Another take on a book I highly recommend, “Heroic Conservatism“, which contains this wonderful statement, which I agree with
“The two intellectually vital movements within the Republican Party today are libertarianism and Roman Catholic social thought.” (p. 160)
This excerpt is from an article in “First Things“.
By Stephen H. Webb
Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 7:10 AM
Defenders of the separation of church and state deplore no period of Christian history more than the Constantinian epoch. They suspect that Constantine made the world safe for Christianity only by making Christianity a danger to the world. Christian soldiers replaced bleeding martyrs as the altar fused with the sword. The theorist behind Constantine’s political revolution was the much maligned Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea. Unlike Augustine, who dismissed Rome as a bastion of brigandage, Eusebius thought the empire was a gift from God, and he was convinced of Constantine’s cosmic importance. Eusebius thought he was living during the climax of history, with church and state uniting under the one aim of divine providence. His panegyrical style strikes us as purplish today, but to his contemporaries, his coordination of historical events with the coming Kingdom of God was inspiring and credible. He was more eloquent than Constantine, but he was only translating the emperor’s self-understanding into a viable idiom. If he were alive today, he would be a presidential speechwriter.
Arguably, he would be Michael Gerson. I mean that as a compliment. Eusebius praised Constantine from afar, but Gerson observed President Bush up close. A graduate of Wheaton College who now writes an op-ed column for the Washington Post, Gerson was President Bush’s chief speechwriter and policy adviser for five years. In his new book, Heroic Conservativism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America’s Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail if They Don’t), he explains how President Bush “came to rely on me to help collect and express his intuitions.” He transformed President Bush’s wishes into words, but he was much more than the president’s muse. Gerson shares with the president a providential reading of history. Like Bush, Gerson is convinced that freedom is the goal of history—because he believes that freedom is God’s gift to everyone.
Bush intones his speeches with a Texan flatness. Gerson embossed them with biblical cadences. The most prominent example of Gerson’s influence occurred during the 2003 State of the Union address, when Bush declared that “there is power, wonder-working power,” in the idealism of the American people. When journalists complained that Gerson was hiding religious messages in the president’s speeches, he would explain that “these are not code words, they are literary references understood by millions of Americans.” For Gerson as well as for President Bush, political freedom is too precarious to have been brought to the shores of America by any means other than providence, and too important for providence not to extend to the rest of the world.