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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Justice, Mercy, and Economics

Justice and mercy. What are they? At one time or another, everyone has experienced feelings of anger and indignation when they were violated by others. Everyone has an inherent sense of what is just, and that sense is heightened when one is the victim of injustice. Likewise, it is perhaps safe to say that everyone has either been the recipient of someone else’s benevolence, personally extended benevolence to someone else, or has seen benevolence bestowed upon someone else. Yet, in spite of much personal experience, there is a great deal of conflict among people over the true meaning of justice and the true meaning of mercy.

No area is more embroiled in the controversy over the true meaning of these terms than economics. The ongoing debate over national economic policy attests to this state of...

J. Gresham Machen

One of the most articulate defenders of orthodox Christian theology against the liberalizing and rationalizing trends of the early twentieth century was J. Gresham Machen. Influenced by his Reformed Protestant background, Machen was trained as a pastor at Princeton Seminary (once the center of conservative Calvinism), and authored numerous religious texts. Distressed by the forces of theological liberalism, Machen left his teaching post at Princeton to found the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination.

Yet the radical ideas Machen resisted were not exclusively...

Public Education: An Autopsy

Market based schooling sounds like a contradiction in terms to public school teachers' unions; it sounds like a non sequitur to hard-pressed denominational schools; it's Greek to the average taxpayer; but it's the next step to education critic Myron Lieberman. Eight years ago, Lieberman published Beyond Public Education, in which he prophesied the emergence of a market-based, non-establishment challenge to the clichés about educational reforms which flooded the nation in the years following publication of A Nation At Risk (the Reagan Administration's “call to arms” in the education wars). Lieberman discounted the reform rhetoric rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The fundamental disorders of public education were intrinsic to the medium-that is, education as an organized state monopoly was doomed to...

Religion, Man, and the State

R&L: Dozens of denominations and groups claim to be evangelical. Can you give us a definition of what the word means?

Henry: Catholicism and Protestantism have in modern times both had vocal orthodox and liberal elements. Orthodox Protestants were called Fundamentalists because they insisted on the great biblical basics or fundamentals. Modernist control of evangelically-founded schools and institutions and its abandonment of miraculous supernaturalism left to Fundamentalists the demanding fulfillment of world evangelism and missions. As modernist ecumenical bureaucracies aggressively expounded a “social gospel” (essentially a socialist ideology), Fundamentalism withdrew from the larger cultural arena in order to concentrate on soul-winning.

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Economics in the Catholic World

Up to recent times, the Catholic nations and regions were considered the poorest part of Christendom, “underdeveloped” not only financially but also materially. Lately, this has changed considerably, and today France and even Italy are economically stronger than predominantly Protestant countries such as Great Britain whose GNP they have overshadowed. In Europe, generally, industry is shifting its weight from the North to the South and East.

Furthermore, the Institute for Sociology at the University of Chicago has made the sensational discovery that in the United States, the socio-religious group with the highest earnings happens to be the Catholic Irish, followed by Catholic Germans. Third are Hebrews and only fourth WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Italians are not far behind.

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A Moral Solution to Moral Problems

During Mass one Sunday after the reading of the Gospel, I settled into the pew for the homily. I expected the usual treatment of the day’s readings and a passing reference to how we can apply the words of Scripture to our everyday lives. However, on this day, the homily would have a relevant meaning for individuals and churches throughout America.

In his homily, the priest told of his first assignment after being ordained. He was to serve an inner-city church with mostly poor members. This was not exactly what the priest desired from his new vocation. In fact, he admitted he was a bit disgruntled. After all his years of education at the university and seminary, he found himself cleaning tables after providing free meals for the surrounding neighborhood. After one particular hard day, he stormed into...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, padre del movimiento conservador estadounidense, murió el 29 de abril a la edad de 75 años en su casa de Mecosta, Michigan. Mejor conocido por su libroThe Conservative Mind, publicado en 1953; los escritos del Dr. Kirk han influenciado dos generaciones de conservadores tanto en los Estados Unidos como en el extranjero.

Fue un prolífico escritor y columnista, publicando más de 30 libros de ficción y no ficción, así como cientos de ensayos y reseñas. Durante 30 años editó la revista trimestral sobre libros titulada The University Bookman, y...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, noto per il suo libro The Conservative Mind, pubblicato nel 1953 è stato il padre del movimento conservativo americano, morì il 29 Aprile all’età di 75 anni nella sua casa nel Mecosta, in Michigan. Gli scritti del dott. Kirk hanno influenzato due generazioni di conservatori sia negli Stati Uniti che all’estero.

Fu uno scrittore e un cronista molto prolifico, pubblicando più di 30 libri di narrativa e non, così come centinaia di saggi e recensioni. Per 30 anni diresse la rivista trimestrale sui libri dal titolo The University Bookman, e fu anche il fondatore di una rivista critica sulla politica e la cultura...

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk, father of the American conservative movement, died April 29th at the age of 75 in his home in Mecosta, Michigan. Best known for his book The Conservative Mind, published in 1953, Dr. Kirk's writings have influenced two generations of conservatives in the United States and abroad.

He was a prolific writer and columnist, publishing over 30 books of fiction and non-fiction, as well as hundreds of essays and reviews. For 30 years, he edited The University Bookman, a quarterly review of books, and was the founder of Modern Age, a critical review of politics and...

The Social Crisis of Our Time

Those who, like the Swiss economist Wilhelm Röepke, dislike both a laissez faire economy and a planned or state-manipulated one usually hope for a “Third Way” skirting both. Originally published in 1942, this thoughtful, richly textured work is Röepke’s first formulation of the “Third Way.”

Röepke saw causes ranging from Christianity’s decline, the rise of ideology and the “cult of the colossal” to the surge in population combining to produce “the social crisis of our time”: the rise of “mass society” and large-scale economies, in which families disintegrate and individuals become powerless.

A fierce opponent of collectivism, Röepke knew state intervention in the economy was usually harmful, and socialism necessarily meant tyranny.

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With Liberty and Justice for Whom?

Gay identifies three distinct positions on capitalism among evangelicals: those held by the evangelical left, right, and center. Each of their positions are treated with utmost fairness, a feat which by itself makes the book, and Gay himself, worthy of high praise.

Many of the criticisms raised against capitalism by the evangelical left are familiar, and not unlike those raised by the secular left. In addition, evangelicals on the left raise a number of biblically based criticisms of capitalism, including the allegation that capitalism is inconsistent with much of the Mosaic legislation and with the teaching of Jesus (e.g. the story of the rich young ruler).

Anyone familiar with the economic pronouncements of mainline Protestant denominations and the World Council of Churches...

The Church and the Revolution

What Weigel calls the “Standard Account” gives primary credit for the Revolution of 1989 to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Advocates of this interpretation argue that two tenets of Gorbachev’s policy proved to be the conditions sine qua non for the eventual success of the Revolution: the Soviet army would no longer intervene when its allies chose to go their own way and the Soviet party would no longer demand exclusive communist control of central and eastern Europe.

While conceding the importance of Gorbachev’s reining in his armed forces as the Soviet satellite regimes tottered, Weigel nevertheless argues that it is “simply realistic to suggest that by the time the Revolution of 1989 gained critical mass in the fall and winter of that year, Gorbachev really had no choice but...

The Free Market and Public Morality

R&L: What was it that caused you to have second thoughts about the role of the state in economic life and about the left-wing agenda of the 60’s of which you were so much a part?

Novak: In many places the liberal agenda did not work as we had hoped. I was living in New York at the time, and the city almost went bankrupt. Crime and illegitimacy were mounting. Those of us who were in favor of the “War on Poverty” never said “Just wait, in thirty years we’ll move the illegitimacy rate from 6 percent to 30 percent. Crime will go up 700 percent. Poverty programs will work for the elderly, but among the young the sense of dignity and rule of law will be far lower than it is today.” We did not intend any of these things. The programs did not work in the way that we...

The Moral Nature of Free Enterprise

In the marketplace, the consumer is “king.” To become wealthy in free enterprise usually involves mass production for mass material consumption. The free market rewards entrepreneurs for their correct anticipation of consumer demand. It showers people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie with tremendous wealth, because they dramatically improved the consumer’s quality of life.

Contrast this with socialist or pre-capitalist society. Those societies excel in producing an abundance of grinding poverty, famine, disease and oppression. Their parasitic government officials live in opulence while creating only misery and chaos. Free enterprise radically changes this picture by creating a broad based, middle class and consumer society.

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Mia Immaculee Antoinette Acton Woodruff

The phone rang at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5th. “Her heart gave up” was how a mutual friend announced Mia’s death. Marie Immaculée Antoinette Acton, later the Hon. Mrs. Douglas Woodruff, was dead at 89. I had seen her scarcely two weeks prior and knew that the end was near: “One can live too long, Jim,” she had said. Though she had often joked about the nuisance of what she described as her “creeping decrepitude,” there was a different tone of voice this time. The end came in her beloved home, Marcham Priory, near Abingdon, on the grounds of which stands an ancient stone building (used as chapel and library by the Wood- ruffs), a remnant from the 10th century Benedictine abbey, suppressed in 1538.

What justice can be done to a life in a few score words? Mia Woodruff’s life breathed the long...