Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society with RR Reno (PODCAST)

rr reno resurrecting the idea of a christian society

Dr. R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, joins us today to discuss the thesis of his timely new book, Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society.  An interview we though would last for 20 minutes turned into a conversation that went the full hour and we invited Dr. Reno back on the show to continue it.  It is truly one of the best hours we have had on the show.

I’ve been reading everything Dr. Reno writes at First Things with increasing appreciation.  He is a deep thinker with a unique perspective on the challenges facing American society.  His critique is that of a conservative and a Christian, but not the one you would expect.  It hearkens back to an older ethos and is at once more American and more Christian than standard-fare Religious Rightism.  And for that, we can all be thankful.

Reno writes,

“I’m not a prophet, but I sense that we’re leaving behind the democratic era and heading toward a meritocratic one.  A meritocracy justifies the wealth and power of its elite on the grounds of their competence and achievements rather than on popular assent.”  And in that one sentence he sums up the freedom agenda of both Left and Right run amok.  It is the Progressive agenda, replete with its historicist imperatives and managerial elite, aided and abetted by the unthinking Social Darwinist impulses of the post-Reagan Right.  He continues, “When a culture of freedom becomes a cult of freedom, injustice, suffering, and social dysfunction get explained away as ‘choices.'”

Lest you think Reno is opening the door to bigger government and more spending programs and social experimentation, he writes, “We also need to recover solidarity, limited government, and a sense of the transcendent.  These are natural goods that one finds in many cultures.  Christian societies do not have a monopoly on them.  But ours has been Christian history, and it is by a renewal of Christian influence that we are most likely to restore these humanizing qualities to our society.”

With that as an appetizer, you can hear the whole discussion with Dr. Reno below.

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About Chris Buskirk

Chris is publisher and editor of American Greatness and the host of The Chris Buskirk Show. He was a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute and received a fellowship from the Earhart Foundation. Chris is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold businesses in financial services and digital marketing. He is a frequent guest on NPR's "Morning Edition." His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Hill, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @TheChrisBuskirk

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2 responses to “Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society with RR Reno (PODCAST)”

  1. Thanks for this. For other readers, note that you don’t get Reno until 40 in, and where he really comes on fire is in the last ten minutes.

  2. One of the most frustrating parts was the short discussion on “capitalism” versus “socialism.” This is an example of the kind of discussion that has become stale. Mr. Reno’s view is that capitalism is everywhere in our world, including in China and Russia, but excluding basket cases like Cuba and Venezuela. Why “capitalist”?: because Russia and China have rich people? Should we call the Roman or Persian Empires “capitalist” because they permitted the accumulation of private wealth, Essentially every nation in history has done that, save Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China. We should retire the word “capitalism” to describe anything but the early industrial period in Western Europe and America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as described by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Bastiat, etc. That word does not describe the current economic consensus in places from America to China that includes central banks, progressive taxation, social welfare, and regulatory bureaucracies. That consensus may be more or less sound, but to call it “capitalism” is just silly.