Belmont Club

All you hold sacred

What shall we talk about?Fausta hosts an emotive video from Catholic Vote on the issue of abortion.  Despite America’s fascination with money, technology and power much of its politics has always been about religion, or at least, about religious themes. The source of liberty, the provenance of inalienable rights, whether all men are created equal and if God Himself had a role in the public space are issues that run like an unbroken thread through its history. The reason for the enduring topicality of these themes may lie in the lack of artifice in the choice of political system America has chosen to adopt. A democracy will inevitably bring the deepest fears and hopes of common humanity to the front and center; while an aristocracy eventually concerns itself with manners. The survival of basic human themes as subjects of American political discourse is testimony to the proposition that it has — not yet — left its roots.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, speaking through Ivan in his Brothers Karamazov, wrote that the only questions which really mattered were the eternal ones. They are what return in various guises generation after generation not because we can never resolve them, but because we resolve ourselves in them.

It’s different for other people; but we in our green youth have to settle the eternal questions first of all. That’s what we care about. Young Russia is talking about nothing but the eternal questions now, just when the old folks are all taken up with practical questions. … And what have Russian boys been doing up till now, some of them, I mean? In this stinking tavern, for instance, here, they meet and sit down in a corner. They’ve never met in their lives before and, when they go out of the tavern, they won’t meet again for forty years. And what do they talk about in that momentary halt in the tavern? Of the eternal questions, of the existence of God and immortality. And those who do not believe in God talk of socialism or anarchism, of the transformation of all humanity on a new pattern, so that it all comes to the same, they’re the same questions turned inside out.

That the question of abortion should figure in the 2008 elections may puzzle sophisticates elsewhere. But that’s how it works. People who’ve never met in their lives and won’t meet again for forty years. And what do they talk about in that momentary conversation?  Of the eternal questions. That’s what.


Tip Jar.