The Mike Church Show World HQ
The Mike Church Show World HQ

Dan Sullivan Letter on Community and Conservatism

Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Remember the woman that called last week and she said it would take 200 years to unravel this and I said we don’t have 200 years?  We only have this life to live, madam.  You must live this life.  You’ve got to fix this thing in your lifetime.  You are the one who will atone for either sinning or not sinning.  You ultimately do have the power to change this.  You don’t have to play the libs’ game.  We don’t have to watch their television show, purchase their movie, read their books.  You don’t have to do any of the things that they do.  You can do everything in your power to not do them.  That’s what Sullivan is writing about here. Check out today’s transcript for the rest and the full letter…

 

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  On this gray and chill morning after, I’d like to share with you a quote from Robert Nisbet, one of the great traditionalist conservative thinkers of the 20th century, from his book Twilight of Authority written in 1975.  Listen to this, those of you that put all your eggs into the “get Obama” basket.  Did you ever see the movie Get Shorty?  I think I saw the movie, late night.

[reading]

The dream of the right president surrounded by the right aides, governing the right congress, promulgating all the right laws, ordinances, regulations and decrees, to take effect in all sectors of society with a now disenchanted multitude converted overnight into a militant and centralized democracy of eager citizens.  This dream is presumably an ineradicable one.

[end reading]

Mike:  In other words, you can’t ever get rid of it.  That’s what we just saw played out.  You hear me talking about this, and I didn’t know I was channeling Nisbet, when I, on the show, talk about “if we just get the right Speaker of the House and turn the nob just to the right, tinker with that policy just this far, all will be well and right with the world.  Sullivan continues:

[reading]

As Nisbet knew and you know, top-down, centralized, technocratic government has never before and will never solve all that ails society.  It matters not a whit which party or personality controls the national political apparatus.  For those groping for a political path forward, they need to redirect their efforts into putting their own house, extended family, neighborhood, church and community in order.

[end reading]

Mike:  In other words, embrace virtue.  Where have I heard this message articulated before?  Wait a minute, I think we hear it on this show.  Don’t forget, Saturday in Houston, Texas, if you’re a Texas resident anywhere in the Houston area, the Houston branch of the ReFounding Father Society has its quarterly meeting, and it’s going to be a big and important one.  They’ve invited me.  Of course, I’m the founder of the ReFounding Father Society with David Simpson.  They’ve invited me — they invited David, too, but he can’t make it.  I’m going to make the trip over and have been invited to speak, and I will do so.  I hope to see you go to ReFoundingFatherSociety.com for details if you’re in the Houston area.

So pay attention to your own sphere.  Remember the woman that called last week and she said it would take 200 years to unravel this and I said we don’t have 200 years?  We only have this life to live, madam.  You must live this life.  You’ve got to fix this thing in your lifetime.  You are the one who will atone for either sinning or not sinning.  You ultimately do have the power to change this.  You don’t have to play the libs’ game.  We don’t have to watch their television show, purchase their movie, read their books.  You don’t have to do any of the things that they do.  You can do everything in your power to not do them.  That’s what Sullivan is writing about here.

[reading]

Turn off the TV and tap into the reservoir of Western civilization’s cultural riches while they still exist.  Of course, toss a few bucks the way of reformers like Ron and Rand Paul, but don’t wait for the flood to cleanse Washington of its hubris.  Decentralization will not seriously attract political attention until it offers a viable alternative to the central leviathan.  Those alternatives must be built through painstaking work.  [Mike: That’s right, you’ve got to work it in your community.]

For example, the Catholic Church, which has, since its founding, acted as the most prominent counterbalance to centralizing political authority and function, today contents itself to fight a hostile government via memoranda rather than offering practical, real-life alternatives to the government teat.  If Planned Parenthood can litter the landscape with abortuaries, then the church must build pregnancy centers at twice the number.  Where are the health insurance and mutual aid societies that adhere to Catholic doctrine?  Why have Catholic charities, Catholic relief services and innumerable Catholic hospitals become extensions of the secular state?  How is it possible that the once-thriving Catholic school system now withers with schools being closed where they are most needed?

Many Catholics have disengaged, to be sure.  Those of us who are left must commit ourselves to building an alternative to the decadent, frivolous, secular monoculture.  This can only be achieved on a small, local scale repeated in countless communities across the land, each addressing its particular circumstances.  The Catholic Church is but one possible vehicle toward renewal.  Restore the function; assert the authority; resist, even to the point of incarceration, infringements on that authority and take responsibility for yours.  This will require an extraordinary financial commitment and a depth of solidarity largely unknown to the contemporary free agent individual, but that is, as they say, the price of freedom.  [Mike: I would argue it is the price of personhood.]  Sorry, there’s no quick fix, only unrelenting toil adorned by the unique satisfaction of a lifetime lived in true community.  Can we overcome the shame of a national sloth?

[end reading]

End Mike Church Show Transcript

 

Here is the text of the full letter:

Hello Mike,
On this gray and chill morning-after, I’d like to share with you a quote from Robert Nisbet, one of the great traditionalist conservative thinkers of the 20th century (much admired by Russell Kirk) from his book Twilight of Authority written in 1975:
“The dream of the right President, surrounded by the right aides, governing the right Congress, promulgating all the right laws, ordinances, regulations, and decrees, to take effect in all sectors of society, with a now disenchanted multitude converted overnight into a militant and centralized democracy of eager citizens – this dream is presumably an ineradicable one.”
As Nisbet knew and you know, top-down, centralized, technocratic government has never before and never will “solve” all that ails society. It matters not a whit which party or personality controls the national political apparatus. For those groping for a political path forward, they need to redirect their efforts into putting their own house, extended family, neighborhood, church, and community in order (embracing virtue!). Turn off the TV and tap into the reservoir of Western Civilization’s cultural riches while they still exist! Of course, toss a few bucks the way of reformers like Ron and Rand Paul, etc., but don’t wait for the Flood to cleanse Washington of its hubris. Decentralization will not seriously attract political attention until it offers a viable alternative to the central Leviathan. Those alternatives must be built through painstaking work.
For example, the Catholic Church (mine and yours), which has since its founding acted as the most prominent counterbalance to centralizing political authority and function, today contents itself to fight a hostile government via memoranda rather than offering practical, real-life alternatives to the government teat: if Planned Parenthood can litter the landscape with abortuaries, then the Church must build pregnancy centers at twice the number. Where are the health insurance and mutual aid societies that adhere to Catholic doctrine? Why have Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and innumerable Catholic hospitals become extensions of the secular State? How is it possible that the once-thriving Catholic school system now withers with schools being closed where they are most needed? Many Catholics have disengaged, to be sure. Those of us who are left must commit ourselves to building an alternative to the decadent, frivolous, secular monoculture. This can only be achieved on a small, local scale, repeated in countless communities across the land, each addressing its particular circumstances. The Catholic Church is but one possible vehicle toward renewal. 
Restore the function; assert the authority; resist, even to the point of incarceration, infringements on that authority, and take responsibility for yours and your’n. This will require an extraordinary financial commitment and a depth of solidarity largely unknown to the contemporary free-agent individual, but that is, as they say, the price of freedom. I would argue it is the price of personhood. Sorry, there’s no “quick-fix”, only unrelenting toil adorned by the unique satisfaction of a lifetime lived in true community. Can we overcome the shame of our national sloth? 
A personal aside: I am a member of the Academy of Philosophy & Letters and a doctoral student  of Dr. Claes Ryn’s at Catholic University. I was sorry to have missed you at last summer’s conference in Baltimore. I hope to see you there some other time. I know you draw on Winston Elliott’s Imaginative Conservative for insight, and I encourage you to also visit Front Porch Republic (http://www.frontporchrepublic.com). Its contributors creatively explore diverse avenues of renewal from the bottom-up.
 
Keep up the good work. Your perspective is essential. As Catholics with a knowledge of history, we know that the Church, and Western Civilization more broadly, has seen darker days. As Catholics with children, we are impelled to embrace hope, strive for the highest things in life, and reject resignation to the prevailing zeitgeist. And as Catholics who believe in the sanctifying grace of our Lord, we can take comfort that, in the end, we are on the winning team! 
ex fide fortis
Dan Sullivan
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