David Brooks is one of my favorite columnists. He hits it out of the ballpark again on THIS COLUMN.
He took the viral video of the guy raging against religion and got into the why, and then the results of the video. Challenged with the exact words of the video, the young man actually realized he needed to learn to say some things differently.
Brooks goes on to demonstrate how it’s not a problem to have “angst” in our world. It’s just what to do after that angst is our problem.
For generations we’ve been told to think for ourselves, but all we know how to do is say what we don’t like.
For generations people have been told: Think for yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive and rigorous worldview.
Brooks’ remedy is rather interesting:
The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.
The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.
Passion is great. Just give it some place to land. Rigorously examine what is out there. What have the ancients taught us? Where is a path we can find?
I am deeply thankful that even in my time of angst I found the ancient paths still leading to Christ. Over the years I have been so thankful to keep exploring those paths and found the richness of who he is, and realized that within “religion” there is a design that helps to truly follow Christ. It gets expressed in so many ways, and most of them awkward in one way or another. But following those paths has given me the beauty of Christ.
I don’t fly solo very well.