In his recent column responding to the You Tube hit video, “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus,” New York Times Columnist David Brooks sent a clear message to many would-be reformers: if you desire reform, you are better off joining a movement tied to a tradition.
Tradition is hardly a word we hear anymore. When it is evoked, it is often used negatively. Many people distrust institutions that symbolize traditions, such as the government and religion. The free market–which can be considered a tradition in that it refers to a set of principles on which our economy is based– has also come under fire. Change Washington, Occupy Wall Street, and give me Jesus without the church may be catchy phrases, but Brooks’s column leads us to ask: with what will you replace those traditions?
Although many critiques of government, markets, and religion may be right on, Brooks poses a challenge, which I paraphrase as: If you don’t like the tradition you see, look around for another tradition to which you would give authority. If you try to reform what you don’t like without knowing much about alternatives, you probably won’t persuade anyone to join you.
Brooks writes: [Read more…]