Peter Lawler is right of course to call attention to the connection between the politically worthy habits and dispositions of Mormons and the fundamental beliefs around which Mormon communities build themselves (see article which Peter Lawler references here).
This week is another notable week for the development of a Catholic-Mormon partnership in facing the challenges of an ever more thoroughly secular America, and of the real friendship upon which such a partnership must draw. Robert George is giving two important speeches at BYU’s Wheatley Institution, Wednesday March 23 on “What Follows for the Family… from Redefining Marriage,” and Thursday March 24, “The Nature and Basis of Religious Freedom.” Perhaps even more important was Tuesday’s university-wide Forum address by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia. (Video available here) The significance of this address was underscored by the presence at Chaput’s side of Elder Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Archbishop Chaput’s remarks were very straightforward, even pointed. He called directly for a Catholic-Mormon partnership in addressing the sobering decline of the conditions of moral self-government. He was very explicit in rejecting any “Benedict Option” as cowardly, and argued instead for an Augustinian hope that has passed through despair and that cannot neglect the public dimension of our Christian duties.
The Archbishop insightfully reviewed various indices of our decline, including: immigration (itself a good) without any shared understanding of the good of this people; the replacement of natural law, implicit in the common law, by a lawless positivism; technology (our tools using us); the eclipse of production by consumption, and the associated liquefaction of society; and finally, a sexual disorder that surpasses in scope anything experienced by earlier civilizations, and which a society cannot survive.
Charles Murray is right to bemoan the eclipse of limited government, but he fails to see the broader moral and religious context of the rise of the secular state.
Catholic and Mormon universities must be oriented towards real excellence, that is, excellence of the soul. Our learning must “magnify the Lord.” (I’m afraid the implications of this momentous thought for personnel practices and curriculum will be lost on too many at BYU.)
Just as every success carries seeds of failure, so every failure carries seeds of success – if we can learn what needs to be learned. True Christian Hope is despair overcome. Only such hope can enable us to see through the narcotic haze of our disordered society, to see things as they really are.
Sincere thanks to the Archbishop for a sober, hopeful and deeply important message to the Mormon community.