Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Cultural conservatism is an implicit recognition of the paradigm changes that have taken place within the digital age.

During the 2012 presidential campaign the most oft-repeated charge against pro-life social conservatives was that they did not care about a human life after the moment of birth. When I was surprised to hear this charge from a Catholic bishop, I decided to write a response and offered this simple argument: To be concerned about life is to be concerned about everything. In other words, if pro-lifers are consistent in their convictions then their passion for protecting life will extend throughout a human lifetime.  Well-known philanthropist Foster Friess recently called for fellow conservatives to embrace a cultural conservatism.  Friess's message is that conservatives, especially Catholics, need to work to heal the unnecessary divide between the pro-life and the social justice communities.  Friess is right.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Life, culture, culture, cultural conservatives, social Teaching, arts, pro-life, paleoconservative, social conservative, libertarian, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - During the 2012 presidential campaign the most oft-repeated charge against pro-life social conservatives was that they did not care about a human life after the moment of birth.

When I was surprised to hear this charge from a Catholic bishop, I decided to write a response and offered this simple argument: To be concerned about life is to be concerned about everything. In other words, if pro-lifers are consistent in their convictions then their passion for protecting life will extend throughout a human lifetime. 

As someone who has known many pro-life leaders over a long period, I also shared my observation that no one among the leadership I knew were guilty of that particular charge.  However, it had to be admitted that the ongoing divide between the Catholic pro-life community and those Catholics who speak first of social justice can create a disposition for each side to ignore the concerns, or achievements, of the other.

If asked, most pro-lifers would identify themselves as politically conservative which, over time, has given rise to the category of the social conservative, i.e., a conservative who views the life issues as having greater importance than any others. Politicians have earned the label of social conservative by being on the correct side of abortion, marriage, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning. 

During the 2012 presidential election, religious liberty was virtually added to the list due to socially conservative reaction to the imposition of Obamacare. In retrospect, the linking of religious liberty, although entirely appropriate, to the already established five settled, or non-negotiable, life issues served to reinforce the general impression of social conservatives as uncaring about life after birth.  Healthcare, after all, is a necessary part of living a full, and hopefully long life.  And suddenly, pro-life social conservatives didn't care about that.

Social conservatism has served as an effective political banner for many years, but the debate over healthcare exacerbated its public perception as uncaring about issues impacting the sick, poor, vulnerable, suffering, and those lacking opportunity. Well-known philanthropist Foster Friess recently called for fellow conservatives to embrace a cultural conservatism.  Friess's message is that conservatives, especially Catholics, need to work to heal the unnecessary divide between the pro-life and the social justice communities. 

Friess is right: a cultural conservatism would revivify conservatives both in their minds and hearts - it would allow them to act with their larger heart and with those parts of the mind that dream, imagine, contemplate, and create. Conservatives would discover another source of energy and vitality, rather than reliving the glory days of Reagan and Goldwater, publishing another meditation on the Founders, or one more angry tract on how Obama is destroying America. 

Cultural conservatism would help donors and activists to realize they don't have to choose between culture and politics or argue over which is more influential, when in reality they are interactive, with culture being a far broader concept that cannot be reduced to pragmatic calculations of electability.

Cultural conservatives would be more involved in the arts - meaning they would feel free to read more novels, or admit how many movies they've seen, and enjoyed.  There is already a culturally conservative phenomenon growing among conservatives and Christians who have engaged the creative, production, and marketing sides of arts and entertainment.

One might argue that conservatives engaged primarily in politics need to notice what has been achieved by Walden Media, Icon Entertainment, Regal Entertainment Group, the Advent Film Group, Vision Forum Ministries, the documentaries of Dinesh D'Souza, and the fact that former Senator Rick Santorum in now the CEO of EchoLight Studios.

Of course, the word culture means many things to different people, but that is part of its advantage: Individuals will connect to cultural conservatism from a multitude of angles, addressing issues new to the conservative movement but building upon the bedrock principles such as personal freedom, free markets, limited government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, American exceptionalism, and the sanctity of human life.

Cultural conservatism is an implicit recognition of the paradigm changes that have taken place within the digital age. News, opinion, and information are no longer managed by a media elite, and communication itself has become more visual, more interactive, and more cross-disciplinary. One added benefit will be moving important conservative thinkers back into the spotlight, such as Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Marion Montgomery, Eric Voegelin, Whittaker Chambers, Robert Nisbet, Charles Murray, Robert Scruton, and William F. Buckley, to name a few.

The principles informing cultural conservatism will be no different from those that guided earlier generations of leadership, but it will be conservatism that puts aside the dour repetition of stock phrases and complaints. In short, cultural conservatism will come as a surprise to those who thought they knew what conservatism is. 

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

The Immigration Conflagration and the Dangers of a Benevolent Dictator

Image of

By Keith A. Fournier

There is no question that comprehensive immigration reform is needed. Most people acknowledge this as a fact. However, the truth is President Obama could have participated in such reform, and he knows it, by working with the 114th Congress which will soon be sworn ... continue reading


Running out the door, Republicans too busy with Thanksgiving to address laws Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With Thanksgiving turkeys dancing in their heads, many Republican lawmakers are running out the door in lieu of considering a plethora of new legislation. Republican members have discussed resolutions of disapproval and censure. One unnamed lawmaker was ... continue reading


The TOP 10 list of countries where slavery is most prevalent. DO YOU BENEFIT FROM SLAVERY? You might be shocked! Watch

Image of Poor Haitians are commonly enslaved by wealthier family members.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last week it was announced that some 36 million people around the world live in slavery, a number that is higher than at any time in history. While most Americans feel that slavery is a distant problem, which has little or no effect on their lives, the sad fact is that ... continue reading


Raking in the dough: Obamacare 'architect' worth millions Watch

Image of Jonathan Gruber has a lucrative connection with the Department of Health and Human Services.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jonathan Gruber's good fortune would make lots of college students change their majors to economics. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with his firm Gruber Microsimulation Model has raked in millions. Gruber's chief function is estimating the ... continue reading


Why have Republicans betrayed us to the most anti-life president in history? Mark Levin has an idea Watch

Image of Mark Levin is a Constitutional scholar and commentator.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two weeks ago, the American people spoke and sent a message to Obama that we did not approve of his style of leadership. Americans gave control of both the House and Senate to Republicans with a clear mandate to put a stop to the rule of the most anti-life, ... continue reading


Reaping what is sown: No immigration reform hurt Democrats in midterms, former president Clinton says Watch

Image of Speaking in an interview with POLITICO's Mike Allen, Clinton was celebrating the 10-year anniversary weekend of the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A lack of action may have cost President Obama and the Democratic Party big time, former President Bill Clinton says. The Republican victory at midterms earlier this month may have been the result of a lack of action on immigration reform. Clinton says that ... continue reading


'Mook Mafia' said to be heading Hillary Clinton's run for president Watch

Image of Mook is a word used to describe an underling or person with limited intelligence who does as he was told by higher-ups.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As coined in the 1974 Martin Scorsese film, "Mean Streets," "mook" is the term used by Italian Americans used to denote a "loser." In later years, mook became known as a word used to describe an underling or person with limited intelligence who did as he was ... continue reading


United Nations takes United States to task for legalizing marijuana Watch

Image of The United Nations is taking some states in the United States for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use. The U.N. anti-narcotics chief says that these measures are not in concert with international drug conventions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations is taking some states in the United States for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use. The U.N. anti-narcotics chief says that these measures are not in concert with international drug conventions.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Federal health care officials scramble to bring health care Web site up to snuff Watch

Image of Throttling would detect overloads sooner and be more efficient than the one long online line federal officials devised last winter. This led to the dreaded

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the Obama administration is confident that HealthCare.gov is far more adept this time around in time for open enrollment, there are signs that officials are drawing up contingency plans for any eventuality. These plans will hopefully readily address the ... continue reading


California's Willie Brown advises Hillary Clinton not to bother with presidential run - you will Lose Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Serving two terms as the mayor of San Francisco, longtime Democrat and California politician has some sage words of advice for Hillary Clinton when it comes to a presidential run in 2016: Don't bother, as you won't win. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 11:4-12
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 20:27-40
27 Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Cecilia
November 22: In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter