Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The unturned mind

In the year 1587 (or thereabouts) Sir Walter Raleigh wrote the following lines for Queen Elizabeth,

But true love is a durable fire
In the mind ever burning;
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.

The last line is the most striking. It suggests something important: that a mind which loves does not turn against itself.

The conservative mind, I believe, does not readily turn against itself. It does not seek to step outside a faithfulness to natural forms of love, attachment and identity.

This helps to explain the reluctance of conservatives, throughout the centuries, to grapple with the liberal mindset. There would be some discomfort and confusion for a conservative to turn his mind the way a liberal does.

There is a lesson here too for the modern Christian churches. At times the churches seem to suggest that Western man should practise a kind of self-abnegation as an act of love for "the Other".

But in reality this suggestion is incoherent. If the Christian churches want love, they should preach the opposite of self-annihilation for the Other, and instead encourage the Western mind to stay true to itself, its loyalties and attachments.

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