The Desert is a Good Place in our Tradition

It’s why we celebrate both Advent and Lent, times of fasting where you go out into the desert to pray, reflect and get your head together in the presence of God. Israel did it. Prophets did it. Jesus did it. And we do it.

So the period after an election loss is a good time for people who care about the Church’s engagement with the political to think of it as time in the desert. And the happy news that I’m seeing all around me is that lots of Christian and Catholic conservatives are doing that. I plan on posting some of these promising signs of thought from time to time, as well as continuing to post on the places where faithful Catholics need to disengage from obvious unreality, slogans, and shibboleths that are preventing them from facing reality.

One person who seems to have his head screwed on straight and trying to think with the Tradition is Philip Blond. Check him out. He and Chesterton would like each other.

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  • You can read any number of interesting and even cogent analyses of what’s wrong with our society. It’s hard to find any proposals about what to do except general moralizing ones.

    I think we may come out just about here:


    A wind blows through the dry acacia
    Beneath the cave of shocked Elijah,
    This the small and silent voice –
    The soul of man a stunted tree;

    Man the dry and twisted branch
    Through which the wind of God can speak
    The Spirit comes and goes at will,
    The wind can speak and even kill,

    The soul is His and will obey,
    And who will not the Spirit slays;
    Tell the trees to hear My speech –
    There is no branch I cannot reach

    But of the trees which have not bent
    The branch to Baal, I will relent

    November 4, 20012

  • That’s wonderful news!

  • Terence M. Stanton


    Chesterton would like you, too, Mr. Shea. Keep up the great work, sir.

  • Mark R

    P. Blond would resonate with people like me who are Orwell on the inside and Waugh on the outside (but without their talent).

  • ivan_the_mad

    Phil Blond is great. If I remember correctly, Red Toryism graced one of TAC’s covers around that time. His book (not the easiest thing to obtain in the USA) is great. It’s so refreshing to see somebody make an attempt to avoid both of the heresies that so define our contemporary political dichotomy.

  • B.E. Ward

    Blond’s a good thinker and all.. just be careful of potential folk-hero fallout down the road…..

    • ivan_the_mad

      Always a wise admonition. Hopefully he’ll recognize the error and reform.

  • Liz

    Mark, count me in as one more conservative Catholic who is doing some serious prayer, reflecting and penance. I know I need to think with the Tradition above all else, and not as a member of any political faction. I have made efforts to do this in the past, (I even voted third party this time around), but my sinful reactions after this election have made it crystal clear to me that I have a lot of work to do. I am so glad you will continue to write about this most important topic. I would love more help with learning to think with the Church. Thanks Mark!

  • PK

    I am not seeing a lot of self-examination, though admittedly I’m not plugged into the Catholic blogosphere, which is understandably your priority. Most of what I’m seeing in various places is “Romney’s loss clearly demonstrates that the Republican Party needs to change — to be more like me!”

    I do not claim I’m immune to this tendency, although at the moment I’m not optimistic enough to think being “more like me” would win elections. But at this point it’s a breath of fresh air just to run across posts that acknowledge there are genuine disagreements with specific premises and reasoning behind them, rather than, apparently, assuming the other side is pretending to disagree just to be obnoxious.

    • Ted Seeber

      I say, Romney’s loss and the 50% Catholic vote going to Obama *clearly* shows that Catholics have no place in either political party- and the answer is that we need to evangelize more and teach people that Avarice, Wrath, and Lust are sins and not virtues.