We Are the Radically Conservative
In Mentsch, we refer to ourselves as “radically conservative” (even though all contributors are independent). What does that imply? Most importantly, it implies that the spiritual and the intellectual flow together as one. Both the spiritual and the intellectual reveal sound structures—structures that facilitate human flourishing. These may be structures related to government or church or family. And the conservative, as the term implies, seeks to preserve such structures. This does not imply preserving for the sake of preservation: all structures are to be explored and challenged, sometimes adjusted. Only the sound ones ought to be preserved.
Thus, the conservative must reject the idea that it is morally indifferent what the individual choses to do, as long as he or she does not directly harm anyone. Quite the contrary, both you and I are humans. Our nature is, therefore, characterized by some inalienable limitations: whereas the flourishing of trees depends on soil and sun, human flourishing depends on sound structures—theological, social, political, and economic. What are sound structures? Simply the structures that facilitate human flourishing.
The radically conservative is however not only concerned with structures, how these are and ought to be. The radical conservative must also be radical. And by radical I refer to that which intensively permeates everything. It means that the aforementioned structures are not significant in and of themselves; it is the humans who operate within the structures that are significant. It is, after all, because of the humans that the structures are interesting. And this implies responsibility. The radically conservative must be out there, forging and forming relationships, actively loving their neighbor. Because it is this, to love, which is the very essence of our flourishing.
There are especially three dimensions to radical conservativism. These can be formulated as virtues: to be intellectual, affectionate and spiritual. Being intellectual is to be interested in that which is good, true, and beautiful. This is revealed by philosophy and literature and theology and other sciences. There are especially two questions that must be explored and challenged: what are good structures? How should humans operate within these structures? Being affectionate involves looking at humans as primarily relational beings, and acting according to this reality. Being spiritual is to submit to God rather than oneself.
Within these three dimensions, there can exist a great deal of disagreement, which also will be the case with Mentsch. In this sense, radically conservatives are a bit like rabbis: when two or three come together to argue, there is usually more than three different views defended. Herein lies enthusiasm and eagerness to reveal that which is good, true and, beautiful, and at the same time acknowledgment of the fact that humans know only in bits and pieces. This demands a balance between determination and humility, an openness to new ideas.
So: think freely, love affectionately and breathe spiritually. And please do disagree sometimes, often if you like. Otherwise it gets unbearably boring.
Welcome to the family.