Here is a paragraph, that is the central defense of the religious sensibility, from Mr. Douthat’s essay of November 23,2013 titled ‘Puddleglum and the Savage’:
In effect, both Huxley and Lewis looked at a utilitarian’s paradise — a world where all material needs are met, pleasure is maximized and pain eliminated — and pointed out what we might be giving up to get there: the entire vertical dimension in human life, the quest for the sublime and the transcendent, for romance and honor, beauty and truth.
This essay is really a carefully and historically framed political attack on President John Kennedy, and the secular cult that has grown around him. Mr. Douthat plays his role as serious Republican Apologist with the verve of a theo-political ideologue of the present: ‘the entire vertical dimension in human life, the quest for the sublime and the transcendent, for romance and honor, beauty and truth.’ This a foreshortened description of the religious sensibility. Except for the notion of the ‘transcendent’ one could be speaking of the whole of the European Enlightenments. Mr. Douthat’s ill starred strategy fell flat with his readers, see the comments section. One may criticize the Kennedy Cult but one must be more adroit, indeed circumspect, if one writes for the New York Times.
It’s too soon to reclaim Nov. 22, 1963, for Huxley and Lewis, and reassign John F. Kennedy to a lower rung of historical significance, where some of us suspect his presidency belongs. But pausing amid this month’s Kennedy-anniversary coverage to remember the two British-born writers offers a useful way to think about the J.F.K. mythos as well.
Included in the argument,although not explicitly stated, is the essential ‘evil’ of ‘secularism’,’utilitarianism’ , ‘scientism’ etc., the arch enemy of the religious sensibility.Quite tellingly, Mr. Douthat’s in his original essay and defensive blog reply, pretentiously titled ‘The Perils of Anti-Decadence’ , completely fails to mention the primary corrosive of Capitalism, the very salient yet unacknowledged player, is his theo-political melodrama. In the current Republican Mythology the Free Market is the political/ethical singularity, it has no peer i.e. ‘comfort and consumption’. None! To fail to mention the indissoluble ties between ‘secularism’,’utilitarianism’ , ‘scientism’ etc. and Capital is consonant with Mr. Douthat’s self-serving political/moral dishonesty, in service to his politically inspired attack on the Kennedy Myth, as serviceable in the political present.
On the question of Mr. Brooks comment on “the mirage of religiosity” in President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address demonstrates a kind of cultivated ignorance of the persuasive influence of the King James Bible on the whole of American political rhetoric: Lincoln, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt being prominent examples.On Mr. Douthat’s blog post, Mr. Wilde was right, brevity is the soul of wit.