Tucker Carlson, about whom it was recently announced was parting ways with FOX News, gave a speech over the weekend at the 50th Anniversary of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based out of Washington D.C.
Any average observer might have guessed that his 25-minute keynote address could have been spent criticizing mainstream media, public policy, the problems with the federal government, or the state of our culture, but that wasn’t the message of his speech at all. In fact, the address revolved around a core concept that we, as Catholics, are very familiar with, but one that Carlson, by his own admission, is not: prayer.
“And I’ve come to this conclusion – and I should say at the outset that I’m Episcopalian, so don’t take any theological advice from me because I don’t have any,” Carlson said to laughs from the audience. Be that as it may, he explained that the landscape of the debates taking place in our nation is changing and rapidly. The so-called “debates” are no longer being discussed according to papers, research, data, points, and counterpoints. The issues of our nation have taken on a far more black-and-white appearance. The contrast between good and evil has never, in recent generations, been starker than it is now.
Carlson used the abortion issue as an example. He explained that this modern-day presentation of abortion as a positive good is the same as human sacrifice.
“What’s the point of child sacrifice? Well, there’s no policy goal entwined with that. No, that’s a theological phenomenon. And that’s kind of the point I’m making. None of this makes sense in conventional political terms,” Carlson said. When people decide that their goal is to sew destruction for its own sake, you’re no longer watching a political movement at all. You’re watching evil.
“This is a widely agreed upon understanding of good and evil: What are its products? What do these two conditions produce? Well, good is characterized by order, calmness (tranquility, peace), lack of conflict, cleanliness (cleanliness is next to Godliness!). And evil is characterized by [good’s] opposites: violence, hate, disorder, division, disorganization, and filth,” he said. “And I’m not making a partisan point. I’m just noting what’s super obvious.”
The greatest social issues of our time are being championed in the name of these products of good and evil, and at face value: Instead of weighing the goods of either side, we are witnessing a one-on-one battle between the objectively good and the objectively evil. So, where does that leave us? Where does that leave this great nation that is struggling for unity, peace, and hope? What are the next steps in defeating evil?
To Mr. Carlson, the answer is simple. As he stated before, the landscape is changing. Debates and arguments no longer carry the same weight that they did when ideas were discussed on a plane of rationality. The evil we are facing is so glaringly obvious that we need to first acknowledge that it is there. “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence.” (Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis) We are facing a force much greater than the wretched hearts of man, and one way to let it win is to pretend that it’s not there.
“I realized that I was so upset by the behavior of some people I love, in a country I revere and always have, that I wasn’t praying for the country.” Carlson finished, “Maybe we should all take ten minutes a day to say a prayer about it. I’m serious. Why not? And I’m saying that to you, not as some kind of evangelist, but I’m literally saying that to you as an Episcopalian, the Samaritans of our time. I’m coming to you from the most humble and lowly theological position you can. I’m literally an Episcopalian, okay? And even I have concluded that it might be worth taking just ten minutes out of your busy schedule to say a prayer for the future, and I hope you will.”
But C.S. Lewis said there are two “equal and opposite errors” that we face when battling devils. So what’s the other error? “The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in [devils].” (Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis)
We might be facing the greatest challenges of our generation in these times of conflict and division, but the answer lies before us, as it always has: Prayer. Grow closer to Our Lord Jesus through the sacraments, pray for those who most need Him, and foster a culture of faith, hope, and love in everyone around you. Know that the devil lies before you, but do not let him win by sewing despair into your life.