Most elites in the West believe that undomesticated Christianity is hostile to human freedom. A persecutory relic of the past, it must be chastened before it can participate in liberal society. In one of the final books before his death, for example, John Rawls takes Christianity’s political illiberalism as a fact of “historical experience”—not a failure of Christianity to live up to its ideals, but part of its very essence. He further writes that the “content and tone” of his theory of justice was influenced by pondering the “endless oppressions and cruelties of state power and inquisition used to sustain…
“If you want to understand why evangelicals could vote for someone of Trump’s morals,” Megan McArdle suggested, read Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet’s “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Liberal Constitutionalism.”
In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Gil Pender vacations in Paris with his fiancée and her parents. One night Pender takes a walk to escape the insufferable egotists who surround him and stumbles upon an antique Peugeot. It takes him to the 1920s, the golden age for which he has always yearned. He falls in love with Picasso’s lover Adriana, who herself has always longed for the 1890s’ Belle Époque. After a horse and carriage pass them by and whisk them to that period, and after the Impressionists they meet yearn for the Renaissance, Pender realizes that no age is as golden as we imagine and concludes that it is better to live in the reality of the present.
Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic is an extended essay on the same theme.