I have experienced this myself in churches and I know Dreher, the author of , has experienced something very similar as a bookish child growing up in a small town.
Thus “communitarian” and “libertarian” should not be seen as organizing principles for political parties.
When you try to create a policy message in this way, you're bound to come up with kitschy ideas that backfire, like pre-naming a season that real Americans have to live through "Recovery Summer," as if we're all a bunch of alcoholics who have turned to the White House for sustenance and hope. It's too late to be the national therapist on the economy. It's what Americans expect from their president -- that is... John Boehner, a relative unknown to the American people, took the bait this morning by offering an immediate counter-proposal. If the Democrats are destined to lose the House, then this presidential declarative is probably too late for political strategists.
Policy messaging, large framing opportunities, telling stories -- still relies on direct communication from a president to the people without a self-selected content or media filter. So now, Democrats have the beginning of what could credibly be called a message: here's what we're going to do. But -- and be honest here -- strategists are going to complain about anything the president does so long as his approval rating remains under 50%.
To some extent that was not a bad thing, of course: It is not wrong to learn to curb one’s own independent ambitions in service to the community to which one belongs.
Yet what happened in these communities often went well past the good work of shaping individuals to serve communal ends and frequently became a sort of psychological violence against individuals who did not belong.And our material lives in the world are sustained through community–the community of businesses, neighborhoods, coops, and a host of other small and large human communities that allow us to eat, have shelter, and enjoy the company of neighbor.The foundations of our political life together is found in these groups and in the work that is done to sustain their life.Oval Office speeches, press conferences, policy proposals sold as policy proposals -- this is the stuff of getting from point A to point B. But for whatever reason, or perhaps by design, President Obama's advisers now recognize that the November election IS a referendum on what the president is doing as much as it is a choice between two parties.When it comes to discussing questions of politics, Christians can take several different approaches.We enter the world through community–the community of man and woman drawn together in the sexual embrace.We are born, if we are fortunate, into a community of love able to receive us and offer us love during some of the most vulnerable and formative moments of our existence.Christianity, rather, teaches us that man is naturally gregarious, naturally social, and will inevitably form polities as he lives his life in God’s world.In this sense, we are merely saying the same thing that many other non-Christian people have said throughout history–most notably Aristotle.Such principles ought to recognize a definitive political organized around a coherent set of desirable goods.Both “communitarian” and “libertarian” cannot adequately do that for the simple reason that a just polis recognizes the freedom of both communities and the individual.