On Being a Bleeding Heart Conservative


Traditional Catholic iconography of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus


Alas, illness and other personal factors have hindered my posting and my correspondence lately.

But despite my silence, I am very grateful indeed for the response to my new book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed.

Not surprisingly, I hope to say more regarding this soon.

But today, I am merely re-presenting an extract from the book that has already appeared at this website. More precisely: it is an extract from an early draft version of the book which has now been reworked somewhat for the printed book.

(‘Why not offer the latest version?’ you may ask. The answer is that ripping book extracts to post is tricky. They may be so enmeshed in their context as to hardly make sense ripped from that context. And this earlier version works better as a blog, although even it still suffers a little removed from its surroundings.)

We will not say too much more today, except that my heart is grieved by the extraordinary amount of highly-charged insults and name-calling on all sides of public debate today, Left and Right, indeed also from the Vatican.

I want to aspire to a more gentle approach  – a gentle traditionalism – whilst at the same time not shying away from ‘calling a spade a spade’.

Here is what I had in mind in writing my first book The Gentle Traditionalist. And it was with the same sentiment that I drafted these words for my new book …

The public sphere is now filled by a kind of secular religion, which proclaims tolerance as its most sacred dogma. It is a tolerance, which all too easily sanctions materialistic, capitalist and hedonistic excess – yet of course, is remarkably intolerant of traditional and moral values associated with religion.

Through a vast multitude of means, we have created a society wherein God is pushed to the margins. God is acceptable only within the private sphere of the individual’s choice.

But in the public sphere, the individual is not given choice: Materialism is foisted on him in countless ways.

Much of this materialism is overwhelmingly obvious. But perhaps it is the subtler, insidious ways that are the most dangerous. With the insistence on a society geared to proofs and data, few realise how much an overarching ideology has been established, which dominates and hypnotises people.

The ideology becomes the norm. We fail to see how much it rules our lives. And thus hypnotised, we fail to imagine how any other option could be conceivable.

Yes, a materialistic ideology now rules our lives. Precise words to encapsulate that ideology are hard to come by.

It is with a certain regret that I have turned to the words “liberal” and “liberalism” in this book. But why regret?

Does not liberalism sum up perfectly the trajectory of the last centuries towards ever more destructive “freedoms”?

Economic liberalism – does this not describe those who want unlimited freedom for the market – with which to crush people?

Theological liberalism – does this not describe those theologians who seek freedom from the “constraints” of tradition – and who then set out to crush the tradition (e.g. by attempting to ‘demythologise’  it)?

Social liberalism – has this not resulted in such travesties as the ‘right’ to an abortion and flooding the world with a heretofore unimaginable filth in the name of free speech?

Is it not natural that conservatives such as myself should use the word ‘liberal’ to describe the ‘enemy’?

My regret is this. I do not relish making enemies with polarising binaries such as conservative-liberal.

Moreover, from my youth, I recall with a shudder that uniquely American pejorative: “Bleeding heart liberal” – as though a heart which cared were a sorry thing! People actually spoke of a bleeding heart in sneering terms!

Yet a bleeding heart is all to do with the Sacred Heart of Jesus! There was in fact once a Catholic Order of the Bleeding Heart. The exact origin of the American pejorative “bleeding heart liberal” is lost to us – but it is certainly not impossible that it has roots in the anti-Catholicism that once thoroughly pervaded the United States.

At any rate, I pray that there would be more bleeding heart conservatives. And this traditional book aspires to such: a bleeding heart conservatism that realises that our flight from tradition is hurtingpeople, every bit as much as capitalist oppression is hurting people. Indeed for the Catholic of Faith, it is clear that the liberal destruction of tradition is hurting people – real living, breathing people – even more than the brutal capitalism of our age.

Here then is what I mean by liberalism: An exaggerated emphasis, even idolatry of liberty – to the exclusion and suppression of Faith, Tradition and so much else – which has advanced across the world since 1789, at least.

It is an idolatry that in our day has culminated in things like the “right to the abortion”, vicious gore and pornography permitted under the right to freedom of speech as well as the active suppression of religion in the public sphere.

This last is because liberal idolaters say that the public presence of religion amounts to oppression. Meanwhile, the fact that many people feel dreadfully oppressed by a difficult-to-name secular and materialistic ideology is scarcely noticed at all.

There is a monster here and the monster must be named. The fact that it is hard to name is part of the problem. The monster draws strength from the fact that it is not named – and people are ravaged in the process. Lacking better words, I will frequently name this monster liberalism – in the sense indicated above. Such language will inevitably polarise.

All the while, I cannot help but admire genuine bleeding heart liberals everywhere, because to the extent that their hearts truly bleed, to that same extent, they imitate the Cor Jesu Sacratissimum …

As indicated, the book from which this (draft) extracted is now published – under the title Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom renewed.

If you are interested, the global links are for Amazon worldwide and will take you to where you can see the book or buy it.

Click to see the book at your local Amazon:


OR – for the Hardback Edition:



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