This is the conclusion of a three part essay on conservatism, liberalism, and their relationship to NeoPagan spirituality. Part I described what liberalism and conservatism have been historically and philosophically and argued there is considerable truth in both views. Part II explored their relationship to Christian and Pagan spirituality and how Pagan insights enabled us better to understand their competitive but ultimately symbiotic relationship.Now, Part III examines why neither, but especially conservatism, resembles what they have been historically and why those Pagan insights are so critically important to everyone today.
The argument is more complex than the preceding two, but I hope you will bear with me. I am happy to elaborate points that seem undeveloped in the discussion to follow. Exceptions exist to much of what I am arguing, my larger argument is that the exceptions are minor themes today.
Part I of this essay was needed so we can know what liberalism and conservatism have meant historically and begin to grasp how they are changing. In addition, to understand their relations with one another and with the world I added a third pole, Power, and claimed we can understand neither liberalism nor conservatism without it. We can now delve more deeply, and begin to appreciate how Paganism can deepen our understanding and appreciation of both liberalism and conservatism.
Despite its now being almost always defended in purely secular terms liberalism is more in keeping with Jesus’s teaching that all are equal in God’s eyesthan is any other modern ideology. John Locke derived human rights from his Christian belief that we were God’s creations and in His eyes equal. Consider Matthew 25:34-40.
As my readers know, this column frequently has a political orientation.Some people object a religious site should not have political content.But historically spirituality has never been purely private except when viewed from a secular perspective that relegates it to the purely subjective, like preferring chocolate ice cream over vanilla. Interestingly, this secular outlook imports powerful monotheistic assumptions under the surface.
However to say that religion has unavoidable political implications is not to make the next jump and say that religion leads to One Right Way politically. This totalitarian conclusion has roots in religions dominating societies and also claiming there is only One Right Way. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are tragic examples. By contrast, religions emphasizing sacred immanence, that divinity is within the world wherever else it might be, generally recognize many valid spiritual paths, and more easily live at peace with a diverse political landscape.