Ross Douthat commenting in the NY Times about the upwelling of nostalgia for George Bush Sr. as one of the last representatives of the WASP Establishment that ruled American Society for most of the late 19
th and 20
th-centuries, ends his piece with:
So if some of the elder Bush’s mourners wish we still had a WASP establishment, their desire probably reflects a belated realization that certain of the old establishment’s vices were inherent to any elite, that meritocracy creates its own forms of exclusion and that the WASPs had virtues that their successors have failed to inherit or revive.
As an Episcopalian, and especially as the rector of St Martin’s, I try to embody the highest ideals of what might be considered WASP values while at the same time being very aware of traditional WASP culture’s pronounced elitist and ethnocentric bias. Despite the sins of WASP culture, its virtues are personal humility and responsibility, commitment to public service and fostering the common good, alongside a valuing of institutional loyalty – all the qualities currently being identified with the late George H.W. Bush. Douthat’s point is that the WASP virtues exemplified by George H.W. Bush have not been inherited by the current meritocratic elite which is clearly defined by its narcissistic and cravenly materialist-transactional culture. We are more than nostalgic for the loss of WASP values, we deeply mourn their passing. But as Christians, not to mention Anglican Christians, we continue to hope for their revival in forms appropriate to our present age.
At the National Cathedral on Wednesday morning the Anglican DNA of the Episcopal Church was fully on display. A question: do you think it’s the NATIONAL Cathedral, or do you think it is the National CATHEDRAL? Write your answers on a postcard and return to ….