Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “My special guest is Patrick Deneen, the author. His latest book is called Conserving America?: Essays on Present Discontents. You were mentioning Chesterton earlier, speaking of fish. It’s either in Orthodoxy or What’s Wrong with the World. There’s one paragraph in there when he writes about the dead float downstream with the current. Only the living can swim upstream.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: You were mentioning Chesterton earlier, speaking of fish. It’s either in Orthodoxy or What’s Wrong with the World. There’s one paragraph in there when he writes about the dead float downstream with the current. Only the living can swim upstream.
Patrick Deneen: I think that’s from Orthodoxy.
Mike: It’s mindboggling meditation there. Only the living can swim upstream. His point in that chapter is that you just go with the flow just to go along to get along because other people are doing it and it seems like the thing to do and it’s cool. You’re dead. That’s not living. He also makes the point in many of his works that Christianity hasn’t been found tried and wanting; it’s been found not tried and difficult.
Deneen: It’s been found difficult and therefore not tried.
Mike: He’s quipping here, but this is largely true. In reading Chesterton, what you get out of this – you said something about philosophical training. This is why I guess I was so – my life changed forever when I discovered philosophia perennis and took Brother Francis Maluf’s eight-part lecture series. I took a college-level course. I took it beginning with logic, cosmology, psychology, ethics, ancient philosophers, modern philosophers, polemics, epistemology, ontology. It will force you, especially if you have an open mind and goodwill, it’ll open your mind up to how you’re supposed to think and how that logic is supposed to be the basis of that thinking. You can automatically just see certain – I see headlines and go: That’s illogical. Who’s the idiot editor that let that headline go out? It helps you to form a more Christian and solid, I think, pursuant to the truth worldview.
Deneen: That’s exactly right. What’s striking to me listening to you is that what you’re describing is exactly the purpose and the end of a liberal arts education, which is not simply to make you refined. It’s not simply to allow you to have things to talk about at a cocktail party and drop the names of important authors. It’s to teach you, not only as you’re describing it, how to think but to think well and to think properly and correctly, which is the basis of liberty. It’s the basis of freedom. The basis of freedom is to have a depth of understanding that allows for one, among other things, to be a self-governing human being.
What’s striking to me – one of the things that I’m actually writing about right now, a book that I’m writing right now called Why Liberalism Failed, which picks up on some of our themes, is that we’re seeing the death and demise of liberal arts education in America in favor of an education that basically tells people that to be free is simply to do as one wants. It’s not to have this kind of training. It’s no longer to have requirements in courses of philosophy and theology and the basis for what constitutes the condition of actual liberty. Again, a liberal society reshapes its citizenry to think of liberty in a way that ultimately can’t be sustainable. You cannot have a society that can’t be self-governing at some level.
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Mike: I’ll take that up as a challenge. To that end, as we part company again with our dear friend Patrick Deneen, author and professor of political philosophy at Notre Dame University – again, we’re honored to have you in our presence, brother. Thank you for still returning my calls.
Deneen: It’s my pleasure. Anytime. Nice to talk with you, Mike.
Mike: Before you go, just think about this and maybe amongst your family and friends, your Christian and close friends, what was accomplished in November? It was the election of Donald Trump. Especially those who maybe follow Archbishop Chaput, you had mentioned there’s a book coming out, and Cardinal Burke and others, and the folks that put together the Novena for our Nation. I know, just in my little group, dozens of us actually prayed that day. I suspect hundreds of thousands of people actually prayed for that outcome. Here’s my takeaway: evil was prevented. That was my prayer. Do not let that evil get within, number one, launching the nuclear button and starting a third war. Of course, some people think Trump is that. Do not let Mrs. Clinton get the pen of the White House to murder tens of millions more new soon-to-be-born children. Evil was prevented. Now, we may have gotten the lesser evil. Only time will tell that. We most certainly inched away, as my friend Chris Ferrara likes to say, inched away from the abyss. We prevented an evil. That came through prayer. I still firmly believe that was the result of Christians sitting there saying: We can pray our way out of this. We should take that as a lesson and remember that.
Deneen: The power of prayer is always underestimated. I would just pray now that our current leader, our current president, and all those in positions of power and responsibility, act on behalf of the common good, and that they guide us to become a better nation.
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Deneen: But not to be forgotten, of course, is that has to be done ultimately in the little places. That’s been my theme throughout the morning. Just make sure we are attending to the things close to home and cultivating a culture that we hope can sustain a better politics as well.
Mike: It’s a great way to end a great interview. Patrick, as always, my brother, thank you so much for the generosity of your time. We sincerely appreciate it.
Deneen: Thanks, Mike. God bless.
Mike: God bless you, too.
End Mike Church Show Transcript