The sideshow of New York City politics has this summer both amused and horrified, as former Congressman and sexting superstar Anthony Weiner lashed himself to a mayoral campaign that foundered upon the rocky shores of sexual scandal and public Puritanism. While not every politician lusts to thrust himself into positions of power as nakedly as Anthony Weiner, America seems to have elected more than her fair share of lecherous, larcenous libertines to office. But in the face of our fatigue, not only with Weiner but with all his tediously tawdry ilk, should we consider paying less attention to the wayward nether regions of our government? Perhaps instead of obsessing over the bedroom gossip of our representatives, we should care only about their voting records. Why not privilege their public policy over their private parts?
Nietzsche, in 1887, described a self-destructive impulse in Christianity’an impulse central to its moral understanding, but ultimately directed against the very notion of Christian faith. This impulse was the will to truth. Christianity, by claiming Christ as the one true Word, commanded the faithful to seek truth. But there is no truth to be found, so doubt curdles into skepticism and eventually becomes nihilism. This is not the threat facing contemporary Christianity, nor contemporary conservatism.
It is often said that Yale is an institution of higher learning. If you listen closely, undergraduates will often be heard saying things like, ‘I came here to learn,’ or, ‘I’m here to get an education.’ People who are not yet Yale students, but who want to be, will occasionally tell admissions officers that they want to come to Yale to ‘know more.’ In my more contemplative moments I have often reflected on such rich and mysterious aphorisms as these. ‘Why do these people say such things? What madness fills their hearts?