One does get the impression from certain people that in order to be a “real” conservative (that is, somebody who doesn’t worship the future or exalt the State above the human person, and who thinks the patrimony of human culture and the revelation of God are things of value) or a “real” Catholic (that is, somebody who assents to the teaching of the Church without revision) one must also smoke cigars, eat red meat, and eschew NPR, certain ritually impure foods, and ritually defiling contact with Unapproved Books and/or Media. The apotheosis of this sort of thinking on the Internet is Petersnet, which “grades” sites for “fidelity” and uses as criteria (among other things) who you happen to link to. Thus, perfectly orthodox Catholics I know have gotten warnings from Petersnet that they will be “downgraded” for fidelity simply because they link to sites which Petersnet deems questionable. Similarly, I have gotten email from people “warning” me that I am dallying with heterodoxy because I don’t see a big problem with Harry Potter books and I kinda liked the Matrix.
I think the Left is far worse in this sort of rigidity. (I remember with fondness a woman I worked with who brought me some publisher’s catalog she’d gotten in the mail full of stuff by Jefferson and the Founders. All she wanted to know was “Is this a *conservative* publisher?” The actual content of the catalog (which was admittedly full of long words and might have been beyond her) was of no interest. She just wanted to avoid ritual defilement.) But the Left does not have a corner on it. So… I hereby announce: I enjoy “A Prairie Home Companion”. I don’t see “conservative” and “conservation” as antonyms but as cognates. I find much to admire in Christopher Hitchens. I still don’t see the big problem with Assisi. I do not trust large corporations any more than I trust large governments. I think the bombing of Dresden and Nagasaki were war crimes. I think cigars stink. (However, I do like a good steak and, while I loathe beer, I like a good glass of liberal zinfandel.) Oh, and I’ve always been fond of “Lord of the Dance” (the song, not the Michael Flatley video) and, contrary to one of Amy’s over-the-top hysterical commenters yesterday, I reject the goofy notion that holding hands during the “Our Father” and receiving communion in the hand is a portent and cause of apostasy and child molestation.