Washington Fellows 2016: Session Eight

The Conservative Spirit and Civic Gratitude

Date: Monday, May 2, 2016
Guest Discussion Leader: Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor-At-Large, National Review and Senior Fellow, National Review Institute

The American Dream is imperiled today by social breakdown and economic stagnation. The first reading for this session emphasizes fidelity to “ancient moorings” and resistance to encroaching statism, the second reminds us of our debts to the past and the need to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and civic obligation. Together, they capture the spirit of conservatism as William F. Buckley Jr. understood it.

Required Reading:

Buckley Jr., William F. “A Growing Spirit of Resistance”. Let Us Talk of Many Things. 78-85.

Buckley Jr., William F. “The Patrimony and Civic Obligation.” Athwart History. 492-496.

Recommended Reading:

Buckley, Jr., William F. “What Americanism Seeks to Be.” Let Us Talk of Many Things. 255-257.

Chesterton, G. K. “The Ethics of Elfland.” Orthodoxy. 1908. 51-70.

Levin, Yuval. “Conservatism and Gratitude”. The American. 24 June 2013.

Lopez, Kathryn Jean. “Heaven in the Face of Hell”. National Review Online. 23 February 2015. 

Lopez, Kathryn Jean. “Pope Francis and the Truth about Man”. National Review Online. 8 October 2015. 

Podhoretz, Norman. “Dayyenu American-Style.” My Love Affair with America. 2001. 232-235. 

Session Eight Required Reading

Session Eight Recommended Reading 

Discussion Questions

1) In what ways is “gratitude” the conservative value par excellence?

2) How can a conservative-minded public policy encourage gratitude and public-spiritedness? 

3) Why does Conservatism begin with a spirit of gratitude for what is given while liberals tend to express outrage over the imperfections of the world? How do these differing responses to the nature of things reflect profoundly different assumptions about human nature and society?

4) How does religion encourage an ethos of gratitude and solidarity?

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