The Hipster Conservative is a very political sort of publication, because the things we are interested in writing and talking about here are often political in nature. We did not, however, discuss the recent U.S. elections. We could attribute this to our hipsterish apathy and the scorn we show toward things that are popular and “mainstream.” The true reason, however, is that the present political culture offers only a narrow and bleak idea of politics. Here, we like to speak of “politics” in a more Aristotelian sense: of things having to with life in common with other people, especially where they have to do with creating the conditions necessary to live a virtuous and happy life. The drama acted out as “politics” on the national stage would be rated a farce in bad taste by any sensitive critic and holds at best a questionable connection to the ends of living a good life.
So much for being hipsters. As conservatives, we cannot absolutely ignore the continued predations of our natural adversary, the all-powerful State, with its lackeys and profiteers. In our public lives we fight the Minotaur in various ways. Here, we are more concerned with strengthening the intellectual foundation of the good life, while, we hope, undermining the already cracked and crazy stilts modern absolutism rests upon.
Politics, fear, and the War on Christmas
One thing we hate as much as we hate tyranny is the fear of tyranny; the sense of weakness and vulnerability which can lead either to dumb capitulation or ineffectual rage. Neither of these responses is appropriate; neither is necessary. Fear makes people weak and stupid. It is time for what our friend Marc calls “destupidification,” and there is no better time to throw out fear than during the joyful and solemn season of Advent, and jovial Christmas.
Advent is the four weeks before the celebration of Jesus’s birth, in which Christians consider and try to put into practice what it means to await his coming. We remember the events and signs leading up to his appearance in the world, and we look forward to his second coming when he will put all things to rights.
The message of Advent is this: “Do not be afraid. Strengthen your hearts, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.” It is not for us to cower in our cultural enclaves in the futile hope that the destroyer will pass by. We stand at the wall with sword for fighting and trowel for building. “No weapon that is forged against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” If we believe in Jesus has overcome the world and is reigning over it as its King. To fear, then, is to refuse to believe in the victory of Christ.
The essence of politics in the servile state is bondage, hopelessness and fear. This fear is precisely the attitude infecting too much of the ostensibly Christian conservative radio, TV, and Internet conversation. The once-proud “Religious Right” seems reduced to repeating silly scaremongering rumors about the “war on Christmas.” It’s not as if there aren’t enough legitimate complaints—the government’s open harassment of Catholic charitable institutions, for instance—to go round. But no, we MUST talk our stupid heads off about the “war on Christmas” and show what fools we are. Eventually Bill O’Reilly gets so twisted around that he denies that Christianity is a religion. Instead he seems to promote some kind of vague Christian-based Americanism while shouting down friendly critics. (Be careful – reasonable people may get brain cancer from watching those videos.) This position bears no resemblance to the fear of God.
The church is a political community. This does not mean that it spends all its time like Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the right-wing scream machine, railing ineffectively against government encroachments on individual liberties and the rapidly dissipating vapor that seems to be all that is left of Christianity in American life. By the Aristotelian definition of “politics” given above, we see that the church is more of a complete political community than the state, having a king, citizenship, laws and government, provision for the poor and sick, and a comprehensive shared idea of what the good life entails for people in all walks and conditions of life. Most importantly, despite its various factions it has a unity and allegiance which surpasses the cohesiveness of any secular society.
If Christians want to make a real political statement, we should live like Christians. We should acknowledge Christ as King, profess allegiance to his kingdom, and treat other Christians as members of his body. We should obey his law of love and submit to the teaching and discipline of the church. We should worship and eat together, pray, fast, take care of the poor and sick, and extend Jesus’s love even to outsiders. And during Advent and throughout the year we should remember his coming to the world in humility and await his final return with holy fear.
Contents of this issue
In this issue we look at implications of Christ’s incarnation in everything from food to geopolitics. Gawain, a new contributor, leads off with a wonderful renunciation of apathy and call to personal love. Hännah, a guest contributor, has allowed us to re-publish a sublime series of essays about food and the Incarnation, which she published on her website Wine and Marble, and which we now reprint as a single extended essay. My own contribution explores some implications of the Incarnation for political philosophy.
We have some literary criticism this time, too. Guest contributor Colin Cutler explores the centrality of the Incarnation in Flannery O’Connor’s works, while Victorinus, a new contributor, reflects on Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. And because stuff is important, Anodos, another new contributor, tells about his search for the perfect everyday fountain pen.
Plans for the future of The Hipster Conservative
If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed that these issues have been increasingly tardy and infrequent. Your editors have become more occupied with the responsibilities of “real life” and have not had enough time to devote to the process of collecting and publishing an issue every month or two. This issue in particular is ridiculously late. One might attribute this to our “conservative” tendency to be behind the times, or just hipsterish apathy. To address this problem in the future, we’ve decided to alter the publishing method to a more typical “blog” style, publishing articles as they are completed, with occasional special features. We hope you continue to enjoy reading The Hipster Conservative.
Publisher, The Hipster Conservative