So Richard has the best introduction to Ralphism I’ve read. I’ve also just read an unintentionally (perhaps) a little bit funny blog by Rod Dreher wondering why his (really, really profound and beautiful) Ruthie book hasn’t been picked up by Walmart or embraced by evangelicals. Ralph’s book is profound and beautiful too, but it’s much more of an acquired taste. (I often complained to Ralph that his teaching style doesn’t correspond to my learning style.) I don’t think Walmart will get interested, but actually evangelicals and Catholics should be, as well as Straussians who want to speak more persuasively and truthfully on God, politics, and the soul. And irresponsible liberals who both talk up and think too little of reason would learn the most from Professor Ralph, but good luck getting them to realize how lame their idea of “public reason” is.
In Richard’s eloquent highlighting, Ralph wants to restore real reflection on the “moral analogy” between a well-ordered soul and a well-ordered city. That’s the key to doing what I want (big-time) to do, to restore the right kind of politics of “mediation and compromise.” That’s what Pete wants to do too.
But, for myself, I would highlight more that the truthful contribution of Christianity to human thought is that the city doesn’t correspond to the soul or the whole person. And it’s the end of “civil theology” and such that chastens our expectations from politics with the insight that each of us transcends the city as persons, as relational beings open to God and the good. That chastening, though, isn’t “libertarian.” The city is the home of relational beings and not autonomous individuals, and so the city is about encouraging or at least not “deconstructing” the family, the church etc. And political life itself is a relational human good, although not the highest human good.