The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This and That No. 6

My next essay, on the topic of Christ's atonement, is almost finished and will be posted in the next couple of days. Although the topic is appropriate for Good Friday, I am writing and posting it now because I doubt that I will have the time to do so during Holy Week.

In Canadian political news, the opposition parties have united against the proposed budget for this year, so it looks like we will be going into yet another election. What this essentially means for me is that I will get another chance to decide which is stronger - my dislike for Stephen Harper and his ministers, or my absolute loathing of everything the other parties stand for. If the latter is stronger, I will vote Conservative. If the former is stronger, I will take the stand of Evelyn Waugh, who after World War II:

[R]efused to vote in parliamentary elections, on grounds of conscientious objection. He maintained that it was disloyal presumption for a subject to advise the sovereign, even in the most indirect way, on the choice of ministers... (Christopher Sykes, Evelyn Waugh: A Biography, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 395)

While I have been a conservative all my life, I do not believe conservatism necessarily means support for the Conservative Party. A belief in salvation through politics is the defining characteristic of the Left. "If only our revolution succeeds, if only our party wins, if only our policies are enacted, if only our programs received more funding - then we could recreate Paradise on earth." While conservatism is an ideology in the sense of "any reasonably coherent body of moral, economic, social and cultural ideas that has a solid and well known reference to politics and political power" (Robert Nisbet, Conservatism: Dream and Reality, Transaction Publishers, 2002, p. 15), true conservatism is anti-ideology when ideology means a political substitute for religion which promises salvation in the form of an earthly Paradise, in return for faith in and loyalty to party and platform. True conservatism is based on the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Man is fallen, and can only find spiritual salvation through God's grace in Christ. While good government, just laws, personal liberty are all good things, they are not ultimate goods and can never solve all of man's problems, let alone his central problem of sin.

It is important for Canada's conservatives to remember that as we enter yet another election. There is no salvation in politics - even "Conservative" politics. That is what conservatism is all about - resisting the save-the-world, do-gooders, who preach a political salvation, and resisting the temptation to turn our own political ideas into just such a religion-substitute. Our ultimate hope must lie, not in who wins the next election, but in He Who died for us.

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