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The nature of rationality is the most practical of all issues

Canadians mostly oppose the same-sex revolution, but it appears that none of their official leaders are willing to stand up to it. In fact, recent events on Ontario, which involved pushing radical redefinition of marriage through the Legislative Assembly in three days, with all-party collusion and without a single recorded vote, suggest they’re all eager to make the issue go away through total mass surrender to gay activists.

Why is that? Part of the problem, I think, is a general unwillingness of people in responsible public positions to discuss basic issues. If you function by doing deals and getting to “yes,” you won’t like issues that can’t be compromised. Your inclination will always be to smudge things like the definition of the national community and the family as much as possible. So you’ll try to avoid taking a stand on issues like immigration and “gay marriage,” but if forced you’ll choose the alternative that fuzzes the definition. In the case of the family, that means “gay marriage.”

A bigger part of the problem, though, is that people in public life have to articulate arguments for controverted positions, and the experts, academics, jurists, journalists and whatnot who are in charge of defining what constitutes an OK argument, not to mention the large institutions that employ and pay them, have been working for years to make a sort of rational managerial hedonism the standard of what makes sense in public discussions. That standard may be OK for discussing economics, but it simply can’t make sense of family life and a lot of other things that don’t reduce without remainder to economics and bureaucracy. As a result, the concept of the family doesn’t make public sense in Canada, and there is no basis for recognizing it as an institution sui generis under Canadian law. It can be a contract among individuals or a sentimental observance among friends, but nothing more. (Here’s a collection of Turnabout posts that take a different view.)

One would think the Church would feel special responsibility for things that do not reduce to money and power. They would present ways of thinking that articulate and give weight to other considerations. That’s not always so. In general, and as a practical matter, contemporary bishops are mainly functionaries. Their average viewpoint is profoundly affected by the outlook of the functionary class, which as discussed treats rational managerial hedonism as the standard for what should be taken seriously. For that reason, as John Allen reports, the largest group in the College of Cardinals considers promotion of world economic welfare the most important task of the Church. When dealing with other issues they are often at a loss for what to say. So in a way it’s not surprising that the bishops’ main response to the Ontario legislation was a press release praising it because it said that churches would not themselves have to solemnize “gay marriages” if they didn’t want to. They, the faithful and everybody else will have to treat such arrangements as marriages in all other respects, which means the final dissolution of marriage as a distinctive public institution in Canada, but apparently the bishops couldn’t think of anything to say on the point so they remained silent.

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Comments

This is worth listening to. We just don’t get this kind of analysis anywhere on a regular basis. The link to “make sense” is perhaps even more interesting, not that we fully understand the articles. But this is the way of the world; most of us are left to puzzle out the meaning of our intellectual leaders. I hope the readers can contribute concrete examples to support (or to contradict) the analysis.