Monday 12 December 2011

The Kalbosphere idea


My idea for naming the Christian reactionary blogosphere after Jim Kalb...

...provoked an interesting but inconclusive and fissile discussion.

Many of the suggestions for names either took the 'Christianity' for granted or ignored it and focused on the political dimension.

But for me this would be unforgivable - Christianity must come first, and must be the foundation of any socio-political views; and the Christianity cannot be assumed, especially not in the 'reactionary' blogosphere which is dominated by atheists (libertarians, nationalists etc).

So, my conclusion is that we should call ourselves...


unless anyone has anything better to suggest?

I have added a highly-selective 'blogroll' on this basis (noting that Daniel is a Christian seeker rather than a convert, as far as I know); and intend to re-label my blog accordingly (I mean as a 'Christian Reactionary' blog) - unless prevented by strong arguments over the next few days...


One alternative which I would certainly consider is REACTIONARY CHRISTIAN - on the basis that linguistically this has Christian as primary and reactionary as the modifier.

But, on the other hand, when Christian comes first in the order of words, it will be the first thing which people notice and focus upon.

So, I do not have a strong preference between the two - but CR does seem more easy to say and more memorable than RC.



Daniel said...

Thank you for putting me on your list, Bruce. Although you are right about my beliefs and seeking, I'm honored to be on such a list.

But I think the real reason I am different from those other bloggers is that they are very sharp and I'm a big muddler.

Please have the patience to leave me there until I get back to the game after my hiatus. Thanks!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Daniel - No thanks necessary: you are on the list simply because you are of this general stance, I read your blog every day, and often learn from it. I regard it as 'a good thing'!

Anonymous said...

Just as a birdhouse is a type of house, a Christian reactionary is a type of reactionary, and a reactionary Christian is a type of Christian. It sounds like you'd prefer the latter, but take it as you will.

Proph said...

I like "Christian Reactionaries." Straightforward, simple, memorable. Moreover, I prefer it to "Reactionary Christians" because, when Christian is the word being modified by "reactionary," it makes it sound as though the change we are wishing to affect is within Christianity, which is clearly not true, or at least not entirely. "Christian Reactionaries" by contrast is much broader (reactionary encompassing a wide variety of things), and Christian establishes our peculiar "flavor" of reaction.

So, assuming we figure out what to call ourselves, what happens next? What is the importance of having decided on a name? Should there be an agreement for certain people to affiliate (reciprocally) as part of the "Christian Reactionary Network"?

Bruce Charlton said...

nydwracu - linguistically, there is no doubt you are correct; but whether that is how people will read the term is another matter.

The military classification system (used in their stores) recognizes that people read from Left to Right, and so you get clothing labels such as one I used to have:

Gloves Leather Unlined Black Officers Naval

It is rather like the difference between causal and refined German - apparently the most sophisticated Germans will be able to construct very long sentences where the meaning will only become clear after the very last word is pronounced - a verb.

"But when he, upon the street, the (in-satin-and-silk-covered-now-very-unconstrained-after-the-newest-fashioned-dressed) government counselor's wife met."

Wenn er aber auf der Strasse der in Sammt und Seide geh√ľllten jetzt sehr ungenirt nach der neusten Mode gekleideten Regierungsr√§thin begegnet.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Proph -

I suspect that coordinating 'Christian reactionaries' would be/ is going to be about as straightforward as herding cats...

Like all matters of usage, it is a matter of what 'catches on'.

It would need more than two of us, and I hope hope to get the 'blessing' (or at least grudging acquiescence) of Jim Kalb and Bonald before pushing ahead.

You have more evangelical zeal than I do, and seem to read a lot more blogs than I do, so perhaps you might take the lead on this? If CR is adopted, then you might write to other bloggers who might like to label their blogs as such and affiliate themselves.

If some of VftR, Thinking Housewife and Ed Feser would get on board, that would be good - perhaps What's Wrong with the World.

But WWwtW (including EF) is part of a Roman Catholic axis that may feel themselves autonomous - since CR would be implicitly a Mere Christianity grouping of (small o) orthodox (small c) catholic supernaturalist Christians of any denomination including Protestant and (so far as I am concerned) Mormon.

However, I feel that the whole exercise is simply designed to help individual would-be readers to navigate the blogosphere and develop their ideas - CR blogs should NOT NOT NOT attempt to become political, a pressure group or a marketing slogan; we should not 'organize' (I couldn't anyway) but just stay the way we are.

In so far as 'organizing' was successful, such an aspiration would simply lead to swift and devastating reprisals from the mainstream, who would crush CR like a bug if it looked anything like a credible threat at the socio-political level.

Nonetheless, we might aspire between us to 'save a few immortal souls' which is (infinitely) more valuable that epehemeral socio-political impact.

Anonymous said...

Bruce, are you aware of this blog?

I don't think it falls within the "reactionary" sphere, but otherwise reminds me of your writings about mystical Christianity.

The Crow said...

How about you call yourselves 'Christians'?
Followers of Christ always called themselves that, didn't they? They weren't reacting to him, were they?
Just sayin'...
I don't really understand these things.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bob - Well, I certainly know Stratford Caldecott's work - I own his book on Tolkien, and exchanged a few friendly e-mails with him at one time.

But his blog All Things Made New is a bit too theological/ technical for my personal inclination. And I think his general stance is a bit Leftish (by my standards!) - for example, I think he is fairly sympathetic to Vatican II, whereas I regard it as one of the greatest triumphs of antichrist...

@Crow - pay attention lad! The label is meant to help interested readers to find and link up with maybe a dozen or a score of like-minded blogs - but calling ourselves 'Christian' would lead to about a hundred-thousand other blogs!

The Crow said...

"Pay attention" :)
One thing Christian Reactionaries are going to need is a sense of humour.
But you have a point. I haven't been keeping up with Bruceworld, lately. My apologies.

James Kalb said...

Every expression has its problems, but "Christian Reactionaries" is as good as most. The best alternative that occurs to me is "Antimodernist Christians." From my standpoint, "reactionary" sounds like you're staying in the same world as liberal modernity, just reversing direction, while "antimodernist" suggests attachment to tradition and some sort of perennial philosophy, and thus a more fundamental change in orientation.

The Crow said...

Christian Realists.
Adherents of:
Christian Realism.
As Jim says:
Anything but "Reactionary".

Luxancta said...


Proph said...

"Antimodern Christians" sounds good to me, too. ("Antimodernist" strikes me as a bit cumbersome; what does the "ist" attach to? Would we be "anti-modernist" or "antimodern-ist"? Plus, "antimodern Christians" makes clear that what we oppose is modernity entirely and not merely the ideology which says modernity is good). On the other hand, "Reactionary" sounds better to be, in part because it's less cumbersome, because it's attached to a general idea, and because it asserts a positive vision of society rather than a mere negation.

@Dr. Charlton, I agree neither W4 nor Dr. Feser would probably be interested in affiliating with "Reactionary Christians" for the reasons you mention, and, in Dr. Feser's cause, also because he isn't actually all that reactionary. I also agree that we resist the temptation to talk solely or even mostly about politics, as if leftism/modernity were nothing more than a political movement. In fact, to the extent that leftism/modernity is the product of intellectual and spiritual errors, our efforts should be understood as encouraging repentance in our lives, not reform of political systems or the development of perfect political programs.

That said, I do think there's room for some collaborative efforts we can all undertake. We've all, for instance, attacked modernity in different ways and from different angles; I think there's room to synthesize those arguments into a single resource, which is why I've been calling for a comprehensive treatment of Christian reactionism in book form for a while now.

Provided we can get some people in our narrow little circle to agree to this kind of self-identification, I could put out some feelers and see who else might be interested in getting on board.

josh said...

Thank yo for the blog role. I suppose I am a seeker myself.

The used to call it "progressive Christianity". I'm not sure if I am in favor or against symmetry in this case.

Catherine said...

Also, "RC" immediately makes me think of "Roman Catholic", which given the potential crossover in subject matter could get very confusing.

FHL said...

How about "Heretics"?

Seems to fit the whole "we'll call ourselves what our enemies think of us" deal.

But in this case it is especially pleasing: because although you betray their dogma (and thus are technically "liberal heretics") they don't really think of you as falling under the traditionally religious term of "heretics"(they think themselves as heretics, most likely, and are proud of it none-the-less); it will come as ice-water to a sleeping face.

Mr Tall said...

"Chronologically-humble Christians" would be my choice, but that's of course not a catchy phrase at all . . . .

The Continental Op said...

Christian Restorationists.

Alan Roebuck said...

“Christian [socio-politico-religio] Reactionaries” is the most accurate short description, but I want to second Kristor’s “orthosphere.” It’s a good nickname, conjuring up good things: orthodox, not heretical; right, not left (or wrong.)

And besides, one needs a certain degree of erudition to know what “orthosphere” might mean. It’s not like the typical postmodern slang, which is impossible to decode unless one of the initiates explains it to you. “Orthodox” is in the public domain, and all who aspire to wisdom can discover its secrets.

I suppose it would have to be lower-case o even though it is a collective noun (is that permitted?); after all, most of us are not that other sort of Orthodox.

[Well, actually there are two other Orthodoxes, aren’t there? Things do get complicated…]

Also, having another name is useful because the “orthosphere” refers to the collective phenomenon rather than to the individuals. The orthosphere consists of all the Christian Reactionaries and their enterprises.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alan (and Kristor)

I take these comments seriously. But Emphasize again that the sphere surely needs to self-label as Christian, with a + if not the word.

Also, whatever might be intended 'orthosphere' would inevitably end up capitalized - unless the whole thing were routinely capitalized as ORTHOSPHERE.

'+orthosphere' is a possibility, with the + 'cross' perhaps serving instead of a capital letter?

So - the main contenders seem to be

Christian Reactionary/ Reactionary Christian

Antimodernist Christian / Antimodern Christian

and +orthosphere or +ORTHOSPHERE


Pierre said...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Pierre - I have come across the term Sobernost - and CSL Lewis published in the Oxford based journal of that name.

But clearly it does not express anything to the majority of people, and it is perhaps too much on the Eastern Orthodox end of Mere Christianity/ small 'c' catholicism - which would be fine by me, but not by most of the others!

Proph said...

Or+hosphere's pretty neat. Awkward to type out, though; someone may have to make a nice little banner to display our blogs (a tiny tag, think 75 pixels high by 150 long) where the + is clearly a cross and not merely a plus sign. Then, at least, the context could be clear when we simply write out "Orthosphere."

Again, though, I dislike affecting modern conventions for identifying ourselves, and "x-o-sphere" is a very modern convention, indeed. Why not simply refer to ourselves individually as "Christian Reactionaries"and collectively as "Christian Reaction"? (Here, I can imagine a similar little banner, with Christian on the first row and Reaction beneath it, the t's in both replaced by a single cross, looming large).

Bonald said...

(Note: cross-posted at my blog)

It seems that there are two classes of people we might want to name so there should be two words. The classes are

A: The group of Christian reactionaries that have found each other and read each others’ blogs regularly. That is , the point is not just that we share certain beliefs (as we might share beliefs with people we don’t know exist), but that we’ve coalesced into an intellectual community.

B: Anybody who shares our core beliefs, which I summarize thusly: God and His natural law should rule human communities as well as individuals, and this ordering under God should be subjectively clear to the community’s participants. Plus, Christianity is true.

All members of A are also members of B, but not vice versa. A descriptive name like “Christian Reactionaries” should probably be used for group B, since it would be awkward to say that so-and-so who has been laboring alone as a Catholic monarchist for years but hasn’t yet heard of us is not a Christian reactionary. “Orthosphere”, “Kalbosphere”, or something like that would be good names for group A. Since it denotes a particular group of people, it should be more like a name than a description, so ideally people should not understand it until they get to know us.

Also, you guys can settle on whatever you want, but I’m not going to type anything with plus signs.

Bruce Charlton said...


"I like Christian Realists; as in, anti-nominalists. It gets directly to the root of the problem of modernity. But not enough people know what nominalism is to make it really effective. And "realism" means something different to everyone. Everyone thinks he is a realist, as in, "in touch with reality." Nominalists think they are just being "realistic" about our epistemological limitations.

The problem with “reaction” and “anti” is it seems to me that they define us in terms of what we are *against*, rather than what we are *for*. And to be compelling, to be alluring, we need to present a positive vision of the future, and of its positive features. Christian Realists is a bit too imprecise, but it is an example of a term that tells what we are for.

We need to use the scorn of the modern toward anything old against the modern itself, which is by now quite long in the tooth, indeed perhaps on its last legs. We need to promote the notion that the modern is “so yesterday.” Likewise, we need to engage the anti-establishmentarianism of the progressives and anarchists against the liberal Establishment; the anti-authoritarianism of the libertarians and anarchists against the authority of the liberal system; the skepticism of the modern against the received conventional wisdom of pc. We need to be the new revolutionaries, aimed at tomorrow, rather than at the days of yore. We need to make the commies and lefties look like fuddy-duddies, really hopelessly old-fashioned.

The social order we seek is not, after all, just like the one we had in 1100. It is like the one we will have after the scientific and industrial revolutions, *and* after the collapse of modernism. So, in everything we say about the social order, we must speak in terms of *transcending* the modern. Post-modernism is no good; it’s now widely understood to mean super-duper-modernism. Trans-modernism is no good either, because it sounds like the next intensification of modernism. Ditto for meta-modernism. No; we can’t be about the modern at all. We shouldn’t even mention it, if we can help it.

Modern means “of or pertaining to recent times.” We are from modern times, yet we find we are not at home here. We are no longer of modern times. We are strangers in a strange land. We have begun to shake off the modern and make ourselves into something later than the modern, some new development in culture that is as yet not wholly clear to us. And we must be about that, which is our telos, rather than about anything that has come before. We must be of or pertaining to future times. Yet futurism is also no good. It, too, is widely understood to indicate ultra-modernism.

We need an altogether new term, that is not already freighted with connotations and negative associations. If we had an altogether new term, then people would be provoked to ask what it meant, and we would have a chance to explain a vision of the future that is alluring. It must be a term that refuses to engage with the cultural categories so far explored in our history, that utterly transcends them.

Crastinators – literally, tomorrowers – sounds too much like procrastinators. Perendienators – literally, day-after-tomorrowers – is out of the question. Besides, when the day after tomorrow arrives, we will still be about something that transcends that day. Perennialist is already taken. We are indeed Christian Perennialists. But that sounds like we might be Christians who are into Gurdjieff or Blavatsky. Confuses the issue.


Bruce Charlton said...


"The only thing that occurs to me is teleonomists. It is familiar sounding, thanks to teleology. But it is obscure enough to call for inquiry. It connotes teleology, and our conviction that there are real essential natures to things, that incline them toward teloi; so it connotes our skepticism about the sufficiency of merely stochastic procedures to “explain” anything. It refers back to the pre-Cartesian metaphysic of the Grand Synthesis of the Middle Ages, and to the precedent synthesis of the Early Church. It connotes a rejection of materialism, moral relativism, libertinism, etc. It connotes a confidence in natural law, in the transcendent, and in the final telos of this world in the eschaton. Teleonomists are literally “far or complete tellers,” and “nomos” means “law” as well as “name.” So it works on lots of levels, at least in philosophical and etymological terms.

It doesn’t have to make sense in terms of current political categories. Indeed, it shouldn’t. That’s the whole point.

I am not quite happy with the term, but I have this strong feeling that we need a totally new wineskin, and I can’t come up with anything else that is as good at indicating that we are not about the far past, or the recent past, or its extension into the future, but rather about something that transcends all particular times, and about leaving behind the dead of this age to bury this dead age.

I can imagine the evangelical conversation: “Are you a conservative?” “No, I’m a teleonomist.” “What’s that?” [Notice the curious, open mind, the lack of any knee-jerk animosity such as “Christian” or “Reactionary” would likely provoke] “I think things have real natures, and that if we pay attention to our nature as human beings, we can know what sort of society really works, at least in general. I’m not interested in our current political categories. I think they are all whacked. I’m interested in bringing in something that transcends them.”

josh said...

Telenomian sounds better than telenomists.

Bruce Charlton said...

There seems to be some semblance of consensus over Kristor's idea of:


And I am persuaded that its non-immediate-comprehensibility could be seen as a feature not a bug. So we probably don't need the plus/ cross (and Bonald point blank refuses to use it!)

Kristor has also raised another possibility of:


presumably forming a Teleosphere, or a Teleonosphere (getting a bit of a mouthful...)

Of the two I think I prefer Orthosphere.


The Crow said...

Christian Eternalism.
Christian Eternalist. > Adherents of the above.

Infinitism: Infinitist.

Labels are dangerous things, though.
The group becomes the label. A known thing, whereas it is the Mystery itself, that the group is about.

The Crow said...

Sphere of Creation.
Sphericalist. Sphericalism.

Maybe I should go back to bed...

Proph said...

Orthosphere as a collective identifier, Christian teleonomists as an individual one? Interesting. I'll have to give it some thought.

Kristor said...

Bonald's differentiation between Christian reactionaries who have found each other and those of their general persuasion who have not is most apt.

Orthosphere would be a term that would apply to the group who have found each other, and read each other.

Teleonomist would be a term that would describe their general philosophical persuasion.

Anonymous said...

"Christian Realists" would be the more accurate description. It would make people think because modernity has convinced many people that Christianity is only fairy tales and reality is scientism.

But not always the better description is the better name. A good name has to be catchy, original, short. A long name is cumbersome, awkward.

Accuracy and lengthiness go hand by hand. The more accurate you are the more lengthy you are. The genius of the English language demands short names: this is why "gymnasium" is usually rendered as "gym". An "emotive song" is an "emo song".

The English language is inaccurate and short. Let me explain some examples from Computer Science. A programming error is not called "a programming error" but "a bug". It is wrong but it is useful to remember and to save time. A syntactic analyzer is called "a parser".

My native language is the opposite from English: very accurate and very lengthy. For example, a programming error is "a programming error". A syntactic analyzer is "a syntactic analyzer". As a result, we all end up using the English names in my native language, which proves the superiority of English shortness.

Orthosphere is a catchy name and gives a lot of possibilities: ortho blogs, ortho people, ortho thought, ortho books. It is a new name, which is useful when you construct a new identity.

It is easily searchable in Google without quotes (about 4000 results in the medical realm). If you search Christian realists in Google, you will find millions of results unrelated to this blog.

Even if you use quotes, "Christian realism" gives a lot of hits. See for example

Not to mention "Christian reactionaries". Our blogs would be drowned in other results.

"Orthosphere" is the best name. Without a + sign. The plus sign makes the thing hard to search and complicates thing unnecessarily. But you can render the "t" as a cross in logos.