Interior Monologue


Worship the Creation, Not the Creator

Revealed Religion, Moral Philosophy, Anthropogenesis, and the End of the World

Here are the goals of the Creation Project.

  • To stipulate the central position of natural law in the foundation assumptions and beliefs of Western political philosophy in the past millennium.
  • To establish the political significance of natural law for our current moment in history.
  • To establish natural law’s implication in the existential and moral crisis of our time.
  • To connect natural law to Catholic theology and philosophy and institutions.
  • To distinguish natural law from Protestant theology and philosophy and institutions.
  • To itemize the central precepts and terms of natural law philosophy (Creator, Imago Dei, Revelation, Reason), using the Robby George Harvard address as a simple framework.
  • To establish the influence of Thomist categories and arguments for the contemporary influence of natural law.
  • To pair the Constitution and the Bible as species of revelation.
  • To break out the relationship between revealed religion and natural law and deconsecrate revelation s entirely spurious and inadequate as the foundation of moral philosophy.
  • To establish the relationship between creator and creation and to pose questions concerning each.

The Creation Project (1): A Primer on Natural Law

  • The Creation Project
    • Natural Law
    • Revealed Religion (+ Constitution)
    • Creator
    • Imago Dei
    • Creation
    • Western Civilization

context and Heidegger (v. analytic philosophy)

  • Revelation
  • Classics
    • Conservatives
      • Plato
      • Aristotle
      • Cicero
    • Radicals/Subversives
      • Socrates
      • Sophists
      • Cynics
      • Skeptics
      • Epicureans
      • Diogenes
  •  Patristics
    • Iraeneus
    • Tertullian
    • Augustine
    • Gnostics
  • Thomas & Francis
    • Rap Battle
  • Nucl(e)arity
    • Science
    • Emergence
    • Systems Theory
    • Chaos
    • Randomness
    • biology, geography, motion, mobility
  1. Primer on Natural Law
    Aquinas – could start with Aristotle, but really not necessary because for those who organize their world around the precepts of natural law, everything begins with St. Thomas Aquinas (with St. Augustine lambent on the horizon, the City of Man, the imperfect creation, faintly an echo of the City of God, domicile of the Creator, the Church itself the bridge and pathway between the two cities – the existence of a law of nature itself, prima facie, evidence of the blessing of the Creator upon the Creation, speaking to the human community through its intrinsic biologic and physiologic pathways and rhythms, a different but no less powerful and indisputable revelation than the laws of God encoded in Scripture.
  • St. Francis – writings – sui generis
  • Aquinas on Creator – reason = alternative thread to God? God as mind?
  • First Principles > self-evident > conforms to practical reason
  • Aquinas = spine of Catholic philosophy > master moral principle > providence of God
  • Morality = focus on marriage, sex ethics > bioethics
  • Francis of Assisi = alternative ? but sui generis > foot-washing > humility
  • The Dominicans and the Franciscans > Inquisition
  • Revealed Religion – Constitution / Bible
  • Practical Reason > Scottish Enlightenment > Witherspoon (v. Hume)
  • Ethics > Moral Philosophy > Bioethics > Body / Sexuality > Catholic Legacy
  • Catholic Authority > Hierarchy
  • Conservatives and Frederick Douglass

Directory / Taxonomy – Conservative Intellectual-Industrial Complex (Belief Factories)

  • Colleges
    • Hillsdale College
    • Grove City College
    • Regent University
    • Patrick Henry College
    • GMU – Reo – law school – study of administrative state
    • Chicago
    • Claremont College
    • Calvin College
    • Bryan College
    • Liberty University
  • Research / Policy Institutes
    • Claremont Institute
    • Heritage Foundation
    • Federalist Society
    • Heartland Institute
    • Acton Institute
    • Hudson Institution
    • Pacific Legal Foundation
    • Christian Legal Society
    • Americans for Prosperity
    • Freedom Partners
    • Chamber of Commerce
    • Americans for Tax Reform
    • State Policy Network
    • American Legislative Exchange Council
    • National Taxpayers Union
    • FreedomWorks
    • Competitive Enterprise Institute
    • Heritage Foundation
    • American Council for Capital Formation
    • Concerned Veterans for America
    • The LIBRE Initiative
    • Generation Opportunity
    • Taxpayer Protection Alliance
    • American Conservative Union
    • Susan B. Anthony List
    • Family Research Council
    • Goldwater Institute
    • National Rifle Association
    • Frontiers for Freedom
    • Becket Fund
    • Ethics and Public Policy Center
    • American Center for Law and Justice
    • The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, Property
    • Club for Growth
    • For America
    • Edison Electric Institute
    • Illinois Policy Institute
  • Foundations
    • Bradley Foundation
    • Charles Koch Foundation
  • Individuals
    • Funders
    • Philosophers
    • Policy Advocates
  • Publications
    • Claremont Review of Books
    • First Things
    • American Affairs
    • Public Interest
    • The Federalist
    • American Greatness
    • The New Atlantis
    • The Public Discourse (Ryan Anderson, Witherspoon Institute)
  • Philosophy, Law, and Public Policy
    • Connection between free market / natural law perspectives
    • Rothbard / Mises / Hayek

Natural Law, by Robert P. George, Dewey Lecture in Philosophy of Law, Harvard Law School, April 9, 2007

Natural Law Nodes

  • Revealed Religion
  • Creator God
  • God’s Creation
  • Humans In-Between
  • Connected to God via Faith & Reason
  • Connected to Creation via Emotion & Desire
  • Imago Dei – Human Dignity – Reason evidence – choice (freedom)
    • “natural human capacities for reason and freedom are fundamental to the dignity of humans”
    • self evident “goods” = “the goods of a rational creature – a creature who, unless impaired
  • Practical Reason – Applied Revelation
  • conservatives and frederick douglass, mlk, lincoln – these guys all nauseous
  • 177 – “awe-inspiring power to be an uncaused-causing. This is the power to envisage a possible state of affairs, to grasp the value of bringing into being, and then to act by choice (not merely by impulse or instinct) to bring it into being.” HOW DO WE KNOW THIS IS WHAT GOD DOES?
  • 177 – “What matters is that it is a product of reason and and freedom. It is the fruit of deliberation, judgment, and choice.”
  • 177 – then adds (of course) “We may, if we like, consider as a further matter whether beings capable of such powers could exist apart from a divine source and ground of their being.”
  • 177 but either way, can conclude beings “whose nature is to develop and exercise such powers” possess “dignity and rights” and ought not to be “treated as mere objects, instruments, and property.”
  • 177 – note he shares ground with “colleague and friend Jeffrey Stout, who argues on something closely akin to this basis that unbelievers, too, can affirm human dignity and fundamental human rights” – THIS IS SO WEIRD


The Zero-Sum

  • Considering Ebell / Prager / Bossie / Kim Kobach
  • Natural law and legal dominionism and revealed religion
  • threat – sin – evil in heart – provincial
  • Hofstadter – Paranoid Style – connections back to 1950s/1960s
  • nature subdued
  • Biblical mandate
  • There will be blood
  • fixed relationships – nature static / dead / exists for us
  • alienness / alienation
  • science + nature / engineering + extraction
  • Body of earth / sexuality
  • Bible – replenish and subdue the earth – Genesis
  • no spaces in-between; emotional/interior state = extractive / brutalist / zero-sum sensibility
  • Koch industries – industrial revolution mentality

The Dream of Democracy

Donald Trump’s polling numbers are terrible, but not nearly terrible enough. The floor of his support seems to have settled at about 38-42 percent of the population. And is clearly more robust in the smaller counties of the nation – thousands of them – that catapulted him into office in the most polarized (and polarizing) election since 1860. Among Republicans, more than 80 percent continue to support Trump.

The wisdom surfacing notes that Trump has mobilized this base of support around negative emotions. He has given them “permission” to hate, to bluster and berate, exaggerate and lie, threaten and bully. The “base” has zero interest in issues, policies, programs, outcomes, and consequences. And the base recognizes that, without Trump, it loses much of this delicious freedom to summon the dark warriors of judgment, punishment, and revenge their master invokes. And so the support of the base does not waver.

We have conjured our own darkness. No one should abjure themselves from responsibility, or pretend the state of the nation would be a hell of a lot better with Hillbilly Clinton in the White House. The shit storm would have taken a different form, perhaps, but we would be no less at its mercy, because the problems were never, essentially, about who won more electoral votes, but about a nation so polarized and fractured that any outcome would have lacked legitimacy for a significant part of the population.

For this reason, anyone concerned about the fate of electoral democracy, (and the robust civic virtues and policy outcomes democracy is supposed to enable) must set aside their partisan fury and focus directly on what a “good election” in 2016 might have looked like, how and why we diverged from this dream of electoral democracy, and what would need to happen for us to restore it to a place of pride in our national identity.

  • Lineaments of Conservatism
    • control shifts from evangelical Protestants to Catholics – whose thought is much more systematic, rigorous, disciplined and applied
    • Conservative Catholics also much more cleanly and succinctly aligned with heartland businessmen – by disposition and conceptually
    • What is the program – National Review letter
    • Catholic conservatives and the election – Ted Cruz – Neil Gorsuch
  • Problems
    • Culture of Life
      • Children (Stevenson v. George on children and the culture of life)
      • Inequality
    • Globalism
    • Capitalism
    • Environment
    • War
    • The Company they Keep
  • Trump
    • offends liturgical sensibilities – distaste – not a man of virtue / refinement / ideas – cannot be trusted
    • but get on board – favor Trump over Clinton & Democrats
    • eyes on the prize – the Supreme Court – Leonard Leo – Gorsuch – the continuity of the law
  • Natural Law

Trump Is a Really Shitty Father (04/29/2017)

Politico Magazine article on presidential use and manipulation of media dating back to first party system and battles between Jefferson and Hamilton. Positions Trump as part of that grand tradition, but also as outlier adopting asymmetrical, guerilla, “jungle warfare” strategy. Article notes that presidency by definition associated with paternal authority (at least until we have a female president, and perhaps even then). But Trump is obviously a crappy father figure. Which may account for the weirdness of his presidency. Trump offers the opposite of the reassuring and stable qualities children (or those who are dependent – as citizens of course are – upon the powerful) require from the words and behaviors of the authority figures and caregivers in their lives. Much of this stability is about boundaries, the known topography of the emotional world of the child. But Trump obliterates boundaries, his words are incoherent, his actions meaningless, his emotions entirely dysregulated. Hence the undisciplined, debauched effect of his presidency, which has allowed a truckload of street hoods to take control of the machinery of state. The drama is surreal. But also traumatizing. We would all benefit from intensive DBT counseling. None moreso than our president.

Servant Leadership (04/29/2017)

Let’s consider Pope Francis, not as the holy father of the Catholic Church, but as a spiritual leader. In his surprise video appearance at the TED conference, the Pope talked about leadership and humility.

Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.” You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

Truly, leading is not that difficult. Those whom you lead must trust you. And they will trust you if they have confidence you are are focused on helping them, not helping yourself. Your words and your deeds must align. For this reason, Obama absolutely didn’t do much to restore trust in government when he accepted $400,000 to speak before Cantor Fitzgerald. That decision was pretty disappointing, especially right out of the post-presidency gate.