Stream contributor Eric Metaxas has a provocative new book out this week,If You Can Keep It, which explores the forgotten connections between faith-based virtues and the survival of freedom in America. Are Americans virtuous enough to keep up a free society? Or are we headed into a new age where self-interested, short-sighted citizens are so caught up in their habits that they allow, or even require, an omnicompetent State to run their lives for them? I asked Eric, an old friend, to share his insights….
John: This current election is deeply dissatisfying to many Christian voters. How would you answer those who see Hillary Clinton as a grave threat, but fear that Trump lacks the virtue (much less the religion) to lead a free people? Even if he’s the lesser of two evils, is his rise a symptom of our fading virtue and faith?
Eric: Yes, Donald Trump’s rise is certainly a symptom of our fading virtue and faith, but ironically he may well be our only hope for finding our way back to bolder expressions of them. The eerie waxworks automaton formerly known as Hillary Rodham Clinton will no doubt double down on President Obama’s two-term repulsion to Constitutional government, in which unutterably sad case we simply wouldn’t ever be able to claw our way back up the abyss into which we shall have been thrust. If two more anti-Constitutionalist judges are shoehorned onto the Supreme Court we will have a Constitutional crisis — actually a cataclysm — in which the last Justices of that hoary institution will take that thing once described by a Constitutionalist Executive as the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and place it into a coffin gaily decorated with smiley face and rainbow stickers.
John: Is there any alternative to fighting the “culture wars” politically, even though we seem to be losing? Could we opt out and try to exist in tolerated enclaves, as the “Benedict Option” envisions?
Eric: Honestly, I think we will likely need to do some version of both.
If I asked Metaxas one question it would be: How can you write an admiration biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and say these things about Donald Trump?