Thomas Fleming’s “Love the One You’re With” (Perspective, January) is the kind of writing that first attracted me to Chronicles and The Rockford Institute.  It is for this caliber of discussion that I return every year to the Summer School.  When I read Dr. Fleming, I can be sure that English is being properly used, that the ideas are based on principles rather than on party agenda or expediency, and that I have complete sympathy with the content—paleoconservatism.  There was nothing wrong with this Chronicles article either in its form or its burden.

Yet it saddened me greatly.  I have an empty heart when it comes to a patria.  I long for a fatherland to love.  But as a transplant, an unofficial émigré, there is no immediate claim of blood and soil.  The Confederacy is no more.  Even the open, liberal, pre-New Deal Republic is a thing of the past.  Injustice is firmly established.  As Dr. Fleming’s article so carefully documents, bad laws are constantly enforced.  I cannot watch police dramas on television.  It isn’t that I can’t tell which are the good guys.  Rather, I don’t see any good guys.  Abortions are performed daily, some with money extorted from me in taxes.  The one attraction Libertarianism has for me is that it finds utter disgust in political correctness.  The Republican Party is simply the party of Whiggery, as it was before.  George W. (no, not the father of his country) may talk about reducing government, but, in four years, he has not uninstalled a single Cabinet-level department; rather, he has added one.  At least twice a week, this party asks me for money.  That does not make it my political home.  When you tell me that, if I do not love this country, I should move to one I can love, my only answer is: Give me a time machine, and I will.  There is no lovable country in this world.  Today, I can only hang my harp on the willow.

Dr. Fleming suggests that I may know “too much history.”  That reminds me of the T-shirt you can buy from the Wireless catalogue, si hoc legere potes, nimius eruditus es.  Can I help it if that’s where I live?  At least with Nathaniel Hawthorne, you can tell the good from the evil.  Yes, Hawthorne was a Yankee, a WASP Yankee, not even mollified by Celtic ancestry.  Yet I find I have far more in common with him than with Southerners like Clinton, Gore, and Edwards, or with fellow ethnics from either the German or the Cajun side.  So, if Hawthorne is that attractive, imagine my delight with Chesterton, or the Inklings, or T.S. Eliot.  Maybe I do know too much history, but, without it, I would not be able to appreciate That Hideous Strength.  Maybe I do read and write too many languages, but, so far, I haven’t gotten them mixed up.  See what I mean?  There is no such thing as useless knowledge.  The whole point of the liberal arts is to liberate.  The more history you know, the freer you are.

Is all politics futile?  Yes, unless the groundwork for it has been laid by education and by a solid family structure.  After all, every king—and, equally important, every paterfamilias—is a type of the Messiah.  I look forward to the day when He will return and impose His values on everyone, cujus regnum non erit finis.  Meanwhile, will we ever get Christendom back?  Don’t count on it.  No current geopolitical entity represents it.  In fact, there isn’t even anything representing an external proletariat.  The old ideas can illuminate our thoughts, letting us know that, at one time, it was possible.  If something similar happens in the future, it will also be dissimilar.  But it will not be like our present situation.

So do we go on singing “God Bless America,” knowing the equivocation in our hearts that we disguise with our lips?  Or are we living now in That Hideous Strength?  Do we need to build St. Anne’s on the Hill?  Can an entity that minor be our patria?  I voted for Michael Peroutka, along with 127,000 Americans.  Is that enough to do anything?  Believe it or not, I do know the name of one of those 127,000 people.  If we all lived in Cleveland, we might accomplish something.

Is Cleveland my fatherland?  Perhaps.  It’s too small to have a flag, too diverse to be considered an enclave, and my own role in it is unsung.  I was not born here, nor did I grow up here.  It is in a “red” state, but it is situated in a “blue” county.  I did rear my children here.  They still live here.  My grandchildren were born here.  My wife is buried here, and my name is also on the monument.  I love my house.  The church I serve is in the city; my house is in a suburb.  That church is one remaining piece of Christendom.  There is no song called “God Bless Cleveland.”  If there were, I would take down my harp and sing it.

Don’t think of me simply as a geographic exile.  It is not only New Orleans that I cannot forget.  It is the time in which I grew up.  I am a chronological exile.  Do not think that I imitate the details of the church in which I grew up.  I do nothing of the sort.  In college, I became a high churchman.  What I do, allowing for that, has more in common with the church of my youth than any pop-culture event, any television ecclesiastics, any mainline worship, or any evangelical assembly.  Other chronological exiles find my church and join it.  We pray for the government, because that’s what is in the prayer book.  Who are we to change that?

Let me conclude by expressing my gratitude for the work you are doing.

        —The Rev. Lloyd E. Gross
Seven Hills, OH