Monday, God being our help, we return to the book length series on the admirable life. According to my hits you are a bit bored with this one.
Still, I persevere.
Please remember this is a series written in its particulars to influence the committee put together to select an Executive Director for TBC. I was one of them once (not the smaller committee; the larger whole) and still watch their doings with some interest. Their fire is going out in Texas but the embers still glow. Old cowboys watch to see if it will be a fire again. You never know and we have to protect the range in case of wildire, always a threat in drouth conditions.
The larger purpose of the series is our interminable culture wars. Our Post-Modern cultural conflict is between Fanaticism on the one hand and Nihilism on the other. These are the actual philosophical extremes, while more popular words like "liberal" and "conservative" describe schools of thought neatly tucked within the extremes.
I contend there is little room left for the Christian Realist. The Christian Realist is that person who lives by this standard: Jesus Christ came to us from outside ourselves to show us truths of God we cannot know if left to ourselves. From there, neither Fanatic nor Nihilist, the Christian Realist can begin his part of the cultural conversation, facing right or left, with equal facility.
One of the rational weapons in the Christian Realist arsenal is cultural agreement on what elements of virtue comprise an admirable life. We knew once. My West Texas reader, RobRe, takes the point neatly when he writes in our comment section about those we used to know as "the good guys."
We cannot define "good guy" or "admirable life" with consistency. At least, we cannot describe an admirable life including religion as we once could, if we have any thought to achieve immediate popular consensus.
Nonetheless, we still believe there is an admirable life to be lived. In America, our bicameral legislative bodies setting the tone, we are in a constant election cycle. In each stage of the election cycle we are told what is admirable our candidate. He is "one of the people." That is, he is admirable because he is one of us, as though you are I could do the job just as well.
Or, our candidate is admirable because she is a 'Washington outsider." Or, our candidate is admirable because he is not like the other fellow, who is known to be a scoundrel, probably born elsewhere, to boot, which would, one realizes with sudden horror, make him the ultimate outsider, and we should scurry from this argument.
Still, when we tell why the other fellow is a scoundrel, his antithesis must be admirable by inverse implication. So, we are constantly talking about what is admirable. We still believe it is out there, if only we can find it.
The TBC committee will find someone before long. He will be a he, probably younger than either of the two transients most recently in the spot. I call them transients because both quit after less than three years in the job. One of them left. The new young fellow may be a person other than anglo in hopes the surging, diverse population (ethnically) may somehow see the organization is remorseful about its past and somehow "more hip" now.
The committee will tell you what it is about him that is admirable. I am telling the committee what is admirable before they go to the trouble of picking him, just so they will know. I have been kind enough to tell them to stop looking in the Senate, as US Presidential politics turned from the Senate, to the state house for some governors. Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, all came from the state house, with the right measure of outsiderness and adminstrative experience.
That is, I pointed them from some semi-large church pastor to one or more of the veteran associational executives in the state, told they why and mentioned some names.
I mean, really, I did my part. C'mon.
In a larger measure, I am trying to explore for us what is admirable in real life. The poor committee has to choose a fellow to be head of a failing corporation. He is going to have to be a turn-around executive. Spiritual attributes are not included in his job description but his spirituality (ok, his salvation and sanity) will be questioned just after he moves into the office. He will not be Fanatic enough for the Fanatics or Nihilist enough for the Nihilists. He willa age two years for every six months in the office.
If he does his job the best he can do it, he will offer us some major wisdom on the admirable life and set a consistent image of the admirable life before us. God help him. Slogans and outdated corporate schemes will not suffice.
He will be chosen from the Fanatics of one group, since they so fear the Fanatics of the other side. He will not be a Nihilist but he will achieve Nihilism if he holds to his party's brand of Fanatiscism. He will have to be like the Republican Reactionary who runs from the Right but governs from the Center, or like the Democratice Progressive who runs from the Left but governs (yes, you guessed it) from the Center.
How will he be chosen? There are the usual fellows running hard for the post. Horror of horrors, one of them will be chosen. He will be one of those fellows who is not running for high office, but only waits for something "spontaneous" to happen so he cannot refuse it either. No naif is going to take the office. Merit will not be expressed by nobility.
God help you all.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.