momentary preeminence of the culture built on Judeo-Christian foundations does not in any way guarantee that it will emerge triumphant from the present challenge.

2. But there is another implication in the term rubicon, more etymologically fanciful but in some sense even more defining. A rubicon is someone who realizes, either intuitively or by bitter experience, that the burning heart of the tradition that nurtures everything he holds dear is ultimately liturgical. A rubicon is someone, therefore, who has come to a deep appreciation for rubrics, whether they are the liturgical rubrics of Christian sacramental life or the traditional constitutional rubrics of political liberalism which are currently being twisted in knots by domestic postmodern apparatchiks and mocked by the West's external enemies, whose fascist tendencies are daily more in evidence. Of these rubrics, of course, the true blue rubicon will always and everywhere give his primary attention to the liturgical rubrics, that red-letter essence of Christian worship which is the true font of the bounty enjoyed by those cultures fortunate enough to have been hosts to these liturgies.

2 comments:

Deacon Randy said...

Gil,
Thanks for your very timely (I missed the original insight in 2006) exhortation. It is a great comfort to me in these "...times that try men's souls." Our boats and bridges are in ruins. Let's put them behind us and start the struggle.

billb said...

Thanks Gil. I wholeheartedly concur.
Enjoy your time at Berryville. Nearly 20 years ago my wife and I and three other couples participated in a retreat led by Fr. Mark at a small retreat house in "little" Washington. He was wonderful.