In First Things (Aug./Sept. 2006), Richard John Neuhaus tipped us off about a new book called The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege (Doubleday) by Damon Linker, who was Associate Editor and then Editor of First Things from May 2001 through January 2005 (Neuhaus is Editor in Chief). Neuhaus called Linker’s an “attack book” on First Things and himself. Jeepers-creepers, a mole high up inside First Things. Intrigue. Espionage.
Gotta get this book.
We’ve been quite critical of Neuhaus. We read the book, but it’s largely a dud. Linker’s book was obviously a rush job.
From our point of view, the book is not an “attack book”; in fact, Neuhaus looks good to us in the book, with certain exceptions.
“Theocons” is short for theoconservatives, but in all of our dictionaries, “theoconservative” does not appear. So, what does theocon mean? Is it intended to imply a theocrat or theocracy? But Neuhaus is not a theocrat. He fully supports John Courtney Murray, an advocate of the separation of Church and State, and Neuhaus supports Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae, which essentially abandoned the Confessional State and allowed for the separation of Church and State.
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His split-mindedness is present at every point, recognized in his clear distinction between “the faith of Catholics” and “my faith.”
The social basis of our culture is bureaucratic consumer capitalism centered on the autonomous individual and generally hostile to older ideas of moral order.
Neuhaus’s plea for the restoration of religious values in the public sphere and for the believing community to act there on the basis of its beliefs is proper and necessary.