In one of the many obituaries for Peter Augustine Lawler, Yuval Levin reviews Lawler's case for “postmodern conservatism.”

Lawler writes: “Conservatives can be (perhaps the only) genuinely postmodern thinkers. The reason we can see beyond the modern world is that its intention to transform human nature has failed. Its project of transforming the human person into the autonomous individual was and remains unrealistic; we can now see the limits of being an individual because we remain more than individuals. The world created by modern individuals to make themselves fully at home turns out to have made human beings less at home than ever.”

“So to be postmodern and conservative is to take our stand somewhere between the traditionalists and the libertarians. The traditionalists’ focus is on who each of us is as a relational being with duties and loyalties to particular persons and places. The libertarians — or, to be more clear, the individualists — focus on who each of us is as an irreducibly free person with inalienable rights, a person who can’t be reduced to a part of some whole greater than himself or herself. A postmodern conservative is about showing how a free person with rights is also a relational person with duties. The truth is that each of us is a unique and irreplaceable free and relational person.”

Substitute “Christian” for “conservative,” and you have something close to the beginning of contemporary wisdom.

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