Love letters written to oneself...

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While driving to a funeral the other day, I listened to a talk show host make fun of this new trend of people marrying themselves. Self-love is the center of our empire of desire, and it's the cultural elite who lead us.

Take President Obama, for instance; as he leaves office, he takes this opportunity to send out across the nation a love song to himself. He's cut "our deficits by nearly two-thirds." His Affordable Care Act "prevented an estimated 87,000 deaths." His administration has been great. The country is great. The lives of all his subjects are great. His Own Eminence is great.

President-elect Trump tells us he's great, too. He says he'll make America great again, but the egotism of The Donald is so bodacious it's hard not to laugh. He's a buffoon and he knows it.

The one thing President Obama knows beyond the slightest doubt is that he himself is...

no buffoon.

The egotism of The Barack is easier to miss, and thus more sinister. This is the way of intellectuals. The paeans they sing to themselves are subtle enough to allow peons to remain complacent.

There's pride. And then there's pride. There are self-promoters, and then there are self-worshipers. Self-adorers. Self-lovers. There are businessmen, and then there are intellectuals. President Barack Hussein Obama, for instance.

Also Carl Trueman. Put a perfumed hankie to your nose as you read this fundraising letter he wrote for First Things. Compare Carl's argument for his own importance to the future of Christendom with anything our Lord or the Apostle Paul said about themselves and you'll be left scratching your head. Imagine J. Gresham Machen writing such a puff piece about his work.

Carl writes:

When I visited the Vatican Museum in 2009, it was not the Sistine Chapel or the various masterpieces of the Renaissance that I most wished to see. It was the bust of Marcus Tullius Cicero, which is kept in the statuary section. Since my teenage years, when I had to read his speeches against Catiline and Verres, Cicero had been a hero: Learned, well-read, a philosopher, an orator, a lawyer (well, nobody’s perfect), and a politician, he was the very epitome of the truly engaged thinker, the intellectual man of action.

Carl tells us the sort of leadership he has to offer the church:

Ciceronian times require Ciceronian voices: Thoughtful, learned, literate, historically and philosophically astute, cultured in the true sense of the word, and engaged in the public square. 

Our longtime friend David Gray points out that, in his post, Carl abandoned B.C. and A.D for the C.E. and B.C.E. preferred by intellectuals who want to leave Christ behind.

I've spent my life around Christian intellectuals and there are a ton of good ones including some I love who are exceptionally helpful.

The ones who aren't helpful are those who live in fear of being judged insufficiently progressive. This renders them impotent.

A charter subscriber to First Things, I'd rather read an orthodox Roman Catholic—an Ultramontane, even—any day than men like Peter Leithart and Carl Trueman. The church's officers shouldn't give off a whiff of condescension.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!