6 Responses to John Cleese, Benjamin Franklin, CS Lewis and Extremism

  • John Cleese, Ben Franklin, C.S. Lewis and the idea of extreme moderation:
    There’s something in this at the end of the day, after the great initial morning amusement of the three pieces. I would like the sound of saying that I am a Moderate and have that political affiliation – as John Cleese(!) said moderates are on the end of both sides, wise old Ben Franklin called himself an extreme one (was that after the electricity?), and Screwtape railed at diversion to values higher than the self. America could have candidates for election appealing to Moderates for whom truth, justice, prudent fiscal management, and virtues (value of ideas beyond civilized rhetoric) exceed agendas of special interests.

  • These days, moderation as a political philosophy isn’t going to work in our society. What we call “conservatism” and “liberalism” prescind from views of human nature that involve radically differing assumptions and are mutually incompatible. Trying to build a “moderate” political philosophy is like trying to construct a building using two different floorplans. You might end up with a building, but it’s not likely to be very stable nor very useful.

  • You raise a good point, Jonathan. The liberal and conservative labels are just that; labels. I’m reminded here of how words don’t really have fixed meanings. And the meanings ascribed to them change, too. I prefer to think in terms of biblical categories. One question I might ask is “What ought we to do in light of Scripture?” Or “What would Jesus do?” assuming we of course take into account our place within the narrative of God.

  • Incidentally, I’d like to raise another idea that Lewis bequethed. The “eternal now” which he used ot describe God’s vantage point in relation to us. Lewis spoke of God as beyond time. It’s as though everything is simultaneous to him. That ought to be of great assistance to those who’ve spent their time problematizing the paradox of God’s sovereignty and our free-will. I would recommend Dr. Richard Land to anyone who’s interested in that application.

  • Moderation in all things, except charity and virtue.

  • 8/18 11:40 – “These days, moderation as a political philosophy isn’t going to work in our society. What we call “conservatism” and “liberalism” prescind from views of human nature that involve radically differing assumptions and are mutually incompatible.”

    Politics have pretty well brought our society beyond the realm of possibilities for moderate activity due to prescinding. How many zeroes in trillion? How can politicians redefine life and God’s place in ours? Moderate charity and moderate virtue led to this outrageous state of affairs, not moderate lawmakers. I guess I was impressed by the graphics of moderates (having a common outlook set apart from the caricatures) in the John Cleese clip, and especially by Ben Franklin happily proclaiming himself an extreme moderate at the time to the ‘boys’ from Massachusetts for what they accomplished.

    A return to being a civilization enriched by holy values, rather than impoverished by outlawing them is due. Extremely civilized debating in government circles minus the bad joking could accomplish something for this nation.