Sunday, 24 July 2011

Left and Right

This column on other occasions has called into question the distinction between Right and Left (for example here). Further food for thought is provided by Charles Moore, a leading writer for the "right wing" Telegraph newspaper, in an article called "I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right". But, as historian Glenn W. Olsen notes, these days "the great division is not between liberal (or progressive) and conservative, but between materialists and those who acknowledge a transcendental order."  The theme is explored with enormous depth and erudition in his book, The Turn to Transcendence. Materialists of Right and Left are playing the same game. But then there is a further division among those who do acknowledge a transcendent order, and that is the division between those who genuinely submit to it and those who don't: between those who are striving for truth, goodness, and beauty and those who are not; between those who are turned away from self by humility and love, and those who will try to use even the transcendent to advance their own aims. So everything comes back in the end to spiritual warfare, even politics. Glenn Olsen's book is a masterpiece on the role of religion in our society, and it ends with the Eucharist, where transcendence meets immanence - the "enactment within history of the new politics for which the human heart yearns."


  1. Thank you for bringing this important book to our attention. A similar work which I would recommend is David Schindler's "Heart of the World, Center of the Church."

  2. I agree! Schindler's book is seminal. Others that would be worth mentioning in the same breath are Richard Weaver's 'Ideas Have Consequences', Romano Guardini's 'The End of the Modern World', Louis Dupre's 'Passage to Modernity', and Jean Danielou's 'Prayer as a Political Problem'.