George Weigel: Sifting Through the Wreckage

Over at National Review Online, the indispensable George Weigel assesses the state of things after last week’s election and dismantles one of the more common reactions to Obama’s re-election – that it was nothing more than a preservation of the status quo, that nothing has changed.  Weigel refutes this mistaken notion, explaining why what happened is very much of consequence for the country, the culture, and the Church.

The American culture war has been markedly intensified, as those who booed God, celebrated an unfettered abortion license, canonized Sandra Fluke, and sacramentalized sodomy at the Democratic National Convention will have been emboldened to advance the cause of lifestyle libertinism through coercive state power, thus deepening the danger of what a noted Bavarian theologian calls the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Religious freedom and civil society are now in greater jeopardy than ever, as what was already the most secularist and statist administration in history will, unfettered by reelection concerns, accelerate its efforts to bring free voluntary associations to heel as de facto extensions of the state.

Echoing Pope Benedict XVI, Weigel warns of the danger posed by a culture of relativism, a culture whose ideals of narcissism and hostility to traditional morality are actively promoted by the administration that was just re-elected and re-affirmed in its goals by a majority of the American public.  With the culture in this state, and with those principles we cherish under such attack, Weigel offers the basic parameters of what our mission must be going forward:

It takes a certain kind of people, living certain indispensable virtues, to make the market and democracy work so that justice, prosperity, and human flourishing are the net results of freedom. That elementary truth — recognized by the Founders, ignored by the newly reelected administration, and avoided by libertarians and Republican campaign consultants — has to be at the center of the conversation about the American future, and about playing good defense during the next four challenging years.

There is more to Weigel’s article, all worth your while.



  • Greg B.

    “sacramentalized sodomy” And YOU’RE the victim when people reject your Catholic bullsh1t. This is the sort of hateful rhetoric that was rejected on November 6.

    • naturgesetz

      I agree. That was nasty — unworthy of Mr. Weigel. I was shocked to read that phrase coming from him. It’s the sort of thing that one expects from trolls on the internet, but not from respectable authors. And it does my sides cause no good, since it gives credibility to the other side’s depiction of us as hateful.

      • Greg B.

        Quite nasty. It’s also an intentional conflation of religious sacrament and civil law which is thoroughly dishonest. Catholic churches remain free to exclude whomever they want from the religious rituals that occur under their roofs. The people voted to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, not to modify religious sacrament. He also fails to a knowledge that men and women (probably most couples married at Catholic altars) engage in various forms of so-called sodomy. So it’s the church, not the voters, who have sacramentalized sodomy.

  • Randall

    The culture war is in full swing. UPS has joined the ranks of those who oppress Catholics and other Christians, by refusing to donate money to the Boy Scouts because they stand for traditional marriage. This is an outrage, they have no right to redefine marriage OR force other organizations to do so! I call on all faithful Catholics to boycott UPS, from now on use FedEx! Preferably while eating a big ol’ Chick Fil A sandwich, woohoo! :)

    • Katherine

      This is the overheated rhetoric that so failed in the last election. However worthy, the BSA does not have a right to UPS’s money. It can be bad judgment but it is not oppression to re-direct their charitable giving.
      And I would research Fed-Ex a bit more before you jump on their bandwagon.

    • Patrick

      UPS stands for traditional marriage. They ALSO stand for gay marriage. The 2 are not mutually exclusive. They coexist peacefully around the world. Like Jews and Christians.

    • Rob

      I am an Eagle Scout. Let me be perfectly clear: traditional marriage has nothing to do with being a Boy Scout. You see, you can’t legally be married and be a Boy Scout. Once you hit age 18, you are no longer a Boy Scout. Before age 18, you can’t marry. I thought this was logical, but apparently not.

      As an Eagle Scout, I do not financially support the Boy Scouts because the Scouts expel boys for being homosexual; not for homosexual conduct (which would also be a ridiculous reason to expel) but for the mere state of being homosexual. That is not Catholic, that is not Christian, that is nothing but pure evil.

      As an Eagle Scout, I have stood with fellow scouts who are gay who earned their Eagle Scout rank. Please describe for me why the benefits of Scouting should only apply to heterosexual people. Should we allow homosexual boys to play Little League Baseball? What about playing an instrument in a youth orchestra? Should we allow homosexual youths to even exist at all?

      No, we have to stop the homosexuals from sinning. Meanwhile, those heterosexual Boy Scouts, in the throes of puberty, are perfectly find to engage in pre-marital sex (and yes, I know of those Eagle Scouts as well). They are apparently fine, upstanding examples for society.

      To claim that a private business refusing to donate to a private organization not affiliated with the Church is somehow oppressing Catholics is so wildly illogical I don’t even know where to begin. But remember this–this Catholic Eagle Scout does the same thing, and I take great joy in my heresy.

  • Abigail A.

    Weigel is right. There was an enormous change that happened. This election the American people spoke out for love over hate, for equality over discrimination. For human dignity over degradation. I have never been so proud to be an American as I have been over these past days. To those who say America has lost its way, I say look no further than your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends who rose up and said, “Decency, love, dignity, are what’s needed, not hate, not discrimination, not homophobia and racism.” The dark shadows of our past are slowly fading and a brighter, more wonderful dawn is coming. I am so lucky to be young, to have a future ahead of me. I know now that I CAN be a Christian and support marriage equality, that it does not make me a sinner to seek to love, to support and to bless those wonderful souls who are so often maligned and denigrated. This election has given me hope. I know in time, that goodness will win out over bigotry. That the GOOD hearts of those on this website, however misguided I may think they are, will lead them in final analysis to ask, “What would Jesus do?” and when that question is posed openly and sincerely with prayer and reflection. The answer is clear. No one would be turned away. God bless the United States of America in all her years ahead.

    • Joe M

      Which neighbors and co-workers are you referring to? Almost half of the country voted for Romney.

    • James

      Beautiful Abigail.It so wonderful to know that young people like yourself aren’t making the same mistakes of those of us from my generation.

  • miles01

    I whole heartedly agree with ya on that Paul. Mr Weigel’s opinion seems to indicated the following: 1) the need to get into another war over Bengazi to quote “flex our muscles”. 2)seems to ignore the fact that Bush started two wars without figuring out a way to pay for them, then dumped it into Prez Obama’s lap. 3) and most important, is one of those ultra conservatives that will agree with nothing this new administration does.

    • Joe M

      Hey, look. Paul agrees with himself!

      • Scottie O

        Paul, do you use more than one name? If so, why? Is this like the Gallup Poll saying that Americans overestimate by 735% the number of homosexuals in the general population?

        • Joe M

          Hah. And liberals claim that the GOP is the group that is out of touch with reality.

        • paul

          No, this isn’t my comment. I know how to use the “reply” function correctly.

  • Paul

    I believe that Obama’s historic win was also a win for freedom and religious liberty. Obama supports the rights of same sex couples to marry and have their relationships recognized and respected by the state. This expands freedoms and liberty. Obama also believe that workers should be able to choose what is included as part of their healthcare, the decision to deny them coverage no no longer rests with the employer. This is a win for freedom and liberty, I’m glad that a majority of America believes that we all deserve the right to live our lives based on our own personal beliefs and that others shouldn’t be able to tell you who you can or can not marry or what you do with your healthcare. I’m excited to see what the next four years has in store!

    • naturgesetz

      It is a delusion to suppose that the law prevents same sex couples from marrying. Marriage is not an institution which the state invented and can reinvent at will. Marriage exists by human nature and preexists the state. It is the institution by which children are procreated and raised in a stable family by their mother and father. It is biologically impossible for same-sex couples to enter into such a relationship. Therefore, any person or state which thinks marriage can be defined to include same-sex couples is deluded.

      • Susan B.

        We need your excellent replies. Thank you.

      • Greg B.

        It’s clear that you’re the deluded one here. Civil marriage is a collection of man-made laws that belong to ALL citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. It does not belong to one religion or another. It does not belong to the religious the exclusion of the non-religious. And it does not belong to straight couples to the exclusion of gay ones. If you believe that it is “God’s plan” to reserve marriage for opposite sex couples, then you are speaking about religious sacrament, not civil marriage, and you have every right to work to maintaining or even rshaping the marriage rules for your chosen religious affiliation within the boundaries of that religion. But you do not have the right to insist that your particular religious doctrine must be mirrored in our shared civil laws. Your assertion that citizens don’t have the right to alter civil law is absolutely ridiculous. November 6 proved that the majority agrees.

        • Patrick

          Plus, who cares that the institution of marriage pre-exists the state? So do property rights and contract rights, which were exercised in cave-man days. All 3 are now regulated by the state in a complex, civilized society.

          • naturgesetz

            But it would make no sense for the state to enact a law which redefines property in a way which gives people property rights in everything they like, bypassing the need for some means of acquisition such as purchase or inheritance. The state may regulate these things, but that is not the same as being able to remake them. There is an underlying reality which a wise state acknowledges.

          • Greg B.

            OK. Now scroll up and compare what you just wrote to what you first wrote. I’m glad you’ve rethought this a bit.

          • Rob

            Of course, gay couples don’t deserve the same inheritance rights as straight couples…right? You’d have to agree with that position…which at face value is wildly flawed.

        • naturgesetz

          None of what you wrote has anything to do with what I wrote. It’s a fine example of the type of false argumentation known as “straw man.”

          I never denied that people can alter civil law, but as the old saying about British Parliamentary supremacy put it, “Parliament can do anything except make a man a woman.” Reality is reality, regardless of what civil law may say. Even if the law is changed to say that a same-sex couple can marry, their “marriage” is not the same thing as the marriage of a man and a woman. So it makes no sense to make laws pretending otherwise.

          • Greg B.

            Reality is reality…it’s also something you don’t seem to have a very strong connection with. Your old saying is irrelevant. The fundamental flaw in your argument is that the state of being a man or woman is not a government issued contract. Marriage is. And saying things like “it’s not the same thing” is nonsense because legally it is the same thing. You’re free to dislike same-sex marriages, interfaith or interracial ones, marriages between people with a large age difference, height difference, compatibility problems or simply because the two people don’t look good together…but the reality is that if they are legally married, their marriage is as legally valid as other marriages, including yours. And married is then the correct term to use – even if you don’t like it or put condescending quotes around it. The Catholic Church – any church for that matter – can ignore the marriages of same-sex couples, just as they can do for mixed faith couples or for second, third, or fourth marriages. But you need to accept the fact that civil marriage is a collection of civil laws. The people in ME, MD, and WA voted to change civil laws, not church doctrine.

          • naturgesetz

            De jure it may be called marriage, but that doesn’t make it marriage de facto. I’m not talking about legal validity in the eyes of the state. Of course, if a same sex couple go through the required formalities in a jurisdiction whose laws define marriage in a way which extends to same sex couples then they are legally married. That’s basically a tautology: if the law recognizes their marriage, they are legally married. But a same sex relationship is still substantively different from a male-female one, regardless of what the state or the Church says about it.

    • Let Peeps Vote

      “Marriage is a basic right of man” Supreme Court 1967.

      Think we should vote on whether gay people have that right?

      Maybe we should vote on one of your rights FIRST.


      • Joe M

        In fact, they do have the exact same right as everyone else: to marry someone of the opposite sex. That they are not interested in doing so does not mean they don’t have the same right.

        In fact, many people who say that they are gay at some point eventually do marry someone of the opposite sex.

        • paul

          Yes, and interracial couples had the same rights as everyone else back in 1960. They could marry someone of the same race, just like everyone else. How did that work out for you?

          Do you think it would be OK if we passed a law that said marriage was the union of one protestant man and one protestant woman? Catholics would have the same rights as anyone else. They could become protestants and get married.

          Marriage is a civil right with thousands of legal benefits. You cant deny it to someone because they have different beliefs than you do.

          • Joe M

            Interracial marriage does not require changing the definition of what marriage is. The gay marriage movement does. The two issues are not equivalent.

            Your hypothetical law would not be “OK”. But, not for the reasons you seem to think. It would violate the First Amendment by attempting to establish a state religion.

            Where is a certain marriage definition established as a protected civil right that can’t be denied? Nowhere. If you believe that it is a civil right that can’t be denied according to anyone’s definition, do you then think sibling marriages should be allowed?

    • AC

      This is a victory for narcissism promoted as personal liberty. When the crowd was asked for either Barabbas or Christ, who won the popular vote?



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