A few of you know that I’ve been rather absorbed in reflections on patriotism of late–not patriotism in general, but American patriotism, and what love of our country should really look like in our lives. A longer post on that will follow at some point, once I’ve been able to wrap some of my hazier thoughts in words.
For today, I present two questions that have been revolving in my mind for quite some time, both of which spring from patriotism, but are more centered on the issue of the American project itself.
First, I think about our nation’s origins, about the ideals on which she was built; how compatible are those ideals with our Catholic faith? Perhaps I hesitate to embrace them wholeheartedly in part from an in-built bias against the religious (or irreligious) beliefs and philosophical underpinnings of many of the Founders themselves. And perhaps that isn’t fair.
Second, and this question springs from the first, looking at the American project today and the manifold ways in which it seems to be unraveling, I wonder if it is necessary to return, as so many conservatives urge, to “the ideals of the Founders,” or if we should instead seek to go back farther than that, to the good principles on which those ideals were built, but perhaps cutting out certain aspects. In particular, the social contract ideal gives me huge pause, as does the staunchly individualistic approach to government. But I admit, I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, so this is largely feeling about in the dark for me.
Give me another two years to ponder, and I may be able to come up with some concrete things to say on this matter. But for now, perhaps it’s enough to lay the questions out there and hear the thoughts of others…