American Exceptionalism

Fraternity Against the Great Domestication

from First Things,

Sometime in 2023, a local chapter meeting of the Society for American Civic Renewal (SACR) closed amid laughter, toasts, and handshakes between future business partners. Earlier in the evening, over a meal, three members had exchanged information on an important urban development hearing that hadn’t been covered in the local press. One member gained a godfather for his newborn son; another secured a valuable internship for his teenage son; yet another obtained a second opinion on an institutional matter from an expert in the subject. Such fruitful evenings are common among the members of the fraternal organization we helped found, proving the worthiness of its ongoing mission. SACR’s thesis is that the flowering of deep fraternal bonds, informed by a traditional spiritual vision, is necessary for the renewal of civil society and the preservation of the common good. This is apparently quite the radical proposition. Upon discovering the existence of SACR, the leftist press predictably fired a salvo of hit pieces. The idea of an exclusively male, explicitly Christian civic organization—of the sort common throughout American history—confuses and terrifies them. In their imaginations, confidentiality becomes “conspiracy.” Maintaining standards of conduct and belief is “exclusionary.” Promoting republican civic order is to seek the overthrow of the U.S. government in favor of an “authoritarian” regime. Praying for the revival of Christendom is tantamount to wishing for “genocide.” Such histrionics reflect ignorance of how the West rose to civilizational excellence, or perhaps a judgment against the pursuit of excellence itself. Either way, these writers reinforce the spiritual enervation, isolation, and domestication of men demanded by our neoliberal regime. As SACR’s website reads, “A man is no longer encouraged to fly to the stars, to tame the wilderness, to plant the seeds that his children will inherit.” Tom Wolfe’s classic account of the Greatest Generation in The Right Stuff (1979) is almost inconceivable today.

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