jesusislove The Sentimental Libertarianism of the Little Jesus Who WouldSix years ago, Touchstone magazine put its permanent hooks in me when it published Douglas Farrow’s The Audacity of the State.  Before reading that article, I was sympathetic with some of the libertarian movement, except with my troubling observation that none of the libertarians I knew went to church.  The Farrow article connected the dots for me, and I came to regard the Promethean sentimental libertarianism of John Stuart Mill as one of the modern American ideas most corrosive to the church today.

I say it’s the most corrosive because it is so firmly grounded in the thinking of both the American political Left and Right.  For the Left it’s the basis to celebrate men wearing dresses and having their prison insurance plan pay for their genital mutilation surgery, and for the Right it’s how Republican college students can be oh so au courant with the government redefinition of marriage, to take just two examples. 

This morning, I sat down at my local diner to read Robert Hart’s The Little Jesus Who Would in the March/April 2016 issue of Touchstone.  Hart never mentions Mill, but in the first paragraph you can see Jimmy Carter putting Mill’s harm principle to work. 

Robert Hart plumbs the depths of that annoying little phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” first popularized by Al Gore in the 2000 election.  Hart explains how the corrosive political sentimentalism of the phrase (along with “Jesus is Love”) has eaten away the once great tradition of the Episcopal Church USA. 

Hart shows the role that the awful art of dictionary tinkering has played in the erosion of marriage and family, with its larger goal of redefining Christ and the Holy Spirit into completely personal and malleable spiritual guides.

Hart’s article is both a revealing and bumpy ride (before even finishing the first page and a half, I twice dropped the magazine on the counter and shouted something un-Christian, but fortunately it’s a noisy little diner).  There are many uncomfortable truths laid out in each issue of Touchstone, but Robert Hart’s article is yet another example of why I can’t imagine life these days without it.