David Brooks on Bonhoeffer, Benedict, and [Cranmer]

Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a [Gerald] Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance.

David Brooks is at it again, bringing old names and old ideas into a world that didn’t ask for them. Thanks be to God! In his latest, he argues that the current political climate does not, in fact, invite a Benedict Option, a Bonhoeffer resistance, but a Gerald Ford moment. Ford, taking over the presidency after Nixon’s resignation, was tasked with a spiritual and relational project: restoring public trust in government, and repairing the damage caused by the Nixon administration.

Brooks is probably right. Though, if we were to continue the list with our explicitly Christian thinkers, he might consider replacing Ford with the first protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who was tasked with carefully navigating the infamous whims and tempers of Henry VIII. Which is to say, Cranmer’s work was chiefly to mitigate and repair the damage of Henry’s rule, and to build a foundation for reform that would sustain the national religion after Henry’s death. Long story. But there’s wisdom there!

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