Andrew Klavan hits the nails on the head. Number three is perhaps the most important:
Recently, a number of books by secular intellectuals have noted the disaster that is postmodern relativism—the nihilist philosophy that has corrupted and gutted Western liberal education. Education’s End, by Anthony T. Kronman, Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians, by Marcello Pera, and What Ever Happened to Modernism?, by Gabriel Josipovici, come to mind. All lament the abandonment of our commitment to the Great Conversation—the intellectual’s belief that the creative tension of the uniquely brilliant Western literary and philosophical canon can lead us in the direction of moral truth.Read the rest.
But the authors cannot fully grasp the nettle of the solution. Many assume that the Great Conversation depended on the sort of open mind only secularism can provide. As Kronman puts it: “Every religion insists, at the end of the day, that there is only one right answer to the question of life’s meaning,” thus rendering the pluralism of the Great Conversation impossible. I would contend the opposite: only the existence of a God in whose image we are created can support the notion of moral truth at all. It was always Judeo-Christianity, and that alone, that made the Great Conversation possible. Pera understands this intellectually, but cannot really plunk for faith. And therein lies the problem. The triumph of science, the comfort of Western life, and a sophisticated elite virulently hostile to religion have all contributed to an intellectual atmosphere of unbelief—a sense that atheism should be the default mode of reasonable, thinking people. That is a mere prejudice and needs to be answered in the culture, not with Bible-thumping literalism and small-minded judgmentalism—nor with banal happy-talk optimism—but by sound argument made publicly, unabashedly, and without fear. John Adams and the other Founders were right about this: an irreligious people cannot be free. Liberty lives in the palace of moral truth, and you can’t build that palace on the empty air.
Urban Dictionary: Come to Jesus
I believe the lesson that liberals most need to learn is that moral order is a miracle, it is hard to achieve, and it is precious. And since the Enlightenment, since the eighteenth century, I think liberals have been too quick to knock down institutions, to want change, and to try to tinker and maximize—and when you do that, you often end up with anomie, or normlessness. People should read about the French Revolution. Growing up as a liberal, I always thought the French Revolution was this wonderful thing. It was an absolute nightmare. Of course, the king was a nightmare too. But the French Revolution shows the excesses of liberalism. And it ended with genocide, it ended with mass slaughter in Paris with the guillotine. It was an abomination, because they destroyed all their moral capital and they had chaos. And that excess is actually the founding event of modern conservatism. It’s people like Edmund Burke, who said we need to preserve institutions even if we don’t always understand them. We have to proceed carefully. So that’s the main lesson that I think conservatives can teach liberals. You’re got to be careful here...