Image

Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour

Schoeck defines envy as “a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being…[an] urge to compare oneself invidiously with others.” Denying the egalitarian dogma that envy is spawned by circumstance and can be cured by removing socioeconomic inequalities, he maintains, less flatteringly but far more believably, that envy is inherent in our nature, citing such compelling evidence as sibling rivalry among small children.

Envy is not wholly negative; Schoeck plausibly argues that social forces could not operate without it. Awareness of the potential envy of others, and fear of arousing it, comprise a mighty force for social control. For example, envy of possible gains from receiving inequitable treatment deters most people from seeking favors from government and thus helps preserve equality...

Sound Economics and Evangelicals

R&L: You are a pastor and also speak weekly to hundreds of thousands of people on national television. In your opinion, why is it important for Christians to be grounded in sound economic thinking?

Kennedy: Unsound economic thinking can lead to disastrous results and suffering for hundreds of millions of people. Consider the catastrophic impact on the vast number of people who had to live under the false economic thinking that produced communism.

Our own society contains many examples of the effects of unsound economics. We have given up the free enterprise economy envisioned by the founders of this nation and have followed many socialist principles.

We are just beginning to see the consequences of increased...

Recovering the Moral Foundations of Economics

During the summer of 1980, I met weekly for breakfast, prayer, and study with a minister friend of mine. A warm-hearted, intelligent man, Bob Hager kept challenging me to broaden my interest from the biblical studies, theology, and apologetics that were my great loves to include social concerns. One week, he told me of a book he’d read recently – Ronald J. Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. “Cal,” Bob said, “you’ve simply got to read this book. It’ll change your life.“

“Who, me? Read a book on economics and poverty?” I thought. “No interest.” But Bob shamed me into reading it, insisting that I learn to demonstrate the love I professed.

And, yes, reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger changed my life. As I read...

Multinational Corporations in the Third World: Predators or Allies in Economic Development?

Multinational corporations (MNCs) engage in very useful and morally defensible activities in Third World countries for which they frequently have received little credit. Significant among these activities are their extension of opportunities for earning higher incomes as well as the consumption of improved quality goods and services to people in poorer regions of the world. Instead, these firms have been misrepresented by ugly or fearful images by Marxists and “dependency theory” advocates. Because many of these firms originate in the industrialized countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Germany, France, and Italy, they have been viewed as instruments for the imposition of Western cultural values on Third World countries, rather than allies in their economic development. Thus, some proponents of these views urge the expulsion of these firms,...

After Nature's Revolt and From Apocalypse to Genesis

The environment is increasingly becoming a religious issue, as a host of environmental advocates attempt to “green” the church. More than a dozen volumes have been issued over the past two years alone, and new books seem to pour forth almost every day. Among the odder contributions—at least to anyone who believes in orthodox Christianity—are After Nature's Revolt and From Apocalypse to Genesis, both from Fortress Press.

The underlying premise of all of these eco-theological books is that we face an environmental crisis, “a silent but effective revolt” by nature, in social ethicist Dieter Hessel's words, with the earth “withdrawing its awesome, vital diversity while lashing back to protest human insults.” In his view, the catastrophe is omnipresent: Renewable resources are being...

Science and the Environment

R&L: With the world-wide decline of socialism, many individuals think that the environmental movement may be the next great threat to freedom. Do you agree?

Ray: Yes, I do, and I'll tell you why. It became evident to me when I attended the worldwide Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro last June. The International Socialist Party, which is intent upon continuing to press countries into socialism, is now headed up by people within the United Nations. They are the ones in the UN environmental program, and they were the ones sponsoring the so-called Earth Summit that was attended by 178 nations.

R&L: Did you have a specific purpose in attending the Earth Summit?

Ray: I was sent there by the Free...

Environmentalism: The Newest Paganism?

In June 1991, the Presbyterian Church approved a historic statement of faith that made environmental concerns part of the official canon of the church. The 80-line prayer enumerated pollution of the planet as a sin against God, saying people “exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.”

A month later, the Episcopal Church closed its 11-day governing session with a united call to promote ecology. Viewing pollution as a religious issue, it urged church leaders to “move forward at great speed to respond to the challenge.”

Environmentalism, it seems, has truly become a religious movement. Religious undertones and rumblings have long hinted at a “new paganism,” but now that paganism is coldly upon us. What is it about environmentalism that...

Gary Cooper, Humane Existence, and Deep Ecology

During 1990 my nation, Australia, was graced by the visits of two North American thinkers anxious to help us get our national house in order. The thinkers in question - Drs. Paul Ehrlich and David Suzuki - loom large among the stars in the radical environmentalist sky. Whilst in Australia they were asked by a television journalist anxious for a ten-second “spot” to state in twenty-five words or less the basic conviction they most would like to communicate to their “down-under” audience. Their answer was simple. “Economic growth,” they asserted, “is not the answer to the great environmental problems of our age. Economic growth is itself the key problem.”

Taking that utterance as their text, Drs. Ehrlich and Suzuki went on to deliver an impassioned homily, a homily taking the form of a list of evils allegedly spawned by economic growth: A...

Jacques Maritain

Maritain nació en París en 1882. Estudió en la Universidad de París, donde fue enormemente influido por el filósofo Henri Bergson, quien destruyó su escepticismo filosófico, y por el ensayista y novelista Leon Bloy, quien compartió su fe Católica con él. En 1904 se casó con Raíssa Oumansoff, y juntos entraron en la iglesia Católica en 1906.

Maritain fue profesor en París, Toronto y Princeston. Además, realizó una intensa y larga carrera diplomática como embajador francés en el Vaticano y representante de...

Jacques Maritain

Maritain was born in Paris in 1882 and later studied at the University of Paris. There he came under the influence of the philosopher Henri Bergson, who destroyed his philosophical skepticism, and the essayist and novelist Leon Bloy, who shared his Catholic faith with him. He married Raíssa Oumansoff in 1904, and together in 1906 they entered the Catholic Church.

Maritain went on to hold professorial chairs in Paris, in Toronto, and at Princeton. He also had another career as a diplomat, serving for many years as French ambassador to the Vatican and French representative to UNESCO.

...

After Ideology

The book asserts that modernity has reached a dead end that is the inevitable result of its own inner logic. That logic is best described as revolt against God. Here, Walsh’s debt to Eric Voeglin is evident. The modern revolt, Walsh argues, has its origins in the Gnostic claim that humans can, through a secret gnosis and an act of their own, transform themselves into the Divine. That Gnostic quest has lived on in various forms in the West, which include Comte’s positivism and Marx’s communism. Each of those movements insists on reducing reality to an ideology. Each plays on the legitimate quest for divinization that abides in the hearts of men and women but finds its perversion in the modern will to power. In rebelling against the divine order with its inherent limitations and its insistence that transcendence...

Faith and the Limitations of the State

R&L: You played a role in the international political scene at what may be known as history’s most critical hour. Are you aware of a spiritual dimension to what you participated in?

Thatcher: Yes, very much so. Freedom is a moral quality. It comes from the Old Testament and the New. It’s definitely a part of Judaism and Christianity. The talents that we have are God-given talents, therefore we have a right to use them. But, of course, you can only exercise that right under the rule of law of the state. But in the last analysis, each of us is accountable for the way in which we live our lives.

R&L: And yet, powerful voices within the religious sphere, such as in the Church of England, opposed many of your...

The Four Liberalisms

North America is a gigantic island in the world ocean, and linguistic misunderstandings between this continent and other parts of the globe are therefore frequent and numerous: To put Syria and Lebanon in the Middle East (where, then, is the Near East?) is as erroneous as the term “Holocaust” (a Hellenic sacrifice to gain the favor of the gods) for a brutal mass slaughter, not to mention the idiocy of talking about “male chauvinism.” To lump together traditional monarchists and National Socialists as “rightists” is as confusing as to label leftist semi-socialists as “liberals.” The last-mentioned error is a relatively recent one, and since I came for the first time to the United States at the tail end of the New Deal, I was a witness to the beginning of this deplorable perversion. But how did it come about?

...

A Conversion in the Camps

The following is a first-person account of a man who lived through communist imprisonment, the Polish version of the 1960s, and emerged as a believer in and fighter for liberty. Adam Szostkiewics is editor of the leading religious periodical in Poland, Tycodnik Powszechny.

The altar was decorated with a Polish white and red flag, and surrounded by a few dozen bearded men; some very young, some older, the majority in their early thirties. We were a community of faith, but also of a common cause. We were proud to be there, proud and happy with the happiness of someone who has rediscovered his long-searched-for roots. The roots were an identity. We were Poles, Catholics, anti-communists.

The scene was one of many internment camps, a regular prison in the wild and beautiful...

Exploitation

One of the favorite nouns in the lexicon of critics of the free market economy is the noun “exploitation.” Its cognates–the verb “to exploit” and the adjective “exploitative”–are no less popular. Those controlling capital “exploit” men and women with only their labor to sell. Business people “exploit” consumers. Capitalist nations “exploit” lesser developed nations. On and on the sordid story goes.

Half-hearted defenders of a free market economy frequently agree, at least in part, with such criticisms. Yes, an unfettered free market economy would be characterized by such exploitation. But, thanks be, an unfettered market economy has had its day. Extensive governmental regulation of such an economy and government-backed trade unions have tamed the market economy. Such an economy’s...