[What follows is a meditation on T.S. Eliot’s poem “Little Gidding.” All indented quotations, with apologies to their author, are taken from Eliot.]
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from . . .
The first step, they say, is to admit you have a problem. That’s true of saints on the Romans Road and of drunks on the Road to Sobriety.
It’s also true of conservatives and the Ship of Civilization.
The problem that needs admitting is sin and its conjoined twin, death. And what’s happened is that conservatives no longer recognize this, and so stumble around, intoxicated by a specious sentiment for something called the Restoration of the West. This thing we call the West—a vessel more intricately constructed than we are willing to admit and more complex than our Manichaean imaginations will permit us to remember—has smashed against the rocks of modernity. We are grasping at the flotsam of Christendom while thrashing about in the waves and hoping to rebuild the ship in the sea.
In other words, we have set our hearts on something that not only is unattainable but may hasten our demise.
Years ago, I remember, a middle-aged gold trader began attending...