The American Founding and Aristotelianism

If you haven’t bothered to click over to The Josias yet, you really must. Today part four of a six-part series on “The American Founders and the Aristotelian Tradition” went live. You still have time to digest it all before tomorrow’s installment. Here are the links.


A Free Market for Religion

I have been accused before of being uncharitable and harsh toward the Acton Institute and all of its works. Some claim I am distorting what they are “really doing” while unduly demonizing them when I should be praising their pro-market, pro-freedom agenda. Then I read thing like Dylan Pahman’s “Consumerism, Service, and Religion” over at the Acton Power Blog and quickly remember why I, a professing Catholic, cannot flatter Acton’s troubling worldview. Pahman, an ex-Calvinist Orthodox Christian, isn’t happy with Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s recent piece on “The Spoiling of America.” Why? Well, for one thing Longenecker’s anti-consumerist ethos doesn’t jibe with Pahman’s free-market religion, which includes lauding a free market for religion. Using Alexander Hamilton’s somewhat famous observation that “it is . . . absurd to make [religious] proselytes by fire and sword,” Pahman concludes that markets are the better — perhaps only? — alternative. On this point I’ll let the man speak for himself. Pardon the extended block quote.

A Note on Latinizations

Today is the Feast of St. Charbel Makhluf, a Maronite monk known for his life of contemplative prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. Were he alive today and inclined to visit certain “Eastern Catholic” or “Byzantine Catholic” websites, he might be surprised to learn that piety toward our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament should not be emulated by Christians of the East, but rather reviled as a “Latinization.” That at least is the fashionable opinion of some Internet loudmouths who stumbled upon Eastern Christianity the day before yesterday and have now anointed themselves adjudicators of the “authentic” when it comes to the theology, spirituality, and liturgy of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome. They’re an obnoxious lot, but it seems their numbers may be on the rise as more and more boutique religious consumers, already bored with the fruits of Summorum Pontificum, seek ever more exotic and mysterious rituals to dabble in before either growing wise to their shallowness or, as has already happened with some notable liturgical fetishists out there, exiting the Catholic Church altogether. A large part of me wants to say, “Good riddance!,” but charity compels me to still hope they’ll recover some sense of what it means to be a Christian once their incense high wears off.

Should First Things Apologize?

A lot of focus has been placed recently on Mark Movesian’s First Things (FT) blog piece on the deplorable situation of Christians in Iraq, “A Line Crossed in the Middle East.” You should go read it; it’s quite good. The article does, however, inadvertently raise the question a friend of mine asked, “What responsibility does FT bear for Iraq?” For those of you too young to remember, during the 1990s and 00s, FT was the main hub for neoconservative Catholicism. The late Fr. John Neuhaus, along with his ideological sentries George Weigel and Michael Novak, beat the war drums leading up to the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 while trashing those Christians who stood in the way. While FT has undergone some significant internal shakeups since the death of Neuhaus in 2009, the magazine—which at this point is a minor Catholic institution—has never publicly repented of its support for the Iraq War and, by extension, the misery which followed it.