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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Have Dominion Over All These

I recently visited a friend of mine in Tuscany, an American artist named Shelly Goldstein. Shelly paints impressionist landscapes of the Tuscan countryside, with plenty of poppies, olive groves, herds of oxen, orchards, and usually the remains of an ancient torre, or an isolated chapel already centuries old when Columbus was a boy in Genoa, or off in the distance a typical little Tuscan town perched on a hilltop. Shelly paints in other parts of the world as well--Africa, Hawaii, New England, and the American Midwest--but I have never found his portrayal of those parts of the world as appealing as his depiction of the Tuscan countryside. During a recent visit, Shelly explained to me what he thinks I must find appealing in his Italian work; he said that what I see in his Tuscan landscapes is the hand of man who has worked upon the divine...

Shining a Light in a Dark Place

To anyone familiar with its vast and growing literature, the environmental movement seems dominated by darkness. Consider the messages of just a few of its more vocal segments:

• The biological egalitarianism of the “Deep Ecologists,” whose founder, Norwegian ecosopher (philosopher of ecology) Arne Naess declares, “the equal right to live and blossom is an intuitively clear and obvious value axiom. Its restriction to humans is an anthropocentrism with detrimental effects upon the life quality of humans themselves.”

• The mystical, gnostic, and New Age thinking of the Gaia Hypothesis, popularized by James Lovelock in The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth, which some environmentalists have incorporated into a modern pantheism.

• The unremitting...

Our Stewardship Mandate

The Genesis account of creation is clear on a central point that many secular environmentalists find scandalous: The earth is entrusted to the human family for our use. After God created man and woman in his image, he blessed them with the words: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the seas, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on this earth.” This is the first charge, long before the Fall, given to human beings directly by God. And in the second chapter of Genesis, after God had created the earth for man's sake, he created man to till the soil. It was an explicit command to mix labor with God's creation to make more of that which appears in a pure state of nature. God's covenant with Adam required him to exercise dominion over the earth, to be a steward of creation...

Edmund Burke

Nacido, crecido y educado en Irlanda, Edmund Burke fue uno de los estadistas y filósofos políticos ingleses más famoso del siglo XVIII. Después de haberse ganado los primeros reconocimientos gracias a sus habilidades literarias, Burke formó parte del Parlamento en 1766, donde permaneció por las siguientes dos décadas.

A menudo se le recuerda por su vehemente oposición a la Revolución Francesa, expresada ​​en sus Reflexiones sobre la Revolución en Francia. Él de hecho observaba en la Revolución Francesa un peligro mortal: un Estado ferviente pero mal gobernado es capaz de destruir todos...

Edmund Burke

Nato e cresciuto in Irlanda dove si dedicò alla propria istruzione, Edmund Burke è uno degli statisti nonché filosofi politici inglesi più famosi del XVIII sec. Dopo essersi guadagnato i primi riconoscimenti grazie alle proprie capacità letterarie, Burke entrò a far parte del Parlamento nel 1766 dove vi rimase per i due decenni a venire.

Viene spesso ricordato per la propria violenta opposizione alla Rivoluzione Francese, espressa nel suo Reflections on the Revolution in France. Egli vedeva infatti nella Rivoluzione Francese un pericolo mortale: in quanto uno Stato zelante ma mal governato è in grado...

Edmund Burke

Born, raised, and educated in Ireland, Edmund Burke was one of the most well-known British statesmen and political philosophers of the eighteenth century. After gaining early recognition for his literary skills, Burke entered Parliament in 1766 and remained there for the next two decades.

Burke is often remembered for his vehement opposition to the French Revolution, presented in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. He saw in the French Revolution a fatal danger: A zealous but misguided state can destroy the delicate attachments on which a free society is built.

Because of his defense of tradition, Burke is sometimes thought of as a...

His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time

Who killed communism? Western analysis (and not a few communists) first pointed the finger at the economic incapacities of Marxist-Leninist states. In a world defined by silicon chips and fiber-optic cables, communism–it was argued–just couldn’t compete. This gimlet-eyed focus on the economic causes of the collapse always seemed, though, an oddly Marxist “answer” to the puzzle. Happily, more thoughtful analyses based on a better understanding of the cast of characters in the gripping drama of the Marxist crack-up are now available.

That Pope John Paul II played an indispensable role in that demise is now widely conceded by numerous historians of (and actors in) the Cold War end-game–not least among them Mikhail Gorbachev. But the terms in which the pope’s role should be...

The Vocation of Enterprise

As its title implies, Michael Novak’s Business as a Calling brings a somewhat missionary zeal to the defense of commerce and capitalism, subjects that have been mainly exposed in the recent past to the zealotry of frenzied opponents. Mr. Novak’s effervescence and originality as an advocate and his rigor as a scholar make for a provocative and interesting read. He traces the rise of capitalism, the docile acceptance by its practitioners that they were concerned with means and not ends, the identification of commerce with Darwinian and Spencerian unsentimentally, the rise of religious opponents like Paul Tillich and socialist opponents like R. H. Tawney, and the recent great public relations crisis of business.

A Morally Serious Enterprise

His counter-attack starts early...

Changed Hearts, Not Politics, Prompt Social Renewal

R&L: In some Christian circles, social action has taken precedence over evangelism. I am here thinking of the way that the pursuit of social justice has taken the place of the proclamation of the Gospel. What are your thoughts on this trend?

Palau: My view is this: Evangelism, proclamation of the Gospel, is social action. It is social action because it changes the core of the problem, which is, the individual out of control from God. Conversion brings the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and His life into the picture and changes people who, in turn, become salt and light by living their lives without necessarily acting politically or in terms of “social action.” So I put Gospel proclamation first, because you have nothing to work with unless you have people who have been...

Biblical Foundations of Limited Government

The proper role of government, the central concern of political theory, has long been a controversial issue within Christendom. Disputes continue today. From right to left, clerics claim that God stands on their side. There is, it seems, no simple Christian view of the state. And for good reason: Holy Scripture and church tradition give us guidelines and principles, but no detailed blueprint as to godly government. On most individual issues we are left with the apostle James’ injunction to ask for wisdom, which God “gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5).

What should people of faith expect their government to do? Christians should not treat the state as either redemptive or eternal. “No man can redeem the life of another,” wrote the Psalmist (Ps. 49:7). Rather, it is the Lord...

Three New Testament Roots of Economic Liberty

We do not often think that Jesus Christ and the New Testament justifies capitalism. To the extent that capitalism means greed and self-indulgence, I should think not! Greed and self-indulgence are root human sins and will be manifested in any economic system

But if you think of capitalism as economic liberty, then there are several New Testament passages that argue in favor of it. I want to explore three passages that bring out foundational issues regarding the nature of economic justice and demonstrate a biblical sympathy with liberty and the market.

Stones into Bread

“The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread’” (Luke 4:3).

The Son of God certainly had the power to...

The Bishops' Big Economic Tent

To the joy of Catholics who support capitalist institutions, the U.S. Bishops have at long last applied the principle of ecumenism to economic issues. The vehicle is a short ten-point “Catholic Framework for Economic Life,” passed unanimously at this year’s meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. It comes ten years after “Economic Justice for All” the Bishops’ controversial pastoral letter that disappointed so many businesspeople.

The new document departs from years of confusion, in which the Bishops appeared to side only with the left on economics. The statement is broader in its approach and more consistent with the Bishops’ primary realm of competency: moral instruction. It is much sounder from an economic perspective, allowing ample room for holding the business economy...

William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone, British statesman and prime minister, was perhaps the most eminent of eminent Victorians. During his studies at Oxford he felt strongly drawn to the ministry, and had his father not insisted he enter the political arena, Gladstone would have sought a lifelong position as a church leader. He instead entered Parliament in 1832, but always felt that his political career was second best to a church vocation.

Gladstone's profound piety, manifest in his daily study of the Bible and regular church attendance, was central to his approach to politics. Over the course of his career, he came to...

Gentility Recalled

With crime and illegitimacy soaring, and cities often resembling Hobbes’s state of nature, where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” our policy wonks are hoping that national service, tax credits, etc. will manipulate us into coexisting decently again.

But social order depends far more on attitudes and conduct than on legislation. Gentility Recalled lucidly and thoughtfully explores the enormous role of manners in creating a decent, orderly society and shows that, indeed, it’s the little things that count.

As editor Digby Anderson observes, “It is only when one starts to recall the various sophisticated aspects of manners, the essential tasks they perform, and the millions of tiny incidents that make up that performance, that one...

In Praise of the Heroic Entrepreneur

Over the last fifty years, the dogma of “corporate social responsibility” has become the favorite tool of American liberals to cajole and shame the owners and managers of corporations into adopting major features of their liberal social agenda. John Hood has written this book to attack this dogma and defend the moral way in which the vast majority of American businesses are run.

One assumption behind the liberal dogma is the alleged conflict between a corporation’s commitment to profit-seeking for its shareholders and what liberals view as the business world’s propensity to overlook or reject important ethical and social responsibilities. Liberals seem to believe that the people who own and manage corporations will do almost anything to make a profit, including destroying the environment,...