This past Monday The Heritage Foundation hosted a speaker event featuring Timothy Goeglein, the Vice President of External Relations for Focus on the Family. His speech focused on previewing his recently published book, American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation.
The book, as Goeglein explained in his speech, is a framework to renew the citizenry of America and the culture of America. Goeglein hypothesizes that through a focus on faith, family, and personal sacrifice America, as a collective country, can be renewed, restored, and regenerated. Goeglein highlighted the conservative roots that underpin his and coauthor Craig Osten’s thesis regarding the restoration need to regenerate America’s soul by quoting Russell Kirk’s famous line “The Conservative is concerned with the regeneration of spirit and character.”
Goeglein praised several books that addressed the cultural crises afflicting America such as Coming Apart by Charles Murray, Generation Unbound by Isabel Sawhill, and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Where these books eloquently addressed the crises affecting America’s culture, Goeglein and Osten seek to address solutions for America’s restoration and renewal within their own book.
Goeglein believes the solution to America’s cultural crises and a subsequent lack of a moral citizenry lays in the culture, not through “big government” programs like The Great Society. Goeglein compared his position regarding the need for cultural, before political, renewal to the positions of famed conservative Edmund Burke and Pope John Paul II. Ordered liberty, according to Goeglein and many other noted conservative thinkers, has its roots in two parallel concepts; liberty and virtue which checks unrestrained liberty.
Goeglein detailed a solution to regenerating a moral American citizenry: restoring critical institutions like churches, neighborhoods, marriages, and a sense of community. The fifteen institutions that need to be restored and renewed according to Goeglein and Osten’s book are:
- American founding principles
- Religious liberty
- Medicine and medical ethics
- A culture of life
- Marriage, family, and social capital
- Concept of the gentleman
- Citizenship and duty
- A balance between politics and culture
- Patriotism and sacrifice
Goeglein invoked scripture and noted that moral crises such as the epidemic of abortions will be solved by cultural solutions first. Goeglein stated, “providence will clear His throat when Roe v. Wade is a memory.” Only through restoring these cultural and civil institutions such as a culture of life as well as medical ethics can America’s cultural crises be solved, Goeglein claimed. The institutions of the gentleman, the biblical family, and the uniqueness of God’s design for men and women will never be replaced.
Goeglein ended the lecture with favorite quotes from personal heroes including American novelist Wallis Stegner who once stated “One can’t be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of Hope” and from Catholic philosopher Michael Novak who said, “In order to understand America, you have to understand we are a religious republic.”
Goeglein called for the crisis of civil discourse and a lack of transcendence to be solved with people realizing that there needs to be a sacrifice from both sides of the cultural debate.
Goeglein and Osten’s book differs from others on moral crises that address but don’t offer solutions. This speaks to Goeglein’s preference for the conservative principle local control and “little platoons” as Edmund Burke once called them which is congruent to the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity.