Monday, May 15, 2017

The Road to Character by David Brooks

Neal A. Maxwell once wrote:

How intellectually amazing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is! The gospel is truly inexhaustible! It is marvelous! It is a wonder!

Yet orthodoxy is required to keep all these truths in essential balance. In orthodoxy lies real safety and real felicity! Flowing from orthodoxy is not only correctness but happiness. Orthodoxy is especially vital in a time of raging relativism and belching sensualism. The world’s morality is constantly being improvised. Some views are politically correct one day, but not another.

One writer recently observed that the relativistic forces at work should warm every atheist’s heart. For if God is a socially conscious political being whose views invariably correspond to our own prejudices on every essential point of doctrine, he demands of us no more than our politics require. [H]ow would our worship of [this kind of being] constitute more than self-congratulation for our own moral standards?
The writer continued: As an atheist, I like this God. It is good to see him every morning while I am shaving. [Eugene D. Genovese, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” The New Republic, 11 May 1992, p. 38]
Neal A. Maxwell, The Inexhaustible Gospel, August 18, 1992.

This is an intriguing book that misses the truth in too many instances. Short example: The difference that made Washington great and Eisenhower mediocre is the moderation Brooks praises. Washington was absolutely committed to principle and to God. Eisenhower was a humanist who had to feel his way on his own.

Brooks doesn't seem to either believe in, or understand the principles behind orthodoxy or sin, therefore he can't understand character.  While the book has some salient points and is worth reading, it is still aggrandizing the failed and morally troubling, progressive public policy that Brooks has espoused his entire life. 

The morality Brooks espouses is godless and ambiguous. What represents sin? What represents good character and who decides? Brooks seems to choose society, whose morality constantly shifts while spiraling downward. Can man be good without God? Yes. But, not without adherence to his law. 
Self-reflection is refreshing, were it combined with true principles, it would be powerful.

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