Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/27/2014 (10 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 (10 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 January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Keith A Fournier: Why I Will Not Give Up On Politics Watch

Image of

By Keith A Fournier

Like many in the United States, I am trying to make sense out of what is happening to this Nation which we love. The temptation, so clearly present in our circles, is to fall into two separate approaches, both of which can lead to error. One is to completely ... continue reading


TIME TO PAY: Uninsured in 2014 will have to pay tax penalty Watch

Image of Take a married couple with $100,000 in income - their bill comes to $797, according to the Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is time to pay the piper. If you disregarded signing up for Obamacare in 2014 or failed to make payments - you are going to have to pay a fine. As Americans sit down in coming weeks to compile their tax returns, they will have to contend with Obamacare's ... continue reading


'You have to know who your enemy is' Downplaying and mislabling Islamic extremism is a dangerous path for the U.S. Watch

Image of Islamic extremism is terrorism, it is not simply criminal conduct.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Obama administration refuses to acknowledge the terrorism attacks around the world for what it is, Islamic extremism. This blatant disregard of the real problem can be harmful for the country. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Secretary of State, John Kerry was ... continue reading


Striking back at the Dems! Koch brothers allocate nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS for 2016 presidential race Watch

Image of David Koch, one of the leaders of a political action network that has the monetary power to spend hundreds of millions on political races.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems the Koch brothers have no plans to ease their political spending habits in 2015, as top officials in the brothers' political network released a budget of $889 million to be spent on the vast political network ahead of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ... continue reading


Turning off spigot: Obama aims to possessively guard oil-rich Alaskan coastline from development Watch

Image of Alaska's coastal plain has been at the center of a fight between conservationists and advocates of greater energy exploration in the U.S. for a very long time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just because there's been relief at the corner gas pump doesn't mean that the United States won't need any more oil in the near future - far from it. As such, many are infuriated that U.S. President Barack Obama seeks to designate the vast majority of Alaska's ... continue reading


And the field gets thicker! Rubio joins Bush, Romney, Walker and Christie as 2016 presidential hopeful Watch

Image of Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida may be crafting a campaign team for a potential 2016 bid.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A fifth Republican is making noise that could be interpreted as intent to make a 2016 presidential run. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Florida Senator Marco Rubio is possibly gathering a campaign team, planning out a slew of state visits starting in February, and ... continue reading


Scott Walker enters the 2016 Republican nomination ring with speech attacking Obama's failed policies Watch

Image of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker gave a speech in Iowa, a move which may put him in the running for the Republican nomination.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may have been the first Republicans to make it clear-though still unofficial-that they intend to run for the Republican nomination in 2016, but ... continue reading


Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney hold summit meeting: Are they plotting election strategy? Watch

Image of There have been stories in a number of outlets that Jeb Bush proposed the meeting weeks ago, in order to thank Mitt Romney for his past party leadership.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former governors Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are having a summit meeting. The meeting will be in Utah. Speculation swirls about what the meeting will entail. Some GOP party officials hope "the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns ... continue reading


An average of 27 late-term abortions happen every day in the United States; the bill to protect the unborn from this cruel pain was dramatically dropped by the GOP Watch

Image of 10,000 babies are killed each year through late-term abortions.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An estimated 10,000 unborn babies are killed each year through late-term abortions. This averages out to 27.4 abortions taking place 20 weeks or later per day or 1.14 per hour, according to the Congressional Budget Office. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pain ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone on Pope Francis, Politics, and Catholic Social teaching Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone - Fidelity to the Gospel requires that we be able to prophetically challenge the positions of all political parties, and that our loyalty to Christ and his teaching supersedes our loyalty to any political party, although such loyalties are not per se incompatible with being a Christian.

By Matt C. Abbott

It remains true that the right to life is the most fundamental right and that the duty to defend it is a more urgent priority than other social justice priorities. But to what extent that fact helps or hurts a political party depends upon the party, and his ... 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, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope ... Read More

Psalm, Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
69 and he has established for us a saving power in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:35-41
35 With the coming of evening that same day, he said ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 31st, 2015 Image

St. John Bosco
January 31: What do dreams have to with prayer? Aren't they just random ... 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