Restraint

Sallie McFague (introduced yesterday) drew from the lives of the saints to build a basis for a life of restraint. Ancient people had plenty of built-in restraints, moderns not so much. Discipline and voluntary restraint have been out of vogue for, well, at least a century (see photo below).

In what is close to a thesis statement for her book, Blessed Are the Consumers, McFague wrote that restraint, the one thing needed now, is both a gift from the religions and a challenge to them. It could be considered a “coming home” for the religions as well as their greatest contribution to the economic/ecological crisis facing us.

Much of what claims to be conservative thought, faith or politics is too outlandish for an old respectable word. Sometimes conservatives are used by truly radical leaders. I think a better word for conservative today is restraint. Restraint is needed across the political spectrum. Restraint is a first cousin to respect.

June 30, 1922. “Washington policeman Bill Norton measuring the distance between knee and suit at the Tidal Basin bathing beach after Col. Sherrill, Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, issued an order that suits not be over six inches above the knee.” From Shorp

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